Authentic

Wow. It’s been awhile… hey again! 

Life has changed quite a bit since the last time I wrote on here. But since this is more of where I keep my thoughts and less of a day by day travel log, we’ll save that stuff for another time and place. 

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about being authentic. 


If I were able to sit and talk to my future self, would she be happy? Would she be proud of this person I am today? 

If I knew what was coming, or what could be…would I change what I am doing?

After a conversation I had a few weeks ago about really figuring out exactly WHAT I want, I haven’t been able to think of much else.

Weird how questions like that take over just a little ;) 

The real problem lies in a decision. Yeah it is great to have free agency… but what about when you have two or three equally GOOD choices?? 

As I’ve swayed back and forth between the options, it has ultimately come down to living with authenticity. Living my truth. Being unapologetically ME. 

The thing about agency is that everyone can tell you what to do, but it is ultimately up to you to decide. As I’ve prayed for clarity of mind and the ability to choose the path that will take me where my Heavenly Father most needs me, I’ve accepted that He isn’t going to make the choice for me. 

But why? Wouldn’t that make things so much easier? Wouldn’t everything work out better if we had an instruction manual to follow step-by-step? 

Guess what…? He TRUSTS you. Yes, you. He knows that whatever you decide, it is worth the challenges that might come up because you will be able to learn and grow from them. Even more than that, He trusts that you will find Him, that you will reach out to Him no matter what path you take. 

And when you do? He’ll be there. Waiting for you and beyond thrilled that once again you turned to Him. 

So as I make these decisions, I am just focusing on which one is most true to who I want to become. What I want to do with my life and dreams. And making sure that whichever path I settle on, that I know exactly how to get ahold of my best friend and advocate if something doesn’t work out perfectly (because nothing ever does). 

Even if the journey isn’t perfect, there is still so much beauty to be found. All you have to do is live and appreciate the path while you are on it. 


No matter what you choose to do… just be true to you. Everything else will fall into place. 

Whether that means traveling the world, taking a new job, getting an education, making friends, or falling in love, if you are authentic, only good will come from it. 

That doesn’t mean your new job will be the best salary you’ve ever earned, or that the other person will love you back. But it will mean that you are living fully. Without restraints. Without regret.

Never let a day go by where you could have said or done something but instead you chickened out because of fear. Fear of disappointment. Fear of rejection. Fear of the unknown. Whatever your reason is, don’t let it win…. That isn’t living. Do more than just exist.


“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” 

So there’s your challenge. Go live. Go love. Go places. Just do something! 

XOXO – Heath

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Human trafficking 

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You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.         – William Wilberforce

 

After seeing The Abolitionists movie on Friday, I have to speak up.  I know I am only one voice in a sea of influence, but all I know is I’m not meant to be silent.

Slavery did not end with the Emancipation.

It is still alive and rampant in our world.

It is swept under the rug, the screams of pain and suffering are silenced by torture and threats.  Human trafficking happens in every country of the world – including here in the USA.

Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) is working hard to end child trafficking.  The movie shows footage from the ‘jumps’ that volunteers arrange to save these kids, and it is awful what they are going through.

Human trafficking includes children who have been kidnapped and sent to orphanages where anyone off the street can come in and buy a child with no background check and then do what they wish with these innocent humans.

It also showed the countless number of young girls who had been trained and forced into prostitution starting between age 4-7 and kept in captivity through most of their lives. Many had been raped so many times, they ended up pregnant and raising children of their own.

Although I am not a mother yet, I cannot even imagine allowing one of my babies to be in these circumstances.  Some families choose to sell their daughters into sex trafficking at a young age as a last resort to get enough money to support themselves.  No child should EVER have a price tag put on their life.

The Facts: 

1. There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. That’s the highest recorded number of slaves in history!

2. The average cost of a slave around the world is $90.

3. Human trafficking has been identified as the largest human rights violation in the history of mankind.

4. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, after drug smuggling and arms dealing.

5. The United States is one of the top three destination points for trafficked victims. California, New York, Texas and Nevada are the top destination states within the country.

6. According to estimates, approximately 80 percent of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19 percent involves labor exploitation.

7. The average age of a young woman being trafficked is 12–14 years old.

8. Immigration agents estimate that 10,000 women are being held in Los Angeles’ underground brothels; this does not include the thousands of victims in domestic work, sweatshops or other informal industries.

