Category Archives: Religion

Two Boys, a Man, and a Prayer

I was in between running errands. Home just fifteen minutes before running off to do the next thing when my doorbell dinged. Twice. I was annoyed. Partially because double dings always feel so impatient. I reminded myself that this was most likely no fault to the person at the door, but when I looked through the window and saw an older man I didn’t recognize the irritation came back. I yanked the door open fully prepared to tell the man we didn’t want any and go about my business.

He spoke before I could utter a word. “You have two boys, right? Jacob and James.”

“Yes,” I replied.

“I have something for them. Did they tell you about what happened yesterday when I was looking for my cat?”

“They mentioned it.”

He then proceeded to tell me a story. A story of two boys, a man, and a prayer.

He and his wife had lost their cat. They had been searching for four days. He was near our yard looking when the boys got off the bus. He told them he was looking for his cat and asked if they had seen him around. The boys said no and helped look for a while. After a bit they paused to rest, the man’s knees were bothering him. Jacob whispered in James’ ear.

“What are you two plotting?” The man asked with a laugh.

They laughed, whispered a bit more and then asked, “Can you kneel?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I can.”

“We want to say a prayer for your cat,” the boys said.

The three of them knelt on the grass and one of the boys prayed and asked for the cat, Biscuit, to be able to safely return home. After the prayer they stood and one of the boys looked at the man. “We prayed. God will help and your cat will come home now.”

The man looked at me, very emotional. “Our cat came home last night. He had gotten trapped in a neighbor’s basement area.”

He then proceeded to hand me an envelope for each boy. “I really appreciate the prayer they said with me. You have very fine boys.”

When my boys got home, I told them the man had come by and had left something for them and that his cat had been returned. Immediately my two boys knelt down to pray and thank Heavenly Father for the return of Biscuit, the man’s cat.

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Filed under Children, Every Day Life, Miracles, Religion

Choose to Rise Above

I watched this beautiful video recently and it really got me thinking. It’s a powerful message and reminder to be kind to everyone.

What’s been on my mind in the days since watching it are the choices we make. Unfortunately, no matter how many amazing videos there are that teach us not to bully or be unkind, no matter how we strive to teach it in our homes, churches, and schools, as long as there is agency to choose right from wrong, there will be those who choose to be unkind and downright mean. Sometimes the unkind acts are intentional, sometimes they are unintentional – the offenders may not even be aware they have caused offense or hurt feelings.  Not only do we need to teach our children how to be kind and (hopefully) not be the bullies, and by all means, correct their behavior when and if they are, we also need to teach our children that they have a choice on how they will let others affect their lives.

We can choose to let them rule us, let their words and actions keep us from reaching our full potential. We can choose to let them drive us from church. We can choose to  hold a grudge that will eat away at our spirits.

We can choose to not let what others say and do keep us from reaching our full potential. We can choose to not let others drive us from developing a close and personal relationship with God. We can choose to forgive and rise above, gleaning good lessons from our experiences.

Some might read my post so far and say, easy for you to say such things, what can you possibly know about being bullied or picked on.

You’re right, I may not know as much as some, but this is what I do know.

I know the moments when I walked into the lunchroom in grade school and sat at a table only to have it immediately evacuated. But, it taught me to be more compassionate and to seek out the lonely.

I know the sinking feeling of waiting to be picked for a team and always to be chosen last. To hope that this time I’d do a good job at kickball or whatever sport we were playing, only to be jeered by both my team and the others when I royally messed up. But, it taught me to be patient with others as they practice and learn to do things.

I know all to well the embarrassment and dismay of finding out that vicious rumors were being spread about me, not only at high school, but at church – and they were started by the girls I went to church with. But, it taught me to be careful with my words.

My list could continue, there were many moments through middle school and high school that were hard and hurtful. I was rather awkward, and though I strove to show confidence, I was a quivering mess inside. But, each experience taught me something and made me stronger. I know I wasn’t always successful in showing the lessons I learned. I am sure I made mistakes, though hopefully not the same ones that hurt me as I grew up.

