Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Trouble With Darkness and the Joy of Light

We are in the middle of one of the greatest trials I think we have ever faced as a married couple. Remember when I said that we felt inspired to be full time writers? Well, here it is, we were inspired.... and it hasn't been working out for us. We have been trying and trying yet nothing seems to be working out. So, two months ago, Sean decided it was time for him to look for a "real" job, and guess what? That's not working out either. Nearly 200 applications later, he still hasn't found a job that will provide for our needs. So, for two months we have lived with no income.

I have to say that at first, I was angry. I was angry at Heavenly Father because we overwhelmingly felt the Spirit when we made the decision to leave Paradigm at the end of his teaching contract. We have faithfully paid our tithing, served in our callings, held family home evening, had family scripture study and family prayer. We have done everything right, yet things have never gone so wrong. I could not understand it, and I began to doubt whether or not it was the Spirit that we felt. I then began to doubt my ability to receive further revelation. I began to question the validity of promises given in the scriptures and then, the validity of God himself. I found myself in a very dark place. I am sure everyone reading this has had some moment in their life when they have experienced similar feelings. We all go through it. It's how we grow our faith, and it's how we are tested. But then I think about everything that happened to the Savior and Joseph Smith and every other prophet who did everything right and they still suffered unspeakable sorrow much greater than my own.  And they rarely complained rarely questioned and continued spreading their light to others. It made me think about our trials and whether we live them in darkness or light. I am ashamed to say, that more often than I would like to admit, I have been choosing to live out this trial in darkness.

The trouble with living out storms in darkness, though, is that when water and darkness get together, the only thing that comes from it is black mold, mildew, decaying and rotting wood, and things that lead to illness and death. Darkness is a very bad place to be in the time of a storm. The only companion you have is despair. Your heart is closed to the light and loneliness becomes very real, and very dangerous. For example, when I reached the very lowest I have ever been, I felt that if there were a train near-by, I would feel better if I just sat on the tracks and waited for a train to come. That is how dangerous living out a storm in darkness can be. I would never do it of course, but I am just describing how I am sure many of us feel when we choose to live our storms in darkness. It will destroy a person's faith which is why Satan would prefer it if this is where we chose to dwell.

Living out a storm in light, however, is a completely different experience. Water and sunshine bring life, not only do they bring life, but they sustain life. They beautify the earth and supply both food and water for man. Sunshine and rain bring rainbows and flowers, allowing us to find joy in our suffering. Living out a storm in the light allows us to feel the sun on our face, giving us the hope of a brighter tomorrow. By living out a storm in the light, we can dance in the rain because we can feel the joy that comes from living in the light. We can gain energy from the life-giving Son and we can find peace because even though we may not be able to see through the storm with our eyes, we are open and can still feel with our heart. Living out a storm in light will grow your faith, just like it grows a seed, until your faith becomes a perfect knowledge. It will be delightful.

So, today, and from now on, I have decided to live out my storms in the light. I feel so full of the light of Christ, that I even wrote a poem about it this morning. And here is what I am asking of you. I am going to share this poem, and if you enjoy it, and want to read more of my poetry, and would be willing to buy an e-book of it, for say, $2.99, let me know in the comments. Covenant has already said they won't publish books of poetry, but that doesn't mean that I can't. Maybe things aren't working out because I haven't been sharing the right thing. :)

Light That We May See

From the beginning both light and dark were important to God’s plan.
For in them God sends lessons to teach the hearts of man.

Darkness exists and it is real. But if we choose to make it our own
The road ahead we cannot see and we fail to make it home.

God saw goodness in the light. God’s light is real and true.
And if we choose it as our guide, we’ll safely make it through.

We cannot dwell in the path of darkness, for our only companion’s despair.
While choosing to walk in the pathway of light: love, peace, hope and our Savior are there.

Though the earth is filled with darkness, God left light for those who seek.
A hidden trail of mercy, for the humble and the meek.

When it rains, He gives us rainbows that we need not fret or mourn.
That we may focus on the blessings that have come due to the storm.

In the darkest night, he shines stars above that we may look up and look to him.
In prayer we’ll find sweet solace when our light begins to dim.

In a darkened room, we light a candle, giving us light that we may see.
Much like the whisperings of God’s Spirit, a light we carry internally.

On a stormy sea, we find a lighthouse, a symbol of strength and safety to all.
Inspiring us to keep pressing onward, when the storm threatens to make us fall.

For storms will come in both darkness and light, but the outcome will not be the same.
Water and darkness bring mold and decay, while each life needs both sunshine and rain.

And every storm that we walk in the sunlight will give us something we needed to know.
For our faith, just like a seed that is planted, must have the storms to grow.

So choose to walk out of the darkness and into God’s glorious light.
That you may shine like a lighthouse for the travelers who are lost in the night.

