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A Bit A Whit
10 minutes | Nov 3, 2018
Episode 30: Gratitude for the Open Invitation from Christ
Month of November I am going to focus my podcast episodes on those things I am grateful for. As I have taken President Nelson’s challenge to read the entire Book of Mormon by the end of the year, I have been reminded over and over about my Savior who forever stands with open arms beckoning me to come to Him. I’ve mentioned the importance Lehi’s vision of the tree of life has had in my life. Amazingly, after studying it consistently for the last 23 years, I have still had many impressions and bits of inspiration come to me as I have studied it recently. I would love to share one of those insights today. 1 Nephi 8:10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. (Love of God—atonement of Jesus Christ) 11. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted… 12. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit. Beckoned to his family (Sariah, Sam, and Nephi) and they came and partook. Beckoned to Laman and Lemuel. They did not. Point out this all took place before Lehi EVER saw the path and the iron rod. They were never on the path. They simply went to the fruit and partook of the tree. However, we learn interesting things about the different types of peopled discussed after Lehi sees the path and the iron rod which lead to the tree. Different People: -Numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led to the tree. ——-> midst of darkness (temptations of the devil) threw some off—it rose up and they were lost -some press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree and after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed (ends up it was because of those mocking them—and they fell away) ——> people in the great and spacious building (all types, mocking) —other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree. —other people feeling their way towards that great and spacious building, many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads. So—this is one of the things I found fascinating about the vision this go round. One—this whole idea Lehi, Sariah, Nephi, and Sam were never on the path and never held to the rod. When we discuss the vision—that is our focus—the rod. However, the focus should be the fruit—meaning the atonement. We should always be focused on Christ—not necessarily the good things that lead us to him. He needs to be the primary focus. The second thing I have found so fascinating this go round is this. Temptations, the mocking of others, our own desires—they take us from the fruit. But there is no-one guarding the fruit (the atonement) There is no one measuring hem lines or checking for tattoos. There are no barriers, really, between us and the tree besides ourselves. We determine by our thoughts if we value the judgments of those mocking us. We make the choice to heed temptation. Even when we get lost, we can still find our way back and partake of the fruit. Shortly after receiving these impressions, I read through 2 Nephi and was so touched by the words in chapter 26… 2 Nephi 26:24-28, 33 24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. 25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. 26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. 27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. 28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.v 33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. I’m so grateful for a Savior who is always standing with open arms. He is always bidding us, “Come.” He does not choose favorites. He simply asks us to come.
11 minutes | Oct 27, 2018
Episode 029: Love the WHY of Service
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we are our own obstacles. Other people cannot save us from ourselves. In a Church where we are taught to serve and that is so often the focus, sometimes I think we get mixed up in the why behind it. I remember almost ten years ago we were living in Colorado Springs, CO. I had been assigned to visit teach a woman. I can’t even remember the details, I just remember when I went over there how I felt. I felt so overwhelmed. There was so much to do. Her problems were deep. She had physical limitations. Her knowledge of the gospel and activity in it were low. She had many children and not the ability to really care for them. The house was in dire need of attention. The Army had given her husband a lot of compassionate leave, so he was there to help, but it was still not enough. I remember feeling love and compassion. However, what I felt most was overwhelm. I’m not exactly sure what stage of my time in Colorado Springs this was at—however, we lived there for 25 months and I had two babies in that time. I arrived 16 weeks pregnant and Drew deployed four weeks after we got there. He was gone with his deployment and subsequent training for more than half the time we lived in Colorado. So, regardless where it fell in—I was hormonal at a minimum and lonely, overwhelmed, and totally a disaster on my worst days during those 2 years. Anyway—I remember leaving that day feeling defeated. What did I have to give to her? How could I even make a dent in her problems? Did she realize the help and compassion they were being shown by the Army wasn’t going to last forever? What would she do then? I felt the weight of their life burdens. And that is all I saw. The weight of her reality and my weakness in having any way to solve for any of it. And guess what I did. Nothing. I did absolutely nothing. I think I may have called or stopped by in subsequent months, but there is really no more story to tell. I didn’t lift any burdens. I didn’t build any friendship. Nothing. Zilch. “Whitney! This is terrible! Why are you telling me this?!” Well—it’s because I had missed the point completely. I am sure that seems obvious because I didn’t do ANYTHING. But that isn’t what I am talking about. Last week I mentioned how Satan gets us through overwhelm by doing nothing—because we don’t know “exactly” what we are supposed to do. We don’t know “how” we are supposed to help. So—he wins from the get go through our inaction. This is half of it. Maybe more. Feeling overwhelmed and not doing anything is definitely a big part of this failure. I think there is a little more to it, though. Looking back I think, “Oh, Whitney. Your job was not to go in and try to remove any of her life obstacles and solve her problems. You aren’t Jesus. Totally not your job description.” You guys—even if I had the ability to hire a maid service and a babysitter and a cook to get her through her difficulties—that is not the point. The point isn’t in trying to do someone else life. I think the point is in the LOVE that is felt through connection. Had I showed up and folded laundry with her one day while we chatted, or bathed her toddler and vacuumed the floor—the act of service is totally a blessing. Sure—in this case it would be a needle in a hay stack barely making a dent in the vast burdens of her life. However, what would have lasted would have been the love. She would have felt that I cared. We could have connected and perhaps that would give her a little confidence that we are all human and we are all in this together. Isn’t that what this is really about? We can’t save other people through our acts. We can definitely lighten their burdens—but isn’t the real blessing comes when we feel connected and feel LOVE? When we can feel another human saying, “I’m here with you.” One of my favorite scriptures in the BOM has always been in Mosiah 24. So—Amulon was persecuting Alma and his people. In verse 10 it says, “And so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.” Amulon gets upset and tells them to stop and then commands his guards to kill whomever they hear pray. “And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.” My favorite is VS 21 “They poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens, and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God.” We are often the hands that lift the burdens of others. Sometimes it is simply from a phone call to a friend or a smile to a stranger. Heavenly Father is who is able to magnify those efforts to truly strengthen those around us so they can more easily bear their burdens. Ultimately—just like with the people of Alma—he will be the one to deliver them out of bondage. The same is true with us. In General Conference, Sister Joy Jones shared a story of being assigned to visit a family with her husband. Initially they took cookies and tried to get in—nothing seemed to work until they shifted their vision of WHY—because they LOVE God—and they were able to eventually build a relationship with this family. One thing I love about this story is that she doesn’t ever say, “And they came back to church and everyone lived happily ever after for eternity.” Instead, she stated, “Eventually we had a regular prayer and tender gospel discussions together. A long-lasting friendship developed. We were worshipping and loving Him by loving His children.” The result was love and connection. I wish I would have figured that lesson out back when I had the assignment that overwhelmed me so. I wish I would have had the courage to simply connect and love and believe that Heavenly Father was mindful of her and her needs and that I could simply be his hands in any small way I could offer and he could magnify and I could trust it would be well. I wish that I could have given a small offering and believed God would make it great. I wish I would have trusted in HIM and HIS purposes that HE would deliver her. Just as it says in Mosiah 24:21 “None could deliver them except it were the Lord their God.” Had I removed that pressure from myself, I could have simply left my offering and allowed it to be magnified. At the minimum there would have been love. And what a great minimum—leaving behind the only thing that never fails.
7 minutes | Oct 20, 2018
Episode 28: Just Do Something
Friends! I have missed you! Can you believe it? I’m back! It is kind of a Christmas Miracle. We have been having a lot of those around here. If you didn’t know, we’ve had a big surprise that threw me off my game quite a bit. I’m pregnant. I’ve been in the depths of exhaustion, severe nausea, and vomiting over the last several weeks. I am happy to report that I have felt the first trimester nastiness slowly leave and I am starting to feel pretty darn good. Monday I made dinner (another Christmas miracle after weeks of having a hodge podge of things) and my husband told the kids to mark the calendar! On Thursday we got the results of the genetic tests they like to do on old ladies having babies—things look good and we are having a GIRL! Watch out world. Willa Kay Thomas will be here in April and she is named after two strong women. Today I want to talk about the solution to overwhelm. I have felt it so much lately. I have had such limited energy and such a minute capacity; however, I still have many things to do to keep our household running and many things I would LIKE to do to contribute to the world (like this podcast and my business). I don’t know about you, but this makes me quickly spiral into overwhelm. Not feeling well, pregnancy hormones, and the suddenly getting off my normal life help of Zoloft—definitely has contributed to this spiral. It is easy to feel like life is slowly going to simply overrun me because of my inability to move forward. When I have felt a minute of energy beyond the absolute essential, I have found that energy can be quickly drained by feeing there is way too much to do and feeling as though I have no idea where to start. It has happened so often lately, I have found the solution. Just do something. What exactly doesn’t matter. Simply accomplishing something brings about feelings of accomplishment that will propel you forward, as opposed to sitting in the land of overwhelm and I don’t know. If you are not currently in a stage of survival, this still applies to you. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes I think sometimes we have a tendency to get caught up in the thought that we have a “special mission” to accomplish or we need to do “what Heavenly Father desires for us to do.” These beliefs lead to a lot of endless “seeking” with very little action. I know I have been caught up in this cycle before. Waiting to know what I’m supposed to do before taking action. However, I believe this is a pattern that completely misses the mark. I think this is where Satan’s skill of inserting a lie into a mound of truth throws us off. We are to do good. Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us. However, I think the distorted truth is that there is only ONE path and we better find it or we are totally screwed. I believe the truth is as we move forward with honest, valiant, and willing hearts—Heavenly Father is able to take our offering and magnify it for His purposes. Satan gets us to stop before we ever start. If he can prevent us from even starting because we are worried it isn’t the “right” thing, he wins, doesn’t he? Our agency is such a fascinating and powerful gift. We can choose to act and Heavenly Father can then make us more than we could ever be alone. He can’t do a whole lot with with a willing heart that isn’t making any movements. Remember—he will not coherce us or make us do anything. He cannot propel us to action. He can, however, magnify our efforts once they are in motion. So—if you have been feeling overwhelmed or if you have been feeling stuck—just do something! Do the dishes! Write a thank you card! Read to your kids! Take someone in the ward flowers! Go on a walk! Just get out there, show up, and get going. If you are ANYTHING like me—your feelings of despair will quickly be replaced by peace, confidence, and hope. I am so glad to be back and LOVE those of you who have stuck around for my return! I have a lot of exciting plans for the future of A Bit of Whit. Believe me—I’ve had a lot of time in bed to think about it. If you want to be in the know—either head to my website (abitawhit.com) and click on the link to be added to my newsletter—or drop me an email at email@example.com and tell you me would like me to add you to the list and I will do it. I’ll be back week!
