We are all Promised Rainbows after the Flood.

We are all Promised Rainbows after the Flood

we are all promised rainbows after the flood.

The question this week comes from a boy who is having suicidal thoughts.  He knows they aren’t right, but they are real.  He knows he is blessed.  He has a good home, parents that love him, friends, yet his mind feels dark.  “Will this feeling ever go away?  I can’t live like this.”  His question is simple but the weight of his feelings are almost more than he can bear any longer.

I wrote him a story about another boy who also suffered from clinical depression to help him out.

I also asked two of my friends to share their thoughts as well.  They have a lot of experience in this matter.

I hope this helps him and anyone you may know who is suffering.

This is a true story based on true facts about a friend of mine who wants to help others who suffer from depression.

 

My little sister’s normally contagious smile bounces joyously into my blind drawn darkened room. “Come on, get up!” She bounces energetically toward me; excited demands being shouted as if getting up was the easiest thing in the world to do.  The blanket of depression laying over me creeps up over my head where I hope to stay hidden.  Hidden from the world.  I’m embarrassed by the uncontrollable feelings that keep me trapped in this isolated pain.

“Let’s go dance in the rain.” Her voice sings while the clashing of metal slats tell me she’s yanking the blinds up.  The wet gush of cool wind, from the now open window, whipping at my exposed toes prophesies of colder days to come.  More dark clouds to keep company the ones in my mind.  Desperate to escape this mental hell, I cautiously peek, into the world where joy has slowly, through the weeks, drifted further and further from me.  My sisters face is turned toward the rain, blissfully enjoying all the sounds, smells, and sites I too once enjoyed.

“Look, there’s a rainbow.”  Her blonde hair whips playfully in the wind as her excited eyes turn to look into my empty ones.  Recognition, the dull empty eyes I now view the world from, she immediately knows something’s not right. “What’s wrong with you?”

“I can’t even see the rainbow.”  So much sadness pours out of my eyes.  The moisture equal to that of the cries mother nature sheds outside my window.

“Come,” She pulls me from the bed. “Let’s go talk to mom. Rainbows are promises of better days ahead.  Just cuz you can’t see this one doesn’t mean you won’t ever see another.  You just need a little help, like you did once before.”

And this is how my loved ones help me each time depression sets in.  The first time it lasted longer because I didn’t understand what was happening.  The next time we all understood, clinical depression, and it didn’t take as long to recover.  My brain just needed a little more help.  And sure enough, I have seen more rainbows.

 

 

 

This is some advice from another one of my friends.  She is just so beautiful!  I have known her since she was a little girl and she has always had a huge contagious smile on for all those around her.  Meanwhile, she has had her own inner struggle.  And she has shared it to uplift and inspire others.

My advice is listen to the people that truly love you. It’s hard, but they are there to help you get better.

Taking therapy has been a challenge. You open up all the wounds. But finding the right therapist is the key. I tried another therapist. She didn’t really work. But the one that I have now is the best. It’s totally okay to switch therapists to find the one that best fits you.

You can read more about Veronica’s journey here.  https://www.instagram.com/veronicacederlof_/

 

My friend Jamie Slade does all sorts of work throughout the community educating and helping those with any kind of mental challenge.  She works for  Tooele  Valley Behavioral Health.  I asked her for some advice.  I asked her what some of the signs of suicide can be.  So that we can help our loved ones who are struggling.  Her is what she said:

Good morning Shawna,

I just wanted to invite you to the Stansbury Prevention Meeting on September 26th. It will be at the Stansbury Clubhouse at 6pm and I would love to have you join us as we discuss substance abuse and suicide prevention in Stansbury.

I got your message wondering about signs parents can look for in teens who may be suicidal. I’m sorry I haven’t responded yet, I was at Austin’s wedding yesterday! There’s a really great Suicide Prevention course called QPR that I teach, along with a handful of others in the community. There is a monthly QPR in Tooele, and we also teach any groups who request us (church groups, businesses, etc). The course has great information on the verbal and behavioral signs and clues that people may give in the days or weeks leading to a suicide attempt. I’ve listed them below:

 

Suicide Clues And Warning Signs

  • Threats to hurt or kill him or herself
  • Current talk of suicide/making a plan
  • Strong wish to die–talking, writing, posting about death
  • Anxious and depressed, not sleeping
  • Abusing substances
  • No reason to live, no purpose in life
  • Feeling trapped with no way out
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Anger, irritability, engaging in high risk behavior apparently without thinking
  • Statements of hopelessness and despair

Direct Verbal Clues:

  • “I’ve decided to kill myself.”
  • “I wish I were dead.”
  • “I’m going to commit suicide.”
  • “I’m going to end it all.”
  • “If (such and such) doesn’t happen, I’ll kill

Indirect Verbal Clues

  • “I’m tired of life, I just can’t go on.”
  • “My family would be better off without me.”
  • “Who cares if I’m dead anyway.”
  • “I just want out.”
  • “I won’t be around much longer.”
  • “Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about

Behavioral Clues:

  • Any previous suicide attempt
  • Seeking access to a gun or hoarding pills
  • Impulsivity—increased risk taking
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Self-harm or putting their lives in danger
  • Unexplained anger, aggression and irritability
  • Out of the ordinary behaviors— pay attention if something changes significantly (skipping school, grades, friend groups, etc.)

