LIVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE | CREATING AN INTENTIONAL LIFE

Creating an intentional life has been on my mind for quite a few years now. There were a lot of things I wanted to accomplish or do in my life, and somehow time just kept passing without really creating or doing the things that I thought were important to me.

So I began slowly down a path of really trying to figure out who I wanted to become, what kind of life I wanted to live, what things were actually important to me and what things were not. And it has felt like a really slow process, one where I wasn’t sure if I was really making any progress at all. But I look back over the years and realize that even learning and growing in the right direction in small and simple ways has opened me up to making the bigger changes that have helped me more fully become the person I want to be.

It’s like the story in the compound effect. If you could choose a million dollars today, or 1 penny today doubled tomorrow and then that value doubled the next day – continued for 31 days what would you choose? If you choose the penny you feel pretty silly for the first little bit. 1 penny turns to 2 which turns to 4 which turns to 8 which turns to 16. For the first little while you are just collecting pennies. But come to days 28, 29, 30, and 31 and all the sudden that 1 penny has doubled over enough times that you have over $10 million dollars.

So for a while I kind of feel like I was just collecting penny’s. Trying to figure out what was important to me so I could live a more intentional life, and learning just a little bit here and there, line upon line.

And it’s been fascinating because although I have learned and practiced a variety of things over the years, I have also realized that I often want big changes from tweaking my life instead of changing my life. I think small changes can definitely make a difference, but it takes a lot of time and it is sometimes hard to stay motivated or see progress.

Often I have come to understand or know what I need to do, but lacked the full faith to pursue the course. I was reminded about this as I attended a class in church this last we. We were discussing the story of the rich young ruler in the New Testament. Basically a rich young man asks Jesus what he can do to make it to the Kingdom of God. Jesus responds by saying keep the commandments. The young man replies that he has always kept the commandments his whole life and wonders what he lacks. Then Jesus who loves him answers his question by saying the thing he needs to do is to sell everything he has, give it to the poor, and follow Him. And the young man is sorrowful because he loves his things.

And that is the story we get. And I think as I have reflected on this story in the past I have been pretty judgmental of this young man, but in revisiting the story I realize just how much of myself I see in this story. A few years (or months) ago I probably would have taken the position that the rich young ruler was clearly not as good as me. If I asked God a question and received such a direct answer, I would have immediately followed the counsel given to me 100% with all my heart, not gone away sorrowful.

And then I thought about how we eat a plant based diet. Almost two years ago I was sitting in a car, driving across the country, reading books like The China Study, and trying to figure out if members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints could eat a mostly vegan diet, and I experienced the most distinct impression of my life that eating a Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet was the way I needed to eat. It was a completely clear and straightforward answer to a question I had been pondering and seeking to know for what felt like a long time.

And while I easily and quickly gave up meat, dairy, and eggs 100%, I think I have spent the last two years feeling sorrowful about giving up sugary and fat filled treats and processed foods, because I love those things. So how different am I really from the rich young ruler?

Although the story concludes with him walking away sorrowful, I feel like if we could glimpse into his future life that wasn’t recorded there is a good chance we might find a young man who has given away all that he has to follow Christ. I don’t know how long it might have taken him, but I believe that in his goodness, and the sincerity of his question, he would have come to realize that the answer he received was from God and he might have desired to live in accordance to the words of Christ.

And I feel this way because I have felt recently that remembering of what I believe God has inspired me to do with regards to eating a WFPB diet has given me the opportunity to repent and return. To give it another chance. I know what I desire to do, what I want to become, and even what I feel God would have me do. I have taken some steps of faith and now I hope to expand that faith and move forward with full purpose of heart.

I have also been pondering upon a scripture we have been memorizing in our home “he who receiveth all things with thankfulness, shall be made glorious.” At first I took upon myself the attitude of sorrow for all the things I would lose by changing my diet. What if instead, I received the impression I had with thankfulness, gratitude that God would speak to me and give me personal direction and counsel. That is the attitude I am trying to adopt.

So I have been collecting pennies, learning and growing in my understanding of what I believe, who I want to become, the intentional life I want to live, and not just in my eating habits but in all areas of my life. And now I have a pretty good foundation of the person I want to be, but the knowing is not enough. It is the faith-filled, diligent pursuit of action, of living what you believe, that takes the pennies and compounds them into more.

