Monday, December 31, 2012

Taking Criticism with Love: A Bitter Pill to Swallow

I was given some criticism yesterday that hurt me to the quick.  Brothers and sisters, I'm trying my very best to be gracious, and to realize that what was said was done so out of love.  I'm also trying to get beyond myself and get to the kernel of truth within the criticism.  Maybe you can help.  Here is what was said, as best as I can remember it:

"Sister McGinnis, why do you think you have so much trouble with the jobs you undertake?"

What I heard:  Sister McGinnis, you are lazy, and you complain too much and make up too many excuses.

The truth:  Ever since I resigned from the program I was working for when I first moved here, I've had to take the first jobs that came along.  I accepted the hospital job because it was close to home and the pay was better.  I wasn't very good at it though; I knew it, and so did everyone else.  Going to work made me so nervous that I developed IBS, and jumped every time someone called my name.  I never quit that job, just transferred to Dr. Feder's office... and life was so good there.  Doc was kind and patient, and constantly looked out for the health and happiness of his staff.  When he had a stroke, I cried for a week.  I applied for no less than 30 jobs, between doctor's offices and hospitals.  OMG! was the only retail application I put in, and they are the only ones who called me back.  Thus, I am a retail manager.  Considering the health issues I'm dealing with, between the MS, the fibromyalgia, and the chronic headaches caused by hydrocephalus, isn't it obvious why I would have issues with standing for 8 hours at a time and trying to motivate teenage workers who just want to stand there and look pretty?

"I've dealt with some of the people you've dealt with, and I don't get the same animosity from them that you do."

What I heard:  You are oversensitive.

The truth:  Yep,  I am, and I know it.  But show me one abuse survivor who isn't.  Show me one who doesn't run from confrontation.  I cannot stand to be yelled at, disapproved of, or talked down.  When I asked my husband about the person in question, he said "I've heard it.  She's nice to me, but there's a tone in the back of her throat that says 'I was just a total B to your wife, but I'm going to tone it down for you because I can't push you around like I can her.'"  To the brother who said this to me:  OF COURSE she doesn't talk to you like she talks to me... you're the one writing the blessed check. 

So I'm a doormat.  Sorry.  I'm working on it.  I've been working on it for years.

"Sister McGinnis, we can give you a calling.  But what's to say that in three months, you won't be miserable again?"

What I heard:  Sister McGinnis, if we give you a calling, what's to say that you'll actually show up and do it?

The truth:  Yes, I am unhappy here.  But not having a place in the Church is only making my unhappiness worse.  This last year has felt like 365 days of headache and heartache and bad luck.  I feel as if I didn't pray enough before I came home; that I did what I wanted to do, and didn't listen to Heavenly Father's plan for me.  Though I wasn't terribly happy in Michigan, things were turning around.  I was working in the temple and being blessed for it.  I had found a wonderful riding instructor and friend with a kind and healing band of horses to love.  I had finally found my place in the Grand Blanc ward.  We should have stayed.

But now we are here, and I have to make the best of it.  I have to find within myself the strength to hand it over to my Father and say "I've made a terrible mess.  Please fix it.  Please fix... me."  I don't do well with being so far from a temple.  It's as if a life-giving source has been taken from me.  I pine for the peace that I could always find within those walls.  I believe that I'm meant to be a Utah Mormon, with a temple in my back yard.  Does that make me a bad person, because I don't function as well or as happily without regularly participating in those sacred ordinances?  Really?

To anyone who feels the same way about me as this brother:  Please accept my apologies.  I have not been doing my very best, and for that, I am sorry.  I hope I have made myself clear, and I acknowledge that no harm was meant.  I look forward to proving you wrong, and hope that you do, too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, all I have been able to do is pray.  I can't begin to understand the depth of the grief and loss  that so many parents and loved ones are experiencing right now, but I come to the table with the perspective of one who has suffered with mental illness for a great many years.  It's not something I like about myself, but it is something I have learned to live with, if not control. 

At it's best, my illness manifests in small quirks:  OCD-type eccentricities that don't really get in the way of my life, except to make me waste time.  Middle ground is where I'm usually standing, more stressed out than I should be, and more fatigued than anyone ought to be.  Even then, there is a sane part of me that reminds me I ought to get back to school for a new career, or keep looking for something less stressful than retail management.  My family and friends keep me in check, and if I don't get too panicked, I'm generally okay.

At it's worst, however, my illness is a terrifying thing.  It has lead to self-mutilation, self-medication, hospitalizations, shock therapy, and suicide attempts that left my parents wondering who would care for me when they were no longer of this world.  Thankfully, I have not been there in a long time.  Hopefully, I will never be there again. 

I have never been able to understand homicidal tendencies.  I have always turned my anger in on itself.  The only person who has ever had cause to fear me... is me.  It has taken me  a long time to learn to love and accept myself, but perhaps it's because I have struggled so much to gain that love and acceptance that I can't begin to understand where this lack of respect for the sanctity of life is coming from.  I don't care what kind of problems you have, there is always a way out that doesn't involve violence against yourself or anyone else. 

I can remember what it feels like to lose my mind; to feel like reality was going on somewhere else, somewhere apart... and without me.  Even with that realization and understanding, there is no level of insanity so deep as to justify the crimes that have taken place.  All that is left to do is pray for those who have lost loved ones... and to pray for each other... that we might try to help each other out a little more... that we might try to be more caring towards one another.  Are we not all just looking for reasonable happiness in this life?  Can we not be more kind, and in so doing, make that reasonable happiness all the more attainable for each other? 

Or have we fallen so far from grace that we only care about ourselves?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Introversion, Self-Loathing, and Survival

This post is inspired partly by a friend of mine.  K, thank you.  Read her blog here.

