Choice. That's what life is about. We always have a choice in life - no matter the circumstance (even if we are only left with a choice to forgive). All choices have consequences. Some good - some not. And what we learn from these consequences creates who we are. Return to www.choicesthatchangeyou.com

Friday, January 8, 2010

Am I Good Nut?

I was cracking and eating some almonds today and realized that you can NOT judge how good the nut will be from the exterior.

Okay, okay, I know I am really pushing it this time but I had an interesting thought come to mind.

Aren't we all like the nuts?

Some of the almonds I ate had really broken-up shells but the nut inside was deliscious! I was getting to the last of them and I finally found this PERFECT large shell... I was so excited thinking about the huge, tasty nut just waiting to be eaten.

I cracked it open and much to my dismay I found a small, shriveled, and blackened almond.

I didn't see any evidence on the shell that something could be wrong on the inside so how could this happen?

So here is my question to you... how many people (aka nuts) do you see in this world that have perfect outer shells? How do you judge them? You may envy them... or try to be more like them. And how many people do you know that have scraggly, broken up shells (lives) and how do you judge them? Do you pity them or make judgments about their lives?

Honestly, we cannot judge anyone. We do not know what lies within another person. They could have a rough exterior and a heart of gold... or they may be the best church-going person and have dark secrets of abuse. You never know...

I am reminded of the Sadduces and Pharises in the Bible. Jesus knew the intent of their hearts and saw that they were shriveled and blackened within - even though the exterior of their lives were 'perfect'.

I started to think about judment day... when we stand in front of our Maker. It is at that time that our shells will be cracked open to reveal what lies within us.

Even though I think of myself as having cracks, broken edges, and a little scratched up, I hope that when I stand with my Savior he will find me filled with His light and love and be pleased with the 'good nut' he found.

Soul Food

The past month (and especially this week) have gone by in a blur... this holiday season was absolutely crazy for me.

There were a lot of changes in my home and I had to move things around and CLEAN every room, closet, shelf, etc. Then the holidays were here and family came in to town. It was so fun to see them, but the house was a continual disaster - and I was continually trying to clean it. My husband is also trying to put together a new business venture and since I am the computer 'go-to-gal' in our family.. I was lucky enough to spend hours and hours and hours putting the business plan together for him.

I have been working from the moment I get up... to the minute I lie down.. .I am exhausted.

Then I finally heard it... I heard a quiet crying within my soul. It was sad. It wanted to enjoy life. Many of the basic needs of this 'soul' were being neglected. At first, I didn't know how to fix this sad little soul... but the answer soon came.

It started when I laughed at something funny. My heart skipped a beat and I felt warm and tingly in my chest...

"Okay, that was something I liked" I thought to myself

Then the next day I had to run an errand alone. As I sat in the car singing as loudly as I could, I felt it again. There was excitement in my heart and I could feel it spreading to every aspect of my body and mind. This was making me and my soul very happy.

And finally today, I figured it all out. My body was achey and I was feeling fatigued. I was craving a good workout or something to move my body. I went outside and breathed in the cool winter air while watching the sunset. I walked up and down the street listening to music as I went.

When I got home, I turned on the music. I sang as loudly as I could... I danced as hard as I could... I acted silly and ran around like a monkey and danced the 'twist'. I laughed. I brought my children in with me and we have FUN!!

Happiness and joy came flooding into my life again... and it all happened because I listened to my soul and learned what it wanted to be fed to be happy.

Enjoying the moment!

Reading and inspirating book
Preparing a talk or lesson

I have only begun adding to my soul food list. I urge you to find yours.

Definition of Soul Food: Anything that brings you joy and connects you to the spirit that lies within yourself.

Destination Happiness

You cannot ARRIVE at happiness. It is not a destination you reach and then stay there. Sometimes the choice to be happy is easy... but sometimes it is very, very hard. I was looking around people in this world that are miserable and wished I knew what to say to help them realize this.

Please forgive me if you are one of these people, I do not mean to offend in any way (especially, since I once struggled with the same thing) but I wish to speak openly in hopes that it will help someone find joy, peace, love, and light in their life instead of choosing darkness.

Here is what I see...
I see a victim who is very comfortable in this role. If something happens in their life that can be 'perceived' as bad, you can see the hurt in their eyes and quickly it is followed by a comment or another look that says "I knew it. These things always happen to me"

I see someone who is self-absorbed and thinks that everything and everyone around them is to either serve them in some way - or to leave them alone. They get irritated easily if things do not go exactly as they want.

