Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Out of Darkness Walk

First of all, I want to thank all of you that supported me in this cause with your financial donations. I know that you will be greatly blessed for your kind sacrifices. I also am very grateful to those of you that supported me in other ways.

The walk was GREAT! It was a beautiful morning both because the weather was so nice and also because so many people came out to support a very important cause. After getting myself all checked in I wandered around the different tables and booths they had set up. They had several sponsors that were there donating items and services to help support the cause. There was a memory table where people put up pictures and stories of loved ones they had lost.

As I walked around and mingled with a few of the people it was interesting for me to learn how everyone had different reasons for being a part of the walk. Yes, we were all there to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. However, most everyone had another reason...a personal reason...for being there. For some it was a way of coping with the recent loss of a loved one. Others were there to meet and unite with people who were also struggling with depression and other mental illnesses. Many were there as a way of honoring the memory of those they had lost and vowing they would never be forgotten. I too had a personal reason for being there. This walk was a way for me to outwardly express my inner commitment to never, never give up. No matter how hard life gets suicide is never the answer, there is always hope if you just keep going, keep pressing forward.

One of the booths next to the memory table was full of balloons. Each balloon represented a loss or reason for walking: White=Loss of a Child, Red=Loss of a Spouse, Yellow=Loss of a Parent, Orange=Loss of a Sibling, Purple=Loss of a Relative or Friend, Green=Struggled Personally, Blue=Supporting the Cause. Prior to starting the walk we had a moment of silence and then launched the balloons. It was very interesting and yet sad to see the many different colors of balloons that filled the sky. Suicide affects everyone.

video

The last few feet of the walk had people lining both sides of the road, cheering you on as you approached. Walking through this cheering section people were constantly giving me high-fives and hugs. They also had "red tape" for each person that crossed the finish line. I liked the idea a lot because the winner was not just the first person to cross the finish line...everyone there that day was a winner.

This walk was one of the best things I have ever done. I learned a lot about myself both in the preparation for the walk and by actually walking. It is an experience I will never forget. It is a cause I will never stop fighting for. I am grateful to be alive and well today. I'm grateful to have a loving Heavenly Father that has brought me safely out of my darkest days. I love life and know that it is always worth living. Every day is a gift and a blessing. There is always a silver lining to the dark clouds, we just have to raise our head out of the darkness and look for the light.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Time Out Details

Ok, Since coming home from TOFW I've had some time to sit down with my notes and really process what I learned and what meant the most to me at this time in my life. I want to share just two of my most memorable moments with you.

Michael Mclean was one of the presenters and I learned something about him that I would never have supposed. He shared with us that he suffers from clinical depression. As he told his story and then sang songs about being on a mission to be happy, it really touched me. I have depression as well and being able to relate to much of what Michael was saying made his message that much more meaningful to me. Michael is a very famous musician in the LDS community. He is known for his inspiring music and spunky personality. I know from personal experience how hard it is to have depression and a spunky attitude like his. I sat there listening to his music and story thinking...if he can do then so can I! He sang a song called You Don't Know, it referred to the trials in our lives and served as a reminder that you don't know how long they will last, how long until "this too shall pass", whose love is going to intervene, how heavens going to turn it around, or what lessons there are that you can't see. I realized how important it is to keep these things in mind because they are the kind of things that can help bring hope during the challenging times. Speaking of hope, Michael sang another song that I truly felt was just for me. As he sang it I literally felt like he could read my mind and knew exactly how I felt on my bad days and gave me a lesson to look for hope until I find it and then let it pull me through. Here are the lyrics to that song: (I also put this song on the little IPod to the side if you want to listen along with the lyrics)

Hope Hiding

Whatever you do don't look down
That's all the advice they can give
But you keep looking down
'Cause you think that's where everything is
It's harder to see things can change
That night can be conquered with dawn
'Cause the darkness you feel is unbearably real and strong
It's just how it goes, No matter what you do
The way through the fog has been hidden from view

But around every corner
Though your unaware
Protected by grace in the face of despair
There is hope hiding there

You might think it's strange hope would hide
It seems like a cowardly deed
But it's saving it's power for your desperate hour of need
And all of that strength and good it can do
Awaits being found safe and sound just for you

'Cause around every corner
Though your unaware
Protected by grace in the face of despair
There is hope hiding there

Words cannot explain how much this song touched me. I literally felt as though the Savior was holding me in His arms as this song was sung.

