Tell Me a Story...

REACH

Image of Our Refuge and Strength by Morgan Weistling
(used with permission)

Can you see it? The light, peeking through the darkness, promising that light is (still) more powerful? And the darkness must retreat as light is introduced?

I’m so grateful for light. Buoyant, steady, settled, contented, lovely light. I hate darkness- the kind that makes us feel discouraged, freaked out, down, and weary…that too, is part of our life experience here. But it’s not the whole story. And we don’t have to stay there in the dark, or out in the storm, all alone.

As I’ve worked with doctors to progress toward full physical recovery, I’ve been working with a counselor to help me in my mental recovery. I have been so grateful for her support, counsel, resources, and guidance that have been essential. I sure give professional counselors a lot of credit. But if I look back over the past several months, I can see a much more important figure guiding my recovery, both physical and mental. Overseeing the entire process, guiding me toward this or that answer as it was needed, and providing hope, strength, and comfort. And without Him, I surely would not have been able to make the progress I have. Jesus Christ, my Savior, has been by nearby through it all.

A few years ago, I was in the hospital bleeding, and my sweet and loving doctor who has a calm, reserved demeanor, was rattled. “What in the world is your body doing?” he asked, kindly. And he really didn’t know. It was quite a shock to feel like I had reached the edge of medical knowledge. Of course a few years, a few procedures and several tests later we did figure out what it was (so I wasn’t a complete anomaly!) but that was a few YEARS later. It wasn’t enough to rely on medicine to help me feel peace.

This year I’ve had some dark nights where I would try and try to use tools I’d been given from my counselor to find some peace, but there was no peace to be found. The wind and the waves were just too strong. Sooner or later (usually sooner!), I get myself all tangled up, and remember again that I don’t have the power to heal my own mind. It’s at those times that I’ve been reminded that I can’t rely on mental health tools to help me find peace.

A few nights ago, my son was scared. Tests coming up and make-up work from being sick were overwhelming him, and he couldn’t sleep. I made a suggestion about focusing his mind on Jesus Christ, and gave him an example. He quickly said, “Mom, that just doesn’t work for me.” I replied without hardly thinking- “It does work,” I said. “You may have to work at it to keep getting that muscle stronger, just like workouts strengthen muscles in your body, but it does work.”

Developing faith in Jesus Christ is like strengthening any muscle in our bodies. And it does work. A few years ago, I was at my parent’s house and my little brother asked me how many pushups I could do. “Um, none,” I said with confidence. I had no doubt that was true. He didn’t believe me, so I had to prove to him how pathetic my arm muscles really were. And…that was that embarrassing episode that let me to a new goal: 20 pushups.

I learned that if you can’t even do one pushup, trying to do a full pushup is basically unproductive. So I started doing half push-ups, which meant that I put a basketball under my stomach and only went down until I touched the basketball and then came back up. I learned to do 4 pushups that way. Unfortunately, my goal stalled out, and I didn’t really get back to it until a few months ago. This time I tried a different approach (using a work-out program) of doing push-ups on a park bench, so my body was inclined a little bit, and I worked up to being able to do 10 of those push-ups. Not impressive, but improved.

A few weeks ago, we surprised my husband and went to a rock climbing gym. This gym was no joke- definitely designed so that expert climbers would have their work cut out for them. But there were still several lower level challenges that we were excited to try. Because of my past filled with impressive arm strength (not!), I figured there wouldn’t be a lot that I could do successfully, but I figured I could at least keep up with my nine-year-old. That I could, and I followed him up several beginner runs. Then, just for the heck of it, I tried out a climb that I didn’t really think I could do. With quite a bit of effort, I finished the climb- and was so pleasantly surprised! My older boys, 12 and 13, were trying harder climbs, and I started trying some of them. Though I didn’t master the harder ones, I was able to go quite far, and was amazed at how much strength I had acquired through these simple workouts where I had worked up to 10 not-even-full push-ups!

Faith is like any other muscle. It needs strength training (praying, reading scriptures, thinking about Jesus Christ, focusing on Him, looking for the good and uplifting around us) and as we work at it, we find ourselves in moments where we would typically spiral into negative thought patterns, or in circumstances that are especially challenging, and we find ourselves surprisingly able to focus on Jesus Christ, and reach out for His help and peace when before we would not have been able to in a similar situation.

Is it hard to figure out where I’m going with this? Keep using those tools from counselors and positive resources, keep taking tylenol when you have a headache or resting when your body is tired. Eat chicken noodle soup when your gut feels angry. All those things are good and needed! But know that even in those things, our Savior is watching over you, and helping you, and supporting you. All these good things come from Him. He cares, and has not abandoned you to solve your problems yourself. Trust that He is the source of all healing and peace, and only the peace He can provide will be enough for any of us to weather the challenges of the future.

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite articles of all time. At the end it talks about the storm being calmed. I have experienced the storm calming as I come to the Savior, but I have also experienced the storm inside of me calming as I come to the Savior, even if the circumstances don’t change. Both are miracles.

“The scriptures speak of the “trial of faith” (Ether 12:6) through which we must pass, indicating that the faith-building process is not automatic. Instead, it is a learning process—a mandatory sequence for all who would inherit eternal life. Each step Peter took away from the ship was a trial of his faith; each step toward Jesus took him a step farther from his accustomed means of survival. And each step was a voluntary one; he was under no compulsion to leave the ship and respond to the Lord’s call to “Come.”

At one point Peter’s attention was drawn from Jesus, the object of his faith, to the boisterous wind and waves around him. In a moment of confusion, fear overpowered his faith, and Peter started to fall.