9. An estimated 13 million children are enslaved around the world today, accounting for nearly half of trafficking victims in the world.

10. Trafficked children are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems, abuse substances, engage in prostitution as adults, and either commit or be victimized by violent crimes later in life.

via: http://www.live58.org/10-facts-about-human-trafficking-everyone-should-know

our

Join the fight and help end child trafficking: http://www.ourrescue.org.

To my local friends, Megaplex is donating all proceeds of the movie tickets to Operation Underground Railroad. GO SEE IT!!

XOXO – Heath

The love of a mother

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No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. -Jeffrey R. Holland, 2015

Dear momma,

I wish there was a way for you to see what I see when I look at you.  Do you realize you hold the world in your hands?  From my earliest memories, you’ve always been right by my side cheering me on, teaching me, and loving me.  You were there every single day.

You have given me every advantage in life.  From the beginning, you taught me all that I needed to know.  From walking, to tying my shoes, to riding my bike, to running full speed ahead in order to accomplish my dreams.  You taught me everything and because of your efforts, I know I can become anything I work hard to achieve.AllThatIAmOrHopeToBe

Some days were guaranteed to be exhausting.  You sacrificed so much.  Nine months of your life carrying me.  Spending late nights with no sleep as I cried, more long nights caring for me when I couldn’t breathe, running me back and forth to play with friends, wiping my tears and putting bandaids on all of my (invisible) wounds when I got hurt, cooking meals every day even when we were picky, and constantly cleaning up after us.  You were there for all of the challenges of motherhood.

What is even better, is that you were also present for all of the good days as well.  You celebrated with us by LIVING.  I remember all of the days you spent out in the sandbox digging with us, eating popsicles on the back porch, and showing us what it means to live well.  Whether we were coloring chalk pictures out in the rain with our swimsuits on while sitting under umbrellas, or riding sleds down the big hill during the middle of the summer, you taught us that life is to be enjoyed.  You laughed and played right along beside us, and I feel like the luckiest girl alive to have been given that blessing.

Even when money was tight, I never once felt as if I was missing out on anything.  I was given the world by you and dad as you worked together to create our family.  From the beginning, I was shown that happiness doesn’t come from having things, but from loving people and choosing joy.

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You are the most giving, kind person I know.  Whether you are whipping up a feast for a neighbor in need, or writing love notes to people you think of throughout the day, you are always thinking of others.  I think this is one of the greatest gifts that you have from God.  You were given a massive heart, and you act on the promptings you receive to bless the lives of everyone around you.  I cannot even count the number of times I have been on the receiving side of this love.

Ma, you have been there on all of my good days celebrating and cheering me on.  But you have also been there for the dark days.  You held my hand when I couldn’t handle the pain after surgeries, and then helped me deal with the challenges of recovering.  You have wrapped your arms around me and wiped my tears on so many occasions.  Although I no longer cry about skinned knees, you help bandage my suffering heart each time I cannot escape the darkness.

I hope you know how beautiful you are – inside and out.  I secretly love it when people say I look like you.  I can think of no higher compliment than being even half as gorgeous as my momma.  I hope one day I can be as stunning on the inside as you are as well.

I used to hope to be rich and have a prestigious career according to the world’s standards.  Now my biggest dream is to be rich in love and have the most prestigious career known to God.  The monetary pay is non-existent but the reward of a full life of sticky fingers, slobbery kisses, giggles, glorious accomplishments, and an eternal family is more than enough now.  I can’t wait to be a mom so that I can pass that love and devotion on to my future babies.  I can think of no calling in life more wonderful.

There are no perfect words to thank you for all you have done for me.  All I know is you are my hero, my friend, my best example, my strength, my confidant, and everything I want to become.  You’re the real MVP.  I will love you forever.

<3 your Lovie girl

 

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P.S. Happy mother’s day to all of the glorious, beautiful, strong women in my life.  No matter what your personal circumstances are, I hope you recognize the power you hold just by being alive.  You have the ability to change the world through each interaction you have – whether it is with your own kids, neighbors, nieces and nephews, friends, family, or other women.  As you share your love and allow those around you to feel the love of Christ through you, you are affecting the eternities.

