You’re Not Here to Change Them

“Where did she come from?”  My teenage daughter asked about her younger sister.  She couldn’t see any traits in her sister that resembled anything she saw in me or my husband.  She pointed out her other siblings and how she sees similarities that seem genetically passed on.  But what about this sister?  I thought of her personality that is all her own.  And I was reminded and said aloud, “she came from Heavenly Father.”

This daughter is full of life.  She lives in the moment and can really light up a room with her laughter and bright personality.  When I tell her to go clean her room, she often comes to me when she’s done to surprise me with how wonderful it looks.  To me, clean is simple, nothing on floors and counters-everything put away.  But I walk in her room and there is stuff everywhere!  Yet it’s all organized-with the room decorated with stuffed animals all over her bed- placed strategically.  Several ribbons taped to the ceiling, dangling overhead.  In the corner is a cardboard box I was going to throw away-she made into a doghouse with some spray paint, tape and scissors. I recognize a large piece of wood I had put in the garage to throw away-she’s brought it up to her room and painted all over it.  What I see as organized clutter, she sees as beautiful and artistic.  And if I look around her room and put aside any expectations of seeing what I want to see, I see a beautiful expression of a child.  I see what makes her great.  I see art, a love for animals, little trinkets and treasures, color and beauty.   I just love this girl.

Our relationship has been a real blessing in my life lately.  It hasn’t always been this way.  For a while, I worried about her and felt like I needed to help her be different than she was.  I would see things she says and does and think, “You shouldn’t do that.”  When I think this way, the Spirit often brings to my mind this scene of when she was a baby.  These are adorable traits that are part of who she is.  And I had been seeing them in a negative way.  If I try to change this about her, I am trying to take away her very nature.  Her gifts.

When I try to change things I don’t like about myself-these things are magnified.  And I stumble and withdraw from the world.  These things are the flip side of my strengths.  Same with my kids.  And focusing on what gifts me and my kids have to offer the world magnifies these things.  When I adore my daughter, I see her as a treasure and gift to our family.  I am so grateful to get to be her mom.

I have learned through too much trial and error to count, that I have to stop trying to change my kids.  When I’m struggling with one of my kids I am continually reminded by the Spirit of how Heavenly Father parents me.  He loves me unconditionally.  He allows me experiences that can all be for my growth.  Out of love he doesn’t save me from consequences that are inevitable, or from heartbreaks that are all for my growth.  Through the Spirit He offers gentle and loving guidance.

Sometimes I think I’m in control here and I feel this weighty responsibility for my children.  I think they have to do things a certain way.  I often think I have to protect them from all these things so nothing bad will ever happen to them.  To borrow a line from Finding Nemo, “If nothing ever happens to them, then nothing will ever happen to them.”  “Oh but I can save them from having to learn the hard way!  Think of all the heartaches I could save them from!”  So I lecture and nag.  I hate the term nag, so I say things nicely-over and over again:)  And I feel uncomfortable about it.  And it’s really stressful too, “Why won’t they listen to me?”  That discomfort comes from doing something I shouldn’t. I feel the Spirit telling me I shouldn’t do this and to stop.  And I may try to justify what I’m doing, “I only want to help them!  But what if I don’t do or say the right thing and they make mistakes!”  The Spirit reminds me I’m not their Savior.  There is only one Savior.  And what I might see as a “mistake” might not be a mistake at all.  That I need to love them, help them blossom and discover the light and gifts they were born with and given from God.  And let go.  Let go of control.  Heavenly Father loves us all enough to give us the gift of agency.  We get to choose!  And I can’t take that away from anyone.  Even if I think I have the best of intentions, I am continually reminded by the Spirit that I’m not here to change anybody.

There’s a saying that goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  And I’ve mistakenly used this line to try and change someone by changing me.  And I try pretty hard to change me-so that they will change.  “But why aren’t they changing?  And why is this still so hard?”  I’ve tried to “love” people into changing them.  Looks so obviously wrong as I type it out.  When I try to change people at all, I am reminded by the Spirit (again and again) that I need to stop.  I can’t change anybody.  I can love people.  I can see what’s great about them.  I can share what I’ve learned in my own life.  And I don’t know what they need to hear but the Lord does.  I can follow loving promptings and reach out in love-not fear.  It’s easier for me to see this with people that aren’t so close to me.  But with close relationships, it’s hard to let go of this control and fearful thinking.  But every time I do, I don’t feel stressed and bothered by the person.  I feel more love for them.