Physical clues

  • Eating habit changes
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Unexplained stomachaches

Mood clues

  • Irritability/agitation
  • Aggression/anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus OR hyper-focused

 

I’d say the biggest thing is to be aware of what’s normal for a person, and what is abnormal. If someone is normally a really cheerful and happy person, and they suddenly become very withdrawn and unhappy, that’s a sign. It can go the other way as well. If someone is normally reserved and not a very happy person, and they suddenly become outgoing and happy, that could be a sign as well, because deciding to kill themselves may have lifted a weight off their shoulders and they feel happy now that they have a plan. That can make it really tricky to spot a person who could be suicidal! So it’s just really important to remember that any change in what is their normal behavior may be a clue. It’s really important to be tuned in with our friends and family so we can identify those changes. Most people who are suicidal communicate their intent to a family member, friend, or stranger either verbally or behaviorally in the week before their attempt, so the more people who can become aware and know what to look for, the better!

If you’d like to attend a QPR class and learn more about how to identify and help someone, I’ll get you the schedule for the public QPRs coming up!

Hope to see you at the meeting in a few weeks. I’d really love to have you on board.

Thanks,

 

Jamie Slade

Prevention Specialist

Tooele Prevention

 

565 West 900 South

Tooele, Utah 84074

Cell: 435-830-4416 (call/text)

Desk: 435-566-5925

 

 

 

The best talk ever on depression from Elder Holland Like a Broken Vessel

True Stories about Suicide and Ways to Prevent It 

A Child Fallen Prey in the Jungle

The question this week comes from a third grader being bullied by a group of older girls.  “How can I get them to be nice to me.”  She asked.  I thought back to a time while visiting my sister, in Texas.  We were at the grade school and I was looking out over the vast green grounds where the shiny jungle gym stood in all its childhood glory.  The covenanted piece of playground equipment, my niece was twirling excitedly on.  She could hardly wait to show me her new tricks.  She had practiced long and fought hard to learn them.  She had even fallen prey to the harsh words of some older jealous girls while innocently playing on that jungle gym during recess.  After reminiscing about that time, I called my niece to ask her what advice I should give this young girl.  Since it had only been just a year that she had experienced the same things.

“Well, I went and told my friend, Margret, what had happened.  One of the bullying girls was her older sister.”  My sweet niece explained confidently, proud to share what she had learned.  “Then she went home and told their mother.”  Her persecutors weren’t particularly nice to her after that, but they weren’t mean either.  “They just didn’t talk to me.  And that is ok.  I just kept practicing.” She shared matter-of-factly.

My niece was born with the confidence of a lioness unafraid. To attack has never been her first choice But, being the prey has never been an option for her either.parrots

justice 2The most important key to dealing with bullies is to know who you are and being ok with that.  It’s most assuredly the best thing we can teach our children.  We cannot make people be nice. But we can learn how to calm this jungle called life.  The only way to do that is to know who you are.  A child of God.  Born with the same inner strengths as the kings of the jungle and an innate personal desire to do good and soar.  When we know this, it doesn’t matter what others say around us.  There are times when we need to seek help from those we love.  Then let it go, do not let the weight of their words weigh you down and stop you from soaring high with your dreams.  Remember you are a unique, specifically built to accomplish your own personal mission here in this jungle, with a royal bloodline, child of the highest God.

 

maddy and neil's hands QUOTE

I have another friend who grew up to be a counselor, he was bullied as a boy and now has a deep desire to help others overcome bullying.  Here’s his story.  I thought it would also help this young girl in her struggle.

 

nathan fam

 

 

A little about myself: I was raised in a super small town called Blanding Utah. I met my wife while at Utah State University and we have a one-year-old boy.  When I was in kindergarten, I got super thick glasses because my vision was so bad. These glasses made my eyes huge and made me the target of lots of bullying. Through the years the bullying got worse. I had kids stick pens in my bottom, put me in the trash-can, and all sorts of other things. The grownups had no clue what was going on, so I was on my own. With the help of my loving father, I was able to overcome my bullies and become better and not bitter. My experiences with bullies gave me a drive and passion to help students and I became a school counselor and school speaker and founder of the social media platform Bullies Be Gone on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. If I’m not at home with my wonderful family, I’m spending time trying to help kids through their trials.

Which leads us to the question today: how can we get other kids to be nicer to us? Long story short, we can’t. Kinda. Hear me out.

Bully 1We can’t control the actions other folks do or the words they say. We can only control one thing: ourselves. With that in mind, here are the three things that I did to eventually become great friends with my Bullies.

1) Know who you are. Say what know? How do you even explain “who you are”? Well, what do you want people to think of when they think of you? Are you kind? Are you respectful? Do you treat others well?  You see, once you know who you are, it doesn’t matter what other people say. they can say whatever they want, and you know it’s not true. Once we know who we are, the haters lose all of their power over us. Their opinion just doesn’t matter.

2) Focus on the positive and what you do have. I didn’t have many friends in school. So I focused my time and energy on the things in my life that I did have. Things like my family and my talents.

3)This last step is arguably the best way to get friends and to get even the coldest bully to eventually soften up. And it’s the cheesiest step there is: serve others.

We spend too much time trying to impress people we don’t even like that much. Instead of wasting our energy caring about what they think or say, I would try to find someone who I can serve. Maybe it’s a kid who looks lonely in class. Maybe it’s that kid who just dropped his books. Maybe it’s the girl who tripped outside. Maybe it’s just some kid in the hall who you said “hi” to.  Find those people. They are the ones that will help you feel the most happiness. those are the ones who will turn into true friends. And along the way, maybe even some of those cold bully hearts will warm right up.

In short, as we know who we are, the opinions of bullies stop mattering. It makes it easier for us to focus on the positive things in our lives and what we do have, and not on what we don’t. As we focus on the things in our life that we do have, we see that we are extremely blessed, and we will want to help other people feel the same. As we serve others around us, we will make friendships and relationships that will last.

