26 April 2010

Awesome People, Part 1

"I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends."
~ William Shakespeare

Today I've been thinking about the awesome people in my life and how they have blessed my life. I am sharing with you the first part of a very long list.

Krysten amazes me with her strength and resilience. She has faced and overcome obstacles that would've made other people faint. Her smile and loving kindness invite you in and you feel incredibly fortunate for the invitation.

Every child needs a father--and mine is exceptional. If I am kind, hard working, or loving, it is because of his example. He is a man of few words (except for the Boys Life jokes he tells!); his actions, however, are prolific. When I was growing up, I selfishly resented how serviceable and generous he was because that service took him away from the family. But now with a more complete understanding, I am grateful for his example and I try to reach out as he would. My dad would do anything for me--even use his valuable days off to drive six hours to clean the carpets of Judy's new house where I'd be living, help me move heavy boxes before his knee surgery, and much more. And my father constantly astonishes me with his creative genius: he can fix almost anything, use duct tape and orange bailing twine in very unusual but effective ways, and in a MacGyver like way, take ordinary household items and produce extraordinary, save-the-day results.

Emily is like chocolate cheesecake from Mike's Pastry in Boston: you didn't think something so amazing could exist in the world--but once you discover its existence, you don't know how you lived without it and you would go to great lengths to have some more. Love you, Em!

Gloria, DeAnne, Chris, and Mary Lou are the sweet (and sassy!) souls who loved me back into the fold. Mary Lou adopted me as one of her own children (which was convenient since I was good friends with all of her children). Though DeAnne taught our YW lessons on Sunday, the most important lessons I learned from her were in the one-on-one time she gave me. And Gloria and Chris wouldn't give up on me, even when I didn't want to listen. If I can become even one-tenth of the wonderful women they are, I will have succeeded in life.

I've had a difficult time putting into words the blessings that Jana's friendship has brought into my life--not because there wasn't enough but because the blessings are innumerable! Jana is a kindred spirit who understands my "bowl personality" (which was especially nice when surrounded by the "plates," Mel and Suz!). Jana gives her heart and soul to relationships; she cares deeply and mourns with those who mourn, and comforts those that stand in need of comfort--and she does so without fanfare and without expectation of remuneration of any kind. She is generous with her talents, skills, praise, counsel, time, and anything that she has. And as was recorded on our quote board, her "job is to laugh"--and she does that very well. "He came back to check me out," right Jana?

I've known Suz "forever" (or least that's the way it feels) and can't remember a time when I haven't been blessed by this remarkable woman. I marvel at all she has accomplished professionally and personally and how she is able to do it all! She balances career and family as well as anyone could. And she still squeezes in time for "girl time" with me, Judy, and Kerry! Although it looks like our initial dream of having adjacent university offices and being "matchy" Doctor Agee Pha-hood will not occur, I am confident that whatever new dreams that she and Steveo pursue will allow for at least a 'cameo appearance' by me once in awhile, even if only to drop in and spoil Brooke.

Steveo is definitely 'chicken in a biskit'! I'm grateful that Suz was smart enough to trade her melba toast in for Steveo. I love Steveo for countless reasons: for how happy he's made (and continues to make) Suz; for his friendship to me and how he embraced me as part of his life (he's not just 'some guy' Suz married, he's *my* friend too); for his example of goodness and honoring his priesthood; for all of the fun times he, Suz, and I have had together and will have in years to come; and for just being one of the coolest guys I've ever known. Steveo rocks the Kasbah. The end.


JenE's friendship is good for the heart. She has a magical way of making me feel better about myself, about the world, even about harrowing situations in life. I leave conversations with JenE feeling that I'm okay, the world is good, and that everything will work out just as it should. JenE also makes me laugh with her innocent, honest facial expressions and matter-of-fact statements: e.g. The expression on her face after she realized that the pot full of beans she'd put down the sink had clogged up the garbage disposal or her attorney-like assessment that something was a "lawsuit waiting to happen...but it was fun while it lasted!" I love that JenE continues to be in my life even though she is far away assuming her new role as Momma JenE. She will always be "my JenE."

