Category Archives: Miscellaneous

For those odd blogs that have a category all their own…

Writing: Finding My Way Back

Four and a half years ago our world crumbled. After our oldest daughter passed away life became about coping. Making it from one moment to the next. Trying to make sure my family was healing. Making sure I was healing. My brain was a foggy mess. I could barely think and function beyond my immediate needs and the needs of my family.

My words left me.

My stories left me.

For the first time, in a long time, my characters fell silent, as though they too were mourning.

I wondered if any of it would come back and for a while, I almost hoped it didn’t. A year after she passed, I began to try to find the writer. Most of the time I didn’t want to write. It was hard. I usually ended in tears.

But, each time I tried it got a little easier. I healed a little more, and I was relieved to discover that the writer did not die with Lizy.

So, now, after over three years, I am really writing again. Stories flood my brain while characters vie for attention.

And, for the first time in far too long, I have started to query again. 10 queries sent out today. For me, it’s a cause for celebration. I know it will continue to be a long journey, I’m okay with that. It will be fun to see what the future holds.

This last weekend I attended a writer’s conference in Kansas City. On a page on the wall writer’s could write down the best advice they received. I read:

QUIT!  because if you try and you can’t, you really are a writer.

 

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Date Night Funnies

Tonight, Paul and I went to see Tarzan. While we really enjoyed the movie, we also were in quite the silly mood, which led to some humorous moments (though perhaps only humorous to us, lol)

While waiting for the preview….

Me: Hey! I just thought of a great idea for my next book. George of the Jungle meets Tarzan, a coming of age story!

Still waiting for previews.

Me (pointing to the blank screen): So, what’cha watchin?

Paul: The Story of my Life

Overheard from the guy behind us while still waiting for previews:

My dad met the original Tarzan once in a bar in Europe. He (Tarzan) was drunk and hung from a chandelier while doing the Tarzan yell.

On the way home from the movie we were on the freeway with the windows down (the ac doesn’t work in either of our little cars) and Paul suddenly lets loose with a REALLY loud Tarzan yell, making me jump. Then he dares me to try it when we go to pass a car with their windows rolled down.

I obliged, but only got half way through, I was laughing so hard.

At one point, in between attempted Tarzan yells, I started coughing.

Paul: Bug?

Me: Tarzan problem #127. How do you not swallow bugs when yelling? Never mind “bug on windshield” problems while flying through the congo on vines….

So, highlight of the night… doing Tarzan yells at the top of our lungs while driving down the freeway… yeah, we’re that weird.

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Lizard’s Talk on Dealing with Adversity

On August 8th of 2010, Lizy gave her very first talk in Sacrament Meeting (the main meeting where the congregation meets together) at church . She wasn’t even 12 yet, but since we had just moved from Oregon and were new in the ward (congregation) and Paul & I were speaking, Lizy was asked to speak as well. Her topic was adversity. I remember her being nervous & I remember helping her with writing it. Encouraging her to look through her scriptures & use personal experiences.

Today Paul was cleaning out some files and found the copy of her talk that she used when she gave it six years ago. Reading through it now after all that has happened was quite amazing (I could hear her voice as I read it) – and I was impressed by her insight at the age of eleven.

This school year would have been her senior year, and I have to admit, it’s going to be a hard year. It’s hard seeing the senior pictures for marching band (she would have been there), or watching her friends take that next big step, seeing how they have grown and matured. We’re excited for them and for all they are accomplishing, but there is a pang in the heart as we watch these things happen without her.  But this, this was a sweet reminder that we will get through this year, just as we have the last four and we will be stronger for it & I’m sure blessed in more ways than we can possibly know.  This was a sweet tender mercy, a little hug saying, “I know it’s hard, but with Christ you can do it.”

I’ll let her words speak for themselves:

“Lizards Talk on Dealing with Adversity

“Heavenly Father has given us adversity, or challenges, to help strengthen our testimonies.  Adversity is supposed to be hard. When we face adversity there are two attitudes we can choose from.

“Choice number 1 is negative. When we are negative we usually say things like, “Why does this have to happen to me?” or “Why do I have to suffer this now?” or even, “What have I done to deserve this?”

“Choice number two is positive. When we are positive we might say things like, “what am I to do?” or “What am I to learn from this experience?” Maybe even, “Whom am I to help?”

“Often times, it’s not easy choosing to be positive, but when you do the challenge can be easier to deal with.  When my Dad first told me we might be moving here to Ohio, I was a little upset and even a little scared. I didn’t want to leave my friends behind and move to a place where I knew nobody. I had a hard time seeing what could be positive about moving, but then my parents started pointing out all the positive things, like new friends, new adventures and sights to see.  We also prayed about the decision as a family.  As we prayed I felt the spirit telling me it was the right thing to do. Another thing that helped me find the positive and deal with this challenge was receiving a blessing from my Dad. It wasn’t too long before I was looking forward to the move.

“My experience showed me that when we have adversity we should turn to God. In Alma 36: 3 it says:

“‘And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.’