12 minutes | Aug 14, 2018
Episode 027: My Kids Teach Me the Best Lessons
Sometimes I escape life and sit in the bath tub. When I am stressed because I have a lot of things to do-it tricks my brain into believing I am actually doing something on my list. If that doesn’t make sense to you-it is because it doesn’t make sense. When I am stressed and overwhelmed-i just want to quit (as mentioned in last week’s episode). Somehow sitting in the bath or eating food makes me think I’m working on the to do list—instead of quitting. At the end of the day, I guess it is just procrastination. I’m working on it. Anyway, I was sitting in the tub listening to a podcast and my daughter, Jane knocked on the door. I can’t even escape when I try to escape! Anyway, I turned off my podcast so I could hear what she was saying. She said, “Nora is crying so much and it is annoying.” I asked if she knew why she was crying and she said, “No-it is just so much and she won’t stop and it is annoying.” I told her to go down and see what was wrong. See-I had turned on a show for Nora before hiding in the tub-so she probably had been calling for me to help with the TV and I simply can’t hear with the fan and the podcast going. These small interactions with my kids always show me lessons in real life. I have many of these moments when I feel like Heavenly Father is saying, “Do you see now?” What do we specifically learn from Jane and Nora-a few great lessons: First-Nora’s annoying behavior has nothing to do with Jane. Nora isn’t trying to bug Jane with her crying. She responding to her own heartache (which I later learned was the television volume—I know—such a travesty!). I see this in marriages all the time, too. A woman feels like her husband is mad at them because he hasn’t really shared much since he arrived home. By the end of the evening they are in a full blown fight because the wife has made it mean something. When they get down to the bottom of it, the husband had made a mistake at work and was simply thinking through how he was going to correct it. Not only was he not mad at his wife, he wasn’t at all thinking about her AND he was in a place where he probably needed her to reach out to him. Isn’t that crazy?! Jane could have totally solved Nora’s TV volume issue if she had just gone downstairs and asked what was wrong. The wife could have felt closer to her husband simply by inquiring what was on his mind and if she could help him with anything--she may even have been able to help him come up with a solution to his mistake! Second-Nora’s behavior wasn’t what was annoying Jane. It was what Jane was thinking about Nora’s behavior. How do I know this? Well-if Nora’s crying made Jane annoyed—regardless of where in the world Jane was—if Nora started crying—Jane would feel annoyed. I’m pretty sure that isn’t happening. It is only sometimes when she is around Nora’s crying that she has thoughts that make the crying annoying. There are other times she is immediately compassionate and looking for ways to help and soothe Nora’s soul. Nothing near annoyed—definitely more compassionate and full of love. I totally identify with Jane. Sometimes I want to blame my annoyance on Nora’s crying. Sometimes I actually do. However, the biggest teacher for me is when I am feeling great, have had good sleep, and am not hungry—often times—the crying doesn’t bother me AT ALL. I am able to make a joke and we all laugh instead. It is really only when I am tired, hungry, and haven’t taken care of my basic needs that I want to hit my head against the wall with any crying or fighting. Isn’t that so fascinating? My annoyance has everything to do with me and very little to do with crying child. Third—Nora blamed the TV’s volume for her sadness. Again, it had nothing to do with the TV’s volume. It was the thoughts in her head about it. The funny thing is—the same thing was happening to Jane (she was blaming Nora for her thoughts)—and I was in the tub blaming both of them for me being annoyed that I wasn’t getting some peace and quiet while I was hiding in the bathroom. I guess this is a part of human nature. When God asked Adam about partaking of the fruit, he blamed Eve. Eve owned up, but blamed the serpent. And so on. So—what is the harm in blaming others for our actions or feelings? Well—at first it may seem like there is an advantage—we don’t have to take the responsibility. Sure—that might seem attractive at the outset. However, if everyone else could “make me annoyed” by their actions—I’m stuck forever in a life of annoyance if those around me act a certain way. However, if I choose to have 100% responsibility over me—I get to show up and have whatever experience I want to have—all based on my own thoughts about what is going on around me. Crying or fighting kids? They are alive! They have bodies! They trust you can help them! They can breath! They desire to communicate! It is all in how you look at the situation. Do you see this? Ok, friends! Choose something you have decided is out of your control and you have allowed to, therefore, make you annoyed or somehow miserable. How can you switch up your thoughts to be more productive about the situation? Drop me a not on FB or IG under the post for this podcast and tell me what you think!
11 minutes | Aug 4, 2018
Episode 026: Quitting
Today I am in the midst of overwhelm. I have a lot to do and instead of doing all the things I am spinning my wheels. I have felt a significant amount of discomfort while thinking about what I “need to do.” Friends—so much of what I “need to do” that is hanging over my head and making me feel uncomfortable is completely optional. It has to do with this podcast and my business. Days like this I sit and think, “Why in the world am I doing this to myself?” I have a confession. I am a really good quitter. I am totally fine throwing in the towel when something is hard and I start thinking the self inflicted discomfort in unnecessary. I’ve quit extracurricular activities and lots of jobs. I joke that part of my love for moving a lot is because I can run away from hard situations because I know we are never anywhere for too long. One of the earliest experiences with quitting was—in high school. The thing to do was to be on the dance team. I love to dance, but I had only ever taken dance when I was five and I could tell you about learning a kick ball chain, but that was the extent of my actual dance knowledge. Our dance team was really good—I worked hard and did not make it my freshman year. Sophomore year I tried again. My friends helped me and I made it. But it was hard for me. Hard and not fun because I was terrible. Then I was met with opposition. I got crazy nasty pink eye at dance camp which interfered with learning what I was supposed to learn there. At some point I tore my glute—so I was sitting out because I was going to physical therapy. These things just made the hard harder. So. I quit. I still remember walking in to talk to our head sponsor and told her I was done. There have been times when I look back at that experience with confidence and other times with shame. I think overall I feel a net negative about the experience. The interesting thing about quitting—is that it more or less takes care of the “hard” in that moment. I never had to feel the hard of dance practice again or the humiliation of being cut from the preformances. However, because I chose not to go through the hard and get to the other side (the end of the season, each performance, state competition, improvement in my abilities), I instead had a relief temporarily and instead have a life long discomfort of not having the blessing of improving, overcoming, and completing. My husband makes enough to meet our needs and I don’t have to work. Days like today I start wondering why I couldn’t be content with life before starting my business. Before starting this business, I could meet friends whenever and the day was mine to do whatever. I could hang out and chat or I could stay home and clean or simply stay in bed. Whatever I wanted. I didn’t feel stressed or scared about the things I was doing in my life. Perhaps EH, but not stressed, scared, and uncomfortable. As I have been thinking about this, I have thought about Ether 12:27. 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them. This scripture reminds me that when I approach Christ, he shows me my weakness so I can become better. It’s easy to think, “Why get closer to Jesus if he is just going to show me my weaknesses? That is so painful!!!” However, the rest of the verse is so telling. His grace is sufficient and he will make those weak things strong. I have seen this over and over in my life as I seek to approach my Savior. It is interesting because I find my podcast and business are related to this. I am asking more of myself so I can become more—become a better version of me. I am not satisfied with my prior self because I have already grown and expanded my capacities—but yet being in this new place is not comfortable, either. Doing this new and uncomfortable thing shows me how much I don’t know and how much I lack. However, I need to move forward with grace for my discomfort and mistakes and know that with time I will become a better version of myself. Maybe that is the key. The going through. The being uncomfortable. The internal renovation of my soul. When I think about my life over all—while I can think of all the times I have quit, I am actually pretty good at completing things. I completed College. Mission. Graduate School. I’m still married. I’ve wanted to quit being a cat owner—I’ve stuck it out. I haven’t abandoned my kids. Even though this is hard for me and it is uncomfortable and sometimes I wonder if my efforts are for naught, I think of the words of this scripture: 6 “I would show unto the world that afaith is things which are bhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the etrial of your faith.” If I want to grow, learn, become, and increase in capacity—I have to hope for things I cannot see. Like becoming a better version of me--I cannot see who I will be, but I have to move forward and I will not receive a witness until after the struggle. Here is to powering through and being uncomfortable. Hard things are worth it because of what is on the other side of the hard. Don’t quit.
17 minutes | Jul 27, 2018
Episode 025: We are all the Rich Man
Mark 10:17-31 New International Version (NIV) The Rich and the Kingdom of God 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[a]” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Rich man giving up all his money for Jesus and he didn’t do it (at least we don’t have it recorded). It’s used a lot, I think, to tell people they shouldn’t want or have money. Oh Friends. It was not at all about the money. It is about our heart and where it is focused. With each of us, it is always something. I don’t watch a lot of tv. But I have generally had one or two shows I find and love and watch pretty consistently. Several years back, I had found one I loved. I think there was one or two seasons on Netflix when I started watching it. Once I had caught up-I would wait patiently until the next season came out. If we had DVR at the time-I would record the season and jump on the day after and fold laundry while I watched. So-time out real quick. I want to interrupt this story to insert a personal belief here. I don’t ever believe there is a one size fits all the same way commandment—for example—me keeping the sabbath day holy and you keeping it holy might look totally different and if I did your way—I might not be keeping it holy—but when you do your way, you totally are. I think that is why we have developed brains and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ok. Back to the story. Well-one day I had this prompting. Stop watching the show. YOU GUYS. I was so sad. Wait, what?!? I am a good girl! It’s not even a bad show!!! What in the world? I felt so frustrated. “We live in this world that has all these terrible things and this show is way mild on the spectrum of super pure and virtuous to foul and immoral. Why in the world do I have to not watch the show?!? Another quick time out—can you see why I am not telling what show it was? Bc the show isn’t what mattered… The thought came to me-“if this was the only thing I asked of you-the last thing you had to drop in order to have a fullness of joy-would this show be worth keeping a grasp on? Do you want this recorded as the thing you would let go of (see the above parable)?” Well-obviously not. So I stopped watching it. Not super happy about it. But I stopped. I wish I could say that was the end of the story and I was quick to obey and remained faithful never looked back. But I ended up totally have a Lot’s wife moment (the looking back-minus turning into a pillar of salt). I don’t remember how long later, it may have been a couple years, honestly. The show came to mind and I got so curious. You guys. I had little kids and lots of laundry. The hits of dopamine from feel good shows was so amazing in my postpartum, mom of small kids state. I ended up watching the rest of the series. I know. So disappointing. I totally was the rich man who couldn’t let go of his money. Well-except if my story was written in the Bible for all people to learn from-they would have used it as a great example-while I eventually failed. Whereas, we don’t know the ending of his story-he could have eventually been unable to resist the pull of our Savior’s magnetic love and he may have given all that money away to follow him. A few lessons here. One-don’t judge we should apply to the stories in the scriptures. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in a gospel doctrine class when someone starts ripping on this guy or Lot’s wife or the Israelites or Laman and Lemuel or King David etc etc. Friends. We are them. I am them. These stories are for us to learn from. (I am obviously doing a very human job of that-full of fallen imperfections.). Second-we can be resolute and strong one moment or even for months-and we can still eventually give in. It isn’t hard to simply not watch a show. You guys. If that was supposed to be a test to see if I would give up anything for the Kingdom of God-I so failed. And talk about for a mess of pottage. We are talking a handful of hours for brain candy while I folded laundry. This wasn’t even piles of money that bought me whatever my heart desired during my mortal experience. This was 100% a mess of pottage and totally not worth the kingdom of God. (Totally not saying I’m damned-I know Jesus has my back here. I am simply illustrating the importance of His grace because even in simple things-I fail and fail and fail again.) So-it brings me to now. There are a list of about a half dozen things that I carry around in my soul that I know the Spirit is prompting me to do. I know these things aren’t make or break. Nothing in this life is. But-I also know I am being prompted to do them because I will be blessed. I’ll share one. Again-remember-this is an individual prompting for me. Stop looking at my phone in my bed. 😆😱. So easy. This is a brass serpent. Ask me how I am doing? Well-maybe the “carrying them around in my soul” should be a good hint. I’m failing terribly. Why won’t I let go of this habit? Why won’t I trust that it will bless me and bring me more enduring happiness? Even the carrying it around is no fun and uncomfortable. It’s like I make it worse by just not submitting to the prompting. Not only do I not receive whatever He is trying to bless me with, but I also carry around the cognitive dissonance and the guilt and the ugh. Palm to forehead emoji. Why am I so frustratingly human. So-back to the rich man. Wow. I so relate with him. I really hope it was simply his personality to think about it for a long time and then give all that money away. I’m so impulsive and I’ll follow and I will do it (I would have probably been like, “here Jesus” and then after a few months I would probably have figured out how to make more money because I “forgot” how important letting it go was—we are all just different in our pitfalls of discipleship.). However, I’m the one that gets tempted by second guessing and the distance of time, space, justification, fatigue, the whole idea of “it doesn’t really matter” strength that I talked about in episode 13. So. Here is to the practice of life. To new days, weeks, moments, do overs, to the seventy times seven. To the atonement of Jesus Christ. To being patient. To trying again. To submitting. To seeing the beauty of our imperfect state. To gratitude for our own experiences and the ability to choose and learn for ourselves.