--Tiffany Fletcher

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The time has come to ask yourself.... What do I believe?

Before this summer, if someone were to ask me if I have ever not believed in God, my answer would have been no, not even for an instant. If someone were to tell me that it is possible to be tried so much that even the most faithful can be left questioning, my answer would have been, "not me." And yet, without going into any specifics, I can say, that this past couple of months, I reached that point. I felt the same way Joseph Smith must have felt when he cried out, "Oh God, where art thou?" while he suffered in the Liberty Jail. I suppose even the Savior had His moment when He said, "Father, if it be thy will, remove this cup from me."

What I have learned from my experience is that none of us are free from suffering, and none of us are exempt from being tried to our very breaking point and beyond. What I also learned is that if you want to grow your faith, you first much reach the end of it in order to move forward. Sure, it may take faith the size of a grain of mustard to move a mountain, but sometimes, it takes the faith of a mountain to take one step into the unknown, to face an impossible and seemingly hopeless task you have been asked to face. I have also learned that we do not face these things alone. We can either choose hate and anger and allow Satan to walk the path with us, or we can choose love and forgiveness and allow the Savior to stand by our side. It is up to us to choose for ourselves.

A good portion of this trial, I have been going back and forth from one companion to the other. One minute I chose to walk with the Adversary, the next I chose the Savior. I found that my days were easier and my heart was less troubled when I chose the Savior as my companion. When my days began with prayer and scripture study, family prayer, and family scripture study, I was more able to keep the Savior as my companion and His spirit lifted me to a place of peace and hope in better things to come. That is the amazing thing about the Savior, His companionship brings hope, while Satan's companionship can only offer despair. Rather than my heart feeling as if it were broken, I felt it healing and mending and becoming whole once again. It is really a remarkable experience to feel the healing balm of the Savior as He heals your broken heart.

During this trial, I also gained a valuable insight that I would like to share before I end my post. When you feel as if you are surrounded by darkness, and you feel as if God is silent, think back on a  time in your life when you really felt God's Spirit surround you. Close your eyes and go to that place mentally. As you do this, His spirit will bring to your remembrance the overwhelming feelings of love and peace that God shared with you in that moment in time. Keep that moment close to your heart, make it a holy place for you to stand when you feel you have no where else to go. Doing this will remind you that God is with you. He was with you then and He is with you now. Stand in holy places and keep them close to your heart so when the enemy conspires against you and seeks to tear away every other holy place around you, he will never take the place inside your heart. In this way, you will always be able to stand with the Lord. Go to that place often and remember just how much God loves you. Sometimes, when you feel forsaken, remembering that moment in time will be one of the only ways to bring your focus back where it belongs.

What do I believe? I KNOW God lives. I KNOW God loves us. I KNOW Christ is our Savior and He will help us home. Follow Him, Believe in Him, and let Him heal you. When you get to the edge of your faith, keep walking. :) 

Friday, June 21, 2013

An Eleven Day Journey Took Forty Years

Today I would like to add to my previous post by sharing something that struck me hard in our last stake conference. One of the counselors in our stake presidency was talking about the children of Israel and how the journey from Egypt to the promised land was only about an eleven day journey, yet it took the children of Israel forty years to get there.

I found this startling. I wonder if the children of Israel had any idea that the promised land was so closely within their grasp. I think that if they did, they would have stopped complaining, accepted what the Lord had given them, and moved forward with faith. The Lord provided so many miracles for them, yet time and time again, they complained that it was not enough, or that the Lord did not provide for them exactly what they wanted when they wanted it, in the way they wanted it. Take their food for instance. The Lord provided manna from heaven for them to eat. They did not have to work for it, he fed them freely every day, except for Sundays, for forty years. The children of Israel, however, complained. They did not like the taste of it, they lusted for meat instead of manna, and they were upset that it did not fall on Sunday. Every time God gave them a commandment, or asked them to do something, they fought him on it or complained. If they had just let go and let God lead them, they would have made it to the promised land in the eleven days and they would have saved themselves a lot of trials. They turned an eleven day trip into a forty year journey because of how they chose to react.

I think that more often than we realize, we are much like the children of Israel. I know that Sean and I have been much like them. We have been wanting to be full-time writers for 13 years now. All it took was us making tithing a priority and putting God first. We turned a short trip into a 13 year journey because of our inability to follow a simple commandment. You see, God is willing to grant us the promised land if we just do what he asks. 

I have also learned that not only is God willing to grant us the promised land, but he continually provides for us until we get there despite our disobedience. He just wants us to acknowledge him and all the miracles he is already providing on our behalf. Take the children of Israel for example. Not only did God feed them daily for forty years, but He clothed them by not allow their clothing to wear out, nor did he allow their feet to swell as they walked. He provided water from a rock and healed them if they but looked upon a staff. He was continually providing miracles for them but they were so self-centered that rather than thanking him for those blessings, they constantly murmured that they were not enough.