This year has been a year of moving forward in faith. Taking actions in faith. Some days I feel absolutely incredible, living in flow and joy and happiness. Feeling like I am really the person I am meant to be doing the things I am meant to do. Other days are hard because in this pursuit I can more fully feel the disconnect between who I can be, who I want to be, who I intend to be, and the present imperfect me. I came upon a quote I wrote down a while back though that says, “The discomfort of growth is always better than the discomfort of stagnation.”

Even though there is a disconnect I am attempting to fill and it can get uncomfortable at times, I am still excited about the growth I am making and the potential I have to become.

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Sarah, Mary, Elisabeth | And Me

I am doing a little Christmas Scripture Study with my closest group of girls this Christmas and have found so much inspiration from reading unique scriptures with them as we try to more fully prepare our hearts for this glorious time of year.

The other day we were reading about God’s Covenant with Abraham and I was able to read a few scripture about Sarah in Genesis. Sarah was able to conceive and bare a son to Abraham in his old age. She was really too old to conceive and have a baby, but still she did.  It was miraculous and perfect in timing, for God had a work for Abraham and Issac to do.

Then I was thinking about Mary, who was so young and “knew not a man.” Yet she was able to conceive the Savior of the world by the power of the Holy Ghost. The scriptures say “the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.”

Mary was also given the example of Elisabeth who was barren and had conceived six months prior as an example that “with God nothing shall be impossible. ”

Sarah was too old, Mary was too young and knew not a man, Elisabeth was barren, but through the power of God and because he had a plan for the sons they would bear, all things are possible. He visited these woman, and made possible that which seems impossible in our physical and temporal world.

This season we remember the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. As we reflect on His humble beginning, we remember these woman, and their sacred role. For me it is a reminder that God is ever mindful of us, our desires, and has a perfect plan. It also prompts me to remember that with God nothing shall be impossible. He is truly a God of miracles and a God of perfect love.

His Star

I was reading in the Bible the other day about the Wise Men who followed the star to find the young boy Jesus. In chapter 2 verse 2 it says “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” As I pondered on this verse, which I have read time and time again in my life, one phrase gave me pause: for we have seen his star.

His star.

I have never thought about the star that miraculously and gloriously shone over the city of Bethlehem and lead the way to where the baby Jesus lay to be His star. Yet that is what it was. I wonder what star it was, if we could still see it in the heavens today? I wonder about it’s brightness.

As I was discussing His star with my husband we came to the realization that the light of a star has to travel for many days or years to reach the earth. After a star is formed, we may not see it’s light for some time, depending on it’s size and distance from the earth. For instance the light from the sun takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach the earth. The light from the next closest star to earth, Alpha Centauri, takes more than 4 years to get to us. The light from the farthest visible star, which is Cassiopeia, takes over 16,000 years to reach us.

We marveled at the idea that the star that shone down on Bethlehem the glorious night of Jesus’s birth was likely created prior to that night, perhaps even hundreds of years. It is another testimony to me that God is fully aware of all the details and can perfectly coordinate the physical world with his purposes. He put in motion an incredible sign of the birth of Christ well before the birth of Christ.

As we were reflecting on the wonder of His star, we couldn’t help but wonder on our lives. What in our lives is already in motion so that we may experience the miracles we seek or need in a future day? Where might God be setting the stage for us to one day have a time when all things come together in a miraculous moment? And will we realize that God was shaping all the details of the miracles of our lives all along?

A Billion Trees

This last weekend I went to the summer home of my childhood, a lovely lake in the southwestern corner of Montana, surround by beautiful Montana forests and just a few miles outside of the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I hadn’t really experienced it in the Fall, so this experience was especially filled with wonder. The trees were gorgeous, many changing colors, some topped with a light layer of snow, and others pines looking just like they did in my childhood days.

I am not sure why I felt as I did while visiting this familiar place, but I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the individual trees, which together created the gorgeous forest where shadows of my childhood live. Each tree felt important to me, each one had a unique beauty. The ones that changed color with the seasons added splashes of red, yellow, and orange to a sea of greens and blues. The ones toward the tops of the mountains that were glazed with white reminded me of the beautiful season to come. And the pines that I so love had such great variety. The new ones were small and perfect. The older one tall with signs of disease, or imperfections.

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This weekend I was in a place where a billion trees, standing strong in their own place, came together to create a beautiful forest. A forest that has enriched my life, a place where I feel closer to heaven and gratitude for this beautiful life.

