The Truth – Sometimes it Hurts!

Well HELLO!!!  Long time no talk!  Guess what I am up to today?  Yep, baking bread.  But look what happened . . .

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Isn’t that the ugliest dough you have ever seen?  It is to me and I have seen alot of dough!  Last year I think I would have just thrown this dough out, but with everything I have been learning this year, I think I am up for an experiment.  Let’s bake up these bad boys and see what happens?  You never know,  we might be onto something here?  Stay tuned for pictures of the finished product at the end of the post . . .

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(They don’t look that bad in the pan, but I assure you, I did SOMETHING wrong.  I think I added an extra cup of flour.  Got to love it when you forget how many cups you have already put into a wet mixture.)

It has been far too long since I have posted.  Please forgive me.  We are okay.  We are healthy (except for a few seasonal colds), the kids are back in school after a 2 1/2 week vacation and life keeps pluggin’ along.  I’m sorry I have written for so long.  I look back over the past 6 weeks and wonder what has kept me from writing?  Yes, since the last time I wrote we have had: 2nd trimester mid-term exams, 2 more birthdays, a baptism, a visit from my mother & my in-laws (complete with a 3 day trip to Arenal Volcano), a trip to the doctor for myself, many visits with new friends we have made in Costa Rica, and pretty much dealing with “normal” life.  So why haven’t I written until now?  What kept me away for so long?

 

Intimidation.

 

Sad but true.  I have been intimidated to write lately and sadly during some of our really fun and exciting times that would have been fun to share with you.  I really don’t like admitting that I have been feeling intimidated.  I even looked up the word on Webster to make sure that was exactly what I was feeling and it said: “to make (someone) timid or afraid.”  Yep, that is me.  But even sadder, I remembered that someone once told me that I intimidated them.  I guess I didn’t understand what they meant by that.  I thought intimidation meant they were comparing themselves to me and felt inferior.  I felt bad when they said it but now I feel even worse.  I didn’t know that I made them feel afraid or timid.  What power feelings can have over us.

A sweet friend of mine has a daughter out on a mission.  I love this daughter of her’s, she is EVERYTHING a daughter can be.  She is smart, funny, amazingly talented, helpful, kind and to top it all off a FANTASTIC missionary.  I look for her weekly emails because I know I am guaranteed a spiritual shot in the arm to get me through the day, the week or even a month.  This week she gave us all a challenge.  She has been struggling and wasn’t shy to let us know about it.  She wasn’t whiny or down-trodden in letting us know, and instead of turning to self defeat or negativity (my two worst coping mechanisms), she turned to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She encouraged us all to listen or read a specific talk and then asked that we “get back to her” on what we learned from it.  I love that about this young lady.  She knows how to get people involved.

So, I listened to the talk she recommended.  It is one that MANY recommended to me when it came out but one that I didn’t feel a direct inspiration from. . . until now.  Isn’t it amazing how the Spirit works in our lives, if only we would listen more!  The talk is by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and it is called, “Like a Broken Vessel” from the October 2013 General Conference.  (Here it is, in case you feel a prompting to listen to it or read it yourself)

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng

I have to admit, I was shocked at how much I related to this talk.  It took me back to days that were endlessly filled with depression and despair.  To a time that I wish would never return.  But just as life gives us challenges to learn from, it also gives us tests to see what we have learned.

The last few weeks have been especially difficult for me.  I think the realization of what Paul and I have chosen to do has really started to sink in.  There are times that I just have to break down and cry because life seems too hard to bare.  There are other times that I just can’t let myself think about where we are, what we must face again tomorrow or simply the fact that I CHOSE this destination change in my path.  There have even been moments when I have literally cried out, in despair, asking Heavenly Father if I somehow mistook His confirmation for us to move to Costa Rica and instead “Martin Harris-ed” all of us here?  It has been THAT difficult of a change for us.

But thankfully, our Father in Heaven is loving, patient, kind, understanding and especially helpful.  He has NEVER ONCE left me alone in my despair and agony.  He has NEVER ONCE led me to believe that I have made a wrong decision – but . . . He HAS let me go down that road a few times, the DEAD END ROAD, so that I could see that it does not lead anywhere and that the road I am on, is the RIGHT road for me and my family.

