Following the Holy Ghost

Oh, goodness. Friends, how long has it been??? SO MUCH TO SHARE.

First, October 2017 General Conference was FABULOUS. I mean I can’t even describe it. For those unaware, I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I started investigating the church in June of 2016, and I was baptized in December 2016 (along with my younger daughter). My younger son was then baptized in March of 2017. General Conference is a semi-annual gathering for members to receive guidance and encouragement from Church leaders about gospel living based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. This past conference was even better than the others I’ve been able to watch, if that’s possible. I’m typically a Deiter F. Uchtdorf fan, and when asked which talk was my favorite, I’d pick one of his. This year, however, Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk, Be Ye Therefore Perfect – Eventually, literally spoke to me. I’m so thankful Heavenly Father speaks to us through the prophet and leaders of the church!

Secondly, Stake Conference was the week after General Conference, and I was asked to speak!! Okay, okay, I was asked to bear my testimony, but *HELLO*??? Do y’all know who I am? I have panic attacks when I have to make phone calls, let alone standing up in front of 500+ people!! But I knew that if I was asked, it was for a reason. So I planned to give my testimony of the temple, because I have a very strong testimony of the temple. I practiced in front of the mirror, I did breathing exercises so I wouldn’t hyperventilate (I’m not kidding), and then I walked up to the front on that fateful day and….

…gave my testimony of following the Holy Ghost. 

This is proof that Heavenly Father has a sense of humor. It also proved that He will give me (and you) the strength to do anything that’s needed. It was unbelievable. And I didn’t even throw up afterwards. Seriously.

That leads me to my next huge thing: I am no longer getting divorced. This comes as just a big a shock to me as it does to you. It’s a long story, which I’ll probably tell one day, or maybe bit by bit, but basically my testimony of listening to the Holy Ghost came from this experience. My husband and I have so much to work on and work through, but I told him if he was willing to fight 100% for our marriage, then so was I. We have ground rules, obviously, to avoid going anywhere near where we were before, but we’re both working towards the same goal. He is also investigating the church now, and has been going with the kids and me steadily, unless he works on a Sunday. I’m so very grateful to my Heavenly Father for softening my heart towards my husband and helping me to see him as He sees him.

So…I still have pictures of trips from the summer, but I will save those for next time. I hope y’all had a wonderful Halloween!! Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited!!


Continue reading “Following the Holy Ghost”

Never Forget

I’ve been MIA for a few weeks – my sincerest apologies. I have Oh So Much to tell you!! However, Since today is the anniversary of 9-11, I’m just going to leave you with this:

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I’ll be back later this week with updates. Stay safe & never forget.

Clinging

I admit:

I’m clingy.

No really. I don’t think I can say I’ve been clingy all my life. I don’t remember when it started. Sort of like my anxiety and my low self esteem…I can’t remember living without them, and I know they’ve gotten worse over time (especially with my marriage), but I don’t remember the catalyst.

I recently stumbled across Kari from The OCD Mormon. Now I don’t have OCD (maybe “selective OCD”, but I’ve never actually been diagnosed with OCD). However, I think OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are closely related. It’s comforting to hear someone speak so openly about their struggles, especially to someone who’s struggling. One of the first posts I read on her website said the following:

“I feel like living with OCD is climbing the same mountain over and over again. You get to the top and then fall back down the other side. Or you almost get to the top and slide down. Or maybe you only get a few feet up and slip back some inches. But the concept works, at least for me: living with obsessive compulsive means having to climb the same mountain over and over again, for the rest of my life.”

She goes on to say:

“And it’s hard, you know? It’s really hard because I know that it’s not like someday I will be cured of this and I won’t have to worry about it anymore. OCD isn’t a curable disorder. It’s manageable, but manageable means that you (I) still have to manage it. It takes work. And when you don’t manage or work at it, it usually gets worse. It’s tiring.

And it’s hard because you often have an audience (family members, friends, etc.) who expect you to be moving forward… but sometimes you are just done. You need a break. So don’t get too discouraged. Just take your break and try to climb back up that mountain again. And again. And again.”

