Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Life = Opporunities in Disguise

Last week was rough. really rough. I felt like I had made all this progress and life was starting to make sense and that I had *found all the answers*, and then it was like being back at square one. Anxiety and emotions can really play a number on you. But it wasn't all bad! As in years past, in the rough times I LOVE to quilt! It's so therapeutic and gives me some great time to meditate. My recent trip to Winnipeg totally restored my sewing mojo, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect! (I'm almost finished with my Gemini/Taurus quilt top! wahoo!!)

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day! (for all you women out there!) It's a come-and-go holiday for me. Sometimes I'm excited for it to come, and some years I'm ready for it to go. away. forever. :p Sunday was rough. I love my children and my family, but there are so many factors, I think for many of us, that can really make the day tip one way or another. 

My son was feeling pretty sick in the morning and I was like, "Yes! Now I don't have to go to church. I can stay home with him and sulk." Luckily church isn't until 1 pm, so that gave me plenty of time to realize that because of my mood I NEEDED to go to church. And I'm so glad I did. It was the best Sunday I've had in a very very very long time! The Lord is so good to us when we do what He asks, even when it's not always an enjoyable experience. I know church is always where I need to be, and I go, and He does bless me. But I struggle with church. I struggle with the culture, and I struggle with, well, myself I guess (and my social anxiety - it makes me so paranoid and uncomfortable. blah.) Anyway, it was definitely a tender mercy for me.

That experience mixed with a few others made me realize a few different things.  Here's my random list of thoughts:

1 - I'm pretty negative. I like to think I'm positive and hopeful and upbeat, but I realized that I really do tend to find something wrong with one thing or another, more often than not. I also like to think that I am good at inspiring and encouraging others. I want to be an inspiration so it's easy to think that I am, but I'm not.

2 - I like to think I'm a pretty awesome mom. But I'm not. I really suck at this mom job. I really stink at the wife job. What I think in my head often does not reflect what is really going on in life, or in anyone else's head. Just because I have a desire to do all these great mom things, but I don't actually do them, doesn't make me great - just like in number 1. (talk about a reality check. haha.)

3 - I want to be more positive. I want to be a good mom. I want to be a good wife. I want to inspire others. I want to have a good life and be happy. But I don't know how to do any of these things. I do think that a huge part of doing these things is gratitude. So I'm going to start by being more grateful.

4 - Sometimes I feel like I can't be happy all the time. With all the bad things going on in life, being happy all.the.time. is fake. It can't be real. My life has been trial upon trial, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. Now we are in a place in life where I feel so content with our situation and our future. I see hope and possibility, but it's so foreign to me. I don't know how to be content. I realized that I feel like contentment is wrong. But then I realized this weekend that it's not. Obviously. But it's so foreign to my entire life story, so it's something I'm becoming acquainted with, and so far it looks like we could have a good relationship together! ;)

5 -  I've never really been one for labels. I quilt, but I'm not a quilter. Quilting doesn't define me. I used to rock climb all the time, but I wasn't a rock-climber. Basically, I DO something, but that doesn't mean that I AM that thing. I don't want to be tied to one thing. I want to do everything! I want to be more than a definition. Which I think this has all been fine and dandy. But I realized that by not taking on any titles, I slowly became nothing. I lost all confidence in myself and in all of these areas of my life. 

I realized this past weekend that it's ok to BE something. It's ok to define myself by something. It's ok to be defined by a LOT of things! And if I can say that I am something, a mom, a wife, a daughter of God, a quilter, THEN I can be confident in being that thing! 

I've read blog posts before that talk about this, about how people list in their Instagram bio, "I am this and this and this" and how limiting that is. I agreed with it. And while I still do. I also see the other side. That I can be proud to be so many things (or be proud in being just a few things). And that is something to be excited about! I think this builds on my earlier items too. That if I know WHO I am, then I can actually be good at it, and I can enjoy it! 

I'm not saying that we should use labels to judge or limit ourselves or others, but rather we should use them as spring boards. To launch us into the sky and see how far we can go with it! Can you imagine a runner at the Olympics saying, "I run, but I'm not a runner. It's just something I do." Uh, no way! They totally are a runner! It's ok to BE something! Because then when you recognize that, it gives you room to be passionate about it! To love it! To live it! And when you have passion, you will be good at whatever it is you are passionate about! (I think that is something I definitely lost... my passion for quilting. My passion for a lot of things.)