I like to pretend I'm not bipolar.  I like to think "hey, I've got a handle on this, really."  I mean, I've been med-free for five years, so that should mean something, right?  Wrong.  The only reason I'm okay is because I've got an untold number of prayers and blessings to support me.  And because I talk everything out in my head.

Occasionally, I have to say 'No, you don't want to do that, people will think you're crazy,' or 'According to the DSM-V, that's a psychotic behavior.  Stop it.'  Sometimes I walk away from a potential conversation because the psychological pain caused by the potential rejection is far too great.  I'd probably have more friends if I could just get beyond the fear.

Interestingly enough, I have a far easier time talking to people I don't know.  I think a part of me figures 'I will probably never have to see this person again!  YAY!!  I can be myself!!!'

Acquaintances cause the most trouble.  It's as if there are a thousand fire ants crawling along my nerves; I blush, I stammer, and I probably sound less intelligent than I actually am, but what you don't know is, I'm in an intense amount of pain, and am debating whether I should come across as rude and leave, or stay and vomit on your pretty shoes.  I <3 shoes, so most of the time, I excuse myself.  You're welcome.

There are a few reasons besides the mental illness that have led me to be this way.  I was raped at 17, and am friends with a dear lady who still keeps in touch with my attacker.  If she mentions his name, I go into shock:  my heart races, I get pale(r), my hands get clammy, and I feel as though I've been kicked in the gut.  I try not to dwell on that situation too long; it was an immense betrayal, I am not "over it" and probably never will be.  However, most of the time, I don't even think about it, and I am doing the best I can.  Yes, I have flashbacks, yes I have an irrational distrust in most men, yes, I am dealing with PTSD, and some days it takes all I have to just survive... but I'm still here.

A few years ago, I was on a very successful diet, but I started to sabotage myself the closer I got to my goal.  Why?  Because someone looked at me the way he had, and it freaked me out to the point that I started gaining again.  Now here I am, back where I started, thinking 'Is this how it's going to be always?'  I hope not. 

I am immensely grateful for the love and kindness shown to me by my wonderful husband; he knows all I have been through, he knows it occasionally screws with me, and he knows how to talk me down from all sorts of ledges.  I have been blessed every day since he found me. 

It's incredibly difficult to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and hate yourself.  It happens less and less, as I allow myself to be immersed in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but I have my moments.  If you come across me on a bad day, you'll know it... at least now, you understand why. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Becoming Whole... One Day at a Time

There have been a succession of things in my life over the last month-and-a-half that have given me an irrevocable testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored in these latter days.  I have walked through some places I had hoped to never see again, places of utter self-loathing and unforgiving darkness.  I did this of my own free will, turning and running from the grace of my Heavenly Father because I feared His disappointment in me, and because of my own hurtful pride regarding the sins of my past.

Thanks to the prayers of friends I didn't realize I had, the divine guidance afforded an inspired bishopric, and two saintly women called to be my visiting teachers, my husband and I are once again active in our ward, and I am determined to become the woman I have wanted to be since I emerged from the waters of baptism.  Not a Molly Mormon, but someone more true to the gifts I posses. 

I am determined to love as completely as I possibly can; to truly take upon myself the name of Christ, and to let the joy I experience as a member of this Church shine forth every day.

I am letting go of attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs about myself that have not served me well in the past.

I am pouring my free time into a study of Scripture and the teachings of the Prophets.  I know my faith will be shaken again in these imperfect days, but my hope is that I stand more firmly next time.

Thank you all for joining me in the journey.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Johnnycake for Joseph, New Meds, and More Sleep...

I fully acknowledge that I have not written for nearly two months, but I've been under an immense amount of stress in which I did not wish to be vulnerable and place my thoughts and actions under this microscope for all the world to see.

I have realized a few things about myself that I don't necessarily like, and some others that I'm grateful for as I've made some stupendously wrong decisions over the last six weeks.  Pay attention, and don't make my mistakes.

1.  Don't leave your dream job for one with a description that uses words like "multi-tasking," "multi-line phone system" and "fast-paced environment" if you want to avoid adding to your stress.  Forgo the hyphens altogether and be content with a lesser paycheck.

2.  The temple is NOT the place to catch up on your zzz if you've worked a succession of 2:30-11 shifts.  You can try and say you're resting in the Lord, and it may look for all intents and purposes as though you are praying, but the temple workers know... and HE knows.  Thou hath some repenting to do. 

3.  When depression sets in, don't put your Scriptures away and stop praying.  That's when you need to rely on the ability to communicate with Heavenly Father, and He so yearns to listen to you.  Don't turn away, thinking that He'd rather not help you.  (This is easier said than done, I know.)

4.  When someone offends you, whether it be in the Church or just generally, pray for them.  It's not hurting them if you just get angry and fume silently, and you need to find the strength somewhere to forgive them.  (I am STILL working on this one!)

5.  Even if you haven't had an FHE in months, even if you have a great idea for one and don't do it on the day you'd like to for whatever reason... do it now.  The spiritual benefits are still yours for the enjoying.  For example, I had wanted very much to have an FHE celebrating Joseph Smith's life on the anniversary of his martyrdom.  That didn't happen.  I wanted to have an FHE on the anniversary of Emma's birthday and celebrate all the contributions she made to the early Church.  That didn't happen, either.  However, last night, I made a recipe entitled "Joseph Smith's Johnnycake" in memory of the prophet, and my husband read a talk by President Uchtdorf that related Emma's patriarchal blessing to the women of the Church today.  Was it as fabulous as either of the FHE's I had planned previously?  Probably not, but it served to get my husband and I talking about spiritual things, and I got to bake while considering the life of the Prophet of the Restoration and his lovely bride, both of whom I love as though they are with me today. 

