Our Savior Knows our Pains

I belong to a special Facebook group for mothers of adopted and foster children. The children of these mothers come from traumatized backgrounds. As a result, these mothers experience more than their fair share of pain and agony – it very difficult to raise angry, traumatized children. On an almost daily basis, they seek to deliberately hurt (both physically and emotionally) their mothers or primary caregivers. One of these mother’s, in an attempt to help those in our group, shared this recently. It is a quote by Chieko N. Okazaki and it is profound! We all have our burdens to bear and our difficulties to endure. I hope it will provide you with comfort as it has me!:

“It’s our faith that He experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.

That means He knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced … that He does not also know and recognize. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten when a bully picks on your fifth-grader when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.” Chieko N. Okazaki

Today’s image was shared from the gospel library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (lds.org)

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You Can Do More Than You Think

There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do Henry Ford

“If you’re going to doubt something, doubt your own limits.” -Don Ward

There’s a Saturday Night Live sketch that features Kenan Thompson as a middle school student with a broken knee. Scarlett Johansson and his other classmates repeatedly convince him to attempt walking, quoting a teacher who frequently lectures on the power of positive thinking. Despite their promises that anything is possible, he repeatedly falls flat on his face.

I loved this sketch, not because of some schadenfreude-induced need to see children crying. I love it because it reminds me of the many times I’ve seen comments on blog posts about possibilities, where people cite things that are obviously not possible.

While we can do a lot in life, running on a leg that you just broke is not (currently) medically possible. Flapping your arms and flying like a bird is just not possible. Turning your horse into a unicorn is just not possible. And switching bodies with your best friend, though commonly seen in movies, is just not possible.

Now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on the many difficult things that are, in fact, possible, despite what people once thought.

It is possible to run a 4-minute mile. It is possible to fly a heavier-than-air plane. It is possible for a person to walk on the moon. It is possible to perform a full-face transplant. It is possible for an African American man to become the President of the United States.

People do “impossible” things every day. If we believe in ourselves and take smart risks, we can, too.

You might not be able to leave your job tomorrow, but you can discover your passion and start a business. You may not be able to win a Webby Award tomorrow, but you can create a site that makes a difference in the world. You might not be able to change that you have a physical limitation, but you can find a way to empower yourself because of it, not in spite of it.

Today if you find yourself dwelling on what’s possible, remind yourself: You can do more than you think if you’re willing to stop making excuses and start testing your limits.

Today’s article was written by Lori Deschene. Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Today’s article was shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/quotes/tiny-wisdom-you-can-do-more-than-you-think/

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Dealing with Stress – Ten Tips

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. Lou Holtz

Follow our 10 simple tips to help manage and reduce your stress levels.

1. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine.

Avoid, or at least reduce, your consumption of nicotine and any drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it.

Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Therefore using alcohol as a way to alleviate stress is not ultimately helpful.

Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated as this will enable your body to cope better with stress.

You should also aim to avoid or reduce your intake of refined sugars – they are contained in many manufactured foods (even in savory foods such as salad dressings and bread) and can cause energy crashes which may lead you to feel tired and irritable. In general, try to eat a healthy, well-balanced and nutritious diet.

2. Indulge in Physical Activity

Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body.

These are the “fight or flight” hormones that evolution has hard-wired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat.  However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response, and so physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.

When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in the fresh air.  Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work or at lunchtime.  Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.

3. Get More Sleep

A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately, though, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Rather than relying on medication, your aim should be to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep.  Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress.  Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you.

You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.

4. Try Relaxation Techniques

Each day, try to relax with a stress reduction technique.  There are many tried and tested ways to reduce stress so try a few and see what works best for you.

For example, try self-hypnosis which is very easy and can be done anywhere, even at your desk or in the car. One very simple technique is to focus on a word or phrase that has a positive meaning to you. Words such as “calm” “love” and “peace” work well, or you could think of a self-affirming mantra such as “I deserve calm in my life” or “Grant me serenity”.  Focus on your chosen word or phrase; if you find your mind has wandered or you become aware of intrusive thoughts entering your mind, simply disregard them and return your focus to the chosen word or phrase. If you find yourself becoming tense again later, simply silently repeat your word or phrase.

Don’t worry if you find it difficult to relax at first. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned and will improve with practice.

5. Talk to Someone

Just talking to someone about how you feel can be helpful.

Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it.

Stress can cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague, or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.

6. Keep a Stress Diary

Keeping a stress diary for a few weeks is an effective stress management tool as it will help you become more aware of the situations which cause you to become stressed.

Note down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally.  Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations.  This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.

7. Take Control

Stress can be triggered by a problem that may on the surface seem impossible to solve. Learning how to find solutions to your problems will help you feel more in control thereby lowering your level of stress.

One problem-solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can. Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution. Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how will it be done, when will it be done, who is involved and where will it take place.

8. Manage Your Time

At times, we all feel overburdened by our ‘To Do’ list and this is a common cause of stress. Accept that you can not do everything at once and start to prioritize and diarise your tasks.

Make a list of all the things that you need to do and list them in order of genuine priority. Note what tasks you need to do personally and what can be delegated to others to do. Record which tasks need to be done immediately, in the next week, in the next month, or when time allows.

By editing what might have started out as an overwhelming and unmanageable task list, you can break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks spread out over a longer time frame, with some tasks removed from the list entirely through delegation.

Remember as well to create buffer times to deal with unexpected and emergency tasks, and to include time for your own relaxation and well-being.

9. Learn to Say ‘No’

A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it.  And yet in this situation, many people will still agree to take on additional responsibility.  Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress, and may also help you develop more self-confidence.

To learn to say “No”, you need to understand why you find it difficult.  Many people find it hard to say “No” because they want to help and are trying to be nice and to be liked.  For others, it is a fear of conflict, rejection or missed opportunities.  Remember that these barriers to saying “No” are all self-created.

You might feel reluctant to respond to a request with a straight “No”, at least at first.  Instead, think of some pre-prepared phrases to let other people down more gently.  Practice saying phrases such as:

“I am sorry but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”
“Now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something.  Why don’t you ask me again at….?”
“I’d love to do this, but …”

10. Rest If You Are Ill

If you are feeling unwell, do not feel that you have to carry on regardless. A short spell of rest will enable the body to recover faster.

Today’s article has been shared from the following website: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/stress-tips.html

 

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5 Reasons Why Having Faith Is So Important

Faith talks in the language of God. Doubt talks in the language of man E.W. Kenyon

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” — Thomas Aquinas

Why is Faith so Important?

Sometimes, when things don’t go according to plan, we lose faith, not only in ourselves but also in any potential outcome in our lives. Failure will do that to you. When we experience life’s monumental failures, it’s easy to lose hope and even faith.

But what’s the difference?

Faith, at its core, is deep-rooted in the expectation of good things to come. It goes beyond hope. While much of hope lives in the mind, faith is steeped in the heart and the spirit. It can’t be explained away by reason or logic, or be understood through a single dimension.

While life can be hard at the best of times, faith is the knowledge, deep down inside, that things will get better. It’s taking the next step when you can’t see the entire staircase. Simply put, life would fail to have reason if we didn’t have faith.

We couldn’t drive our cars without faith that someone wouldn’t cross the divider and crash into us. If we didn’t have faith, how could we fly in an airplane, a metallic machine soaring 35,000 feet in the air? Without faith, how could we move from one moment to the next without completely second-guessing every last thing that we did?

Without faith, we couldn’t expect that things would turn out all right for us no matter what the situation might be.

Faith, then, is just as important as the air we breathe. While the oxygen in the air nourishes the body, faith nourishes the heart and the soul. It’s the energy that courses through every single fiber and cell within our beings. It’s part of every muscle and every strand of thought. It is the fundamental foundation of our existence.

Simply put, the importance of faith cannot be underestimated.

People have moved mountains with their faith. Even when situations seemed dire and bleak, it was their faith that carried them through. There’s little to no explanation for it in the physical realm; it’s the metaphysical fiber that binds us all, carrying each of our deepest wishes and desires. That’s where faith lives.

Unfortunately, some people don’t believe in things that they cannot see. They explain things away due to other causes and effects, failing to find the small miracles in life that exist and work in our favor on a constant basis. There’s an enormous level of importance attributable to having faith in life.

5 Reasons to Have Faith

Faith isn’t just a notion that some people hold onto in tough times; faith is an important element of all human life on earth. Life is precious, but it can also be remarkably difficult at times. Faith is what helps to get us through, illuminating the pathway in times of darkness, helping to give us strength in times of weakness. Without faith, we are nothing.