Your goodness and examples have touched my life in a way that is immeasurable.  I am who I am because of all that you do, and for that, I am so grateful.  Thank you for showing the women around you (including me) what it looks like to serve, to love, and to give.  As you do these things, it weakens the influence of the adversary and brings more of our heavenly brothers and sisters to the knowledge of Christ.  Whether you are single, married, widowed, or whatever – your power as a woman is beyond imagination.  Thank you for blessing my life with all you do.

 

Sitting, wishing, waiting…

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Do you ever feel as if you have been sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere just WAITING for some kind of change?

Whether you are waiting for someone to drive by and have enough pity to give you a ride, or hoping that your legs get super strong so you can easily run down that path, it does not matter.  Either way, you are still sitting.

As we sit and wait, it is easy to feel sorry for ourselves.  If only I had more money, I could buy new shoes and jog this road in no time.  If only I was smarter, I wouldn’t have ended up here in the first place.  Maybe if I was prettier, someone would stop and give me a ride.

If I just had MORE, I wouldn’t be here.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, none of this matters.  You are here.  On the side of the road.  Sitting in dirt.  So what are you going to do about it?

You have two options:

  1. Stay where you are
  2. Get up and do something

As I sit here in my own proverbial dirt on the side of the road, I am tempted to just stay here and wait.  Maybe the circumstances will change.  Maybe those “if only’s” will work out.  Maybe I will finally be enough.

Yet I know what I must do.  I have been here before, and although they were some of the hardest challenges, I survived.  I know I can stand and take that first step into the unknown.  It is scary.  My heart feels weak, reminding me of my mortality.  But that alone is enough to propel me forward.  I am mortal.  Nobody knows how much time they will be given on this earth.  That seems like all the more reason to LIVE.  I don’t want to run away from experiencing all that is possible in my allotted years.  I don’t want to reach my Father and tell Him I didn’t live, love, and experience every beautiful part of this journey because I was too afraid to try or I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do with my time.

Of course there will be fears that arise.  There may be rocks or potholes.  I might fall a few times.  There will be good days, where the sun shines brightly and warms my skin as I go.  I know with certainty that there will also be rain and snow.  Life is not going to be easy.  It never is, nor was it ever meant to be.

We were sent to this world to be tested.  To see if we could trust in God and His plan.  To recognize that His love was enough to cover all we ever need.  Only then will he lead us to paradise.  What matters is what we do in the meantime.

Life is not easy.  Love is never simple.  But it is worth the risk.

What if right down the road, there is a fork in the path that will lead you to everything you have ever wanted and dreamed of?  There is only one way to find out.  You have to stand up.  Take a step out into the wild.  Have faith.  Alternatively, if you stay sitting in the dirt waiting for something to happen, you might miss some of the most beautiful adventures of life.

faith-quote

No matter what personal road you are traveling on right now, please never forget one thing: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  There may be fog covering your view, rocks in your path, or fences to climb.  It may be hard to even think about standing up.  But when you take a single step forward, God will be holding you up.  Angels will surround you and help carry the burden of traveling that road.  Although you cannot see what is coming along the path, there is someone who can.  He loves you beyond any imagination, and he will be there next to you as you take one step at a time.  He knows where you are going, and he won’t leave you.

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XOXO – Heath

The darkest night

  
At some times during this mortal journey, we feel as if the darkness surrounding us is suffocating. It seems as if you are wading through a fog so thick and consuming, that you can not see the path even one step ahead.

When times like these come, it can be so debilitating that it would be easier to surrender and let the darkness overtake us.

Even now in this present moment, I feel like I am drowning in the disappointment and failures that are consuming me. Life is hard, but we agreed to go through all of these struggles for the opportunity to gain a physical body and choose the Father’s plan.

Although I want to give up, I know even now that Heavenly Father and his angels are holding me up and carrying me through each breath this very moment. I am not alone even when I feel as if the world is crumbling around me.  That is the power of His plan. If we but endure, He will never leave us alone and He will hold us and wipe our tears away from our tired eyes.

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.

But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, in this life or the next, Sunday will come.”  -Joseph B. Wirthlin

  

After the darkest night, Sunday came. Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, rose from the bonds of death. He was beaten, nailed to a cross, and persecuted beyond imagination. He felt all pain, sorrow, loneliness, and loss. He suffered, bled, and died to be able to support and carry us through our earthly trials. His atonement and resurrection is the key that opens EVERY lock which binds us. Don’t lose your faith in better things to come.

