November is always a time of reflecting on the great blessings in my life. Every time I check my Facebook page I see friends posting about the things in their life that they are thankful for. The Thanksgiving Holiday Season is great for helping each of us pause and reflect on the many things we each have to be thankful for!
There was once a time in my life when I was overseeing a household of 6 children, handling the bookkeeping of two businesses, helping my husband run those same two businesses, taking care of a responsible job in my church, and coping with 24/7 migraine headaches.
Back then, life had many grueling days but it also had its blessings. The thing that I remember most about those years in my life is my mindset. I so desperately wanted to be a good person and to take care of my husband and children and I so often neglected myself in the process.
24 hours in a day were never enough for me. My family dubbed me with the well-deserved nickname of Jo Mario. My nickname referred to my driving (I had sooo many errands!) but it also referred to my never-set-still way of handling life.
I still remember the day. I was zipping around town running my never-ending list of errands and a voice (from heaven) screamed at me, “YOU ARE RUNNING ON ADRENALINE!!!” I remember the fear I felt as the message was delivered but I also remember my thoughts. My thoughts replied to the voice – How else am I going to get everything done? Yet, I knew I had been given an important warning.
Well, within a year or so my adrenaline reserves had been exhausted, my health was in shambles and severe depression had me suicidal.
Had I listened to my heavenly warning, my health, depression and life would have been in much better shape. However, back then, although I knew that I was being forewarned and I technically knew that my warning was coming from God – I didn’t fully understand what God could do for me if I listened to Him and allowed him to guide my life.
In my book, A Glimpse of Heaven, the first chapter opens with my visit to heaven and my meeting with God. That visit came as a result of my decision to end my life the next day. My visit to heaven taught me more about life (in the brief time that I was there) than over 50 years of life has taught me.
I believe that I was allowed to visit heaven not only to save my life – but to help others both save and find purpose in their own lives.
While in heaven, I was allowed to see myself and the relationships I had been a part of. I was able to see the incredible difference that centering my existence on the truths that God taught and exemplified made. I saw that centering my actions and intent around God did not make me less or a clone or diminish me in any way. Instead, centering my actions and intent around God provided me with the tools to reach my full potential and enabled me to maximize the passions, talents, and gifts that made me uniquely me. In other words, handing over the “clay” of my life to that perfect sculptor we refer to as God enabled all the assistance and tools necessary for me to become to be a masterpiece instead of the primitive sculpture I would become if left to my own devices.
Throughout the rest of my life I will be a masterpiece in the making because I have opted to center God around my life. Every aspect and area of my life is made better, easier and more abundant because my Creator is a part of it. That does not mean that my life does not have challenges or that it is easy. Virtually every day is filled with learning experiences that stretch me beyond my comfort zone. However, as I allow myself to be stretched, I continuously witness better results and deeper joy than I have ever experienced before.
I no longer run on adrenaline (and my health has improved as a result!), I no longer rely solely on my own wisdom and I listen when I am given heavenly promptings. Also, I make my spiritual, emotional and physical well-being a priority. I make time to feast daily from the scriptures and inspirational materials, I work on my relationships and my emotional health, and I exercise and eat healthy foods.
It’s like the story of the rocks in the jar:
One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him.
Then he produced about a dozen fist sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”
Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”
By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.
“Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the class shouted.
Once again he said, “Good.” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!”
“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is:
‘If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
If you are interested in fulfilling the purpose that you and your life are uniquely meant to fill – remember to center God around your life and to make Him your biggest “rock”.
I have found using the following recipe daily to be especially effective in creating a life full of purpose and abundance: (These are my big rocks!)
• 1 session of scripture study
• At least 3 personal prayers
• A healthy dose of humility and teachability
• 20 minutes of exercise
• Consistent efforts to show love to family and friends
• Taking at least 20 minutes to turn off noise of the world to listen and meditate (I often do this while I am driving.)
• Eating healthy meals
• Feeding my mind positive, educational literature and inspirational music
• Looking for and recognizing the abundance of blessings in my life
• Taking time to serve others
• Turning to my Heavenly Father for guidance and answers
• 1 Giant helping of exercising Faith
I would love to hear your inspirational stories of how our Heavenly Father has helped you in your life! Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org