“When we turn to God in adversity our burdens are lightened. Elaine Cannon said, “Every burden on the back can become a gift in the hand.”  If we try to be positive and ask ourselves those questions, what can we learn, who can I help and strive to remember our many blessings in our times of trial then our burdens can become gifts from God.

“When Alma’s people were in bondage to the Lamanites they chose to turn to God in silent prayer. Because they remembered God in their adversity and poured out their hearts to Him they were blessed as we read in Mosiah 24: 13-16:

“’13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

‘  14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

‘ 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

‘ 16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.’

“I know that if we pray for help, read our scriptures, and endure with patience as the people of Alma, then Heavenly Father will help us. As we do these things our testimonies will be strengthened and knowledge we gain will be a gift. I know that adversity comes to us all. We need to prepare now so we know what to do when adversity comes our way.  I know that Heavenly Father gives us adversity because he loves us and wants us to learn and grow and become like him and Jesus Christ.

“It comforts me to remember all that Christ suffered for me. In Alma 7:11-12 it says:

“’11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

’12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.’

“I know he understands all of my pains and sorrows because he has been through more than us and He and Heavenly Father will never leave me alone. I know there will never be a challenge that we cannot overcome.”

So many years later, sweet Lizard, and your wisdom at such a young age touches my heart. There was no way knowing what kind of impact your words would have so many years later. Love and miss you.

 

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How the Atonement of Jesus Christ Helps Me In My Darkest Hours

Today’s scripture study took me to this scripture about Jesus Christ:

“And l, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.” Mosiah 3:7

Which took me to this marvelous quote by Neal A. Maxwell:

“Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, ‘astonished’! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fulness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined! No wonder an angel appeared to strengthen him! (SeeLuke 22:43.

“The cumulative weight of all mortal sins—past, present, and future—pressed upon that perfect, sinless, and sensitive Soul! All our infirmities and sicknesses were somehow, too, a part of the awful arithmetic of the Atonement. (See Alma 7:11–12;Isaiah 53:3–5; Matthew 8:17.) The anguished Jesus not only pled with the Father that the hour and cup might pass from Him, but with this relevant citation. ‘And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me’ (Mark 14:35–36).

“Had not Jesus, as Jehovah, said to Abraham, ‘Is any thing too hard for the Lord?’ (Genesis 18:14). Had not His angel told a perplexed Mary, ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’? (Luke 1:37; see alsoMatthew 19:28; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27).

“Jesus’ request was not theater!

“In this extremity, did He, perchance, hope for a rescuing ram in the thicket? I do not know. His suffering—as it were, enormity multiplied by infinity—evoked His later soul-cry on the cross, and it was a cry of forsakenness. (See Matthew 27:46.)

“Even so, Jesus maintained this sublime submissiveness, as He had in Gethsemane: ‘Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt’ (Matthew 26:39)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 92; orEnsign, May 1985, 72–73).

And that marvelous quote made me think back on those moments when I relied on the atonement to get me through my darkest hours.

Many ask HOW – 

HOW do we apply the atonement in times of great grief or pain?

For me, in those unbearable moments when one wonders if they can even breathe and the weight of grief on the heart threatens to tear you asunder, I pray. I pray and pray, pleading for help and some how, as though rays of sun forcing themselves through the thickest, darkest storm clouds, a calm and peace settles in my heart and mind, and I know God is with me, taking in his hands my burdens. And I turn myself over to him, accepting His will, no matter how agonizing it may be, because I trust Him. I believe Him. I believe His promises of eternal families, and that with Him all things are possible.

I remind myself each day that as I allow the spirit to comfort my heart and to feel the peace He is trying to pour into my soul, that I am strong enough, somehow, some way, to make it through the storm. And I look, I look for those bits of light and the more I look, the more I see, until hope shines upon my face with the full brightness of the sun, and in that moment, I know. I know the atonement is working in my heart and life.

And the amazing thing is, the more I open my heart, the more peace He pours in. The pain isn’t gone, it is still there, but the peace He gives, wraps it and buffers it until is is manageable. And hope – one of the greatest gifts of the atonement, because it pushes us to keep going, to keep trying, even when we fear all is lost or impossible.

So, back to HOW?

1-  I believe. I believe His words and promises are meant for ME!

2 – I pray – pleading and begging for relief.

3 – Just as the Savior did, I must accept God’s will – only then will the healing come.

4 – I strive to see the peace and open my heart to the Spirit. I allow myself to be comforted and filled with love and hope from the Savior. Sometimes this is so hard – it’s easy to miss – sometimes that peace might feel so fleating, or like a weak flickering candle in a vast darkness, but every time I grasp onto it, that peace grows as long as I am willing to let it into my heart.

It is a deeply personal and unique process and experience. It is most likely very different for others. But to me it is beautiful and each day, time, moment that I apply it in my life I feel my love and connection with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ increase. My faith increases and my soul is filled with an overwhelming hope that all will be fine in the end and that our family will be together for eternity. And, while the days feel long until I see my Lizy again, I know I will see her. And I know I have a loving Savior and Heavenly Father who will help me through the hard times until that day comes.

How greatly we are blessed. How much I have learned and grown. How much I still have to learn and grow. I love this beautiful plan that Heavenly Father has created for us.