We can’t make people be nice to us. But we sure can be nice to others. And that’s where we can all make a difference. One kid at a time

Nate Webb
Instagram: @bulliesbe.gone
Facebook: Bullies Be Gone

https://youtu.be/Kds0FlBJfLA

Caught in a tangled web of lies all in the name of love

Copy of we are here to help however we canThe question I am answering this week is complicated with all the feelings of love, guilt, and protection one mother felt for 2 children.  It came from a dear friend of mine.  Her younger daughter had come to me after she read my blog, she felt safe and told me her older brother was hurting her (molesting her).  I went with this young innocent girl to tell her mother what was happening.  When the sweet girl had relieved her heavy heart of the burden she had been carrying, her mother and I left to talk in the other room alone. The question she asked was.  “Shawna, I love both of my children.  I know that he was hurt when he was 5, he needs mental help, and I don’t want him to go to jail.  What should I do?”

I told her she needed to call the authorities and report it.  She was legally obligated to do so.  If she did not file with the proper authorities, she could go to jail with him.  It was up to a court of law, at this point, to decide what he needed.  She no longer could make that call.  His decisions had brought him to this point.  If she did not make the right legal choice, she would most assuredly get pulled into the tangled mess of bad choices that he has spun and created for himself.

The analogy or story I came up for her came as I sat in my garden the next morning.  While weeding, I contemplated how I could explain to the kind mother how important it is that we teach our children the difference between right and wrong.  It is imperative that they know that there is a consequence to their choices, good or bad.  If we continually try to save them from their own choices, we get ourselves and our families tangled in with them.

I looked over at the glistening spider webs in my garden that next morning.  I like the spiders that live in my garden.  They do their job and don’t bother me when I do mine.  Instantly my mind went to the type of spider that would strike me if I got too close.   The black widow.  That spider will eat its own children along with her mate.  If the children or male does not flee fast enough, they will eventually be attacked.   The elegant widow spins a silk web that appears to be chaotic.  But in fact, is built for a very specific purpose.  The web itself actually produces a chemical called pheromones that entices others of her kind. And its built is ideal for capturing other living creatures.  The victims of her web don’t even see it coming.  One moment her web will sparkle in the sun.  Then instantly disappear in the shadows of the wind.

don't get trapped (1)This scenario reminded me of my friend.  She saw glimpses of danger in her son.  Instantly a small act of kindness, a smile, or good behavior would distract her from the real problem.  The child she sensed was being hurt, her pain remained covered under a masked fearful smile and ignorance that kept life moving forward.  The web of his lies getting bigger and bigger.  Catching victims in its grasp all along the way while those that loved him, and he too claimed to love.  Not stopping him, essentially camouflaging his bad behavior until he had completely ensnared over 16 victims and his mother into his web of lies that ultimately ended with him and her  in jail.  Leaving each victim in remorseful guilt.  They had sent someone they love to jail.  When in fact he sent himself there.

There is a consequence to both. (1)Thus, the very root of the problem.  She did not teach her children that good and bad behavior have consequences.  The victim should have known that her good choice, stopping a perpetrator, would bring her good consequences. But instead, she felt guilt mixed with relief which brought on more guilt.  Jail time wasn’t anyone’s fault except for the person making the bad choices.  He was the one that put himself there.  Mom went to jail because she didn’t make the right choice to follow the law and allow her son to pay the consequences alone for his bad behavior.  Regardless of the reason (past victim like he was) when someone makes a bad choice, they need to learn to make good ones.  Sometimes the process is a painful one but an essential one in raising a child who will have the desire to make good choices.  If we take away the learning process, the consequences, we are actually helping create a monster.  And victims with a warped sense of reality.  Leaving an entire family caught in a tangled web of lies all in the name of love.

20 Day Mind Challenge

Minds are like flowers they only bloom when they are open.It seems there is so much unhappiness in the questions I am being asked I thought this week we could do an experiment together.  A 20-day-mind challenge.  We have so much power within us to do good and feel happiness that I’m issuing a challenge for us all.  Have an open mind to this and I promise you will feel a difference with just this simple thing.  Tell yourself 20 things you are thankful for every morning. (mark a square in the chart below for each thing you thought of) No matter how small.  Even if it’s the airconditioned house you live in. The Birds chirping.  Tell yourself how thankful you are and list 20 things to yourself.

happinessThe reason for the chart (chart below) is it truly does help to see evidence of what is happening to you.  When each day you only change 1% it is hard to see the results over a period of time.  But remember if you change 1% every day in 100 days you will have changed 100% of a bad habit.  Being unhappy is a habit we all fall into.   The chart is below, keep track I promise you will be amazed at the results.  At the end of each day mark on the scale from 1-10 if you were happier throughout the day.  At the end of 20 days, you’ll have a habit you can choose to continue.  Remember our minds are not set up to feel two conflicting emotions at one time.  You cannot feel happiness and anger at the very same time.  Which one will you choose?  Here is a wonderful story from my brother-in-law that proves the power we have within us and the peace we can radiate not only to ourselves but to others.

 

 

Jeff’s account of New York Black Out.

“Some of you may know that I was in New York City this past weekend performing with Millennial Choirs and Orchestras at Carnegie Hall. It was an amazing experience and one I hope I never forget.

choir

Because all 5 locales (Arizona, California, Idaho, Texas, and Utah) were present, we had to split the performance into three casts of about 1100 singers and performers in each cast. Each cast was scheduled to perform in one of three concerts. One on Friday evening which my group performed in. One on Saturday afternoon, and finally one on Saturday evening. The first two concerts went off without a hitch. It was incredible to perform in that great hall where so many incredible and talented musicians have performed for well over a hundred years. Then came the great blackout of 2019 where most of Manhattan went dark for about 5 hours.