XOXO – Heath

Kindness begins with you

  Remember that old saying, “Kindness begins with you?” Have you ever really taken the time to think about that in the literal sense? The world spends a ton of time focusing on teaching people to be nice to others, (which is essential) but there is not a ton of discussion about where that kindness comes from. Does it just show up out of thin air with a POOF? Can you buy some in a jar on aisle 7 at the grocery store?   

Kindness, or the act of being nice, is an outward action that people choose to use (or not use) while interacting with the people around them. The special thing about it is that it literally does “begin with you.”

I am not pointing fingers, I promise! I will be the first to say that I struggle with this almost every SINGLE day. Some days it is extra hard, and some days it just happens. What, then, are we all culprits of?  

​Beating ourselves up.  

The world spends so much time teaching us to be nice to others and not hurt their feelings, but how often do you actually take the time to apply that to yourself?  

 You, RIGHT NOW, are good enough.

Do you know that? More importantly, do you believe it?

Life is already hard enough all on its own. It doesn’t need your negative self-perception added in. It is always going to be a challenge. When we signed up to come to earth by choosing Christ in the preexistence, we shouted for joy! We knew that any trial we experienced on the earth while in our physical bodies would be worth it in order to return to Him once it was over.  

Your Heavenly Father is not only waiting for you to come home, but he knows everything you are facing – good and bad. He knows Satan will tempt you. He knows which days will be full of happiness, and he is there each time you feel alone or forgotten. I think that is actually when he stays closest to our sides. Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane for YOU so that he would know how to succor, or help you, at your lowest.  

He knows how you feel when things don’t work out. Because he has been there before. There is no one better to turn to when you are feeling down, but he does not want us to linger there.

  

You were masterfully and perfectly created by God. He does not make mistakes. He does not mess up. He knew exactly what he was doing when he made you. Trust him! It is easy to look inward and then compare yourself to where you think everyone else is in life. If you are scanning through social media wondering why others all seem to have the perfect life and gorgeous kids and designer home, I recommend that you put that phone down and leave it for an hour.   

Take five minutes and write down all the blessings you can think of in that time. Then, get on your knees and pray for help to see all that you have been blessed with. I promise, they are all around you.  

Start looking outward – not to see what others have – but to see what others lack. Find opportunities to give of yourself, to serve and love those around you. The best way to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to help lift another. Heavenly Father has blessed you with SO MANY talents! He sent you to use them and learn how to share them. Start now.

As you work to serve others, you will naturally be able to see the good that is engrained in each of them. You will learn to love them. As you focus on the good around you, it will become easier to see the good inside of you. Your external shell is not who you are. Just focus on being healthy and happy so that you can continue to lift others, and He will help you see your beauty. He will show you your capacity to love. And he will allow you to grow in every way.

If you feel that you are alone in your mistakes, that you continue to mess up, and you aren’t feeling too kind towards yourself, pray for help. Pray to see your value, to know your worth in His eyes.  

  

He loves you. Show yourself the love you deserve and give the bullying a break. You are amazing and perfect and enough – just the way you are.XOXO – Heath

Change is hard

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I have been writing and re-writing this post almost daily in my head for the last week, so I figured it was time to get it out so I could go back to focusing on other things.  It doesn’t want to come out so I am going to have to drag it, kicking and screaming.

It has been said by many that change is the only constant.  So why are most of us so reluctant to face it head on?  Change = Risk.  It is putting yourself on the line and throwing caution to the wind.  It is taking a leap of faith, while fully acknowledging that you left the parachute on the rim of the cliff before stepping off.  It is fetching scary, let’s be real.

Change has a way of making you tuck up inside.  I feel like I have been curled up in fetal position and am just beginning to peek out from the edge of the blanket I’ve wrapped securely over my head.  I’ve come to terms with this, knowing that it is all tied to fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of failure.  Fear of disappointing myself because I failed.  And yet, as I have considered these emotions swirling about, it seems that they are bringing me in the exact direction I don’t want to go.

Fear leads to more fear.