So like our lives! As we learn the gospel and develop our faith, we reach the point where we feel strong enough to leave the boat; we determine to stand free from worldly supports and voluntarily walk by faith through the tempest toward our Savior. Each step for us may be a trial. The waves around us are as real in their way as Peter’s waves were to him. And, like Peter, we may slip! We may feel the awful descent toward destruction and, in confused desperation, consider the safety of the ship.

But wait! Our efforts to meet the trials of our faith—our footsteps over life’s treacherous waters—have somehow reoriented us, and we reach out for safety, not to the boat, as we would have done in earlier times, but to the outstretched hand of the Savior. Hand grasps hand, and we are pulled to the Master of wind and water. No more is he seen vaguely through the storm; no more is his voice indistinct in the roar of the gale. Now we are home; now the trial is over.

And Jesus calms the storm.”

(Link to full article: What is the significance….)

Have a wonderful Tuesday, friends!!

Love,

Laura

Cause it makes me happy...

A Few Favorite Things

New clothes, hair that cooperates, sunshine, a happiness hug (the one that’s an “I can’t resist hugging you because I’m so happy…” usually from my youngest), journalling, fun tunes, good smells, making someone smile, an unexpected exchange with a stranger that boosts you both, cars that are reliable, letting go, feeling buoyant, thinking happy thoughts, a kiss from my sweetheart…

These are a few of my favorite things today. What are yours?

Love

Laura

Wow- this inspires me!

Gathering Light

Good morning friends!

Here’s a quote that I love:

“As you keep your face towards the sunshine, the shadows cannot help but fall behind you.” (Unknown author, quoted in talk “Light Cleaveth Unto Light”- https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/04/53dyches?lang=eng)

This morning I was determined to gather light and point my thoughts in a positive direction. I thought I’d share with you what has been a boost to me this morning.

I just love that one! It fills me with hope and faith and courage.

There is an absolutely beautiful arrangement of “Glorious” with music and dancing that was at the end of a BYU Women’s conference session. It has spoken to my heart more than once! Here is the link, it’s at 1:18:38 (right at the end of the session):

And this is a talk that I just loved and thought you might too. It’s at 59:47.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Love

Laura

Thought

Golden Nuggets

Photo by Lucas Benjamin on Unsplash

Dear friends of mine,

It’s May. My trees outside in my view are full of beautiful and fragrant blossoms. It is a beautiful day.

I last posted on February 21st. That was the day before surgery. I had “made it” and was feeling relief. I was sure the next part would be easy compared to what I had experienced. Here I am over two months later. I’ve written “Tender Mercies 4 1/2” and “Tender Mercies 4 3/4” and “Tender Mercies 5″…but they’ll stay in my personal files, at least for now. It’s hard to say why I have had a hard time posting since the surgery. I can say for certain that I have felt more tender mercies, not less, during these last several weeks. I haven’t lost hope, and I have a lot to say. For now, I’ll share a few musings and see if I can get back in the saddle…

Have you heard the analogy by C.S. Lewis comparing us to a little cottage? Here it is:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

I love that so much. It’s very similar to the analogy I shared on here earlier about the Provo Tabernacle being burned and charred and then was transformed into a temple. You probably can guess which part I have REALLY been able to relate to: “He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense.” Oh man, friends, that’s the road I’ve been walking. It has hurt abominably- physically, mentally, emotionally- all of it. Mercifully, I am healing. Each week I get a little stronger, feel a little more like myself, feel more up to the responsibilities in front of me. But the road has felt long and steep.

I heard a Ted talk the other day that said “Suffering can break you, or break you open.” If it breaks you, you will have a tendency to pull inward, pull back, and feel that the world is a less safe place to be. If it breaks you open you become better at connecting with people, warmer, more connected, and less guarded. I have loved thinking about that idea this week, and to the degree I can choose, I want this suffering I have experienced to break me wide open; open so I can feel closer relationships, so I can help others heal from similar challenges, and so that I can be more gentle, patient, submissive- in short, more like my Savior, Jesus Christ. A friend of mine offered this variation which is a prayer: “Help me allow myself to be transformed.” That is my prayer too.

4 years ago, my Dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma- cancer of the lymph nodes. His treatments were difficult and he was very ill for some time. Nobody would want to go through that- right? I have no desire to experience cancer treatments either- just to be clear. But one day while my dad was fighting cancer and was sharing with me some of the things he was experiencing, I felt…was it jealousy? Yes- I was jealous that he got that experience. You see, it wasn’t the sickness that I was intrigued by (yikes!)- it was the gold nuggets he was getting out of it. I could tell that he was learning important life lessons, becoming a better version of himself, and I could tell that it was cancer that had given him this dynamic opportunity to grow that I didn’t have. He was becoming more gentle, more humble, more peaceful. And that’s what I wanted…without all the hard parts, right?! Ha! It doesn’t really work that way…

Well, you probably would rather not have a cranky uterus, mad intestines, and ripple effects of a psychotic episode. Ya, me neither. And yet…I have gathered gold nugget after gold nugget during this experience and I’m not done yet. They are mine to keep and they grew out of struggle, pain, and sorrow. And ultimately….that’s what I want…right? The Master Healer is still at work, but I trust that I’ll come out of this a much better version of myself than I was before.

This beautiful version of “Savior, Redeemer of my Soul” has spoken to my heart so many times during my recovery. If there is one golden nugget I want to share today, it’s that Jesus Christ is real, and is way more aware of us personally than I ever realized. I know Him better now; He is full of mercy and compassion and weeps with us as we suffer. He rejoices as we learn by our own experience, wherever we are at right now, how to reach for Him, and reach for Him again.

He has promised to “fill with sweet my bitter cup” and I believe Him.

Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.

Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.

O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.

Love,

Laura