6.  If you are ill and you know something is wrong, please go to the doctor.  Don't put it off for months, thinking that it will just disappear.  For example, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in February.  This is July, the month in which I finally told someone how much I was suffering.  Two cheap, generic medications and one week later, I am experiencing less pain, and have more energy.  I also made it a point to ask my husband for a blessing of comfort, which helps tremendously, and allows him to exercise his priesthood authority.  I should have at least been doing this all along. 

7.  Finally... get enough rest.  Life will go much better for you if you get enough sleep.  Yes, I am up at quarter to four, but I also went to bed at 6:30 PM for the simple reason that I could keep my eyes open no longer.  I intend on getting another hour of sleep before my day officially begins, too! 

Good night!.... errr... morning!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Looking Back to Move Forward

This past week, I've been thinking a lot on my role in the Church.  I've considered the events that have transpired since the days of my investigation, some miraculous; others mundane, but all have made me who I am in Christ. 

When I think on the early days of my conversion, they seem to my memory to be halcyon days where the Spirit strove with me.  I think about my conversations with the missionaries, many of whom became my dear friends.  I remember the loving-kindness of my ward family and best friend, who supported me as others turned away.  When my bishop blessed me to be able to endure the three weeks before my baptism, he cautioned that they would be some of the most difficult days of my life.  In those three weeks, I considered that I could lose the love of my mother and the man I thought I would marry.  I was right about one of them. 

When I consider the tenacity to which I held to the gospel then, I wish I could go back and re-live some things since.  I would like the chance to do better... be better.  A few days ago, my husband asked me what I would have changed about my wedding and reception if I could.  When I was completely honest with myself, I acknowledged that there really wasn't much.  I wish my sister-in-law hadn't had a massive headache and had been in a better mood.  I wish my sister had been feeling better.  I wish the music would have worked.  I wish I hadn't ticked off my matron of honor the day before the wedding.  Above all, I wish I had put my foot down about the dress I really wanted (it didn't have a gigantic bow in the back that made me feel like a Clydesdale mare in a parade).  Still, try as I might, I can't go back and change the fact that my family was angry with me for marrying in the temple, a situation that marred the day far more than my butt-enhancing bow.

These past few months, as my husband and I have struggled mightily with finances, Church callings and employment issues, I have come to rely on the sealing power that binds us.  If we had waited to marry in the temple, I'm not sure what would have happened.  I'm grateful that we had the desire and the strength to do things in the Lord's time.  Besides, there's nothing that says we can't renew our commitment to one another in a few years, and I promise you, the dress will be Molly Mo fabulous!

As much as I wish I could change the past, I can't.  I can't change the fact that there have been times when I have been less than Saintly, or fallen flat on my face because I haven't given my best effort.  I can, however, repent, casting off the dross of sin and sorrow I've lingered on at times.  I can rejoice in the atoning power of Christ, and be thankful for the covenant-affirming balm of the Sacrament.  I can spend time in the Scriptures, learning more about the sacrificial love of my Savior... and by the grace of God, at some point in this whole refining process, I can forgive myself.  I am the only one holding me back from grace and peace.  I think it's time I let myself look forward with faith that, through Christ,  I can become someone even better than the best I once was.  Brothers and sisters, let's flourish together, shall we?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wives, Contend with Your Husbands!

I hope that caught your attention. 

Over the past few days, I have become increasingly irked by the posts of a friend of mine decrying the institution of marriage as a sacred covenant between man and wife.  I'm not upset with him because of his assertion that gays should have rights; that's another issue altogether.  I am, however, very disappointed in the route he has taken in an attempt to make me feel as though my marriage is outdated.  One of the issues he focused on was Ephesians 5:22, which reads:  "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord."  What most people think of when they hear this passage is not of submission, but subservience. 

For example, because of my faith, I believe in the power of the priesthood which my husband holds.  This priesthood power entitles him to revelation for our family concerning spiritual and temporal matters, and I am fully prepared to accept his counsel in such things after we have taken time to pray together.  I am submitting to the will of my husband only after he has submitted to the will of our Heavenly Father.  However, if I come home exhausted after working a 16-hour day, and the first thing he does when I walk though the door is to ask me to make him dinner a la June Cleaver, I'm going to have a little problem with that.  And it's not going to happen. 

The opposite of submission is not progress.  It's not even equality.  It's contention.  I know from experience that when I am being contentious, Chris is suddenly no longer my best friend with whom I want to spend eternity.  He becomes my sparring partner, and the words I hurl at him don't make me feel powerful.  They make me feel weak and small-minded.  If I have let myself become upset to the point of contention, it's because I haven't communicated well.  Instead, I've assumed that he won't listen or doesn't understand.  I haven't even given him the benefit of hearing what I have to say. 

Let's look at the husband's role in all of this.  Ephesians 5:25 says "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it."  So...your husband is to love you so completely that he would lay down his life for you if necessary.  In return, you are to respect the priesthood which he holds (if he does), respect his walk with the Lord and his ability to receive revelation from the Holy Spirit, and counsel with him on those matters.  It doesn't make you less of a woman to respect your husband.  He is, after all, the man you love, the one you have chosen to spend at least this life.  He should be your best friend.  Be sweet.  Be kind.  And if your husband loves you as he should, there is nothing he won't do for you. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

The more I read her blog, the more I am certain that Jia and I should be best friends.  Today in a sort of roundabout way, I was challenged to "pour my heart out."

Here goes nothing.