I see a dreamer who talks about "when I get this...things will be better" or "when this happens to me...I will be happy".

I see a complainer who never enjoys the moment at hand. They constantly critisize the world and people around them, wishing they could change them.

I see a martyr who creates situations around them that are horrible and then they sit there and feel sorry themselves.

This is what I wish I could tell them...
If you cannot choose to be happy in whatever circumstances you are in - then you never will be. Happiness comes when you choose a peaceful, forgiving, joyful, grateful, and loving thought instead of focusing on the negativity in the world around you. It is based on the choices you make each moment - NO MATTER HOW HARD - that will keep you in a joyful place. Only then will you be able to feel true happiness... even in the midst of pain.

KNOW that you are loved... and you are a child of God (which means he loves you no matter what and you are destined for greatness)

TRUST in the process of life. Believe that all things have a purpose and that in the end, it will always work out.

SEE the good in all things. Hidden inside each experience are great blessings. And yes, that even means the most horrible things that happen to us. We must look for the good in order to see it.

FORGIVE everyone and everything. By holding on to the pain, you are only hurting yourself more. (Forgiving does not mean trusting so if you are in a dangerous relationship - please protect yourself - but still choose to forgive them)

LIVE in the moment. Seize the opportunity that comes each second to be 'in the present'. You will find new joy as you experience things on a more conscious level... you will truly see the people around you, you will enjoy your experiences completely, and you will feel peaceful, content, and happy.

LOVE the world around you. Love the earth... love your friends... love your family... love yourself. Miracles happen every day when there is love.

Although you cannot 'arrive' at happiness (and stay there permanently without any effort)... if you do these few things, I promise you will feel joy like never before and it will be pretty darn close to actually arriving at "destination happiness"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Journey in the Wilderness

As I was reading my scriptures this morning I immediately turned to a random chapter and started reading. I felt like it was telling me some very specific things and I would like to share them with you.

1Nephi 17:1
"...we did take our journey in the wilderness... And we did travel and wade through much affliction..."

Not only is life a journey by itself but we also have several smaller journeys that we experience within our life. Sometimes the greatest journeys that we have are the ones inspired of God. Although we are not asked to literally travel into the wilderness we are quite often led to do things that lie within the unknown or that seem extremely difficult and scary. How many times does God give us personal commandments? Such as when He prompts you to do something very specific and you know you need to do it?

In 1Nephi 17:3 it continues:
"And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them..."

This also reminds me of the scripture in 1Nephi 3:7 where it says "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

From these verses we begin to know:
1- That we will all have periods where God leads us on a journey into the wilderness
2- We will have much affliction and it will not be easy (after all the wildnerness can be wild, untamed, unknown, and scary)
3- If we keep the commandments, he will nourish and strengthen us
4- He will never ask us to take that journey without also providing a way to accomplish this commandment

In verse 4 it says that they traveled EIGHT years before they got to the land Bountiful. EIGHT YEARS! Okay, I confess. There are things that God has asked me to do and I get impatient after a few months! I had to really look at my faith. I also had to wonder, how many times the people traveling with Nephi questioned when or if they would ever get out of the wilderness? If I know that God wants me to do something, why do I quickly get impatient and doubt that it will come to pass? And why when things get difficult do I sit there and think that it should be easy? I mean, hello? Wilderness does not mean 'taking a walk in the park'.

After they arrived in Bountiful, the Lord told Nephi to (in verse 8) to "construct a ship... that I may carry thy people across these waters". Talk about scary and unknown!!

Now that Nephi knows his mission he starts to build it. Then everyone around him tells him "you're a fool" "you can't do it" "who do you think you are to think that you can build a ship?!" (verses 17-18)

Then Nephi begins to be sad because of the hardness of his family's hearts and for their lack of faith. When his family sees this they say "we knew you were lacking in judment" "we knew you couldn't build a ship" (verses 19-20)

Albert Einstein once said "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

Have you ever felt this? I know I have. Sometimes when I have shared my grand dreams with others they quickly shut me down or spew some kind of negativity at me. It's feels as if I have found a way out of a deep, dark pit but they do not want me to leave them in that pit - so they pull on my leg, tell me things to try to scare me, or try any other desperate attempt to bring me back down.

I have also noticed a pattern through the scriptures - God takes us through the wilderness to get us to where He wants us to be. It is the also referred to as the 'refiner's fire'. It reminds me of our body. Many times when we are healing from an injury, scar tissue builds up where the injury once was. The purpose is to make the area stronger than it was before. This is the same principle us. When we heal from something difficult, we can learn and experience things that will teach us very valuable lessons and certainly strengthen us more than if it had never happened in the first place.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When Choosing is Hard...

