Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lord I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief

We all have moments of clarity in which we see what it is that we really want. One particularly poignant one for me came in January of 2014 when I looked into the perfect face of my new granddaughter Lindi. I saw all the love of generations of mothers, daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters looking into my eyes and I felt something deep and profound and ultimately, life-changing.

I sat there holding this precious baby and I knew that I wanted to be there for her. Really be there for her. I wanted to help her feel joy, I wanted to play with her, I wanted her to know that her grandma loved her and would do anything for her. At that moment I felt trapped in an uncooperative mortal frame. I had a body that was wracked with pain, no energy, and was shrouded in obesity. All the reasons, excuses, shame, and disappointments didn't matter. This little perfect child needed me. The real me. Sara. The joyful, happy, fun, and spiritually in-tune Sara. Someone who could give her positive love and guidance. Someone who could run, play, hike, swim, sing, and dance with her. Someone who could teach her about the love of The Savior.

For years I had prayed for help. "Heavenly Father, please help me to lose weight. Help me to be strong. Help me to stick to my diet plan. Help me to hate carbs." I had tried mantras, visualization, listened to weight-loss cd's with subliminal messages that told me how much I loved vegetables. I worked my body into a frenzy of exercise. I over-worked it; I injured it; I damaged it; I tried liquid diets, high carb/low-fat diets, low/carb/high fat and protein diets, HCG, fasting, The Up Day/Down Day diet, Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, and a lot of other permutations of this list. I can't even remember everything I've tried. They all ended the same. Sara, face first in noodles, french bread, pudding, chocolate, ice cream, cookies, candy, pie, and every yummy thing I could get my hands on until I had gained back all I'd lost and more. I dieted myself into obesity. What started out as an insecure teenager trying to lose 5 pounds so her mom would quit telling her. her 110 pound body was getting a "square bottom" ended as a 49 year-old woman more than 100 pounds overweight.

My prayers started changing after Lindi was born. I began to really ask for guidance. I searched for answers everywhere, but was no longer willing to just try anything anyone suggested. What did Heavenly Father want me to do? What was his plan for me? My moment of clarity was followed by others. I REALLY didn't want to drop dead of a heart attack. I wanted my husband and children to stop being frightened of that happening. I wanted to have the strength and energy to serve the Lord better, to go on missions with my husband. I wanted my attitude toward food to be changed from a pleasure seeking thing to a survival thing. I wanted to find the real me again.

Around March, a friend of mine stood in Relief Society, (a church organization for women,) one Sunday and told us about the upcoming BYU Women's Conference that was to be held in May and she passed out cards with the information on it and how to sign up. I felt a prompting from the spirit that I needed to be there. I took my card home and put it on the nightstand beside my bed and then every time I looked at it for the next couple of months I came up with excuses why I didn't need to go. Later, I found out that this same friend was actually presenting at the conference and my desire to go greatly increased. I knew that she'd be singing and I didn't want to miss that. Then I forgot about it again and didn't think of it until a few days before the conference. By then it was too late to sign up online, which meant I'd have to go early on the morning of the conference and stand in line to get registered and get my badge. I really didn't want to do that. But, my dear husband kept encouraging me to attend, and I thought that if I could convince a friend to go with me, then I could get there. So I called one of my good friends and she said she could go with me for the first day, and she even offered to drive!
Me, My Nightingale-Voiced Friend, My Dear Friend Who Got Me There

Walking from the parking lot up the hill to the Marriott Center was the hardest workout I'd done in a long time, but I made it and didn't embarrass myself by passing out in the road or anything ridiculously dramatic like that. As I sat in that huge room with 20 to 30 thousand other women, browsing my conference guide, I was thrilled, and ecstatic to discover that Sheri Dew was to be the keynote speaker of that session. As she spoke on grace, I was mesmerized. I sat there hearing and learning things that I had never before understood very well. I tried to take notes, but it frustrated me to have my attention diverted from her face on that huge monitor for even a second. You can read her talk here. I felt hope beginning in my heart. I felt the gentle voice of the Spirit whispering to me things that I could do starting right then. All throughout that day, I kept receiving inspiration from the spirit. In a later session, Elder Bruce Hafen and his wife also presented on grace and the Atonement. Because of Sheri's talk, I was able to understand the Hafen's deep and doctrine-filled talk more fully, although I knew I'd need to go back and study it more deeply. Read their talk here. When I was in bed that night, I discussed with my husband the things I had heard and felt that day. After he went to sleep I prayed like I'd never had the courage to pray before. "Please Heavenly Father, I will do ANYTHING you tell me. I will have faith and I know that through Thy grace and power, I can do anything you ask of me. Please tell me what to do. I know that I am weak, the very weakest of all, but I KNOW through Thee, I can have those weak things be made strong."

That night I had a bad case of insomnia. I did pray a lot, and I did receive guidance, but when I awoke after only 2 hours of sleep, my head was pounding and my body hurt all over. I decided I couldn't possibly get to the second day of the conference. As I lay there, a dear, dear friend and buddy texted me from Washington. I told her I felt rotten and didn't think I could force myself to go. She answered, "Get up and get to that conference for those of us who wish they could be there and can't!" So I did!