Friendship Lessons

The other day I took my daughter to one of my high school friends house for a little playdate. My friend has a boy just a few months younger than my daughter, and I thought they might have a good time with each other. We arrived, and after a few moments of uncertainty my daughter began to make herself feel at home. She played out back while lunch was being prepared, and after eating a few bites she wanted to go play some more. The kids found two toy cars and spent the next while racing them around the table. When they got tired of that they got cozy on the couch looking at a book together. I am pretty sure there was some jumping off the furniture going on at one point. They were having a great time together and were fast friends. Then we left.

That night I went to a church activity. Everyone asked if I was new and how long I was planning on living in the ward. I replied that we would most likely be moving in about three months. Although everyone was super nice and welcoming, I always get the sense that if you are not in a place for the long haul, maybe it is not worth the time and investment to become friends. Then we left.

I have been pondering on both of these experiences that happened. I love how kids are so present in the moment, and just enjoy what it has to offer to the fullest degree while they are in it. My daughter didn’t ask me if we would ever be going back to play with this little boy, she didn’t worry about investing in a friend that she might not ever see again. I didn’t see any exchange between the little kids wondering how long they would be playing together and then deciding on whether or not they would actually enjoy playing together. No they allowed themselves to be friends, enjoying whatever time they got.

As an adult I have struggled with what kids so easily do. When I am with others, it is hard to just enjoy the time and experience because I am unwilling to invest myself in something that might just last for a moment. I feel it from others too. It is something I really feel like I need to work on because I truly believe we need each other. I know we want to come off as having everything under control and being able to do it all on our own, but even if we do have everything under control and we are able to do it all on our own, life is just not as sweet as when we have others on our side.

I’ll be the first to admit it. I need a friend. I need someone to talk about motherhood with. I need someone to sit by in church. I need someone to share ideas about the world, the meaning of life, and the deeper questions I wrestle with. I need someone to call when I am not sure what to do.

Sure, I am fine just sitting at home playing with my daughter all day. I have spent many days in church by myself, it’s not the end of the world. I can just enjoy the wrestle with the questions I have. And google will always tell me what to do. But my life is just enriched when I fill it with other people, people who are willing to open up a bit and need me too, even if it is just for an hour of time we spend together.

I hope as I try to open up to the world, I will find that the world is willing to open up to me too. Let us not forget that we need each other.

The Beauty of Mother Earth

This past Saturday was the perfect day to take a quick drive to nature. It was cool, but there was still enough warmth from the suns rays to enjoy the outdoors. We went to a beautiful waterfall not too far from our home called Mesa Falls.

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I wish I had words to describe my love for Mother Earth and the beauty she holds. I feel like I am at a season of my life where my relationship with Mother Earth is becoming more sacred. All that we are and have, all that keeps us alive and well, we own to her. She is alive and divine. Like a mother she gives all that she is and all that she has for the well-being of us who live on her beauty.

I really love reading about the American Indians relationship with Mother Earth. They so respected her, and so much of their spirituality had a connection to the earth. I was recently reading in a book called “Mother Earth Spirituality” when this passage really struck me.

“Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods… Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.

The earth is precious to God and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.”

Mother Earth Spirituality – A Letter of Chief Seathl to Franklin Pierce 1854

I wish we though that way today. I wish we lived in accordance to this truth. I wish I did better to respect Mother Earth, to live in a manner that was more in harmony with nature.

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Being in nature reminds me of my sacred duty to care better for the Earth. This trip to Mesa Falls was no exception. Glorious Mother Earth is worth every sacrifice we make to take care of her. May we each do our part on our strand of the web of life to care for the precious Earth God loves and created for us.

The Word of Wisdom

Besides a cross country move for a new job we have experienced a few other life changes recently. One of which is our choice of nourishment. I thought I would write a bit about this change since it has been quite the experience.

This summer, before we knew we were going to move across the country, we planned a cross country road trip for a big family reunion in Montana. In preparation for the 70 + hours we would be in the car, I checked out a few books from the library. I don’t remember how I ended up with the books that I did, but when we left I had The China Study, Forks Over Knives, and How Not To Die. I don’t think I even knew anything about the books, but on the drive I read all about a Whole Food Plant Based diet for the first time. I was so skeptical about the whole thing, thought it might be interesting to try, but didn’t really think it would change me all that much.

On the drive home I decided to see if there was anything about Mormon Vegans, and found a series of articles Jane Birch had written for Meridian Magazine. This lead me to her site Discovering the Word of Wisdom. During those quiet moments learning about the Word of Wisdom in the car, I felt a deep impression, this is how you need to eat. It was so clear that we changed our way of eating almost instantly, and we really haven’t looked back.

