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Answer to Prayers

In the last month, we finished building our block wall, took our roof off, and put the roof back on. We are still not done with the project yet, but we have done a lot.

We prayed a lot throughout this whole renovation, and I was able to see so many answers to those prayers.

  • It rained during our roofing, but nothing really got ruined and delays were only minor. One time, it was raining around us, but not on us. Another time, it just rained on us. But it was all okay, and I was able to find peace.
  • There have been so many times when I felt so tired and I prayed for added strength and I was able to do so much more than I was capable of on my own. There was one time when I was working so slowly and I knew I wouldn’t get done when I needed to, and I prayed and I immediately started working quickly and efficiently.
  • There have been times when I felt so grateful to have my kids working alongside of me.
  • We were going to do most of this on our own, even though it really was more work than we could do. But our church somehow discovered that we were doing this, and they sent people to help us. We couldn’t have done it without the help, and we felt so much love as we were able to work alongside neighbors and friends (and they even brought food too).
  • We had family help so many times as well. Liz spent two weekends with us and Clarissa came on her day off–which just happened to be the day when we needed to finish the roof.
  • The materials took a while to come, but the insulation came in the day before we needed it–and we realized a mistake and were able to cancel items we didn’t need.
  • Somehow our finances have worked out so that we had about $30,000 in our housing account, we’ve spent $40,000, and we still have $20,000.
  • The Lord comforted me and gave me inspiration when I was upset about my own mistakes. The roof line ended up uneven, and I realized how I could fix it after it was too late to do anything about it. But I prayed, and I felt peace and comfort–because mountains and hills aren’t even either, and the house is never going to be perfect: the house is a place of learning and doing the best we can. Grandpa built it with mistakes, and we are making mistakes, and that’s just part of the house.
  • So many times I have wanted a specific blessing (like I would like my husband to live with us–which will happen eventually), but instead I am given happiness in my circumstances and the ability to love what I have.
  • I have received confirmation and guidance on decisions like what to do about schooling and living and even little tiny things.
  • I was once cranky and upset, driving to get bolts from the store, and praying on my way there. And then I saw a moose. I love moose, and it let me know that God was watching over me.

I have felt so much comfort, and seen so many small miracles as I’ve been able to do so much more than I could have done on my own. I hope that this has been the answer to other people’s prayers as well. Sometimes I wonder if my Grandma prayed about this house, and we are finally answering those prayers, years later.

God answers prayers. I know that. Over the last month, I have seen that over and over again. When we were putting on the roofing on the last day, we did not have enough adhesive. We had not even done half of our roof yet, and the bucket was running low. So I prayed. \I thought about the widow’s oil.

And it didn’t run out. We were scraping the bottom of the bucket, but it did not run out.

We were able to finish.

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The Only Life Hack That Works

I just finished reading a book about habits. I guess part of me wanted to read the book and then immediately have better habits. But it doesn’t work like that.

I really love self-help books. But self-help books don’t change my life. If I read a book about habits, I still have to have the determination to change my own habits. If I read a book about marriage, then I have to do the work to improve my relationship. If I want to improve my parenting, I have to try better to treat my children with more love.

I can’t read something and have it immediately change my behavior. While thinking about behavior in a better way and educating myself can help me improve, there is no one idea or one method that will help me become the person I want to be.

Except for there is one thing: following Jesus Christ is the one solution to fix bad behavior, heal relationships, and become the person that I want to be.

When I am trying to better follow Jesus Christ, that is when I start to make the biggest progress in my life. I feel different. I am happier and my capacities increase. The pain from past mistakes goes away and I am left with peace. I find increased patience and love. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, I find the strength and ability to overcome any of life’s challenges.

 

 

 

 

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Gulf of misery and endless wo

For our family scripture study, Dillon started reading a familiar scripture:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)

As he read, I realized I hadn’t paid much attention to the scripture. I just thought it was about building your foundation on Jesus Christ: you keep the commandments, you build on the rock, and you’ll be okay. But there is more to that scripture.

I suddenly connected to the phrase “gulf of misery and endless wo,” because I have felt that way before: discouraged and miserable and horrible. I thought I was building my foundation on Jesus Christ–I read my scriptures, pray, repent, and keep the commandments. Why do I get so miserable sometimes?

