Friday, January 29, 2016

Still in the Storm

For some reason I have recently had several challenges that have caused me to struggle with feelings of anxiety. In my previous post I shared how I overcame those feelings by Trusting God.

Trusting God was the subject of our most recent video conversation for the website. In the video, Ashlee shared a beautiful visualization that she uses to cope with triggers. She told how she removes herself from the situation and goes into her closet to pray when feelings of anxiety and panic start to surface. As she prays, she consciously remembers moments from her past when she has felt turmoil and then felt comforted. She visualizes the Savior coming to her in those moments and embracing her, protecting her, and aiding her. Then she brings her mind forward to her present concerns and sees those same loving arms surrounding her.

Visualization can be a powerful tool to help you recenter your emotions and re-connect back with the spirit. When we feel anxiety, stress, and turmoil we are disconnected from the help that God can give us. Only as we remember Him and put our trust and faith in Him can He bring us back to a place of peace.

I was praying the other night for help to feel peace about a situation that was completely out of my control but that was causing me to feel a lot of turmoil. As I prayed I saw myself standing in the middle of a blizzard. The snow and the wind was howling all around me. The snow was pelting my face and I was desperate to find shelter and warmth. I searched to no avail. The storm was so blinding that nothing could be seen through the snow. Then I dropped to my knees and began to pray. I watched as the snow began to pull away from me and circle around me, leaving a calm place in the center where I was kneeling. The storm was swirling violently around me, yet as I knelt in the eye of that storm, I felt no wind, no cold, no pelting snow. It was peaceful and calm.

In that moment I had a picture in my mind that I could return to. 
I could see how in the midst of the storm I could be calm;
 I could still feel peace.

When those feelings have begun to return, I remember that picture. I remember the stillness. After listening to Ashlee, I have added a new element to that picture. Now I think of someone wrapping His arms around me. Now I see who is calming the storm.

It would be nice if life from here on out would be void of storms. It would be nice to enjoy sunny tropical days, but somehow I do not feel that is the purpose of this existence. The test and the challenge is to learn how to feel peace even when the world is falling apart around us.

So I challenge you to find that picture, the one that can help you recenter, and when you feel the storm encroaching, go to that place of peace. Trust in the Prince of Peace. Then when you find it and you feel it, move forward in faith to do good things despite the chaos that is around you.

Questions to ponder:

  1. How can visualization help you recenter?
  2. When circumstances are beyond your control what can you focus on to help you avoid becoming paralyzed by the storm?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Finally Taking that Step Forward

After months of anxiety and worry, I finally took a step forward and did something that I was petrified to do. Yesterday we made the first video in a series called "Talking about Grief and Loss" for our website! For a long time now, I have known that we needed to do these, but I was absolutely petrified. I didn't know the first thing about making videos, how we would fund them, what we would say, and how I could organize the whole thing from Missouri.

The logistics involved and personally feeling self-conscious was causing me real panic. Even after following promptings to blog and create this website I was struggling following this new and scary idea. I had hit a wall. My confidence was wavering and so I just kept dragging my feet.

Ignoring this prompting, I kept praying, "What am I supposed to do next?" I felt stuck and directionless with no new ideas were coming in, and I was quickly loosing my purpose. I rationalize that it was just the stress and emotions surrounding the holidays and my son's wedding, but that all ended and I found myself still staring at the wall.

I finally realized I wasn't going to get anything new until I followed through on the direction I had already received. Somehow I had hoped that I could bypass that prompting and get something else to do instead.

No luck.

Fortunately for me, God is patient and kind and He gave me little experiences to confirm my original feelings and to get me going. Miraculously, I met a widow who showed me how to use Google hangouts on Air to do exactly what we wanted to do without any cost.

One problem was solved...

Now I just needed to move past my fear. Fortunately my two friends, were feeling the same prompting and they nudged me a long.

Again and again I learn...

The first step in the dark is always the hardest one.

It's the one that demonstrates trust in God and faith in the direction He has given us. I was waiting for something to just fall in my lap or for an easier way, but that's not how faith works. It's not how it grows.

And so we decided to try...

On our first attempt we couldn't get Ashlee's audio to work. I was frustrated and I felt that we were being thwarted. After several hours we gave up on recording and decided to just do a dry run on the phone. As we talked about our topic, I felt reassured. I could see that this was going to work. We ended the session with each of us having assignments to pray for help to figure out our technical difficulties.

On our second attempt the previous problems were solved, but we faced some new issues. We didn't give up, and we even said a prayer for help during our conference. Ideas came, and we got it to work. Yes!

As I re-watched the videos, I noted areas where we could improve, but I felt and saw a power to really help people with what we were doing. All of my impressions were confirmed… This is really what we needed to do, and in the end God really helped it to come together.

Ironically our topic for the first video was Trusting God. This whole effort had been a reminder to me of my need to constantly trust Him.

Why did I doubt? Why did I worry about my own inadequacies? Why did I not trust that He would make up the difference? Why did I not had faith that he would magnify and multiply my efforts and make my offering enough?

I could see how this experience and many others over the last three years have repeatedly taught me the lesson to simply Trust Him and move forward.

If we really want to learn to trust God, we have to choose to take that leap.

Action creates an experience and from past experiences we gain the confidence to take future leaps. In time, we become more comfortable taking larger steps in the dark.

So, if you are facing tasks that seem overwhelming, I hope you can use my experience or experiences from your past to give you the courage to take that first scary step. Trust that He is there to make up the difference. As you move forward, I promise, He will have your back.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What experiences in your past have taught you to trust God?
  2. How can you use past experiences to help you have courage to do difficult things?

Check out the first video in our series: 

"How Does Trusting God Help You Better Deal with Grief?"

Visit our website through the links above and subscribe to our youtube channel if you would like to see more.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

On Resolutions and Finding the Strength to Keep Them

Reading tonight and thinking about New Years resolutions. ( I posted a few of mine above.) We have good intentions, but then we grow weary and drop off.  How do we keep up the momentum? How do we make permanent changes and prevent relapses? This quote answered my question.

 "We can change our behavior. Our very desires can change. How? There's only one way. True change-permanent change-can come only through the healing, cleansing and enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves you! He allows you to access his power as you keep his commandments eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain."

It's all about accessing the power of Christ in our lives... living as He lived, choosing to follow Him so that we can be close to Him, share His light, be called one of His friends. Christ can enable you through any difficult obstacle.  Yes, you still may have momentary relapses. After all, even Peter got distracted by the waves and took His eyes off of Christ for a moment and then began to sink. But the master was still there, and when Peter realized his mistake and turned back to the Lord and called out.  Christ was there to raise Him up.

So as you work on new goals for the year, remember where to turn and who to keep your eyes on. Pray for help and strength everyday and thank him for that help as well. You may not feel like you can do it on your own, but it will surprise you what the two of you can do!