Monday, March 17, 2014

Has it Been Worth It?

Getting published by Deseret Book has definitely been an amazing roller coaster of experiences and emotions. In the past twelve months I've been higher than high, but I've also been lower than low. I mean, low.

I've felt the thrill of the pitch sessions, meetings, and the acceptance. I've had the pressure of deadlines. edits, and expectations. I've felt the fear of rejection and the doubt if I could write another book. I've had women tell me I've inspired them, and I've had one tell me I am a horrible person who needs therapy. That one hurt.

I've been exposed to all sorts of things that I never would if I hadn't written and published a book Most of them good, but some were just plain bad.

A week ago I asked myself if it was worth it.

A week ago I wasn't. I was tired from the promotional trips. I was frustrated at the business end of being published. I felt as though all of my efforts to 'extend my reach' had been in vain, and felt the pressure of meeting the high hopes of my publisher. I felt like I was failing.

Then I had an experience that changed my perspective. I spoke to a group of women at their evening church activity.

My down feelings, coupled with a ten-day long battle with a cold I was losing, caused me to not only doubt my ability to inspire these women, but be inspired myself. When it was my time to speak, I stood in front of these good women and said a silent prayer that I wouldn't tank it. Then I began.

I spoke about the power of perspective--how the way we see ourselves and life is often the problem. I spoke of the things that get in the way of our perspective, and how God's perspective is clear and true. I testified that when we learn to see ourselves, our trial, and life through God's eyes, we will be amazed at the reality of who we are and the purpose of it all. I shared stories and scriptures. They laughed (a lot), they cried, and in the end, they felt inspired and changed.

The beauty of it was that I did too. 

I felt refocused re-energized. My perspective shifted back again to what was important--the message I had to share and the God that I feel who wants me to share it.

God wants His daughters to know they are of worth, that they have great things to do (even though they may not seem that great at the time), that they are stronger than they realize, and are probably doing much better than they realize, too. I believe He wants them to realize the power they have to change their perspective, to conquer fear and doubt, and to be who He knows they can be. He wants them to laugh, to learn, to work, to seek Him, and to feel joy and love. 

As we catch glimpses of ourselves through His eyes, we will be empowered. That is the message I have to share, and that message is all that matters.

I came back to the reason I began to write in the first place. I want to share that message.

So, today I asked myself again if it has been worth it.

And the answer is and unequivocal, Yes.

I've heard it said that great people do great things. I'm not saying that I'm a great person, but I feel like I've worked really hard and accomplished something pretty great. But what made it great wasn't what it was, but the Why.

Sometimes we can set off to do something great and we meet opposition along the way. Most great things don't come easy. You may be pursuing something right now. You might  be discouraged, and you might even wonder if its worth it. In those times, take a moment to go back to the Why. Set aside the stress and fear and go back to the reason you started off with.

Why are you writing what you're writing, doing what you're doing, believing what you're believing. Why did you start down this path?

I bet you'll find that your Why really is worth it.

And if it is then keep going. Work at it, share it, do it, love it, and enjoy it. Because it's worth it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

What Matters Most

This picture made me laugh. But is also encapsulates what has been on my mind and heart as of late: What matters most.

It's easy to take something that has the appearance of great importance, and attach a deep meaning to it. Like this picture. It appears to be important. It has lovely font and a picture of a tree. It is aesthetically appealing, and yet, when you really look at it, it's not that important at all.

In life, it can be easy to get distracted by the things that seem to matter--especially when people that seem to be important tell you it matters.

The tough part is that it's often difficult for our priorities and purposes to share the spotlight. So, we put them in order, even without knowing it, from highest to lowest. And sometimes what we think matters most, what 'appears' to matter most, doesn't actually matter that much at all in the eternal scheme of things.

That moment we realize what we thought matters most actually doesn't can be terrifying. We recognize the time stolen from other more important purposes. We see the wasted stress and angst over something that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. We see the negativity it brought, and the shadow we allowed it to cast on our good intentions and joy.

Yet, it is also liberating. You realize you are free from trying to pursue that which does not matter most. You bask in the joy of seeing your priorities clearly. You feel a sense of peace and purpose that transcends what the world--even in their best intentions--tells you what is most important. Your soul, mind, and purpose are calibrated to God's. And you feel a peace settle that only comes when your priorities are correct, when your focus is true.

