This morning’s sunrise was absolutely AMAZING! As you can see, I couldn’t help but stop what I was doing and take yet another picture. I am so VERY thankful that right now is the season for these amazing sunrises that I am being able to behold . . . because they are seeing me through a CRAZY storm!
I drew this picture in my journal this morning. I actually ended up spending my entire hour only writing in my journal. I usually write for half an hour and then study my Book of Mormon Challenge (usually 6 columns) for the other 25 minutes. But this morning, I couldn’t stop writing the feelings of my heart, for THIS is how I feel right now.
Paul and I are facing some pretty overwhelming decisions. When we embarked on this journey 3 years ago EXACTLY, we didn’t know how long this journey to Costa Rica would take us. What we did know was that we needed to shake things up because neither of us was feeling fulfilled. We were bored where we were at spiritually, temporally and emotionally. After moving to Costa Rica, we realized we weren’t doing MANY of the IMPORTANT THINGS that are the only way to bring lasting joy and happiness into our family’s lives.
Like: holding weekly Family Home Evening, daily reading our scriptures as a family/individually/as a couple (Paul and I STILL need to work on this one), daily praying as a family/couple/individual morning and night, daily sharing the light and truth of the gospel with our own children/each other/ourselves, choosing to go to church to be closer to God – rather than for social reasons or out of social pressure/expectation/tradition, and seeking to learn because we can – rather than being compelled to learn.
The very most important thing that we lacked was the FAITH that whatever happened to our family or us individually that WE WOULD BE OKAY, NO MATTER WHAT!!
Our family was lacking purpose, a WHY? And Costa Rica has taught us where that WHY comes from . . . not the world around us, not the world we left behind and not even in the future to come. It comes from HERE and NOW, from within ourselves.
Each of us has a Divine Purpose, but it takes time to discover it, to nurture it and then to bare the fruit from our labors so that we can share it with others. But the world constantly gets in the way of this journey. The world is constantly SHOUTING that we aren’t good enough, we aren’t going fast enough, we are preparing enough, we aren’t smart enough, we aren’t . . . ENOUGH. But it isn’t true.
Because HE says so!
I love this picture. I have felt this way so many times before now. I am thankful that I am not here . . . but I do feel that I am in here . . .
And here . . .
The decisions that Paul and I are having to face right now are down right scary. The natural man in us is FREAKING out that this is happening to us in the first place. Secondly, it sees distortedly that “all of our hard work” is washing away. I am sure that many in Houston are feeling this same feeling right now. My heart goes out to them. We too feel that our “hard work” is washing away. That all we have done to build a good future for our family is being taken from us or that we are being asked to let it all go. It does break our hearts and the pain is almost more than we can bear.
Where are we supposed to live? What things do we keep? Where do we keep them? Where should Paul work? What future goals should we make for ourselves and our family? Is there a time limit for Costa Rica? What do our children NEED? How do we take care of ourselves – health of body and spirit? What are we not doing that we should be doing? What are we doing that we shouldn’t be doing?
As we slowly study, ponder and pray on these questions, we hope that we will have the answers we need to know how to solve the troubles we are experiencing right now: family car, Paul’s job future, housing needs, friendship/social needs, children’s educational needs, family relationship/marriage needs, service to others, future goals to bring happiness and joy in our lives.
Thankfully I am being SURROUNDED with ways to weather this storm. Daily prayer has become a life line to me. That personal one-on-one time with my Father in Heaven is precious. It is a time that I can share my heart aches and sorrows with Him but also share my determination and desire to figure things out and to find the solutions that will match His will for me, my marriage and my family.
Daily scripture reading is also a life line, as well as weekly listening to counsel from the leaders our Savior has chosen for our day, from conference talks or lessons we learn each Sunday. I also feel that journal writing is a life line. I strive to keep my journal hopeful and as positive as possible. I share my heart aches, my pain and frustration but then I search to find a solution. If no solution is currently available, I chose to stand on Holy Ground until further information comes by listing what I am grateful about THIS moment. Gratitude is powerful.
Another life line I have found is to allow service to be a daily part of my life. When I am feeling down, looking to see who else needs some help brings me a boost of joy and also a resolve that “this too shall pass”, so be patient and “keep on swimming.” My last life line is allowing others to reach out to me. It is SO DIFFICULT to share life’s scary problems with others because I am concerned that they will judge us. Will they think Paul and I are doing something wrong to deserve this or will they think our trial is trivial and of little importance. But I have found that many of my prayers are answered through others. It is in humility and meekness that we can come to learn truth and by allowing others to serve me or be there for me and my family, I am not only helping myself but helping them as well.
Life Lines. What are they exactly?