We all, in life, experience many things, many trials, whether it be bullies, or sickness, or death. And with each trial we have a choice. We can give it power over us. We can become the victim. We can get angry and let it drive us away from all we hold dear and true, or we can stand tall, lift our chins and press on with conviction. Conviction that we are of worth – that no matter how others may see us, we are sons and daughters of God. We can develop forgiveness in our hearts, and be the comfort bringers to others who have suffered similar hurts who may not know how to overcome.

There are days when my girls come home upset, sometimes even in tears, with what kids have said to them. Does my heart ache for them? Yes! But, I know that if I strive to teach them right, these experiences can be for their good. Rather than sitting and talking about how mean the bullies are, or how we’re justified to dislike them or be rude back, we talk about how they can be sure not to treat others that same way and how we can choose to forgive and move on. I remind my dear daughters (and sons) that they are beautiful children of God, and that they have the power to choose. I remind them to keep that power, and not give it away.

Just the other day one of my daughters mentioned to me how she saw a girl sitting all by herself, and she went and sat with her. She didn’t know the girl, but she knew what it was like to sit alone. She excitedly told me how grateful the girl was and how the girl felt she had no friends. My daughter could understand and reach out because she had learned her lesson, and rather than letting it defeat her, she chose to rise above and bless someone else’s life. I was prouder in that moment, than any other about the choices she is making.

Yes, bullying needs to stop. It’s cruel. It’s wrong. Yes, we need to teach our children to be kind and to not bully.
But, we also need to teach our children that when they are picked on, made fun of, bullied, or treated unkindly, that they can choose to let it defeat them, or to let it make them into strong, compassionate people.  We need to teach them to rise above and to love, even the undeserving and the unkind. We need to teach not to sacrifice their eternal well being for anything.

I remember Lizy coming home one afternoon from elementary school in tears. The girl who upset her had been rather mean. We talked for quite a while. As her tears dried up a thoughtful look crept upon her face. “Mom, maybe that girl can’t help it. Maybe she doesn’t have someone at home to love and teach her.”  I recall nodding my head in agreement as I told her, “we have no idea what trials others are passing through and how it affects them. But we can choose how we will let their words and deeds affect us.” She went to school the next day with the determination to show that girl more love, and what an example she taught me!

Gordon B. Hinckley says in his book “Stand a Little Taller”:

“Rise Above Weakness

‘And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world.’ – Ether 4:19

“Do we have frailties? Yes, of course we do. Do we have members of the Church who are not what they ought to be? Of course we do. Some of them may be your neighbors. You might have one for a roommate. Do not condemn the Church for that. Rather, say to yourself, “My membership in this Church is worth more than all of the evil that people can do to me,” if that is what it takes. You be faithful, you be true.”

“LOVE OVERCOMES

‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not parish, but have everlasting life.’ – John 3:16

“Love is the only force that can erase the differences between people — that can bridge chasms of bitterness.”

I strive to live my life so that I can be found faithful and true to the end. I do this one day at a time. Every day I have to forgive myself and forgive others.  I hope that they will in turn forgive me for actual or perceived wrongs that I have committed. I pray for love and compassion towards others, especially those who are difficult to love, and I hope they do the same for me when they find me difficult to love.

Life is a series of experiences designed to help us learn and grow and reach our full potential. It’s too short to let the intentional or unintentional injuries caused by others to the body, spirit, or soul get or keep us down. What we take away from life is up to us. Only you can decide how the actions or words of another will affect you. Will you get to the end with a list of grievances about how it’s been unfair, how you let others control your life by their actions? Or will you get to the end knowing that no matter what happened to you, you strove to love and learn the good lessons and let those experiences, both good and bad, shape you into the amazing person you are?

The choice is yours.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” –John 13: 34-35″

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Filed under Opinion, Parenting, Religion

Finding Peace

I was first asked to give a talk in church a little over a month ago. We were on our vacation in Pennsylvania, all packed in the van just having left the campground when Paul’s cell phone rang. With five kids crammed in a van for long periods of time, things can get rather tumultuous. After numerous reminders and scoldings to the children to quiet down and quit squabbling, I answered.  It was a member of our bishopric asking me to speak in a few weeks time, and the topic would be “Peace in the Home”.  I chuckled as another outburst broke out in our van, and I thought, “I’m sure our home is very peaceful right now.” After all, “there is beauty all around when there’s no one home….” lol.