I've written this blog for years. I've shared the message that God is here, that He loves us. He sees us for who we really are and thinks we are amazing. I have loved the time spent learning and pondering about Him, and sharing those things with thousands of women. I have written a book about His perspective and the power and confidence we can gain as we see ourselves, trials, life, and even Him through His eyes. This message has inspired and uplifted me in the most difficult times. 

And I have felt, more than once, that getting to know God and trusting Him is what matters most. 

It's more important than money or book sales. More important than labels or promotions, fashion or prestige. It's more important than fame or medals, your reputation or situation. More important than a clean house, a slim figure, a new purse, a new job, or any earthly success.

There is nothing in this life that is matters more than your relationship with God and your willingness to trust Him and follow Him.  Nothing.

Those other things are, or can feel, important. But they don't define us. They don't define me. 

What matters most to me is that I live the life the He would have me live, with Him by my side. It may very well include all the things I listed above--but they are merely a bi-product of living His will, if He wants them to be. They are not the prize. He is.

It's easy to get distracted by the things that seem to matter most. Especially if people who seem important are telling you what those things are. And sometimes I believe them. 

But today I don't.

Today, I know what matters most. And today, I feel refocused. I feel peace. I feel joy.

I feel Him. I know Him. I know what He wants me to do. And I plan on doing it.

And that's what matter's most.

Monday, March 3, 2014

More Stairs? Seriously?

I spent the day in Seattle a while back, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city.  I walked through Pike Place Market, saw the ferries in the Sound, ate gelato and even saw a political protest in the middle of a busy intersection.  It was quite an eventful day.

But, the highlight of my day was a lunch date with my husband. He wanted to take me somewhere different for lunch, so we grabbed some teryaki from a local deli and headed to the rooftop patio of Rainier Square to eat our food.

We walked inside the mall and found the flight of stairs that led to the top.  Now, I don't mind a few stairs.  My home is a two-story house and I seem to manage all right. But, you see, I've got Parker Knees.  You won't find it in any medical book- it's a condition that runs in our family, on the Parker side.  It means I've got crappy knees that creek, crack, pop and ache.  They also hurt like crazy when I walk up and down stairs.

So, when we approached the first flight of stairs, I was ok.  I have become immune to climbing one or two flights. But, the stairs kept coming and coming.  By the time we reached what we thought was the last set of stairs my husband said, "I should have found you an elevator." 

And there were still two more flights.

I started up the remaining stairs and felt a shooting pain in my knee.  Instinctively I reached out for my husband's hand and he held it the rest of the way. He didn't pull me up the stairs, he simply held my hand.

But it made me feel so much better.

As I stood at the bottom of the last flight of stairs I could see the windows above and the glass door which let to the roof patio (insert angelic choirs singing, Aaaaaaaaa in unison.)

The hike up the stairs was worth it.We had a wonderful lunch together enjoying each others' company and the beautiful elevated view of Seattle.

I thought about that little stair incident this morning. The stairs were not insurmountable, but they were a painful challenge. But, as I held my husband's hand I got the support I needed ease some pain and get to the top. 

It was a small act on his part, and he probably didn't realize the impact it had on me, but it did.

In Hebrews 12:12 Paul exhorts the people to "lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees."

Most of life's most challenging times are not the make-it-or-break-it ones.  They are often those times when we are "enduring to the end," when the challenges we face are ongoing or repeating: sickness, a challenging child, financial issues, depression, etc.     

It's those times that we might look at the day and think, "More? Seriously?" We may doubt ourselves and feel discouraged. But,  Heavenly Father knows we can make it. He also knows how much a supportive hand can help.

I know there have been many times in my life where I felt weighed down, tired, in pain, and even hopeless. As I look back now, I can see that at those times I was always lifted up and supported. It isn't always as easy to see when we are smack dab in the middle of a trial or painful time.

In those times, when your hands hang down or your knees feel feeble, have faith.  God is aware and will send support. He is aware of our trials and will give you what you need to make it through.

Sometimes it comes through an inner strength and perspective given by Him, or perhaps the situation might change. But, most often He answers prayers by through those around us. So, when you stand in the middle of your trials and see another batch of the same, and think, "More trials? Seriously?" Look around. Someone will be there to lift you up. If you can't find anyone, reach for me. I will help.

Sometimes reaching out takes great courage, an act of faith in and of itself. But, that is what we must do--reach out. Most likely someone already is there next to you, waiting with an outstretched hand.

Then you'll find that all you have to do is hold tight, keep going and then enjoy the view.