It hasn’t taken me closer to my goals or desires.  Actually, it has done the opposite.  So this morning when I fought to wake up before the sun to head to work (gross, I don’t recommend it), I decided it was time to embrace change.  Sure change is challenging, and yes, I might fail.  But at least I won’t regret missing out on this majestic opportunity to grow.  I want to stretch myself so far that I don’t recognize myself from when I first started.  I will reconstruct my heart and build something new, something better.  I will reach my limits and be able to see how far I’ve come.

As I read Al Fox Carraway’s book (highly recommended, seriously go buy it now-don’t even stop to make a sandwich), I actually related TOO WELL – almost exactly – to her chapter about making the move to Provo.

She says,

My answer came as a reoccurring thought, one I figured if I ignored long enough would go away.  It didn’t.  Weeks and weeks had passed, and it kept coming back.  But what it came down to was this: …God is real.  Not only  that, but He in reality speaks to us.  He does.  Who would I be if I said, ‘Hey God, you’re wrong.’  I can’t do that, because He’s God!  What would I be if I said that to God?  And how guilty I would have felt if I finally got an answer and didn’t do anything about it.  The guilt would have killed me.  So finally I said to Him in prayer, ‘Fine, I’ll go, but I’m not happy about it.  Just so you know.’

That was incredibly difficult for many reasons.  It’s hard to know your desires are not His will.  But it’s not about picking what we want to do and just asking for Heavenly Father’s help with it; it is about doing what He asks of us and receiving those blessings, help, and comfort to follow through with His will.

More of Al’s story: Here.  I think she and I are going to be the best of friends one day.  Just saying.  She is bomb.

So here we go.  Today is the first step in the right direction.  I denied it.  Then the acceptance stage hit, and I admitted I have a problem.  I kind of hate change.  There.  I said it.  It’s out there in the open, right where anybody can judge me.  Oh well I guess.

I am going to start and embrace the change one little baby step at a time.  I may trip and fall a few times, and there is a great chance of skinned knees and bruised elbows, but I think they may be worth it.  I might argue with God sometimes, but ultimately I know that what He has in store for me is always going to be 100X more magnificent than anything I could even imagine today.  Trust is hard, and letting someone into your heart is even more challenging some days, but I know it will be worth it.  There isn’t a better teammate I could ask for than Him.

boxing.jpgJust imagine yourself in a boxing ring.  It is hard.  There are punches being thrown and sweat dripping everywhere.  Possibly some tears and blood.  Screaming distractions of the world are right outside those four barriers, telling you which direction to go or how to swing that next hit.  But when you take a little breath and look to your corner for even just a glimpse, you will see it.  He will be standing with a towel and some water, ready to wipe you off, fill you up, and send you out in the fight to keep going.  He has trained you to win.  He knows you can do this.

But if by chance, you lose the match, He will still be there.  He will bandage your wounds, remind you who you are, and start preparing you for the next match.  There will always be more opponents coming your way.  Luckily for you, you’ve got the best coach in the history of time.  Your worth in His eyes is far beyond anything the world can give you.  He wants nothing but success and happiness for you.  Who better to trust than Him?jesus-holding-girl

So today I am going to trust in Him.  I am going to open up my heart and let that change make me better, let HIM make me better.  I hope you can also take that challenge with me.

Time to let the best coach train me for victory.  His team has already won.  We know who is standing at the finish line in this competition, and the reward of eternal life will be worth every bit of trials and pain if we but endure it well.

XOXO – Heath

The Healer

 As I spent the first day of 2016 in instacare for 3 hours, I was given plenty of time to think.  I was up most of the night coughing and not getting much sleep, so my time scrolling through social media feeds drained my phone battery….and so there I sat.  With a dead phone.  In a room full of sick people.

I imagine this would have been the end of the world for most people, but I was secretly thrilled, despite feeling like crap.  You see, I love to observe.  People-watching is one of my favorite things to do.  The writer in me begins to analyze the emotions etched across each face, and spins up thoughts that are spiraling in their minds and words between whispered conversations.

In a room full of sick patients, I saw one thing more clearly than all others.

LOVE.

There were babies crying, little kids complaining of sore throats, and exhausted parents trying to comfort them.  There were strangers smiling and offering words of encouragement and understanding.  There was gratitude that doctors were available.  There was patience and kindness.  (Yes, there were a few people who got frustrated about the wait time and left….But isn’t that how it always goes?)

When my name was finally called, I was led back to an exam room.  And then I was left to wait again.  Luckily, it wasn’t long.

