Hi I'm Heidi.
When I sit down to consider my life, it is easy to get caught up in the things that are frustrating. The messy house, or the broken-down car. The expense of my children's extra-curricular activities, or the constant lack of hours in the day. It is easy to recall the seemingly constant struggle of suffering from bipolar disorder. To feel overwhelmed by shame, or embarrassment about a mood that got away from me or the non-stop desire to sleep and ignore my life. It is easy to feel those things. Very easy. Except that every time I really think, I'm reminded just how blessed I am. I have a home that helps me to keep my family safe, protected and warm, not only from the elements but from the influences of the world. I have a car -2 actually- that start every day to take me where I need to go. I have healthy, happy children who are active, and involved in their schools and community. I have a warm, comfortable bed to lay my weary head when the not-long-enough day is over. I have extensive family, dear friends, counselors, doctors, and a loving Ward family that supports me when I'm struggling with my disorder, and who help me to understand that what's wrong with me isn't my mind, or spirit. It is my body. The Atonement of Jesus Christ helps me to forgive, understand, love, endure, and remember that I can overcome any struggle, and truly thrive by living the Gospel, loving my Savior and Heavenly Father, and serving them.
Why I am a Mormon
Although I was born and raised in the Church, I was converted to the Gospel. I had to search for answers to the questions I had, and in my journey, I spent a great deal of time being seduced by the world. I traveled to my own, personal Hell and saw exactly what was in store for me if I continued on that road. In the pits of my own despair, it wasn't long before I was searching for the peace I remembered feeling in my childhood home and the loving arms of my parents. I knew where that peace came from, and so I changed course and followed a new path. It wasn't easy. It was never easy, but it was definitely worth it. In the beginning I remember feeling like I was thirsty for something and starving. Surrounded by the Gospel, it felt like there was food and drink right in front of me, but I couldn't have it all just yet. Like someone who is lost for a long time at sea or in the desert, when rescued they are desperate to eat, but must be fed slowly and gently in order to re-acclimate their bodies to the nourishment. It was the same for me. I returned to the Church with a new resolve, grateful to be "found", but true peace and comfort came slowly and gently as I was re-acclimated to the feelings of the Spirit, and the strength it takes to make good choices when bad ones seem so much easier. I'm a Mormon because my faith grounds me, and keeps me focused and centered. It fills me with peace, love, and patience, and the ability and desire to endure any trials that come (and there are always so many). I'm a Mormon because I believe in every aspect of Church doctrine from the Prophet Joseph Smith's Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on this Earth, to the knowledge that I will be with my family for eternity. I believe in the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I believe His is the greatest gift man-kind will ever know. I'm a Mormon because I choose to be. I choose it because it's true. I choose it because it held me safe when the world turned its back on me.
In what ways have your prayers been answered?
I have a deep, abiding testimony of the power of prayer. I have always known that my Father is listening to me, and is always happy to hear from me, and bless me, and comfort me. I know this with even greater affirmation now that I am a mother and have these same feelings regarding my own children. How much greater is my Father in Heaven's love for me! While I have many experiences that testify to me of the blessings that come from prayer, one event stands out. Several years ago as a young, single Mom, I was driving my car in morning rush-hour traffic during a blizzard. Visibility was so poor, and I could not see three feet in front of me. My two small children were tucked in to their car seats in the back when suddenly my engine clunked, sputtered, and died. I managed to meander over to the left shoulder and sat in fear for the safety of my children. It was bitterly cold, nobody would be able to see us, and my car had thrown a rod. The engine would never start again. I put the hazard lights on, and opened my door to try and flag down another driver for help. (I had no cell phone at this time.) Nobody stopped. Eventually, after 20 minutes of trying I got back in the car and noticed that it had gotten much colder inside. My precious babies were beginning to cry. I asked my 4 year-old son to say a prayer with me. We humbly said a quick prayer of gratitude for our safety, and asked for help. Immediately after saying "Amen" I heard a tap on my car window. A police officer going the other direction had stopped, and crossed the median. He helped me and the children to his patrol car, and brought us home to safety. I have so many stories like this of simple, humble prayers being answered. I know the Lord hears my prayers and it is always the first advice I give to people I know and love who are struggling. Talk to the Lord. He hears us and will bless us. Answers may not always come when we want them to, or how we want them to, but they will come.
How I live my faith
I wish I were a better example of a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but I am often much too hard on myself, and know that I am doing good and am grateful that I have more room to grow. I live the Word of Wisdom - so I don't smoke, use drugs, drink alcohol, or coffee or tea. I serve the people in my Ward, neighborhood, and family to the best of my ability, because I know from my own suffering, that people are suffering all around me and trying so hard to keep it from showing. Sometimes a smile, a hug, a meal, or even a prayer in their behalf can provide much-needed relief. I avoid letting the world seep in to my home by keeping tabs on the music my teenagers listen to, the television shows and movies we watch, the games we play, and the things we read. I practice forgiveness because I know that every day I do something that I need to be forgiven for, and in order to be forgiven, I need to forgive. I remember to pay my tithing in gratitude for the rich blessings in my life, and give as generously as I can to Church and other social programs that benefit the needy in my neighborhood and around the world. I try to teach my children through example to be kind to everyone they meet, and remember that ALL people are children of our Father in Heaven who loves them. I try to teach them that hard work is the way to achieve our goals. I teach them that service is pure joy. There is much more I could do to live my Faith I know, but there should always be much more to do. To ever be complacent would be dangerous. I try to set a good example, and hope that when people see me, they never have to wonder whether or not I'm a Mormon. I hope it shines on my face.