My friend couldn't go that day so another friend told me I could come and find her and her daughter and sit with them. I was late, but I got there. That second day was more of the same. I felt promptings and help from the spirit all day long. During a break between sessions, I forced myself to trudge up the 10 million stairs to the top of the Marriott Center to find the restroom and buy some lunch. While I was out there, I ran into my dear sister-in-law Patti. We talked for a bit and like most women do, we talked about how to lose weight and maintain that loss. She is a beautiful woman with a dozen children, that maintains her ideal body weight. She said something that struck me really hard and gave me direction as to what to do with all the promptings and inspiration I'd been receiving. She said, "Before I go to bed each night, I decide exactly what and how much I am going to eat the next day." Now, that isn't exactly what I felt I was to do, but the idea of being prepared for each new day struck me with great force. I could prepare by having the proper food in the house, the supplements I'd need, and most of all, to prepare myself spiritually each night before sleep and again when I awoke in the morning. I would know my plan for the next day before I even went to sleep. That way, the next morning, the decisions were already made and more easily kept.
2nd Day of Women's Conference
After the conference I began to formulate my plan. I prayed over each thing and would not add it if I didn't receive a yes from Heavenly Father. The things he didn't have me add were as interesting and important as the things he did. I prayed about exercise and received a, "Not now." That surprised me. I was so used to starting out a new program with punishing workouts, sore muscles, and general unhappiness. I asked if I should weigh myself and how often, and I got a, "No, you can trust me." What a relief. In the past, my ability to obsess over what the scale said was legendary. If I lost a lot, then I deserved a reward. If it showed no loss, then I sucked and why try? Nothing worked anyway! As I received answers to my questions, it was borne in upon me of how compassionate and kind our Father in Heaven is. He was rescuing me from myself! He was teaching me how to avoid obsessive thinking, unnecessary pain, and a host of other unhealthy habits I'd developed over the years.

He gave me my food plan, and taught me how to control my thoughts by turning to Him. He taught me that my only job in all this was to be obedient to what he told me and to new promptings I received. Remember, Heavenly Father doesn't give you everything at once. He sends it in small and doable doses. He really does love us and wants to help us receive the righteous desires of our hearts. Mormons tend to get mixed up about grace because of the phrase, ".....after all we can do. " I tended to think I had to do everything myself and when I'd proven myself, then He would help me. It certainly went along with the attitude of self-reliance we are taught to have. This is wrong thinking! He is with us before during and after. THE WHOLE WAY! My duty is to remember Him, obey Him, and follow His guidance, and He will carry my burden. He will take my burden of food addiction and HE will carry it. "All I can do" is come unto Him. I have three easy ways that he has shown me to control my thoughts. I do these things if I have a random food thought or craving, if I start to think negatively or become angry, If I start to obsess over how long will it take, or how much will I lose, or any thing like that. They are 1. Read my scriptures. The Book of Mormon has become my lifeline. I've read it 2.5 times in the past 4 months. I have it on my iPhone so it is always with me. 2. Pray for grace and to be strengthened. I pray for His peace and His power numerous times every day. 3. Sing or hum a hymn. My personal go-to hymn is "How Firm a Foundation" found here. I have used it since I was a little girl when I got nightmares at night. It has always brought me peace and comfort. It is especially helpful and effective when I have to grocery shop and pass by yummy looking treats. If you hear me humming in Costco, you'll know why!

This is the very beginning of my journey. In later posts I will share a more detailed description of how I eat and the supplements I use. This is not intended to be a list. I have hesitated until now to share my plan because it is so personal to me. Heavenly Father is the greatest physician of all and I feel like this plan is His prescription to heal Sara's body. When I have received healing, I have no doubt he will reveal to me my own wellness plan. I have no desire to make anyone feel like I think they should do what I do. My dear sister has prayed for direction to deal with her health issues and has received a completely different plan than mine, and she is experiencing her own miracles. Don't be afraid to get on your knees and ask for your own prescription!


  1. This is amazing. I gained greater strength by yours. Thanks

  2. Dear Beautiful Sara, what a poignant read this was. I applaud your courage in starting this blog and opening up your life…your heart to all. I have known you since we were young. You were always one to have a smile on your face and appear to have no problems, but alas you were and are human like all the rest of us. It takes courage to say I have struggles and I cannot overcome those on my own. Thank you for reminding us that we all need to go to the source of the most powerful strength for guidance and the ability to meet our trials, our Savior. It is easy to forget that for what may seem to be the mundane things in our lives. I appreciate so much that you sought His guidance in determining your path and formulating your plan. I too get tripped up by the “after all you can do” phrase in my own life. We don’t have to rely only on our own strength and knowledge. He does truly know each and every one of us. Thank you for sharing. I pray the good Lord will continue to bless you in your quest. And through your willingness to open yourself up to the world in this way I know that others will be blessed as well. Love you, my sister in Zion!

  3. I loved this post and hearing of your journey of healing. Love you always. ��