Essential takeaway: Just because I can’t see the destination doesn’t mean I’m on the wrong path
I have been walking a couple of strange paths. I do not know where they are going to take me, but I want to keep walking. The first one is with my attempt to write. This month, a chapter I wrote in a book has been published. I wonder where this will lead me. I have been quiet around here because of the time it took to finish that book. I have been inspired to work on another book that will be all mine. Do you ever feel like you are being pushed forward, but you don’t know where you will end up? I have had to dig a little deeper to have faith in my Heavenly Father and this path I feel He has placed me on.
The second path I feel I am walking is with my health. Last year I lost 80 pounds. This year I have been totally stuck. After consulting with a couple of doctors, I have finally found the cause. I am grateful to doctors and their knowledge. I am grateful I felt inspired to visit with these particular doctors. While meeting with one of them, he kindly encouraged me to trust him. I knew at that instant I did need to trust. Trust this plan. Trust his knowledge. Trust the medication. Now, I need to practice patience. This path to health will take some time.
I share this with you in hopes that someone out there can benefit from my experiences. Just because I can not see the destination does not mean I’m on the wrong path. If you are feeling inspired to do something, just start. Take that step into the dark. You don’t have to see the end before you can start moving. It is not possible to see the end from where you are at now. This path has too many turns. I trust my Heavenly Father. I trust the plan. I will have patience and walk the path.
This time of year is always busy for me. It is the time of year that starts out happy with much anticipation and then by mid September Im full of dread and on the verge of a physical and mental breakdown. Yep, canning season. I am one of those crazy old fashioned canning people. I have a garden and fruit trees. I try to preserve as much as I can from the efforts my family makes from March till now. This last weekend, I was drowning in peaches, tomatoes, and grapes. Don’t misunderstand, I love the blessings of good, home-grown food. In December or January, we will be enjoying some salsa or beautiful peaches! It will be heaven.
For now, I’m working through the law of the harvest. “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” D&C 130:20-21. What you plant, when you plant, and how you care for it will determine the yield months later. Working in the garden, or bottling produce, I have plenty of time to ponder. Just like my garden takes effort, time, patience, and consistent attention; what else in my life follows the concept of the law of the harvest?
What am I doing today that will reap the fruits of my labors? Or, in time, will I be left with weeds in my life? Am I diligent in clearing out the debris in my spiritual life? Do I make my home fertile ground for the kids to learn and grow? Am I putting in the appropriate amount of work on my relationships that will produce the bounty I expect in years to come? So far, I can see the Law of the Harvest in every aspect of my life! While I am tired of canning, why would I stop now? I am almost at the end of the process! I am almost at the point of being able to enjoy all of the blessings after months of effort! Do not stop just short of blessings the law has promised you.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I have been thinking about my children and the paths that they are on. After deciding my adult children had their own agency to chart their way in this world, I started to wonder about myself. Because lets be real, I’m the only one I can really change or improve any way. What do I want to be when I grow up? Am I having a midlife crisis? I have been struggling for a year now really wondering what my purpose is. What does God want me to do? What does He have planned for me? I can not tell you the depths of anguish these questions have caused me. The other day, I was reminded of a scripture. Moses 5:6 “And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”
I believe I received some personal revelation. However, I did not receive the specific answer I was looking for. First, note the phrase ‘after many days’. It takes time. Often the Lord does not respond instantly. He leaves us to really want something. He gives us time to really ponder and think through what we are asking. Second, consider Adams answer: “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” My answer was, at this time I do not know what the Lord wants me to do or change. However, He has commanded me to do a few things. Until I get the answers I seek, I will do what I do know. I will focus on scripture study, attending the temple, preparing for a new school year, fulfill my church calling the best way I know how, and have faith. I don’t know everything I want to know, but I do know I need to keep my commandments. I need to focus on my covenants. The Lord will give the answers in His time.
I recently stayed with family in Midland Michigan. A little over a year ago, a dam near the city broke and a large part of the city was flooded. While residents were dealing with many Covid-19 restrictions, homes and businesses were destroyed. The children’s section of the city library was the basement floor of the building. All of the books were destroyed! This is a picture of “the Tridge”… a bridge where 3 rivers come together.
Visiting a year after the flood, two words came to mind. Miraculous and Resilient. The people of this city impressed me so much. We spent one afternoon at a street art market/fair. I was so impressed at the recovery that had happened. There was very little sign of water damage. The people were out displaying and selling what they had produced. They were happy. They were together. They had come back.
