God, are you aware of me?

Tell me I’m not the only one who ever wonders if God is even listening to my prayers? Actually, you don’t have to tell me, I already know that answer. . . You too have felt that before.

Lately I have felt like my prayers have bounced off my ceiling and stayed in my space ‘not ever reaching heaven.’ I have prayed, I have done the ugly cry, I have expressed frustration, I have stress eaten, I have complained, I have taken naps to hide from my self annoyance, I have meditated, I have sworn and I have gotten sick...such a great (or ridiculous) process.

Oh my gosh, does this sound somewhat familiar to you?

Recently I had a darling young mother in my office as we worked through some postpartum “baby blues”. When I gave her one of her homework assignments, I nearly choked on my words thinking about how I need to do the very thing I just asked her to do! One of her 'fun work/home work' assignments was to pray and ask JUST ONE question. "God, are you aware of me?"

Nearly 20 years ago (it's so crazy how quickly time flies!) I was a young missionary for my church in North Dakota.   I got a phone call in the middle of the night and as I answered I heard my crying-but-trying-to-hold-it-together Mom's voice. I panicked - for several reasons.

1. As missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints your main focus is on other people, to teach them about Jesus Christ. You're allowed to call home twice a year: Christmas and Mother's Day. It was no where near those days.

2.  Her 'trying to be happy' voice - in the middle of the night - was not fooling me that this phone call would result in anything besides sadness.  My sweet mom tried to be so strong through her tears as shared the news that my Dad was in the hospital going in for surgery because he had cancer in his kidneys. Are. You. Kidding. Me? Seriously!?

Of course I cried, I wanted to come home and be with my family, I was so angry with God because how could he do this to our family when I was dedicating my life serving Him and His children? I threw quite the tantrum let me tell you.

I am grateful for an incredible Mission President who handled this situation with the utmost love and concern.  My entire mission (over 200 missionaries), multiple church congregations, and strangers alike all joined together in fasting and prayer in my Dad’s behalf.  

My Mission President gave me ONE assignment (which has impacted my life for YEARS as I continually share with others to use the same principle.)   He said, “When you pray tonight ask God ONE question. God, are you aware of ME? And then be still and listen.”

Friends, I’ll tell you I didn’t so much as say “God” and I KNEW, felt his living embrace that he knows EXACTLY who I am and what my struggles are!  God answered my prayer then, and has many times since then when I ask him the same question.

From time to time we somehow forget that God does care, that he is aware of our situations no matter the struggle and it is ok for us to have the need to be reminded that it’s ok to feel like we are alone (although we never are).  It's ok to ask God if he knows us, our struggles, our joys, our dreams, our frustrations be, our hopes and dreams.

Yesterday I hugged my Dad as he left town to go visit my sister in a different city. I am grateful that God answered our prayers of YES at that time and that my Dad is still with us. It isn't always the case - God doesn't always give us what we want - but He does give us what will help us grow!

So,  the answer is YES! God isn’t only aware of me, or my family, He too is aware of YOU and whatever YOU are struggling with. Talk to Him. If you are struggling and feel your prayers might be bouncing off your ceiling will you ask one question? 

"God, are you aware of me?"

Facing Fear & Moving Forward

I've learned SO MUCH this past year and mostly that my fear limits me and definitely clouds my  vision. Maybe you have felt this as well. Fear serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for us. Sure, the journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path!!  Transforming fear into freedom - how great is that? I'll be honest - it's something I still struggle with and am learning about. 

The first time I ever got pulled over was probably about 5 months after I got my drivers license. I was driving down the main street in my little town and the car to my right would speed up and slow down.  I was scared that both cars were trying to race me...until the red and blue lights, oh THEN I was REALLY scared. Like panic fear.  I think I might have been more worried about what my parents would say than being on the side of the dark street. Ha ha! After I got my ticket I drove home in tears, and then tried to form words to tell my parents. (Luckily they only took my keys for a week because they needed an extra driver ha ha!) 

We feel fear because we see or hear something that makes us anticipate harm. You know, like walking through a haunted house (or if you have mean friends that take you to more than one in a night!) and those dang "fake" but oh so real zombie/monster/all things creepy jump out at you. That zombie/jerk acts as a stimulus that triggers a signal in your brain. 

Fear triggers us in 3 ways.

1. Freeze! I’m talking legit, can’t do it, just paralyzed in fear.

2. Run away! You know, that adrenaline surge that burns throughout the body cause us to run! Often times after the run, we hide hoping that everything will go away.

3. Fight! When running isn’t an option, that same surge of adrenaline causes some to fight, or at least to try to fight whatever is facing us.

Thankfully, when we aren’t in a real life-threatening situation, our bodies have a quick way of reversing the fear response.