I have to remember, “I’m not here to change anybody.”  And the stress melts away, and the love grows.

 

Be Yourself

This post will be short and sweet.

The other day I ended up somewhere and felt totally out of place. I looked around at all these people that seemed so different from me and thought, “I don’t belong here.” I was uncomfortable and wanted to get back home to the beautiful little farm town I live in.  I thought of several times in my life I’ve felt this way where I just thought I was out of place and the people around me were just too different and not the good kind of different.

Then the words “BE YOURSELF” came to my mind. Whew! I immediately felt comfortable. I looked around at people that moments before I felt like I needed to run away from-only now they were all PEOPLE. I  went from totally uncomfortable to strong, confident and loving.  Wanting to flee vs wanting to reach out. Thank you heaven!

Don’t Take the Poison

I recall a story someone shared that I think of often. This man related a story of early on in his marriage when his wife was angry with him and told him so. She said something like, “You make me so mad!” He replied, “since when did you give me control over your emotions?” My first thought was, “Oh I bet that really fueled her fire.” But this story has stayed with me.

I know no one can make me do or feel anything negative. And nothing I do in my life isn’t my own choice. No more, “but I have to do this.”  Because when I’m honest with myself-I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. Everything is a choice-including being angry and every other negative emotion. I’ve known this for years but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve found out how it can be done. I tried to will through before and have tons of self-control and all that. But it was so HARD! People made me so mad sometimes! “But see what I have to put up with? My situation is different…until they change this or that-how can I possibly be happy?” And I would allow outside circumstances to determine my happiness.

These are all “natural man/woman” responses and it’s all a lie. The devil is in the details and he had me fooled. When I blame my misery on someone or something else-it’s the devil luring me in to wrap his cords around me. And I allow myself to be tied to this “impossible” problem and feel like it’s hopeless. When I do this, I’m following satan’s lies. And he is successful at bringing misery. It’s all a choice. And the more I follow the Holy Ghost, the more I see the devil’s lies and how they destroy happiness. He wants anger, fear, and all those miserable emotions and he wants me to think solutions to my worries are based on what others say and do. That I can’t be happy and have peace until they change. And when I believe it I feel tied to others and ready to pounce on what drives me crazy (not the good crazy) about them. I’m quick to be offended and I can feel the yucky emotions start to stir.

But the spirit has been stopping me-and warning me that this isn’t them or reality. That if I go further and give in to temptation then I’ll be following Satan. Situations that have usually left me all wound up-stop. I feel the spirit saying, ” stay with me. Don’t take the poison.”  If I go down the road of offended and hurt or angry feelings, I indulge in Satan’s lies. Nothing anyone does determines my peace and happiness.

FREEDOM!!

At first I realized that I had been wanting to wallow in it sometimes. I didn’t fully want to let go-because then I would also be responsible for how I felt. I had to own up to the lies and the sin on my part. That it was truly a temptation for me that I had to let go. It was sinful for me to take the poison and allow satan in. And it was miserable! But how can I not feel hurt? How is this done? Yet the Spirit says, “stay with me.” And when we make it through and I look back-I feel like I witnessed a miracle. Wow. But that always left me a mess before.  And I don’t feel the residue and pain left behind that I normally do when I let the poison in, then try to just forgive or get past it and move on. There is nothing there to forgive. When I don’t take the poison, I don’t have to get it out of my system!  Only a freeing journey that keeps me from giving into satan and temptation. I don’t even have to go there to begin with!

How is this possible? Through Jesus Christ. I understood the concept of no one “makes” me do anything-but before I had to concentrate so hard and try to will through. Now I’m realizing how strong I am in Christ. Seriously. He helps us move mountains. “Stay with me.” He carries me through and life is AMAZING!  I am in awe that I can feel the joy under so many circumstances. But what about this…what about that? Isn’t there ever any justification for bitterness? No. Any time I believe that I’m taking the poison. Christ suffered for us.  I don’t have to suffer! He loves us so very much and can save us from misery. I wish I had the words of an angel to express it the way I feel it-Jesus is our SAVIOR!