AND I strongly believe that when we don't hide our talents and abilities and who we are, we give room to and allow others to do the same - connect with who they are and their abilities and talents. Wouldn't the world be awesome if we were all passionately excited about what we did?! Not to compete or compare, but to enjoy!

Last one:

6 - One thing in the LDS church that we really cherish is our gift of free agency. We believe that God has given each person on the earth their own agency to choose for themselves, and that God will never take that away. I LOVE my agency! I HATE feeling like I don't have a choice. Sometimes I get caught up in knowing that I am, let's say, a mom, and suddenly I feel like I don't have a choice and I HATE it. That because I have children I have to be a mom, and I no longer have a choice. Rather than loving and serving my family and children, it's drudgery. "I don't want to be their slave!" is what I've thought in the past. lol. It's that ridiculous?! (Yes. But I also know I'm not the only one who's felt this way. ;) ;) and that's ok.) 

Anyway, I realized that it's always my choice. And that rather than a "HAVE to do", or a responsibility (which it is), I can look at it as an opportunity.  Instead of doing something grudgingly - which usually also means doing a horrible job, I can look at it as an opportunity to do. I can wake up in the morning and instead of thinking, "ug. I don't want to get up. I don't want to get everyone breakfast (which my kids are actually quite independent in that area. It's kind of awesome!). Ug. I don't want to do laundry or clean the house." I can instead think, "I get to take care of and love little people today. I can clean my house and take pride in a nice home - the home I want to live in. (opposed to living in a gross home that I don't want to live in)." etc. 

Maybe that seems all fluffy and whatever. And it probably is. But it's also realistic. I can realistically live my life in a way where I see every challenge, every chore, every task, as an opportunity to bless, love, and serve. I can see these moments as an opportunity to become the good person that I want to be, to actually become the person I think I am - but I'm not because I don't actually do these things in real life. I can see these opportunities to help improve the world around me, instead of just gripe about how awful it all is on Facebook. I can do something about it! How awesome is that?!

It's amazing how just a change in perspective can change something so completely. 

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good this week! I'm excited for new goals and a new focus. I'm excited for all the opportunities around me! To try to actually BE the person I want to be, and not just pretend that I am. It's kind of exciting!! 

I hope you have a wonderful week!!

I'm going to try to take pictures of all of my Gemini and Taurus blocks tomorrow (it's too cloudy today) and I will post them on my blog once I do! :) I can't wait to share!!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Merging Realities

When I first started quilting and selling patterns, I never told anyone. Heck, I didn't tell anyone what I did for the first 4+ years that I designed and sold patterns (I started 6 years ago). Maybe I told a few people, but it was a "separate life" than my day-to-day interactions with people. And most people that I did tell, didn't really understand what that meant, so it wasn't a big deal to them. I don't like attention or feeling like I'm a big deal. Cause I'm not. I have a job just like everyone else, and this is what I do.  

(Did I mention that I HATE attention??!!) It's funny because I really do love to get up in front of people and teach, or talk, or whatever. I love to share what I know and do. I love talking with people and getting to know them, and sharing our talents with each other. But please don't praise me. Don't applaud me. Don't make me stick out from the crowd. 

Here's an example of what I'm referring to, I had a job right before I had my first baby, and at our last group meeting before I quite, the boss/owner thanked me for all the work I did and the contribution I made to the company - in front of everyone. They all clapped. I stared at the floor. (ug. can I please hide under my chair?! Get me out of here! lol.) 

That about sums me up.

When we moved here I joined the quilt guild right away, as well as the modern quilting satellite group. I loved it! Everyone is SO nice!! A few of the girls knew right away that I design patterns, and as we'd go to different meetings, one friend was so nice and would introduce me to everyone. AND THEN she'd tell everyone that I am a pattern designer! Suddenly I went from just a new girl to a designer. oooohhhhh!! "Ug. I don't know how to handle this." I know I make a bigger deal of it than it really is, and I'm sure that people really don't suddenly think that I'm some big deal. But it feels like it. Because suddenly all eyes are on me. 

