Agent unto Himself

 

While studying God's word this morning I stumbled across the term "man is an agent unto himself".  I had just finished my morning prayer and consulting God about what I should be focusing on. I have been feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the things I feel like I "should" be doing and so I symbolically dropped everything and promised God that I would only  add the things he wanted me to. Here's the strange part… Within a few short hours of me dropping "everything'  I had 5 different people come to me and offer their insight into how I should spend my time and earn money.  All of their ideas were fantastic and they each seemed so sure that their inspiration was what I should choose to focus my time on. 

At first I was stumped.  Did God really want me to do ALL these things? Surely not! Then why would all of these great opportunities and ideas come to me at that moment?

So this is what was revealed to me…

Man is free.  We are free to choose!  Our daily mundane life might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they are VERY important to us… thus being important to God.  We are his children and he is teaching us how to govern with him in heaven.  Just like when I see my child learning to responsible for something.  I don't think it is a small and insignificant task… to THEM I treat it with the same importance as I would a larger one.  This is because I want them to learn how to do it properly so they can then apply it to bigger life experiences. 

Isn't that a wonderful concept to know that our Father in Heaven loves us so much that he is willing to listen and guide us in the most [seemingly] trivial parts of life.  He cares about us, He loves us, and He wants us to succeed. 

There are a few things he teaches us that we need to understand… 

1. All things that are good come from God. This can be tricky and the term "Good, Better, Best" comes to mind.  What if we are living in a way that we have a lot of good things we can choose from?  We can get distracted with all the good things and never do the best!  God is testing us at this point to make sure we are using our agency to choose the BEST things.

2. He has given us the ability to judge righteously.  We must search in the Light of Christ with the Holy Spirit to discern what choices are in alignment with God's will. 

3. All things that are good come from God. Thus, we need to exercise our agency and CHOOSE the BEST choice with what we have been given.

4. We must confess his hand in all things and have gratitude. "In nothing is the Lord's anger kindled than confessing not his hand in all things".

5. We must have faith.  Faith is actually an action item. Our FAITH (and gratitude) actually assists that item to come to pass. Our faith propels it, and fuels it, and helps it come into the physical realm.

6. It does not please our Father if we do not make any choice until we are commanded.  And then if we receive a command and then have a doubtful heart, and not do it (by being slothful) we will receive bigger consequences for our lack of faith and lack of follow through.

So there I was…

an empty vessel just waiting to be filled. I was waiting for God to tell me what I should do but instead he taught me to study my options, decide what would be in the best interest of myself and my family and then ask if I made the right decision. 

Are you wondering what I chose?

Well, I made the decision to focus more on my family and completing a few inspired projects that I've been too distracted to finish and then do more in a few months. I told these inspired individuals that "I love the idea but it's not the right time for me to work on that right now". They were fine with it, and I was freed from any guilt. After I made those decisions I felt a renewed sense of focus, determination, and energy!!  This confirmed that as we ultimately do what God wants us to do, we will be greatly blessed!! 

Exposed & Perfectly Flawed

Okay… I am seriously rethinking this post.  🙂  With my new theme of doing things fearlessly…. I think I must post this!! 

 

So last weekend I went to St. George for the weekend with my mom and 2 oldest kids.  We were enjoying the beautiful weather and decided to go hiking to some really cool (and very old) Native American writings carved into rock.  

 

Shortly after we found the writings, I discovered that I needed to go to the bathroom REALLY BADLY!   My mind raced trying to find the fastest way to the car so I could go to a gas station or store or ANYTHING!  You see… I have had a fear of going to the bathroom outside in the wilderness ever since I was a child.  It sounded like the most horrible, uncomfortable, embarrassing thing EVER!  

 

I walked as fast as I could to the car… stopping occasionally… but I was SO determined to make it to a bathroom.  About 20 feet from the car, I realized the inevitable.  I would face my fear at this moment.  

 

There were people hiking down the mountain behind me so I hobbled off to the side and hid behind a rock.  I scared 2 jackrabbits away from the area and then…. well, you know…. I became "one" with nature.

 

So here is the part of the story that is funny… and inspiring… 🙂  It was during that moment when I was feeling so exposed, embarrassed, and scared that I had this thought come to me…

 

"Hey – this isn't so bad.  What was I so afraid of?"  

 

I started thinking about all the other areas in my life where I might be too afraid to move forward… and I carry that thought with me "Maybe it's not as bad as I imagined?"   

 

In order to bring my life to the level I want it to be… I think I need to feel exposed, embarrassed, and scared sometimes.  

 

I went to a book publishing seminar in November 2009 with Michael Drew.  During the entire couple of days, he kept telling us how important it is to be "REAL, RAW, and RELEVANT".  This is how we connect to others and help them. This is how we market our message… we need to show that we are human – and flawed.  