So here is today's advice:
  • Count your blessings so you will realize what you have.
  • Be grateful for what you have. God has given you more than you know.
  • Evaluate your life and see if you are making an 11 day journey last 40 years.
  • Try to learn the lessons God's trying to teach you so you don't have to keep wandering in the wilderness. The promised land is closer than you know.
I love reading the scriptures and applying them to my life so that I don't have to keep repeating their mistakes. That's what they were given to us for. We don't have to make the same mistakes as the children of Israel because we can read about them, see their mistakes and make better choices than they did. I am so glad for an inspired counselor who helped me understand this simple story of the children of Israel because for me, it has changed the way I look at things. It's amazing how one simple thought can make all the difference. I hope it makes a difference for you, too. :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Simple Testimony

It has been a month since I have last posted and I hope never again to go that long before I share my thoughts with all of you. School is out now, which means my husband, Sean is once again home for the summer. This isn't like every other summer, though. For us, it is a summer of new beginnings, which has also lead to my lack of writing.

My husband and I are both writers. This year marks our 13 year anniversary, and for those 13 years, we have had the desire to be full-time writers. We have looked into so many different ways of making this happen, but we never could find a way to support five children on such a questionable income.

Let me also explain that we have never really had a perfect testimony of tithing either. We paid tithing, but we always paid on our net income and we never made it a priority to pay it first. Often times, we would use what was allotted for tithing as our grocery money with the justification that we would just make it up with the next check. We always made it up, but never put it first.

Last December, Sean and I were both studying and pondering and separately received revelation that we needed to start making tithing a priority. I read something somewhere that said if you wanted the net blessings you should pay on your net income, but if you wanted the most blessings, you should pay on the gross. In December, we made the decision to write a check that would make up the difference between our net income and our gross income and paid it on the last day of the month. We had confidence that God would bless us for our sacrifice.

We also made the decision to put tithing first. It is the first check we write and we do not even question whether or not we should hold on to it "just in case" there won't be enough for everything else. As we continued to pay our tithing, our trust in the Lord increased and again, Sean and I both received revelation separately that he should not renew his contract as a teacher and that we should start looking for writing jobs to fulfill our desire to be full time writers.

Sean was blessed right away with a part-time job writing science and math curriculum while he was still teaching high school. Since February, he has been working both jobs in order to prepare for the transition. I, however, could not find anything. I have a BA in English, I am a published author, yet I could not find a writing job that didn't pay more than pennies a word. I began to get discouraged but kept doing all I could to trust in the Lord.

I continued to write for FamilyShare and I noticed some of my articles were very popular. I then noticed heavier traffic to my blog and I began posting more often. I began to feel the Spirit inspire me with thoughts and ideas as I thought about what to write. Writing those articles and writing on my blog is where I find joy and a greater dose of the Spirit. My only concern was that while I enjoy writing on my blog very much, it was not going to provide for my family and I had to stop and look for real work. That's why I stopped posting.

At the beginning of June, school ended. I could still find nothing by way of work, and to make matters worse, the company Sean had been working for part-time started giving him projects quoting a payment that was so low that there was no way we could ever provide for our family. Even though we had felt the Lord inspire us to move in the direction of full time writers, we had no idea how we were going to provide for our family. I began to be angry and frustrated; angry with my husband for quitting his job, even though I told him I felt the same as he did, and angry at God because we had been paying our tithing faithfully for six months without seeing the promised blessings that come from it. I felt He had abandoned and forsaken us. I began to doubt myself, wondering if what I felt was revelation was just me and not really the Spirit at all.

One of Sean's final checks came from the school and it came time to pay our tithing. It wasn't even a thought in my mind. I may have been frustrated with God, but I was not going to undo everything we had worked towards by doubting now. I paid it, believing that some day, those promised blessings would come. I have always held on to hope. It is what got me through as a child.

Three days after I paid the tithing, those blessings did come and they have changed not only the way I look at tithing, but the way I look at Heavenly Father as well. The company that Sean was writing for came back and raised the price of the projects 2 1/2 times what they were originally going to pay him. Not only will he be able to make more money than he was as a teacher, but he will be able to do it in just a few days a week and he will be able to spend the rest of the week writing the books that he wants to write.

Because we made tithing a priority, I won't have to write for money at all. I can write for me, and for you, and continue to write the things of my heart.

What I learned from this is that God has a plan for all of us. We may not understand what it is, but if we listen to the promptings of the Spirit, and keep the commandments and covenants we make with our Father in Heaven, He will not let us down. He is bound to keep His promises when we do what He asks.