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(I love this picture.  It made Paul and I laugh – something we both need more of right now.)

Do you remember the video I posted when we first moved here, another Elder Holland favorite of mine, where Elder Holland tells the story of he and his son going on a day trip but having a hard time finding their way back home?  They couldn’t remember which path to take, so they prayed.  They both got the feeling to head down a particular road, only to find out that it wasn’t the right road at all.  Thankfully they hadn’t gone down that road too far, so they turned around and headed home, taking the other path this time.  Elder Holland’s son asked him why Heavenly Father let them go down the “wrong road?”

But as I searched to find the exact reply that Elder Holland gave to his son in the story he shared, actually forgetting it was a video instead of a talk, I actually came across a different talk about the same experience only given by Elder Holland’s son.  This talk was truly a miracle to find because, like I mentioned before, I had already research this story months ago but I hadn’t noticed this “second talk.”  It only made itself known to me right now.  So, forgive me for sharing this talk in its entirety, but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Wrong Roads and Revelation

“Matt, let’s go to the Colorado River,” Dad suggested. I was seven years old, and my family was visiting both sets of grandparents in St. George, Utah. Eager to see the mighty Colorado, I yelled, “Great! Let me get my skipping stones.”

Little did I know that he meant we were going to the Grand Canyon traveling over cow trails. Yes, we would see the Colorado River, but we would be on a cliff about a mile (1.5 km) above it. There would be no skipping of stones.

Grandpa Holland loaned us his truck and gave us a homemade map and a set of directions to help us find our way on a little-used dusty path along the back roads of the Utah-Arizona border. As we turned off the paved road, lumbered through the desert, climbed a set of hills, crossed another desert, went up another set of hills, I wondered how Grandpa or anyone else ever found this place.

We reached the overlook of the Grand Canyon late in the afternoon. After looking at the spectacular view and launching a few stones as far as I could throw, we got back into Grandpa’s old truck and started the trek home.

It was dusk, and we had only gone a bumpy mile or two when we came to a fork in the road. We stopped. Dad was not certain which trail we had come in on. He knew he had to make the right decision. There wasn’t much light left, light he desperately needed to ensure he could make the correct turns the rest of the way home.

Wasting time on a wrong road now meant we would face the difficult task of making our way home in the dark.

As we did whenever we had a family problem or concern, we prayed. After we both said amen, Dad turned and asked me what I thought we should do. I answered and said, “All during the prayer, I just kept feeling, ‘Go to the left.’”

Dad responded, “I had the exact same impression.”

This was my first experience receiving and recognizing revelation.

We started down the dirt road to the left. We had traveled only about 10 minutes when our road came to a sudden dead-end. My father promptly whipped the truck around, roared back to that fork in the path, and started down the road to the right. Fortunately, there was still just enough light to help us navigate the web of dirt roads that would take us home.

We were almost back to St. George, now on roads my father knew well, and the thick darkness of the night was lit by pinholes of thousands of stars.

I was troubled. With my head resting on my dad’s leg and my legs stretched across the seat, I asked, “Dad, why did we both feel like Heavenly Father told us to go down the road to the left when it was the wrong road?”

My dad said, “Matty, I’ve been thinking and silently praying about that same thing all the way home, because I really did feel a very distinct impression to take the road to the left.”

I was relieved that my first experience with revelation had a “second witness.”

He continued, “The Lord has taught us an important lesson today. Because we were prompted to take the road to the left, we quickly discovered which one was the right one. When we turned around and got on the right road, I was able to travel along its many unfamiliar twists and turnoffs perfectly confident I was headed in the right direction.

“If we had started on the right road, we might have driven for 30 minutes or so, become uneasy with the unfamiliar surroundings, and been tempted to turn back. If we had done that, we would have discovered the dead-end so late that it would have been too dark to find our way back in totally unfamiliar territory.”

I understood and have never forgotten the lesson my Heavenly Father and earthly father taught me that afternoon. Sometimes in response to prayers, the Lord may guide us down what seems to be the wrong road—or at least a road we don’t understand—so, in due time, He can get us firmly and without question on the right road. Of course, He would never lead us down a path of sin, but He might lead us down a road of valuable experience. Sometimes in our journey through life we can get from point A to point C only by taking a short side road to point B. We had prayed that we could make it safely home that day, and we did.