Here are 5 reasons why having faith is so important in life.

#1 — The focused power of faith breeds abundance

The mind is an incredibly powerful tool. It can be used for good, but also go to waste when neglected or abused. In times of trouble, we tend to move away from positivity. We go from a state of abundance to a state of lack. But, faith is the tool that helps replenish abundance in the heart and the spirit, not just in the mind.

Whatever it is that we focus on in life, we get more of. If we focus on problems, we live solely in those problems and have difficulty moving past the negativity. Alternatively, however, when we focus on positivity and seek out solutions, we can resolve our problems and move from a state of lack back to a state of abundance.

When we train our minds to think in abundance, and we hold unwavering faith, we gravitate towards that. We attract good things because we believe and expect in good things to come. Similarly, when we believe and expect bad things to come, we also attract that into our lives.

Faith is the pathway for abundance, so be sure to hold it at the forefront of your mind. Don’t be afraid to expect the very best for yourself. This isn’t about being selfish or aimlessly wishing for things; this is about the true, utter, deep-down belief in your heart and your soul that things will improve, and that you deserve the very best in life.

#2 — Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

There’s a powerful story in the bible called the Book of Job. The story is about a man named Job who was as astute as any man could be. He believed strongly in God and held high is faith. But the story goes that one day the devil paid God a visit. The topic of discussion? Job’s faith.

The devil reasoned that Job was faithful because he had been blessed with so much in life. Family, money, land, and respect. But the devil proposed that should God take any number of these things away from Job, he would no longer be the faithful man that God held him up to be. The devil claimed that Job would curse God and that his point would be all but proven. God, of course, disagreed.

So, this agreement began when God began taking things away from Job’s life. Over the course of these trials, Job loses everything that he had worked so hard to create over the years. His livestock, all his money, his family, his friends, and his health. However, even when his wife told him he should curse God, Job didn’t. He remained faithful.

Afterwards, God restored all of Job’s worldly possessions, family, and health. To add to that, God multiplied what Job once had many times over. The moral of the story? Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Times might be bad and you might want to throw in that proverbial towel. But never lose faith. For a person without faith is likened to a stream without water — they would cease to exist.

#3 — Faith helps you to discover your purpose in life

Going through life and all of its ups and downs can take a toll on us. At times, it’s enough to question our very existence. But through all of the trials and tribulations, we might face, it’s faith that gives us that helping hand. It works to guide us in the right direction, moving us towards and allowing us to discover our purpose in life.

This doesn’t happen overnight. Usually, when we’re faced with a difficult situation, it gets harder before it gets better. Little by little, a part of us is broken, until one day, we dig deep down inside and somehow find the strength we needed to make it through. That strength comes from our faith. Whether it’s your faith in God or in something else, that faith shall set you free.

Everything in life is far easier to get through when we have faith. It’s the guiding light that helps push us towards our purpose.

#4 — Faith trumps stress, anxiety, and fear

It’s easy to allow stress, anxiety, and fear to run our lives. We go from moment to moment worried about one thing or another. Sometimes, those worries manifest themselves in highly-stressful situations, causing not only mental anguish but physical problems as well. There’s a clear and documented connection between stress and the increased likelihood of disease and illness.

When we allow our minds to move into that realm unchecked, there’s no telling of the damage that can be done. But it’s faith that helps to keep those things at bay. Even when we have no reason to believe that things will get better, it’s through faith that our situations do improve. When you hold the utter expectation of that in your mind, no challenge is too difficult.

Learn to harbor faith and use it to eliminate stress, anxiety, and fear. Think back to situations in the past when you made it through something you thought was insurmountable. Believe and expect that good things will happen, and they will. This isn’t about ignoring your problems; this is about knowing that your situation will improve deep down inside your heart and your soul.

#5 — It acts as the pathway to finding solutions

Faith is the pathway to finding solutions in life. Keep in mind that human beings were made to thrive, and not just survive. If you’re only surviving, there’s far greater in store for you. There’s a pathway to all of your solutions, and that pathway is steeped in faith and the expectation of greater things to come in time.

No matter what the situation is, no matter how bad or dire you think it might seem, your faith can and will get you through it. You must accept that as fact, and hold on to the expectation of greater things to come. Don’t stop pushing or searching for an answer to help resolve whatever situation you might be facing in your life.