It happened just minutes before the final cast was set to perform. My wife and I were on our way to watch that final performance when things went dark. As we approached Carnegie, I could hear this incredibly beautiful music resonating off the buildings of Midtown. When we turned the corner onto 56th Street and 7th Ave, we were met with this incredible scene. The choir had to evacuate the hall, so as not to be denied, they performed a few numbers out on the street at Carnegie. I, like thousands of others,+ was drawn in and began filming and listening.

 

choirThe sun was just setting on Manhattan-henge as one of our conductors called it, and the music was serene. Juxtapose that with the sirens of emergency vehicles cruising past and the whole scene was this surreal mix of chaos and beauty. If I live to be a hundred I don’t know if I will ever experience something quite so beautiful as this. And contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers are wonderful folks. The last time this happened in 1977 there was mass rioting, chaos, and looting with over 4,000 arrests. This time, all was calm, people were helping each other. Ordinary citizens were in the middle of intersections directing traffic. Everyone had come out of their buildings and down onto the streets and just made the best of it considering it was July in New York City without air-conditioning! Not one single arrest.  Pretty cool time. Just wanted to share.

 

The story was even featured on the news on several stations. So instead of performing for a few thousand people inside the Hall, the choir got to perform for many, many more thousands, maybe even millions!”

 

I loved this story.  My sister Dawna commented on how powerful the spirit of kindness and love was there.  “The gospel music they sang brought such a different feeling into the atmosphere.  People were kind and helpful instead of looting and hurtful.  It was a powerful thing to witness.”  We all have that kind of power to change the world around us.  If we only learn to use it.  Starting with a thankful heart is a being we can all share.  Here’s

Oooops.  I couldn’t get the chart to upload.  Email me at shawna3081@gmail.com and I will send you the chart.

Everything can be fixed

everything can be fixed

 

This week our question concerns a young man almost 21.  He has been drinking alcohol since the age of twelve.  He’s experienced withdrawal on three different occasions.  All three were on family vacations.  He spent his trip confined to a hotel room.  His holiday instead of being a relaxing getaway he spent sweating, with fevers and chills, tremors, vomiting, and headaches.  Then depression set in and he couldn’t wait to drink again.  The question is how can he be fixed?  To this question, I gave a link https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng   This link gives information on recovery programs.  It also has stories of people who struggle with the same types of things.  It is so nice to know that you are not alone.  That there is a support system out there and people have overcome the same types of obstacles.  It is possible!

It is essential that he gets help.  His body no longer knows how to function without the drug.  However, it can be fixed!  It could take a lot of time, work, and continual maintenance. But he can have a life without alcohol.  Here is the story I wrote for him. (He’s a mechanic.)

picture everything can be fixedThere was a young man who loved his car.  He loved that it took him where he wanted to go.  He loved the way the wind felt on his face when his windows were down.  Loved the music it could sing to him through its radio.  He loved the way the engine purred.  It was his most prized position.  At first, he made sure he kept his tank full, washed all the dirt and scum away weekly, daily he admired its glow.  Life got busy, so much to do.  Soon the weekly washings only happened twice a month and the tank, it was good at half full, he’d fix it’s problems next week, all will be well.  But, life just kept getting busier… A little dirt wouldn’t hurt if he cut back on the washings he’d have time for other things.   The tank, it wasn’t empty he knew exactly how many miles it could go.  A few more he was sure.  And when his car ran out of gas and left him stranded on the side of the road.  He got out, kicked the tires, and yelled why?  Why won’t my car take me where I need to go?  I can no longer feel the wind on my face.  The music it stopped, 30 miles ago, it no longer shines, there’s nothing left to admire. He walked away from the car angry frustrated…. Oh, that car is a pile of junk, never was any good.  And that’s all he could remember.  And wondered why his frustration seemed to stay.

dude your car will run again. i'll call for help friend.Each time this young man pushes himself a little further and a little harder.  Just a few steps away from help.  Now he’s kicking himself thinking he is no longer worth anything.  All the dreams he has dreamed stuck on the side of the road.  His tank full of hope is exhausted.  He needs to hand over the keys, have it towed to the mechanics, and learn once again how to take care of that car. (or the body that once helped him fulfill all his dreams.)

He for-gets-you-not

Surrounded in a field of forget me not flowers I was reminded of all the hundreds of ways he tells us everyday that he forgets us not.I’d been praying about which question I could answer on the blog this week.  Also, praying that I could say the right things.  I know that I have been through a lot and have developed an unbreakable relationship with my Father in Heaven.  But the question often comes to my mind.  Who am I to answer these questions?  Help me help those friends asking me for help.

On a dusty road, we drove past a field of For-get-me-not flowers and instantly the question I could answer this week came to my mind.  “Why doesn’t he answer my prayers anymore.” A young man asked me.

The blue in the flowers seemed symbolic to how our kind loving father in heaven must PETALfill at those words.  An instant mist of tears came into my eyes as I thought of my own son or daughter thinking that I had forgotten them.  As those flowers surrounded me, I got the distinct impression that our Father in Heaven could no more forget him than the sun could forget to come up in the mornings.  Thoughts raced through my mind to tell that boy he has not been forgotten.  And he should not forget his father.

One of my favorite scriptures is 1Nephi 21:16 it talks about how Christ has engraven us upon the palms of his hands.  In the garden of gethsemane, he felt all that we are feeling.  On the cross he cried,  “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”   Mathew 27:46 

To this young man I say, our Savior felt exactly what you are feeling.  He knows you better than anyone or even you know yourself. Don’t give up.  Keep praying It was shortly after Christ felt all alone that he quickly knew his trial was over. Keep pressing forward you are not alone in your desire.  The Prophet Joseph Smith observed that “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another. …” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 305.) If you feel he’s not answering perhaps listen in a different manner in which you have been accustomed.

