Wendi's Daily Blog

Truth Talk – I REALLY Needed This!

So, I’ve REALLY been struggling!

It all started back in November 2018, when I had a strong stirring that we needed to visit our hometown the next summer for my husband’s family’s bi-annual family reunion.

I didn’t really act on the stirring because we were just getting ready to send our oldest son on his mission; our first. We had grandparents coming to see him off, so I assumed I was just having a case of homesickness.

I hate homesickness. It truly is a disease and it can affect your life, just as much as a bad case of the flu can. So when you know you might be getting sick, you do things to try and prevent it from happening (load up on vitamin C, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, limit sugar, stay clean, wash your hands, be careful who you are close to, etc.). So I did the same with this stirring. I ignored it and instead fed myself with all the joy that was around me and was about to happen.

But the stirring grew stronger!

So I decided to think about visiting another place in the USA. Maybe Nauvoo? But when I mentioned the idea to my husband, HE said that if we go to the USA next summer, we really should visit family. That sealed it for me. For I already KNEW that we NEEDED to visit the USA next summer, I just didn’t know the location yet. Now I did.

I mentioned the idea to my in-laws, when they came to see our son in December, but they weren’t too excited. I think they were just in the moment and not really thinking of the next summer plans just yet. I was disappointed but I didn’t smash the idea; I let it stew. By January, we both knew (my husband and myself) that our family NEEDED to go to our hometown, but how would we afford it?

We didn’t really put much effort into our search, until Paul’s adorable niece invited us to her wedding in May (also in our hometown). Now we had a date, what about tickets? Thankfully my friend Fran had just visited our hometown and had found affordable tickets by flying to Las Vegas and then having someone meet her there and drive her 6 hours to where she was staying.

We could do this too!

So we searched online and found tickets for the 3 kids and I and booked them! Then the panic set in, as well as the drama. One issue after another started to swarm around me. Fear, doubt, comparison, expectation, persecution, revenge, shunning, and shame enveloped me.

  • What if they don’t like me anymore?
  • What if they like me too much?
  • What if they have forgotten me?
  • What if I hate it there now?

What if, what if, what if!!!! It was poison to my soul.

I found me NEEDING to tie up any loose ends that I could, to try and alleviate these concerns and fears. I faced some of them and they ended up making me really sick. So sick, my swimming instructor accused me of being a smoker. He said that my breathing was terrible.

2 weeks later I was hit with a horrible kidney stone.

I suffered, I ached, I was tormented in fear. What if I die while on this trip? Who will care for my kids? All I could think of was failure.

So why have I not quit? Why have I not cashed in those tickets for a different venue? Why haven’t I done more for myself and stopped this madness?

Because I KNOW that WE are supposed to take this trip! I also KNOW that we are to go for exactly 8 weeks. I don’t even have any plans set for my family the month of July. So why are we staying so long? The questions can plague me if I let them. So I do everything I can to push them away!

(Sure, we are going to try and crash a distant relative’s 4th of July weekend family reunion but I don’t even have that all scheduled. Maybe by this weekend? Yet I KNOW that we are going to do it. 🤦🏻‍♀️)

  • So why go through all of this?
  • Why go through the re-introducing of my family to our hometown?
  • Why put me and my kids through the peppering of questions, the fear of possible failed attempts at reconnecting with past relationships, and the constant reminders that we do not live in the USA anymore and yet we still have to board that plane and go to our home, thousands of expensive miles away from the land flowing with milk and honey?

Because I feel we should!

Is that a good enough answer for even myself?

And that is why I am struggling with this walk of faith. This constant fear that grabs my throat and threatens to destroy ALL that I hold most sacred right now: my hard earned, precious relationships with my own little family.

I honestly do not care what people in my hometown think . . . They don’t know me anymore. They don’t call, email, chat, text, voice message, WhatsApp, courier pigeon, DHL, Amazon or snail mail any of us. They barely say hello and when they do, it is usually because I am the one who has performed miracle of miracles and actually contacted them from the land of nowhere. (Yes people, the internet works in Costa Rica too and it is FREE to contact us. Just saying).

So if I am blooming with so much courage, then why all the fear?

– Because I have not taken the proper time to truly ponder WHY we are going on this trip.

If I were to sum it all up now, I would first need to set the list below aside:

• youngest daughter will receive much needed educational tutoring to help her learn to better accomplish her goals.