Most of you know that I struggle with depression, anxiety and PTSD.  I have come to terms with these issues, and while we're not the best of friends, I can stand to be in somewhat close proximity to them without going off the deep end...anymore.

A few months ago, a neurologist I worked with diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.  Even though I wake up every day tired and in pain, I refuse to accept this.  However, considering how many times in the last year that I've been taken down by respiratory infections, nausea, fevers, migraine headaches and general malaise, I have to admit that it doesn't look good for self-denial.

I don't look sick.  Every morning, I struggle to get out of bed, and I think of something my mother used to say when I complained of not feeling well:  "Clean your room, you'll feel better."  Except that my room is clean, because my husband does the housework.  So, I get up and come in to work, and cry on the way home because my job isn't paying all the bills and I have no health insurance in this state to see a doctor who might be able to help with the weight and the infertility and the pain and the tiredness, and I find myself sliding into depression so deep I just want to sleep because when I sleep, the pain goes away...

It'a a vicious cycle.

And to be honest, I don't see a way out of it.  I have to work.  I have to find a way to exist beyond the pain and keep pushing myself to do better; do more if I ever want to get out of debt... but at what physical cost?

The only place I know of where I could exist pain-free is Utah.  I don't know why this is, whether it's the higher altitude, thinner air, abundance of sunshine, or someone dumping mass quantities of happy pills into the water supply.  I know I need to get there someday, and I hope someday is soon.  I don't know how much longer I can stand to feel this way day in and day out.

Linked to Pour Your Heart Out

Friday, May 4, 2012

Abuse and Neglect

I have been woefully neglectful of this blog.  I admit it.  It's not as if I haven't had things to write about, but more that I didn't really want to detail and expound upon the downward spiral I have been on for the last month. 

April has always been a difficult month for me.  For some reason, it's the month in which I am absolutely and unequivocally reminded of the chemical imbalance that lends itself to my depression and anxiety issues.  This year, I have been plagued by headaches, the likes of which I haven't known in a long while.  For those of you who suffer with migraines, you know what I'm talking about. 

My job is difficult, more difficult than I ever thought it would be, but I love the work.  I decompress by talking things over with my husband, and, as was the case last night, spending some quality time with an equine friend.  Sometimes I think about what life will be like when I am out in Utah, and how amazing it would be to host a rehab program for survivors of abuse (both equine and human).  Connecting with horses has done more for me in the last two years than the countless hours I have spent in counseling.  There is something immensely healing about the trust that exists between horse and rider, and the knowledge that neither of you will make any progress without trusting the other. 

As for my faith, I'm glad to say that my testimony has not wavered, despite the mental attacks I have been going through for the last month.  What has faltered is my ability to do everything.

I am no Molly Mormon.

Wow, that stung a little.

I tend to hold myself up to standards I would never expect from anyone else.  For my work to be exemplary, as well as for my house to be spotless, meals to be flawless, Church callings magnified to the nth degree... you see where I'm going with this.

Well, my work must be exemplary, and my callings must be magnified.  But admitting to myself that "the rest is just details" has been a chore.

This weekend, if the current migraine goes away, I will be planting sunflowers in our community garden.  The worst is over, and I feel like playing in the dirt.   

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goodbye, my friend...

Yesterday, I received news that a friend of mine was in a coma.  This morning, I saw that he had passed away.  My heart aches for his family.  When I saw him last, he was preparing to go on a mission.  I suppose I comforted myself with the idea that he and the other members of my first ward family were going along, happily progressing in the Gospel...

How often do we really stop and think about those we have left behind?  How often do we consider that all may not be well in Zion?  And if we are bent on keeping our baptismal promises, why does it take a serious illness or death to shake us up and force us to consider those we love?  It shouldn't.

As for my friend, he will be missed very dearly.  I can only imagine that Heavenly Father had a greater work for him.  Still, a bright light has gone out for those of us here.

Heavenly Father, please send Thy Spirit to comfort all those who have been affected by Zach's death, especially his family and close friends.  We acknowledge Thy will in all things, and we know that Thou will bear this burden with us.  Please cover us with Thy mercy and grace.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Still Surviving...

You may have noticed the new badge on my page from Unsilence the Violence and wonder why I've added it. Because I am a survivor of rape, as well as a survivor of incest and molestation.  I didn't admit it when I got this job as a victim advocate, and I'm not going to go into a great deal of detail here, either.  What I want to talk about today is the healing that comes about through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  

As I taught a lesson last night in Institute about the grace afforded us through the Atonement of Christ, I silently gave thanks to my Lord and Savior for how His Atonement has worked in my life.  I am no longer bound by what happened to me.  I know it happened, and it was hell to get through, but I am separate from it now. I can see how my Heavenly Father worked in my life to give all things (even the awful, painful things) a purpose in His divine plan for me.  Of course He didn't "make" it happen; we have free agency.  When we use our agency for evil against others, that is our choice, not His.  It took me a long time to realize this, and to stop blaming Him for everything that had gone wrong in my life.  Now, I am simply thankful that He carried me through those dark days and set me in a place of safety and complete love.  He can do the same for you.  No matter what you are going through, He will uphold you.  Please don't lose faith.  

If you or someone you know has been victimized, please tell someone.  The longer you wait, the more you suffer needlessly.  If you need prayer for courage, let me know.  My husband and I will pray for you, and I will submit your name to the temple, where hundreds of faithful Saints can pray for you as well.  

In the Ohio Valley:  
Sexual Assault Help Center:  304-234-1783
Victim Assistance Program, Ohio County:  304-234-3896
Victim Assistance Program, Brooke County:  304-737-2515
Victim Assistance Program, Hancock County:  304-564-4277
Footsteps Christian Counseling:  304-242-8095

National Hotlines: 
Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1800-273-8255
RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network):

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Here I am!