The body’s parasympathetic nervous system is the counter to the fight-or-flight instinct. This just means that our parasympathetic system reverses the flood of adrenaline and lowers our heart rate back to its normal state.

That's why every time we jump when someone scares us, our bodies are not suddenly coursing with adrenaline. After the freak out, our brain recognizes the threat is not real and the parasympathetic nervous system calms us down.

Life Can Be Both Messy & Beautiful

Do you remember being motivated by quotes like, “The sky is the limit!” But is it? I have come to learn that the sky is NOT the limit, our belief system is. You don’t believe me? Ok let’s play a little game…

Raise your hands as high as you can. Ok, now raise them higher.

If you’re like the majority of my class attendees at SALT Retreat last month, or any other time I have done this exercise - chances are that your hands went up a little bit higher the second time. Why? I asked you to raise them as high as you did; yet you were able to raise them higher the second time.

Like the limit quote, like the raise your hand exercise we ALL have an internal dialog, our inner voice or our mind that tells us our limits.

What does your internal dialog say when you make a mistake like dropping something heavy on your toe? Do you immediately say things like “Man, I’m an idiot” or do you say “Ouch that hurt” – what are you saying to yourself?

How many of you have gone to lunch with girlfriends and said things along the lines of:

  • It’s a good thing you have a hat to cover that greasy head
  • Woah, it’s called a brush
  • One of your eyes is bigger than the other one
  • Your smile is crooked
  • That double chin though
  • Why do you do dumb things

YOU WOULDN’T! I have observed these hurtful things NOT being said to a friend…but about themselves as friends back and forth. Somehow tearing yourself down in the name of friendship has become ok. Let me tell you a secret: It is NOT ok.

Being self-critical does NOT help you become a better person. It doesn’t build immunity against someone else’s criticism to you. Beating yourself up can be paralyzing.

You remember this one: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Uh, what a STUPID thing to say. I’m pretty sure you can right now think of several hurtful things that people have said that you’d much rather be smacked by a stick or rock instead. At least I can.

Words are a BIG deal. What do you say to yourself?

Now, I know none of us are perfect; we will never be perfect in this life. (Well Perfectly Imperfect is a different story and I embrace it!) However, it doesn’t give us a green light to criticize ourselves. Neuroscience confirms that our thoughts shape our reality.

In my Precious Moments Journal from when I was 16 (don’t be jealous J) I was so sure that by this time in my life that I would be married to a Returned Missionary in the LDS Temple. We would own our home, my husband would love his job, and we would have amazing kids and would be so happy.

Guess how many of those things are true? 0%! I have refered to myself often in silence as a failure for not reaching any of my goals. The truth is…Failure is NOT the opposite of success; it’s PART of success. I AM successful.

BUT…I am a returned missionary; I have visited over 20 temples and work in the Gilbert Temple once a week. I have owned several homes, I love my job as a Certified Life Coach and I “have” more kids than any single person. I adore my nieces and nephews, my teenagers and my friend’s kids. The Lord has answered every prayer very differently than I prayed them. When we change what we think, we change what we do and get.

So what changed? My MINDSET & my SELF TALK.

Our minds are brilliant but sometimes our minds (self doubt) can be our biggest barrier. Often times our brain is a victim of itself.

You guys…. LIFE IS MESSY! Sometimes we make it messier than it needs to be. Let me tell you about Anxiety Girl. She lives in my head and sometimes she makes unexpected visits. She flies around with her cape making all kinds of messes in my head. I don’t hate her, she’s part of me but I have learned to understand she has a purpose, and also that she is a visitor. A very brief visitor.

You’ve seen the movie Inside Out, right? (If not you have GOT to!) Here’s what I love that it reiterated: Our emotions are real. It’s part of our earthly experience to feel them, let them serve their purpose. Joy couldn’t be joy without Sadness.

One of the best explanations of the planned role of opposition is in the Book of Mormon when Lehi is teaching his son Jacob. He said, “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, …righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good or bad.” (2Ne. 2:11)

Marjorie Hinckley said, “I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, with my hair expertly coiffed, and with long perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my skirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to now that I was really there and that I really lived.”

Yes, Life can be MESSY, but it is also beautiful! We know that they are for our good. So how do we change from messy to beautiful?

We could talk about this for days but I want to give you 1 thing to work on today. A Gratitude Journal. 

It might seem silly and it may not make your tough situation easy – at least not yet. Gratitude takes us out of the self-loathing state – when we are looking for the messes and not even realizing it.

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is rough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey – delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts—interspersed only occasionally by beautiful, vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to THANK the Lord for letting you have the ride. Gordon B. Hinckley.

There is both scientific and spiritual proof that gratitude creates a physical reaction in the body. The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.

Psychology Today says, “Feelings of gratitude directly activated the brain’s neurotransmitter dopamine. An increase in dopamine makes the brain say, “Oh, do that again.”