As you may know, I have been working on a book (actually 3 that build upon one another). I felt such divine inspiration for these books and then a couple months ago the inspiration just sort of halted. I kept moving forward and making a little progress but nothing was coming out right.

I have also been having a few family and financial struggles that have been a bit overwhelming. Feelings of failure and inadequacy keep creeping into my heart and mind. I'll shake them off for a while but they keep coming back.

So I pray... I pray for help, guidance, strength, confirmation, comfort, miracles... and nothing. I have faith that everything will work out the way it should and in the time that God wants it to. I turn to the scriptures for guidance:

"Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you"

"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?"

"...faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

I keep having faith... and keep having faith... and keep praying... and keep praying... and nothing - not even peace and comfort.

I have felt abandoned and ignored. Depression and hopelessness has started to creep in - feelings that I have not felt to this extreme in years. It has felt like someone is screaming in my face "Give up" "Who do you think you are?" "You can't do it" "You are failing at everything" "No one wants to hear what you have to say" "Everyone else is loved in this world - but not you"

Last night was one of the worst. We live with my father and in the basement there is a room that we use for a playroom with all of the kid's toys in it. Well, my brother is coming home from his mission and that is going to be his room. So we are deep cleaning all of the bedrooms and purging all the things we don't use to make room for the things from the basement. Plus, my mom has been decorating for Christmas (which is HUGE and very messy) so there are little pine needles and other stuff ALL over the carpet. The carpet cleaners were going to come the next day, which was also my daughter's birthday, and I was completely stressed. It was physically impossible for me to do all the things I would need to in time. I got frustrated and stomped out of the house barefoot and sat in the car.

I started to cry (more like wail) and pray. Admittedly, it wasn't a nice prayer. I was hurt and angry and I felt alone. I asked things like "Why have I been left alone?" "Why are you not answering me?" "Do you love me? "Do you even care?" I was angry. I had been trying to do EVERYTHING God wanted me to do, so why have I been ignored?

I finally calmed down and went inside. I showered and put the kids to bed. I grabbed my scriptures (trying to find some peace or at least an answer) but nothing really stood out. I listened to my Ipod trying to find music to uplift me. Nothing was really answering my prayer. I turned out the lights, hopped in bed, and put my earphones back in so I could listen to relaxing music to put me to sleep.

All of a sudden, my Ipod skipped. It was strange because it skipped to something completely unrelated to what I was listening to. Even when I looked at the playlist that was still showing, that song was NOT on it. This was so strange, that I decided to listen to see what it said. Here are the words to that song:

Because I Love You

I got your letter [however, in my mind I heard prayer]
From the postman just the other day
So I decided to write you this song
Just to let you know
Exactly the way I feel
To let you know my love’s for real

Because I love you
And I’ll do anything
I’ll give you my heart, my everything
Because I love you
I’ll be right by your side
To be your light, to be your guide

If you should feel
That I don’t really care
And that you’re starting to lose ground
Just let me reassure you
That you can count on me
And that I’ll always be around

Because I love you
My heart’s an open door
…Won’t you please come on in
Because I love you
I’ll be right by your side
To be your light, to be your guide
Because I love you
I’ll be right by your side
To be your light, to be your guide

Waves of love started to pour upon me. Tears flowed from eyes and I knew that God did care, and I was not alone, and that he loved ME very much.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Choosing Beauty

Several years ago as I was healing from depression I learned a valuable lesson.

One particular day, I was having a really tough time. I felt ugly and unloved and I wanted to just crawl into a hole and never come out. I didn't want the world to see me. Well, I went into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror. This was at a time that I was learning how to talk to myself nicely - so I stopped mid-self-deprecating-thought and tried to tell myself how beautiful I was.

Here is the tricky part - I WAS not beautiful at that moment!! So telling myself these things was really hard to do. I was still in my sweat pants, my hair was a mess, yesterday's make-up was smeared under my eyes, my shirt was tight around my unflattering mid-section (it was shortly after having a baby - so it was even worse than normal), and I didn't have much to go on for the 'you are beautiful' comments.

I started to think about all of God's creations. He makes them beautiful. In fact, in the Bible I remember reading that he wanted Adam and Eve to care for all the earth. God wanted them (and us) to care for things on the Earth and BEAUTIFY them. This brings God joy.