15 minutes | Jul 20, 2018
Episode 024: We are the Same
I have really been trying to get out and walk in the morning. I need to do something for my anxiety and our dog needs to get out. It has been a really good habit for me to establish. Somedays I listen to podcasts and other days music. I have come to find that music is a great background for me to get some good thinking done. I was walking and thinking about exercising. I need to get in better shape and there is an opportunity here to work out with other moms. There are many upsides to it; however, I found myself as I was walking getting hung up on the stage of life many of the other moms are in and feeling dread. Most have kiddos in running strollers. I admit, I am about to tell you some ugly thoughts I had that I am not proud of full of stereotypes and incomplete truths. However, in order to illustrate my point, I have to share them with you. Please know my comments from the episode on judgement completely apply to me and I recognize how all of the judgments running through my head that day were completely a reflection on me and how I feel about myself and where my insecurities lie. I started thinking about how most of these women are 7-10 years younger than myself. Most are on their first or second child. They worry about things like germs and kids being around each other if one has a runny nose. They don’t even consider having more than two children because how could you totally micromanage every aspect of their lives and attend to the every whim of your child and completely control them in public—and they judge those who have more and aren’t in total control (oh the irony—do you see me judging them?). They pack huge diaper bags and are anxious about stomach sleeping, forward or rear facing car seats, safety features, early potty training, and screen time etc. They insert themselves into every interaction their child has with someone else that is not going the “perfect” way. High strung. Beautiful bodies. Perfectly controlled lives. As I was having these admittedly horrible thoughts, I felt different from them. Separate. Better than? Definitely jealousy and envy. I dreaded the thought of becoming friends with them. They are perfect, young moms. I’ve gained 20 lbs and my kids have access to way too much media and sugar. Like—way too much. I felt like a bad mom just thinking about it. (Side note—which I know this is ridiculous because I know I am a great mom—my kids are alive and they smile and laugh a lot!) Part of me felt they were overboard and “first time moms” while the other part of me felt inadequate because I haven’t lived up to the ideals I had when I thought about becoming a mom. So—while this not so uplifting thought process was occurring in my head, I had the most painful, yet, compassionate thought. “Whitney—what would you have thought about you when you were in their place. Six or seven years ago. Austin was 1 1/2 and Jane was an infant.” I almost completely broke down overcome with tears while I was walking. Friends, I was/am them—they are me. Instead of separate, we are the same. This was true in some of the details I was getting caught up on in my “ugly thoughts.” I was still super thin and cute with cute kids. My life probably appeared perfect and I had all the new mom quirks. I was anal about nap time and schedules. I was too anxiety ridden to do anything adventurous. I absolutely know there were women who thought of me how I was thinking of these women 5-10 years my junior. They probably thought I was a know it all with a great life and that I just had no idea. However, what they didn’t know was that I was in one of the hardest periods of my life. While I have always been blessed with wonderful friends and a supportive family, there were times I felt terribly alone. Drew seemed to be gone every time something difficult happened. I went from someone who felt a certain social status due to my own accomplishments and work, to someone’s wife and some kids’ mom. I had my first really painful experience with what I would call “mean girls.” I was really struggling. I only needed love. So you see—I had created a barrier between myself and these women. A sort of me verses them. A separation. We were more different than the same. However, they were me. They are equally important, unique, valued women. Most likely, they are carrying a heavy burden and need love. I need to love them with the kind of love I needed and give them the compassion I needed then. The most fascinating thing about the whisper from the Spirit I received is how it blesses and lifts me. Sure, when I show up kind and loving in my best form—it does bless those around me. However, when I have these compassionate and loving thoughts about the women around me going through the stages of early motherhood and little kids—I feel so much better. It is such a better feeing to have compassion, empathy, understanding, curiosity, and love; as opposed to judgment, jealousy, and separation. It occurred to me as I was pondering and walking that this isn’t just true about me and this category of women. This is true for all humans. We are all much more alike than we are different. We are made by the same creator and we all have some of his diety within us. We are all down on earth having our first experiences with faith (we didn’t have to have it when we lived with God) and physical bodies—and imperfect ones at that. We all long for the pure love of Christ that we felt in the presence of God—because that is who he is—love. We all ache to replicate those feelings. To feel loved. To give love. To be love. Are you feeling separate from others around you? Do you have thoughts like, “They can’t possibly understand me.” Or “My life is so different than theirs.” Or any other thoughts that keep you isolated, separate, alone, divided, apart? Is it possible there is another way to look at it? Can you possibly see yourself in them? Can you see a part of you that simply needs love and understanding and someone willing to smile and reach out? Be that woman! Don’t wait for others to become the solution. Be the solution. I don’t know that I will participate in the fitness opportunity here. I don’t know if it is what my body needs (I’m thinking more yoga studio than high intensity interval training). However, I do know that I will probably try it out! Even more important, I know that I will reach out to the women who participate and pull them into my circle. I want to be the woman who includes all in her circle. I want everyone to have a place. I want to feel love, give love, and be love. It is such a better way to live. Have a great week!
8 minutes | Jul 9, 2018
Episode 023: There are Refugees Among Us
For a year or two durning my time at BYU, I lived with my sweet friend, Melissa. There were certain songs that we would blast—many of them songs of worship on the sabbath. One song we both really loved and played on repeat was the song, “Safe Harbors” by Michael McLean. I can sit here and feel all the feelings I would feel as we would play that song and often sing at the top of our lungs (Melissa—did you sing? I remember singing—I’m always kind of singing). I have often thought in the years since that time nearly twenty years ago about the lyrics of the song. “There are refugees among us who are not from foreign shores; and the battles they’ve been waging are from very private wars. And there are no correspondents documenting all their grief, but those refugees among us all, area yearning for relief. There are refugees among us. They don’t carry flags or signs. They are standing right beside us, in the market checkout lines; and war that they’ve been fighting, it will not be televised, but the story of their need for love is written in their eyes. This is a call to arms to reach out and to hold-the evacuees from the dark. This is a call to arms—to lead anguished souls—to safe harbors of the heart. Can you see through their disguises? Can you hear what words won’t tell? Some are losing faith in heaven, ‘cause their life’s a living hell. Is there anyone to help those, who have nowhere else to flee? For the only arms protecting them—belong to you and me. This is a call to arms to reach out and to hold—the evacuees from the dark. This is a call to arms—to lead anguished souls—to safe harbors of the heart. Can you feel the pleas of the refugees—for safe harbors of the heart.” Friends—I absolutely know the lyrics of these song teach a pure truth. Often when we are asked to look for and serve the “least of these” we may actually look beyond the mark. We skip our own families, friends, neighbors, and associates and jump across the ocean to people in far off places who live in much different circumstances than our own. I think we may even seek these great and grand needs to fill—sometimes out of our own desire to feel we are “really doing something.” Additionally, it is sometimes easier to leave your life for a week, a month, or even 18, to do “the Lord’s work” completely—as opposed to doing it little by little in every moment and day we live. Do not get me wrong—I am not implying these efforts are bad in any way. I am suggesting that Heavenly Father loves ALL His poor and rich children alike. I don’t necessarily believe He only wants us to seek those who live in temporal circumstances less than ourselves; I believe He is much more worried about our spiritual circumstances and health. Often times, those who are poor in the things of the world are wealthy in spirit and those who are wealthy as to the things of this world are poor in those things of the spirit. We live in the most incredible time and with incredible freedoms and blessings. The freedoms we enjoy are a gift of our ability to utilize our agency to a great degree with much latitude of expression and choice. However, we see that those gifts of choice and lives of relative ease and abundance have brought so much sorrow. There are people all around us who are lonely, isolated, spiritually lost, eternally poor, completely detached in their soul—their physical bodies and their spiritual bodies are not connected. It is so essential that we look outward and into the eyes of those around us. There are refugees everywhere around us. They may even be your spouse, neighbor, child, co worker, relief society president, grocery store checker, insurance sales man, pediatrician, your child’s teacher—they can anyone around us, really. We must open our eyes and really see. Then with the truth we receive by really looking; we must choose to be vulnerable and reach out. Smile. Say hello. Make plans to get together. Go on a walk. Make plans to serve jointly. Share a book you are enjoying or the latest treat you are loving. Connect and lift. We have power to change the world. Each individual using their agency to open their eyes and see and their hearts to connect and love—will bring us all into a Safe Harbor. We can embrace those around us and bring them into our lives and our hearts. Friends—this is what changes the world. Not law makers. Not business owners. Not grand people of influence. You and me opening our eyes and getting to work.
15 minutes | Jul 1, 2018
Episode 022: Friendship
Lately I have been thinking a lot about friendship. Making friends comes up often in my own life, as our family moves a lot. Additionally, I have had people confide in me that they do not feel they have friends or they are not happy with the friends they have. So—what is friendship? Google says: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. That is a VERY short definition when compared with the list of things some might give you for what friends are and are not and what they expect from their friends. Brooke Castillo/Jody Moore—teach that we carry around what they call “The Manual.” I like to think of it as a huge and heavy book that we carry around as though our friends came with an owners manual. It tells us things like, “When I text a friend, they should text back in x amount of time.” Or “If a friend comes to visit near where I live, that friend should call me or we must not be friends.” Or “My friend was short with me in the hallway today, they must be mad at me.” Or “I invited them to dinner and they haven’t returned the invite—they must not be the kind of friends I believed they were.” Or “She doesn’t call me now that she has a husband, I guess we are not friends anymore.” Or “Her son died and she wouldn’t let me come over to visit, I can’t believe she wouldn’t let me in.” Do any of these sound like things you have heard before? Have you bought into the idea that a friend must add benefit to your life? That they must reciprocate the way YOU friend? That there is a quota for time spent together equating to how good of friends you are? These are all very interesting things to consider. Brooke Castillo says to throw your manual out. Just throw that thing away. I agree. Our creator didn’t provide an “owner’s manual” for each of us or for our relationships—in this case friendships. Instead, He has given us the scriptures and the words of modern day prophets. Often times the things we are advised to do feel uncomfortable or down right wrong to us. Matthew Five: Eye for Eye 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Love for Enemies 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Love one another as I have loved you…He was willing to give his life for us. Are you ready to love your friends with that kind of dedication? Oh—and he isn’t just talking about us loving our friends. But our friends are definitely included in this. There are two scriptures I love concerning Christ and the kind of friend he is. I feel like both are represented by the painting “Christ Waits Knocking at the Door” by Del Parsons. Do you know the one? Christ is in a red robe knocking on a door that is shut and has no knob on his side. The scriptures are 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” The second is Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Jesus Knocking at the door. Del Parsons. https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/jesus-at-the-door-39617?lang=eng http://delparson.com Are we like this? Do we wait for our friends? Are we there for them regardless of if they seem too busy or have moved away? Do we make our friendship about ourselves-or about loving them and being their friend? Why are we making it all about us? Could it be that being a friend is purely about being there for them? Remember how I talked about love and the perfect love of God and that it is perfect because he is perfect and he gets to feel the benefits of that perfect love at all times—whether we choose to feel his love or not? I have many, many friends. There are people I love so fiercely who I rarely speak to because life has taken us in different directions. However, when I think of them I feel so full of love and affection and I love that feeling. It is such a better feeling than thinking of them and wondering why they haven’t been in touch lately and believing they don’t care about me any more. In all honestly, that is none of my business and completely out of my control. What is in my control is the thoughts and feelings I have about them. I get to show up for them as I choose. I think it is first about being a friend before you have friends. Christ loved us before we loved him. We can choose to love those around us first. Invite them over. Introduce yourself. Smile. Serve. Show up. Join a group in your community and actively participate. Friends—this week, the podcast is sponsored by my first course, Marriage ReBoot. This course is designed for LDS couples who are in need of a new start in their marriage. The beauty of the course is it can be done individually, or as a couple, and be extremely beneficial for your marriage. My first run of this class will kick off July 23rd and last for six weeks. Those who register for the course during this inaugural launch will be founding members of my monthly membership program that will kick off after the course completes 1 September. If you would like more information, please visit my facebook page or website abitawhit.com and join the waiting list. OR—send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and simply put “Marriage ReBoot” in the subject line and include your full name and email address in your email.
