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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Our Father Knows

I have been meaning to write for a long, long time. The last six months have been full of life changes, big and small. First of all, I am excited to announce to those who do not already know that I have gone back to school! I have been thinking about going back for years, but something always seemed to hold me back. In early July, something just nudged me and before I knew it, I was meeting with advisers, transferring credits, filling out paperwork, declaring a major, and registering for classes! I transferred my credits from Weber State University to Utah State University, and I have been accepted into their Professional and Technical Writing program. If all goes according to plan, I should graduate in May of 2017! I'm not positive what I will do after that, but I've always been interested in a career as an editor or as a grant writer, and this major will prepare me to do either of these things. I have loved every minute of being back in school, and I am learning amazing things! I just finished up my first semester back, and even with my crazy, busy life, the Lord has helped me get A's across the board! I am so grateful for a Father who magnifies our capacities and blesses abundantly!

While going back to school has been a positive and exhilarating change, there have been some really hard developments for our family as well. On the weekend of November 20, Tyler and I were in Park City celebrating our 15th anniversary at the beautiful Washington School House Hotel. It was a magical weekend. On Saturday, I began noticing that Tyler was acting strange. He was haunted by an unquenchable thirst, and a constant need to relieve it. We decided to come home from our trip early; on the way home, he drank almost 100 oz. of fluid and wanted more. (It was only an hour and a half drive!) I knew something wasn't right. He stayed home from church the next day. On Sunday night, as he was sleeping, I noticed that his hands felt strange. They seemed to be drained of life; they were skin and bones and ice cold. The skin on his arms looked like elephant's skin, and it looked like he was losing muscle tone. It's hard to describe that part, but it was rather shocking.

The next morning, he seemed to feel a little better, so he went to work. I started looking things up online, trying to figure out what was going on. I found out about a condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication, and decided that that must be what Tyler had. He had been drinking tons of water to help him lose weight and control his appetite. I just figured that his fluid intake had gotten out of hand. He texted me at 10:00, and asked if I could come pick him up from work at lunch because he was feeling too dizzy to drive. When I picked him up, I told him that he needed to limit his fluids. We went to the grocery store and he bought yogurt to cool his parched throat. I called my mom (a retired nurse) and told her what was going on. She also thought it sounded like hyponatremia and told us to "quit messing around" and get to the doctor and emphasized that it is a potentially fatal condition. I called our family doctor's office and was told that they had no openings, not even for emergencies. We then decided to head to the ER. By the time we got there, Tyler's symptoms were progressing rapidly. His head was on fire, he was becoming more agitated, and his speech was slurring. He became manic in his speaking as well and was beginning to make less sense. We started to register, then when they saw how he was acting, they took him back immediately. They ran all sorts of tests. Our time in the ER was frightening and is still a little bit of a blur. At one point, they took him from me to go get x-rays. As I sat there, I heard the ER doctor talking on the phone with a specialist at McKay Dee hospital (I didn't know what our diagnosis was yet). He was describing a 36-year old male patient and asking if he should order a life flight transport. Right then, I crumpled. Tears of desperation and fear sprung to my eyes and the room began to swim. A thought entered my mind that I should ask for Russ to be with me (Tyler's father who passed away in 1998). I did pray for his presence. Instantly, I was calmed. I somehow knew that Tyler would receive the help he needed, and that everything would be all right. After another fifteen minutes or so, the doctor came in and told us that while Tyler was starting to develop hyponatremia, they were more concerned with his blood sugar, which was an incomprehensible 892. Normal blood sugar should be from 70-130. People with blood sugar over 400 are at risk for going into a diabetic coma. They said that they could not believe that Tyler was still conscious and coherent (more or less). We had no idea that he was diabetic. He had lost 55 pounds in the effort to be healthier, so it was a blow to him psychologically. We went from thinking "Hey! Here we are getting healthier and taking care of everything" to "We have a chronic disease" in a matter of seconds. They guessed that he had had diabetes for years, but since he is a healthy, average weight, active guy, we never suspected it. They reassured us that diabetes, though it has quite a stigma, is primarily a genetic disease, which in some cases may be postponed by diet and exercise, but they explained, sometimes it's just in your cards no matter what you do to prevent it.