So my testimony is simple and it also serves as my advice to you:

  • Listen to the promptings of the Spirit and follow Him.
  • Do not doubt yourself! This is Satan's way of getting you to stop doing what you ought to be doing.  
  • Keep the Commandments! Do what Heavenly Father asks and you will be blessed.
  • Trust Heavenly Father. He has a plan for you, and His plan is much better than yours.
I know God lives, I know He loves me, I know He watches over me and blesses me. The remarkable thing is that He doesn't just do this for me, He does this for you too! So let Him!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The War in Heaven and the Two Plans

I always try to make it a priority to keep God's Spirit in our home, and I generally start by doing all I can to keep His Spirit in my own heart. For the past week or so, however, I have been struggling with this. It would seem that every time I think I am doing great, and I can feel God's Spirit, a negative thought will pop into my head and I will focus on it so much, that there will no longer be room for Heavenly Father's Spirit to stay with me, and I will be left with anger, frustration, and doubt.

I was thinking about it this morning, wondering why it is that I have to work really hard and make a conscience effort to feel Heavenly Father's Spirit, but with absolutely no effort at all, Satan's spirit can show up out of the blue, forcing his way into my thoughts and my heart, lingering for hours and ruining my entire day. I realized that it all comes down to the war in Heaven and the two plans that were presented.

You see, before we came here, when we all lived in Heaven, God presented a plan that involved us coming to Earth, gaining a body, and learning how to make good choices using our gift of agency, but some of us would choose wrong, and not all of us would return. Lucifer also had a plan. His plan was to force everyone to make good choices, therefore guaranteeing we would all make it back to God, but Lucifer wanted the glory for it. Well, we all know what happened. Christ volunteered to carry out God's plan and to give the glory to God. There was a war in Heaven, and Lucifer was cast down to Earth along with one third of the hosts of Heaven and became Satan. He is now here to torment man, and he is doing it daily, using the plan he wanted.

Satan's plan is a plan of force. He forces himself into our homes through media and music lyrics, he forces his way into our thoughts with negativity and complaining, and he forces his way into our hearts with judgments on one another, with self doubt, and with unbelief. He doesn't have to be asked, he will just show up, and with a little entertaining on our part, he will become a full-fledged member of our day to day life. 

Christ, however, is carrying-out God's plan. Therefore, He will never force His way in. He will never enter where He is not invited, He will never come where He is not welcome. His is a plan of agency, and we must choose to let Him in if we want Him to be a part of our daily life. It requires work, and effort, and most of all, it requires us to make a conscience choice to allow Him into our thoughts, our hearts, and our homes. 

In the Old Testament, Joshua said, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15). We must make the choice to serve the Lord, because if we do not make the choice to serve the Lord, then we will be subject to Satan's plan which is a plan of force. Whether we choose it or not, he will force his way into our lives and the lives of our children, and he will never let go. So today, I am taking a stand. I understand now that each day, I must make a choice. I must choose to use my agency and serve the Lord, because if I do not, Satan will try to take my agency from me. Today and everyday I stand with Joshua and I boldly declare, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Welcome and Thank-you!

I have been fascinated for some time now with the amount of people who have been visiting my blog, and from the different countries that those people represent. To all of you who are visiting, I say Welcome and Thank-you. I hope to make this a place where everyone feels welcome and important. I want you to feel comfortable visiting and commenting. You are the reason I write, you are the reason I share, and you are the reason I want to keep sharing.

Isn't it amazing to know that we are all connected? To realize that someone from India, or Russia, or Australia, or France, or any number of other countries can be reading this right now and we can understand one another and feel connected when we live so far apart. To recognize that God is the God of all of us that He understands my prayers and your prayers and a child's prayer, and that they are all precious and important to Him. To know that we are living under the same sky, that we bask in the same sun, that we sleep under the same stars, and that we share the same Earth. It is amazing, really, to realize just how close we are to one another and how connected we can be.

This month has been jam-packed with so many things that I have had little time for writing on my blog. But we are nearing the end of school, and I am hoping to post more regularly come June and share those things that I learn along the way. If there is anything you would like to discuss, any questions you would like to ask, any topic you would like me to write about, please leave a comment and I will do my very best to respond. I am looking forward to more opportunities to write and more chances to hear from you, my readers. Thanks again for all you do. You truly bless my life each time you click on my blog to read it. Have a wonderful day, and please come back, again and again. :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Our Thoughts Define Our Journey

I have to admit, it has been a few months since I have been out walking. It's not that I don't like to exercise, it's that I despise walking in the cold of the winter. Now that the weather is changing, though, I was excited to get back into the groove of things. My kids generally come with me on my walks, and they ride their scooters while I walk with a friend. Most of my children enjoy the experience, but I have one who hates it, no matter what the weather is. It is about a four mile walk, and I can understand that the length of the walk can seem overwhelming for a young child, but he is one of my older children, and I figure that if my 5, 6, and 7 year old aren't complaining, and they are girls, then he should be okay too. I told him we would be walking again and gave him plenty of time to process that it was coming, but for days, he was whining and complaining that I was asking him to do such a hard thing. 