I have been remiss in posting!  So much has been going on lately... our new ward is wonderful, and I love my job.  We will only be in our current apartment for a year; it's really too expensive.  Under the circumstances, though, it was the best I could do.  The gas companies are buying up so many of the rental properties that it was really hard to find something that wasn't falling down around my ears. 

In any case, I'm back in the blogosphere, if only sporadically for a while.  It's nice to be back!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Total Surrender

Every day, I struggle with things that are beyond my control.  My weight has become something I cannot manage without the help and support of others and complete reliance on my Heavenly Father.  There is a protocol I must follow when I care for my clients; I can put them in the right place so that they can be helped and healed, but I cannot take away their suffering.  Even though there are days when I positively long to be a mother, I cannot will it to happen. 

I know in my heart that if I can overcome my natural tendencies to comfort myself with food and make more of an effort to obey the Word of Wisdom (the do's, not just the don'ts!) that I will become healthier. 

I know in my heart that if I do all I possibly can for my clients, continually lifting them up in the name of Jesus Christ, the Atonement will cover and heal them in ways I can't begin to know. 

I know in my heart that right now is not a good time to have a baby.  I also know that Chris and I will be parents someday, in the Lord's time. 

I know the voice of my Father.  He speaks to me of patience and the joy that is to come.  He speaks of the Celestial glory that will be ours if we abide fully in the everlasting covenant.  He tells me that I am precious to him; that I have been brought forth in this dispensation for a great work.  I believe him. 

There is another voice, though.  This voice belittles my efforts, enumerates my faults and takes delight in my failings.  This voice would have me believe that I will die an early death for lack of willpower.  That nothing I do can ease the suffering of the brokenhearted people that come through my door.  That I will never be a mother.  This voice tells me nothing but lies. 

Like Nephi, I will give place no more for the enemy of my soul.  I will rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit who helps me discern between right and wrong.  I will surrender all, and in that surrender, I will become someone new.  Someone who doesn't tear herself down.  Someone who sees the divinity within and loves herself more because of it.  I recognize and take comfort in the plans of my Heavenly Father.  He has never mislead me, and He never will. 

 "Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from sickness and disease, but if not … . He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity, but if not. … He will deliver us from death or impairment of loved ones, but if not, … we will trust in the Lord."  --Elder Dennis E. Simmons

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nephi's Psalm... My Psalm...

Today was my first Sunday in a new ward.  Appropriately, the first person to welcome me was Brother Angel.  From the moment I took his hand, I had an overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be fine.  During Sunday School, a very smiley toddler decided that I was the perfect choice for a new best friend, and spent most of the hour playing peek-a-boo with me.  In Relief Society, I was given the opportunity to bear my testimony, and several sisters took it upon themselves to help me in my house search.  The bishop was extremely happy that my husband and I are temple worthy and have reliable transportation, as many of his flock have gone inactive for want of a vehicle. 

No one in Wheeling has heard of Shelf Reliance.  I am ecstatic that Chris and I will be able to be the ones to tell them about it!

As I sit here tonight, I'm thinking about the Psalm of Nephi.  While I in no way think that I have the strength of Nephi, I wish I were more like him, and I can definitely understand where he was coming from with some of these verses: 

20 My God hath been my asupport; he hath led me through mine bafflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
21 He hath filled me with his alove, even unto the bconsuming of my flesh.
22 He hath confounded mine aenemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me aknowledge by bvisions in the night-time.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty aprayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been acarried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath avisited men in so much bmercy, cwhy should my dheart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I ayield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to btemptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my cpeace and afflict my soul? Why am I dangry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer adroop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the benemy of my soul.
29 Do not aanger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
30 Rejoice, O my aheart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the brock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou aredeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of bsin?
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my aheart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may bwalk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy arighteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine benemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have atrusted in thee, and I will btrust in thee forever. I will not put my ctrust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his dtrust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give aliberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I bask cnot amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the drock of my erighteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

My own psalm would go something like this: 

Thou hast proven Thy love for me
Thou hast set the course before me
Why then do I quake in fear
or pray to know Thy will
when Thy will is plain in my sight?
Thou has upheld me always
Thine eyes are upon me forever.
I offer up my thanks to Thee
my prayer ascending
calming the flutter of my heart.
Grateful am I for Thy constant care
and I give Thee
the fear
the worry
the pain
knowing that Thou will make of them
something beautiful
as Thou hast done with all my life.
Everlasting Father, I abide in Thy covenants
and Thou leadest me in the ways of peace. 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Writer's Block...

I want to apologize to the handful of you that read this blog.  I have not been posting frequently, and I am sorry.  My life has been moving so fast lately that when I sit down to write, I don't know where to start!  Before I know it, a week has passed and I haven't posted anything. 

I have a few goals in mind for this coming week.  I will be at my mother's for most of it, and I don't start work until the 13th.  I am going to work on my family history; hopefully my Aunt Mary Jane can find some time to talk to me and share what she knows. 

I am also going to begin working on refinishing my Grandma's cedar chest.  It used to be a beautiful piece of furniture; soon it will be again.  I look forward to the day when it is used for more than the afghan Mom made me in college, and sits in a more prominent place than a corner of the basement. 

I have a meeting with a potential landlord on Tuesday; hopefully everything will go well. 

In the midst of all of this, I am one frazzled girl.  I'm sure you can understand how it came to be that this blog was neglected.  I promise that I will write more when things calm down.  :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Working in the Temple

Yesterday was our last day as workers in the Detroit temple.  Try as I might, I could not stop time.  The more I prayed, the faster it seemed the time flew.  Thankfully, I was not asked to relinquish my name badge.  It remains pinned to my dress as if to say "You'll need me again someday."  I wonder if my husband feels similarly about his white jacket? 