Elder Utchdorf said, Gratitude is one of the most important human virtues & one of the most common human deficiencies. Gratitude does not develop without effort.”

Yes my friends, life is messy. Life is beautiful. You are beautiful. We may not be where we want to be yet in this life but I can assure you that the kinder you speak to yourself, the more gratitude you show, the more you will align yourself with your True Self!

I could talk about this for days but I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

​Let's UN-BECOME all the hurtful words, all the judgments, all the negative things we say and EMBRACE who God designed us to be. Our TRUE SELF! 

Xoxo, thank you for your support I love you all! ​

Unacceptable Behavior

Are you aware of how often you accept one's unacceptable behavior? Think about it for a minute. Look at your relationships with your friends, co-workers, teammates, spouse, family member, a co-worker, a friend, a spouse, and even children. There is unacceptable behavior around us, and we accept it unknowingly.

Beware of false acceptance. When a person is pretending that their behavior is OK with you when you know it really isn’t may be easy now, but you might feel resentful later. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who is trying to get you to agree with them even though you don't? They aren't arguing with you, they are perhaps just nodding their head yes at you to get you to agree. I have found myself in situations where I have started nodding with the person trying to convince me that the behavior is ok...and when I snap back into my reality I have to vocalize "No, no, actually I don't agree with that."

The most effective way to handle unacceptable behavior it by staying calm. It is helpful to use phrases like, "That behavior is unacceptable to me." which may be difficult but it has far better outcomes than expressing anger. One way to help change the offenders behavior is explaining to that individual what YOU will do to follow through with them. I'm not talking about making a threat, just what YOUR action will be should the behavior continue.

If an argument does ensue, refrain from using "YOU" words. For instance when you say "You always_______" or "You said ____". Speaking in "you terms" is very accusatory and those messages are aggressive, not assertive. When portraying a message, assertive is always more effective.

Explain honest consequences and follow through. For instance: Your child loves a fuzzy blanket to sleep with at night but will NOT stay in bed. You can explain that children who stay in their bed get to keep their favorite blankets. (Meaning if the child leaves room, you MUST follow through and take the blanket.)

** {Special note for parents: do not make crazy threats and your words become meaningless. My Mom once said said "I'll put you in a bag and shake you." HA we knew she would NEVER follow through (and she didn't.) }

Instead explain consequences. Following through is essential in raising responsible children.

SALT of the earth, and the light within…

Matthew 5:13,16

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Do you have a reoccurring dream?

I have had these 2 reoccurring dreams over the last 12+ years. ONE of them is that I am on a stage, speaking to an audience. I have seen it several times.  I have no idea WHAT I am presenting on that stage but there are a LOT of people in the audience and I'm only a little bit nervous (because I'm wearing a microphone. I am SO not a microphone person!) But then, I crack some joke (please bless it's not inappropriate) and we are all laughing and I loosen up and deliver my talk/speech/address.

​You know when little snippets of a dream REALLY do happen and its a little weird but at the same time SUPER comforting, like little prayers being answered? At least for me it's like that.

I actually DID laugh out loud earlier this year with many of you when I taught classes at a Stake Women's Conference. My classroom was literally on the stage. HA! Not quite what I have seen in my dream with the curtain closed, but I was on the stage none the less! I taught about finding JOY during trials.... sort of a "Seek the Happiness in all of Life's Crapiness" type classes. I even had a poop emoji pillow on the table, which I guess could be the inappropriate I am worried about in my dream. (Listen, table displays are eye candy to most and BLESS those of you who have that gift of decorating and again, THANK YOU for those that decorated it for me!)

Fast forward to last week...

So there is a company out of Utah called SALT, which is a women's retreat. I won't lie I had never heard of it before. I got tagged in a post by a couple of people then had a little (darling) birdie "nominate" me to be a presenter for Gilbert Arizona's first SALT Retreat. What? So I checked it out, it looks pretty sweet so I sent in a little blurb about myself 'just to see what would happen' kind of deal. You know...playin it cool. 

Imagine my surprise (and maybe a tear or 4) when I read the words, "We spent hours praying and asking for God's guidance, and we feel that you would be a great addition to our speaker list." I'm sorry WHAT? Oh ya, play it cool. I didn't. It was that FEELING when your dream I talked about earlier is happening. Who knows what will come of it, all I know is that right now I'm pretty excited (and slightly intimidated...I'll work on that) to be a part of it!!

I'm thrilled to announce that I will be among the speakers, presenters, round table discussions for SALT on March 3, 2018! 

BUT, get your tickets {HERE} now = the "Early Bird Special" runs through December 31st. (Don't forget the bonus class on Friday night that I'm pretty excited to attend too!)

For more details, follow my Instagram where I will announce more information, and have a drawing for a free ticket!