I remember after a few years of being a member, of the church, asking my husband. “When I first joined the spirit was so strong.  Now it seems further away.”

faithHe told me.  “Perhaps he wants you to stretch, learn something, and grow even further than you have to this point.”  He was right.  I needed to reach for my father in Heaven. (read, study, ponder, and pray more often.)  And I began to grow in ways I didn’t think possible.  I think what this answer narrows down to, is to have faith in the plan your father in heaven has for you.  Have faith in your ability to hear, see, and feel the direction he is leading you in.  Have faith that you will understand him and the way he is communicating with you.  Have faith that he for-gets-you-not.

As I looked out over the field of for-get-me-not flowers that day, I wondered how long the seeds had been planted there.  We had traveled that road every summer for years and had never seen so many blossoms along the hillside.  I suppose they laid, planted firmly in the faith that the rain would come and they would have their opportunity to bloom one day.  The Lord will shower you with the answers you seek, be patient, learn, grow, and prepare for that time.

I had some friends help answer this question about faith.  See below.

Paul Pulsipher From someone with Asperger’s syndrome who analyzes language like a computer analyzes a chessboard, I take the definition of hope from the church website (since hope is a part of the definition of faith from Alma 32) and insert it accordingly, “Faith is the confident expectation of and longing for things which are not seen which are true.”

Audrey Curtis Faith is a gift bestowed upon us by Heavenly Father. It is what we do with that faith that determines many things. We can exercise that faith. Remember that as we exercise in physical body so we must do the same with our faith spiritually. We know from Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heavenly Father answers us when we pray to him. Yet those answers are only given when Heavenly Father knows we will act upon those answers. We often learn also from the scriptures a man lacking in faith ask the Savior Jesus Christ to bless him with the faith needed because of his lack of faith. See Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Often when we start out with little faith. A talk given to us in October 2003 by James E Faust we have the following: To all those with lingering doubts and questions, there are ways to help your unbelief. In the process of accepting and rejecting information in the search for light, truth, and knowledge, almost everyone has—at one time or another—some private questions. That is part of the learning process.
Sustaining faith can be the ultimate comfort in life. All of us must find our own testimonies.
A testimony begins with the acceptance by faith of the divine mission of Jesus Christ, the head of this Church; and the prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith. The gospel as restored by Joseph Smith is either true or it is not. To receive all of the promised blessings we must accept the gospel in faith and in full. However, this certain faith does not usually come all at once. We learn spiritually line upon line and precept upon precept. For those of you who, like the biblical father, say, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” you can have a confirmation by following the direction of the Book of Mormon, which challenges us to ask “God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ,” regarding the truth that can only come by faith in Christ and by revelation. However, there are two indispensable elements. One must “ask with a sincere heart, with real intent,” and then God “will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

Britt Lujan Faith is believing without seeing.

Sarah Kersey Morrison Faith is being so disappointed in how things are going (in life, the world, etc.) that you want to give up… but you don’t because you know there’s something better for you and if you just hold on, God will reveal it. And you hold on to that little glimmer of Hope knowing God holds onto His promises to us.

Kendal Levine “Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if God hands you a shovel”
That is most definitely my favorite quote at the moment!

Paula Olson-Martin Faith is a deep in your soul feeling, you can’t prove it, touch it or smell it or see it…. but you know it.

Bob Ed Piller Faith is something that U get when U get up each day & thank your Father in heaven for watching over U all through the night & U get up in the morning feeling good after a nights rest & I thank my Father in Heaven for another day to see his world & all that he has created for all mankind so just get down on your knees & thank your father in heaven for what U are blessed with.

 

Here are some great video on prayer.

https://youtu.be/tBBHSFgE2R0

 video Sweet Power of PrayerSweet Power of Prayer

https://youtu.be/8ySKYe5-qjk

“Mormon – Prayer and Promptings”

 

Twelve Steps

The question I am answering is from a young girl struggling with drug addiction.

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I had a couple of people help me answer this.  But I would like to share a personal experience from my own life.

A long time ago… yet stored within her adult mind as if it were just yesterday, a confused, filthy, tired, drug-addicted 7-year-old stood before her teacher.  Not just a teacher but, a hero, a small prized verbal fighter, and a friend.  The first adult friend she had ever had.  The first person to stand up to her biological mothers’ outrageous excuses.  The first person to hold her face gently in her cupped hands and rationalize with her.  The first person that said things that aligned perfectly with the way her own conscious had been trying to dictate.  “Stop taking these pills.  They will destroy you, Shawna.”  Her brown eyes plead firmly with the ragged little blonde-haired girl before her who, without words, was asking for her noon pill.

This entire time the little girl was told that she needed those pills, because of her nightmares.  There was a small part of her that actually liked those pills.  They helped her go to sleep.  She knew with them she would sleep through all the times that the monsters in her nightmares, the ugly dark ones that hurt little kids and came out at night.  It didn’t matter that in the morning the pain was there testifying of what the monsters had done and they were in fact real. Her biological mother denied it.  And simply gave her small daughter her morning pill with that and her noon pill they would make the abused girl wake up.  And her mouthy daughter wouldn’t care about the pain.  She’d stop telling her teachers about the monsters in her home.

The little girl listened to her wise teacher.  And never willing took another pill.  Though they were prevalent in her home and a quick fix was readily available to her.   She refused to let them create a monster of her like they had made of her mother.  With the help of positive non-drug addict friends, she used 12 steps to keep her away from any desire to have a quick fix.