The morning of the walk came, and I knew it would be a fight. He was dragging his feet, making the morning miserable for everyone as we tried to prepare for our 8:00 AM departure, pointing out every negative thing he could think of about the walk. I said a quick prayer that I would be able to help him understand the importance of attitude, hoping Heavenly Father would give me the answers. The answer came as soon as I finished my prayer. From outside my window, I heard the birds whistling their happy tune as they prepared for their day, building their nests and foraging for their food.

Immediately, I stopped my son and told him to listen. The bird song came in loud and glorious. I explained to him that the birds don't have all of the luxuries we have. They fly south every winter (they don't have a car to take them there) and then they fly back every spring. Once they get here, they don't even have a home, they have to gather the things to build their home, then build their home themselves. Every morning, they have to get up early to go out and look for their food in order to take care of their babies and make sure their babies are protected from predators. They don't have an easy life, and yet every morning, you can hear them singing. They are singing because they are happy, happy that they are alive, happy that there is sunshine, and happy that they are together. They never complain and they never give up, because if they did, they would never survive.

I then asked my son to look around him when we were on the walk and think of all the things he was grateful for, all the things that brought him joy and made his heart want to sing. The walk was a different walk for him today. He was smiling, and joyful. When we came home, I asked him how the walk was. He said, "Well, I didn't complain." I asked him if he felt happy. He said, "I did, and I think I want to do it again tomorrow." 

I thought about his answer, "I didn't complain," and  it made me think about the scripture stories. There are so many stories in the scriptures where wickedness and destruction first began with murmuring. Remember the children of Israel? They were given so many miracles but when they started to complain, the Spirit could no longer comfort them because they no longer left room for Him to comfort them. Once we begin to complain, we lose the ability to feel the Spirit, and once we lose the ability to feel the Spirit, so many greater sins can creep in until we are consumed by them. I am pretty sure that is why we are told time and time again that our thoughts will define us. They really will.

It wasn't just a lesson for my son this morning, it was a lesson for me too, and all of us. There is power in positive thinking, but there is power in negative thinking too. The question is, who are you going to give the power to? Who are you going to let define your journey? My son had a joyful walk today because he let the Spirit in simply by not complaining. We can all do the same. If our thoughts really do define us, then I choose to be happy. :) 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Facing the Light

Last week for home-school, my son finished reading the book on space that he had been reading me, and he decided that wanted to tackle , The World History of Geography next. I was game, so we began. Generally when my children read to me, the information is nothing new for me, I'm not saying I'm a know it all, but my kids are all still elementary age, and I know some things. The book began by explaining how the Earth worked, the location of the planets, and how the seasons came to be based on the way the Earth tilted towards the sun. It was interesting, but nothing I hadn't heard before.

The book then explained day and night. Here is where things got interesting. The book explained that the Earth rotated around the sun. Well, of course I knew that, there was no new information there, so I am not sure why this next part was such an Aha moment for me, but it was. The book then explained that most people believe that the sun rises in the morning and it sets at night..... yes, I believe that..... but this is all an allusion......What? Because the sun always stays in one place and the Earth rotates around it, the sun does not rise and set, but sunrise comes when the Earth turns to "face" the sun, and night comes when the Earth "begins to turn away" from it.

When I read those lines, instantly I got chills. There was an amazing spiritual lesson in that geography book. My whole life, I had always thought that the sun rises and sets, but it is not true at all. The light comes when the Earth turns to face the sun, and the darkness comes when the Earth turns away. If we applied that to our own life, we can learn a great lesson. The light comes when we face the Son and the darkness comes when we turn away. It is really that simple. We are told in scripture that there is a type and shadow of Christ in all things. Even in the creation of the Earth, God has shown us who is at the center, what we must do to obtain the light, and what happens if we turn away.

How incredible it is to recognize God's handiwork and understand His love for us and for all His children. I hope that when we are in darkness, we remember that all we have to do is to face Him, and He will bring us light. He will shine the warmth of the morning sun upon our face and His light will dispel the darkness. We all have trials, and we will all at one time or other have to walk in darkness. It is part of our testing here on Earth, but I hope that, just as the Earth turns every morning to face the sun, that we will be just as reliable. When we are in darkness, may we always and forever turn to face God's Son so that we too may see the beautiful light of the morning.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Workways With the Wind

This past week was my birthday, and for my birthday, I wanted to fly kites with my family. Although the weather was a little more windy than usual, I was excited that there was wind to make our kites take flight. Because of the wind, our kites caught hold immediately, and they were off, soaring through the air, dancing upon the wind. They were beautiful and majestic to behold. It gave me a desire to dance on the wind myself.