They swept him away to the ICU, where he stayed for three days. After that, he was moved to a regular hospital room for another day. The time in the hospital was spent meeting with dietitians, educators, and doctors, learning about insulin, monitors, etc. It was a time of grieving for both of us; we grieved Tyler's health, we grieved the simplicity of life before this challenging diagnosis. I was pulled between my responsibilities at home with the kids, and my desire to be with Tyler as he faced this Goliath. Most of all, I was scared. You see, I have been at risk for diabetes for years. It has always been a concern for me. I am overweight. I am unhealthy. I am the one who was fighting back this disease. Not only did I feel bad that Tyler was the one who got it, I also felt an immense pressure to do everything in my power to ensure that I wouldn't also find myself in his shoes. As I began to consider the financial strain that this expensive disease was sure to place on our family, I felt frantic. I am not diabetic, thank goodness. But I am still trying to make sense of my eating disorder, to find the drive and divine assistance that will help me to change my own life. Now, I feel so much pressure regarding my health, that it is a very heavy and difficult burden.

When Tyler was able to come home from the hospital, on the evening before Thanksgiving, there was a sweet, almost tangible spirit of peace and gratitude in our home. It was almost like the feeling that comes to a home following the birth of a new baby. Our husband and daddy had been protected. He could have died. He should have been in a coma. He should have had internal damage to his organs. But he didn't die. He wasn't in a coma. And his organs are completely healthy. He and I both felt the power of these miracles. We were able to enjoy his being home as a gift--a second chance at life. Everything was different and we knew it. Our perspective, especially going into the holiday season, was so keenly focused on our Heavenly Father's love for us and His mindfulness of our situation and our family's needs.

I wish I could say that we still have that spirit in our home, at least that strongly. We still have a renewed appreciation for life, health, and family, but now we are beginning to see the more immediate and temporal implications of living with this disease: the cost of insulin, of testing supplies, and of course, the staggering medical bills that are now showing up in the mail. I am so very grateful that we have good insurance. After Tyler lost his job, he went uninsured for about six years. And though our bills are high, we see that as a major miracle. I don't know how everything will work out, but I feel very strongly that it will. Our father knows our situation and He knows our hearts. He will clothe, feed, and bless us, as He always has. It's going to be all right.

A few weeks ago, I was at the doctor's office for a procedure, and when the nurse asked me if I was experiencing any depression or anxiety, I lost it. LOST IT. The weight of ALL of it just filled my little troubled heart and spilled out everywhere. I was a mess. It was extremely embarrassing! At that moment, I knew that during all these years of hard things for our family, I had been having anxiety, and I never realized it. The doctor came in and talked to me about it, and we came up with a plan, which is working very well.

Whew! So as you can see, we Walton's never settle for boredom!

Yesterday, I was reading my scriptures and trying to decide on a verse to ponderize for the week, and I ran across this little gem: ""For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him." --3 Nephi 13:8

I love this verse!  Do you know why? Because I absolutely know it to be true! As my heroine, Marjorie Pay Hinckley put it: "I love the Lord. I know this is His work and that He is at the Helm. I have seen too much to ever deny it. He lives. He is truly my Father, and the Savior is my Savior in every sense of that word. If I can just be one more voice to say that God lives and that this is His work, I will be satisfied."

It is going to be OK. Before Tyler lost his job seven years ago, I thought that losing a job would be the worst possible thing to happen to our family. But it wasn't. In a way, it has been a beautiful thing for our family. And before Tyler was diagnosed with diabetes, I thought that receiving a diagnosis like that would be the worst possible thing to happen. But it hasn't been. It has been a beautiful reminder of what is truly important in life, that this life is fleeting and fragile, that every breath is a gift from a loving Father, and that families can do hard things together. We can do hard things! Now that we are managing his blood sugar, we are finding, to our relief, that his condition, at least for now, is just one little corner of our world. I know that we are going through this because we are supposed to go through this. Things are working out. And I know that they will continue to work out. For that knowledge, I am grateful. God is truly at the helm. Thank goodness for that!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lead Me, Guide Me

These last few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life.  I was contacted three weeks ago with a job offer for the agent who took over the office that I used to manage.  She offered me any hours I wanted to work, and a pretty attractive salary.  No matter how I looked at the offer, I would have to leave Baby Bennett with family or with day care for at least part of the time.  But the offer was a good one, and heaven knows our family needs the money. I needed to get back with her within 48 hours.  It was absolutely exhausting, draining, and consumed my days and nights.