I didn't know if Mel and I would be good friends when I first became her roommate--not that I didn't like her (or that the church was dirty or anything) but because Mel's life seemed to be full already with her large close-knit family (both immediate and extended), her multitude of other friends, and her very active life. Thankfully, Mel made room in her life for me...and I have thanked Heavenly Father ever since that I could "spend a few moments" with Mel. Those "few moments" whenever I get them are treasures to me. I love talking to Mel. I love learning from Mel. I love laughing with Mel. I love that, as she said so profoundly once, "isn't it great that we will be friends forever?!"

The word to describe Matt is brilliant. He is a brilliant 'techno genius' who patiently "dumbs down" technical issues so even someone technically challenged (like me) can understand. His brilliant mind perceives and absorbs gospel truths (I love discussing the gospel with him and learning the brilliant truths he's discerned!). He utilizes his brilliant gifts to befriend strangers he meets, people who are lonely and often excluded from the 'mainstream', and everyone else in every other situation in life; Matt's love and friendship are brilliant blessings in a sometimes cloudy life. Matt is also a brilliant example of honoring the priesthood and his covenants; his example engenders a desire in me to "try a little harder to be a little better."

You want KShum in your life: she is the bomb-diggity, THE 411, and the life of any party, anywhere. She is also a true friend who always has "got your back." Our (often) daily email/text conversations are fun and enlightening. Her heart is better than gold; I think it's platinum. Although she doesn't kill spiders (and Molly doesn't either, for that matter!), her friendship is always "in service"...and I am very, very grateful for that.

Kim's friendship is one of the grand, unexpected delights of my life--like getting a free gift with purchase. We were in the same ward and hung out in the same group of friends, but I didn't necessarily think that she thought I was "cool." To my great delight, she, someone I admired and with whom I loved spending time, reciprocated my admiration. What a tender mercy Kim is in my life. When she moved into my new ward, I was surprised and delighted to (finally) have a true friend in the ward. She generously took care of me during a very difficult health crisis, something totally aligned with her generous nature. I love laughing with Kim, especially late at night when I'm trying to type a comment about someone in my Facebook status. Kim's innate sense of adventure awakens my dormant dreams of seeing (and hiking through) the world. (Can't wait for our South American adventure, Kim!)

Judy...well, I've already extolled her virtues in several posts (here and there). "There is too much. Let me sum up." She is my BFFFFF..."and that's how you make it."

Believing without Seeing...

...shouldn't be difficult, right? I mean, Heavenly Father and Jesus love us and want what's best for us: trusting Them and believing in outcomes we cannot see (but that They have told us were coming) should come easily and naturally for us. Then why don't they come easily sometimes--especially in situations where faith is critical for survival?

How did Alma and his people "submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" when their circumstance didn't change? (Mosiah 24:15)

How was Nephi able to continue trying to obtain the brass plates when the first two attempts failed, his older brothers abused him, and he had no third attempt plan except to go forth "not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do" (1 Nephi 4:6)?

How could the Nephites awaiting the sign of Christ's birth continue to believe when they were taunted by the unbelievers ("Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain," 3 Nephi 1:6) and the believers faced certain death if the sign did not come on the appointed day? Somehow they were able to "watch steadfastly" for the sign to be given "that they might know that their faith had not been vain" (3 Nephi 1:8)--even as their unbelieving brethren plotted destruction.

I marvel at the faith and trust of these and countless other men and women. I don't know how they were able to do what they did. They were/are just a child of God like I am. What did/do they know that *I* don't know? What did/do they understand that *I* don't understand? How were they able to access the enabling power of the Atonement in their hour of need--and believe that it would save them, regardless of the actual outcome?