The trouble my children had, though, is that instead of keeping their kites workways with the wind, they kept trying to force them to fly against the wind, at which time, the kites would promptly and unapologetically fall to the ground with such force that it would almost destroy the frame of the kites. They would then run to the kites without winding their string and, as the wind continued to blow, they would yell at the wind blaming it for their tangled mess.

As I patiently sat untangling kite string, listening to one of my older children blame the wind for all of his troubles, I started to think about the irony of it. We needed the wind that day in order to have the joy in seeing our kites soar high into the sky, yet when things got hard, it was the very thing that was blamed for all the problems. My children wanted the wind, yet they hated it at the same time.

I think that we are sometimes like this in our everyday lives. Often times, when hard things come into our lives, we see them as burdens and we "curse the wind" so to speak. But if we took a minute to understand the value of the wind in our lives, and learn to move workways with the wind, rather than fighting against it, we just might find joy in the journey. Not only will we be able to use the wind to carry us, but it may even give us flight and carry us to a place higher than we ever dreamed we could go.

Let me give an example. My childhood was not easy. Often times I wondered why God would place me in such difficult circumstances. After my mission president helped me see my mother differently, I learned to work with the trials I had been given and they have literally taken me to a place higher than I ever dreamed possible. I have been able to publish a book and become a motivational speaker to hundreds and thousands of people to help them learn the importance of love, trust and forgiveness, and hopefully help them see the value of the wind in their own lives.

So the next time you are flying a kite, and watching it dance upon the wind, remember the importance of the wind, and take joy in it. God has sent it just for you so that you can learn to dance upon the wind too.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

You Really Can Move Mountains... One Dirt Clump at a Time

I have always been told that I can move mountains if I just believed hard enough, but no matter how hard I try, I can never quite get my Jedi mind skills to work when those big mountains come into view. I feel that I "believe" and yet, I can't seem to pick up an entire mountain and move it out of my way as if I were Moses parting the Red Sea. I'm not saying that it can't happen, it obviously happened for Moses, but I have been pondering lately on exactly how this phenomenon can happen for me.

In all my pondering, I have come to this conclusion, I really can move mountains in my life, but rather than moving them all at once, I must move my mountains one dirt clump at a time. Let me explain. When I was a young mother, I would look into the eyes of my young children and think to myself, how am I going to teach you everything you are going to need to know to get you through such a difficult world ahead of you? I was scared at the thought of climbing that mountain and of taking my children with me, for fear that we would all fall because I would fail miserably. In reality, though, I don't have to climb the mountain, I can remove it one dirt clump at a time until the mountain is no longer obstructing my view.

How do we move the mountain? It begins with a change of attitude. Instead of looking at the mountain as a whole, look at it piece by piece, and it becomes more manageable. Each lesson I teach my child is a dirt clump I remove from the mountain that is blocking my path. We teach our children one lesson at a time, one day at a time, one moment at a time. Each of those defining moments chisel away at the mountains that we fear are blocking our progression. We don't have to move everything all at once, it comes one step at a time.

Another example is how I have been able to lose nearly 80 pounds. I have always been over weight. It has always been a challenge and I never thought I would ever move this mountain from my view. It happened though, one choice at a time. Each day, each meal, each moment I put something into my mouth, I had to ask myself if I was nourishing my body or sabotaging my goals (was I moving my mountain or was I helping to build it bigger)? Each choice we make can either remove our obstacles or aid in the obstacle becoming bigger. It is all dependent on the choices we make in the moments we make them.

So the next time a mountain blocks your view and you find yourself stuck, unable to move forward, don't get discouraged. Stop telling yourself there is nothing you can do because, after all, you can't move mountains. Change your attitude and you will change your life. Life happens in moments and what you choose to do with those moments that you've been given. Believe in yourself. You really can move mountains, one dirt clump at a time. :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chocolate and Other No No's......

It has been a particularly difficult few days for me, and last night, after things finally quieted down, I went to my bedroom closet, reached into my stockpile of chocolate (not just any chocolate, Costco toffee, my very most favorite, and the only kind of chocolate I hide from my children) and shaking like some kind of drug addict, I took a piece and placed it in my mouth. Immediately, I felt calmer as if eating the chocolate somehow took away all the stress I had been feeling and made it magically disappear. My husband, watching the act, started laughing. I immediately defended myself by explaining that my actions were perfectly acceptable because I was pretty sure God made chocolate just for me because he knew that alcohol was against the Word of Wisdom. There was more laughter, the comment that I ought to get that put on a T-shirt, a good-night kiss and he was off to sleep, but I was not.