I decided to spend some time in the temple.  I went through the session, then sat in the celestial room for a long, long time.  In fact, I had the audacity to tell Heavenly Father, "I'm not leaving until you tell me what to do."  The voices of the world and voices of human logic seemed so loud and clear:  "It is your duty.  It is an offer you need:  an offer you can't refuse."  The voices of peace and spiritual comfort and clarity came much, much more softly, and required a whole lot of soul-searching.  But eventually the answer came that day:  "Kristen, not now.  Now, be a mommy.  Just be a mommy."

In my mind, I can almost see some of my readers scratching their heads, perhaps wondering:  "Wait, haven't we already been through this?  Didn't you already make this decision a year ago?  Why are you doing this again?"

Well, yes.  I did decide to come home last year, after months of praying and dreaming.  But since then, I have always wondered if that was a logical thing to do.  Spiritually, it felt right, but Satan certainly has a way of testing us, doesn't he?  Especially in our extremities, financial and otherwise.  So it comes down to this:  I don't know where the answer lies, but I am choosing faith once again, choosing to travel through these trials without purse or scrip.  It's a trying path that I'm taking by choosing to be a full-time mother, but the vistas are grand, the rewards are immediate, and the lessons come daily.  I pray that things will work out somehow, whether in expected or mysterious ways.

I have more very important decisions in my life at this time, which I also prayed about in the celestial room that evening.  One is still quite sacred and fresh, so I will ponder it in my heart for a bit longer, but I am feeling confident that God is mindful of me, though at times He veils His answers so I can develop my faith more fully.  I guess I'll keep you posted on those things when the spirit prompts me to share.

For now, I share my gratitude with you.  I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who allows me to grapple with my problems and personal decisions, so that I may retain the knowledge and faith thereof for eternity.  I am grateful that life is hard, for that is how I grow, how my spirit is strengthened, and how I have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the Savior.  That is how I develop compassion.  That is how I find clarity.  The voice of the Holy Ghost is more than just a warm fuzzy feeling.  It is the comfort of my very own Savior, my "true eternal friend."  His voice guides me, directs me, and leads me along, in a beautiful and perfect way, when I am willing to live the commandments, and when I am willing to ask for direction.  I need that direction every hour.  I need it every minute.  I pray that I will always trust the promptings I receive, never discounting them because of the world's logic, or because I am not in tune enough to recognize them.

On traveling without purse or scrip, artist Liz Lemon Swindle wrote: 

"Early in His ministry, the Savior called His disciples to go forth and preach his word. These were largely fishermen with little money. They must have worried how they would provide for themselves and their families as they left to go and preach. Calming their fears Jesus said, 'Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses… for the workman is worthy of his meat.' – Matthew 10:9-10

The Savior, nearing the end of his life, could again sense the fear growing in his disciples. He reminded them, 'When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing.' – Luke 22:35

We live in times of great uncertainty when the necessities of life seem harder to come by and where the burden of providing for our families seems heavier than in days past. [I am reassured] that although the road may be rough, when we walk with Him we need not worry for in Christ we lack nothing."

View Liz Lemon Swindle's beautiful painting: "Without Purse or Scrip" here.

I know that there are great rewards in store for those who leave comfort behind and place their hearts in the center of God's will.  I wish to do that very thing.  All of my days.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Order of Things

I have been thinking a lot lately about a story Gordon B. Hinckley told about his discouraging first few months of being a missionary in England.  Many of my LDS readers have probably heard the story.  Things were not going well at all for the young elder.  Persecution was rampant and his self-esteem was low.  He felt guilty for "wasting" his family's meager wages on a mission which was proving to be unfruitful.  He was depressed, exhausted, and feeling pessimistic about his ability to do any good for the people.  He wrote home to his father, explaining his frustrations and expressed his concern that he was wasting his time and the family's money.  A few weeks later, he received a response from his father:  "This is my advice for you:  forget yourself and go to work."

I feel that way now.  I am sorry that I have to deal with this extraordinary trial of being obese, and with compulsive bad habits that lead to poor health.  Addiction is a beast, I'll tell you!  But, I know that I need to somehow turn my heart somewhere outside of my own struggles to be a better servant to others.  I need that ministry mindset to help myself heal.  It's hard to do, when my own struggles are always on my mind.  I think that while my desires to improve myself and my health are worthy desires, I also need to be aware of others who suffer more than I do.