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A good friend of mine who asked to remain nameless said to me about her addiction and where is started. “Shawna, I have always been depressed.  It seemed nothing I did stopped it.  I discovered when I took pain pills when I wasn’t in pain, they made me happy.”  She went on to tell me that she was taking up to 15 pills a day when she finally realized she needed help.  The only way she was able to conquer her addiction was receiving the medical attention she should have gotten years earlier.  It was through a lot of counseling and medical help, with her depression, that she finally found the strength to win.

shelbie (2)Another friend of mine, (This is her) who happens to be my daughters’ best friend since 3rd grade, sent me the quote and picture below,  I loved it and thought it could help with those of you struggling with any kind of addiction.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what she sent me.  After her and her companion had been hiking this enormous staircase.  That consisted of 2,744 steps.

2,744 steps closer to heaven. 

steps mission shelbie

2 Corinthians 4:18: while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal and the things which are not seen are eternal. 

 

Just like how faith are things which are hoped for and not seen don’t become discouraged by the things we cannot see. For the things that we can see are the things of this earth. But we are looking for the things not of this earth and even though we cannot see them, doesn’t mean they are not there! Heaven is for real. Keep striving and keep pushing on! This is a lot of what I experienced today doing the incline. We couldn’t see the top but we knew it was there. so we just had to keep going no matter how many times I wanted to stop. no matter how many times we want to stop we have to keep going because the view is amazing (:  

I loved what she said!  This is so true with all the steps forward we take.  We can’t always see the end result but when we reach our goals the view is always beautiful.

This is a great video.

12 steps to change video

Two-Thousand Six Hundred and Eight

The question we are answering this week came from a young man who is very much an analytical thinker. He is a very bright kid who excels in scholastics. He asked, “How can I get more out of the scriptures? It seems to me that they repeat themselves over and over on the same subjects. Why is that?”

I asked my daughter’s favorite mission companion to answer this because she has a great answer for it.  She has some great insights on the subject. 

Two-Thousand Six Hundred and Eight

Adversity is a vital part of our existence here on earth.  It presents resistance, and resistance can be turned into a strength.  Without it, we are stagnant.  It would be like trying to build muscle without using weights or resistance.  Although it would be pretty entertaining to watch, without resistance, we will not get stronger.  It’s the same way with adversity…trials, struggles, challenges, growth in life.  It can build strength.

I know.  You’re thinking Jade, the gym is one thing, but my life is another.  You’re right.  truck 2Because in the gym, I have control of how much weight I put on that bar or what level of resistance I dial my cardio machines to.  I control the resistance.  That can be a good thing, but it has also caused me some unnecessary pain.  Like there was that time that I went for a PR on the bench and thought I didn’t need a spotter.  “I got this.”  Ha!  Famous last words before humbling experience.  Long story short, I had to set the weight on my ribs and roll it all the way down to where I could sit up.  Thankfully, I am terrible at bench, so it wasn’t enough weight to squash me.  I had a lot of thoughts as I rolled the bar with the weights down my torso.  “This was a good idea” was not one of them.  I controlled that weight.  And I pushed farther than I could go without help.  And it hurt.

Most of the adversity or the resistance in my life, I don’t control…and I am so thankful that I don’t.  Someone who knows exactly how much weight my spirit and my mind and my emotions…even my body can take is the One in control.  Mormon 5:23 is the reference on the bracelet I almost never take off: “Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God…?”  One of my favorite motivational videos to listen to while I try to forget the fact that my heart is beating out of my chest while I do cardio is Unbroken.  Listen to this: “Anybody can feel good when they have their health, no bills to pay, they have happy relationships; anybody can be positive then.  Anybody can have a larger vision then.  Anybody can have faith under those kinds of circumstances.”  They’re not wrong.  So, I ask myself…what about when it’s not like that?  Things are real.  Things are hard.  There’s not always a quick-fix or an easy route through it.  I’ve been praying and thinking about how we get through it…here’s three of my thoughts.  Bear with me while I expound.

1 Sunday it came to passOne: When something is repeated over and over again in scripture, it’s not because God forgot what He said.  It’s because He wants us to always remember those words.  Sometimes it’s a warning.  Sometimes it’s direction.  Other times it’s reassurance.  Always, it’s driven by love.  Selfless love.  The kind of love we cannot even fathom.  The love that means we are literally never alone.  I’m 24.  I grew up with wonderful, very religious parents.  I have spent a lot of time reading scripture.  There’s a phrase that happens a lot throughout the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  So many times, it seems absolutely unnecessary.  “And it came to pass.”  For me, it’s always been a phrase that I’m like, come on, let’s just get to the story.  However, that phrase has become a powerful one for me over the past few years.  It changed when someone said to me “The scriptures always say it came to pass; they never say it came to stay.”  I’ve thought about it a lot.  Christ gave His life so that every mortal struggle, heartbreak, illness, challenge…came to pass.  That principle is so important to me.  If you need assurance, 2,608 times.  That’s how many times the Hebrew translation of the Bible + the Book of Mormon say, “it came to pass.”  It must be important.  Without Jesus, there would be a lot of “it came to stays”.  With Him, ‘it came to pass.’

4a wednessday When darkness surrounds youTwo:  God intends to work miracles in your life.  He always has.  That can be hard to see sometimes when adversity clouds our eyes.  For one man in the New Testament, that clouding of the eyes was literal.  He was blind.  He was born that way.  And the people believed that somehow this man’s blindness was someone’s fault.  The disciples asked Jesus, “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Here’s the response:  “Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”  But that the works of God should be made manifest in him.  Here’s the thing.  When this man was born blind, God fully intended for this day to come.  He fully intended to work a miracle in this man’s life, a miracle that would bring so much joy and happiness to this man and his family that I’m sure the years of trial must have been worth it to him in that very instant that Jesus healed Him.  In His healing, God showed forth His power and love.  When you are troubled and wonder why trials happen or why you feel so weak, please, remember that God knows your struggle and has every intention of working miracles in your life.