Replace OCD with anxiety, and this is so accurate for me, and so tiring (exhausting is more like it). I used to cling to others around me…for help…for approval…for confirmation. Then I began to not even feel validated by that because I didn’t believe people – I just assumed they were lying to me to make me happy – so I became totally internalized and wanted nothing to do with the outside world. But I’m learning (SLOWLY) that I need to cling to Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ for these things. It’s difficult, because I’m not very good at drowning out The Board Room and listening to the CEO yet. And sometimes I mistake my own self-induced guilt for a conviction from my Father in Heaven. The Church defines guilt as “The condition of having done wrong, or the feelings of regret and sorrow that should accompany sin”…for someone who’s been in a situation where guilt was used as a tool, that definition is accurate, but not the only one.

So I’m still struggling. But I’m also trying to cling to the right thing.

Since I’ve missed a week-ish, let me update you: last weekend I took my daughter for a Girls Day Out. We ran a few errands, went to lunch, and then went here:

The day was beautiful and cool, and the lake was not crowded at all.

I promised her we would go back when we had more time and rent kayaks and go out on the water. There is no swimming allowed in the lake, so she just wades around for awhile, and I stuck my toes in the sand and let them hibernate there for awhile.

Yesterday, although it wasn’t my normal Wednesday morning (leaving in a few minutes!), I felt the need to go to the Temple on my lunch. Usually I just eat my granola bar at my desk, but again…I’m clinging to what’s right, so I went. I didn’t even have my recommend or a change of clothes, so I just sat outside and prayed.

I was visited by a goldfinch. He stayed in that tree the entire time I sat there. It was so peaceful. I am so thankful that I am so close to the Temple and for the strength I get there. I’m grateful for the restored Gospel and that priesthood power is accessible to us again. I testify of the truthfulness of the Gospel, and I testify that our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can fathom and he wants the best for us.

Strugglin’

Oh friends…I’m not normally a post-in-the-middle-of-the-week kinda gal, but I feel led to do it…

I’m struggling. A lot.

This has been an ongoing problem, which I think it is for all of us at one time or another. When I first decided to get a divorce from my narcissistic husband, I felt peace like I’d not felt in a long time. I’d just found the church (or rather, it found me) maybe 6 months before. While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints places the utmost importance on the family, I knew that Heavenly Father had given me a church family to strengthen me as I stood up to the mental and emotional abuse that I’d lived with for so long. I didn’t know how things were going to work out, but I knew they were. That assurance strengthened my testimony of Christ’s true church much more than I could have imagined.

Lately, I’ve fallen back into the “worries of the world” trap. I’m stressing about work and money and bills and the house and school supplies and haircuts and AAAHHHHHHHHH!! Along with that, I’ve been fighting something I used to just call A Problem…but I’ve recently discovered it’s truly A Temptation…and even after fighting and struggling and kicking it in the shins, it’s rearing it’s ugly head again (or maybe still). It’s a complicated situation, and I’m struggling with how to handle it.

L. Tom Perry said “Do not be afraid of struggle. Remember that what is a present struggle is a key to future happiness”. And Joseph B. Wirthlin said “We should not be unduly discouraged nor in despair at any time when we are doing the best we can. Rather, we should be satisfied with our progress even though it may come slowly at times.” I am truly relying on these two quotes right now, as I feel like I’m drowning.

Thankfully, this morning I’m going to the temple! Have I posted pics of my temple? Well today is your lucky day!

I have an appointment at the temple for every Wednesday morning. I’m so very blessed to have fairly flexible working hours (I do have a set schedule, but if there’s ever an emergency situation, we are expected to stay no matter what…so they are pretty lenient about taking off if need be). So, Wednesday mornings, 9 a.m., I’m there. The past month has been scattered with Wednesday morning meetings that could not be avoided, so I haven’t been able to go like I usually do, and I CAN FEEL IT. I am thankful to get back. I am praying for personal revelation as to how to handle the aforementioned situations.