The other thing I really want to share with you comes from Mary Ellen Edmunds. She told us about a place called Death Valley, CA. It is the lowest, hottest, and driest place in the United States. It is a deep bowl about 156 miles long and 292 feet below sea level. The depression works like a convection oven, recirculating hot air and making the valley one of the hottest places on earth, with ground-level temperatures that can reach 200 degrees in summer. It's also extremely dry, with less than 2 inches of rainfall a year. Then came the rains of 2005. Winter storms that brought mudslides to Southern California dropped 6 inches of rain on this thirsty desert and a miracle happened. Flower seeds that had been in hibernation for decades sprouted to life. A rare burst of color filled the area and Death Valley became a beautiful Garden of Eden. Seeds had waited for hundreds of years in hundred degree weather to bloom in beautiful colors. She told this story and then she asked...Have you ever gone through a trial that seemed to never end? Have you ever wondered if God knows who you are or if He has completely forgotten about you? You may be a seed, a seed waiting for a little bit of rain, but keep the faith, keep the hope. You are a child of God. He loves you and He will bring you the rain.

I am once again in tears as I recount these two beautiful moments for me. They are definite reminders that I am not alone in this world. Heavenly Father is watching over me and loves me more than I will ever understand.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time Out For Women

Wow, I learned so much from TOFW this year! I love the feeling in my heart when I return from one of these events. I love how strong the spirit is there, and how close I feel to my Heavenly Father. I think every single speaker said at least one thing that was meant just for me, if not many more than that. I also know that the singers were truly inspired and I am so grateful for that. One song in particular was a HUGE blessing for me in my life right now. Only my Heavenly Father would have known how much I needed to hear it.

I sit here wanting to share all of what I learned and how it affected me. Yet, I am kind of at a loss. There is so much I could say that I don't know where to start. There is so much I want to share that strengthened my testimony, but it feels almost too sacred and personal to share with everyone. I took pages and pages of notes, and I wish I could sit here and type it all out to share it with those of you who may be reading this. I think it may take me days to really process all I have learned and then apply it to my life.

All I can really say about this weekend is that I know that God lives. I know He loves His children. I know I am His daughter and that every person on this earth is my brother or sister. I know that life isn't always easy, but that the light of the gospel can conquer any darkness we may feel. I know that if we trust in Heavenly Father he will prepare and lead us to a life of happiness and purpose. I know that our prayers may not always be answered in the ways we want, but that doesn't diminish the love God has for us. I know that when we feel as though we don't know where to turn we can turn to Him and He will be there waiting with open arms to take time just for us.

I know this CHURCH IS TRUE!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Attitude

I've been thinking a lot lately about attitudes. What is a good attitude? What is a bad attitude? What role does your attitude play in your daily life? How do you change your attitude?

I did a little research and found many dictionaries defined an attitude as an opinion or general feel about something. Another common definition was; a manner of acting, feeling, or thinking that shows one's disposition, opinion, etc. I like how the second definition point out that an attitude is a manner of action, that places the responsibility regarding the type of attitude we have on ourselves.No one can grumpily sit around and say, "He made me be in a bad mood because he ate all the dessert without sharing!" No one can force your mood upon you, only you can determine what type of mood you will be in.

As part of my research I went to askjeeves.com and asked, "What is a good attitude?" There were several sites that came up. Some had definitions, some had quotes, and one even had an attitude quiz you could take. I won't tell you what my score was. :0) As I browsed over these sites I found lots of good advice and awesome little one-liner type quotes. One in particular that I loved said, "A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, actions, and outcomes." This quote reminded me of a scripture in the Book of Mormon...Mosiah 4:30 "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe to keep the commandments of God and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember and perish not." Our attitude towards life is important because our thoughts lead to our words, which lead to our deeds. Positive deeds lead to positive outcomes! Studies have shown that people with a positive attitude have greater success in the workplace, in friendships, in relationships, and in life over all..they are even said to live longer.