Temptations can be different than I expect. Sometimes I am tempted to lie, steal, cheat, waste time, or be mean to someone else. But more often, I am tempted with doubt, questions, pride, and discouragement.

What if my emotional foundation was built upon Jesus Christ? What if I was able to build patience and faith and hope–so much so, that no matter what happened, I would never be discouraged because I believed in Jesus?

My faith is often too reliant on my circumstances, and when things are difficult, I wonder if God cares. But He does care, and he provides for me over and over again. Maybe it isn’t in huge miraculous ways–in fact, the most powerful way that He helps me is that when I rely on Him with humility and gratitude, I never feel discouraged or miserable, no matter what happens to me. I feel happy.

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A positive future

  • Instead of worrying about what bad thing might happen, we can rejoice in what good things will happen.
  • When we try to make positive changes, it works. We improve the world daily.
  • For every worst-case scenario, there is also a best-case scenario.
  • Nothing can grow exponentially forever. Growth levels off.
  • We have had so many innovations, development, and major advances in the world in the last few decades.
  • We notice the negative so that we can fix it. But then when we fix it, we don’t notice anymore.
  • People do good things all on their own all the time. People are a force for good.
  • We can’t predict the future–but we can choose to make our future better.
  • Over the history of the entire world, things always get better in the long-term.
  • There is humor and goodness in every hard situation.

It can be really easy to get discouraged right now. But there is so much good happening. We will get through this time, and we will probably be better off at the end of it.

Sometimes I am reading a book or watching a movie and I want to make sure that everything will work out all right in the end of it. When it’s a TV show, I often know that things will work out because there is another episode. But isn’t that life? There is always another episode, which means that we continue on and we don’t have to be afraid of an unpleasant ending.

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sorrow and joy

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place. -Rumi

There have been times when I rejected sorrow, wishing for a happy and easy life. I did not want to feel sad. I did not want to struggle.

I would pray seeking relief. I would pray that everything could just change and everything would become better all at once. And while there have been many times when I have been delivered, I find myself profoundly grateful for my sorrow as well.

In hard times, I have not looked to the gospel to save me from those times, but to save me through those times. The gospel gave me continual hope and guidance–I could not see the end, but I could hope in each next step. I have built my faith because of difficult times.

Miracles happen. And miracles happen not because everything is easy, but because they are hard.

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There is always light

Over the past few days, I have read article after article, trying to figure out how we can go back to normal. I read about different possibilities of what might happen and I want to know how this end. But we don’t go back to normal–we find a a new normal instead, something that we can’t wrap our minds around right now.

If we are always thinking about and looking to the the future, we can miss the good that is happening now. Yesterday, I did a video chat with all of my family members. I watched my kids as they played outside for ages. I watched a video of quarantined people in Italy making music on balconies. 

I realized that I don’t have to hope for a better future.

I can have hope for now.

If worst-case-scenario happens and it’s awful, you can tell your children you love them. You can serve in small ways. Worst-case-scenario will never be without hope and happiness somewhere.

There is no hole so deep and there is so circumstance that is too bleak that light cannot enter in some way.

No matter how hard life is, there is still good. Good is infinite and it never ends. Right in each moment, there is something good you can do. In despair, you can do something.

You don’t need to pause your life and wait for things to work out. You can live for now.

As long as you keep creating and loving, you can keep living.

No matter what is happening in life, you have the ability to create something. You have the ability to connect. You have the ability to help.

Music and art and words and laughter and growth and friendship are always there. That is where hope is.

The essence of our lives is not the convenience, but the innovation and the creativity.

If you want joy, create. Draw. Sing. Write. Make something. And then share it. Connect. And that creating and connecting can never go away.

The world won’t end. Because the best parts of life, family and people and learning and growing and being, those best parts can never, ever be taken away from us.

Take hope not in the end of trial, but in that fact that no matter the difficult circumstances, you can wake up, greet the sunrise, and live beautifully right in that moment.