I’ve been assured that we all struggle. We are all dealing with temptations of all sorts. I have not been one to suffer from this previously however, and it’s frustrating that I’m falling for it now. I can take this only one way: Heavenly Father must have some pretty amazing things for me to do if the adversary is fighting so hard!

Hiking and Getting “Grounded”

Hello again! I worked from home yesterday, so while I get the bonus of one less day at the office this week, I also get to feel like it’s Monday ALL DAY TODAY. But as of right now, I have zero meetings scheduled this week, so it should go quickly!

This past Saturday, we packed up and hit the road and headed south. 2-ish hours later, we arrived at Ferne Clyffe State Park. This little gem wasn’t hard to find once I knew about it, but I’d never heard of it before I went searching! It has the usual RV and primitive camping and 18 different trails (including equestrian!) for everyone from novice to expert.

Clearly, we chose an easy trail.

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It had spectacular geography (or “exceptionally unique geological features, as we started calling them), and lots of wildlife (yeah, that’s a snake in the last picture, with only his head peeking out of the water…shiver…I’m glad my daughter was paying attention!).

The website boasts of an intermittent waterfall, which I’d hoped would be in high gear due to some recent rainfall. Sadly, once we arrived at our hiking destination, there was no waterfall. There was, however, an awesome opportunity to climb up behind where the waterfall would normally be and look out, which was fantastic!

And the trees…oh the trees!!

After we hiked back to the van (uh, hiking out was much more trying than the hike in!), we were beat! We hopped in and drove off to see what else we could find.

Yeah, really. That’s one giant Superman, as well as The Daily Planet. When you’re that close to Metropolis, Illinois, you go…no questions. The kids refused to have their pictures taken with Superman, the bums. Then again, so did I.

Then, just to say we’d done it…

Yes, I was driving, and yes, I made it across that freakishly scary bridge without hyperventilating! The Ohio River is gorgeous, isn’t it? I’ll admit, we also filled up the tank in Kentucky…24 cents cheaper per gallon is totally worth it!

And lastly, we drove around Lake of Egypt, because it’s also gorgeous.

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What I took away from this outing (besides some sore muscles, of course) is that this earth and everything on it was created by Jesus Christ under the loving direction of Heavenly Father. They are magnificent gifts from our Heavenly Father for us to care for and enjoy to the fullest. I’ve spent much of my adult life preferring the safety and predictability of indoors, and look at what I’ve missed! Doctrine & Covenants reads “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.” (59:18-19). I am guilty of not using these things for my benefit, but no more. Being given the opportunity to live out my mortal existence surrounded by such beautiful plants, animals, and land is a blessing and a privilege…one that I’m trying not to take for granted anymore.

Attitude Adjustment

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Hello, hello, hello!! Happy Monday mornin’ to ya! Can I just tell you what a whirlwind this weekend has been? GUESS WHAT I DID???

I went kayaking!!

Yes, that’s right…Ms. Scared-of-bodies-of-water went out on a lake, in a semi-teeny watercraft that fit only me and was controlled by only me and didn’t throw a hissy fit at all. And guess what?

It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!!

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That blue one was mine

Let me tell you the story. I’d made this arrangement maybe a month ago through the Missouri State Park system. It was supposed to be me and two other people, but both of them bailed. Normally, this would’ve made me chicken out as well, but I’d promised myself I was going to go through with it. So I did. I was actually happy I got to go alone, as this was something I had to do for me, to face a fear I’ve had for as long as I can remember. And I’m so thrilled I did it.

The day got off to a rocky start. I left my house on time, but when I plugged the park into my phone map app, *nothing* came up. I tried the name of the park, the address on their website, and nada. So, I figured I’d enter the town, get close, and see cute little brown signs once I got there. Little did I know the town was much bigger than I thought, and there were no cute little brown signs! So I stopped at Casey’s General Store (which is my all-time fave gas station because they have THE BEST ice from the fountain soda machine) and asked directions. 20-something miles and 30-something minutes later, I arrived at the entrance to the park and drove the couple miles down a winding gravel road.

