A few weeks ago, I sent this encouragement to a stranger over the internet. I have decided to post it here as well.
Are you familiar with the story of Moses and the Children of Israel? They were wandering in the wilderness and the Lord provided them with food – straight from heaven – that the Israelites would gather every day. They called it “Manna” which literally means “What is it?” I think that name is hilarious, but it has also come to be very meaningful to me. A few years ago I listened to a talk by Elder Todd Christofferson. He shared a story about a struggle he had been through and though he desperately wanted the problem to be solved by God, he gradually learned to ask for daily bread, or in other words, manna. He learned that the miracle God was willing to give him was what he needed for that day. There was still a lot of uncertainty, but he could trust that if he acted in faith that day with what he’d been given, the next day more manna would be supplied. That is the background for this comment which refers to manna.
I am so sorry that life is so difficult and dark right now. I know in my darkest times what I wanted desperately is rescue, but often I would feel the question “He may not be willing to take it all from you because He knows what’s best for you, but what is a little miracle he may be willing to grant you right now?” For me, one night, that was the miracle of being able to fall asleep, which I felt I needed so badly- and that was my “manna” for then. I knew I would need more, but I was able to get the sleep I needed to try again the next day. I hated the fact that I was not helped in the way I wanted to be helped during the hardest times, but I can look back and see what he offered was what I needed most- it was the gift of “the Peace that Passeth all Understanding”- it would come in moments- not all the time; but those moments got me through until the next time. And gradually helped me figure out how to slow down and accept His timing. It sounds like you are in the fight of your life- you’re not alone!!! Angels on both sides of the veil are there to help and strengthen you, and though it’s not pleasant, we came here to develop the things you are in the middle of developing, even though it’s hard to see that it’s going in a positive direction. Hold on to hope and keep reaching for the Savior- he knows exactly what you need and will be there to help you through it all, even when you can’t feel Him there. Sending hugs!!!!
Why? Because writing is discovery process and I’m not sure I’ll like what I find there. But I’m feeling encouraged by Nightbirde who has been so real that she’s a complete inspiration.
I don’t want to spend all my time telling you all the hard parts of this year. It will make me feel depressed and you as well. But if I delete all of the hard, then you lose the context. Stories about light are stories of overcoming- and the light is that much more brilliant because of what came before it. The story I want to tell is that darkness loses its hold when light is present.
I’m the first to say that if you’re feeling darkness, that doesn’t mean that you must be doing something wrong. Sometimes, like a favorite song of mine, the darkness can come from up above, down below, or just comes flying at you from across the room. Why is it there? Where did it come from? When will it go away? I don’t know. What I DO know is that light is more powerful, and your experience with darkness will always be overcome by light. Always. Just like midnight will eventually turn into dawn, no matter how long the night feels to you or me. Dawn always comes.
I used to see challenges as things I had to problem solve my way through, interruptions from the real reason I was here on earth. “Let’s get this over with,” I used to think, “so I can get back to real life.” Now I see it as part of the reason I’m here. I couldn’t speed up the healing process by learning tricks and gadgets and distractors…I simply had to walk through the process each day. And here I am, many months later, stronger than before. I wonder how much of our suffering in life comes from not accepting our current reality. We play all kinds of games to try to smother our awareness of what is really happening, but somehow we end up causing more problems than we solve. Peace gradually settles on us as we recognize that this is the hand we are dealt, we accept that this is the reality as ours to live, and trust that God will walk with us through each day of it.
Yesterday I felt like I broke down some walls about motherhood. It was another big victory. I can see now that for a long time- years- there has been a lot of fear in regards to motherhood and music. And in both, I started functioning with not my full self. It wasn’t intentional. I think I got scared of my desires with music and was afraid that I couldn’t be a good mom and pursue this growing passion in me. I thought they threatened each other- and yet I wasn’t willing to give up either one. Well that’s not totally true: I knew that if one thing had to get the short end of the stick, it was music. I was in a “pleaser/don’t screw it up” mode often, and I was afraid that I was failing at it all. It turned out that being MYSELF is where the joy and peace were waiting all along. I was trying to mother the way I was supposed to (and music too) and couldn’t figure out why it was feeling like motherhood was literally going to kill me. I resented the cost- to my body and spirit- and knew something needed to change, but I didn’t know how.