A knock sounded at the door.  I looked up.  The man who walked in wasn’t just an average doctor.  He was a friend.

Dr. Frank was my pediatrician when I was just a little kid.  And here he was again!  He seems to show up in my life during a lot of crucial moments.  The last time I had seen him was five years ago in instacare, when I finally gained enough courage to be pulled from the darkness eating me away.  He had been there to extend a hand and lift me when I didn’t have enough strength to do it myself.  And here he was again.

 

We spent a few minutes talking about life and the events that had brought us to where we were.  He offered some advice and encouragement, prescribed a method to fix my current illness, and hugged me goodbye.

Looking back on that day, I now see a lot of parallels.

Picture the people as they wait to catch even a glimpse of Christ’s robes as he passes by.  Some of them are hoping for miracles.  For prayers of healing.  For a glimmer of faith to know that things are going to be okay.  Pain.  Suffering.  Exhaustion from dealing with the challenges that accompany mortality.

Do we recognize how often the “waiting rooms” of life are filled with children of a loving God, who are hoping for healing?  Do we take time to look around and see all that needs to be done?  Or are we too busy feeling sorry for ourselves, wishing those cries would be silenced so you could get some rest from the pain you suffer?

Lift where you stand. Be his hands and do his work.

When you hear that knock on the door and look up, who will you see?

A stranger?

A physician?

Or a friend?

Will you recognize the healer when he comes?

Life is often hard.  Actually, it is more challenging than easy about 99.9% of the time.  Depending on how you choose to follow the prescription of a gentle, loving friend, the balms of healing will be more or less effective.  He is ALWAYS willing to share guidance, medication, encouragement, and a hug.

It is OUR decision whether to follow through and take the prescription to the pharmacy and get it filled or not.

What a comfort to know that I have a friend who is patiently, constantly offering methods to overcome my current illnesses right on the other side of this “waiting room.”  He cares about what events and circumstances have brought me to his feet, pleading for healing and help.  No matter how many times I become sick, He never draws his hand back.  I hope I will always recognize a friend when He walks through the door.

On January 1st, I glimpsed a tiny bit of heaven in that waiting room.  I will be forever grateful that my phone died just in time to see it.  I challenge you to look around and see the healer in everything surrounding you this year.  He is there.  He lives, and “his hand is stretched out still.”

Hang on.  Trust his love and allow him to help you.  He will carry you when you cannot do it on your own.

Wishing you strength and healing in 2016.

XOXO – Heath

Faith and cancer

The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the direction my life is going and fighting the promptings of the spirit. Am I the only one who does this? I pray and beg and plead for answers, and then get so frustrated when the answer is not what I wanted. 

After all the agonizing I have endured while trying to wait patiently for my perfect pre-planned answer that I probably presented to God much like a shopping list with specific brands and flavors, I couldn’t understand why my prayers were not being delivered with a bow on the front porch.

Silly me for thinking my plan would ever be more successful than His plan!

I have come to realize this so many times and yet still have to be kicked into shape every other day.

I am quick to panic and slow to trust. I am weak and incompetent. I jump to conclusions and expect the worst-case scenario in most everything I do. I struggle to open up to people and then get frustrated when I feel alone.

I am all of those things and more. I am not trying to beat myself up or be hard on myself. These are weaknesses that plague most of us during mortality.

And yet we fail to recognize so often that all we really need is one thing: FAITH.

Faith in the Lord. Faith in the unknown. Faith in His timing. Faith that we do not have to be perfect now, as long as we are trying every day to improve. Faith that everything will work out. One simple word can change everything.

But what about when things happen that are out of our control? How can we keep having faith when we are faced with the loss of a job, the effects of aging, disease, depression, or death?

As I have battled my own inner demons of doubt and depression for the last 5+ years, I often catch myself losing faith. Life is challenging. It doesn’t always make sense, and it doesn’t always seem fair.

Although we have complete freedom to choose what we will do in this life, it is essential to remember that there is a plan designed specifically just for us. A loving Heavenly Father is aware of you and wants you to be happy and achieve all that he has prepared for your good. Seriously, everything has already been planned out for our benefit. Yet we constantly worry that we are not succeeding at the plans we make.