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

 

Do I know you?

I met this woman last year when I was with my daughter.  Our daughters actually introduced us, their mothers, to each other.  And immediately I cared about her.  In fact, our brief conversation ended too quickly and I felt disappointed I didn’t get to really talk to her.  But the feeling stayed with me.  Eventually we set up a carpool for our daughter’s dance class.  Every time I got a text or call from her, this sweet feeling came back.  And I LOVED helping her!  In fact, I would get excited when she would need help from me.  It sounds funny, but I felt like I was blessed whenever she would ask for help.  And she was always quick to help me out when she could.

Whenever I see her, I smile.  She reminds me of my mother.  She has a large family and I see the look in her eyes that I recognize in my mother.  A look of love, of busy days and a life filled with family and children.  Her smile is like sunshine and there’s a way about her that shows she doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

Yet I’ve hardly talked to her.  Then the other day (she was doing me a big favor!) we got a chance to chat for a few minutes.  Wow!  I learned more about her.  I heard of some trials and pain that I had no idea about before.  I was amazed that there wasn’t a hint of complaining in our conversation, but she spoke of life and some adversity that I can’t imagine dealing with.  Wow, what a woman!  She’s truly amazing.  And I left with two thoughts-here she is helping me!  And the Lord puts people in our life for a reason, and gives us a desire to reach out to them.  The Spirit taught me in that moment, “Here is why you felt drawn to her and willing and wanting to  help her.”  And I was touched by the thought that she is a beloved daughter of God.  Do I feel that with everyone, everywhere-because we’re all beloved children of God?  No, I don’t feel that all the time.  But sometimes I catch a glimpse of it-sometimes it’s a stranger, sometimes it’s a family member, and sometimes it’s a carpool mom:)  And funny how I just want to help her-yet she’s the one blessing me!  Not just by giving my daughter rides but by who she is and the Spirit that radiates from her.

There are reasons why the Lord puts desires in our heart and why we feel a kinship and love towards certain people.  Yesterday, I ran into a woman I met  once years before.  When I walked up to her, she hugged me and I felt like I was hugging a long, lost sister.  We talked freely about deep things, spiritual things. After a brief visit and it was time to go, I felt sad to say goodbye but grateful that she graced my life again.  And I knew our paths would cross again someday.

I can look back and think of many people that I’ve felt this familiarity with.  Some I may only meet briefly then never see again, at least not in this life.  And some are in my life forever-that are dear, close friends of mine.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into my husband’s home.  It was the end of our first date and we stopped by his house.  I walked in and a feeling of familiarity surrounded me.  I looked around and wondered if I’d been here before.  The way I felt when I walked in their house was the way I felt when I walked in mine.  I felt like I was coming home.

Sometimes I wonder if these seeds of familiarity are planted within us before we come to earth.  A pre-earth love that existed before we ever meet here.  Then when our paths cross, we might get that feeling, “Have we met?  Have I been here before?  Do I know you?”

 

 

Hard-Easy, Easy-Hard

Sometimes I hear how HARD the gospel can be.  How HARD it is to live it.  And I used to think it was.  I knew the gospel was true, but I thought it was so HARD to be a saint.  I figured it was for the select few who have something special about them.  I thought they must have an amazing amount of willpower.  Lately when I hear how HARD it is to live the gospel, I think, “You know what’s hard?  Life without the gospel.”  For years I tried carrying my own burdens and saving myself-that’s HARD.  That’s HEAVY.  I tried living with one foot in the world and one in the gospel.  That’s hard.  It’s conflicting, with an inward struggle constantly going on.

Sometimes I would try so HARD to do something that seemed so EASY.  I thought the Lord wanted me to do these things.  They were GOOD things, simple things.  And it would feel like walking through tar.  I would struggle with every step and if I willed through it, I didn’t feel peace.  I felt like it was never enough.  And I thought this was God!  I didn’t stop to listen cause I felt guilty all the time that I couldn’t measure up and I couldn’t do these simple little things.  Then one day, God spoke to my heart.  I heard, “That’s not me.”  Guilt has been such a stumbling block and the devil was trying so hard to keep me from this message.  But I distinctly heard and felt, “That’s not me.”  It was like a flash of light in a dark cave.  And I kept searching and following after that light.  This was the best news!  If that’s not the Lord, then it’s the devil.  And that means all these other times I feel awful and not enough-it’s all a lie and from the devil.  All these times I felt uneasy about doing something that seemed so simple-I wasn’t even supposed to be doing them!  But I feared God so much that I didn’t stop to ask, to listen.  I just assumed and felt terribly inadequate.