The world gives a different message.  Most self-help books out there teach Maslowian principles of taking care of yourself, your own basic needs, your own comfort before ever reaching out to others.  This is a true principle of course, that you have to take care of yourself to be completely available to help others, but what the world doesn't really teach, is that by reaching out to others, even within our own extremities, we can find great levels of healing and self-discovery.  By losing ourselves in the service and concern for others, we truly are able to find ourselves.  I have found this in the past, and I feel the call to revisit that mentality as I try to get back on track.

Many times lately, I have heard the pithy saying that the word JOY stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself, and that that is the proper order to follow with our priorities, but I have never completely agreed with that premise.  It's a half-truth because by loving others, we are simultaneously loving Jesus AND ourselves.  When the gospel is lived correctly, there is no need to even think about what order to follow.  We live for others, and by so doing, we show reverence and love for our Savior, and also find healing in our own lives.  It can be a beautiful thing.  I have been blessed to feel this a few times in my life, particularly when we were struggling financially right after Tyler lost His job.  To be able to serve others when our whole world seemed to be falling apart was the most therapeutic thing we could do, and I craved for opportunities to help others.  I had never felt so much humility and gratitude than I did when I was able to offer a mite of service during some of the hardest years of my life.

Still, it all starts with developing that fire of desire by way of a healthy, vibrant testimony of the gospel.  And as a healthier, lighter individual, perhaps I will be an even better servant and disciple.  Feeling good is definitely a motivator!

Anyway, my thoughts are all over the place today, and this post may not make any sense at all, but I would like to forget myself a little more in the next few days and focus on helping others for a bit.  I know that it will be a wonderful week of self-discovery and worship.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On Being Genuine

I just read one of those talks that has the power to change lives!  I really don't think that my voice will add much to the beauty and verity of President Uchtdorf's counsel, so I will post the passages that resonated with me the most. They are all from his recent address at the priesthood session of the April 2015 General Conference which can be found here.

"In the late 18th century, Catherine the Great of Russia announced she would tour the southern part of her empire, accompanied by several foreign ambassadors. The governor of the area, Grigory Potemkin, desperately wanted to impress these visitors. And so he went to remarkable lengths to showcase the country’s accomplishments.

For part of the journey, Catherine floated down the Dnieper River, proudly pointing out to the ambassadors the thriving hamlets along the shore, filled with industrious and happy townspeople. There was only one problem: it was all for show. It is said that Potemkin had assembled pasteboard facades of shops and homes. He had even positioned busy-looking peasants to create the impression of a prosperous economy. Once the party disappeared around the bend of the river, Potemkin’s men packed up the fake village and rushed it downstream in preparation for Catherine’s next pass.

Although modern historians have questioned the truthfulness of this story, the term “Potemkin village” has entered the world’s vocabulary. It now refers to any attempt to make others believe we are better than we really are."

"[If He were here], what the Savior would want to know is the condition of our heart. He would want to know how we love and minister to those in our care, how we show our love to our spouse and family, and how we lighten their daily load. And the Savior would want to know how you and I grow closer to Him and to our Heavenly Father."

"I am here because I desire with all my heart to follow my Master, Jesus Christ. I yearn to do all that He asks of me in this great cause. I hunger to be edified by the Holy Spirit and hear the voice of God as He speaks through His ordained servants. I am here to become a better man, to be lifted by the inspiring examples of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to learn how to more effectively minister to those in need.

In short, I am here because I love my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ."

"Whether your testimony is thriving and healthy or your activity in the Church more closely resembles a Potemkin village, the good news is that you can build on whatever strength you have. Here in the Church of Jesus Christ you can mature spiritually and draw closer to the Savior by applying gospel principles day by day.

With patience and persistence, even the smallest act of discipleship or the tiniest ember of belief can become a blazing bonfire of a consecrated life. In fact, that’s how most bonfires begin—as a simple spark."

"So if you feel small and weak, please simply come unto Christ, who makes weak things strong."

"My beloved brothers in Christ, the God of Creation, who breathed life into the universe, surely has the power to breathe life into you. Surely He can make of you the genuine, spiritual being of light and truth you desire to be."