A year later, I walked where the water had been. I enjoyed the city park that had been buried in water. I rode my bike on a trail that months earlier was completely underwater. There were very few signs of the destruction that had happened. Here is a picture of the Tridge I took from my walk
I started to think about life in general. We all have devastating moments in life. Sometimes the damage is so obvious and so deep that it seems we will never recover.
If we include Christ in our recovery process, the damage is never permanent. He has the ability to always make things better. We can always recover from the damaging floods in our life. The flood waters always recede.
Essential takeaway: Patriotic music and a hamburger speak to me
Some people would say I am a bit obsessed with anything patriotic. My second obsession is general conference. Can you imagine my excitement when President Oaks talked about the Constitution of the Untied States of American IN general conference?! I can’t let this weekend go by without sharing this awesome talk!
President Oaks said “The United States Constitution is unique because God revealed that He “established” it “for the rights and protection of all flesh”. That is why this constitution is of special concern for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world.”
How cool is that? God established the constitution and The United States for US! For the restoration of His church, for all men to be free, for the protection of all flesh, and all members of the church worldwide.
This weekend, Im going to be blasting the patriotic country western songs. I love the flag. I want to BBQ some hamburgers, sit around the fire pit, and enjoy family visiting from out of state.
This weekend, take some time to ponder on the blessing it is to have The United States of America. Pray and ask Heavenly Father what you can do to help protect this divinely inspired constitution. Happy Independence Day!
My husband and I both came from families that love to play games. We now have the unspoken family tradition of playing one (or more) games together on Sunday afternoons. Often, I dread this tradition! The kids fight so much and it seems they will never learn to get along. I’m not sure how, but somehow I got the idea that family traditions are beautiful, perfect, bonding and loving experiences. I forget that raising kids is messy work. That down in the trenches things don’t always go according to the perfect vision. However, it is important to continually try. I recently read a talk by Robert D Hales given in April 1999. He says ” Strengthening families is our sacred duty as parents, children, extended family members, leaders, teachers, and individual members of the Church.” In that talk he mentioned several amazing secrets to raising kids. One of them is ” Build family traditions. Plan and carry out meaningful vacations together, considering our children’s needs, talents, and abilities. Help them create happy memories, improve their talents, and build their feelings of self-worth.” We are on a real vacation! This very meaningful and intentionally planned vacation includes several opportunities to play games, share talents, and increase in testimony of the restored gospel. I am grateful for family traditions and a husband that insists we make family a priority.
I recently had an appointment with the eye doctor and the visit resulted in new glasses. I am now the proud owner of “old lady glasses” since I now need the ‘ole progressive lenses. It is nice to be able to see clearly and even nicer to read without difficulty. At first, I complained about having to take the time to go to the doctor, pay for the glasses, have old lady glasses, and then go back and pick them up. My efforts were all worth it.
Sometimes, seeing clearly requires effort. I have been pondering the concept of seeing clearly and knowing Heavenly Father’s will. In D&C 43:6 He states “And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.” It is eternally important that we see clearly and know what is of God and what is not. The world feels upside down these days. It seems like we are living in the last days spoken of in the scriptures. Another verse in D&C 45:35 is one of my favorites. “And I said unto them: Be not troubled for, when all these things shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled.” A loving Heavenly Father gives us the signs of the second coming so that we me know! He wants us to see clearly the things happening around us and understand what they mean. How has Heavenly Father helped you see clearly?
The month of May is about as busy as December! It is filled with graduations of various kinds, performances, tournaments, finishing up school, and other milestones. Usually I complain about all of the requirements in May. Not this time. Last year we were robbed out of these experiences. So many good things were missed. This May, I want to enjoy everything the experiences have to offer. I felt a loss last year. I have decided I need to mark progress being made. I need to see the results from months or a year of practice and hard work. I enjoy seeing the milestones and progression my kids are making. I believe we are spiritual beings and our entire purpose in this Earthly experience is to progress…. to make ourselves become better. This month, I am grateful for the blessings of progression. Let’s take a moment and celebrate progress. Celebrate being together. Celebrate happy connections.