When I think of life lines, I think of the battlefield. The BEST way to win a battle is to cut off all communication that can help your enemy. You take out their phone lines between each other, their telegraph lines. their messengers, their towers, their flags – anything that allows them to communicate with each other. Once they can’t get messages, you can easily surround them and take them down. That is how I feel about my life lines. Without them, I am EASILY taken down. I need them to SAVE my life, protect it, encourage it and make it thrive. I dislike living in survival mode, so I would much rather be in thrive mode. Without my life lines warning me that danger is up ahead, I would constantly be under attack. But with the constant use of my life lines, I am able to be prepared and at times forewarned that something is ahead. Just like this storm that Paul and I are now facing.
Last night, of course – right before Family Home Evening, Paul and I were tempted to “look at the waves” and measure HOW HIGH they were and their potential to DESTROY US. Paul pulled out our budget and savings account spreadsheets and it all became too much for me to handle. But I knew that as soon as I used my temper to get me through this moment, I would lose the Spirit. So I held on and prayed for the help I needed to understand or to at least to know what decisions we needed to make in this moment.
Sweet Joy Boy came in and asked us if we had forgotten it was Family Home Evening night; I love this kid! I told him that I had not forgotten and he said, “Okay.” and walked out of the room. This little reminder allowed me to put aside what I could not control in the moment and choose the better part. I got up from where we were sitting and moved swiftly to the kitchen to get dinner on the table so we could have our Family Home Evening.
I LOVE this little menu I have made!!
It has truly helped me to practice not stressing. By having my meals planned out in a way that I can best use them, depending on the kind of day we had, I can whip something up without the burden of having to plan first. I already bought all the ingredients I need to make each meal (except for weekly produce and dairy of course) so I don’t need to run to the store or worry that half way through a recipe I won’t have something I need. I use what I have got on hand and make it work – hence the reason “side dishes” are not listed.
For instance, we randomly went to Johnny Rocket’s for hamburgers with President and Sister Sparks yesterday. (They are one of the counselor’s in the temple presidency serving in Costa Rica for a 2nd time.) Our lunch was HUGE so a big dinner was out of the question. I looked at my list of pink boxes and I chose to serve omelets for dinner (although scrambled eggs was what I made), steamed zucchini, and watermelon. I also had GingerSnap make a pound cake earlier in the afternoon so we could have this AMAZING FHE dessert! YUM!
As I made dinner, I pondered what message we should hear for FHE. I had wanted to start discussing the Self Reliance booklets but I felt my children notice my tear-stained face and I knew they needed to know how to face moments like these. I instead felt prompted to hold a “Favorite Hymn and Why?” FHE lesson with a fun game of Uno (we rarely have an activity . . . another thing we need to work on). This prompting worked beautifully because as soon as dinner was cleaned up and put away, the new Elders called Obispo Whitchurch and asked if they could come over.
I took a deep breath and asked the kids to do a bit more “clean up” than we usually do after dinner and got our home ready to receive the Elders. While we waited, I played Uno with the kids – Curly Cook is a game shark. She can win at almost any game! When the Elders arrived, we discovered that there were not only 2 of them but 3 and that they were only a temporary trio for the night. 1 of the Elders would be staying in our ward but all 3 were becoming trainers to 3 new Elders the following day. We had a fun time getting to know each of them, while Joy Boy and I made them something to eat.
The feeling these Elders brought into our home was tangible. I was overcome with the greatest sense of love and peace that my Father in Heaven had heard my prayer for help and strength, support and encouragement, and that my Savior sent His own personal friends to help us out. Not once did we think of our problems while they were in our home. Not once did I wish they would leave, nor did I push away the messages they shared after we sang the first verse of their favorite hymn. The night was EXACTLY what I needed, hopefully my kids too. But most of all, I pray that Paul felt it too.
I am truly grateful that I have received the help that I have needed the past few weeks. I am SO RELIEVED that it is September. No, it probably won’t be an easier month than August, probably more difficult, but at least we will be taking one step at a time, farther along the path of our lives. I am doing my best to stay calm and to let the moments occur as they may. I am also striving to do my best to lead my family through these waters.
I don’t know that they will understand what Paul and I are going through, but I hope that we are at least helping them FEEL the MUSIC of the gospel, while watching us do the dance steps. For when life is overwhelming us with threatening waves of darkness and destruction, if we will look to the light of Christ, ignoring the waves, opening ourselves up to His voice through many life lines and LOOK UP to the sky to enjoy the joyful moments that will come, I believe we WILL MAKE IT TO WHERE WE NEED TO BE – SAFE AND SOUND!
This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
As always, thanks for listening!