"Artificial discipleship not only keeps us from seeing ourselves as who we really are, but it also prevents us from truly changing through the miracle of the Savior’s Atonement."

"The Church is not an automobile showroom—a place to put ourselves on display so that others can admire our spirituality, capacity, or prosperity. It is more like a service center, where vehicles in need of repair come for maintenance and rehabilitation.

And are we not, all of us, in need of repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation?"

“God resist[s] the proud, but give[s] grace unto the humble.”

"The greatest, most capable, most accomplished man who ever walked this earth was also the most humble. He performed some of His most impressive service in private moments, with only a few observers, whom He asked to “tell no man” what He had done.15 

When someone called Him “good,” He quickly deflected the compliment, insisting that only God is truly good.16 Clearly the praise of the world meant nothing to Him; His single purpose was to serve His Father and “do always those things that please him.”17 We would do well to follow the example of our Master."

"[I pray that we will] strive for a far greater honor: to become humble, genuine disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we do so, we will find ourselves walking the path that leads to our best, most genuine, and noblest selves."

Beautiful, beautiful, hopeful words.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Back to the Basics

This morning I listened to Elder M. Russell Ballard's address, "The Greatest Generation of Youth" from the priesthood session of the April 2015 General Conference.  Though I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a youth, I found many of the high notes of his address quite helpful and timely as I reset my course to good health and increased spirituality.  I especially loved the following quote:

"The Savior of the world came to understand each of us individually by experiencing our dashed hopes, challenges, and tragedies through His suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross.  He died as one final act of love for us and was buried in a new tomb on that fateful night."

I have felt the weight of dashed hopes and challenges lately, as I deal with the pains and discomforts of gaining all my weight back.  It stinks.  The other day, I received a "helpful" and well-meaning comment about my weight that later brought me to tears at my bedside.  After a good cry, I was able to take a few deep breaths and realize that the comment was offered out of love and concern and that offense wasn't intended.  I thought about the advice, and by grace, I was able to examine the advice and find something useful in it.  It was a good reminder that I should never aspire to change habits and self out of fear, anger, resentment, or revenge.  Change should be the offspring of submission, humility, and an underlying desire to better serve God.

Another thing I enjoyed about Elder Ballard's talk, was the fabulous checklist that he provided for prospective young missionaries.  I have been thinking about the basics lately, so this list is a great jumping off point for that inner dialogue and self-reflection.  Here is the list:

1.  Do you search the scriptures regularly?
2.  Do you kneel in prayer to talk with your Heavenly Father each morning and each night?
3.  Do you fast and donate a fast offering each month?
4.  Do you think deeply about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice for you when [partake] of the sacrament?
5.  Do you attend your meeting and strive to keep the Sabbath day holy?
6.  Are you honest at home, school, church, and work?
7.  Are you mentally and spiritually clean?  Do you avoid viewing pornography or looking at websites, magazines, movies, or apps that would embarrass you if  your parents, church leaders, or the Savior Himself saw you?
8.  Are you careful with your time--avoiding inappropriate technology and social media which can dull your spiritual sensitivity?
9.  Is there anything in your life you need to change and fix?

Though this list was intended for young men, I found a few areas in my life that I need to improve.  Another great resource for this self-reflection activity is Alma 5, so I think I will spend some time reading there this week as well.

I have also been thinking about going back to the basics with my health.  Last time I found myself on the right path, it started with a simple decision.  I had had a physically uncomfortable evening visiting another ward's new beginnings program with the stake.  This discomfort propelled me forward.  Looking back on that experience, these are some of the rudimentary steps I took that helped me get started:

1.  No eating after 8:00 pm
2.  Exercise every day, at least ten minutes.
3.  Track everything I eat.
4.  Weigh in every week.