If we consider the offer of peace, comfort, love, acceptance, and happiness that the Savior is extending with open arms, does it make any sense that we would turn from Him? He is literally handing us everything we could ever want. Everything we have ever dreamed of having. All we have to do is turn towards Him and accept it. Realizing this, we should turn and RUN. 

 

What a comfort this has been to me over the last couple years as I watched someone I love fight for her life in a battle against cancer. I have felt helpless. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t good timing. It couldn’t have happened to a better family. And yet it did happen.  

Cancer is not selective and doesn’t choose based on age, gender, race, religion, or anything else. It does not direct its attack on the rich who can afford expensive treatments, or the poor who cannot even afford insurance. It doesn’t latch on to the sinners or the bad people only. It can show up in the lives of ANYONE.

 At first, the shock of the news would not dissipate. It hovered like a constant cloud over my head. How could this be happening? Why her? The string of questions was playing through my head on overdrive like a bad Justin Bieber song stuck on repeat.

I prayed harder than I probably ever had, begging for a miracle. Pleading for the cancer to magically disappear. I knew without a doubt that this was something that the Lord could provide if only we have enough of that one little word: FAITH.

  

In the quiet moments during that first month of confusion and anger that someone so good and precious might be taken away, I made a crucial decision. There were only two choices. God or Satan. Faith or doubt. Trust or Fear. I threw myself into God’s ring and did everything I could think of. Sure, I cannot fight cancer directly. But I can fight for a miracle.

Fast forward two and a half years. There have been so many blessings and direct, personal witnesses in my life exclaiming the power of God and His love. My sweet friend has not been alone in this battle. He has carried her, walked with her, and cheered her on every step of the way. I saw it happen.

Last week, the decision was made to bring her home for a final time. This thing called cancer was shutting down her fragile body, and it was trying to claim the last win. On Sunday, she was wrapped into the arms of her loving Heavenly Father and her spirit was lifted from that frail shell that had carried it through so much physical pain and suffering.

My heart feels like it has been crushed like glass. The shards of shattered pieces keep aiming at my lungs, threatening to steal the precious breath that we are all given as a gift in this life. I had spent so much time praying and hoping for a miracle. Where was the miracle? How can she be gone? Why would God allow someone so completely good to be taken away from us? WHY?

As I have prayed for understanding with tears streaming down my face, I have come to realize something.

              THE MIRACLE CAME

Sure, it didn’t come in the form I had requested. The cancer didn’t go away. A cure has not been discovered. Her family has been separated from their wife, mother, daughter, and sister for now.

So….where is the miracle, you ask?

Because of her fight, many things have happened for all of us…

  • A whole community was brought together
  • Faith has been increased
  • Love has been poured down from Heaven

In my personal life though, many more miracles have shown up…

  • I learned the importance of being in the temple of the Lord regularly
  •  I began to understand how to pray with faith, KNOWING that God could deliver
  •  I gained a testimony of fasting
  •  I discovered the true joy that comes from service and love
  •  I witnessed the strength that comes from God during our trials if we will trust Him
  •  I gained a forever friend, sister, and second mom
  •  I understand the power of a loving family, and the importance of supporting one another
  •  I received the blessing of knowing a literal angel of God
  •  I know my most important goal in life: becoming a wife and mother to create heaven on earth WITH them, so that when the time comes, we will be together for eternity

 Although my miracle came in a different shape than expected, I want to testify that it DID come. Although she is separated from us for now, it is not permanent. I know without a doubt that I will see her again. I have gained a special example of how I would like to live my life and who I want to become during this mortal experience. In this trial, I have gained more love, more faith, and more hope than I ever would have found just navigating through the daily decisions of life. Because of her, I have found the true miracle.

 He also came in a different way than expected. The king of the heavens and the earth arrived in the most humble of circumstances. He was born in a stable because nobody was willing to sacrifice his or her own comforts. He was taunted, beaten, and attacked. In his final moments, despite the pain and suffering required of him in the fragile shell of mortality as he hung from a cross, he used his last bit of strength to ask for blessings to come to those who hurt him, as well as make sure his family was cared for. In his last breath, he was still thinking of others. He defeated the bonds of death and rose again. Through him, all pains will be healed, all struggles will disappear, and all will be made right. His plan is sufficient. His love is strong enough to lift us and help us endure all that is required.