This last weekend we went to Canada and joined the quilt guild in Winnipeg. It was awesome! I had such a great time! For show and tell I brought my Celestial Star quilt top. I got lots of ooh's and ahhh's. So much so that it totally threw me off and as I tried to talk about it, I felt like I just became a jumbled mess. (not again). I'm really not this insecure, I promise. I really do know how to present myself and be normal in front of groups of people. lol.

As I was talking to my new friend Deb, I realized that what really throws me off is that all of a sudden, just like that, I have two very separate realities that have collided head on! 

I have my in-person interactions that I'm totally cool with. (I do have social anxiety, but as long as I feel at least a bit of control over my situation, I'm good). And then I have what used to be my online reality. I can share whatever online, and when the attention comes, I can safely hide behind my computer or phone screen. Which as I write this, gives me that sense of control in my social interactions.... which makes me wonder if all my problem is, is my social anxiety. That in situations like the one in Canada this past weekend, I lose all control and I'm like Ahhhh! 

Anyway, what I originally realized and was going to write about, was that I somehow need to get used to the idea that I do something remotely awesome (because seriously, I can't deny that I LOVE my job and that it's pretty fun). But I don't want to get proud and arrogant about it. How do you deal with/handle doing something super neat and be able to still act normal when someone else gets really excited about it?! How do you not get weirded out and when others compliment you. (seriously, I'm not sure that's something I ever learned. Usually I say thank you and we talk, but I feel so disconnected from anything positive that people say about me. And I'm learning to be disconnected to the mean comments (like today. someone commented on an old YouTube video that I was smacking my lips or something and that it was kind of annoying. I told him thank you for letting me know so I could pay attention to that in future videos, and suggested that maybe turning down the volume would help. lol. It totally shocked me at first, as it does when out of the blue someone takes a dig at you. but whatever, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't being a jerk (like some comments I HAVE received... people can be so rude.)) Anyway...

What I was saying, is that I need to learn to be comfortable with these two realities being one. Learn to put myself out there and be comfortable with that.

I talked with my hubby about this last night and I realized that while I want to maintain the focus on my family, I want to learn to fit in and balance my business. It's interesting how God sometimes directs us to different paths - not to stay on that path - but so that we can then make it to an entirely different one, that we wouldn't have gotten to if we hadn't taken that detour. 

I was reading this article this morning and I loved this quote from it,

We can’t see the future. That’s what makes the unknown so scary.  Sometimes sticking with what we know, what we’re comfortable with, what we can see, feels like the safest bet in life. But that’s not how God intends for us to grow. Sometimes life requires us to take a leap of faith, especially when it comes to overcoming our fears.
“The natural man and the natural woman says there is no way I’m taking this step. There is no way I’m moving into the darkness until the light moves and I can see where I’m going,” taught Elder David A. Bednar in the video “Being an Agent to Act.”
But the requirement for faith is that we act first.
“Most of the time we think, ‘Well, give me the power and then I’ll act,’” said Elder Bednar. “But the Savior’s gospel teaches that first we act and then the power comes. We don’t know where to go. We don’t know what to do, but my trust in Him enables me to act.”    - Why it Will All Work Out,

 Over the weekend as I thought about my current struggles, I stepped back from them for a moment and had to laugh. Seriously? What am I even struggling for??! It's all in my head. 

I decided that I'm going to stop complaining and I'm going to start enjoying. I don't know what's in my future or where I'm going, or what it's going to look like. But like the quote above, that's ok. As I trust God, I don't have to know. I can have faith that He will lead me, and I actually think that sounds pretty exciting! 

I thought of this quote a lot over the weekend too,

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Marianne Williamson
Author, Lecturer

It's true. I'm not really afraid of failure. I've failed enough in life, had enough struggles, hit rock bottom so many times - I have that down packed. Struggle and I are good friends. It's the comfort, the ease, the light and being great that terrifies me. Since we moved here, I lost my life long friend of struggles and trials. And suddenly I've moved in with something better, but different, and we are taking our time to get to know each other. I hope we can become friends sooner rather than later though. ;) And this doesn't just apply to me. I honestly believe that each and every one of us has greatness in us! We all have amazing potential!! And I totally believe that only God can lead us to that. He knows it, He sees it in us, and as we follow Him, He will bring it out of us. That's kind of scary. 