Are Trials Equal?

Are trials equal?

 

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Hi everyone, I’ve missed you. I have a lot of questions to answer.  Some can be answered in the same post.  So, the one I am answering today will also answer those of you, who have been asking how my surgery went, how I am doing (info about surgery is at the end of the article). Here’s the question of the week.

“Are trials equal? Why do some people seem to have so many more trials than others?   It seems my mom has more than most.”  This question was asked by a young girl whose mother seems to never have any relief from her health problems.  She said, “My mother is always depressed, sleeping…,” and through this child’s perspective her mother doesn’t seem to have any hope or happiness within her.

She asked me this about 4 months ago as I was lying in bed and could not get out because I was so sick.  At that point, I had stopped writing because the pain was too bad for me to even think or look at the computer screen.

I felt like I could relate to this mother to some degree.  I have been sick for quite some time.  And yes, through it I have had brief moments of; depression, anxiety, hopelessness…, all those feelings we ALL feel at the times in our lives when our burdens seem heavier than we have the strength to carry.  (If you learn to use adversity right, it can take you to a place you could never have gone before) author unknown.

This young girl went on to ask me, “You are sick, you have been for a long time.  Yet, you are still happy and nice. How can I help my mom be happy?”  That made me feel good because it was hard to be pleasant when I was sick.  Especially when it seemed answers were coming at a snail’s pace.

without hardships, we would not have valued easeI am not superhuman.  And I do have to fight not to let those negative feelings overcome me.  However, I have found that with practice I can be positive and happy even in pain.  I can see all the lessons to be learned through the journey of my life a lot clearer when my eyes are not blinded from negative thoughts.

To answer are all trials equal?  They may not be equal at the same moment.  But I truly believe that if we looked deeply into the entire course of anyone’s life.  We would find that each of us have trials that make us feel as this young girls’ mother feels.  I believe our trials can be turned into the moments in our lives where we grow the most from.  And become the heavenly daughter/son that we started out this journey to become.

I told her there were 5 major things that help me hold onto hope and happiness.

 

  1. Remember where it is your strength comes from.The power of prayer. With it, we are never ever alone.  It is my greatest desire to point people’s eyes toward heaven.  Help them remember who they are and what we are here for. 

 

 

 

 

  1. book of Mormon My scriptures. They are a constant reminder that there is something all around us so much bigger than us and our problems.   There are so many that have lived before us that experienced the same kinds of trials and came out triumphantly in the end.  They share it with us through the scriptures.  The scriptures are basically the personal journals of righteous people who have come before us.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. get up and move (2)I must get up and move.  No matter how painful it is.  At times I have used a cane, a wheelchair or someone else’s arm but moving is vital to our overall mental and physical health. This also applies to getting up and finding the help we need from friends, family, and professionals.  Only you have the power to ask and accept the help that is out there for us.

 

 

 

 

  1. Put positive things in and you'll get positive resuNutrition. For me this is vital.  I have a lot of allergies.  If I want energy and health, I must put positive things in my body to get a positive reaction from my body.  I try to stay away from Genetically modified food, soy, and gluten.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. perspectivePositive thoughts. I know that I have the power within my own mind to view the world around me in a positive or negative way. I find that life no matter what I am going through is a better journey when I am happy.  I can be happy when I choose to see the good things that surround me.

 

 

 

I believe our trials all equal out in the end. We have all experienced pain, sorrow, depression, anxiety from our hardships.  Our adversities may be different, but they still feel the same.  We are all learning, experiencing, overcoming, and becoming stronger.  I cannot think of one thing that I have gone through and overcame that I have not become stronger, more compassionate with a better view of the world around me.this makes this even better (2)

Here is a great video on adversity and why we experience it.

https://youtu.be/NecWhJCJuQo

 

 

My Surgery

When I first met with the neurosurgeon my body was doing this…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LFvA8_pDw0&feature=youtu.be

This was an allergic reaction to gabapentin a medication they were giving me for pain.

He said, “I can’t help you.  The Chiari Malformation (This is what I was diagnosed with.) is not causing your body to do this.   Compassionately he looked at me laying on his exam table he asked, “Shawna what do you think?  This is a very painful surgery.”

7 Saturday 7-6I was weak, at my breaking point, all my defenses down, and not caring if the other people in the room where religious people or not, I answered between sobs.  “I have prayed and fasted about this so many times.  I feel like I have finally been led to you and that you are the one that will be able to help me.” After 4 years of not knowing if my legs were going to work or not, headaches, and constant pain. I finally felt like I had the answer I was searching for.

After I had seen a lot of other doctors to verify that there were no other things going on that could have been causing my symptoms, (besides the gabapentin.) he agreed to perform the surgery.  Explaining to me that my legs may not work properly for quite some time after the surgery.  He also addressed the fact that he did not know how my body would respond to the medications because of my sensitivity in the past to meds.  “This could take you a long time to recover Shawna.  I just want you to know up front what you are facing, and it may not help.”  He factually stated.

“I’ll be running a year from the date of the surgery,”  I stated knowing in my heart that this was true.

“I hope so.”  Is all he could say.

Six weeks after the surgery, my last Post Op appointment.

“What’s your pain level?” His quite soft-spoken technician asked as she was documenting my progress.

“Zero” I hadn’t said that word in four years.