I was met by this:

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Y’all, it was beautiful! Seriously breathtaking. However, I noticed just one person actually on the water in a kayak, and a couple others at the edge of the lake fishing. I was scared the “class” had gone out on the river without me, since I was totally late. A park ranger came up to my van and asked if was there for the 2 p.m. session and I said yes and apologized for being late. His response? “That’s okay, you’re the only one from your timeslot that showed up, so you’ll get one-on-one instruction!”. YES!!

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So out we went onto this gorgeous space. The rangers were fabulous and taught me so much. We kayaked all around the lake, going back into little hidden spots, practicing strokes and maneuvers. I never once freaked out about the water or tipping or losing my paddle. I even saw a huge turtle swimming around under water (turtles are one of my favorite animals). After a few hours we got out…I would’ve stayed as long as they would let me, but alas, the park was closing. I gathered my stuff and packed up to make the climb back up the gravel road.

This is where the day gets more interesting than fun.

When I say “gravel road”, I mean more like boulders that ended up in some semblance of a pathway. It was awful, and by the time I got about ½ mile from the main highway, I noticed it was way bumpier and louder than it should have been, and the van was pulling to the left. At that point, I knew…

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So for normal folk, this is no biggie. I’m anything but normal however…no spare, 3+ hours from home, and zero cell service. To say that prayers to my Heavenly Father started immediately is an understatement. Thankfully, since the park was closing, park rangers were leaving and stopped to help as soon as they saw me. Assuring me I’d get no reception on my cell where we were, one of them volunteered to drive me a few miles up the main road to Echo Bluff, the other state park in the immediate area. So I left Big Red sitting like a sad sap on the side of Boulder Road and got in some man’s truck, trusting he’d take me where he said and not to my death at the bottom of some ravine.

Thankfully, he was an honorable gentleman, a regular knight in shining armor, and dropped me off at the lodge in Echo Bluff. Word of Wisdom being momentarily forgotten, I grabbed a diet Mountain Dew and an ice cream sammich from the gift shop and sat down to try to figure things out.

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In trying to make my already-long story as short as possible, I’ll skip the exchange between myself, my insurance company, and the company they hire to handle towing and such. Enter the second knight in shining armor for the day, Jimmy from Whitaker Auto Body & Towing (3215 S Highway 19, Salem, MO 65560, (573) 729-4533…they don’t have a website that I can find, otherwise I’d totally link it and hook y’all up if you’re ever in the area and need a tow!). The original plans had changed a couple times, but the insurance-contracted middle man couldn’t reach Jimmy (because you know, zero cell service in these parts). He was miffed and said there was no way he could take me 30 miles in the opposite direction (the only place I could find that had a tire place, and even they were closed so I’d planned on parking in their lot and sleeping in the van overnight until they opened the next day). Jimmy was having none of it, and I wasn’t about to punish him for the insurance’s mistake, so I told him to just take me to Salem and I’d figure something out.

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While on the way (about a 30 minute drive…we’re talking Middle of Nowhere here, folks), we had some fine discussions about kayaking and water, airplanes and family, travelling and lives lived in fear, my divorce and his house and life in Salem. Near the end of the trip, he said his towing company also had a junkyard, and he could open it up and try to find me a used tire to get me back home that night.

Angels sang. Seriously.

Once at the junkyard, he ran into problems such as not finding the right size tire, all of his employees’ tool boxes being locked up and not being able to break the lugs on my tire. He finally called in back-up, Brad…another employee, and knight in shining armor numero tres. Between the two of them, they not only found and installed a tire, but also a donut (my spare has been gone for years).

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So 95 bucks and approximately 192 mosquito bites later, I was on my way home, which is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do that night. I’m tempted to send the picture of my tire to the Missouri State Park system and at least express how dangerous the entrance to that park is (especially with zero cell service).

I tried to take a picture of Jimmy and Brad, but they were having none of that, so I’ll reiterate again – they were literally a saving grace, my knights, and I would recommend them to anyone in that area in need of a tow or a used part.