If you really want something in life, and I mean you really want it deep down inside and you have a strong enough reason you absolutely must achieve it, faith is the thing that helps you to see that through. It’s at the core of a persistent heart. Never give up on your hopes and your dreams just because you faced some initial setbacks. Lean on your faith as often as possible and you’ll soon come to realize why having unwavering faith is so important in life.

Today’s article has been shared from the following website: https://www.wanderlustworker.com/5-reasons-why-having-faith-is-so-important/

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Islands of Faith: A Story of Diligence

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only by regularly adding to their island can the Coila family keep from sinking.

Nelson and Dora Coila live on an island—not a typical island made of solid rock jutting up from an ocean or lake—but a tiny island they made themselves of nothing more than floating reeds on Lake Titicaca in Peru.

Building an island and making it your home takes faith. Only about four feet (1.2 m) of layered reeds suspends their family and the dozen or so huts on their island above the 50-degree (10°C) water, and the elements continually threaten to literally disintegrate their island home.

But for Nelson and Dora, their island represents physically what they are trying to build spiritually for their family: an island of faith that will hold together against the world.

What they have learned in the process is that the faith to build must always be followed by the diligence to maintain.

The Reason for Consistency

For the Uros people, who have built and lived on these islands for generations, the totora reed is an essential part of daily living. The reed, which grows in the shallows of Lake Titicaca, can be used as fuel for cooking fires. Its root can be eaten. Its husk can be used for medicinal purposes. And, of course, almost everything is made with the reed: their dwellings, their traditional boats, their watchtowers, the islands themselves, even their trash baskets.

The Uros build the islands by laying down layer upon layer of reeds. But as building materials go, totora reeds don’t last long. The sun dries them out during the dry season. Moisture during the rainy season hastens their decay. And the submersed bottom layers gradually decompose. The continual erosion of the Coilas’ island means that Nelson has to put down a new layer of reeds every 10 to 15 days.

“Building the island was just the start,” he says. “If I stop adding reeds, the island will slowly fall apart. But the more layers I put on, the stronger the island gets over time.”

The Danger of Procrastination

Adding a layer of reeds is not complex or difficult, but it is work. Delaying it would be easy.

Procrastination, however, increases the risk of a family member putting a foot through a weak spot and ending up in cold water. That can be little more than a nuisance for adults, but it’s potentially deadly for little children such as the Coilas’ two-year-old son, Emerson.

So Nelson adds a layer of reeds today, knowing that the safety of each family member depends on it tomorrow.

It’s a lesson about diligence that has made a difference in the Coilas’ lives.

The Effects of Diligence

Diligence is persisting in doing something in spite of opposition.1 Dora first learned how important—and how difficult—diligence can be after she was baptized in 1998.

When Dora was 17, she and her younger sister Alicia were baptized—helping lead to the growth of the Church in the islands of the Uros. About a month later, however, their father forbade them from having anything to do with the Church.

But something odd happened to the girls. They were suddenly less pleasant to be around and more likely to argue. Their father realized that during the time they were participating in Church activities, they had changed for the better.

“It changed his mind,” Dora says. “He began waking us up early to make sure we got to church on time.”

Dora attributes the change the gospel made in their lives to small things she and Alicia did regularly, like paying tithing, praying, studying the scriptures, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and renewing their covenants weekly by taking the sacrament.

Later, having seen for himself the changes that come from faith and diligence,2 Dora’s father joined the Church along with the rest of the family.

The Rewards of Diligence

Persisting in doing what is right—in spite of opposition—is required of the Lord’s covenant people. However, the Lord promises great blessings to those who are diligent in prayer,3 in keeping the commandments,4 in heeding revelation,5 in searching the scriptures,6 and in laboring in His work.7

Through the Coilas’ experiences in maintaining their island of faith both literally and figuratively, they have found the rewards of diligence to be real. “Sometimes we get suffocated by the daily routine of working, cooking, and so forth,” says Nelson. “When we forget God, things get complicated. There are more problems, and things begin to fall apart.”

Nelson pauses to gesture toward a new layer of reeds he put down that morning. “If we are constant,” he says, “if we pray, study, fast, and hold family home evening regularly, we are going to become stronger.”

This articles was written by Adam C. Olson and is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/liahona/2011/07/islands-of-faith-a-story-of-diligence?lang=eng

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