Then I received the wonderful news that I wouldn’t have to speak because of a change in the schedule do to General Conference. But that relief was short-lived when I received another phone call.

Since receiving the assignment, I can say our home has been anything but peaceful. In fact, it seems to have grown in chaos, and I began to think long and hard about what Peace in the Home is and how we find it.

Is it possible to have peace in your home in the midst of great heart wrenching tragedy? Is it possible to have peace in your home with children who have special needs and seem to enjoy wreaking havoc? Is it possible to have peace in your home when the children fight and squabble? When you feel stressed and stretched to the max? When you wonder how you will make ends meet and live within your means? When you have to tear your house apart and completely dismantle it? When you work yourself to such levels of exhaustion that you laugh at anything and cry over everything? What about in homes where there is marital strife? Or children gone astray? Is there peace in the home and if so, where can it be found?

As I began to ponder on what peace was, I learned what peace wasn’t. It’s not how well-behaved your children are. It’s not how quietly they sit during scriptures or whether or not they call out their siblings’ bad behavior during prayer. It’s not based on the number of fights or the chaos that might surround your home. It’s not a period free from trials or stress – though it would be nice.

What I believe peace in the home is, is the quiet assurance that Heavenly Father sends to your heart in the midst of all the chaos and madness that everything will be all right – some how, some day. It’s terribly easy to miss – it can get lost in the frustration of dealing with squabbling children, or the hecticness of taxi service. It can get lost in the trials that beset and overwhelm, but if we stop and look for it, and search it out in our hearts, we’ll find it, glimmering there beneath the surface, assuring us, that we can get there, we can get through.

The kind of peace that we are searching for, isn’t the kind where all fighting stops – if you have children, you know that’s impossible. It’s not a halt in our troubles and disagreements. We are told in 2Nephi chapter 2 that there must needs be opposition in all things – so we will always have discord and trials – sorrows and heartaches to teach us about true joy.  The peace we can find and achieve in our homes and in our lives is emotional peace – freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. As we turn to our Heavenly Father and, through the atonement, turn our burdens over to him, we will in turn be given peace.

It will still be hard and at times it can still feel impossible. There are many many times when we question how we can possibly manage to continue on and make it through. Satan besets us with thoughts of unworthiness, discouragement, or worthlessness, but if we fight through the darkness and concentrate on the light of Christ and his atonement, we will be able to fight free of the oppressive darkness and find peace. Sometimes it may feel faint and fragile – it might be hard to grasp onto, but it will be there and if we give it room and nurture it, it will grow.

How do we find peace if we feel like we don’t have peace – honestly, this last week we had quite a bit of chaos going on in our home and I had a hard time finding that peace. I wasn’t sure it was there – I doubted my ability to feel or receive that peace. But as I began to look and see and open my heart I saw it – and as I put my trust more and more in Heavenly father I could feel that peace.

As I pondered this topic I thought of 7 key things to help us have and find peace in our homes:

1. Prayer – we can pray for peace, pray to feel it – regular and consistent family and personal prayers will give us the strength and foundation we need to make it through the daily tribulations and the even bigger trials that beset us. Prayer invites the spirit into our homes, and with it comes peace.

2. Scripture Study – as we have focused on reading the Book of Mormon this year, I feel peace has grown in our home – there are still fights and squabbles, I still get frustrated and have “wits end” kind of days – but in general things are just a touch smoother and peace is easier to find-  if you look for it.  Personal scripture study is just as important – through it  I have received the strength to carry on through trials. I am more spiritually focused, and peace is taught and found.

3. Gratitude – I was feeling particularly overwhelmed at the end of this week. I was feeling rather picked on, honestly and having a hard time finding anything to be positive about. I was exhausted – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I went online and started to read an Ensign talk that happened to be about gratitude. Immediately I began to focus on all the blessings we had – the miracles the friends who have helped us time and time again, our family, and the myriad of blessings  that I have in my life. There are so many more blessings than trials. And in that moment I felt the stress begin to melt away and peace enter into my heart. Yes, even if things look rather bleak at the moment, we have so, so much to be grateful for. Gratitude helps us realize all that our loving Heavenly Father has truly done for us and allows the peace he is trying to send us enter into our hearts.