It's not much of a list, but that's how I started.  As I solidified these good habits, I was able to add more.  I think there is part of me that operates with an "all or none" mentality.  If I can't be perfect at maintaining good health, I shirk from taking care of myself at all.  Obviously that doesn't make any sense.  I need to work on that all or none thinking and allow myself to be imperfect.  I love this quote that I found on Pinterest the other day:

"We must have the courage to be imperfect while striving for perfection."  --Patricia R. Holland

I also loved this little gem:

(image courtesy scratchpaperstudio.com)

So here I am.  It's not where I want to be, ultimately, but that's ok.  There's beauty here, too.  My being here is a sign that I'm willing to learn and grow.  It's a sign that I obeyed promptings to bring another baby to Earth (no small thing!).  It's a sign that I am seeking a change of heart.  It's pretty much a sign that while I'm not perfect, I'm still pretty awesomesauce.  And that's that.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

He Suffers With Us

This morning I've been thinking deeply about HOW I can work towards my health goals with a full purpose of heart (see yesterday's post), especially given that I seem to find energy and motivation in short supply these days!  I'm always comparing now with last time I lost weight and was wildly successful.  These comparisons are starting to feel unhealthy, and not unlike when I compare myself with others.  True, I can learn a lot from "last time", but I am a different person now than I was then, and I have had struggles and experiences since then that have helped me to develop into the me of today.  By always saying things like, "Why can't I be like I was then?" or "What is my problem?" or "Why is it so hard now?", I'm really becoming stuck in the past.  The truth is that I HAVE gained all of my weight back.  I can use the experiences and successes of "last time" to learn and grow, and hopefully propel me forward, knowing that I did receive aid from Heavenly Father.  But when I put a negative spin on my struggle TODAY, always comparing it with yesterday's successes, it leaves me feeling depleted and defeated.

I know that one thing that really helped me get started "last time", was the concept of self-compassion.  I have been through so much in the last few years:  a major job loss, working outside the home, financial uncertainty, scrambling to arrange childcare so I COULD work, having a husband in school, having a husband work two jobs, etc.  And oh yeah, I almost forgot ... HAVING FIVE KIDS.  As I look back and think about all we have dealt with and overcome, I am filled with gratitude to Heavenly Father.  And I am proud of us.  My whole family has made sacrifices, but as a mother, I have been the glue.  I was able to hold things together (mostly) on the worst of days, and somehow we were able to navigate some pretty rough waters.  Some very, very rough waters.  So, here's the thing.  I need to forgive myself for gaining weight during this time, because who wouldn't have?  Seriously, I think I need to make some serious allowances for myself and realize that life is crazy hard sometimes, and that I was pretty much in crisis mode for much of the last seven years.  And it's hard to be amazing in every area when you're functioning in crisis mode.

With that being said, it really IS time for me to raise the proverbial bar regarding my health, realizing that I deserve happiness and health.  While I am the glue that keeps things together for my little family, it doesn't make sense for me to let myself fall apart.  I need to be healthy to be my best me.  I know that this is a righteous goal.  I want to be gentle with myself.  I want to allow my spirit to grow and improve at its own rate, and allow it to be gently led by a loving Heavenly Father.  Sometimes I want all the answers, all the results all at once, without realizing that the truths of the gospel and the applications of the Atonement don't always come so quickly.  The answers I seek aren't always available on demand.  Patience is very much a crucial quality when seeking divine aid and lasting conversion in all areas of the gospel.  At this point, I'm not seeking a quick fix for my obesity.  I know through years of struggles, as well as welcome relief, blessings, and triumphs, that a change of heart is the very best weight loss plan there is.  Self-help books, pills, surgeries, fitness programs, and diets, though respectively effective on some level, all pale in comparison to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Therein lays the most underutilized weight loss plan on Earth.  I truly believe that, though my life and choices have not always been a perfect reflection of that belief.

The real beauty of the Atonement is that the Savior truly understands us, wherever we are on the path to Him.  Whether we are at the beginning of our journeys, or well on our way, He knows how to succor us.  He "gets it" because He has LITERALLY been there.  He has felt the EXACT pains I feel:  the frustration, the worry, the doubts.  He felt that for me in the Garden of Gethsemane so that when I finally turn to Him in moments of near-despair, and fall on my knees in submission to His will, pleading for His aid, He could perfectly understand what that means and how He can best help me back.  It is always a beautiful thing to find a true friend who understands something that you are going through.  It is even more beautiful when that friend not only understands, but chooses willingly to go through that trial with you.  And the most beautiful thing of all, is when a Friend chooses to go through the darkness FOR you.  And that is what my Friend, even Jesus Christ, has done for me.  Literally, He has suffered this trial for me, so that I might not.  My choice lies in this simple decision:  will I accept that gift?  Or will I needlessly go through the pain that He so willingly bore in my behalf?  It sounds simple, and perhaps it should be.  But, as I make stupid decisions and sometimes even neglect the gift of the Atonement due to my own mental weakness or spiritual rebellion, He is still filled with ceaseless compassion.