11 minutes | Jun 25, 2018
Episode 021: Thoughts on Service
Let me tell you about a few experiences I have benefited from personally—these acts will never be forgotten. They generally happen when my husband is gone—we had just adopted our dog, Shadow, and somehow he got stuck in the kids room and had diarrea everywhere. My first dog ever and I was at my wit’s end. I don’t remember all of the chaos of what surrounded the circumstance, but a friend was over and she went right to work cleaning it up. Drew was away—miscarriage—my mom was there. Drew away—baby—mom, mother in law, sisters came. Drew away—help gone—two year old gets RSV and is admitted to the hospital. I have a five week old and a three year old at home. One friend keeps the three year old over night, another stays with my infant and my mother in law drops everything to fly back. Mother in law stays with my kiddos—friends bring me food and do milk runs—taking my pumped milk to my newborn a few times a day. Husband gone—serious craving cafe rio—make a comment about it on FB—woman shows up at my door—with Cafe Rio she had made a day earlier and felt prompted to make extra. Well—thank you Heavenly Father for being so mindful of me. Husband gone. I was sick. Friend comes and gets my baby and keeps him for the day. Details are foggy—but I remember feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude. I also have memories of helping others in similar circumstances. I feel bound to those I have served—the messier—the more in need—the more I feel so much love for them. I’m not sure if it is that they allowed me to help them? That they were willing to be vulnerable? I mean—I have had the chance to help some of the most independent women and men in their times of need. I think there are some fallacies about service. That it has to be hard. That it has to be inconvenient. That it always looks like making someone dinner. Can it be those three things? Absolutely. Sometimes it is inconvenient, hard, and sometimes it is making dinner. However, I think more often than not, there is some sort of amazing magic happening in the background. Heavenly Father gave me specific talents. Those things—particularly those I have magnified—come to me easily. I love to do them. They are enjoyable for me. When I come across someone who can benefit from those things—it is this win win situation. I am able to do things I am good at and I love. The person on the receiving end is able to receive those blessings. We consistently hear about how the Savior is “hastening the work of salvation” in preparation of His return to the earth. I think there are a tendency at times to feel stressed and overwhelmed at the thought of “having to do more.” I don’t think that is at all what is being asked. I think we are being asked to know how Heavenly Father communicates with us—and He will place situations in our path that we can contribute to in our own unique way. He is the master logistician—He has this incredible way of getting all the pieces in strategic places. He has the ability to magnify our small offerings by placing us in the right place and at the right time to contribute in a way that will have a much more effective result than what we could do on our own seeking service opportunities. I think we become the most useful instruments when we 1) know who we are and what our strengths and talents are 2) intentionally magnify those strengths and talents 3) have worked to know how the Spirit speaks to us 4) have a desire to be an instrument 5) act when the spirit beckons. What if you don’t know how the HG communicates with you? If you have a thought to do something that will bless another, just do it! Friends—this week, the podcast is sponsored by my first course, Marriage ReBoot. This course is designed for LDS couples who are in need of a new start in their marriage. The beauty of the course is it can be done individually, or as a couple, and be extremely beneficial for your marriage. My first run of this class will kick off July 23rd and last for six weeks. Those who register for the course during this inaugural launch will be founding members of my monthly membership program that will kick off after the course completes 1 September. If you would like more information, please visit my facebook page or website abitawhit.com and join the waiting list. Have a great week!
13 minutes | Jun 18, 2018
Episode 020: The Gifts of Being 100% Responsible
Friends, if you haven't noticed, I have a thing for agency. In some ways, I feel like my eyes have suddenly been open to how everything on this earth has to do with agency. Anyway, last summer Elder Lynn G Robbins gave the keynote address at BYU's education week. I have really loved Elder Robbins since he was the presiding authority at a stake conference when we lived in El Paso. Hearing him speak makes me thirst to know the scriptures better. His talks--especially at the local level--are absolutely jam packed with scripture and you can tell how much he has studied, pondered, and received insight. Anyway, here I was, already a fan of his--and then he gives this key note address and completely knocks it out of the park. It is one of my most favorite talks ever. I truly believe if you study his talk and implement his counsel--your life will forever be changed. "Why?" you say. Well, there are endless gifts that come from being 100% responsible. I want to share a few of my own personal stories and then give you some ideas of other gifts I have seen as a result of being 100% responsible. If you have not heard his talk, really, right after you listen to this--go listen to that. So--when I was probably a sophomore in high school (really-I am not sure what year it was) I gossiped about my friend, Ashleigh. I have no remembrance of what I said, but the experience it brought about led me to a life lesson that I will never forget. So--I had said whatever I had said about Ashleigh (let me say--I always really enjoyed Ashleigh and I'm sure whatever I said was tied to my own insecurity and self loathing rather than Ashleigh--but we all know when we make judgments and say unkind things about others it is often a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, right?). Ok--So--I had said whatever I had said about Ashleigh and she found out. We were at a party one weekend and I remember she asked to talk to me and we had a conversation in the garage where she confronted me and said she had heard I was talking about her. Do you know what I did? I straight admitted it. I told her exactly what I had said and told her I was a jerk and that I was sorry. I will never forget how she almost looked confused--as she had not EVER expected I would just own it and apologize. I honestly don't know if Ashleigh even remembers this, but I should ask her if she does and what she thought. Regardless of what she thought--I was given a huge blessing that day. Was it embarrassing to be called out--sure. Was it comfortable? Nope. Was I proud of what I did? Absolutely not. However, I gave myself the greatest gift that day by simply owning it and apologizing. A weight was lifted from my shoulders and there was nothing hiding. I couldn't take the words back, but I could apologize and say I was sorry and wrong. I couldn't change how Ashleigh felt, but I definitely was able to improve my own feelings by taking responsibility for my actions. Totally different scenario. Yesterday was my birthday. Every few years my birthday falls on Father's Day (interesting fact--every year my birthday falls on Father's Day, my oldest sister's birthday falls on Mother's Day--it just dawned on me how funny that is--because we always joke she is my mom's favorite and I am my dad's--so I guess it is fitting). Anyway, so--not only was my birthday on a Sunday this year--it was also on Father's Day. I'm pretty used to the idea now. Saturday evening I realized we didn't really have plans for my birthday. Drew went out and picked up steaks, potatoes, a brownie mix, and stuff to make Italian sodas. While he was gone, I texted my dear friend whose husband just left to another duty station before deployment next month and invited her and her kiddos over for my birthday. I figured--I wouldn't be imposing on them even though it was Father's Day (it would actually probably be a pick me up on a semi bummer day because dad is away) AND my husband would have her 12 year old son to watch the World Cup with, our kiddos would have some of their favorite friends to play with, and I would get to have some good time chatting with Drew and my dear friend. It was a total win and I was excited for the day. Oh--and I ordered myself an amazing gift that Drew was happy to say was from him and he had done the same for himself for Father's Day. Some would say this sounds like a downer birthday hosting friends and buying your own gift. Some would think my husband and I are super lame and unromantic because sometimes we just buy our own gifts. However, it was such a wonderful birthday. I know that if I leave my husband to get me a gift--he feels stressed because he doesn't know what to buy--and if he feels a lot of confidence in what he is buying--that is generally a bad sign to me because it means he has bought something HE really wants me to have (ie--definitely something I would probably choose to have--ever). So, we have learned that buying our own gifts is super helpful. Instead of moping around because I didn't have birthday plans--I took responsibility for my day and it was such a great one. Obviously, I could give thousands of examples when I did not take 100% responsibility. However, I share these two antidotes as small examples to illustrate how simply taking 100% responsibility can bless your life. When I take 100% responsibility, my mind starts looking for possibilities to solve whatever problem I am facing. If I decide to abdicate my responsibility, that choice leads to excuses. Those excuses lead to being stuck in a horrible realm of victim mentality. While we cannot control what happens to us, we can absolutely control how we respond. We can look to go above and beyond to find a solution, instead of falling back on the all too common answer of, "that isn't my responsibility." When I take responsibility for my life--I take back my power. I can realize MY life is what I make it--it will never turn out magical due to a random throw of magic fairy dust. However, I can make choices, develop habits, and stick to routines that daily are small and simple, but consistently done bring great things to pass. I have noticed when I take 100% responsibly for my life, I am much less critical of others as I am fully aware of my own deficiencies that I am taking 100% responsibility for. I am quicker to build up and slower to tear down. I am more patient and kind. I am more likely to humble myself and apologize. My relationships improve. I have more confidence in myself. I am happier. You know why? It is absolutely the worst feeling in the world to make excuses and feel powerless. If you have ever felt absolutely powerless in life, what changed things for you? I can absolutely can tell you--in my own experience and in the lives I have witnessed--taking back your power by accepting responsibility is so healing. I challenge you to look for evidence of this in your life and the lives of those around you. If you know someone who is going through something horrible and challenging and they are doing well--ask yourself why? How are they making that happen for themselves? If you know people who are simply not progressing in life--do they seem to lack a sense of personal responsibility. It is everywhere. I would love to hear how you are taking 100% responsibility in your life and how it makes a difference for you.