I learned last year that I am nothing without Christ. With all my health problems, I know that even breathing and getting out of bed is possible only because of the grace of God. Knowing that made me feel like I was nothing. But I am learning that despite my own shortcomings, I do have greatness in me. I have something that no one else does. Which sometimes it's scary and uncomfortable to be different, but different is also what makes life exciting and beautiful! Embracing that in myself takes faith, and that's ok. Scary is all relevant right?! It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It's all in our perspective. 

So bring on the opportunities and let me learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable. ;) lol. 

Have you ever felt like this in your life? What did you learn from the experience? I'd love to hear your story!

Friday, May 5, 2017

What now??? Let's eat fruit.

As I've stepped away from my focus on quilting and my business, I've been left with an empty hole, feeling an overwhelming lack of purpose and need in my family. The need I was filling previously for my family (adding supplemental income that was greatly needed as my husband moved up through the ranks. I am so incredibly proud of him, and grateful to him for the hard work and sacrifices he's made while going through school and those necessary but not ideal work environments to get us to where we are now. I think it's easy to see the exceptions of success in the work place as the norm, and get discouraged by our own personal paths that we must take to get to where we want to be. Life is hard, sometimes - most of the time, we have to put in a lot of sweat and tears to be where we want to be. AND I will add, that even when someone's life looks easy, there is so much behind the scenes that we don't see, so we really shouldn't compare. at. all.)

Anyway... back to what I was saying, I am at a point in my life that is a complete role-change. As I've talked to other people, I recognize that I am not the only one. With parents whose youngest child is about to start school, so they are going from constant mom, to having a huge chunk of their day freed up; or others whose children are going off to college; or some who have health issues that have forced them to adjust their life style, hobbies, and everything else! And I can't forget to mention those who have recently moved - I think I fit this one particularly well. ;) It's been reassuring to know that I'm not the only one that is dealing with this.

But even though I know I'm not the only one feeling this way, I still want to figure out what to do with my life, and my time.

The other day someone mentioned the Fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance...
Something about the way they said it, and mixed with how I've been feeling and what I've been thinking about, made me look at these attributes in a new way.

As I started doing different activities throughout my day, I started noticing the fruits of my actions. I started to notice answers to questions I wasn't asking, but ones such as, "how does this make me feel?" and "how does this activity affect me and those around me?"

As I compared my answers to the fruits of the Spirit as stated in Galatians, I began to realize that as I did things that invited the Spirit into my life, or that were in and of themselves good activities, I reaped the fruits of the Spirit as well. I was happy, I felt joy, I was more patient with my children, we had more fun together, I had peace, I felt better.

As I did things that took away value from my life (not bad or sinful things, but for me it was the things that were a distraction - like too much time on my phone looking at Instagram or Facebook, or things like that, that really had no meaning or value), those same fruits and feelings weren't there. I was more impatient with my family and those around me, I wasn't happy, I didn't feel lifted and strengthened, I didn't feel renewed - I was grumpy, had anxiety, felt tired and unmotivated.

I realized that while my fruits might not always be the same as the fruits of the Spirit, everything I do does produce fruits of their own! And those fruits are either desirable, or not so desirable - and sometimes not wanted at all. It's been interesting to pay attention to that.

This is really been a huge blessing to me as I evaluate the things I do and then feel empowered to make a difference in my own life - by changing my actions AND the activities that I choose to participate in, to create the life that I want to have.

I love this quote by Thomas S. Monson,

You can purchase this print here (I did. I'm hanging this in my kitchen! I Love it!): (not an affiliate link)

 Is it always easy? No. Do I always choose the best activities? No. Is every day now a fairytale? Nope. But I'm learning. And learning takes time, and I am learning to be patient with myself, and that is an awesome feeling and fruit of the Spirit.

As I think about the above section, I also think about the following scripture in Moroni 7:12-17

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

I keep thinking of this scripture (italics and bold added) as a warning as I'm trying to decipher my actions and whether they are bringing forth good fruits or bad fruits. Because I think it's too easy to justify what we want to do with what is actually the best thing to do.