• oldest daughter will attend a world-wide youth conference of our church, with possible other homeschoolers attending as well. As well as receive her Patriarchal Blessing in her native tongue.

• youngest son will be able to reconnect with his dearest friend before he moves to Tennessee.

• I will get to finally attend a homeschool convention through the curriculum that I truly love and adore.

• we will get to attend a special wedding of a niece who has literally made it possible for me to face every upset in the planning of this trip because of her shear desire to have us there.

• we get to attend possibly the last family reunion planned by Paul’s parents.

All of these reasons alone would make a perfect reason to go on this trip. But none of them are the correct reason.

The real reason that we are going, is so that our family (especially me) can visibly SEE how much we have grown and how much we have become closer as a family. I know that this is true, why else would I have so much fear to not go?!?

I know that the family is the most important unit of society. If my family can withstand the pressures and trials it is facing, how much stronger will our example be to those who need it most?

I can see this truth in the simplicity of the details. First of all, we will naturally look different. Not because of how we dress now or how we do our hair, but in how we behave around others. We are centered in our family. That influences the choices that each of us will make each and every day of our trip.

Second of all, they will see the choices that we make, from what we watch, to when we wake up, to how we spend our time. People will noticeably see a different. It is me who has to not be ashamed of this observing and instead let it happen. (It is my greatest fear that I will forget who I am and fail at this. Hopefully my children will be brave, and I will be humble enough, and re-guide me back to what we know to be true.)

Lastly, we know that we already don’t belong, so we hopefully will figure this out quickly and won’t even try to “fit in”. We have been there, done that. It doesn’t work. We even have this problem in Costa Rica. We simply don’t fit in, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t belong! We do! God says so! So we belong anywhere we may go . . . Even if we move to Russia or Japan, we belong if we feel we are supposed to be there. This will be the biggest shock of all in our behavior. We know we belong! We don’t need your permission.

So now what do I need to do? I need to trust in these truths. Trust that my 4+ years being away from my hometown has done me more good than not. And trust that I am a better, stronger, more lovable person now than I was before. And if I have lost relationships from the past, that’s okay. That means I need the room for current or future relationships to come.

The talk below is what inspired me to share all of these thoughts and feelings. I am attaching it (although it will make for a really long post) because I want it here to read in the future.

Happy Friday,

by | May 02, 2019

Nearly a decade ago, one Latter-day Saint sister endured the unthinkable for a mother—the loss of her son to suicide. After years of heartache and struggling with tremendous guilt, suffering, and “what ifs,” this sister found a sweet peace in the temple.

During a 2019 BYU Women’s Conference keynote address, Sister Rebecca M. Pinegar, assistant matron in the Provo temple, detailed this temple worker’s experience.

This sister’s son was a gifted musician who graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering, but since his teenage years he struggled with depression. Sister Pinegar shares, “Ten years ago, he shared that he was gay. In the course of his struggles, he had his name removed from the records of the Church [and became estranged from his family]. . . . Eight and a half years ago, this beautiful boy took his own life. My friend talked of her grief and the years of tremendous guilt and suffering. Grief grows many ‘what ifs.'”

While grappling with these emotions, this sister had a tender experience in the temple, allowing her to testify of the power we receive from those on the other side of the veil. “While in the temple, she heard her [deceased] mother tell her, ‘I am taking care of him,'” Sister Pinegar shares. She then related a letter from this brave mother:

“One of the great desires of my heart has always been that my husband and I would someday have all of our children and their spouses in the temple at the same time. And so, I began to pray that our son would do the necessary things to qualify for baptism again. I prayed for years that I would feel the promptings when it was time to have him re-baptized in the temple, because I knew he needed time before he was ready to accept the ordinance. I wanted to feel him there when it happened.

“Four years ago, I felt impressed to write to Salt Lake and ask for permission to have our son re-baptized. I received a letter and a temple ordinance card and kept it in a safe place for the special day. In January of this year my prayers were answered when both my husband and I began having promptings to go to the temple for our son.

The day of our son’s baptism was very special. . . . I had prayed that I would feel my son’s presence and I did—in prayer meeting, at the font and in the chapel awaiting confirmation. I know without a doubt that he accepted these ordinances and is happy! I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this blessing. I am also thankful that I have felt lifted and have a lighter heart. I feel like the last vestiges of guilt and pain have been swept away and I feel cleansed just as he is. I only have thoughts of love and forgiveness and closeness towards my son. The healing that we can have because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real! He is there and will mend our broken hearts.”