14 minutes | Jun 11, 2018
Episode 019: The Parable of the Talents
Yesterday, I was talking to a friend on the phone. Somehow we got on the topic of church callings. (For my listeners who are not LDS, https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-lay-ministry) I was telling her about how I have come to realize that in the past, I was looking for my church leaders to validate my skills and worth through the callings they assigned to me. Looking back with this realization is both a little bit embarrassing to me, and also quite fascinating. Anyway, I was explaining to her that having this podcast has removed that element of pressure from my specific assignment in my local congregation. For example, I am currently the secretary in the primary. You guys—I was pretty much prepared for and had thought through the scenario of being called to most callings; however, being in the primary as the secretary was not at all on my radar. I have not spent much time in primary. In the past, by this point (a few months into an assignment), I would be starting to feel uncomfortable, unhappy, and discouraged because I would probably be thinking, “I have all these talents and they are not in these areas—I could be contributing in such a more effective way elsewhere.” However, because I have this podcast—my need to share and contribute is being met elsewhere and I am now able to see my church assignment as value added. It is another area I can serve, and I am increasing my abilities and talents by being assigned there. This made me think of the parable of the talents in a different way than I had before. I think I have mentioned before that I am a firm believer that commandments are there as guides to bless us. It isn’t a vending machine like process. It isn’t like I say, “I want more blessings than I have room to receive.” And so I “deposit” paying tithing into the vending machine and out comes the blessing. It isn’t a cause and effect. An input and an output. They aren’t disconnected like a piece of money entering a vending machine and a candy bar. Rather, they are completely connected—maybe like the process of being sculpted. In the example of tithing—you pay tithing and the process of the tithe is what makes you into a person who receives blessings. "Wait, What?” You say! Yes—you heard me right—it living the commandment that makes you into the person who has more blessings than they can receive. So with tithings—when you pay a tithe you are first giving back to the Lord 1/10th of your increase. In order to do that—a few things are at work. Faith. Gratitude. The belief there will be enough. These things make (or sculpt) you into something actually different. A person who continually pays tithing with intentionality in doing so, actually becomes a different person (which is true for all commandments). A Roman Catholic Economist named Arthur Brooks, gave one of the most fascinating speeches at BYU that gives more insight into this matter. It’s called “Why Giving Matters.” I have a link to his speech on my website in this episode’s notes. (Why Giving Matters by Arthur Brooks https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur-c-brooks_giving-matters-2/). Anyway, we do not receive a witness until AFTER the trial of your faith (Ether 12:6). You really have to experiment and live a certain way to receive a witness of the truth. OK—so back to the parable of the talents. I’m going to read it from the NIV for readability and so you can hear talents being called what they are—money. It is Matthew 25:14-30 Read from NIV The Parable of the Bags of Gold 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For so long, I always looked at this parable much like a vending machine. I increase my talents/money and later Christ will reward me with more. Not really connected. One event and then another. However, as I was thinking about my current situation calling wise and my efforts with this podcast, I saw how, AGAIN, keeping a commandment is not at all a vending machine experience. It is much more a sort of hand crafted sculpture (if you are listening and you feel like you have a better analogy for keeping the commandments, drop me an email). Let me explain. I have come to know I have been given a gift as a teacher of the gospel. For my adult life, until recently, I believed that if I was to have that calling used or magnified, I was at the mercy of my leaders recognizing my talent and calling me to a position where I can use it (I’m a weirdo who would love to teach gospel doctrine for the remainder of my days on earth). However, I have found that each week I am able to share with my listeners. I have the ability to share my gift as a teacher—which in this unexplainable way meets a need in me. It fills me up and brings me more contentment than anything else in the world. I feel something I would label as joy, peace, and fulfillment when I write, record, edit, and share each episode. And what has that done for my “talent/bag of gold?” It has been increased. I have felt growth, progress, and an expansion in my abilities. Additionally, I feel content in my assignment at church AND I am learning additional skills and I am earning money (in air quotes) on that investment, too. See—there is no vending machine. It isn’t a put one thing in and get one thing out. It is—put one thing in and become molded and multiplied and increased. It is the process of doing these things that brings the multiplication of the blessing. Likewise—if I had let fear take over and never started this podcast, a talent would be buried. My current calling would cause anxiety, heartache, and sadness. My talents would diminish. That “money” would be taken away—and without the Lord ever physically having to do it—the process naturally removes them. I think this is fascinating. It is another outcome of seeking to identify your gifts and purposes. Heavenly Father absolutely will show them to you and as you use them to bless the lives of others, you will see them multiply and become more than you ever could have imagined. Have a great week!
16 minutes | Jun 4, 2018
Episode 018: Perspective
I realized the other day driving on a two lane highway near our home with Drew, how different I am as a person when I am driving and in a hurry and when I am driving and relaxed. We were going the speed limit (55mph) and quickly three cars rushed upon us. One by one they passed us only to quickly find themselves piled up behind another vehicle going the speed limit. I saw their brake lights go red off and on as they were each riding close to the car ahead of them. It made me think about how when I am in a rush—all I can think is how everyone is in my way and no one is driving fast enough. I do not enjoy the drive and I feel stressed out. However, when I am not in a rush, I can enjoy the day, the landscape, and it is easy to see how overly stressed out those who are rushing seem. Perspective. It’s like we have zoomed in real close when we are in a hurry and we zoom out when we are relaxed and are not in a rush. About a year ago in General Conference, Elder Stevenson talked about the solar eclipse that occurred last year. How the moon—which is many times smaller than the sun—appeared to be the same size as the sun as our perspective from the earth was such to appear to completely cover the sun. He used the comparison of a pebble to a bike tire—the pebble being the size of the moon and the bike tire being the size of the sun. Such a contrast in size, but for that period of time, our perception from earth made them appear equal. That a little pebble could blot out the tire. It is just like the analogy of not being able to see the forest through the trees. You get so stuck on a tree, you are unable to see the vast forest. I’ve felt this occur in my own life at times. Our brains are amazing instruments. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Our eye sees what our mind believes.”? Think about a busy airport. There are thousands of people and conversations go on around you. People are getting off planes and getting on planes. Announcements are being made over the loud system. However, our brains are so amazing—they are able to pretty much filter out what is not necessary for us to hear so that we can focus on what we do need to hear. You know how they are always looking for people and paging people in an airport? I don’t know that I ever really catch the name of who they are paging—and if I do—I forget it within seconds. However, if my name was to be called over the loud speaker—I would immediately tune into what is being said. Our brains are able to zoom in and zoom out in a way that serves us so well. They zoom out as we are sitting there and zoom in when we hear our name called. It serves us so well. However, there are areas in our life where there is much more choice in the matter and we have to manage our brains. If I have a bowl of cookie dough in front of me—it is easy to zoom in and fixate on eating the best treat known to man. However, if I can manage my brain to zoom out and look at the whole picture of my health and well being—I am able to take a couple of bites and be done—and even at times completely abstain—knowing that there will be another chance for cookie dough and I need to focus on food that contain less sugar and more nutrients to feed my body and help me achieve life goals that depend on good health and adequate energy. Have you ever been upset with someone and you have felt consumed by it? Anything they say and do—you totally zoom in and make it mean something about you. However, if anyone else did the exact same things or said the same thing, you wouldn’t think twice about it? Because you are zoomed out on the others and zoomed in on the one? What about a piano—we have all heard a three year old sit on a bench and pound on those keys. If that was all I knew of a piano—I would hate the instrument and definitely NOT want one in my home. However, I have heard the most beautiful music played by those who are incredibly talented. I also have felt my soul soothed as I have played hymns and felt the Spirit of the Lord. I love my piano because I know what it is capable of. What about the gospel. You guys—my feelings about the gospel of Jesus Christ are great and vast. I see the hand of God in everything around me. I have seen Jesus lift and strengthen those who have dealt with the toughest of struggles. I have see miracles. I have seen Christ strengthen those who weren’t as lucky and didn’t receive the miracle they were looking for. The magnificence of the human body. The brilliance of the human brain. The overwhelming euphoria felt from love and service to others. The beauty of the earth. The cleansing power of the atonement. The healing balm Christ has been to my wound soul. That is what I have felt when I am zoomed out in perspective or consciously zooming into those areas that grant me strength. However, I have also felt the straight ickiness and confusion of searching out my doubts and adding fuel to their flames. I have seen the impact of this on many many friends. It has become a very interesting pattern I have seen. Step one. Have questions and doubts. Step two. Feed those flames. Make the pebbles bigger than the tire. Step three. Leave the church. Step four. Slowly shift the manner in which you live—because often these friends find the slippery slope to not only a lack of belief in the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they ride that slope often to being atheist. Particularly when they have struggled with historical issues and the imperfections of man within the LDS Church. Imperfect humans are all we have to work with here. That is all you are going to find in any church and any history known on earth. Step five. Get divorced. And so on. As the foundation has shifted from a firm one built on Christ full of confidence and surety to a sandy one built on unknowns and our own natural desires. We are absolutely to ask questions. Drew and I were initially married civilly, as he had not yet been a member of the church for a year. The man who married us, Sterling Knapp, taught me many things. However, the most important thing he taught me is this. If the gospel of Jesus Christ is true—all questions are fair game. I can ask any question and seek answers from the Scriptures, Fasting, Study, Prayer, Meditation, and Righteous Living. If I do those things, I will find answers. I think it is important to point out where those answers are coming from. They take time and effort and personal work. The do not come from google. Don’t get me wrong—I have studied and learned and been blessed by truth coming from all sorts of places found by my favorite search engine. However, I have also learned that I have a built in internet filter. It is built into my gut. I can tell pretty quickly when I am seeking for answers in the wrong spot. I feel icky. My feelings are a lot closer to the feelings I have when I am in a hurry and hate all of the drivers around me and farther away from the feelings I have when I am driving without a care in the world. What are those feelings? Well—we know people are disciples of Christ when we see them emanating love. That is often my first clue. Does this feel like love to me? Ephesians 5 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. So—if it is goodness and righteousness and truth—we should see/feel the fruits of the Spirit—which we learn in Galatians are: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance… Oh my dear friends—let’s seek to feel love in all we do. If you are not feeling love (or the other gifts of the spirit) shift your perspective. Zoom out. Seek the blessings. Look for the hand of God in your day. Write down everything that could not simply be a coincidence. This is such a better way to live. I promise—I have many moments—sometimes days at a time—when I am not living in this space. When I am living in the driver seat of a car that has somewhere to get to and somewhere to go that is more important than everyone around me. When I can simply be in the moment and enjoy the ride—that is when I feel the fruits of the spirit, my faith is strong, my confidence is unshakable. Will you join me this week? If you would like an email on Wednesday applying this episode specifically to marriage, go over to my website and sign up for my weekly newsletter “A Bit of Whit Wednesday.” Have a great week!
11 minutes | May 28, 2018
Episode 017: The Beauty that Comes from Adversity
Visit My Website: www.abitawhit.com You can find information on the painting "The Homecoming" here. Adversity—sometimes even the mention of it makes us cringe and can bring forth anxiety. If we allow our brains to be unsupervised, all of the things that could possibly go wrong can wreak havoc on our lives—without even happening. We can mourn future events—that may or not even happen—and lose the beauty of today. I remember one time I started going down the crazy thought rabbit hole of “What will I do when my dad dies?” You guys—I love my dad. I cannot even describe the sadness that overcame me as I played with this scenario in my mind and the tears fell. I was ugly crying over my dad dying. Meanwhile, he was sitting a half dozen states over perfectly fine living his life. (This is such a good reminder to me of the power of our brains. I was having immense physical feelings—not due to anything other than thoughts in my head.) It is so interesting how we torment ourselves with these unsupervised thoughts. Things from the past—we like to fight them and we bring so much drama upon us by not just accepting them and moving on. Things in the future—because of their uncertainty—can bring a spectrum of excited anticipation to dread, fear, and doubt. Again—nothing has happened. We are in our current state—completely fine—but our thoughts can rob us of being in the now. I’ll talk more about these things in a later podcast, but I point this out because the never ending potential of life challenges and adversity often binds us in unnecessary chains of fear and misery. It’s funny to me because even being completely aware of this—and knowing I am about to talk to you about beauty that comes from adversity—there is a slight part of me that has the superstitious type thought, “Oh great—I’m sure by saying beauty comes from adversity on my podcast is going to bless me with a great dose of it. Do I really want to bring that upon myself?” See—our brains are amazing. They have the best of intentions to keep us safe—they have done a great job of that since the caveman era. However, we have to make sure we let our brains know who is in charge so their efforts to keep us safe are utilized in a helpful way. Anyway, last fall I read the book Unseen Angel by Alissa Parker, mother of Sandy Hook Massacre victim, Emilie Parker. As I listened to her book, I thought of how incredible and sacred Alissa’s experiences have been since the death of Emilie. What a heart wrenching, life wrecking, devastating event. However, the beauty, clarity, goodness brought from the event was far greater than the ugly terror that occurred on the day of the shooting. If you haven’t read the book, you absolutely must. After reading the book I started seeing this pattern everywhere I looked. I thought about 9/11 and all of the horror that day brought to the world and the wars we have participated in continually since then. There is so much sorrow and sadness in all of it. However, I can tell you story after story of goodness and beauty that happened that day (even in my own life, as I was working as an intern in Washington, DC that fall day) and from the awfulness that has ensued from war (again—from my own experience as a military spouse). When the horrific mass shooting occurred in Las Vegas, this thought was again brought to mind when the artist, Angela Reichman, painted “The Homecoming.” On October 3, 2017 she wrote the following as a caption to her painting on instagram, My soul is screaming in a cacophony of noise and emotion as I try to understand and cope with all the many recent tragedies at home and abroad. My opinions will only add to the noise, and so instead I turn to. My palette and the Spirit for comfort. It is my belief that when a person’s spirit is taken from this earth, that they are welcomed back to their heavenly home by not just God, but those who they knew and loved during their life that passed before them. Here, the departed family, friends, and perhaps ancestors pull their loved ones from the darkness and chaos into light and peace. This painting is beautiful. It shows the contrast of the confusion and terror of those moments being overcome with Heavenly Beings welcoming those whose mortal lives were taken that day. Often in the 24 hour news cycle after an event like this occurs, there will be stories shared of heroic acts—strangers carrying strangers to safety. People using their own bodies as shields to protect others. These moments of horror caused by few individuals are overcome with peace and love by countless angels—seen and unseen. We see this everywhere—a hurricane occurs and produces flooding throughout Houston. You share your boat to rescue those who are held captive by the water. Groups of friends come together to go door to door and muck out the homes of strangers. How often do we go about our days, weeks, and sometimes years not even knowing our neighbors, let alone entering their house to do some serious physical labor. Times of peace and prosperity—while comfortable—become soured and spoiled by a world made up of individuals who can do things on their own. However, when tragedy strike—we become one. There is so much beauty that takes place in the midst of the affliction. More beauty—hands down—than the original mess of the adversity. Elizabeth Smart. I feel connected to Elizabeth and she has no idea I exist. When she first went missing, I was spending six weeks at my Aunt’s house in the beginning of the summer of 2002 because I had mono, my mom was busy helping with my sister who had a high risk pregnancy and my dad was busy with work. I did a lot of tv watching and the two big stories during that period of time were Elizabeth Smart’s disappearance and John Gotti. Anyway, I also remember where I was when I heard she had been found. I was in Old Town Alexandria, VA. I will never forget calling my aunt and saying, “Did you hear the news?” Elizabeth’s book is another must read. The circumstances she faced were awful. You could easily say no one should ever have to endure those types of things—particularly a 14 year old girl who was so kind and innocent. However, as you see the events unfold—and the good Elizabeth has put into the world due to her life experiences—what a gift she has been to everyone. What an illustration of beauty coming from adversity. This reminds me of Joseph of Egypt. His brothers were jerks and tried to kill him. However, as you read the path his life took—look at the amazing beauty Heavenly Father is able to orchestrate out of the awful use of agency on his brothers’ parts. Joseph was able to save, lift, and provide for his family. All were blessed in the end. To me—all of these examples are illustrations of what we read in Genesis 3:14-15. This is what God says to Satan after he has tempted Eve and she has partaken of the fruit: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon they belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt though eat all the days of they life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise they head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Hebrew bruise meaning crush—so Satan can bruise our heel—but we can crush his head. Good always will win. It is the idea that a dark room is brightened much more by one candle than a bright room. The adversity (or darkness) is an opportunity for good (or light) to shine. I know that opposition is necessary. The process it provides us to learn and grow is irreplaceable. Have you found this to be true in your life? Who would you be without the adversity you have faced?