4. Service – losing ourselves in the service of others allows us to forget our woes and troubles for a few moments and not only brings peace into our hearts and families, but in the hearts and families of others. We have been the receivers of wonderful acts of service many times and I can’t not describe the lifting of burdens it has brought us and the beautiful peace that accompanied every meal and act of service. As I have striven to serve others and taught my family to serve others – we have felt the same peace.

5. Love – allowing ourselves to feel Heavenly Father’s love – he truly loves us, he wants to help us and bless us. If we seek out His love we will also find His peace. As we show love in our families – reprimand with kindness and try to take the harshness from our voices love and peace will grow in our homes. As we teach our children and practice our selves to be more loving, kind, understanding, tolerant, long-suffering, and patient, love and peace will grow in our homes. We won’t be perfect at it, but each day we can improve a little.

6. Laughter & Joy – there was a moment when we were stressed to the max and exhausted – everyone could feel it – we pulled out the scriptures to read and it seemed like every little thing began to happen to keep us from reading – kids talking, hanging upside down in the chairs, pulling faces, we were at the table – so dishes being spilled, dogs nudging and licking toes, everyone telling everyone to be quiet, after numerous starts and even more stops the ridiculousness of the situation just hit and both Paul and I started to laugh. The tension snapped as everyone joined in and it spread through the family. Finally we all sat at the table laughing and joy began to replace the tension and stress – and with that joy came peace. Peace that all would be well and that things would work out somehow.  Another day I was impossibly grumpy and frustrated with the children and life in general. Knowing that I can’t dance and be angry at the same time, Paul began spinning me about the kitchen. My dark mood broke and with the joy and laughter came the peace and soon we had boys dancing about (and on our feet). 2 Nephi 2:25 says that Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have Joy. We are meant to be a happy people. But happiness isn’t something that happens to us – it’s something we choose.

7. Finally, and most importantly, remember the atonement. If there is anything that can bring peace into our lives and homes it is a knowledge and remembrance of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught,

“Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do. When He is the center of your home, there is peace and serenity. There is a spirit of assurance that pervades the home, and it is felt by all who dwell there.”

Jesus Christ is the bringer of Peace. He suffered not only for our sins, but for our every pain, worry, stress, and heartache. When we may feel no one knows or understands, He is always there to comfort and lift. Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite scriptures “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  He is our strength – through him we can make it through every trial no matter how defeated we feel he is there, waiting to help us. He will pick us up and carry us through the times when our steps falter. I have a testimony of our Savior. I know he Love us. I know He Lives. I know He lives to bless us, to comfort us, to bring us peace. I think often in the hymn “I Know my Redeemer Lives”. In moments when peace feels hard to find – I turn to that hymn and remember the atonement. Not only does the peace then enter my heart, but strength to pick up and keep moving on.

In a conference talk by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin given in the April 2000 conference he said,

“When you feel tossed by the storms of life and when the waves rise and the winds howl, on those occasions it would be natural for you to cry in your heart, ‘Master, carest thou not that I perish?’ When these times come, think back upon that day when the Savior awakened in the stern of the ship, rose up and rebuked the storm. ‘Peace, be still,’  He said.

“At times we may be tempted to think the Savior is oblivious to our trials. In fact, the reverse is true; it is we who need to be awakened in our hearts to His teachings.

“Use your ingenuity, your strength, your might to resolve your challenges. Do all you can do and then leave the rest to the Lord. President Howard W. Hunter said: ‘If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.’

“In our own storms in life the Savior is our solace and our sanctuary. If we seek peace, we must come unto Him. He Himself spoke this eternal truth when He said, ‘My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’  When our souls are anchored in the safe harbor of the Savior, we can proclaim as did Paul: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.’”