It was working in the temple that enabled me to slow down and see my blessings for what they were.  It was working in the temple that gave me the patience to strive at a job I could hardly stand, and the strength to reach for something better.  Time after time, patrons would say things like "You have no idea what you have done for me in this moment."  They were right, I had absolutely no idea.  There were days when it took everything I had to walk through those doors and let the world fall away, days when I was so preoccupied with my own struggle... but those moments of pure grace made my soul sing. 

I will miss working in the temple, but I look forward to the day when I can do so again. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Beginning Another Chapter

Well, here it is.  Just when I begin to feel comfortable and relax, Heavenly Father shakes my snow globe.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was interviewing for a job.  It was 6 hours away, half an hour out of my hometown.  I didn't think anyone would take me seriously, and to be honest, I was surprised to be asked for an interview.  There was a second interview over the phone a week later, and it was here that I considered "wow, this must be more competitive than I thought."  A week after that, one day after my thirtieth birthday, I got a very apologetic call from the girl who interviewed me.  She said she had known that I was right for the job the day of my first interview, but she had so many other interviewees, she didn't think it was right to offer it to me right away.

She should have.  It would have done wonders for my anxiety these past few weeks.

Here I am, getting ready to pack up enough clothes for a month and help my husband winnow my things a bit.  Clothes that don't fit, no matter how much I love you, you are going to the clothing barn for someone else to wear and feel awesome.  That includes you, wedding dress!

There have been approximately four times in my life where I have directly felt the hand of God.  This is one of those times.  (For those of you who are interested in the other three, they were joining the Church, meeting my husband, and moving here.)  It has been very difficult until recently to see the blessings I have here in Michigan.  I recognize that my ward family here loves me like crazy, and not just because I'm Chris' wife.  I'm thankful for my mother-in-law who gets my jokes, keeps me company when I am lonely and is gentle with my sometimes incomprehensible sadness, loving me through it as my own mother has done so many times.  I'm thankful for the friends I have here who have helped me become a better version of myself than I could have ever hoped to be on my own.  I am thankful to be so near a temple, wherein I can do the Lord's work.  I have been so blessed to be a worker there, and I am grateful for the experiences of all-encompassing grace I have had within its walls.

Now it's time to stretch and see how capable I have become.  I know that being here has prepared me for something amazing, and I feel much the same as I did when emerging from the waters of baptism.  Anything at all is possible. 

Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee—
Lord, I would follow thee.

 Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?

Lord, I would follow thee.

I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper—

Lord, I would follow thee.

Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother—

Lord, I would follow thee.  

Text: Susan Evans McCloud, b. 1945. © 1985 IRI
Music: K. Newell Dayley, b. 1939. © 1985 IRI
Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, #220

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moohana and the One Cow Wife

I am not worth eight cows.  I am worth one cow.  Her name is Moohana, and she is filled with buckwheat and lavender, a "warm snuggly" for those naps I take when my husband is at work.  Thankfully, we no longer barter bovines as a measure of our love, or I might feel jilted.  However, according to the stuffed animals my husband has gifted to me over our courtship and marriage, I am worth three horses, one Pegasus, a panda bear, and three dragons.  And Moohana.  :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Love to See the Temple...

Recently, Chris and I have decided that Wednesday nights would be our time for FHE.  This evening over a dinner of cheap (but awesome) sushi, he asked what I would like to do for our activity.  Out of nowhere, I blurted out "I want to make a sugar cube temple!"  Two boxes of sugar cubes and an unknown number of glue sticks later, we have the McGinnis home temple.  It kinda sorta maybe looks a little like St. George, but with a Moroni.  (We couldn't make a temple without decking it with our Moroni!)  We are going to spray it with shellac so that it doesn't attract ants and we can keep it, then next week, we're going to landscape!  It's a little crooked, but it was made with love, and the whole time we were working on it, we talked about the blessings that have come from working in the temple. 

This has been a wonderful evening! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

(Trying to) Mind the Gap

A couple of years ago, I attended Relief Society General Conference at the Youngstown Stake.  At the time, I was newly baptized, but frustrated.  I was tired all the time; my days lasted from 6AM until nearly midnight.  I wanted to be married in the temple, but I didn't quite know how that was going to happen.  I couldn't see my faith through my frustration, and I was upset.  The gospel was turning my life upside down, and most everyone I loved thought I was losing my mind.

That night, Sister Barbara Thompson gave a talk called "Mind the Gap" that I think of every now and then.  It was exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it.  She spoke about the gaps we encounter as Saints; improvements we need to make, the difference between our actions and who we really have the potential to be as daughters and sons of our Heavenly Father.

Once again, there is a gap before me.  I know what it is that I want to be, but I'm not doing all I can to make it happen.  I want to fulfill my callings.  I want my husband to come home to wonderful dinners and polished linoleum.  I want to be a Celestial wife, and yet I find myself falling short.

There was a saying that was popular when I was in high school.  I don't know if it's still in use, but it ended up in three out of four of my yearbooks.  "Shoot for the moon.  If you miss, you'll still be among the stars."  I get it.  Really, I do, but to be honest, it's not good enough.

I don't want to have to question where I will end up.  I don't want to second-guess myself for the rest of my life, beating myself up for whatever infraction.  I know that the gap lies within me, and within my own perception, but it's there, and I'm calling myself out.