It reminded me of a rose bush. Roses are already beautiful, just like God designed. However, if they are left uncared for they can get a little out of hand and the thorny branches start growing in every direction. If the branches are pruned and shaped - then even more beautiful roses grow and the bush reaches a potential that it wasn't able to without the grooming process.

I relate this to us. We are already beautiful. However, if we do not care for ourselves and take a moment to beautify ourselves we will not live up to our truly beautiful potential.

Now I am not saying that we should all go get plastic surgery and wear 2 tons of makeup to try to make us perfect... But what I am trying to say is that IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING - YOU TAKE GOOD CARE OF IT. I love my children so I do not neglect their needs. I love my home so I do not let it take care of itself. I love my husband so I serve him where I can.

So here is what I have discovered about making this promise to myself and I have been suprised at the effect it has had on my life

- It has helped with my self confidence. When I do not feel embarrassed or self conscience, it helps to hold my head up high

- It has helped my feelings of self worth. When I view myself as a beautiful creation of God and by taking care of this gift God has given me, I can't help but love myself more.

- It has helped me with depression! In fact, I noticed that on the days where I am really busy or just don't feel like getting ready for the day (because I occassionally still do that), I have a tendency to feel a little more stressed or hopeless than on the other days. I have found that on these days, it helps to stop what I'm doing and
Go to my room.
Get dressed.
Do my hair. (even if it is just brushed into a nicer pony tail)
Brush my teeth.
Apply makeup or add lipstick.
Put on some good smelling lotion and deodorant.
And I feel like a 'new' lady!!

I did not truly realize the effect this had on my life until a couple of weeks ago while I was at a book retreat with 5 other ladies. It was afternoon and we were about to eat lunch. I had gone upstairs to get ready (basically what I described above) and when I came down all of them said "Wow! Where are you going?" I replied by saying "Sorry, but I didn't do this for you... I did it for myself." I had been having kind of a bummer of a day and couldn't shake my negativity and it wasn't UNTIL I beautified my outsides that I was able to lift my spirits.

I am a firm believer that our physical and spiritual bodies are intricately combined. We must take care of BOTH of them. I am very grateful for this understanding... it has greatly blessed my life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Choices That Change You

I have decided to title my adoption book 'Choices That Change You' to match my website and blog. As I have been writing it, I have been thinking about the choices we make and what truly changes us in the direction we WANT our life to go.

During my pregnancy and the adoption process I was on a spiritual high. In fact, I think God was literally carrying me during that time in my life. I felt so hopeful about my future. I knew what it felt like to be on the wrong path and I was so determined to choose differently. I was excited to get back to life and make good choices... find my true love... find new friends... get an college education... and do whatever else.

When I went to college I was excited to shed my old reputation and start over. Unfortunately, this wasn't the way it happened. I felt completely lost... I didn't want to fit in with the old crowd... I didn't fit in with the 'goody-goody' kids... I didn't care about the small and trivial things most 18 year olds worry about because I was dealing with something much greater. I didn't feel like anyone could understand me. I found myself drawn to people like me... people who had experienced pain in life but had a desire to do better. Needless to say, most of those people brought me further down and farther away from my goals and dreams.

At this time, I met my husband. He had also placed a child for adoption less than a year before and I felt completely connected to him. We married a short 4 months after meeting. I thought getting married and out of the single, dating, horrible college life was the answer to me living a better life.

For the next 8 years I found myself still struggling with meeting my goals. I went inactive in my church for a few years, I struggled with self worth and depression, and my marriage had some ups and downs. He also struggled with some of the same issues and it eventually ruined the marriage. Two unhappy people do not equal happiness.

After that point, life reached an all-time low. One time as I sat reflecting on the life I wanted to live I wrote a list of things that I wanted to improve in life. The list included things like:
- Pray every day
- Daily Scripture study
- Stop swearing
- Go to Church
- Talk nice to myself
- Pay Tithing
... and the list goes on

I then put the list in my journal and forgot about it for a few years. Then about 3 years ago I found the paper and opened it up. I was SHOCKED to see that I was now easily doing almost everything on the list.

It wasn't one BIG decision to change me into a better person that worked... it was the little choices that I made minute by minute, day by day, month by month, that eventually added up to the GREAT change in my life.

This is why I have decided to name my book 'Choices That Change You'. So often I see birthmothers feel lost after they are trying to get back into life. They have felt the spirit so strong... they have made huge wonderful goals... but then reality kicks in and they don't know how to achieve the life they want. My book will focus on life after placement and the healing journey to happiness.