My family has been on vacation the last two weeks. On one of our beautiful spring mornings, we decided to go for a longer distance bike ride. Pulling the bikes out after winter requires some work, mostly from my husband. Flat tires, broken chains, adjusting seats for growing children, and finding the right sized helmets are all part of the preparation. Plans are made of where we will ride, keeping in mind the ability of each rider. Every bike rider is given a bike based on age, size, and their skills as a rider. After spending more time than we want focusing on preparation, we are finally able to set out on the bike ride.
My nephew was designated leader because he was familiar with the path. The rest of our group set out trusting and following him. I stayed toward the back of the group with my 8 year old, the youngest of our group. This was only the second time she has done a longer bike ride on her own bicycle. I watched as her excitement and anticipation of the ride quickly turned to frustration and sadness because of the difficulty of the trail. The hills were steep. Her bike was smaller than all of the others. She was just learning how to use the gears to make the ride easier, but was struggling with knowing when and how to change the gears. Several times she needed to stop to catch her breath and at one point she stopped her bike and stood at the side of the path sobbing because “it’s too hard! I can’t keep going!” The rest of the group patiently waited with her, let her set the pace, and encouraged her along. Finally at the end of the ride, as she came up the last hill, all those in our group were cheering her on and encouraging her to finish. Toward the end of the ride, I did something dumb and slammed my knee into the bar of my bike. Sometimes, biking can be dangerous as well as hard!
This experience has made me think a lot about our ride on this trail of Earth life. Much anticipation, preparation, and planning went into our ride here. Our various skills, abilities and talents were taken into consideration as we were given our particular “bike” or body to use during this journey. We were so excited, but as the path becomes hard, our excitement can turn to frustration. I don’t know how many times I have stopped and cried to my Heavenly Parents “Its too hard! I can’t keep going!” In those moments, those that are in my group, (my parents, my husband, children, and other loved ones) have patiently waited with me. They have encouraged me along this journey. Once in a while, I make dumb mistakes and I get injured. Sometimes we need to take a break on the side of the path. We need to look for others that are frustrated and taking their breaks. Then, we need to keep peddling. We need to keep the bike moving forward. There will be ups and downs. Some of the hills we ride will be steep. Sometimes the down hills can be just as steep and frightening. Our Heavenly Parents are riding right with us. They have seen the entire trail. They have given us guides and loving people to helps us learn how to navigate this trail with the least amount of pain and difficulty as possible. I’m learning to catch my breath, pace myself, and enjoy the beauty of the trail around me.
My 8th grade son started wrestling a little over a year ago. In the wrestling world, he started very late and I guess that’s my bad. He is in there now and he really wants to wrestle on the high school team. Because he is very new to this sport, he has won just about the number of matches I can count on one hand. When most of us begin something new, we have to ride a pretty steep learning curve. Last week, we found ourselves at another wresting tournament and we knew there wouldn’t be any awards handed to my son. As we were leaving, coach pulled my son aside. Coach said “You are doing great. I’m watching you and you have natural talent. I’m glad you show up to these tournaments. You are showing up to practice.” I’ve thought a lot about this. A lot of times, just showing up is all we need to do. BE THERE.
A couple of days later, I spoke to my missionary daughter. On the zoom call, she showed me her very bruised and swollen big toe. I asked what had happened. Apparently, they were playing zone sports and this particular game she was not very comfortable or confident in her skills. She decided to play defense because in her words “I can stand my ground and block.” One particular Elder, who did not know my daughters’ ability to stand her ground, decided to run right at her and was surprised when she showed up and took her defense position seriously. She showed up. He quickly found out he could not run her out of the way or run through her space. She said “mom, I thought about sitting on the sidelines with a couple of the sisters, but I wanted to try. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines.” My daughter showed up…. and got hurt! But, she showed up.
Our wise prophet, President Nelson, said “The lord loves effort.” That mantra has gone through my head on a daily basis for a year now. The Lord loves effort. That is a better way of saying “show up”. The Lord wants us to show up. He wants effort. He doesn’t expect us to sit on the sidelines of life. He wants us to LIVE this life. Show up. Show up at work, show up in studies, show up with your family relationships, show up in your church callings, show up in your life. I also like that the prophet didn’t say what level of effort we have to give. Sometimes just showing up is all I can do. I can’t muster any more energy. In our own hearts, we know if we are honest in our showing up efforts. This next week, I have made a goal to “show up” more and be aware of my efforts. Is there something that will require you to give greater effort to show up? Will the effort be worth it? Will we be glad we got bruised and sore because we got out there and lived life? We can continue to move forward with a bruised toe and we might even gain some wisdom through those experiences.