  

I hope that this Christmas season, I can more fully rededicate myself to my Savior. I pray that through my actions, I will be worthy of the blessings of eternity with my family because of the sacrifice that was made. Because of him, death is not goodbye. It is merely a “see you soon.” I can’t wait until we will be reunited with the ones we love.

It will be GLORIOUS!

              Hope on. Journey on.

XOXO – Heath

Climbing Fences

  The past week has reminded me lately of an experience I had as a kid. 

In one word: PAINFUL.

I had asked my mom many times that day if I could go play with my friend Brianna. Her backyard was close to mine so I planned to just run over and ask if she could come outside. 

My mom said NO.

I know right?! WHAT?? How could anyone say no to me? 

Although this was not my first time disagreeing with a decision made by my parents, it is one of the most special because it was documented. I have never been good at taking “no” at face value. I tend to be extremely determined at going after things. I enjoy fighting against the obstacles and proving that my abilities are enough. 

I imagine this is what crossed my mind as I began to climb our cedar wood fence to reach the latch and free myself from all oppression. If only my 30 pound little body had received the memo that climbing was not my one of my skills at the time….

Unfortunately, my mom found me lying in the dirt with my face up against the fence. The whole front of my body was covered in tiny wood slivers. I was obviously a bit upset. 

Looking back on this moment, I draw a few parallels to this last week. 

  • Although I had great intentions of opening the latch to our fence and escaping, it turns out I wasn’t even climbing in the right spot. That stupid door lock was a good four inches to the left from where I had began my ascent to freedom. 

I think sometimes life is like that. We begin a project with the best of goals and desires to achieve. We climb and stretch to our limits. 

Then we look up…sure we were watching the road closely so we didn’t trip over rocks or hit a pot hole. But what about looking forward? Realization smacks us in the forehead and we notice that maybe our goal was a bit misdirected. We didn’t align our climbing to the end goal, and it seems to be just out of reach. I learned recently from an angel to always keep your eyes looking forward. The past might plague your thoughts and the struggles of the journey might be rough below, but forward is the only way to go. (Thanks J)

  •  Slivers hurt. Especially when they are in your face and hands. These are the lessons and consequences. We are often directed to make certain choices because someone is aware of potential dangers and wants to protect us from the pain. 

Just as my mom told me no to make sure I stayed safe in the backyard, our life often changes course. I know that this is our loving Heavenly Father letting us know that there are far better plans for us, and that he can make us more than we ever could alone.

Unfortunately we are stubborn and lose trust. We get prideful and think our climbing skills are first rate. We boost ourselves up a few inches off the ground, reaching our little fingers high as we can to grab ANYTHING. That is usually when we slide down the fence with our faces. 

Never lose your trust in His will! 

  • Even though I was the dumb one who thought I was big enough to make my own decisions, and then suffered the consequences despite the warnings, guess who cleaned me up? Guess who picked me up and wiped my tears? Guess who helped me heal each of those tiny prickle wounds covering my skin? 

My mom. The one who said I had to stay home. The one who knew what would happen if I decided to leave on my own.

It’s funny; I don’t remember her saying “I told you so.” She just peeled me off of the fence and held me even though I was wearing half of her garden. That is unconditional love. 

Over the past week, I endured some difficult challenges that I never imagined I would get through. It was hard. I was shaken to the core as I lay there with my face smashed up against a proverbial cedar wood fence.

As I sobbed, feeling broken and ready to give up, two people came to my side. 

First, my angel mother. She is my rock and one of the biggest examples of faith during trials. But she didn’t come over and tell me to stop crying. She didn’t say to grow up and handle it. She just held me. She gave me all the physical comfort and support she could provide.

Someone else was also present….

My Savior, my salvation, and my redeemer from all earthly pains and sorrows, was there. He didn’t tell me to suck it up either. He cried with me, knowing firsthand what I was feeling in the depths of my soul. 

Even when I turned around and tried to make my own path, He watched and He waited. In the darkest night, my brother opened His arms wide and picked me up out of the dirt. He gave me the strength to keep moving forward and just do my best. He willingly makes up the difference in all of the spaces where I lack. 

If you are struggling, look up. Open your eyes and look how far you’ve come. In those black, cold, misty nights where you feel lost, He was carrying you. You will never be alone. 

  He has been there all along. Have faith. Sending love and blessings in your trials ❤️❤️❤️

XOXO – Heath