And I will add, that I am finding that it's not even my actions that are the good and bad, but rather the timing of my actions. I think more than figuring out what to do right now in my life,  I'm really learning when to do it. I have no doubt that I'll get back to quilting and designing, but the question is more of a when and how, than a what. Which is a reminder of just how tricky and clever the devil is, to take a truth, or a good thing, and spin it just enough - add that little white lie - to make it bad. (We must really keep our eyes wide open so we aren't deceived!)

The world around us definitely does not help in this regard as well. This is such a great reminder of that, John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

This has constantly been on my mind lately. The things of God, good things, are not given as the world tries to give them to us.  But peace, love, strength, they all come in a different way. It's been pretty amazing to see this in my life and notice the remarkable difference between God and the world around us - and what that world is turning into. (I have a story to go along with this, but I'm realizing just how long this post is getting, so I'll save it for another day, I hope.)

 Here is one example of this though, not necessarily in regards to evil and the devil, but in regards to the fruits of the Spirit.

The other day I was stressed and had some anxiety, so I turned to quilting, like I have done so many times before. (It's my therapy.) :) Anyway, I had a moment of relief and it felt good to be doing something for me. But I also feel like I was trying to force a "me moment" into my day where it probably didn't belong (let's face it, it's hard being a mom 24/7! Nuff said.) So I was thinking, yep, this is a GOOD thing!

Then my son needed my help with something, or kept interrupting me asking me for something that he couldn't have, I can't remember. It wasn't a big deal, but I realized that I was being very impatient with him. And then it was like a flashing neon light that what I was doing at the time was not bringing the fruits that I want to have in my life and in my family.

Now, before you think I'm all crazy calling quilting evil, that's not the case at all. What was wrong though was my distraction from what really mattered. I had lost my focus on my duty as a mom and as a caring person. I was being selfish and that was not the right time of day for me to have a moment to myself.

It's hard to be a mom, and give all day long. It IS important that we care for ourselves and take time to take care of ourselves, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Something that I am really working on and learning right now as I am trying to eat better and start exercising again, and learning to take better care of myself. BUT it is also important that we don't sacrifice the wrong things for those right things. This is a hard one, and I know there is no one-size-fits-all answer, except to do your own self-evaluating and follow those fruits of the Spirit to see how it works best in your own life and in your own family.

One more example to add to my novel ;) : Instagram and Facebook

I love the connections with people and those are definitely good. For me, I am finding that everything else about it is bad. A lot of the pictures leave me discouraged and feeling like I need to catch up. I feel frantic like I need to achieve some level of success or activity or accomplishment to be happy. I don't feel empowered, strengthened or renewed. On days I limit Facebook and Instagram, I feel MUCH better about myself and the world around me.

Sometimes we have to embrace the bad - not evil, but trials and hardships - to recognize and receive the good. Just like working out is hard in more ways than one, the benefits are so numerous!! It makes us healthy and strong - and not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. So we also can't judge hard things, aka trials, to be bad (reference the scripture above from Moroni). They are good, and if we look closely, we will recognize that the fruits of our trials are actually pretty amazing! That is, IF we handle them correctly. If we choose to overcome, they are awesome. If we fall prey to them and give in to bad choices, they can be quite detrimental. But eve then they can be turned around for our good through Christ.

I have SO many experiences that are examples of this. I will share one that happened this week.

I shared this on Facebook on Tuesday,

 Today on the way home from school my 4 year old was almost hit by a truck. I honestly do not know how he wasn't. I asked if he saw it coming, and he said when he did that he just ran faster. The only explanation I can come up with is that he must have been carried by angels. The truck didn't even slow down. There is just no way he could have ran fast enough, the timing was too perfect for a disaster. I am eternally grateful that he is OK!! 😭😭😭😭😭 It's the second time one of my kids was almost hit at this same cross walk. (The first time someone talking on their phone drove AROUND the car that stopped to let my son cross. The lady who stopped followed the person around for a while trying to let them know what they did but they didn't even care. I have no words. We only live half a mile away from the school, and the busiest road we cross really isn't that busy, but man is it turning out to be scary.) To say the least I've been nothing short of an emotional wreck all day! First I yelled and then I bawled, I don't even know how to deal with this. my kids think I'm crazy. Once they were in bed I found some relief and solace (It's either therapy or escapism) in creativity. I started working on my #fbpRiseAbove patterns again and came up with this star design. I'm excited to finish these up so i can play with these patterns! Now I better get to bed before I puke, I still feel so sick about what happened. And grateful. I am SO grateful that God is watching over my little ones. 😇😢 I've hugged all my kids a hundred times today.