 

 

Here I am… I am the new Martina… the one who is no longer afraid of showing her insides.   The one who is willing to show her weaknesses and strengths in order to connect and help others.  I might be afraid at times – but I KNOW that I will push beyond the fear… because when I do… I know I will think "HEY!  That's not as bad as I thought it would be"  And each time I do this, my faith will be strengthened until someday my faith will be perfect.  I won't be perfect… but I will be the REAL and RAW MARTINA.   You could say I am "perfectly flawed"  😀  

Destination Happiness

You cannot ARRIVE at happiness. It is not a destination you reach and then stay there. Sometimes the choice to be happy is easy… but sometimes it is very, very hard. I was looking around at some of the patterns we put ourselves in that make us miserable and I realized some things about myself and others that I wish we could all do to prevent us from entering those dark places in our lives.
Here is what I see…
The pattern of being a victim: This is when you become very comfortable in this role – not that you LIKE this role, but it is something that keeps repeating itself and you feel like it happens to a lot.  Words that might be used are “Why does this always happen to me?”

The pattern of being self-absorbed:  This is when you think and act as if everything and everyone around you is either to serve you and if it doesn’t, then you don’t care (or even think about it or them) and you wish it would disapear from your life.  You could get irritated if things do not go exactly as you want.

The pattern of a dreamer:  This is when you place your happiness (or future happiness) on things that ‘could’ happen in the future.  Some of the comments might be “When I move into my new house, everything will be better”  “When I have more money, all my problems will be over”  “Someday, when…I will be happy”.

The pattern of a complainer:  This is when you never enjoy the moment at hand. You could constantly be in a state of criticism.  You might not even do anything to change the situation, just complain about it.  You might hear “I wish that person would do things differently”  “This is just horrible.  I can’t believe this is the way things are done around here”

The pattern of a martyr: This is when you view a situation as something out of your control when in reality you are creating the horrible situations in your life and you sit and feel sorry for yourself because of how bad things are.  That negative experience in your life, probably wouldn’t exist if you didn’t subconciously keep it alive.  Possibly you react to others in a certain way that encourages them to behave negatively towards you… but then you mope around afterward.

Do any of these patterns sound familiar?

I know that I have experienced all of them at one time or another.  Now that I have recognized the patters, I want to share what I have learned with you.

1. CHOOSE to be happy in whatever circumstances you are in.  Happiness comes when you choose a peaceful, forgiving, joyful, grateful, and loving thought instead of focusing on the negativity in the world around you. It is based on the choices you make each moment – NO MATTER HOW HARD – that will keep you in a joyful place. Only then will you be able to feel true happiness… even in the midst of pain.

2. KNOW that you are loved… and you are a child of God (which means he loves you no matter what and you are destined for greatness)

3. TRUST in the process of life. Believe that all things have a purpose and that in the end, it will always work out.

4. SEE the good in all things. Hidden inside each experience are great blessings. And yes, that even means the most horrible things that happen to us. We must look for the good in order to see it.

5. FORGIVE everyone and everything. By holding on to the pain, you are only hurting yourself more. (Forgiving does not mean trusting so if you are in a dangerous relationship – please protect yourself – but still choose to forgive them)

6. LIVE in the moment. Seize the opportunity that comes each second to be ‘in the present’. You will find new joy as you experience things on a more conscious level… you will truly see the people around you, you will enjoy your experiences completely, and you will feel peaceful, content, and happy.

7. LOVE the world around you. Love the earth… love your friends… love your family… love yourself. Miracles happen every day when there is love.

Although you cannot ‘arrive’ at happiness (and stay there permanently without any effort)… I promise you that as you apply these principles, you will feel joy like never before and it will be pretty darn close to actually arriving at “DESTINATION HAPPINESS”  🙂

Journey in the Wilderness

As I was reading my scriptures this morning I turned to a random chapter and started reading. I felt like it was telling me some very specific things and I would like to share them with you.

1Nephi 17:1
“…we did take our journey in the wilderness… And we did travel and wade through much affliction…”

Not only is life a journey by itself but we also have several smaller journeys that we experience within our life. Sometimes the greatest journeys that we have are the ones inspired of God. Although we are not asked to literally travel into the wilderness we are quite often led to do things that lie within the unknown or that seem extremely difficult and scary. How many times does God give us personal commandments? Such as when He prompts you to do something very specific and you know you need to do it?

In 1Nephi 17:3 it continues:
“And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them…”

This also reminds me of the scripture in 1Nephi 3:7 where it says “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

From these verses we begin to know:
1- That we will all have periods where God leads us on a journey into the wilderness
2- We will have much affliction and it will not be easy (after all the wildnerness can be wild, untamed, unknown, and scary)
3- If we keep the commandments, He will nourish and strengthen us
4- He will never ask us to take that journey without also providing a way to accomplish this commandment

In verse 4 it says that they traveled EIGHT years before they got to the land Bountiful. EIGHT YEARS! Okay, I confess. There are things that God has asked me to do and I get impatient after a few months! I had to really look at my faith. I also had to wonder, how many times the people traveling with Nephi questioned when or if they would ever get out of the wilderness? I am also reminded of Moses and the Israelites… they were in the wilderness for 40 years!  I would like to think that I would be faithful the entire time, however, that is a very long time… would I keep the faith?  If I know that when God wants me to do something, I sometimes get impatient and doubt that it will come to pass.  Why do I do that?  And why when things get difficult do I sit there and think that it should be easy? I mean, hello? Wilderness does not mean ‘taking a walk in the park’.