Over this week and the past year and a half I learned what it means to have peace in a home and it surprised me. I thought the fighting had to stop or that I had to be the “perfect mom”. I thought that peace was something that happened in those little blissful moments when everything is the picture of perfectness – where the kids are playing together happily and the trials seem lesser and it’s like a spiritual sigh runs through the house.  Those are examples of peace – but if that is what we think peace in our homes is, we will seldomly find or obtain it.

I have learned that peace can be found anytime – any where. It’s part of who we are. It’s our conviction in following the savior, living His gospel, and trusting in our Heavenly Father even when things seem impossible and we don’t understand what he is doing with our lives, we only know that it hurts and we cling to faith and pray for the strength to get through.

I know that in those moments when we feel overwhelmed and beaten down by life’s trials we can find peace. We can bring it into our homes. Our Heavenly Father loves us, he truly does. He will grant us all the things we need to succeed in this life and overcome the trials that beset us. Sometimes we might need to quiet ourselves or look past the chaos that surrounds us, but His peace is there waiting to bless us and our homes. I am eternally grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows and understand our needs. I am grateful for the peace he sends and for the tools he has given us to have and find peace in our homes.

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Filed under Child loss, Gratitude, Philosophy, Religion

Re-learning Family Singing Time

The other day Dot and I were off on a Mother/Daughter date, which involved a little shopping, yummy food, and lots of talking. At one point, as we were pulling into a parking lot, Dot glanced at me and said, “Mom, we haven’t been doing very much music at home since Lizy passed away. I miss it.”

I hadn’t really thought about it until she said something, but she was right. Something that had been such a standard in the home had slowly drifted away. I thought of the times – at least a couple times a week – we’d gather around the piano. I’d play, they’d sing or get out the rhythm instruments and make a grand ruckus.

We had tried a few times since Lizy passed away. The first time was a half-hearted effort reminiscent of the sad little scene in “The Sound of Music” where the children are sad that Maria left and they all drift off. It was kinda like that, but without anyone to rally us together.

It seemed like each effort of family singing time ended with girls crying into my shoulders and boys staring wistfully out windows. So, they slipped away.

Until Dot said something. I knew Lizy would be bummed that we weren’t singing like we used to. Heck, I was bummed.

So, today I decided we’d sing around the piano. It had been a while. Maybe it would be easier.

Well, I can’t exactly say we didn’t end in tears, and I can’t exactly say it didn’t put me into a bit of a blue funk, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was just a little easier.

I decided that memories are packed into music so tightly that for our family there is nothing that gets those memories and tears flowing like it. It doesn’t do any good to avoid Lizy’s favorite songs, because inadvertently I stumble across a song that I can just hear her singing in my head along with the girls. That happened today. It was wonderful and heartbreaking all at once.

It’s been over a year. I like to think we’re doing pretty good. But to say it still doesn’t hurt would be a lie. There are still many days where my heart feels like lead no matter how much fun we’re having, how much we’re laughing, how many adventures we go on. It’s just heavy beneath it all.

I don’t say that to whine. But I know so many people expect to “be better” or “back to normal” in a certain time frame, and there just isn’t a time frame on grief. Even after you have invited it to leave and thought you locked the door, it comes back for lengthy stays.

So, what is my point with all this and our music experience today?

Well, it was hard, it was really hard. Especially singing “Holding Hands Around the World” a song the girls sang in primary some years ago – Lizy would belt that song out like no other and I didn’t remember until we were all singing the song and I half-expected/half-heard her singing with us and I could hardly see the music, let alone sing.

But we do hard things. And, as hard as it was – as much as I wanted to erase the pain as I held a sobbing girl in my arms at the end – it was wonderful and it felt good and it was easier than the last time (we actually lasted close to an hour before the tears hit).  So, I can only hope that each time gets a little easier and soon the memories will bring more smiles than tears.

Healing takes time. A lot of time. More than I ever would have thought being on the outside looking in, goodness – more than I thought being on the inside too.  But it will come. And the reason it comes is because we have hope and faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement. That’s what keeps us going. Every day. He makes it possible to get through the heartbreak and do the hard things. He lifts us and carries us on when can’t possibly take another step. I have a testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His atonement. I have a testimony of His, and our Heavenly Father’s, great love for us. I have felt it. It has buoyed me up when I thought I would drown. I have watched my children with their sweet perfect faith feel his love and share it with me. He is always there, loving, waiting, and hoping we will turn to Him. I love my Savior and  my Heavenly Father, and I know that someday because of all that Christ did for us, I will see Lizy again because our family is eternal.