(Here is the pattern I worked on...) :)

Anyway, that was a really scary experience. It gave me major anxiety all week. Wednesday I completely shut down and could barely function. It was so bad. And even still, when it's time to pick up the kids from school, my anxiety levels rise.

But as I think about this experience and the miracle that occurred, I keep feeling like instead of having anxiety, I should be rejoicing to know that Heavenly Father is watching over my children. This should be an experience of great comfort and peace. But I haven't had the faith to feel that peace. Though it's getting better, and the more I express my gratitude for the miracle, the better I do feel.

I was talking to Neil and how we like to think that we have faith that our children are being watched over, and that's such a warm and happy feeling. But until something like this happens, we don't actually ever know if they really are.

So like I said above, the trials we face aren't bad. I think that instead of trials, they should more appropriately be named "opportunities to see the Lords hand in our lives". They are like little windows to heaven that He opens so He can bless us and reveal the fruits of our faith. (If you have gone through hard things, I hope this doesn't make you mad or offend you. I have had a hard life and have gone through a lot of hard things, so as someone who doesn't like to give an opinion on things that I don't know anything about, I do feel overly qualified to speak on this subject of trials and perspective. I love you! And I hope instead of being painful, that my thoughts can be a source of peace and hope for you in your trials.)


When Hunter was a baby there was only ONE song I could sing to get him to calm down and stop crying, especially at night, We Thank Thee of God for a Prophet. Up until the last year or so, I sang this song to him every single night before bed - that's about 8 years of singing that song. I've sung that song so many times (and I still don't know if I know all the words. lol.)

Anyway, one of my favorite lines in the song that applies to this is,

"We doubt not the Lord nor His goodness. We have proved Him in days that are past."

I'm sure there have been times in the past where we have proved the Lord and His goodness in our lives, or that He has proved it to us. Do not doubt those miracles and blessings. Do not forget them. The Lord is good to us, and as He has been in the past, He will be in the future. He is an unchanging God. What changes is us - our hearts soften or harden. Our surroundings - the world today is not the world of yesterday. And the world tomorrow will not be the world of today. But we can be sure that the Lord will help us through, no matter the circumstances. Just as He has before.

It's really been amazing to me to realize just how much power I have to control the happiness in my own life. There will always be outside forces that will influence us or act upon us, but no matter what is going on around us, we are the ones who control what comes out of us. If we choose goodness and the things of God, then it will be those good fruits that come from us. If we choose evil, or simply not the good fruits if you don't want to be so extreme, then the fruits we produce will not be good. And just think, if everyone produced good fruit, the world would be a beautiful orchard!

That might seem silly and unrealistic. But if you think about it, how many people actually want to eat bad, spoiled, rotten, bitter fruit? I don't know anyone that would do that willingly. Most of the people I know prefer to be around the good fruits. It tastes better, it smells better, it looks better. (I'm not saying this to turn it into a popularity contest.) But if we produce good fruits, then others will be attracted to those good fruits, and that example spreads.

I've seen it in my own life. As I've focused on my own actions and working harder to be better myself, those around me have ALWAYS followed behind me. Not always - sometimes they actually end up no longer being around me at all, which also isn't necessarily a bad thing (like people unfollowing me on Instagram. lol. I'd much rather have no one follow me than have angry followers who are mean and spoil my day. haha.)

So if you want others around you to produce good fruit and do good things, the only thing you have to do is produce good fruit yourself. It seems too simple to be true, but it is. PLUS, that is absolutely the only thing we have control over anyway - our own actions. I can't even make my husband produce good fruits if I wanted to, luckily he does on his own, so I don't really have to worry about that.

Pointing fingers at others, blaming, anger, resentment, being unwilling to forgive or show compassion - those things will never bring forth good fruit, and like the saying goes, "one bad apple spoils the bunch." Don't be the bad apple to spoil those around you and thus self-sabotaging your own life.

“Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruits; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:15–20.)