Finally back to normal, I stopped at the same Casey’s as before, got a large cup of ice and went on my way. About halfway back, a fantastical lightning storm started, which made the drive even more awesome (driving zens me out anyway). Closer to the STL, the rain started and slowed highway speed down to maybe 35-40mph (yeah, that kind of rain). It was incredible. I made it home seriously late, kissed my baby and re-tucked her sleeping self in, hit the pillow and was out like a light.

This dreamlike Saturday, followed by absolutely awesome Spirit-filled meetings on Sunday made for a weekend I won’t forget for a long time. A Saturday that started out “bad” and ended “bad” would’ve killed the old me…however, I had such a peace throughout the whole day! I love that our Father in Heaven knows exactly what we need and gives it to us at exactly the right time in our lives. Trusting him means trusting his timing, and I’ll be totally transparent here – I’m not good at trusting anyone. But I’m working on it and getting better, and I’m so thankful that Heavenly Father gives me chance after chance to grow and learn to be more like his son Jesus Christ, my savior.

Go out and do, y’all. Live life. Make memories, whether with your family, with friends, or by yourself. Enjoy every moment. And happy Pioneer Day to you!

Creating a Bee-utiful Life

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Image Credit

Oh friends, what a long road this is turning out to be. I struggle every day, not to get up and move and do life, but to do life happily. I’ve been praying unceasingly to know what direction to head in and for the courage to take the first steps in that direction.

During this journey to who my Father in Heaven wants me to be, I’ve realized that much of my adult life has been full of fears…many irrational, some justified, but all fear nonetheless. I think I’ve always known that, but mostly been okay with it. Being afraid of so many things, I acted accordingly – which means there has not been much actual living going on in my life. Now?

I’m no longer okay with it.

How many things have I missed out on due to fear? How many times have I
kept myself and my kids sheltered and “safe”? How skewed has my vision been as to what’s really important? As I write this, I can’t help but think “Honeybee, this is what’s called a mid-life crisis”…because it really does sound like that in my head! First off, I’m not in “mid-life” yet (close maybe, but not quite there). Secondly, I’m not going off and buying a sports car and getting myself a boytoy!

I just want to live.

I want to experience.

I want to enjoy.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said “Life is to be enjoyed, not endured”. So I am forcing myself (at this point, ‘forcing’ is the correct word, because it does not come naturally at all) to do things that are outside my comfort zone…

A few weeks ago, I took the kids to the lake. Now I know, what’s the big deal about that, right? First, I’m a planner…an OCD, Type A personality, so I don’t “do” last minute things. Second, I’m a homebody…I like being curled up safe and sound in my own home. Third, larger bodies of water freak me right out (seriously…I don’t enjoy being in swimming pools, lakes, oceans, etc.). So the night before, I just decided “We’re doing this”…and we did. And I’ll admit, I didn’t actually swim. However, I waded, and I didn’t have a fit when the kids just jumped in and had a blast. I’ve vowed to myself that we will take one mini-road trip like that a month. For the price of a tank of gas, we all had a great time.

While I don’t plan on sharing all of my ideas at once, I’ll tell you about my next “adventure”…this weekend I’m going kayaking! Again, I love the idea of being on the water…I’ve just never been able to do it without hyperventilating. So the Missouri state park system has a program called Learn2Paddle, which is where you sign up for a two-hour slot to go and learn to kayak. They provide the kayak and all necessary equipment, you provide the body and willingness to learn. So I am. And I hope to find an enjoyable activity that I can sink my teeth into and continue to enjoy in the future.

As for the rest of my ideas, I’ll share them when they happen (with lots of pictures, hopefully!). School starts for the kids and me in just a little over a month. Our lives will become even busier than they are right now, but I know this is the right path and that Heavenly Father will give aid when needed if I humble myself and ask for it.

Our Savior and Redeemer lives. Our Heavenly Father wants the very best for us and will lead us there if we only follow the Spirit. Allow them to work in your life, and we can travel this road together.