The Lord brought to my mind several experiences from my life that I normally would have considered very HARD, and things I couldn’t imagine ever wishing upon myself.  Yet they were His will for my life and He was with me.  They felt EASIER than I would have ever imagined.  He carried me through them.  And these experiences were ENORMOUS blessings in my life.  His yoke is EASY, His burden is LIGHT.  It’s hard for me to even consider these experiences a sacrifice or service because I was blessed so much.  Then he brought to my mind several experiences when I tried to do things against His will.  Some things were simple, seemingly good things that I try as I might, they felt so HARD.  And some things were my own wants and plans I had for my life, but they weren’t God’s will for me-and they felt HARD too.  Which is why when I try to change things about me that are who I am, it feels so HARD-it feels nearly IMPOSSIBLE.  Sometimes the adversary’s voice is so loud that I think I need this or that to be happy.  I can’t be happy until…  The devil wants me miserable, and sometimes it’s sending me on an endless search for something that will never be.

Which helps explain why I struggle so much when I try to change how I would naturally eat, or how my body is.  Try as I might, my body doesn’t change much.  And initially this felt so depressing-to have to accept myself the way I am.  But it has turned out to be the greatest news and has brought PEACE to my life.  I love an athletic, strong-looking body! And I wanted one for so long!  And try as I might, I couldn’t look the way I wanted.  I was stuck in a vicious cycle.  But as I’m following Christ, he has been showing me all these things in my life that are not His will for me, so I need to let go.  “But why can’t I have that!  Why is it so wrong for me to have this or that?  Why does she get that, and I don’t?”  (I know-I sound like a spoiled child:)  But I get that uneasy feeling and know where it leads when I try to make something happen in my life that isn’t God’s will for me.  I’m learning to let go.  And initially my hand clings to what I want for myself, but with the Lord’s loving and gentle help.  I loosen my grip, and let it go.  And I find PEACE!  I don’t know the how and why all the time, but I know there is PEACE and JOY in following Him.

He’s not trying to punish me-to make me a saint by taking everything away that I want.  He is helping me to let go of the natural woman in me.  He knows me better than I know myself and time and again I’m amazed at the answers He has for my life.  I’ve never experienced such peace and help.  But I have to keep letting go of my plans and what outside voices may tell me I need.  When it’s God’s will, I feel peace.  I feel calm.  And when I feel uneasy about something (sometimes this unsettled feeling is way down deep, but it’s there), I need to let this go.  Sometimes these are things the natural woman in me wanted and it often takes a lot of faith.  And sometimes these are things I love to let go-woohoo!  Yay!  I didn’t want this worthless, negative, drag-me-down feeling anyway!  And with the Lord’s strength, all things are possible.  And He keeps helping me let go.

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:39)

Lemonade

The other day I saw two little boys selling lemonade.  I’m a sucker for kids selling lemonade.  It takes me back to the days many, many years ago when I would sit behind a little table with my cousin-holding our sign and shouting out, “lemonade for sale!”  Hoping someone, anyone would stop and buy a cup.  After what felt like hours of sticky work and a small amount of money in our can, we felt giddy over our can of coins.  And if we were lucky, there was a dollar or two in there.  I still remember a generous lady giving us a whole dollar and telling us we could keep the change. She made my day:)

Ok back to the present.  So I pull up the other day to these two 8 year olds that my husband and I teach on Sundays in Primary.  I saw them sitting there and my heart just filled with love for these little guys.  It was fun to see and talk to them in a setting outside of our church class.  I asked how much, and they said “A dollar a cup.”  Wow, I thought.  I used to sell for 25 cents but that was decades ago-and just chalked it up to inflation.