I want to quickly say thank you to those who have comment on my previous posts as I share my thoughts and experiences through my "new journey" in life. Your encouragement and support has been more appreciated than you'll ever know! I'm not really sure why I'm sharing all of this, besides that I just want to. I have no idea if anyone is interested in even reading it and following along, but I want to keep sharing anyway... so thank you for your kind words, because it encourages me to do so. Thanks for your love!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Struggle is Real...

I posted this on Facebook last night:

"Ugh. You guys, I'm struggling so bad. I usually don't post things like this, but I can't find the answers, and I need some help, and maybe you have them, or at least some insight. 😉

"Moving to North Dakota has been a complete role change for me, which is awesome. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for all the blessings we are given each and every day! As well as the wonderful friends we've made already! But despite all the good I am so lost. I've felt like it's time to let go of certain aspects of my life, and doing so is proving to be a tremendous blessing already! But I am struggling to find my purpose, my identity, my worth, and what brings me joy and meaning.

"I know what depression is, and this isn't it, I'm just having a serious identity crisis. It's getting to the point where I'm struggling to enjoy church (feeling like I have no role or purpose there is hard) and instead of coming home feeling uplifted and renewed i feel conflicted and deflated (no issues with the church itself or anyone there, it's just me and a part of this struggle. And i don't think that even if i had a role to play, that that would fix this). It's affecting my faith (not my faith in that I'm losing faith, but I'm struggling with having my faith apply to me and putting it into action for myself, if that makes sense).

"I have been focusing on serving and giving to others and do find joy in doing so, and I feel like I've been good at not thinking about myself and i haven't been in a self gratifying or a selfish "what about me" mood. I've also let go of a lot of the control instincts that i have had in the past, aka unrealistic expectations, and feel at peace with accepting life and people as they are. So all in all, life is awesome! So then what is my deal??? Why do i feel like i don't belong in my own life?

"Have you ever felt this way? Or dealt with similar struggles? What did you do to get through them or overcome them? I pray and study and listen. But when i hear others speak in confidence about who they are and that they know their purpose it feels like they are speaking a different language. It has no connection to me.

"I feel like I've always been secure and confident in myself, even when i did have low self esteem, i still had a strong sense of who i was, what i wanted, and where i was going. I feel like this is the first time in my life that i have no idea who i am or what I'm doing or where I'm going. It's the worst... i know God has a plan for me, but He sure hasn't let me in on it yet. 😉 and with these feelings of inadequacies and self doubt, it's hard to feel like i can successfully be on His errand to do whatever my purpose is. It's hard to go throughout the day and try to accomplish anything feeling like this. It's hard to be happy beyond the moments of happiness (like life is good when I'm interacting and active, but then when I'm not I'm just there. And there's nothing.) Ramble ramble. "

I'm so grateful to so many friends and wonderful people who responded with words of love, encouragement and insight. You truly lifted my spirits!

This morning I received an email, my husband concluded that God sent it to me, "He knows how to reach you." he said, by emailing me. lol. But let me explain.

A few years ago I suddenly started getting these "thoughtful mind" quote emails. I received them every day, and they were amazing!! Always uplifting, and just what I needed to hear that day. Quotes by Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Mark Twain, Thoreau, etc, and a bunch of people I didn't know who they were. I don't know how I got on the list, but I liked them so I didn't mind. Then one day they stopped coming. Again, weird. Over the last 2 years or so, I've randomly received 2 or 3 quotes in my inbox, except they've always been when I've been at a really down point, or a point where I've struggled and felt like I can't find the answers. So I call them my #miracleinboxquotes, as I've tagged them on Instagram. :)

This morning I received this quote,

 Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.

― Paul Tillich

Again, right on topic for what I needed! and oh so random.

I have no idea who this Paul guy is, and I was curious for the context of his quote, so I googled it. I found two links that I've been reading which have been incredibly insightful.

This one discuses how without doubt - or room for the unknown, we would not need faith, because all things would be certain. The mysterious provides opportunity for faith because it provides separation from the known, and gives us place to not carry faith ourselves, but rather be carried by it. I appreciate the separation they use from religion, but rather speak about it in a spiritual sense - whether it's referring to specific beliefs in a superior being or simply the workings of the universe. They quote Tillich again in saying,

“An act of faith is an act of a finite being who is grasped by and turned to the infinite.”
Paul Tillich from Dynamics of Faith

It's a really article and I welcome you to read it as it's very insightful.