As I ponder these questions and seek insight for my own personal struggles of faith, I wonder if I can follow their examples. Am I capable of believing without seeing, of trusting in promises given with no visible evidence that they will actually be fulfilled? Am I capable of trusting the Lord and believing that He will help me?
My mind knows more than my heart is willing to trust: I know facts, stories, and truths...but my heart knowledge (experiencing and feeling these truths for myself) is very limited and therefore I hesitate to allow myself to be vulnerable when I don't know what the outcome will be. In fact, my automatic defense against being vulnerable and risking being hurt is to emotionally shut down--to distance myself from potential hurt and from those (even Heavenly Father and Jesus) who might hurt me. Not a healthy way to handle things, certainly; I'm trying to 'rewire' my response to reach out to and depend upon the Lord instead of withdrawing from Him but don't feel that I'm making much progress, particularly in the midst of my current trials of my faith.

When have you faced trials of your faith? What did you do to overcome them? How were you able to trust the Lord, especially at times when it seemed 'foolish' to do so (like when the children of Israel stood at the edge of the Red Sea and didn't see how they could cross it)?

Joseph Freeman: An Example of Faith

This morning as I was scanning through the emails I subscribe to, I saw a link to an article about the first black priesthood holder. I didn't even have to click the link to know who that was: it is Joseph Freeman--and I had the wonderful opportunity to associate with Brother Freeman when I served my mission in Colorado.

Before I became acquainted with Brother Freeman's remarkable history, I was touched by his testimony and faith. He was a warm, jovial, kind man who reached out to serve whenever and wherever he could. And his wife, Isapella, and young son JJ were also delightful. I treasured spending time with the Freeman family; I always left feeling renewed and hopeful--that even though serving my mission was difficult, that I could perservere and accomplish whatever the Lord wanted me to do. I am grateful to the Freemans, particularly to Brother Freeman, for his example and the love/support shared with me.

22 April 2010

One Thing Leads to Another...Logically?










You Speak My Language

You Speak My Language

You watched me from above.
I reached out for you but dared not speak--
Yet you knew the words
My mouth could not utter:

Need.
Help.
Hurt.
Heartache.
Lost.

A linguist of love,
You articulate healing with
Every blink and syllable.
What name have I for you,
My cherished helper?
Only one:
Friend.

Just Rannin' Around

The Mouth of Babes is one of my favorite videos to watch on Sunday or any day of the week. I love to hear the children's insightful answers to gospel questions. Why do we partake of water and bread for the sacrament? "Well, the water is like milk, and the bread is...just bread!" What do missionaries do? "They go on a mission!" What does smoking do? "It makes you cough and try to get it out." Very profound.

One of my favorites in the film is a little blonde girl who answers the questions in very interesting ways. (If you've seen the movie, she's the one who does "When Pebbles was a baby....") Her response to the question about where she was before she was born? "At my house." And what was she doing there? "Just rannin' around."

I like that phrase (just rannin' around); I think that phrase could be said of my life. I have just been "rannin' around" at work, in my life, and in everything I do. I go, go, go until I'm forced to stop. Living my life is sometimes exhausting.

"Rannin' around" could also describe how I deal with hurt--especially when I feel vulnerable and out of control. I just "ran around," trying to get as far away as I possibly can from whatever (or whoever) hurt me or is causing me to feel vulnerable. This "rannin'" away involves completely shutting off my heart sometimes in an attempt to stop feeling. As you can imagine, this doesn't work so well because suppressing ALL feelings means preventing myself from feeling the Spirit.

Although I'm less inclined now to completely shut down (I know there is a healthier, better way), I still see it occurring in my relationships...and that makes me sad. I don't want to "ran around" anymore--in my harried personal life or in my emotional life. I just need to figure out how to "be still" and know that God is with me.