His older teenage brother that I was dropping off from Junior High carpool said to his little lemonade-selling brother, “You can’t SELL lemonade to her, you have to just GIVE her a cup.”   I was watching these brothers and just loved the interaction I was witnessing.  I’ve really enjoyed my Junior High carpool and I’ve grown to love our primary class-I care about these kids!  It was sweet to see the older brother try to get me a free lemonade but I could see the little brother humming and hawing.  He obviously didn’t want to give his lemonade away for free-he was trying to make some money here.  And he was feeling torn about what his brother was asking of him.  I see this little guy in Primary and I just love watching his brain go-he is very thoughtful and has a strong sense for what’s right.  He’s a thinker and I could see he was trying to figure out what to do.  So I said, “How about you give me the lemonade and I tip you?”  He lit right up and seemed quite relieved that he could still make some money.  I buy (I mean tip) a cup for me and a cup for my daughter in the car.  I see a big TANG container in the background and am a little afraid to take a sip.  I don’t think I’ve had TANG in years-at least not intentionally.  I thank them and I’m on my way.  Somewhere in there I took a sip and eventually dumped the rest out when I got home.  I smiled as I walked into our house as I thought about these boys and how great they are.

I shared this story with my husband that day-thinking he would be sharing my same thoughts.  Something like, “Cute kids.”  And we would talk about what great kids they are and how we enjoy them in our church class.  But that’s not what happened.  Instead he pulled me right out of my ‘awww, they’re so cute’ thoughts and said, “You paid how much?  You spent 2 dollars on crappy lemonade?  Why didn’t you tell them it tasted terrible and to lower their prices?  You’re not doing them any favors.  How will they ever learn?”  Now a little side note-my husband is an amazing and successful business guy.  He has worked hard since he could walk and is driven and passionate about what he does.  What you see is what you get with him and I’ve learned to really treasure his genuine honesty.  So for a brief moment I thought, “Did I do the wrong thing?  Was I lying to those kids and hurting their future careers??”  Then I imagined a different scenario playing out.  What if I took that sip of TANG and spit it out-telling them how awful it tastes.  Then I told them to lower their prices-especially for cheap TANG.  And maybe throw in a “Kids these days!” shake my head and drive away.  Then years down the road as they make millions owning their own business they would recall how their Primary teacher made all the difference and told them the truth about selling a terrible and overly priced product.

When I was buying their TANG, none of those thoughts crossed my mind.  It was just a sweet little part of my day that made me smile-I love little moments like these.  When I briefly considered what my husband was saying, it just felt weird and foreign to me to act differently than I had.  And for a second I thought, “he needs to be nicer-like me.”  Then I realized we are each so different and the way I acted and felt buying their lemonade was me and that’s probably why I enjoyed the moment so much.  And if my husband stopped to consider acting like me when he was buying their lemonade, he would have felt uncomfortable and disingenuine.  Which is why when we aren’t being true to who we are, it feels strange.  It just doesn’t feel right.  And I have to remember that there isn’t one right and best way-other than to be myself and to hope for that in all of us.

“To thine own self be true.”

Opposition In All Things

I’ve been thinking about opposition lately-how we’ve all got it and it’s all part of the plan. We’ve all got our “stuff”. The devil and his minions work on everyone. Some adversity happens because of sinful choices in life, and some happen through no “fault” of our own, but that it’s all part of the plan to purify us and help us enter the Lord’s presence. “Men are that they might have joy” is a scripture I take seriously. I love feeling happy! And when I don’t, I want to fix it-as quickly and painlessly as possible. Don’t we all want to be happy? Even in the constitution it talks about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

Sometimes I look around and see others with envy that are so “lucky” they don’t have the struggles I do. When I’m consumed with a problem and see someone that appears to have this specific problem all figured out, I assume they’ve got it better than me and have caught myself wrongly thinking “woe is me” and being bothered by the fairness of it all. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve also felt silly about what I’m having a hard time with and don’t think I can reach out for help because my problems shouldn’t be problems and who am I to struggle? People die every day and I’m struggling with THIS?? That’s another lie of Satan, because the very hairs on our head are numbered and even when a sparrow falls, the Lord notices. Sometimes I feel embarrassed that I have a hard time with this or that issue. I asked my husband once, “Is there anything you have a hard time with, anything?” When I asked him this, I was thinking back to all the times I’ve been an emotional mess, or times I’ve been consumed with worry or hopelessness or other hard times I’ve had. I realized I was forgetting that just because he doesn’t have the same opposition in his life that I do, that it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have opposition. Whether it’s easy to see or not, there is opposition in all things and it’s part of this mortal experience.  If I think someone’s got it made cause they don’t struggle with this or that, I’m forgetting that everyone’s got their “stuff” and everyone needs mercy and love.