   Matthew Holland is a member of the Oak Hills Fourth Ward, Utah Oak Hills Stake.
Here is the official link to the talk, found on lds.org -www.lds.org/new-era/2005/07/wrong-roads-and-revelation?lang=eng
I LOVED Matthew’s version of the story.  Now, in Elder Holland’s version, the video, his answer to his son was a bit different.  He stated, “I think that the Lord, His wish for us there and His answer to our prayer, was to get us on the right road as quickly as possible, with some reassurance, with some understanding that we were on the right road and we didn’t have to worry about it. And in this case, the easiest way to do that, was to let us go 400 yards or 500 yards, on the wrong road, and very quickly know, without a doubt, that it was the wrong road. And therefore, with equally certainty, with equal conviction, that the other one was the right road.
”Elder Holland ends the short little video with his testimony, “I have absolute, certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good. He is our Father and He expects us to pray and trust and be believing and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, and not jump ship when something doesn’t seem to be going just right. We stay in, we keep working, we keep believing, we keep trusting; following that same path. And we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, “I told you it would be okay. I told you it would be alright.”Here is the link to the video again, just in case you didn’t watch it last time but feel you should this time. (Don’t worry, I have those moments too!)
*** Sad, I had already written a huge post and I lost it.  I am now second guessing if I should retell what I already told.  I wonder if someone really needs to hear what I said, and that is why I lost the information?  Have you ever had that happen?  You get stopped by some obstacle, trying to keep you from moving forward.  Well, here goes.  I will start all over again.
Facing forks in the road has become kind of a metaphor for me, since we moved to Costa Rica.  I have been given MANY opportunities to choose one path over another and to find out if I chose correctly.  The biggest problem for me is that the choosing is just as hard as the walking, but I don’t seem to find the blessings for making the right choice, but I sure do get the consequences for making the wrong choice.  I have started to get quite frustrated, even doubtful, and that is starting to concern me.
The last few months have been particular difficult for me.  I have honestly stayed away from everything that I hold near and dear to me, for fear of losing those precious ties too.  For as long as I can remember, I have battled with depression.  It honestly just has ALWAYS been there.  Through the grace of Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, I have truly been blessed to learn many ways I can manage my depression.  It is an ongoing discovery, but one that brings me joy and happiness.  But the last few months have not just been cases of depression.  A more evil cousin to depression came to visit . . . FEAR, ANXIETY and DREAD.
I still shutter to give so much attention to such visitors.  But, that is what they are . . . VISITORS.  I DO NOT wish them to stay any longer than is necessary.  Like a scary summer storm or winter’s blizzard, these visitors WILL pass through – SO I WILL WAIT!
But to be honest, it took me weeks and weeks of painful battles with these visitors to FINALLY FIND the relief and succor I was in need of.  No matter HOW much I read the scriptures, prayed, listened to conference talks, served others, faced my days with a positive attitude, those visitors WOULD NOT LEAVE.  But just as Elder Holland mentioned in the talk I posted above, “A Broken Vessel,”  the only way to manage these unwanted guests was to hold on, look to brighter days, hold onto the truth that I know and doubt not.  There were days that I was filled with pure exhaustion from the battles I faced with them.  Then there were days that I thought they had snuck out in the night, only to return again with a vengeance.
The irony of this all is that I have been reading the Book of Mormon backwards since last October.  Yes, backwards.  I honestly don’t know that I recommend it at this point.  It is hard to start a story with the tragic ending being given at the beginning of the tale.  But then again, hearing from the Savior so quickly into the book, was a nice change.  But Alma was brutal.  Alma was brutal.  For at the same time that I was reading Alma backwards, our family was finishing up the Book of Mormon with G man (a goal he had set for himself before he got baptized).  It pained me to hear so much destruction and tragedy, all because people refused, REFUSED, to believe.