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Filed under Child loss, Music, Religion

Tired

I have come to the realization that I am tired. Exhausted. WORN OUT. Mainly emotionally. I started thinking of all the things I am tired of and making a list. These are things people in my situation think about day in and day out. I don’t want to offend or make anyone back off – you’ll notice there are many opposites such as wanting to be left alone, not wanting to be left alone, etc. I don’t know if I will share it – maybe someone else will be able to relate and realize others go through this, etc.

I am tired of….

crying

this empty ache that will never completely go away

of trying to figure out how to answer people when they ask how many kids we have  – she was part of our lives for 12 years, we can’t just pretend we have 5 kids, but then things get awkward when they ask ages and such.

of feeling like being happy is an effort

of reminding myself to smile – it used to come so naturally

of feeling inadaquate to the task at hand of helping my dear sweet children cope with losing a sister

of never knowing when grief will sabotage me and push me to tears

being this person

not being the person I used to be

being the example

being the friend who lost her  daughter

having red eyes

looking tired

hoping someone says her name

people being afraid to say her name or talk about her

conversations becoming awkward when they realize who we are/we have a daughter who died

feeling like everyone else has moved on with their lives and I’m stuck

wishing there was a pause button so I could deal with this nice and tidy before moving on

trying to respond to cliched (though very well meant) comments

craving her laugh, her smile, her hugs

empty arms

having to snuggle with her blanket to feel close to her

sleepless/fitful nights

not being focused

the pitiful looks that come my way

staring into space

not being able to cry when I feel like I am about to burst

family time being so hard sometimes

having to visit a cemetary

needing/wanting to visit the cemetary

going home to 1 less child and 5 who desperately need me to be brave and keep it together

being reminded of my tragedy

being afraid I will somehow forget all the details of her life, her face, her smile, her walk

being afraid that others will forget

of having to write out my thoughts and feelings in order to release

of having to rely on others

being miserable

living moment to moment

trying to keep busy

looking at kids her age and trying not to cry

having to switch stations on the radio

not being able to watch my favorite movies – or crying my way through them

just trying to make it through the day

wanting to sleep until this goes away

being restless

worrying about future events – reminding myself that I need to let my children be children and not over protect them

watching my loved ones suffer

dreading going to bed at night for fear of the morning

dreading waking up in the morning

not having my normal spunk

not wanting to go to places that remind me

feeling sorrow

having to talk about this for a release

my nervous energy

pacing

feeling cut off

crying when I am alone

avoiding human contact

wanting to hide

feeling guilty (most of the time I can shove it aside, but it is still there)

cloudy and rainy days making me sad

the 7th of the month

feeling this

thinking about this knowing this

trying to make my heart understand

my brain understanding this

losing time to this

wanting to be alone

wanting to be around people

not knowing what I want or how I feel

needing support

wanting to talk

feeling lethargic

wanting to talk about it

not wanting to talk about it

nerves

my nervous habits

being the one who will make a difference

having to give myself permission to be happy

holding my sobbing children trying to find the right words

not being able to find the right words

of being brave

of being an inspiration

replaying events in my mind

not knowing how to help my children/husband

defending my grief – as in it’s normal, not a lack of faith, I’m not self pitying, I just miss her,  etc.

feeling scatterbrained and disorganized

forgetting things

 
of being tired

Now, with all that being said – the crazy thoughts in my head. Those are just things I’m tired of – I don’t feel them all, all the time, they change faster than the Cincinnati weather and my 12-and-a-half-year-old daughter’s moods. I like to think I’m managing to hold my fraying ends together, but  if I seem a little spacey the above might be why. If you have a loved one or friend going through a loss, be patient with them, we appreciate it. 🙂

Lastly, even with this being so incredibly hard, I think often on Joseph Smith and what Heavenly Father told him as he struggled – and he faced things far beyond any that my family has:

“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”  (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7)

That’s why we’re here. No matter how hard. We’re here for the experiences. To learn and to grow. To be stretched. To learn to have faith even when we feel faithless or can’t understand why things have to happen the way they do. All these experiences can be for our good if we let them.