So many times while sitting in a church class the following quote has come into the lesson.

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”

-Boyd K. Packer

I love the quote, but until I started studying the Word of Wisdom, I had never truly experienced true doctrine changing my behavior. In my continuous study of the Word of Wisdom, this quote has come to mind time and time again. The change to a more Whole Food Plant Based Diet has been simple because I have come to more fully understand the doctrine of the Word of Wisdom, and with that understanding, my behavior has changed accordingly.

I knew it would be challenging, especially the social aspect of eating Whole Food Plant Based. Basically everyone I knew and associated with ate meat, dairy, eggs and oil as the main part of their diet, hey three days before that was the main part of my meals. But I felt that it was right for me and my family, and a whole food plant based diet continued to be our reality.

Fast forward a few weeks and we moved in with my parents as we try to sell our home in Maryland, so I knew we would be having dinner together every night. Since everyone else works and I would be making meals for our family anyway, I invited my parents to eat with us. After a few weeks of meals my mom recently noted that “we hadn’t had anything weird yet.”

So we will continue to eat herbs, fruit, and all the lovely grains. I will eat meat sparingly and truly save it for times of winter, cold, and famine. I will do my best to eat with prudence and thanksgiving.

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Delicious, colorful plants. I have learned to love them!

If you want to learn more about the Word of Wisdom, you can study it here. I also recommend checking out Jane Birch’s website Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I will continue to document this journey for our family and would love to hear your experiences of making the change to a Whole Food Plant Based Diet.

The Winds of Change

At this moment I am sitting in Idaho, our new home. A recent change has taken us over a 1000 miles from our home in Maryland, and brought me back to my roots. Over the last five years of being married, I feel like Daniel and I have had a Chocolat kind of experience. Have you seen the movie? A women and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a little village and by so doing, change the people. Once they have fulfilled their purpose of that season in their lives, the winds blow and they move to the next village. Eventually they choose to stay in a particular French village, despite the winds blowing them to their next destination.

Since the our beginning 5 years ago we have lived in 4 states, two in the Mountain West and two on the east coast. We have never been in any home for two years. We have had a purpose in each place, and fulfilled it.

We thought we would stay in Maryland for a while. But around February I had a distinct feeling that we needed to make our way back to Idaho, and with a bit of divine guidance, we made it to our windy new home.

Each time we go outside, and the wind blows, I think about that feeling, that deep knowing that we needed to make the change, that the winds of the universe blew us to this place, to build our life here, to build our home here.

We are loving our new Idahome.

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Spaghetti Squash

The other day I was baking a spaghetti squash in the middle of the day for a casserole I was making that night. As it was baking and playing with my daughter she decided to say “I don’t want spaghetti squash right now.” I told her she did not need to eat the spaghetti squash and I would set aside some dinner sans spaghetti squash so she didn’t need to worry. She was still pretty concerned about the whole spaghetti squash thing and couldn’t let it go. No matter what I told her she spent a few minutes worried about the possibility of having spaghetti squash at some future time. I wanted to just tell her that she didn’t have any need to worry, I was not going to feed her spaghetti squash, so she was worrying about absolutely nothing. I also want to tell her that even if I did feed her spaghetti squash it wouldn’t be for a long time so she really didn’t need to worry about it right now. I also wanted her to understand that if I did serve her spaghetti squash, it would be because spaghetti squash has nutrients inside of it that help our bodies stay strong and capable, and so even though spaghetti squash is not her favorite thing, it would truly be good for her.

And then I thought about me. How much I worry about things that may or may not happen in a future date. Things I don’t need to worry about – one, because they may never happen, two, because if they do I really don’t need to worry about until they happen, and three because I have faith that God has a hand in my life and all things that do happen in my life will be good for me. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, and as a child of God I sometimes struggle in the same way my daughter struggles with things in her life.

When I struggle it is hard for me because I feel like should know better, and do better, that I should not succumb to worry or fear. Then I remember how I feel about my daughter, I wish so much that she would not worry because of all the things I know, but she doesn’t understand. I recognize that she does not have the understanding I do, and even though she is having a hard time when she really doesn’t need to, what I do is just love her through the struggle. And I believe that is what Heavenly Father does for me. Sometimes I think He loses patience with me, but I believe the truth is that, no matter how I struggle, He is always just willing to love me through everything.

Thank goodness for that truth.