I love these little people deeply, but I through the last several years, I have struggled to enjoy much of my mothering. Part of it has to do with poor health for a long time, but it’s not just that. Yesterday I tried to access more of my excitement about being a mom. I asked a lot of “what matters”? as my mind sifted through laundry and dishes and kisses, and bandaids. I have known for a while that I’ve been doing too much with too much stress, but as I have been looking for a new normal, I’ve been baffled as I tried to sort out what matters. As I journaled, I started having big ideas about how to change the way things are currently running in our home, and got very excited about a new program I wanted to establish. It was big, fresh, and dynamic, and I felt excited in a way I hadn’t in a while. But as I stepped back and looked at it, I wondered if perhaps I was missing something. I asked myself “Could the regular things be just as special if I am present and open? Maybe no sweeping changes are needed. Maybe I just need to uncover my love for mothering that has been buried in fear, and find the joy in the normal, everyday things. It was simple, it was pivotal, and most of all, it was peaceful. It was the heaven-sent message I have kept getting for about two years- “Slow Down.” The peace, the joy- it’s there and available in each moment.
You know what I discovered? As I continued to ask myself what mattered, I realized that every little thing I choose to do from my mother heart matters! A kiss, here, a note there, a bed made there…it matters because it’s an act of love from me to them. Big things, small things- all of them matter. They don’t have more value if I rush around and do more of them, and then I’m burnt out and frustrated. They matter as I give what I have to offer that only I can give- because it is coming from my mother heart.
Here’s my 3 takeaways about motherhood that I have learned through my thoughts this week:
1- Bring all of me to mothering. I will feel settled and peaceful mothering when I do it Laura’s way, and with all my quirks, passions, personality and love. MY love is what they need- and that is enough.
2- Each small and simple thing matters- not just to get it done, but because it is a holy offering from my mother heart. Often only God will know, and that is enough. It changes my heart more than anyone else’s.
3- My work, like the big cathedrals in Europe, will not be finished in my lifetime, so pacing is important. Each day I have some to give and also need to nurture and refill myself. Both are important. (Have you read, “The Invisible Woman: When Only God Sees”? A great read for Mother’s Day if you haven’t read it. The cathedral reference is an idea I got from that book).
I am grateful to be back here in my little corner of the universe. It is good to be here. In the last few minutes I reviewed my last few posts. One in October 2021, another in May 2021. Not a lot going on here. But a lot going on in here. Inside of me, Jesus Christ has been working a mighty transformation. You probably won’t notice much of a difference, but to me is a big difference. I’m so grateful for Him. He has taught me so much this year. It would have been nice to experience it in a less painful and more comfortable way, but I’m learning that the pathway to Him usually includes the really hard stuff.
I’ve thought a lot this week about music. After quite a break, I’m toe-dipping back into music again. I’ve realized something: I will enjoy this blog more if I approach it like you’re watching over my shoulder. I show up here to think, to sing, to play, and honestly, it may be mostly for me. I’m ok with that now… because I have learned that probably, someone else in the world is thinking or feeling or needing the same thing as I do. Heavenly Father works through small and simple things- not big huge things- usually. I’m small and simple. I can’t do mighty miracles myself. But I wonder if the miracle He will work through me is that I can reach through this blog to someone that’s having a hard time and encourage, shine a light, offer a ray of hope, and help them in their pathway toward Christ- one person at a time. One thought at a time. One recording at a time. And perhaps that person that I will reach is me. Because as I share, invite, sing, write and play, put myself in His hands as an instrument, I will be coming closer to Christ.
God is good. Life is full of beauty. There is always ALWAYS hope. More thoughts soon…
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.