While Sister Pinegar related this touching miracle, she also notes “that the Lord loves us and is anxious to speak to us, mostly in small and simple ways. . . . When we discount the revelations we receive, we put at risk the next revelation. Small and simple revelations, acted upon, will give birth to the next revelation and will build a foundation for time and for all eternity.”

To illustrate these small and simple revelations, Sister Pinegar gave an example from the journal of Joseph F. Smith who one day recorded a remarkable revelation that Brigham Young was the prophet called at that time and the next day recorded, “spent the day gathering the cows.” 

“We mustn’t discount these days. They are our opportunity to act upon simple promptings, which over time build a powerful foundation,” Sister Pinegar testifies.

During her keynote address, Sister Pinegar shared this quote from President Russell M. Nelson: “This is the grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint . . . that it is our right to have the manifestations of the Spirit every day of our lives. . . . The privilege of receiving revelation is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children. Through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, the Lord will assist us in all our righteous pursuits. . . . If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children.”

Using the example of Joseph Smith, Sister Pinegar shared patterns through which these revelations can come:

1. Seeking revelation engages us in an eternal war.

Sister Pinegar detailed how revelation can aid us as we continue on earth the war that began in heaven, a war in which “our most effective weapon is God’s redeeming love.” She quoted President Nelson, saying we “were taught in the spirit world to prepare [us] for anything and everything [we] would encounter during this latter part of these latter days. That teaching endures within [us].” 

2. We all have individual journeys and must remain firm and humble in the face of adversity.

While in these trials, Sister Pinegar says we can find peace and power in the temple: “The temple is a place of revelation. For example, covenants we make there reveal God and His Son. When we make a covenant of obedience and keep that covenant, God reveals himself to us, and we reveal our own God-like nature to ourselves.”

3. We should turn to the scriptures.

Sister Pinegar testifies, “When I am searching, or preparing, the windows of heaven open as I really concentrate on the scriptures. It doesn’t happen when I read to fulfill a goal or to check off a box. When I read with sincere interest, I always find wonder and new insights, even when they are the same insights I have already had but forgotten. These insights help me ‘remember, remember.'”

4. We should practice obedience and reflect on our experiences.

Sister Pinegar teaches, “We know we need wisdom, and we know God knows all. . . . Our confidence and revelations will grow in life as the word of the Lord becomes as the marrow of our bones.”

5. Prayer will open the powers of heaven for us.

Sister Pinegar reminded those listening to follow the prophet’s challenge to pray to know if God loves you. That knowledge and foundation will be essential as we learn to receive revelation. Sharing a quote from Elder Richard G. Scott, Sister Pinegar says: “‘Often when we pray . . . Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. . . . Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time.’ God’s timing often refines us and teaches us patience, as well as a multitude of important lessons.”

6. We should trust God.

Sister Pinegar teaches, “To ignore, or worse, to deny Him is to deny our own identity, our own existence. It is because of Him that we live, breathe, think, feel, hear, see, heal, and grow.”

7. Turning to the temple will bring the divine into our lives.

Sister Pinegar shares:

“The patterns we learn [in the temple] are infinite. In the temple, we walk symbolically from our premortal life, through this life, and after qualifying, arrive in the Celestial Kingdom. Along the way, we make and keep sacred covenants. One of the profound blessings of the temple walk is that we are guided so we can do it just as the Lord intends it to be done. Symbolically, we essentially get to practice our earthly walk perfectly. The more often we walk that temple journey, the more familiar and comfortable the walk becomes, and the more power we have to walk the same walk outside the temple correctly. How blessed we are to be handed this gift, or endowment, that teaches us how to pattern our lives so that we can return to His presence.”

8. We should accept the Lord’s blessings into our lives, regardless of our weakness.

Sister Pinegar concludes, “As we pattern our lives after the righteous patterns of those the Lord calls to preside over us, even in their weakness, I know we will be numbered with the pure in heart, noble, and virtuous, and we will receive the multiplicity of blessings associated with that numbering.”

One Comment

  • Allison Owen

    Thank you for sharing your tender thoughts and emotions on coming to Utah! Also thanks for sharing Sister Pinegars talk! It was so good! I took notes when she was giving it but it was awesome to be able to reread it and get direct quotes!!

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