And though at times I wonder how on earth I can possibly survive this, how I can muddle my way through with my family intact, I know that we are here for this purpose. We can let this build us and make us stronger. Sometimes it can be hard to see how any of this is for our good, but so much good has come about in  the months after, Lizy has made such a wonderful difference in the lives of others both in life and in death.  No matter how it hurts, there is good in it somewhere and we’ll be together again for all of eternity.

I know Heavenly Father loves me and gives me the strength I need to get through all the tired.

Now……

time to go do all those things I’m tired of! 🙂

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Filed under Child loss, Lizy, Philosophy, Religion

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

I woke up Christmas Eve morning, my entire body feeling heavy, like it was difficult to breathe.  My heart felt like it was  broken and trying to pump lead . Some days over the past months are easier than others and that day, it just plain hurt. It had been building over the weekend. The family had been fighting more and I found myself wishing that things could just be easy, for a few minutes if nothing else. In a spot in life where remembering to be happy and to smile can be hard, some days, I just wish for easy. I sat in the bathroom sobbing. All I wanted was to have everything back to how it had been before Lizy died. Sure, life would be far from perfect, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

But, it was Christmas Eve day and dinner had to be made and all the other preparations and I couldn’t let my family down. I struggled through the day. We all did. I think we fought more than we ever had. I cried more than I ever have. Everything felt broken. Nothing seemed to work right. And I caught myself thinking numerous times, “How can we hope to be an eternal family and see Lizy again, if we can’t make it through a few hours without a major fight.” I sobbed, I pounded on my husband’s chest and soaked his shirt with helpless tears and no clue how to fix everything that was broken, because it wasn’t the kind of broken that could be fixed with some duct tape or crazy glue.

I pulled my self together for the fifth or sixth time that day, smeared my tears away and ran a last minute trip to the store, trying to collect myself, knowing that when I got back our adopted grandparents would be there and the festivities would begin. I cried some more in the car and hoped my eyes didn’t look too red. I tried my best to wish the cashier a cheery “Merry Christmas.” I don’t know if I was convincing or not.

Sure enough, as I arrived at the house they were there. I walked in and my heart lightened. It was Christmas Eve. It would be perfect, and even though we couldn’t see her, I knew Lizy would be there.

We ate dinner and acted out the nativity – the kids insisted on Lizy being the angel and we draped the white lab coat (angel costume) around her picture. We made it through, I laughed and had fun – the kids were so cute in their costume and we felt the spirit and Lizy’s presence. Santa came and brought pjs and we tucked the kids into bed.

We spent the next couple hours cleaning up and getting ready for Christmas morning and then, as I stood there and looked at the fully packed stockings and Lizy’s rather lacking one the tears hit again and all the missing came back.

I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke on Christmas in a post-cry haze to the sound of the girls whispering excitedly. The day progressed remarkably smoothe – I was wrapped up in the joy of the children. I didn’t mind the crazyness and the mess. There were a few tense moments,fights and one rather large explosion at one point, but I managed to hold it together some what.

Evening came and we sent the kids off to bed and I stood staring at the fireplace mantel where all the stockings, now empty, hung. All but one. Lizy’s sat on the hearth still waiting to be opened. We brought the kids back down and sat on the floor by the tree. I shook out her stocking and paper after paper tumbled out. Paul and I began to read – our Christmas gifts to Lizy. Most were acts of service or kindness carried out by our family, but some were by others – even a neighbor down the street had dropped some by. We read, and read and read. Often times our voices cracking with emotion.

As we finished, Emily climbed, sobbing, into my lap. “I can’t believe all the service that was done for her.” She choked out. We cried together, all of us – Dot and Dad, Jacob, Em, James, and I. Robert looked on in bewildered 2-year-old innocence. As the tears dried I looked at the family. I knew Lizy was there too. It was perfect – a perfectly imperfect Christmas. And for that one little moment I caught a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of what it’s all about.