18 minutes | May 21, 2018
Episode 016: Why the World Needs You
Visit www.abitawhit.com Why we are all different Symphony/orchestra—all sound different—no one better than another. Think of how boring it would be if we went to a symphony and everyone was playing the same instrument because they had determined it was the best instrument and they were all playing the same melody because they had determined it was the best part. So boring! The great part of the symphony is the diversity in the instruments, their sounds, and their individual parts. Our talents are to bless others—not to be used to compare—“oh—she is so pretty” She doesn’t see herself unless she looks in a mirror—her beauty blesses you. She can play beautiful music—who benefits from hearing her beautiful music? She is such a good friend and has so many friends…who benefits from her friendships? We each are sons and daughters of God—we all have divine attributes. What are your attributes? What are the attributes of those around you? You will see the world in a whole new way. You are the only YOU. There will NEVER be anyone else who could take your place and do you. What happens when you let go of comparison and focus on your gifts and area of contribution? You are set free. You are free to enjoy the gifts of the people you admire. You are free to feel love and gratitude for them. You are free to share the love and life. You are free to notice your own gifts and magnify them. Identify them. Notice them. Pray to see them. Look at your patriarchal blessing. Ask the people who know you best for feedback. Do some journaling. In episode 2—I talk about self love. I have had many insights about that topic since that time. (Sidenote—I used to feel so much shame and embarrassment when I had grown in my understanding and there was evidence of my incomplete understanding in the past—now I have this podcast—it is totally out there for everyone to see. However, this has shifted too—I am so grateful to have the documentation of where I was and my growth—end of side note). Anyway—my friend Michelle messaged me and said, “Whitney—um—Jesus totally had self love—but the way to really articulate it is SELF UNDERSTANDING. Because He knew who He was—He didn’t have to worry about where He stood with those around Him or feel insecure or question his worth.” He knew exactly who He was. He never shied away from letting them know who His dad was—but He also did not walk around puffed up because of who His dad was—because, quite frankly, He fully understood who those around Him were, as well. Children of God. Friends—I think that is the key for us, too. I feel like we can stop worrying about ourselves when we understand who we are. Understand who made us and whose we are (think Punchenello in the book "I am Special"). When we are aware of our strengths—we can magnify them and share to bless. We stop thinking, “poor me—I have no talents.” You guys—your talents are not for you anyway! Poor you nothing. If you have no talents—poor us. That just means you get to benefit more from everyone else’s gifts more than we are going to benefit from yours. It is not about you! This sounds harsh—but I think when we realize this—we stop being downers and we get to work. Not because we have to prove anything—but because it is so amazing to contribute. You feel good when you can contribute. If you have decided you only have one talent—blow that talent out of the water. Let’s say you are good at taking people dinner. Girl—take someone dinner every time. Take multiple people dinner every night. Look at all the good you are doing in the world. Let’s say your talent is simply being mindful to leave a public restroom better than you found it. I have stepped foot in many a restroom in my life. I have been super grateful for the clean ones and I know the horror of ones that could use a toilet flush and a toilet seat wipe. Get some Clorox wipes and wipe those toilet seats and flush those toilets! It will bring you joy. Wake up! And do something more—than dream of your mansions above—doing good is a pleasure—a joy beyond measure—a blessing of beauty and love!” We need you and your talents! Show up in the world! We need you!
17 minutes | May 14, 2018
Episode 015: Perfectly Imperfect for Me
Visit abitawhit.com A transcript, more or less: Moms are totally hard on themselves. I am. We think we need to be better or different or someone else. People tell you, “You’re the exact mom your kids need!” It is often really hard to believe. My mom has always struggled with not feeling good enough. She hates mothers day. She generally says self deprecating things and doesn’t go to church to avoid the all the feelings of failure. It’s all really sad, honestly. Her view. Her thought that she is not enough. Her belief she has failed in someway. However, in honor of Mother’s Day this year, I am going to tell you about my mom. The good and the not so good. And how she is the PERFECT mother for me. All of it. All of her. I needed it all. My mom taught me how to love. My brother would bring some sketchy people home and she was hug them and smile and show them love. She showed me that light is attracted to light. If the “sketchy” friends were simply hard shells around scared goodness—they would continue to come around. They loved my mom and her friendly eyes and hugs. If they were bad news—they would not feel comfortable with the hug and the smile and they wouldn’t really come around. She has taught me to always be aware of those who have less and to recognize the abundance of blessings in my life. She grew up in a time when the haves and the have nots were all combined in one neighborhood. You could live in a little house and have barely any money and there were well off people down the street. I believe this is a better model than what we have now—segregating socioeconomic groups—but I digress. Anyway, she was fully aware of her poverty because it made her different and her life that much more challenging. She has instilled in me an awareness of those who have less. Additionally, her childhood in poverty taught her many skills that have blessed my life. She is innovative and scrappy. She can come up with just about anything out of nothing. Give her a budget and she will live within it and make things work. She knows how to find a deal and to also be generous. Her childhood of having less really magnified my mom’s creativity. I have always believed—and still do believe—that my mom is the most naturally gifted creative. When I was young, I had this belief my mom and my sisters were the creative ones. I was just really lucky to have them. Because I had given her the title of being so naturally gifted and creative—for some reason I subconsciously made it mean I was not. Like I said—it was her thing and I really got to benefit from it. However, in the last few years, I have had some awakening and clarity in this area. You guys—I am actually pretty creative! I can totally decorate my house each time we move with ease—and I generally love it. I can take a piece of art to a frame shop and pick out a frame and matting that looks amazing. All. By. Myself. I know I received these skills through my DNA and I feel so grateful my mom passed them to me. My mom has spent a lot of life in bed. She has had, and continues to have, many physical and emotional challenges. I think her inability to physically have the energy to carry out her incredible creativity and fulfill her desires has been heart wrenching for her individually. I also think she has carried guilt and shame in how she may believe this has impacted her ability to mother. I must tell you—I have come to be so grateful for this experience in my life. When I left for college I was 17. I felt completely equipped to take care of myself. I could shop for and prepare food, budget money, clean and organize, do my laundry, manage my own time. My mom did not get a college degree, but she is an educated women and taught me the importance of learning and growing. I am so grateful for all those times she read to me. Countless hours. You know what—when I hear her reading stories to my kids I am tempted to just go and snuggle in and listen to her read. I love her voice. My mom taught me to be affectionate. She was always available for a hug. I could count on joining her in her bed in the morning. She may have felt shame—like I often do—that I am not up and ready before my kids. However, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I am so grateful I could snuggle. My mom was so good at talking to me. She would pull me out of school and take me to lunch. We would people watch and chat. She would bring me as her sidekick with her friends when they would go places. Now that I am a mom I recognize this was probably out of necessity—if she didn’t bring me (I was the youngest) she wouldn’t have been able to go! However, she made me feel wanted and needed. She always was interested in the contribution I gave. I always have felt that she enjoys me and my company. When I went to college we chatted daily (this was before cell phones—my parents were totally willing to buy me phone cards from Costco so I could call home as often as I wanted). I could always confide in her. She is an amazing listener and empathizer. My mom was always interested in me and what I was doing and the relationships I had. I would come home from a date and she would ask if he was a good kisser. She had such a great balance of teaching me to be virtuous, but completely comfortable talking to her. Really—I knew I wasn’t having sex until I was married by the age of five (maybe earlier). I didn’t completely get what that was, of course, but I knew that sex was for marriage. A phenomenal example of my mom and her incredible parenting (honestly—she was so ahead of her time—no one had taught her the skill I am about to share with you—she just knew how to do it and it was brilliant). One night at dinner in the forth grade, I asked my parents what oral sex was. I know—you guys—pick your jaws up. Ok—so what does my mom do? She continued to act as though I had simply ask what precipitation is. She responds with, “Well—what do you think it is?” I told her…I don’t know—moaning? I mean—every time there is a kissing scene on TV they are kind of moaning. Oral—moaning” She said, “Yeah—no. It’s just when mommies and daddies kiss each other’s privates.” Me: “Oh.” Seriously—conversation over and we just moved on. No big deal. She didn’t make it a big deal. She told me an accurate, age appropriate response. I knew I could always ask her things and not get in trouble for asking. She would educate and that was that. When my friends were getting married they would generally talk about being so nervous about the wedding night. Many felt they couldn’t talk to their moms. I am so grateful my mom was always so forthright and matter of fact about the goodness of sex, but also its sacredness. Oh—and I made it. While I got myself in some terrible situations—I somehow got out of them and made it to marriage. Just like my mom taught me so young—I didn’t have sex until after marriage. My mom has taught me about Jesus. Just like my dad—I have learned from her actions far more than her words. I have walked in on her kneeling in prayer countless times. I’ve see her scriptures marked up from her personal study. When my husband makes fun of me for always raising my hand in any class at church because I always have something to say, I am grateful for my mom. When I have the opportunity to attend church with her I see exactly who I received my overwhelming desire to share my thoughts and insights with others. Holy smokes—I have felt such an overwhelming pull to share I have a podcast talking about the gospel, named after myself. You guys can totally thank my mom for that! She is open minded and teachable. I was never afraid to share doubts and concerns with my mom—she could always relate and she would then bear witness to me of the difference there has been in her life when she lives the gospel and the times she has stepped away. I am grateful she has always been transparent in her weaknesses and imperfections. She has made me comfortable with keeping it real. She has given me confidence to be me. I can share my faith without fear because of the love and understanding she helped instill in me. I smile at strangers and feel comfortable looking at “scary” people with kind and loving eyes. My mom has taught me they all have mothers. When her kids have made poor choices, she is able to walk with them and love them and help them through their “harder” way. See—just like Jesus. Isn’t that what he does? He helps carry our load when he told us to do it a better way and we didn’t listen—he won’t remove our consequence—but he sure will help carry the burden. That is my mom. When I was pregnant with my oldest—I was struggling with my mom. I had viewed her as my best friend all through high school and college and time thereafter, but for whatever reason I started struggling later. She was coming to visit me and I was super anxious because sometimes I felt like her depression was liquid and I was a sponge. I felt like I would just take it all in and I didn’t know what to do about it. I called my oldest sister and explained my struggle. See—Joy—the oldest—is my mom’s favorite. Seriously—she is. She is amazing. And she helped comfort my mom when my mom was really struggling when Joy was a little girl. Now that I am a mom who has struggled with my own anxiety and postpartum depression—I get it. When you are drowning and you have someone you feel you may be failing so innocent and kind comfort you in your sorrow—it is remarkable, soul strengthening, and leaves a permanent imprint on your life. (This is actually the case with
15 minutes | May 7, 2018
Episode 014: Why in the World Would I Want That?