2 Monday trials (1) July 1Both doctors came in and looked at me with a dumbfounded look on their face as I had explained to them how my recovery was going.  I had been hiking (Well… walking on dirt trails with slight inclines 😊) for a few weeks now.  “My head feels so light.  Before it felt like a 50lb bowling ball sitting on my shoulders. I can watch tv without my sunglasses on, my ears are no longer ringing, and best of all there is absolutely no pain in my legs!”  I was just so happy.  I’m still recovering but, I am still very happy with the outcome.  I love you all very much!  Thanks for all your prayers and support!!

If you any questions you can instant message me.  If I can’t answer or help you I have a team of people that we can ask and get you headed in the right direction.  Love strength-n-adversity.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where have you been?

Where have you been?

Even though my situation is a little more serious than this video.  I love to laugh.  And making this video made me laugh.  Hope it does the same for you!

In honor of March Madness, and you know me… I describe everything I experience through a story.  So, imagine with me for a moment.  You are playing basketball.   You are not a starter in the game.  Nor are you a polished knowledgeable player.  Yet, you are good enough to make the team. The score at the moment in the game is 1,143,000,000 to six.” The odds are heavily stacked against your team.  But your coach stands up, yells over the crowd toward the end of the bench, his index finger pointing at you, and you jump to hear your coaches’ instructions.  He proceeds to tell you, that you are going to get in that game,  “Not only are you going to play, but you are going to win it.”

With anxiety in your heart, you join in the game.  The first few buckets you make builds your confidence, your shoulders straighten, the three-point line seems only a foot away the shots are just gliding in.  The opposing team’s coach sees this threat.  Double team, triple team, foul that player whatever it takes, just stop him/her from succeeding.

A foul is called against the opposing team, but the damage is done.  Your ankle has twisted you heard the dreaded pop.  You look to your coach assuming your job has been done.  But he smiles encouragingly whispers, “We still need you in the game.  Limp along, do what you can, my coaching will help make up the rest.”  With nothing to go on but faith, you get up start limping along.  Amazingly, though slower paced, you still manage to make more buckets.  A flagrant foul is called on the opposing team as your head hits the floor.   Dizzy, confused, ears ringing, you pick up what feels like a 50-pound bowling ball that they tell you is your head to carry,  still limping you can also hear your coach ­­­­tell you,  “I still need you on the court……”

Since I was a little girl, about 8, my biggest hero (though 11 years past before I knew what church he belonged to) was Joseph Smith.   This is next week’s story That large number I stated above 1,143,000,000  was the approximate population of the earth in the year 1830 when the restored Church of Jesus Christ was officially organized with six members.  The other number I mentioned. Was the number of leaders that organized the church.  Joseph an unlearned, unpolished man and the other five who organized the church where ordinary people, their small following were humble seekers of Christ. People that despite the odds against them, they accomplished extraordinary things.   Joseph was in a prison cell where the opposing team put him.  When the Lord declared to him, “The ends of the earth shall know thy name.”   I cannot even imagine how unlikely that could have seemed to him at that moment.

I am no Joseph Smith, nor am I a basketball player.  But I am a child of God, who loves all his children equally.  And he will help me accomplish the portion of his plan that he has entrusted to me.  Though For the past 3 months I have hardly, and at times not been able to walk at all.  It also feels like I am carrying around a 50 lb weight on my shoulders. The Doctors have discovered a malformation in my head called Chiari Malformation, that seems to be causing the medical problems I am having.  However, the fix to that problem is brain surgery.  In an effort to avoid that we, a team of doctor’s and my family, have tried other ways to control the symptoms though we have learned a lot in our efforts It looks like surgery will be the best option.

The last couple of weeks have been extremely hard to try and think through the pain or look at a lite up computer screen.  But I cannot express how blessed I feel that I have this blog and people who read it.  When I feel like I have touched even one life through my experiences it gives meaning and purpose in my own life.  As the above video states…. Odds are often stacked against us and we want to get back in bed!  But, I feel lucky to have you and I truly feel after this my health will be better than it has been in almost 20 years!!!

 

Another thought I’d like to share one that has inspired me over the last few months!

 

I have a very close friend who has traveled a very bumpy road.  The hardest bump she blog kendalhit was when she was on her LDS mission.  These are her words to me today on how dire the situation was for her. “A handful of missionaries (she was on a mission in Australia and was hit by a car) showed up at the hospital and the paramedics told them, “We’re sorry for your loss.  Expecting that I wouldn’t pull through, because my brain had been so damaged.  When they transferred me to Hawaii the neurologist immediately told my parents that I would never recover.  I would be the girl in a bed for life and to just put me in a care facility.  They never dreamed she could walk again.  Through the last three months, she has been a guiding light to me.  Here’s part of her story.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86z7H06Q2F0&feature=share You can also follow her Facebook page if you want to be inspired more by her.   I love you all and thank you for your support and the confidence you have in me when you ask me your questions.  Please don’t stop asking.  Just know it could be a while to recovery for me. But I will answer I promise! Love Always strength-n-adversity. Shawna

quote goliathI want to leave you with this thought by president Nelson,  “You who may be momentarily disheartened, remember, life is not meant to be easy. Trials must be borne, and grief endured along the way. As you remember that “with God, nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37), know that He is your Father. You are a son or daughter created in His image, entitled through your worthiness to receive revelation to help with your righteous endeavors. You may take upon you the holy name of the Lord. You can qualify to speak in the sacred name of God (see D&C 1:20). It matters not that giants of tribulation torment you. Your prayerful access to help is just as real as when David battled his Goliath (see 1 Sam. 17).

 

The thought I hope to leave you with is:  Things in our lives that seem the hardest may very well be the things we personally need to become whom we are truly capable of being.  I know the Lord does not delight in our suffering!  But he delights in us and our growth.  With him we can beat the odds stacked against us, face our Goliath’s and become children of our royal birthright!