Awesome Things

A friend sent me a link to a website called 1000 Awesome Things. It's a substantial list--1,000 to be exact--and has some very interesting entries. Reading through the list led me to ruminate on the 'awesome things' in my life. What awesome things do I see, experience, or enjoy in my life? I decided to create a list of my own.
  • The feeling of calm and peace I feel when I'm in the temple. (This is especially blissful since I'm normally a very anxious person.)
  • Hearing someone you love reciprocate with "I love you."
  • The overwhelming joy and gratitude I feel when I see the Lord's hand in my life--and how He pays attention to the details.
  • The feel of a down comforter wrapped around me.
  • A hug from someone who possesses the 'gift of hugging' -- the security and peace I feel when wrapped in that embrace.
  • Making other people laugh when I say something witty.
  • Following a small impression and seeing how the Lord uses me to answer someone else's prayer.
  • Dancing--anytime, anywhere--and how I can get lost in the movements and be transported to a blissful haven. 
  • Playing 100 games of "Go Fish" with a nephew--and hearing his endless stream of jokes.
  • Enduring to the end of a particularly harrowing experience and feeling the joy of overcoming.
  • Purple. The color makes me happy.
  • Losing myself in a well-written book.
  • The delight of insight and making connections in the scriptures that leads to further discovery.
  • The synergy and edification that occurs when discussing the Gospel with Emily and Judy. I love to learn from them!
  • Chocolate chip cookies made with oatmeal (especially from Hagermann's Bakery) and cold fat-free milk. Yum!
  • The turquoise water at the falls of Havasupai.   
  • The endorphins surging through my body after I exercise. I feel that I could take on the world!
  • Hearing my dad's voice when I call him crying. Sometimes a girl, no matter what age she is, just needs her Daddy.
  • The crunch of leaves under my feet.
  • The smell of lilacs. 
  • Feeling the sun on my skin, especially after being in the cold, air conditioned building.
  • Seeing the Lord answer my prayers and my needs through someone else.
  • Singing my testimony and having the Spirit testify that what I'm singing is true.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Finding just the right word or phrasing to encapsulate the meaning I desire, a la Elder Neal A. Maxwell.
  • My car, Chad. He is very good to me and endures well all of the stress I put on him. Plus, he likes to go fast as I do.
  • Sunrise on the beach.
  • A note from a friend who just wanted to say "I love you, you are important to me."
  • Hearing one of my favorite songs on the radio and singing along.
  • Creating. 
  • Sleep.
  • Someone else doing my dishes for me.
  • Feeling understood and valued.
  • Someone I respect wanting to spend time with me.
  • Learning 'big words' and incorporating these into my vernacular.
  • Cathartic writing. 
  • Trees make me happy: decorating my house with pictures of them; walking through a forest of trees; seeing the first leaves sprouting in the Spring after a long winter; soaking in the breathtaking colors of leaves in the Fall; researching the ancestors in my own family tree. 
  • Finding a 'kindred spirit.'
  • Inside jokes. Inserting inside jokes into conversations and making someone laugh.
  • Being authentic and feeling loved and accepted for who I am--feeling safe enough to 'just be.'
  • Camping with my dad and sister in the backyard.
  • Receiving revelation.
  • Flip flops that allow my feet to not be claustrophobic.  
  • A phone call from a friend I haven't talked to in many years.
  • Dustin--someone who loves unconditionally and makes me feel like the most important woman in the world. I soooo love you, Dust!

    21 April 2010

    "Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord"

    Men and women are so similar...and yet so not! After a particularly emotional event when a significant man in my life did not act the way I thought he should (didn't he read the 'script'?!), I began questioning the logic of encouraging men and women to become 'one." Was becoming 'one' even possible, given such differences?

    Pondering this question lead me to the words of Elder David A. Bednar in his article entitled "The Doctrinal Ideal of Marriage."
    In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles proclaim “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” This keynote sentence of the proclamation teaches us much about the doctrinal significance of marriage and emphasizes the primacy of marriage and family in the Father’s plan. Righteous marriage is a commandment and an essential step in the process of creating a loving family relationship that can be perpetuated beyond the grave.

    Two compelling doctrinal reasons help us to understand why eternal marriage is essential to the Father’s plan.