In Mosiah 8:20, it says:

"O how marvelous the works of the Lord, and how long doth He suffer with His people; yea and how blind and inpenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them."

Sometimes I find a verse like this, that just CUTS me to the core!  I testify that He DOES suffer with us.  He has suffered with me countless times!  He has rejoiced with me.  I know that I have been blind at times.  And heaven knows that I can be inpenetrable and proud.  I have ignored wisdom many times, not desiring that it should rule over me in my life.  This enmity is what holds me back and I pray that the Lord will soften my heart and grant me wisdom.  I know that as I turn to Him, as my prayers ascend, and as I make good, deliberate choices each day, this softening will come.  I know that He will guide and straighten my paths, and for that knowledge I am grateful.  How full my heart is, knowing that He understands what I am going through, that He chooses to go through it with me, and that He chose to go through my trials FOR me.  I am overcome with love for Him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Full Purpose of Heart

Hello, friends!  No, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth!  I am still here, plugging away and enjoying life as a busy mother of five!  Tyler graduated with his B.S. in Technology and Engineering Education from USU last month, which is AwESoMe, but the last few months have been crazy with him finishing up his degree and with me struggling with some personal life decisions.  I have been struggling to find "my place" at this season of life.  I am always wondering what I am supposed to be doing right now.  I had a little career budding in insurance, then was prompted to quit my job to come home and be a mommy, which has been a great blessing, but there are always little doubts that creep in, and I am always wondering if I did the right thing.  My quitting affected our family's financial situation greatly, so of course it's always tempting to jump back into the workplace.  I am trying to take each opportunity one at a time, and pray for direction and guidance as to if I should be solely a stay-at-home mommy, or if there is something that would be minimally intrusive to our family's needs, that would also help me to earn a little extra.  (And no, I'm not interested in direct sales opportunities ... been there, done that! ;)  Sometimes, I feel so much pressure now that I'm at home to be perfect at everything I do:  housekeeping, helping the kids with homework, meal planning, cooking, etc., because this is something I wanted so badly when I was a "career woman."  And now that I'm at home, sometimes I miss the fulfillment of having a challenging career.  I guess life is more about living in the present, and not wishing for what we don't have.  I WOULD rather be at home, but I think I forgot how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom.  Anyway, hopefully my words make some sort of sense.  I feel like I'm rambling!

As far as my health goes, I'm really struggling there as well.  I have been back at Weight Watchers since October of last year, but I haven't seen much progress.  My heart, for whatever reason, just hasn't been in it like it used to be.  I guess part of it has been that I have had so many other things on my mind:  Tyler's schooling, kids, my career decisions, and life in general.  It's been hard to find that extra umph.  Though it's been a struggle, I am proud of myself for hanging in there while I try to find the intrinsic motivation I need.  Right now, I think I'm just not in the right head space.  I have been thinking lately about how I "got there" last time, when I was so successful and was about to lose over eighty pounds!  I truly believe that "the fire of desire" that I had before was a gift from God.  With that in mind, I have been thinking a lot about what I need to do to qualify for that aid once again.  Today, I was reading in Mosiah 6:

33 "But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye will do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage."

Reading this made me realize that I haven't really turned to the Lord with full purpose of heart regarding my health goals for quite some time.  This negligence runs parallel with my declining health and my increase in weight.  I think that when I was good at writing the blog, it really helped me stay focused and feel more of that full purpose.  I was better at seeking for answers and guidance from the scriptures.  Sometimes it's hard to put myself and my struggle out there for others to witness, but I always had the hope that by sharing my own story, I was helping others with similar issues.  So, I would like to start blogging more.  I appreciate all of my readers and I have not forgotten the support and love that you have given me through the years that I have shared on this blog!  You are incredibly awesome and I hope all is going well with each of you.

I recommit to the Lord, and to you all, that I won't give up on myself.  I know that I have a responsibility to take better care of myself, and I DO have the desire to get my health back on track.  I know that I can and WILL do great things as I put my faith in God and more fully utilize the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help me overcome weaknesses and I look forward to the time that I will again have my heart changed.  I know that He can and will deliver me out of bondage.