As I lay in bed with my mind wandering, I began to think about that piece of chocolate and how important it is to me each night after a long hard day. I only ever eat just one, but it gives me something to look forward to. You see, over the past year, I have been working hard to lose weight. I have lost nearly 80 pounds in that year, and, yes, I have still lost the weight by eating my one piece of chocolate. 

It then lead me to think about this in comparison to our children (if you're wondering if I ever got to sleep, I eventually did, but it took a while). Anyway, in losing the weight, our whole family has been learning to eat healthy. It is a lifestyle change and we are all open to it. The thing that makes us open to it, though, is that we still allow our children those things that are considered no no's in this type of lifestyle. We don't give it to them all the time, they get it once a week. We do our best to eat really well most days of the week, but every Friday and Sunday mornings, the kids get sugared cereal for breakfast, and every Friday night is our pizza and movie night. We order pizza, get snacks (candy is involved) and we watch a movie together as a family. My kids have no problem sticking to the healthier things during the week, because they know that come Friday, they are going to have a really fun day, and I am not going to lie to you, Friday is their favorite day of the week!

So here is the lesson I learned in all of this, it is okay that you aren't perfect in everything. So what if you allow your children computer time once in a while when people say they should be outside. So what if you feed them pizza for dinner when the neighbors look on in horror. So what if you buy a wagon full of girl scout cookies and hide them in your closet (okay, I didn't do it, but I was tempted. Moderation, of course, is still important in all things). It's okay to participate in the pleasures of life once in awhile and to allow your children to participate in them as well (as long as they are not against the law or against the Word of Wisdom. I am not condoning sin here). I am simply saying that you can still lose weight by eating chocolate. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Awesome Husband and Family Scripture Study

A couple of weeks ago, we had Stake Conference and my awesome husband, Sean, was asked to speak in the adult session. The assignment he was given was "Family Scripture Study, a Principle of Safety". What a great topic, huh? Well, in true Sean form, he wrote a talk that was awe inspiring and made me think of all of the reasons we do it, and why we should continue to do it. For all of you who struggle with this activity in your home, I am sharing with you Sean's talk. Hopefully, it will inspire you as much as it did me and reinforce  your commitment to make it a regular occurrence. It may seem like a long read, but I promise you it is worth it! Here it is:

Who Do You Turn To?

The world is filled with problems. There is discord in government, financial instability, and the erosion of the family unit. The large social problems are accompanied with even more pressing problems in our personal life. The concerns of raising children in a Minefield of immorality, making it safely to a more certain shore of financial security in a sea of debt and wavering markets, or keeping the light in our hearts burning bright when the darkness of depression and doubt threatens to extinguish it. Where do we find relief? What is the solution, the fix to our failing systems and faltering faith?

Let me suggest a solution to all of these problems. Family Scripture Study.

Now before you scoff, I want you to know that I am not being overly dramatic nor am I trying to make light of these problems. I hope to make myself clear on this point. Often when we are faced with over-whelming circumstances, we neglect the simple solutions. Perhaps, we feel that large problems deserve large answers. Other times it is difficult to see how a simple act can bring about a lasting change. Yet, we have seen many an example of such things.

One such example comes to mind from the scriptures among the children of Israel. The deliverance of the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage was preceded by glorious miracles, culminating in one of scriptures greatest recorded miracle, the parting of the Red Sea (big solution for a big problem). But the troubles of Israel did not end there. They faced many challenges in the wilderness and not without some complaint. Each trial was followed by a miracle, water dispensed from rock, manna from heaven, even victory over their enemies. When one of their greatest trials came, though, the solution did not present itself in such a glorious manner.

On an occasion when the children of Israel were complaining against Moses, fiery serpents entered the camp and bit several of the company. As described in Numbers, chapter 21:

…and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
And the people spake against God, and against Moses…
…And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

Nephi gives us some further insight into this event. (quote)

He [speaking of the Lord] sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

Many Israelites perished because the simpleness of the task.

I'm sure that many of them were working on their own solution to the problem. Perhaps some were learned in the ways of medicine and the art of healing, relying on their wisdom to save them. Others may have felt that they were strong enough to endure and even overcome the poison, relying on their own strength. Perhaps there were some who had been praying for a cure and were just waiting for a more miraculous solution similar to the ones they had seen before.

When Moses presented the Lord's solution it was not glorious, it was simple. There seemed to be no logical reason why it would work. So how could it work? They missed the point of the task and it cost them their lives. Obviously, the brass serpent in itself could not heal them, but God certainly could. The brass serpent was nothing more than a symbol representing their willingness to listen to the prophet and to turn to God in their troubles.

