Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

It's Mother's Day this weekend and Elder Holland has some great encouragement and counsel for each of us.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Powerful Medicine

The scriptures are powerful medicine, both for preventive purposes and for restoration.

After reading Emily Watts' adorable book, "Confessions of an Unbalanced Woman" again a year or so ago, I decided that the scriptures could become the thing in my day described by Sister Watts as the BRICK of everyday.

The BRICK (my emphasis added) is that one thing that gets done, no matter what else does, and by doing that one thing, the entire day is not a loss, even if there's nothing else tangible accomplished.

For those of us who are "achievers" and "accomplishers", this is a really great concept!

For me though making my scriptures the non-negotiable item of my day has meant so much more than feeling a sense of accomplishment on any given day. It's more than a check mark on my day's list. Like we are promised, reading daily has been, for me, both healing and a protection.

While pregnant with my sixth child, I found myself at the edge of my ability to handle all of my responsibilities and often I would retreat to my room to lie down for a few minutes. I thought I was doing a good job of keeping things under control, all things considered. My sweet husband was working two full-time jobs, the other kids were happily busy with their activities, and I was looking forward to the birth of our precious baby boy. It was a very busy, wonderful time.

In addition to the "normal" kind of busy-ness, within 3 months my husband had two separate knee procedures and on the day of the second one, about six weeks before my due date, as I sat in the waiting room while he was in surgery, I had what I know now was an anxiety attack.

I felt as if my insides were ripped open and a horrible kind of terrification took over. As I sat there, I felt the wave of that emotion coming and tried to stop it, but it would not be stopped. From that point it would be about 7 months of living with that raw wound gaping open, before I finally sought and received some help.

In hindsight, I remember a quiet nagging feeling leading up to that time and that initial attack, urging me to read more of my scriptures. The feeling made an impression that I can still remember, but at the time I felt too overwhelmed to open those books too often.

I can only wonder now if paying better attention to that tugging feeling would have spared me, even a little, from the experience I have dealt with.

Now, I know enough to know better than to say that my anxiety is my fault. I also know enough to know better than to say that the absolute solution to prevent and end anxiety is to read your scriptures. I wish either or both of these things were true because then there'd be a blame and an answer for it happening to any of us.

What I want to accomplish by sharing a small part of my experience is to bear testimony of the power of the scriptures: to heal and to protect by bringing the spirit into our lives in a way nothing else does.

The scriptures are full of promises of protection, strength and power. I know that those promises are true and they have become more meaningful as I have taken more seriously first the commandment to read, study and immerse and second, to have faith in those promises.

For me, setting the scriptures as the BRICK in my day helps me envision a kind of fortified shield that protects me. I feel a sense of peace knowing that I am doing something the Lord has asked me to. They (the scriptures) have helped me in my journey to find the kind of emotional well-being I enjoyed before that first attack at the surgery center that day. And I feel confident that my regular reading has strengthened me emotionally and spiritually (along with prayer, temple attendance, priesthood blessings, and time).

Will I be spared another emotional upheaval like I've been through, thanks to my reading? I honestly don't know. I'd like to think so, but more than that just doing the right thing and being in the right place on a regular basis means the most to me. I do believe that the scriptures have power to prevent us from experiencing difficulties, including overwhelming temptations. We know we're promised that we won't be given more than we can bear, as long as we seek to have the help of our Heavenly Father.

These days my anxiety is mostly a quiet din in the background. Sometimes it tries to make it's way back to a more prominent place in my thoughts, but thankfully those days are few. Thanks to the help I've received and the protectors I've put in place (like my scriptures), I don't fear a resurgence but instead feel capable of dealing with whatever comes, when it comes.

I feel strongly that the scriptures are vital to our long term well-being. We can fortify ourselves and ward off unknown hazards, and we can help heal those scrapes we've already encountered.

Like any learning trial, I wish it wouldn't have taken what it's taken for me to have this testimony of the scriptures. As a side-effect, I'm grateful that this has come out of the horrors I went through.

I know the Lord is close by, that He loves us, and wants us to take advantage of the tools we've been given so that we might have health and strength and the ability to handle whatever life throws our way, even though challenges will still come.

If it's been a while since you've picked up your scriptures, see what you find in them today. I promise you'll feel better after you do.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Thinking On Purpose

Time Out For Women has been doing monthly challenges this year and in February it was Mary Ellen Edmunds' turn to challenge women to "Think on Purpose". You can find that article here.

I love MEE and I loved the idea of trying to take on the challenge, but I wondered how I'd do it when most of the time my thoughts are caused to be focused on tiny people and interruption after interruption after interruption. Finishing a thought isn't really something my brain is even very good at anymore.


It feels as if the stars aligned the other day, giving me some extra quiet moments that allowed me to take MEE up on her challenge to “Think On Purpose”.

On a recent Saturday, I had volunteered to take my daughter’s Science Team (they call themselves the “Ninjas”) to their Quiz Bowl in a neighboring town. It was about a 30-minute drive to and from their destination, and the drive over was full of cheery 12 and 13 year olds, chattering about all that is important to those of that age. I tried hard to be invisible and just listen. I loved much of what I heard.

Separately, I had volunteered to take another daughter’s Honor Band members to their rehearsal, in the same neighboring town. As luck would have it, these separate acts of volunteering ended up being for events on the same day! Now it would be FOUR round-trips, 30-minutes each way. Five if you wanted to include the trip back for the band concert we would attend that evening.

The band members’ conversation was as entertaining, on a cooler, 14-17 year old level. Again though, I worked hard to be invisible and so much of what I heard was adorable. I do love being with kids this age!

It was on one of the return all-alone-in-my-12-passenger-van trips that I took Sister Edmunds up on her challenge.
I had been reading Sister Olson’s TOFW book, “Too Much To Carry Alone”, and had nearly finished when MEE’s challenge came along. Sister Olsen talks about meekness in her book; how the Savior is our perfect example of this quality and yet it isn’t something you hear about people listing meekness as a trait they desire to obtain. However, meekness has a valuable promise given to us by the Savior: that the meek will inherit the earth.  Because of this promise and as it's a quality the Savior exemplified, we really should be looking to add more meekness to our lives.

So here was where I began to Think On Purpose. Sister Olsen did a great job of defining meekness, but my thoughts led me to wonder how is it that I (or anyone) could be more meek?

I felt what is so often described as “pure intelligence” flow through me and I was careful to listen so I could jot down the impressions at the next stop light. I felt impressed that meekness is not weakness, though the world would define it that way. Meekness is a quiet kind of strength, like Jesus had.

My question, ‘How do you “achieve” meekness?’ was met with the quick answer: “you don’t”. Instead, meekness is a by-product of other behaviors: gentleness, kindness, a quiet voice; by following the Savior’s example.

It was just a few minutes and the impressions were simple ones, but what I felt was powerful and I was reminded again that Heavenly Father is always listening. I know that the more we choose to put ourselves in circumstances that allow the Lord to speak - like Thinking On Purpose – the more we will hear His voice. And with those experiences will come added strength and surety as we build our testimony and deepen our conversion.

What a blessing MEE is, and what a blessing the challenge to Think On Purpose has been for me.

What would happen if you took a few minutes to Think On Purpose?