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.