Likewise, in our day, the Lord has provided us with very simple solutions as a means of safety in an ever more dangerous world. Today the prophet holds up a new standard, Family scripture study and family prayer. We have been asked to once again, through our actions, demonstrate our willingness to listen to the prophet and do the will of the Lord.

He has not asked us to teach our children to be scholars of the gospel. God does not expect every study to go perfectly. He understands the limited attention span of children and the limited patience of parents. He understands that there will be days when the Spirit is strong and other days when the struggle may seem to invite a different kind of spirit.

While we should do our best to bring the right kind of spirit into our Family scripture study and to instill the principles of the gospel in our children through testimony, as Elder Bednar has suggested, "Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work…”

This is an important principle in which to base our family scripture study. Along with consistency, might I add one other suggestion. You fathers who are here tonight. As the priesthood head of the home, take the lead in this activity and all gospel activities in the home. And as you read from the scriptures with your family, bear that simple testimony to your children of who to turn to for their safety.

Not all of us are able to have the priesthood in the home. I myself grew up in a home without that blessing. Do your best to maintain the activities of family scripture study, family prayer and family home evening and you too will have that same security offered to all those who turn to God.

Today, as the surrounding fiery serpents of the secular world threaten to poison us and our families, we are ever in more need of God's solutions. Family scripture study is a means of safety. It will not fix the problems we face in the world or in our personal lives, and maybe that is why it is so often disregarded in the hustle and the bustle of modern living.

However, I would urge you not to let this prevent you from turning to one of the most important activities that will secure your families safety. I am sure many of those bitten Israelites who were weakened by the poison of the serpents thought of Moses’ commandment to look upon the brass serpent as a trivial thing. Perhaps they said to themselves, “Surely, this would have no bearing on my predicament.”  Tired and weak, they thought of the arduous task to join the rest of the company in looking upon the brass serpent, and said, "Not today. I'm too tired and really what good will it do?"

As we face our problems, we too may feel overwhelmed. Tired and lacking all energy, adding one more activity to our already busy schedule may seem daunting, to say the least. We too may say, "Not today. I'm too tired and really what good will it do? How is such a simple thing going to solve my problems?”

Today there are more solutions offered to us than problems that exist. We dart from one to the other in hopes of finding that solution that will afford us some relief. I think we often feel that the test in life is determined by how well we are able to fix these problems. But, the central test of this life, the pass or fail if you will, is not in how we solved our problems. The real test comes when the tempests of life are at their strongest and it comes with one simple question: Who will you turn to?

How well we fix our problems matters very little, compared to the source we turn to for the solution.

Brothers and Sisters, I bear you my testimony that the Lord is that source and our willingness to have family scripture study as a lasting constant in our home is the beginning of those simple steps that will turn us from the world and its solutions to the true source of safety.  Let us be mindful of the simple tasks that the Lord has given us. Let us concentrate on that duty placed before us and do it, knowing that in the Lord and His solutions there is refuge from the storms. If you will do this, you will be given the strength to endure the "fiery darts" of the adversary and those fearful storms of the world will with time disperse and you with your family will find that new day in the presence of the Lord. In his sacred name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A New Direction: Secrets to Share

Since the release of my book in 2010, I have been wondering what to do with this blog. Even though the book was about my mother and her mental illness, I did not want to focus on mental illness because it isn't really something I know a lot about. I know what life was like living with my mother and how I felt as a child, but professionally, there are things I still don't understand. The other thing I don't have experience with is what it is like living with a mental illness, so I can't really help people in that respect either. So the question for me has been, what can I contribute that I am passionate and knowledgeable about that would benefit the lives of others.

After much soul-searching and prayer, I have found my answer, and ironically, the name of the blog still fits. I am a home-schooling mother of five amazing children. I have had the opportunity to teach them daily and see them as they grow. I have taught them how to read, how to write, how to love learning, how to make good choices, and how to be honest and respectful. So many times I take them places and I receive comments like, "What is your secret? How do you get your children to behave so well?" or "I don't know what you are doing, but your children are the best behaved children we have ever seen." When I get these comments, I usually laugh and explain that it's just because we were blessed with really good children, which may be true, but then I started writing articles for a website called FamilyShare about how we raise our children, and I started getting thousands of likes and shares on Facebook. People actually liked what I had to say so much that they were sharing it with their friends. This made me think that maybe it's not just our children. Maybe the things that we do have been making a difference in their lives.

So, after the long explanation, here is the new direction I am taking. This blog is called, "Mother Had a Secret" and I was thinking that I am that mother and I have secrets to share, lots of secrets, on how we raise our children, how I love my husband, and how I treat myself. The things that I learned were not learned from my own mother, they were learned from a loving God who knew I needed a hand, and who has been guiding me every step of the way. So welcome to my blog, welcome to my life, and welcome to my world of secrets. I hope they make a difference in your life, just as they have mine. :)