    Reason 1: The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation.
     
    The eternal nature and importance of marriage can be fully understood only within the overarching context of the Father’s plan for His children. “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and … has a divine nature and destiny.”  The great plan of happiness enables the spirit sons and daughters of Heavenly Father to obtain physical bodies, to gain earthly experience, and to progress toward perfection.

    “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” and in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary.

    After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said it was “not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18; Moses 3:18), and Eve became Adam’s companion and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness. Alone, neither the man nor the woman could fulfill the purposes of his or her creation.

    By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fulness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11; italics added).

    Reason 2: By divine design, both a man and a woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the rearing and nurturing of children.
     
    The commandment given anciently to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today. “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. … The means by which mortal life is created [are] divinely appointed.” Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel.

    A home with a loving and loyal husband and wife is the supreme setting in which children can be reared in love and righteousness and in which the spiritual and physical needs of children can be met. Just as the unique characteristics of both males and females contribute to the completeness of a marriage relationship, so those same characteristics are vital to the rearing, nurturing, and teaching of children. “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.
    -- Elder David A. Bednar, "The Doctrinal Ideal of Marriage," Ensign, June 2006, 82-87 (bolded emphasis added).

    I Love to See the Temple

    The temple is a very sacred and precious place to me. "I love to see the temple" as the primary song says. And I do; I love to see the temple and to be in the temple and to think about the temple and to learn in the temple. I feel exceedingly blessed to live in a place where temples (plural) are easily accessible--and I also feel ashamed that I do not utilize this blessing more often.

    My focus--our focus--needs to be more on the temple and the blessings therein. Seeing the "big picture" through the lens of temple covenants enables me to remember who I am and to act accordingly. I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and who has provided everything I need to return to Him and enjoy the blessings of eternal life. The rest is up to me, to accept His blessings and follow the way that was taught, in word and deed, by His Son, Jesus Christ.

    I want others to enjoy the blessings of eternal life also. Paramount to me is teaching my (yet unborn) children about the blessings of the temple and why living our lives worthy of entering the temple brings joy.


    President Ezra Taft Benson provided a wonderful address on this very subject. Below are extracts from his talk given in 1986:
    The temple is a sacred place, and the ordinances in the temple are of a sacred character. Because of its sacredness we are sometimes reluctant to say anything about the temple to our children and grandchildren.

    As a consequence, many do not develop a real desire to go to the temple, or when they go there, they do so without much background to prepare them for the obligations and covenants they enter into.

    I believe a proper understanding or background will immeasurably help prepare our youth for the temple. This understanding, I believe, will foster within them a desire to seek their priesthood blessings just as Abraham sought his.

    When our Heavenly Father placed Adam and Eve on this earth, He did so with the purpose in mind of teaching them how to return to His presence. Our Father promised a Savior to redeem them from their fallen condition. He gave to them the plan of salvation and told them to teach their children faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. Further, Adam and his posterity were commanded by God to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to enter into the order of the Son of God.

    To enter into the order of the Son of God is the equivalent today of entering into the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which fullness is only received in the House of the Lord....

    But this order [of the priesthood] is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.

    If a couple are true to their covenants, they are entitled to the blessing of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. These covenants today can only be entered into by going to the House of the Lord.

    Adam followed this order and brought his posterity into the presence of God. He is the great example for us to follow.
    --President Ezra Taft Benson, "What I Hope You Would Teach Your Children about the Temple," Tambuli, April 1986, 1 (emphasis added).

    Nourishing and Protecting Home and Family


    Nourishing and protecting home and family is critical--not only for women and mothers but for everyone. All need to be involved, to be engaged in defending home and family. I feel very passionate about this cause.