After they arrived in Bountiful, the Lord told Nephi to (in verse 8) to “construct a ship… that I may carry thy people across these waters”. Talk about scary and unknown!!

Now that Nephi knows his mission he starts to build it. Then everyone around him tells him “you’re a fool” “you can’t do it” “who do you think you are to think that you can build a ship?!” (verses 17-18)

Then Nephi begins to be sad because of the hardness of his family’s hearts and for their lack of faith. When his family sees this they say “we knew you were lacking in judment” “we knew you couldn’t build a ship” (verses 19-20)

Albert Einstein once saidGreat spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

Have you ever felt this? I know I have. Not in the sense that I think others have a mediocre mind – but that seeing someone move into an inspired direction can cause a stirring inside the person who is not responding to their own inspiration. Sometimes when I have shared my grand dreams with others they quickly shut me down or spew some kind of negativity at me. It’s feels as if I have found a way out of a deep, dark pit but they do not want me to leave them in that pit – so they pull on my leg, tell me things to try to scare me, or try any other desperate attempt to bring me back down.

I have also noticed a pattern through the scriptures – God takes us through the wilderness to get us to where He wants us to be. It is the also referred to as the ‘refiner’s fire’.

It reminds me of our body. Many times when we are healing from an injury, scar tissue builds up where the injury once was. The purpose is to make the area stronger than it was before. This is the same principle for us. When we heal from something difficult, we can learn and experience things that will teach us very valuable lessons and certainly strengthen us more than if it had never happened in the first place.

Although difficult at times, I am very grateful for the many times I have been led into the wilderness… only to come out better than before.  I THANK GOD for being with me and leading me through… and making me better each time.

Because I’m Beautiful

Several years ago as I was healing from depression I learned a valuable lesson.

One particular day, I was having a really tough time. I felt ugly and unloved and I wanted to just crawl into a hole and never come out. I didn’t want the world to see me. Well, I went into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror. This was at a time that I was learning how to talk to myself nicely – so I stopped mid-self-deprecating-thought and tried to tell myself how beautiful I was.

Here is the tricky part – I WAS not beautiful at that moment!! So telling myself these things was really hard to do. I was still in my sweat pants, my hair was a mess, yesterday’s make-up was smeared under my eyes, my shirt was tight around my unflattering mid-section (it was shortly after having a baby – so it was even worse than normal), and I didn’t have much to go on for the ‘you are beautiful’ comments.

I started to think about all of God’s creations. He makes them beautiful. In fact, in the Bible I remember reading that he wanted Adam and Eve to care for all the earth. God wanted them (and us) to care for things on the Earth and BEAUTIFY them. This brings God joy.

It reminded me of a rose bush. Roses are already beautiful, just like God designed. However, if they are left uncared for they can get a little out of hand and the thorny branches start growing in every direction. If the branches are pruned and shaped – then even more beautiful roses grow and the bush reaches a potential that it wasn’t able to without the grooming process.

I relate this to us. We are already beautiful. However, if we do not care for ourselves and take a moment to beautify ourselves we will not live up to our truly beautiful potential.

Now I am not saying that we should all go get plastic surgery and wear 2 tons of makeup to try to make us perfect… But what I am trying to say is that IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING – YOU TAKE GOOD CARE OF IT. I love my children so I do not neglect their needs. I love my home so I do not let it take care of itself. I love my husband so I serve him where I can.

So here is what I have discovered about making this promise to myself and I have been suprised at the effect it has had on my life

– It has helped with my self confidence. When I do not feel embarrassed or self conscience, it helps to hold my head up high

– It has helped my feelings of self worth. When I view myself as a beautiful creation of God and by taking care of this gift God has given me, I can’t help but love myself more.

– It has helped me with depression! In fact, I noticed that on the days where I am really busy or just don’t feel like getting ready for the day (because I occassionally still do that), I have a tendency to feel a little more stressed or hopeless than on the other days. I have found that on these days, it helps to stop what I’m doing and
Go to my room.
Get dressed.
Do my hair. (even if it is just brushed into a nicer pony tail)
Brush my teeth.
Apply makeup or add lipstick.
Put on some good smelling lotion and deodorant.
And I feel like a ‘new’ lady!!

I did not truly realize the effect this had on my life until a couple of weeks ago while I was at a book retreat with 5 other ladies. It was afternoon and we were about to eat lunch. I had gone upstairs to get ready (basically what I described above) and when I came down all of them said “Wow! Where are you going?” I replied by saying “Sorry, but I didn’t do this for you… I did it for myself.” I had been having kind of a bummer of a day and couldn’t shake my negativity and it wasn’t UNTIL I beautified my outsides that I was able to lift my spirits.

I am a firm believer that our physical and spiritual bodies are intricately combined. We must take care of BOTH of them. I am very grateful for this understanding… it has greatly blessed my life.