Going along with this same concept that doubt is not a negative thing (as often it is perceived as especially in the Mormon culture.) While we were living in Idaho, Sheri Dew came and spoke to us (I LOVE her! She is so amazing! and such a powerhouse of knowledge and insight. I want to be just like her. but in my own way. ;)) Anyway, she discussed that doubts and questions are not bad if we are willing to look at the right sources for answers. And that is key. We must look at truth to find truth. We will never find truth in places where truth cannot be found.

At the end of this article it does sum up that Tillich does not believe in certain infinite truths - in which this relationship of faith and doubt would not exist. I do believe that there are certain truths out there that we can and do know are certain, and yet our lack of complete understanding of these truths can still hold true to his perspective. Such as, I am certain that Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior and Redeemer, yet I do not understand how that is possible or how that completely influences my life. So while I have a sure knowledge of the fact, there are is still room for faith and that separation that Tillich discusses. It provides an interesting and refreshing approach to faith and doubt. (It goes without saying that there are aspects of doubt that can be damaging and limiting, so we must be careful when approaching this subject. Perhaps it's when doubt limits our faith is when we need to stay away, but when our doubts provide opportunity for faith - is when it is beneficial and powerful, as Tillich explains).

The other link I found was to this book,

I seriously love this synopsis,

"What if the most important word is the one in the middle? We often think of doubt as the opposite of faith, but could it actually strengthen our relationship with God? According to John Ortberg, best-selling author and pastor, the very nature of faith requires the presence of uncertainty. In this refreshingly candid look at a life of faith, he traces the line between belief and unbelief: less a dividing line between hostile camps than a razor’s edge that runs through every soul. His findings point us toward the relief of being totally honest. Questions can expand our understanding, uncertainty can lead to trust, and honest faith can produce outrageous hope. Written from Ortberg’s own struggle with faith and doubt, this book will challenge, comfort, and inspire you with the truth that God wants all of us — including our doubts." (bold added)

 Isn't that awesome?!

I think, at least for me, I come across a hard point in life, or a stumbling block, and I through my hands in the air and think "that's it! I'm done for. I can't possibly get past this or live until I figure this out." Isn't that silly?! It sounds so absurd. But that's how I feel. This is such a different place for me right now and it's really thrown me off in many ways. Though it's not bad. I'm not in danger, I'm not making dumb decisions sabotaging my life. So why is it so difficult?!

One friend mentioned, "sounds like you have reached a new opportunity to find more purpose and more talents than you have!" and I think that really hits it on the head.

When we feel like we don't know who we are, isn't that really just the perfect opportunity to explore and figure it out?! Now instead of feeling so discouraged, I am starting to feel hopeful and excited! I'm also feeling a bit lazy and tired... so I'm not necessarily motivated to do all the work, but how about we just call it play instead of work. I'm so tired of working. ;)

I do feel like I'm at a crossroads of possibilities and I have the world at my fingertips to explore. Perhaps it's my own expectations of security that is throwing me off, instead of embracing the idea that I have absolutely no idea who I am right now! (mental reminder to self: new is not always bad).

So, it's pretty random that I'm sharing all of this on my blog. One thing I've talked to my hubby about recently is how when I started blogging and found the online blogging world of modern quilting, I noticed that as bloggers became more successful their "voice" changed. The way they wrote on their blogs became a little more stifling, and their individuality or personality started to fade away. I don't know that that explains is perfectly, but as they turned more to business minded, the personal connection seemed less. That was something I didn't ever want to lose. But of course I totally lost it. And I think when I did lose it, that's when I started losing the passion for my own business.

"Walking away" from my business, from the expectations and demands, has been absolutely the best thing for me! I don't doubt that I'll keep at it in some way or another, but for now it's been totally freeing and refreshing to take a step back. One thing I've decided that if I do come back, I don't want to take back that mindset of running a business. It's a balance that I don't know what will look like, but I want to feel free to post things like this, and share what I want when I want. I've mentioned this desire before, but I just felt like I couldn't even though I wanted to. Like it didn't *fit* with running a business so it would be a bad idea to do it. Whatever... it's my blog, my space, I'm not here to impress anyone. ;P I'm just here to live life and love it! and to share that with anyone who wants to love it with me. <3 br="">