    When I heard Sister Julie B. Beck speak at the BYU Women's Conference about this topic, I was greatly moved and inspired by the insights and pure doctrine that she shared. I recommend--no, exhort--everyone to listen to or watch this profound talk.
    Julie B. Beck | Nourishing and Protecting Home and Family | May 01, 2009 | BYU Broadcasting
    Highlights from this talk include the following:
    • "Every mother produces a superior daughter...that's the job of a mother."
    • "We began and knew about the plan of the family before we were born."
    • "Both Adam and Eve had leadership roles in their family, as given to them in their assignments. They got their responsibilities by virtue of that celestial marriage and sealing.... That marriage was an order of the priesthood and they needed that in order to one day 'see the face of God and live.' They were preparing for the blessings of eternal life as they began their family."
    • "Eve had a leadership role, it was an influential role--to choose to bring children into the earth and to teach them and give other spirit children opportunities for blessings of eternal life."
    • "We have to be intentional about everything we do.... I'm so grateful for parents who were intentional about preparing the family, and they created a personalized family plan for our family."
    And my favorite...
    • "We have a huge problem in our families with pornography and the influence that that's having in our families. And my feeling that's been coming over me in a powerful surge is, Sisters, fight! Fight! Sisters, you have the responsibility in your homes.... This is our responsibility. Many helps have been provided by the Church of how to fight. We cannot sit and act like victims. This is the fault of a determined adversary, and we have to take responsibility for defending our homes."

    20 April 2010

    A Good Woman...

    "A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.

    "The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. Qualifying for the Lord’s Spirit begins with a desire for that Spirit and implies a certain degree of worthiness."

    -- Sister Julie B. Beck, General Relief Society President, “And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” April General Conference 2010.

    19 April 2010

    Survival Does Not Equal Enduring Well...

    ...but sometimes surviving is all you can do. I know because I've spent the last few months surviving--and even surviving didn't seem possible! Trying to survive or endure a trial (or series of trials) can be done using basic human instinct: we are programmed with a "fight or flight" survival mechanism and the ability to accomplish either task (fighting through a trial or fighting someone or something to survive; or fleeing a dangerous situation that our basic human brain has determined is life-threatening).

    Anyone can survive if he or she wants to. The problem is that surviving means empowering the natural man or woman within us and embracing the Darwinistic approach to life--one that is, by nature, a selfish one. Survival of the fittest leaves no room for serving or helping; other people are viewed as either potential threats (e.g. "He could hurt me if I let him get too close") or liabilities ("I can't take time to listen to her problems; I've got to do this or that to survive").

    And nowhere in the self-preserving, self-absorbed "survival mode" can one fit in the Savior because reaching out for His help requires faith, trust in Him and not in one's own abilities (Darwin would *definitely* not approve!), and believing in outcomes without empirical evidence to guarantee one will be "safe" from difficult times.

    In fact, seeking and relying upon the Savior is the antithesis of being in "survival mode" and superficially appears to be impossible to do when one is drowning in the turbulent tide of trials. Yet, opening our hearts to the Savior, reaching out to Him, depending upon and trusting Him, allowing Him to help us...all of these things are precisely what we need to do. We can endure on our own (or what we erroneously believe is our own), but all we will have to show from the experience are battle scars and bitterness. However, if we yield ourselves to the Lord and allow His Atonement to be efficacious in us, then we can not only endure but we can endure well: we will not be saved from harrowing experiences, but we will be saved from the bitterness of hell (fear); we will not be exempt from heartache and loss, but we will expect blessings and growth even if it is "after the fact"; and we will not expedite the trial's resolution, but we will be resolute in waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promise in His time and in His way.

    I know from too many experiences, particularly of late, that securing an emotional tourniquet around my heart does not heal the wound, it only cause my heart to go numb. And when I cannot feel anything in my heart, I am not only numbing the pain but I am preventing the healing and comfort of the Holy Spirit from entering my heart also--and without the Spirit to speak peace to my heart, I am left alone, numb, and without any hope or ability to fix what's wrong. Unfortunately for me, this numbing, survival mode is my default; I can switch into autopilot survival without even noticing that I've done it.