I don't do all I can to fulfill my callings.  If I did, the ward directory would be full of pictures instead of grey silhouettes.  My fellow temple workers would never have to miss me, or scramble around to fill my spot on Saturday morning.  The Relief Society president would know every month just how my visiting teachers were doing, and Primary would never want for a substitute.

My house would be presentable; my husband's size 14 clodhoppers would be off the floor where they currently threaten to trip up anyone who chances to walk into our apartment.  Mostly me.

Instead, the pictures I need to submit are chilling on my camera's HD card.   I generally miss a temple session once every three months.  In my time as a visiting teaching coordinator, I have never been able to reach one of my sisters, and the others in my care call me every now and again to update me on their last three months of visiting teaching.  I have subbed in Primary once.  My husband took over the lesson.  I sat back and felt small and said nothing.

...and my house is a mess.

I wish I could fix just one thing.  If I could excel in something, or even just feel as though I'm doing all I can, I don't think the rest of it would hurt so much.  Because it does.  It's an ache that rarely goes away, this feeling that I am so much less than what I was created to be.  I'm trying to mind the gap and reach for that woman I know I can become if I just learn to rely on my Savior... but the gap is so wide, and I feel as though I am losing focus of what really needs to be done.

It's miserable work, being an unhappy Saint.  We are not made for unhappiness, and the state of my mind these last few days feels so contrary to all I know.  This post has been difficult to write.  It's a strange thing, seeing my spiritual pain on a page for all the world to see.  I know it will get better.  What I don't know is when or how...when that is what I need most to know. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Holding my Worries in Check...

Okay, I'm just going to throw all of this out there:

My anxiety is through the roof.  This interview process is taking forever.  I wish I could just know for certain, yes or no. 

If I don't get this job, Chris and I need to consider a change in our living situation anyway.  With the way things currently stand, we will never be able to move out to Utah. 

I feel as though I ought to find a second job.  I've been considering applying at Oliver T's, but I like so much of their stuff, I fear that our diet goals would fly out the window.  Hello, cupcake! 

If I do get this job, I worry about staying active and temple worthy.  I know we would, but each ward is at least 45 minutes away, and the temple is 2 hours away.  It sounds petty, doesn't it?  I'm sorry.  It's still a worry, especially in wintertime.  

I'm worried about living without my husband for any length of time.  To those of you who are widowed or have husbands who are over the road a lot, I'm whining.  Again, I'm sorry.  I don't deal well with stress, and Chris manages to hold me together quite nicely.  Eight weeks of high stress and no husband sounds miserable to me. 

Whether I get this job or not, I want the sleep lab to be organized.  I don't want whomever comes into that job to hate it within two weeks because it's an organizational nightmare.  

When I sat in the temple yesterday, I felt like Heavenly Father was saying "Just calm down.  Everything will be okay.  I've got you, and everything will turn out fine."  I know that.  I believe Him...

so why do I still feel fragmented by all of this stress?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's Not Adding Up!

Over the last three days, I have really put some effort into reading my Scriptures.  My goal is to read all of the Standard Works in one year.  I'm focusing especially on the verses in the Joseph Smith Translation.  Last night, three-fourths of the way through the Book of Numbers, I realized something.  In less than one week, I have read the equivalent of half the Book of Mormon. 

Little alarm bells started going off in my head.

It would be completely different if I read the Book of Mormon to savor each verse and look up each notation.  Then, I could understand if it took me six months.  Lately, however, I start reading, get to about the middle of Alma, and set the book aside.  Indefinitely. 

The war chapters have always made me uncomfortable.  Fourth Nephi has always made me cry.  But in the past, I have always been able to slog through them.  I like to think that I know the Book of Mormon well, and it upsets me that the last time I tried to read it, I was unable to finish, especially since I should be able to read the entire book (and read it well!) in under a week!

Last weekend, I went back to the Ohio Valley for an interview.  I had to go by myself; Chris was at work.  It's a six hour drive, and once I had gotten into Ohio, I decided to stop and get something to drink.  The moment I walked into the rest stop, I was overtaken by anxiety, the likes of which I have not felt in years.  Quickly, I got a drink, got into my car, and drove until I reached my mother's.  Since then, I have been plagued by unease that crops up in the strangest of places.  After my interview, I was so tightly wound up that I left Mom's and traveled to Alliance so that I could, in theory, be closer to my husband if I decided at any point in the night to drive home.  On Monday, I attended a counseling group through LDS Family Services.  I knew that I was safe.  I knew I had nothing to fear, and yet there I sat, hugging myself and refusing to look anyone in the eye.  I wanted to disappear. 

It is frightening to me that there are so few places in which I feel comfortable, and that in places where I should feel comfortable, I'm not.  I'm not sure what it is that has made my anxiety worse, but I have a feeling that the answer to overcoming it lies within the pages I have been neglecting.

Tonight, Chris and I are going to the temple.  If I can't relax there, I will know that I am dealing with a problem that is much bigger than myself and much worse than I thought. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Mountain of the Lord

Today, I caught up with my Scripture reading goals.  Along the way, I came across Genesis 19:17, which says, in part, "...Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed."  Chris looked at me and said " want to move to Utah???" 

Let me explain.  I have a hard time moving beyond the past.  My inability to forgive myself has been my greatest stumbling block as a Saint.  I have tried and tried to distance myself from the person I was before I became converted to the gospel, but she crops up every now and again, reminding me of some particularly loathsome trait or grievance committed, or bades me look back and leave the faith I have embraced.  Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.  In Matthew, Christ says "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."  I certainly don't want to be good for nothing!