Visit my website www.abitawhit.com In episode 7, I mention a faith crisis. I talked about it in context looking around and trying to see what the big deal was. What were people freaking out about? Joseph Smith’s imperfections, history of the church people were not aware of, details concerning women and the priesthood. While trying to understand these people led me to look off into the midst of darkness—it was not the cause of my own faith “crisis.” What I found while figuring out what the big deal was to those leaving was they had come across information I had had to deal with as a teenager. I had friends come to school and say things like, “We learned about you in church last night and I am supposed to help save you.” I had a friend who would get her nails done by someone who was not a fan of Mormons. She came to school with tough questions. I figured out my feelings on those things years ago. My personal crisis of faith stemmed more from something most people are drawn to. They idea that we are children of God, therefore, joint heirs with Christ. We have been told we will inherit all God has. We can become like Him. Creators of worlds and posterity without end. Mind blowing mansions on high that we always say we are waiting for our eternal reward. But you guys—inside—being a mom of three young children who were born close together made this idea repulsive to me. I could get over Joseph having a bunch of wives and looking into a hat to translate. I could figure out my way past Brigham Young potentially being a racist. I could get past a lot of uncomfortable things. However, the idea that my reward was to be like God sounded like an eternity of drudgery. I think I established pretty clearly last episode that I definitely was in a place of depression for a stretch of time. I would say this struggle landed smack dab in the middle of it all. I had three toddlers at once and while they are so cute—the “Mom!" "Mom!" "Mom!" constantly felt like having three birds pecking at my face (thank you Jody Moore for perfectly articulating my feelings with this description). All I could think was, “Who needs or wants worlds without ends when you can’t even handle your kids “pecking” your face?” All I could think was that being God would be like being a mother of billions of toddlers at once. All these people who have demands for you. Some who completely disregard you. Some who curse you. Some who only come when they want something. Some who take, take, take all the blessings and then when things don’t turn out their way—they stop talking to you. Little toddlers who really don’t have much to offer you aside from a lot of work and responsibility. Goodness—God is perfect and a whole third of His children left Him because they wanted to follow Satan’s plan (no choice) and not Christs (choice in all things). I just couldn’t see how this was appealing. I would say everything shifted when I began thinking of love differently. I have come to learn through the years that the commandments we are given are definitely life hacks from Heavenly Father. They really are short cuts to feeling happy. Sometimes we resist because they seem illogical, too simple, or maybe more work than necessary. However, I started seeing the heavenly “magic,” more or less, that occurred in my life when I began understanding and more fully embracing some specific commandments. I remember when “getting it” about forgiveness was a life changer for me, for example. You guys—I have even had a title of a book I have wanted to write for about 15 years at this point having to do with the blessings associated with keeping the commandments. But for some reason, I was late to the party in applying it to the greatest commandment to love one another. I don’t know why, but for some reason I think I held onto a subconscious idea that loving our neighbor was totally to bless our neighbor. However, within the last 18 months it clicked. I finally “got it.” When I feel love—I am at my best. When I feel pure love for another person—I am operating at the highest level I think is possible to me. And I have learned that it blesses me WAY more to feel love for someone else than it blesses them. First of all—I can sit in my house and have an experience feeling totally overwhelmed with love for someone that is completely unaware of the feelings and thoughts I am having about them. It is an incredible gift and experience and I am so grateful for it. Once this clicked for me—I thought about my kids. Yes—especially as toddlers there were moments when I felt I was going crazy with birds pecking my face. However, I think anyone who has felt love for a child—whether their own or someone else's—can identify with those moments when you are looking at that child and you feel like your heart my burst out of your chest. The love you feel for them is so overwhelming—if you are anything like me—if you are alone with them—you feel a desire to FaceTime a family member or friend to share the moment. If there is no one available, you may snap a picture and share it on social media. It is simply a feeling that is overflowing and you can’t contain it. It feels euphoric and you want it to spill out from within you so everyone can have a taste of the amazing-ness (is this sounding familiar to anyone in terms of a tree whose fruit is more desirable that anything else—so much so that you simply want to share it with those you love—the fruit that comes from the LOVE of CHRIST?). When this clicked for me, I could finally fit the pieces together. God feels this love all of the time—His desire for us to feel the same way was so overwhelming—He chose to sacrifice His only begotten son so we could have this feeling. Can you even imagine wanting others to have something so much because it was so incredible that you would give up your own child? Wow. Mind blowing. But maybe not when you have experienced pure love. Instead of getting glimpses once in a while, I think becoming like God is having the opportunity to always feel that incredible. You operate out of a place where you desire what is truly best for everyone. That is how God’s love for us is perfect. Like the discovery I shared last week in episode 013—you cannot do anything to earn or loose the love of God. Why? Because it isn’t dependent on you. It is dependent on him and he is perfect. Faith crisis solved. I finally understand the appeal. For me it isn’t worlds without end. It isn’t any material eternal inheritance. It is the appeal of feeling love perfectly and at all times. I cannot wait for that day. In the meantime, I am working really hard to do what I can to feel those things now as often as possible. Join me! I have not yet found a downside to feeling love!
20 minutes | Apr 30, 2018
Episode 013: The Why...and Why it is Essential
Visit www.abitawhit.com President Monson's talk referred to in this episode: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/we-never-walk-alone?lang=eng Transcript: The “good” kid. My parents didn’t really have to worry about me. I had a desire to do well and to please. However, I also had lots of stress and anxiety about being “perfect.” I think I inadvertently believed I had to DO to have worth, be loved, be rewarded in heaven. I was fearful I may not be enough. Fearful of making mistakes. Fearful of not being perfect. There was the perfectionism—which I still really have to work on and remind myself of. Something that has been a strength of mine all through time is of not sweating the small stuff. I feel like I had a pretty great understanding of my worth, so I could handle the big things—it was the little things not working out—and this subconscious belief that I wasn’t good enough as I was—that really was the problem. Through time—my understanding began to improve. I started kind of getting a grasp on the idea that Heavenly Father’s love for me in perfect and unchanging. I remember the day it really penetrated my soul and I feel like I “got it.” President Monson was speaking in General Conference—he said a lot of incredible things in the talk and it was probably memorable for people for other reasons. But there was one line that really stuck out to me. The line was: “My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.” So—add this new found understanding (over-riding my old subconscious beliefs I wasn’t enough) to my strength of “it’s ok—it doesn’t really matter in the long run!” And this led to a steep decline in my wellbeing. Weird, right? Well—first of all—I have to say that I am a believer that any weakness is simply a strength overused. I think I took my strength of “it doesn’t matter in the long run” and added that to the idea that “God’s love for me isn’t dependent on anything specific” and it turned into—well—then nothing really matters, right? My kids can watch too much TV—doesn’t really matter. Whether I do incredible things in my life—eh—doesn’t really matter. Clean house—doesn’t really matter. What I choose to do each day—really doesn’t matter. It will all be ok. It will work out. The details don’t matter. You guys—I ended up becoming more and more depressed and apathetic. While I see this as a pretty defined time in hindsight, I was not aware of these details as I was going through it. It wasn’t a clearly defined event of learning something and then staying in bed. It was more of lots of events leading me to feelings of apathy and slowly taking away my desire to live—because—it really doesn’t matter. So in episode one—I talk about satan’s oldest tactic. Do you see how it had taken a hold of me? Truth—God’s love doesn’t change. Truth—it doesn’t “matter” what I do in many regards when it comes to Heavenly Father’s love for me. However—there was a lie in that all inclusive “it doesn’t matter.” It did matter—to my own personal happiness. Sure—it doesn’t matter to God’s love and feelings about us what we choose to do—He is perfect so He still will get to feel the benefits of all encompassing perfect love. However, it did really matter to MY happiness what I did. Being apathetic and in bed felt horrible. Guess why? Human beings have an innate need to create and contribute. Heavenly Father meets our needs in really phenomenal ways. I didn’t want to be bummed and He slowly provided me glimpses that helped me to “pull myself out.” There were three things that really helped me. One—my incredible friends. I have been blessed to know some of the most phenomenal people on this planet. They range in gifts and talents and personalities—but one thing they each do is lift, love, and teach me. Some show me through the hobbies and passions they implement. Some through their zest for life. Some through their amazing attitudes in motherhood. Two—I had thought about teaching for BYU-I for a while, but finally put in an application. I feel like simply starting something where I was working was so helpful. Motherhood is definitely work, but I need more concrete expectations to work with at times. Three—I found Jody Moore at a pivotal time. I found her two months before she started her membership program. I signed up. I feel like I must have known Jody before this life. She is a soul sister. I believe she committed to remind me of things I had forgotten. And she has. And it has been life changing. Three things have really come alive to me in their importance since getting to know Jody. Loving others is a gift to us. Agency is key in everything. And contribution is essential to our well being. The third is a huge part of coming out of apathy for my life. Once I joined Jody’s program, her first month’s theme was “contribution.” She gave a class to her members teaching about how contribution was usually something she taught her clients further down the road, but for whatever reason she had decided to kick off her membership with contribution—perhaps it was because it was the beginning of the year. I took Jody’s challenge and began contributing. I started taking action on A Bit A Whit. If you are detailed oriented and really paying attention, you will realize all of this was happening in January 2017—I didn’t launch my podcast until January 2018. It’s been slow. I had all of the equipment for a year before I started. I attended Alison Faulkner’s brand workshop in June—you guys—I had no idea what my podcast was going to be about, nor my business. I just knew I had to go. I started this podcast not knowing exactly how it was going to all work out—I just knew Heavenly Father wanted it to be what it is. Slowly He has guided me. There are still a lot of unknowns and I often feel like I am moving forward at a snails pace. However, I feel as though I have come alive. Why? I have come alive because I am finally creating and contributing in the world. I’m not doing it out of fear—why? Because I know that God loves me regardless. I’m not doing it because without doing it I feel I am not enough. Why? Because I have come to know that I am enough—even laying in my bed doing nothing every day. Why am I creating and contributing? Because I have learned that I AM SO MUCH HAPPIER as I live reaching toward my potential. I feel in my element putting value into the world by sharing my talents. It makes me giddy when I hear that what I share helps someone. It’s like—I do this work that is totally “my thing” and then those who it resonates with are finding me and being blessed by it. Because I am creating and sharing—I am so much happier and blessed and those who need what I can give are also happier and blessed. Isn’t that incredible? Heavenly Father doesn’t ask us to do things for HIM. He asks us to do things for US. I have come to learn that what I DO is to bless me and those around me. It doesn’t make my worth increase—I know who I am and can follow the promptings from God as to what I should do and I look for things I enjoy—the WHAT doesn’t matter. It is much more about the HOW and listening to the Spirit along the way. I have learned that I don’t DO in order to EARN, I do in order to LEARN! It feels better than having zero desire to live because “it doesn’t matter anyway.” They aren’t a key to “earning” anything or avoiding punishment. They really are gifts. Life strategies. Keys to unlock real joy and a life that is even better than happy. Our eternal reward has already been taken care of. We have a Savior. This life is a test—absolutely—but we have already failed it. The price has already been paid. Jesus paid it. We now have the opportunity to move forward, learn and practice and seek with broken hearts and contrite spirits as we lift others while lifting ourselves. The biggest difference for me in my life “before” the experience of not caring because nothing mattered and the “after” I have had all these teaching experiences that have motivated me and brought excitement and a desire for life—that I do things because I want to. I don’t do them to please someone else or because I am scared about what will happen when I don’t. I do them because I know Heavenly Father loves me and the Savior has already paid the price. Quite frankly—I am not afraid of what will happen if I don’t do these things—I have been there. I became lifeless and depressed. I honestly had very little desire to live. The only real reason suicide wasn’t an option to me is because I believe death isn’t the end and I figured I would simply have to keep living—and that wasn’t a great alternative. I am so grateful to know the difference. To know that I can do without judgement and pressure—that I am doing this because it blesses me is such a shift in perspective and so freeing.