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Hope

Things are rough right now. Pandemics and earthquakes and economic uncertainty. We are looking at a recession and a health crisis and we are all stuck at home, isolated from normal life. I’ve been checking the news constantly, though I’m not sure what I am looking for–some way to understand this? Some morsel of hope that this will end and life can go back to normal?

But it will end. We will recover. That’s what people do. We pick themselves up and we keep going.

There is hope. So much hope. I have been reading some books about when times were harder than they are now–times in war and famine; times where disease was rampant and healthcare was almost nonexistent and children and parents died. We have learned so much since then–we have learned how to treat and prevent disease, how to stabilize an economy, and how to build better infrastructure.

Let’s not feel entitled to our comforts and our easy way of living. We are accustomed to good health and to readily available care. Our large, warm homes protect us with readily available food and supplies in abundance. We are used to continual growth and innovation and prosperity. And those things haven’t gone away.

We are resilient. The hard things in life do not derail us from the love and hope and charity that abound in the world. The hard things are a catalyst to strengthen all that is good. We can remember everything that we have and to be extraordinarily grateful.

While so many things are shut down, we have the internet that allows us to continue on in remarkable ways. We can still see each other and talk to each other. Our schools and work can transition to our computers and phones. With our technology, we can order basically anything we want to buy and stay updated with the latest news and find stories of people helping and serving others. And we can listen to messages of hope.

It’s a time for a different type of growth. We can learn humility, preparedness, self-reliance, unity, and connection with our families. And we can feel hope and peace that the Lord’s hand is in our life in the small details.

My Grandma Walker passed away two days ago. But she saw the good things in the world. I remember her smiling often. She was so grateful for other people. She trusted in God’s love for her. When she was young, her family would be running out of food and she would go down to the cellar and always find something more. As a teacher throughout her life, she shared her faith in others. Miracles were not the exception; miracles were how the Lord worked and she saw them often in her life.

Grandma Walker

I have hope this morning, even though it is Wednesday and I usually hate Wednesdays. It can be a good Wednesday because I am grateful for my family, for this world, for the chance to write this, and for happiness and joy that will always return and persist through any difficult time.

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Faith

Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. (Alma 32:21)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

There are certain things that I do know. I know that there is a God. I know that the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ has worked miracles in my life. I know the Book of Mormon brings me joy. But there are a lot of things that I don’t know. I don’t understand all the answers and I can’t answer all the questions.

But if I did have all the answers, then I wouldn’t have faith. If I knew everything perfectly, I wouldn’t need faith.

And I like faith. Because I am not capable of understanding everything right now. I can know some things, but not everything. And faith means I don’t have to know everything right now. I don’t have to have it figured out.

Faith means that there is hope in dark places. Faith means that there is more to life than I understand. Faith means that there is help and happiness ahead. Faith means that there can be unexpected miracles that bring joy.

I can have faith. I can’t have all the answers. But I can have faith.

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Family time

My life necessitates that we aren’t really that busy. We have to spend a lot of time together as a family. Sometimes we moan and groan and complain about it a little bit, but we also laugh a lot and really enjoy quite a bit of the time we have.

I know that a lot of people get really busy and they have a lot going on. I have used that excuse, but it’s usually not very accurate. Yes, I am busy sometimes. I may have a lot on my to-do list. Or I might have lots of places to go and do things. But it never lasts that way for a long time.

I hope that as my kids get older and our life changes, that we don’t get too busy to do the really important things. Sometimes family time doesn’t seem that urgent, but it is. The best moments are not always on the schedule or show up on any list. They exist when you are paying attention and you see the people in front of you.

I know that there are enough activities and busyness in the world to fill up several lifetimes. But I still want time so that I can wash the dishes with a kid next to me, play the piano while they fall asleep, read my kids a story, teach them something new, and listen and be there without having to rush somewhere else. I need those moments.

And when I am busy, when there is so much to do, I have found that I can include my kids. I once stuck my computer screen onto the TV so the kids could see what I was doing. I’ve talked to my kids about my plans and what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m happiest when I include them in doing things, even if it takes some effort from me. We can love and support each other when we are busy, so that we aren’t busy alone.

I don’t want to be caught up in filling up our lives so that we don’t have time with each other anymore. Relationships are always more important than accomplishments.