Recently I’ve noticed I was having a hard time feeling compassion and patience for a particular human issue out there. It’s hard for me to feel the love for people that are unkind or insensitive. When someone is angry or mean, I rush to judgment. It’s so easy for me to have compassion for people that are kind. Which is really just loving those that are easy for me to love. Loving those that first love me. I noticed it’s easy to love those that have some of the same problems I do. But what if someone has a hard time with something that comes easier for me? Some behaviors are hard for me to comprehend-often because I can’t imagine acting or feeling that way. BECAUSE THAT’S NOT WHERE THE OPPOSITION USUALLY IS IN MY LIFE.  How sad to hold back compassion when someone may struggle with something that is easy for me.   I recognize that just as we all have different gifts and talents, we all have different opposition in life as well. We all experience it in one form or another-no one is exempt.  When I see someone consumed with a problem that I don’t struggle with, sometimes I impatiently think, “if they would just do this then it won’t be a problem anymore.” Well maybe if it was me, but they’re not me and that might be the complete opposite of what would help them. If I reach out in love and not judgment, then amazing things happen.  And often what someone needs isn’t what I thought-but staying open and loving can work miracles and teach us both.

A few weeks ago I went through a rough patch. I felt just awful and couldn’t find relief. I have felt so close to God lately and immediately turned to Him for help. I asked, then begged him to take this away. “Please, show me what I did wrong and please forgive me. I am so sorry. Please just take this away.” And nothing changed, in fact I felt worse. The harder I tried to make it go away, the more awful I felt. I couldn’t figure out what to do and what I did to deserve this. A dear friend helped me IMMENSELY. She offered all kinds of suggestions and thoughts that have helped her. Something she said really spoke to my heart. I felt like God was trying to tell me something. “Sometimes you have to stop trying to fix it and just accept it.” Now this initially sounded counterproductive-I wanted to feel better and now! How can I feel better if I don’t fix this? Yet I felt peace when I thought of just accepting it and just saying, “Ok, thy will be done.” The trial wasn’t gone but I finally felt peace. When I stopped taking the blame for what I was experiencing and just let it be, I found peace. I couldn’t feel this peace until I let go…until I stopped trying to fix it and trust in the Lord…until I stopped trying to place the blame somewhere and just let it be. Sometimes I don’t know why I have to experience a particular trial or opposition, but letting go of my limited mortal view and trusting in the Lord helped enormously. I believe He knows everything I need in order to help me grow and to become more and more like him, yet sometimes I want to know the how and why of it all and now! And that’s not how life works. But the mere act of trusting in His will for me and that everything that happens in my life is for a reason keeps coming back to me as a reminder when times are tough. And now looking back, I see so much the Lord taught me through this trial.  I truly wouldn’t trade it if I could and hold yet another dear learning experience close to my heart.  I thank Him for loving me and teaching me this way.  I find myself thinking yet again, I can’t imagine learning this any other way.

I was reminded that opposition isn’t a punishment but all part of God’s beautiful plan. Trusting in the Lord in all things can keep me from becoming bitter and disillusioned when I’m walking through the “mists of darkness”.

President Uchtdorf gave a beautiful talk called “Grateful in all Circumstances” that reminds me of something I learned during this trial. He said, “Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness in only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessing”-and anyone who has tried this knows there are many-but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease.”  I want to strive for that and it feels right to me, to be grateful in all my circumstances.  I’m still learning:)  Sometimes when I pray for help with something I want to add, “and please help me with this in the least painful way.”  But like the trees that grow powerfully strong in the wind, I wouldn’t grow and learn if it was all easy and pain free.  “The stronger the wind, the stronger the tree…” (Poem Good Timber)

The Lord has been teaching me that life isn’t good because I’m good, and bad because I’m bad.  When I think this way, I take the world on my shoulders and sure I can take credit for the good things in my life, but then I also take the blame for the bad things too.  And this isn’t only wrong, it’s HEAVY!  The Lord in his infinite and loving wisdom knows all things necessary for my growth and purification.  I just need to say not my will, but thine.

“Trust in the Lord and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)