25 minutes | Apr 23, 2018
Episode 012: The Fascinating Thing About Judgement
Visit abitawhit.com Show notes: My judgement of Drew after we were married and my experience reading the Book of Mormon studying Charity in Moroni 7 (1 Corinthians 13—ironically—or not so ironically— these verses from 1 Corinthians were the ones my mother in law read at our wedding). Moroni 7 44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity. 45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. NIV 1 Cor 13 4-6 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Matthew 7 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholds thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considers not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Matthew 7 New International Version (NIV) 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. So here is the interesting thing about judgment. It says here not to judge because how we judge others will be how we, too, will be judged. I guess I always read that as something in the future. That Christ would judge us at the last day by the standard we used with others. Perhaps this is the case. But what I have found fascinating is that I actually think this is true right now. I think we have all heard at one time or another that the way someone judges another says a lot more about them than it does about the other person. I think that is true. Just yesterday while sitting in church a friend was speaking—he gave such an incredible talk—and I made this connection about judgment and all these things I have learned lately. One thinker in particular came to mind. Byron Katie. I was introduced to her through my coach and mentor, Jody Moore. I’m going to read a little excerpt from Wikipedia about Byron Katie to keep it simple: Katie calls her process of self-inquiry "The Work." Katie's experience, as described in her book Loving What Is, is that all suffering is caused by believing our stressful thoughts. This, she says, puts people into painful positions that lead to suffering, as she recognized to be the case with herself. Through self-questioning, she describes how a different, less-known capacity of the mind can end this suffering. Specifically. The Work is a way of identifying and questioning any stressful thought. It consists of four questions and a turnaround. The four questions are: Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it's true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? Who would you be without the thought? The next step of The Work, the turnaround, is a way of experiencing the opposite of the believed thought. For example, the thought "My husband should listen to me," can be turned around to "I should listen to my husband," "I should listen to myself," and "My husband shouldn't listen to me." Then one finds specific examples of how each turnaround might be true. So—do you see how this relates to the story I told? I judged my husband for not reading his scriptures, but in the end the Spirit absolutely let me know that I was the one who needed the scripture reading. I bet as you seek to see this, you will see it all the time. Here are two other examples I have seen recently that clearly identify this: Woman talking about her son, “He isn’t how he is supposed to be. He is a disappointment” She was obese and made many comments through the week that showed her self loathing. As she spoke about her son the thought that came to my mind was, “How painful—she probably believes the same about herself. She is not how she is supposed to be. She is a disappointment.” What a painful way to live. Last night on FB—someone posted a quandary about an issue at church. Recognizing that we are all volunteers, but feeling very frustrated about the situation in nursery. This gal’s treatment of the nursery worker reflected her criticism of the nursery worker. So—think of someone you have been struggling with. Think of all the judgements you have made. Ask yourselves the questions Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it's true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought Who would you be without the thought? And then do the turnaround…experience the opposite of the believed thought. Our thoughts are so powerful! Our brains are very primitive and a lot of the functions of a properly performing brain (to keep us safe from tigers and fed) don’t necessarily serve us in our current society. Fortunately, we each have higher cognitive thinking. When we really seek to take control of our thoughts, we can have incredible results—our relationships are definitely an area we can improve upon when we take notice of our thoughts and work on them. Have a great week! Whitney
26 minutes | Apr 16, 2018
Episode 011: The Sabbath....A Delight?
www.abitawhit.com https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/russell-m-nelson_identity-priority-blessings/ Hang ups with the sabbath—confining, restricting, hard with kiddos, always feel like I am failing, it became frustrating when I got married—differences between Drew and myself then kids came along—I’ve had issues with the sabbath for a while. Fast forward to about 6-8 months ago. I was substituting as pianist in primary. When music time was done my friend, Kristi, began teaching sharing time. I was half listening and realized she turned the lights off and then I heard Elder Russell M. Nelson’s voice in the Mormon Message talking about how the sabbath was a delight. Let me give you some background. BYU—fireside at the Marriott Center. I remember Elder Nelson speaking and I really remember enjoying his talk. There were only two main points I remembered—he had read a letter from a struggling wife of a medical intern. They had four small children and she felt frustrated about her husband always being away and explaining that to their children—especially after they got older. He then went onto explain the importance of women preparing themselves with education and everything they would need to be good mothers who could pretty much do the mothering thing on their own. He then talked about his own wife, his own busy profession, and their ten children. So—here I was—already carrying a load of guilt because I had been hearing about the sabbath day and keeping it holy as a focus from leaders of the church over the last couple of years, I must have been PMSing, AND this thought of Sister Nelson taking care of ten kids (which honestly—she sounded inspiring to me as a college student—but as a mother of three who feels maxed at three—it felt more impossible and ridiculous). Anyway—I’m ashamed to say that I felt super annoyed that day. As I went home from church and thought about it over that day and the following few days—I honestly became angry. I thought, “Of course he thought the sabbath was a delight! He got to enjoy the spirit in meetings with adults, he got a break from his busy doctoring, and he wasn’t at home with TEN children—trying to keep the sabbath day holy there!” It was bad. [Ok—I need to interject here—this was not my best moment—nor my best three days; however, I am trying to keep it real here. I want to be forth right with any struggles I have and the experiences I have to get to a place I feel more at peace with. I feel that this story is a great example of this.] After being simply bugged and angry for a handful of days, I started really seeking. I started asking friends. I started reading scriptures. I started listening to talks. I mostly started really pondering on it. And what happened? I had a complete change of heart as my mind shifted and I began to see the sabbath day in a completely different way. Heavenly Father definitely teaches us line upon line and precept upon precent. I have had experiences through the years where I have learned how I feel the spirit and what I can be doing to receive a lot of inspiration. I have also learned through time to really seek the WHY of a commandment—instead of simply “blindly” living the letter of whatever law. I just had not applied these things to the sabbath. Maybe I felt like my husband or whatever would always interfere with my ability to keep the sabbath day holy. Maybe I didn’t even see it as a possibility. However, after a few days of stewing and when I started opening my mind with a desire to understand so I could implement this much stressed commandment in my life—I have found so many answers and gained so much peace. I have also started to enjoy the sabbath day—and even look forward to it. One of the thoughts that help shift my own thinking came from my friend, Nichole. I had voiced my concern about not really feeling like the sabbath was a delight in the slightest. I remember her messaging me back and making a comment basically saying—“yeah—I see it totally different. I think of entering the rest of the Lord. I love the Sabbath.” Wait—what? [me dumbfounded] She then shared ways she views it as rest and rejuvenation. It was a complete a-ha moment (and as I am saying these words I think, “was I really so dense that I didn’t see this connection before?”). Nevertheless—it led to a whole new view and I was able to learn so much the minute I shifted my thinking. The Commandment—rest from your labors. What is the WHY? To show a sign to God how we feel about him and to rest and gain spiritual strength to help us throughout our mortal journey. Rest from our earthly/temporal labors. Back in the day—it was a lot of work just to live. Everything took a lot of time and effort. So much of that has now been streamlined. As we have more time available, I also believe we have a lot more emotional and spiritual room for worldliness and earthly worries to take over our minds—these are the things I think we are in need of resting on the sabbath day. Think about any time you turn on a television or social media—we never get a break from marketing messages. There are algorithms that know what we love and what we will most likely buy and they are subtly inserted in our newsfeed. Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing. I am also not making any blanket statements about what we should and should not be doing on Sunday (I actually think it was those statements that made me feel trapped and not like the sabbath at all). I’m simply saying that we are constantly being worked on by the world. What a blessing it is to “check out” so to speak of that world and completely check in to the rest of the lord for one day each week to recharge. I think of the renewal of the covenants we have made at baptism. If we are to focus on those covenants on the Sabbath—we will recognize that all of those covenants involve people. Loving them. Taking on their burdens. Being connected to them. I’ve always felt like it is way easier to live the gospel in solitude while reading my scriptures than to be a part of my family or the world. Perhaps if that is where you find yourself, you should join me in leaving your bedroom on Sunday and participating in relationships and still work to keep the sabbath day. It is probably much more fitting to spend a sabbath day serving neighbors by mucking out their homes after flooding than playing board games with your family at home. I’ve heard people frame this as the "ox being in the mire.” However, I do not think it is the ox being in the mire what makes this activity ok on the sabbath. I think it is that we are serving our Savior. That we are being His hands. That we are not focused on ourselves, but focused on Him and His children. “When we have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me.” You can very much do the “dos” for sabbath day worship and not keep the sabbath day holy….I can keep my church clothes on and only listen to church music and not shop and stay home and take a nap and play games with my family and go to ward prayer….and still be focused on all the wrong things. I can also vacuum my home or fold laundry and have a very wonderful sabbath and become completely rested. So—what is it? What makes the difference? Knowing how the Holy Ghost communicates with you. Young woman in TX who felt close to Heavenly Father kicking her soccer ball around alone. My husband feels closest to the Savior when he goes fishing. I receive revelation most while vacuuming, ironing, and folding laundry and listening to conference talks. As my thoughts have shifted and I have really sought to understand the purpose of the sabbath and seek to more fully honor it in my life—I have learned that it will look different for all of us. Each of us connects with our Savior in a different way. Isn’t that beautiful? Don’t you love how He asks for each of us to individually come to Him in our own way, time, and by our own choice? I don’t know if He would be pleased with me appearing like I was keeping the sabbath day holy because of what my bishop or parents or husband or friends told me I should do to keep the day holy. I believe He seeks my heart and my will and my own submission to what He would have ME do. And that most likely will look different than it does for you. It gives me so much hope that I will continue to more fully love the sabbath day. It gives me joy knowing that my Heavenly Father and Savior know ME. They love ME so much they want me to go directly to them to gain guidance on how to implement certain things in my life. What an amazing gift! And nothing has changed about the sabbath day. My heart has changed.
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