    I am grateful that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and my capacity. Though I can and am very disparaging on myself for not enduring well, I know that He understands me and my limitations in life. He teaches me what His expectation is (enduring well), but He accepts whatever I have to offer and then mercifully heals my heart as much as I will allow Him to; then He brings me to a place where I can feel safe again. He is pleased with whatever I can offer, no matter how meager that offering is. He accepts it and He accepts me as I am right this moment in my weakness. Though I am weak, He enables me to be strong. He is easily pleased with any progress I make, but He is never satisfied--and He won't be satisfied until He enables me to qualify for and receive all of the blessings He has to offer.

    That is love. That is a perfect Parent. That is who our Heavenly Father is.

    Unwilling to Believe

    The problem with engaging in honest introspection is that you discover things you are appalled are there. Like pulling out the stove to clean behind it and seeing a disgusting, unsanitary mess that makes you wonder if HazMat ought to be notified immediately ("clean up on aisle 7 please!").

    Today I learned two related and very unnerving truths about myself through the harrowing challenges of the day and subsequent pondering about today's events.

    1. Although I try to believe, I am unwilling to do so when I have convinced myself that something is "impossible" and that I am "deceiving myself" to think any other outcome could be plausible. No amount of reasoning from others--even when my heart recognizes it as truth--will help me see otherwise; the discouragement and hopelessness causes me to be deaf and blind. SIGH.
    2. I cannot seem to change my mind set to believe that Heavenly Father would help me in my personal life, in things that I want and bring to Him in prayer. I can believe that if He commands me to do something, either explicitly in a priesthood blessing or by giving me a strong impression to do something I normally wouldn't do on my own--e.g. buy a house that forces me to commute (I loathe commuting)--that He will provide the way for it to be accomplished. However, if there is something I desire, then I automatically think that Heavenly Father would not help me--I guess because I've convinced myself that what I want is automatically wrong.

    I don't know how to change these things about myself. I've had too many experiences being wrong, most recently a four-year-long ordeal that caused me to lose all confidence I had in myself and my ability to discern promptings correctly. I stayed with the situation for four years because I felt peace about it when I prayed, and I had received many, many assurances that things would work out. I assumed that "working out" meant something different than what actually happened: what the Lord had in mind was to work me out of that relationship so He could heal me. I didn't understand it at the time (I still don't fully comprehend it), but what the Lord had in mind was best for me. If things had worked out the way I had envisioned them, I would probably be miserable now and stuck in a situation that would pull me away from Heavenly Father instead of bringing me closer to Him.

    Although I can see the blessings of and wisdom in what the Lord did for me in leading me out of that situation, there is still an emotional scar that reminds me how "wrong" I was--wrong because I interpreted the peace to mean something that was not so. Now I doubt my ability to interpret peace or understand promptings I receive; I don't trust myself to be "right" when for four years I thought I was "right" but I was actually "wrong."

    Will I ever be "right" again? Will I ever be able to forgive myself for being human and allow myself another chance, to learn from my experience and allow Heavenly Father to bless me? Or will I confine myself forever to the prison of self-protection and survival--not allowing myself another chance to risk and fail (or succeed!)?

    Letting Go of the "Should"

    I'm a big fan of Whitney Johnson's Dare to Dream blog. For over a year now, I've followed it religiously and internalized the truths shared by Whitney and the other fabulous women, which in turn intensified my desire to dare to dream.

    Yet...

    Yet, I still evade my dreams by applying the ubiquitous "should"--i.e. "This dream would be lovely...but I should want what I have now" or "Pursuing and fulfilling this dream would bring me so much happiness...but I should stick with what I know instead of trying something that I could fail at."

    The should gets me every time. And I abhor that I allow should (and the fear that gives should its power) to persuade me to abandon my dreams and potential happiness.

    Why do I empower should when doing so only enervates my ability to pursue the dreams and passions I have? What could I do to weaken the leverage should has on me, to liberate myself to pursue my dreams?