When you have a positive attitude everything in life seems to go a little better. It truly does cause a chain reaction and it goes both ways..if you have a bad attitude about one thing you'll find that nothing seems to go well. It's really all a matter of your perspective. A speaker I love, Mary Ellen Edmunds, was once giving a talk on optimism and said that two men approached the giant Goliath. The first one said, "Man he's so big I'll never be able to beat him!" The second man said, "He's so big, I'll never miss!" I love that! Perspective is key!

My favorite thing about the sites that came up with my question to askjeeves.com what that the third site on the list was to mormon.org with the title "Faith in God". It is a three word answer to the question, but the best answer of all. I recently was reading in a book called LYFSGUD: If God Sent You a Text Message and in it the author, Laurel Christensen, says; "Life really is good. And it's not good because I've been blessed with a perfect family or perfect friends. And it's not good because every Sunday is perfect at Church or everything goes right with work or school...or BOYS. But it's good - really, really good - because of this simple truth: I, Laurel Christensen, am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me...and I LOVE HIM!" Faith in God truly is the best way to be happy and have a positive attitude about life. God is the one who gave us life. I do not believe that He sent us down here to be miserable grumps on a log. He wants us to be happy, to enjoy life, to count our blessings and realize all the good around us. I firmly believe this with all my heart!

Through all of these sites I came to my own conclusion of what I think a good attitude is, to me it's a way of thinking positively that says: I can control my life and achieve my goals. I am responsible for my choices. My past does not matter because I can change my future. I cannot control what happens to me in my day to day life, but I can control my attitude toward whatever happens and in doing that I can master the trials rather than allowing them to master me. Where ever I go, no matter what the weather I can bring my own sunshine because I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father and He truly does love me!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Crazy Dream

Ok, I know I take medications at night that make me pretty loopy and out of it. I know I dream when I’m on these meds, but I usually don’t recall my dreams in the morning. Today was a bit of a different story. I remembered my dream and I am very curious to see if anyone can tell me what it means.

In my dream I was sitting in a large field of grass. I’m not quite sure what I was doing there other than sitting and playing with the grass. I started to hear a low rumbling noise. I looked around and off in the distance I could see something large was approaching me, but I couldn’t tell what it was. As it got closer I realized it looked like an army. They were marching in straight lines about ten across and at least fifty back. I was so in awe as to what they were doing that I

continued to just sit there. As they got closer my astonishment grew because I realized this was not an army of people…they were giant teddy bears! They carried swords and wore dark brown sashes across their chests. Once again I was too overcome with awe and wonder to move out of their way. They kept coming closer and stopped when they were about five feet away. They stood for quite a while just glaring at me. I finally started to feel very uncomfortable and cautiously stood to leave. As I got to my feet and turned to run away I was shocked to find that standing behind me was another army of teddy bears; they had about the same number of bears each carrying a sword similar to Brown Bear’s army only this army of teddy bears wore bright blue sashes. For some reason, looking at this army gave me the feeling that they were there to protect me. Without saying a word I walked to the sidelines of the field where I found a bench, almost immediately after I sat down the two bear armies began to fight. The fight itself is a blur in my dream; it went by very quickly and I don’t recall any details of what happened. The next thing I really remember is looking out over the field that was once a luscious green and was now covered in white fluff, almost resembling a field after a winter a storm. Three of the bears wearing the blue sashes approached me, the one in the middle looked at me and said, “You will be alright now.” Then I woke up.

Is that weird or what?!? Anyone want to try and explain that one? LOL!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Week of Contrrasts


Last week after getting jumped I spent a few days feeling more alone than I have felt in a long time. It was a time I was in need of a shoulder to cry on and I didn't have anyone I could turn to. I moped around in kind of a depressed state for a few days wallowing in how alone I felt. Then one night I was feeling particularly alone...sitting on the bed almost in tears I reached for my scriptures. I'm reading the Book of Mormon right now, but this night I decided to open up the Bible. I turned to the chapter in Matthew where the Savior is in Gethsemane. As I read and pondered on the Atonement I found myself contemplating my personal testimony of the Atonement. I realized that I understand the Atonement I know what happened in Gethsemane and on the cross. I know about the Ressurection. I know that Christ suffered for my sins and because of that I can repent and be clean again. I know that He suffered more than just sins and knows what I'm going through on my bad days. He knows what it's like to be sick or afraid. The thing that hit me differently as I sat there reading and contemplating was that I knew all of this...but...I didn't live it. I didn't rely on it. I spend a lot of my time trying to fix things myself. I look around for someone to help me feel better. I text my friends looking for someone to talk to about my struggles..someone who will listen with a loving heart. I wish certain people were flies on the walls of my life so they truly knew what I was going through at times. I waste time and energy doing all of this when the Savior is standing at the door just waiting for me to let Him in so He can take care of all these things. He can be the one to lovingly listen. He can see all I'm going through and understand how I feel. He can heal my pains and broken hearts. I rely on myself and those around me for these things and forget to rely on the Lord.