I honestly started to wonder if the reason we were having so many trials in our move to Costa Rica was due to us not being righteous?  I started to experience what I believe many Latter-Day Saints face while “enduring to the end.”  A realization that we are NEVER going to be “good enough” to face our Father in Heaven (alone), we are NEVER going to stop sinning, stop needing to repent or stop needing Him.  And, worse of all, we will NEVER, EVER be complete in this life, because complete means – “with God.”  Why is it SO HARD to realize and accept that we NEED our Father in Heaven and that ALL THINGS that we do, that are good, come from Him and do not naturally come from us?  Why is it SO HARD to admit that we NEED our Savior?  That the Atonement of Jesus Christ is THE GREATEST GIFT known to mankind.  And why, oh why, is it SO HARD to allow the Atonement to work for us in our daily lives, realize that we do rely on Him daily, but we just don’t give Him the credit that He rightly deserves? Why is it so hard to admit we are all sinners?
Pride is a mighty enemy to every man on this earth. Especially to me.
Back to these visitors.  I honestly don’t know if they have truly gone back to where they came from but just like all seasons, storms come and go, stay for long periods of time or only for a moment.  So what do we do to prepare for the storms of life?  Do we wait each day, each moment, holding our breath for a storm’s possible return?  No!  We provide ourselves with a safe place to wait the storm out; our home, a car, a friend’s house, a store, a school, a church, etc.  We don’t stand in a storm, we protect ourselves.  So, I took a cue from Mother Nature and decided to do what we do during a storm.  Wait it out in a safe place.
When those visitors came storming all over my parade, I turned to loving shelters of positive thoughts that Heavenly Father loved me and was right there with me during the storm (just as I am there for my children – I can’t stop the storm but I can comfort them during it.)  I also surrounded myself in positive music, words, songs, talks, people, movies, books – all things that allowed me to block out the shrieking sounds the storms made.  Then, when the storm seemed to last longer than I could handle, I turned to prayer and mediation.  I CHOSE to calm myself, rather than fight the storm.  I chose to stay inside my safe places and even though the storms broke a few windows, ripped out my flower garden, did damage to my home and car . . . I still held on and KNEW that I could repair those things but my mind and heart were most precious and that is what I protected most.
Amazingly, I got through the fear and I am tired, weak and in need of support but I DID IT!  I did not cower, I did not run with fear . . . I STOOD IN HOLY PLACES!
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I LOVE what this artist did to represent “Standing in Holy Places.”  Sometimes we can’t control our environment, we can only control ourselves.  I love that this is a Mutual Theme poster.  I want to purchase it and have it in my daughter’s rooms so they can remember that NO MATTER WHAT is around them, they CAN learn to “be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalms 46:10)   Here is where you can find this poster.  www.ldsengine.com/heroposters and look up Mutual Theme prints.
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 (I also loved this picture.  It totally fits with what I was talking about!)
So, what does Standing in Holy Places have to do with Forks in the road?  I believe that the experience I have been having, and all the inspiration I have received today, is helping me know that even though I doubt I am on the right road, I really am on the right road. And although the road is bumpy, full of twists and turns, dark corners and obstacles in the road, if I stand strong and trust in who I am and where I am going, I can be helped along my way and have the faith and assurance that I am doing what the Lord would like me to do.
As for the bread . . . .
No, this isn’t it.  I was looking for photos of bread because I actually forgot to take a picture of the loaves after they baked – yes, after all that work!  And this is what I found.  My most successful loaves of bread ever.  Oh how I miss the bread I could make in Utah.
 
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Thankfully no matter how they make look, they all taste the same.  Kind of like life.  When life looks terrible, it doesn’t mean it isn’t good for us, or that it might even taste bad, it is all in how we look at it.   So, hopefully now that I have faced this intimidation of speaking on the blog, I can catch up and fill everyone in on what has been happening in our family lately.  We have had 3 birthdays we need to blog about, our vacation time with family and anything else that might suit our fancy.
I hope for those of you who needed to hear this will know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  What you are going through IS REAL and it is REAL HARD.  But through EVERYTHING I have been through in my short 38 years, I have never felt more loved, more capable and more successful than when I trust in my Father in Heaven and trust that what my life is giving me is just what I need to experience.  Remember . . .
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 In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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 ** P.S. – sorry about the formatting of this post.  No matter what I did something kept messing this post up.  So I decided it was best to just post it the way it was, then nothing at all.  Hope you enjoyed it.

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