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In the eyes of a seven-year-old

Today we took the family up to Indianapolis to see the new temple (for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Before a temple is dedicated there is an open house where the public is able to walk through the various rooms of the temple to see and enjoy the beauty and to learn more about them. We were all so excited to go and we had a wonderful experience. I think for me, the best part was after we came home. We wanted the children to write their experiences in their journals.

James and Jacob (7 and 10) asked for help (Robert I am just going to have him draw some pictures in the morning, etc) in getting their thoughts onto paper. I didn’t tell them what to say, just let them talk to me and I wrote their words for them.

Jacob’s was neat and mentioned things like “I felt loved when I went into the temple”, “the Celestial room was white and bright and the stained glass windows made little rainbows on the floor”, and “we walked down the hallway filled with pictures of Jesus’ life”.

James’ however, especially for his young age of 7, astounded me. With his permission, I share with you his words:

“Today I went to the Indianapolis Temple Open House. In the temple I saw the baptismal font and the celestial room. We saw an instruction room with beautiful paintings on the walls from floor to ceiling. We saw the other instruction room and it was bright. I saw the room that people get married in. I saw the mirrors and when you look in them they go forever and ever. I saw the women’s locker room and where the front doors and recommend desk are. I saw the chapel and beautiful chandeliers.

We didn’t speak in the celestial room. I felt warm. I felt the spirit. I touched the side of the temple. I liked all the beautiful paintings. Outside there was a beautiful fountain. We also saw the bride’s room.

I was so excited to go and I am so happy I did!

There were beautiful stained glass windows too. I really, really felt the spirit. I saw the lightning stick on top of Angel Moroni. I learned families can be together forever. Even when we die they go forever and ever like the mirrors.”

 

I don’t think I could share any more or any better – so simple so beautiful.  I love seeing things through the eyes of a child.

Below is a video of a virtual tour of the Indianapolis temple so you can see and enjoy the same beauty my boys and the rest of our family did.

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Sweet 16!

Sixteen years ago today I became a mom. I remember holding you, tiny Elizabeth Ane, and marvelling over how tiny and fresh from God you were. I was excited, scared, in awe, and hopeful of many joyous years. Something magic happens that very first time you hold your very first baby. It is my most cherished memory and it stays tucked safely in my heart.

It’s hard to believe that was sixteen years ago. I know I never expected parenting to be like this. I don’t know that I recall exactly what I expected. I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea of the intense joys and the gut wrenching sorrows that would come.

I hope I have learned a lot in the last 16 years. And I hope I have become a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, and person through it all.

I held you and marveled at the end, though tears streaked my face and letting you go was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I marveled at your goodness, your readiness, and in the fact that you were meeting your Heavenly Father. I marveled at all you must be doing, and the thought of it has made me happy and joyous, though I miss you each and every day.

I have learned that Heavenly Father does indeed give us much more than we can handle and much more than we can bear – ALONE – and I have learned that as we lean on him He will bear all things for us and help us with the impossible burdens as they come. I know He loves us and I am grateful he doesn’t keep us from facing the hard impossible times, because as much as I miss you and love you and want you with us RIGHT NOW, I have seen so much growth in myself, my family and many others.

I am often surprised that I have survived this, and it is only through my Savior, Jesus Christ, that I have.  Because of Him the grief has begun to mend and the pieces of our lives still cling together. Because of Him we will all be together again someday. I just need to keep fighting, keep plugging on.

Happy Sweet 16, Dearest Elizabeth.

Thank you for making me a mom for the first time.

Thank you for bringing me so many incredible years of joy!

I love you.

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Angelversary

Three years ago, with heavy hearts, we said our good-byes to our sweet Elizabeth Ane, had the machines turned off, and started on this new chapter of life. And while I have never known such depths of sorrow, I haven’t known such soaring joys, peace and comfort. In the past three years I have come to recognize more tender mercies and miracles from our loving Heavenly Father. Many of those tender mercies and miracles came to us through you – dear friends who have kept us continually in your prayers and followed promptings of service and love.

My faith has increased, and I have come to understand the atonement of Jesus Christ in a way I have never comprehended before. Often I am in absolute awe that I have survived this. I hope I have become a better person, more compassionate, more loving, and more like my Savior. I have come to know that in days of deepest sorrow it is still possible to find and know joy. I have also come to know that our Savior and Heavenly Father will truly pick up and carry our burdens when they are far too hard for us to bear.

It has been a long and arduous journey and while the burdens are lighter today than they were three years ago at this time, they are still there and I continue to turn to Christ for help in bearing them.  I know He lives and because He suffered and died for us and was resurrected, we too will live again. I know that through him we can attain peace and joy in this life and in the one to come. I know families are eternal, and while I yearn for that far off day when we are together again, I do my best to enjoy each moment here in mortality. I know that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father love us and will never leave us alone. They are there, if we but turn to them in our hour of need, to comfort and guide us through. Their love is unconditional and ever bright.

I miss her- every day, but I know she is with us still. We carry her always in our hearts and memories, and I know she continues to watch over her family. We love you, dear Lizy.

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