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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

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.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"I Choose to Believe!"

One of my favorite authors is Leslie Householder. Her books (The Jackrabbit Factor and Hidden Treasures) have really helped me the past 4 years. Her message primarily focuses on finances and prosperity, however, I use these principles in all areas of my life. Lately, I have been reminded by something she said in the Jackrabbit Factor.

"When I have a choice, I choose to believe. It does me no harm to believe. If I am wrong, I will cross that bridge when I come to it. In the meantime, I have nothing to lose by believing. I choose to believe. It is a choice."

I recently had an experience where I felt very strongly that I needed to go and do something. It was something that felt SO inspired. Many times it seemed like that goal was within reach and I would be just about to reach it - and each time something would happen to prevent it. This happened several times in the course of a few months. Sometimes, I would re-evaluate the thing I felt that I needed to do... I would think about it and pray about it... and sure enough I was supposed to continue.

At times it would be so discouraging to not be able to do the thing that I felt I needed to and I would continually tell myself these words "When I have a choice, I choose to believe". And even still... now that I am taking a different path to achieve my goal, I still tell myself these words. "I choose to believe that this experience was something I needed". Honestly, you can take these words and apply them to all areas in your life.

When I have a choice, I choose to believe...
... that this experience is for my own good
... that everything worked out the way it should for my benefit
... that I am successful
... that I am exactly where I should be
... life is good
... that there is good in everything, everyone, and every experience
... that even though I did not get what I wanted at the time I wanted it - then God has a better plan for me
... I am happy
... I have everything I need already around me

Do you see what I mean? You can take ANYTHING that you believe is bad, hard, or negative and CHOOSE to see the good in it.

The next time you are struggling or having doubt about something, hopefully, you can also remember... "When I have a choice, I choose to believe"

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Story of Faith

One of the biggest decisions of my life was when I found myself young, single, and pregnant. I chose to place my son for adoption. It was a very bitter - yet VERY sweet experience. I know it was what I was supposed to do. I have written my experience on the website, please read it here: http://www.choicesthatchangeyou.com/storyoffaith.html

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I control my thoughts???

In 1997, I had a friend who gave me a book called "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay. This was a life changing book for me. It was the first time that I ever really heard the concept of our thoughts creating things in our life and body.

At that time in my life I felt like a victim... I believed I was a victim... I thought like a victim... and I lived like a victim. There were a lot of unpleasant things I had gone through and I could always find a way to blame someone or something else. "I was innocent and all these horrible things just 'happened' to me by chance". I had a firm belief that I deserved these bad things and that it was my lot in life to suffer as much as possible and then just endure to the end.

Somehow I believed that the more I suffered and felt pain FOR EVERYTHING then that must mean that somehow I am really strong! I almost held my trials as a badge on my sleeve to show that I could endure such hardships. "Satan must work extra hard on me", I thought. "I only need to endure to the end and because I had suffered so much in this life - surely God would reward me in the next"

I almost cannot believe I ever had such a warped view on the truth... but I did.

After I read this book, I began practicing some of the principles in my life. There was one part of the book in particular that was extremely difficult for me. I was supposed to try an experiment where I looked at myself in the mirror. Then I was supposed to gaze into my own eyes and tell myself that "I love you, just the way you are" (or something along those lines).

So I braced myself in front of the mirror. I couldn't look up at first, only stare at the sink. Then slowly I lifted my eyes and as I considered looking into my eyes, I started BAWLING!! Not only could I NOT say the words "I love you" but I could not even look at myself!! I worked on it for about fifteen minutes and finally settled on looking at my shoulder in the mirror and saying the words.

I thoroughly hated myself. I realized that whenever I did look at myself, I only told myself how ugly, fat, horrible, mean, stupid, lazy, inferior, and worthless I was!! How completely sad!!

So this is where I began my journey. I worked on this EVERY time I walked by a mirror or reflective surface. I would stop in mid-verbal-abuse-mode and correct my thoughts saying things like "I love you" or "You look pretty today" or "You are a beautiful daughter of God" or "You are doing great today". At first, I could feel my insides screaming "YOU LIAR!" but slowly my thoughts and body unified their message and I started to feel better.

There are many AMAZING things that come into your life when you are thinking positive and faithful thoughts. I have seen the power of thinking correctly and mastering your thoughts. I believe this is one of the MOST important things we can learn in this life. If I could give advice to anyone it would be -

Watch your thoughts...
Stop when you are thinking negative thoughts...
Correct the thought to something that is more fitting to your goals...
Choose to think more positively the next time...