When I visualized the plain, I saw the iron rod pictured in Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life.  The plain was vast, though, and many found it easier to let go of the rod and wander off.  To me, this symbolized complacency.  The restored gospel is not something about which one can be complacent.  In having faith and exercising that faith, we strive to be better than ourselves.  We reach heavenward, enduring all manner of suffering and pain in this life so that we may have everlasting joy in the next. 

As Latter-Day Saints, we are asked to make and keep sacred covenants.  It is here, in the temple, the mountain of the Lord, that we make these holy promises.  I can testify to you that more than once I have escaped for my life to the temple!  It is a refuge from stress and worry where I can think clearly without the distractions of the world getting in the way.   I am my best self there, the woman of faith and hope that I strive to someday be at all times and in all places. 

This week, make an effort to get to the temple.  If you aren't there yet, make a plan to get there!  I promise you, the peace you will find there in the presence of your Heavenly Father is better than anything this world can offer you. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Things I Miss...

I miss Utah.

I miss the mountains; the temples...I miss my friends, all of whom are now returned from the mission field.  I miss running and laughing in the rain barefoot past the gates at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, my heels kicked off in a fit of pique.  It was 60 degrees on the 20th of October.  I miss kissing my husband under the branches of an oak tree while our crazy friend ran around looking for his lost Subaru amidst the parking lots full of Conference-bound cars.

I miss the sun-burnt rocks of St. George; walking down the street at 7:30 in the morning without a coat because it was warm as deep springtime.  I miss the feel of the sun on my face as I sat on the cool stone steps of the temple and lost myself in a moment of sheer grace.  I ache to return there, to that place where I instantly belonged; where I could be alone, but was never lonely. 

Someday, I will live there.  I will dance along the sun-drenched streets in bright, pretty sundresses while my children sing me songs of the pioneers.  I will take comfort in the cool shadows of the mountains; I will work patiently and diligently in the temple.  I will serve my Lord as a simple, happy, Latter-Day Saint woman.

On Friday of this week, I am interviewing for a social work position in Wheeling, where I'm from.  It is far indeed from Utah, but I miss it as well.  I miss the familiarity and comfort that comes from being somewhere you know.  Few things have changed in the Ohio Valley since I was a baby; the people are polite and kind to one another, more so than here. 

I miss my family; my friends.  I miss being able to find my way home from anywhere within a 50 mile radius.  I miss the hills.  I miss knowing where to get good food without having to go to a chain restaurant.  I miss spending time with people who have loved me as long as I've lived and who continue to love me just because I'm still here. 

Someday, I will live there.  I will relax in the deep softness that is the love of my family.  I will begin a career that I never imagined for myself.  I will lift my eyes to the hills that cradled most of my life and that of my family.  I will go to the temple at least once a month.  I will serve my Lord as a simple, happy, Latter-Day Saint woman. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Meditation: An Experiment

I've made a few observations about myself lately, regarding my off-kilter eating habits.  Most notably, I binge when I am alone.  Today, I set aside 20 minutes to see what it felt like if I forced myself to simply exist in the quiet.  Essentially, I forced my own company upon myself.  If you don't think that's possible, you should try it. 

Here's what I found out: 

1.  I would rather sleep than be utterly mindful of myself for 20 minutes.  When I felt myself wanting to doze, I opened my eyes and refocused. 

2.  I am impatient, and get bored with myself easily.  I only made it 14 minutes before checking the timer on my phone. 

3.  My center felt uncomfortable at times, like a large  lead ball resting against the most painful point on my spine.  At other times, it felt light and airy.  These were the times when I noticed the clock ticking or the dog breathing across the room.

4.  I didn't think about food at all, other than remembering the clementine I had for a snack because I could smell the orange oil in the peelings on the table beside me. 

What this told me is that if I can embrace the pain and boredom, going through them and making the realization that they are not as difficult as my mind would have them seem, I will not need to binge in order to numb the pain or boredom that I encounter when I insist upon being completely, mindfully myself. 

I chose to pray as I sat quietly.  It was a good time to be still and know the presence of God.  I wondered how long I have been living without being an authentic version of myself.  I feel as though I have been dragging my body around like so much luggage, looking to Heavenly Father and saying "Really?  THIS is what you're giving me??  And what, exactly, am I supposed to do with it???"

It's taken me a long time to actually want to be kind to myself, and even longer to realize that Oreos and M&M's are not love letters to my soul; they are torture devices to my hips, and large quantities of them will probably shorten my time here on earth.  The Adversary would love that, I'm sure, but I'm not going to give him the satisfaction. 

This is not about being thin.  I'm not on a diet.  I do realize, however, that I have a problem that is much bigger than myself.  With the help of my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, I can and will overcome this.  My goal right now is to feel better, and I am exercising and putting aside food I don't need.  If I occasionally feel that I NEED an Oreo or a couple M&M's, I will have them, and move on.  If, because of the changes I have made, I lose weight, so much the better. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's 1:30, and I just woke up. 

This is not the start to the New Year that I wanted.  I wanted to get up and go to Sacrament meeting.  I wanted to come home, get into comfy clothes and do a light workout.  I wanted to eat breakfast at a decent hour (it's not F&T Sunday until next week). 

However, over the last week, I have been battling a sinus infection... and losing.  For the past two nights, this nasty little bugger has been particularly hateful.  If I even try to sleep, I am rendered unable to breathe through my nose.  Sleep is nonexistent or fitful, and in either case, I wake up the next day with a migraine.  This morning, I had finally gotten comfortable... and the alarm went off.  I made some unintelligible, congested troll noise, and my worried husband fed me Coricedin and herbal tea and rubbed my back until I fell asleep.

Here's hoping that your New Year's Day is the perfect start to 2012.  Say a little prayer for the bleary-eyed girl in the corner with the uncooperative sinuses, please!