After spending some time coming to this conclusion I got on my knees and I said one of the most heartfelt prayers I think I've said in quite a while. I told Him of my problems, my fears, and my need for friendship. I apologized for rejecting His presence in my life and trying to replace Him with others around me. I promised to work harder and do better at letting Him into my life. It has not been an easy thing...just becasue I've realized this doesn't mean that I easily open the door without even a second thought. Yet, I have found that as I have conciously put forth an effort to invite Him in, the sun has started peeking through the clouds in my life one little ray at a time. I had a friend text me and ask if there was anything she could do to help me. I went to reply with my usual "no", but instead said "yes, I could use a fun night with friends to get my mind off things". The next thing I know she has set up a party for Friday night. I went and had a great time. Afterward this friend texted me to make sure I had a good night. It made me feel so good inside, because I realized the power of friends and how much people really do care.

Saturday I had tickets to a concert, but couldn't find anyone who wanted to go with me. I'd asked my mom to come and she had agreed...but I could tell she was only agreeing because she knew I wanted to go; she had no desire to attend. I told her it was ok, that we didn't have to go. Then for some reason Saturday afternoon things changed and she wanted to go. We were lucky enough to find an extra ticket and we brought Tara with us. We had a great time at the concert and were able to live carefree for a few hours. It was so much fun and a huge blessing. It made me grateful for my family and reminded me of how much I love them.

These are just two simple little changes I have seen in my life since I got on my knees that night. There are many others. I started off the week feeling scared and alone. I have spent the last few days surrounded by family and friends. I feel safer and more confident than I did before. I know that all of this is a result of relying more on my Savior. I am so grateful for the scriptures and the power of prayer. I know that my prayers are heard and answered. I know that as we let the Lord into our lives blessings flow. I am so grateful for my testimony and for the love of a Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ.

Just for fun, here are a few photos of Tara and I at the concert.



Thursday, September 3, 2009

Submitting Cheerfully

I have been wanting to write a lot this week, but everytime I have sat down to type a post I realized pretty much everything I had to say was negative and I didn't want my post to be that way. I'm hoping today I can write about my experiences, but in a more positive way.

Last Thursday night I was coming home from a wonderful ward activity as I stood at my door getting my keys out and ready to open the door someone jumped out from the back of the house and grabbed me. The two thugs told me the message they had been sent to convey and then for emphasis they threw me to the ground and roughed me up a bit. It was quite a scary experience.

My mind has been so muddled lately that it has been very hard to focus on things like school and my various other responsibilities. I've spent a lot of time just kind of hiding away both physically and mentally. I feel kind of like a butterfly that went back in the cocoon for a while. However, I am now working hard at getting back out of the cocoon and getting back in to the swing of my normal life. It's not easy and I really wish I could just go home and go to bed right now, but I am at school trying to hang on and combat those lazy feelings.

I read a quote by President Hinckley last night that I really loved. He said, "All of us have problems. We face them every day. How grateful I am that we have difficult things to wrestle with. They keep us young, if that is possible. They keep us alive. They keep us going. They keep us humble. They pull us down to our knees to ask the God of Heaven for help in solving them. Be grateful for your problems, and know that somehow there will come a solution." As I read this I realized that in order for us to find the solutions to our problems we need to show God that we are grateful for them and prove to Him that we trust in His plan. It is only after the trial of our faith that the blessings come. I honestly can't think of much to be grateful for out of what has happened to me recently, but I do know that somewhere in all of this there is a beautiful lesson that the Lord is trying to teach me. I just have to do the very best I can to trust in Him until I see it, and in the meantime submit cheerfully to the testing. This is my goal.