I have been able to learn to love myself, overcome serious depression, change harmful habits and patterns, love others exactly as they are, feel peace when life is raging around me, heal broken relationships, and the list can go on and on and on and on.

I know that your life can be changed, too. I know mine has...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Look to the Sky

Recently, I had a particular difficult day. It seemed like nothing was going the way I would have liked and it felt like I was running as fast as I could but was getting nowhere (you remember the Scooby Doo show run, right?). In fact, here is just a sample of 20 minutes...

My 4 year old likes to think he is a chef. He helps himself to the refrigerator and pulls out as many ingredients as he can. Then he gathers several bowls and spoons and starts dishing everything up into a giant disgusting goolosh. Well, this particular day he did this many times... and the last one included eggs (at least it wasn't cooking spray all over the wooden floor like last time). While I was cleaning up the eggs all over the floor he opens a bag of potatoes right above me and lets them roll onto the floor all through the eggs. I finally tell him to go play in his room.

So I am cleaning... and cleaning... when all of a sudden I hear a very strange splat sound. It reminded me of when you soak a towel completely and then slam it on the ground. Of course, I dropped what I was doing and ran upstairs as fast as I could, knowing that nothing good could come of a splatting sound like that. [Oh, I forgot to tell you that my 2 year old follows him around wherever he goes and helps him make the messes. I call them my Duo of Destruction - lovingly of course]

Anyway, I come around the corner of the bathroom to find my son's giant size stuffed bear sticking half way out of the toilet and then grabbed and thrown on the floor. My son turns to me and says "Bear is going potty". There is toilet water EVERYWHERE!! All over the walls, the floor, the trash, my bathroom basket, there is even wet toilet paper stuck to the walls. Every bath toy and barbie was wet. You get the point... Very cute - yes! Very disgusting - yes!!!

I clean them up and get a movie going. I clean the bathroom and put Bear and the other washables in the washing machine. I head back downstairs to finish the kitchen mess and I hear a strange dripping sound. I look up to find that there is water draining from the LIGHT fixture! They made such a mess upstairs that it had flooded toilet water all the way down to the kitchen right where I had just cleaned up some eggs and potatoes!

After that was finished, I was exhausted! Is this really what I signed up for when I wanted to be a mom? It felt more like I was a slave to my children's messes than I was a real person that could contribute anything to this world. I was feeling pretty down and focusing on all the ways life sucked at that moment.

Then, I went outside to get the mail. On the way, I happened to look up. It was a BEAUTIFUL day! The sky was so blue and the clouds were rolling past. I couldn't help but feel immense gratitude for my blessings. I felt so loved by my Father in Heaven who has allowed me the opportunity to have these life experiences - including my children and their messes. I started to appreciate my son's new-found cooking interests. Maybe this is one of his geniuses in life?? He is developing a great relationship with his little sister and is completely enjoying the process of life.... so I should, too.

Whenever, you feel consumed with all the yuck around you and you get that narrow vision of despair, try to "Look to the Sky". Try to really focus on how magestic it really is. You can feel how large life really is... and how small those problems really are. And most importantly, try to feel complete gratitude for this life... the beautiful earth around you... for the body you have to experience it... the eyes you have that can see it... and especially, the LOVE that you feel from your Heavenly Father because He gave this all to YOU!

Gratitude is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to change your thoughts and feelings. It is near impossible to "Look to the Sky" and still feel the darkness that existed in you just moments before. Try it...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Choices and Commitment

I recently read a book that mentioned commitment... and more specifically commitment to yourself.

Commitment for me is really easy - when it comes to others. But to myself is another story. I realized that many times I sacrificed myself for the benefit of someone else only to find that I was left drained and empty.

So I have made a commitment to myself. I will...
Take care of my body by exercising, stretching, and eating healthy foods every day
Take care of my spirit by praying, reading scriptures, meditating, and letting go of any negative thought and replacing it with hope, gratitude, and happiness
Take care of my mind by reading, learning, and/or discussing something every day
Treat myself as good as I treat others and that means LOVING myself as I LOVE others, too.
There are a lot things that I would like to accomplish in this life - and to live joyously. I found this video that is very inspirational. Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sctlc_TQzLU

Here is my favorite quote from it:
"I have learned that there are only 2 things that will create your dreams.
1. Your Choice 2. Your commitment to those choices"

I believe this to be true. I hope your choices match your dreams and you find the commitment to honor those choices. Choices are what change us... for better or worse.
Best Wishes and Much Love,
Martina