We might fight, we might argue, but we also love. We love deeply and eternally.   Our dear sweet kids have struggled and strived and done hard things – some of the hardest things they may ever have to do. My husband has been my solid rock. My littlest boys have been some of my greatest comfort. Last night as I glanced around at the messy house and the toys and wrappings scattered about all I could remember was the happiness of the day, the gratitude in my heart, and the joy that I had a family and friends who cared so much that they filled Lizy’s stocking with service that took us well over thirty minutes to get through. And that time when I cried, it wasn’t so much tears of sadness and missing Lizy, as it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

I knew Lizy was thrilled and I knew that no matter how hard, how much we fought, how impossible it all felt and seemed, that we would make it through – we’ll have a lot more rough patches to still make it through – but we’ll get there one way or another. I’ll fight for it, our family will fight for it, and we might mess up big in the process, but that’s what this season is all about. A celebration of the birth of the one person who made it all possible – Jesus Christ.  With His help, and only with His help can we do it, – and we will. I know it.

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Religion

The Miracle of our Ark

We’ve had a number of amazing experiences since Lizy passed away, each one letting us know how very much our Heavenly Father loves us and is aware of all we go through.

Most recently is the miraculous story of our new van.

Our old van was purple –

Barney Purple

(I’ve never been a fan of Barney)

The poor thing was rather dilapitated.

You had to pound on the dashboard to get it to work – all the gauges would frequently go out.

sometimes you had to pound numerous times!

And it was getting worse.

The AC had been broken for 3-4 years

sometimes the fans would work

and sometimes they wouldn’t

You just prayed they decide to work in the winter…

and it leaked oil.

And we hadn’t had the money to fix it.

It just was not a happy van.

Every time I got in, I prayed that we would get to where we’re going, and we did. There’s proof right there that God answers prayers. 🙂 Anyway, we’d known for quite some time that we desperately needed a new vehicle and we worried and fretted about how we would manage it without going into more debt.

One day, one his way home from work, Paul saw a van for sale by the owner. A nice, full-size conversion van for 7K. He wrote down the info and forgot about it. He didn’t see the van outside again and assumed it had sold.

A few weeks later, as we were sitting down for a family movie, he felt prompted to call about the van. He did and it was still available so we set up an appointment to see it the next day for our date.

We pulled up to the house and an older gentleman came out to greet us. We talked about numerous things including the van and our family – but we didn’t bring up Lizy. Finally we took it for a test drive. It drove so smooth. It really was a beautiful van.

The only problem was, we couldn’t afford it.

We needed something like it, but unless the owner would take payments, we wouldn’t be able to manage.

The owner and his wife came out to speak with us upon our return from the test drive. We talked a bit about how nice the van was and then, before we could ask about payments or anything, he became a little emotional and said,

“I was sitting inside with my wife while you were gone, talking about your family, and I just kept feeling that your family needs the van. I don’t want you to feel any pressure or anything and I don’t know what you can afford. If you can send $100 here and $100 there, that’s fine. All we really need is $1000. I just feel like God is telling me you folks need this van.”

I think our jaws almost fell off.

I was in shock at the generosity of this stranger.

I felt prompted to tell him about Lizy. He and his wife cried as I did so. He told us to take some time, and pray, but that the van was ours if we wanted it, and if we couldn’t swing the $1000 then they would take what we could pay.

We left feeling blessed and loved.

That night Paul and I knelt together and prayed about the van, asking our Heavenly Father if it was the right thing for us to do. We felt impressed that it was a gift for us. Usually we have a mechanic look at vehicles we’re interested in purchasing, but I got the distinct feeling that the van was fine and no mechanic was needed.

A few days later we purchased the van for $1000 after verifying that the owner truly didn’t need more.

It was a miracle.

We avoided more debt.

And I feel we both our families were touched by the experience.

We took our family to meet them, and gave them one of Lizy’s remembrance cards.

I don’t think I could ever express my gratitude completely to them or to my Heavenly Father.

The van is big and tan and promptly dubbed

The Ark.

We decided it fit especially since Paul’s white car was named Moby Dick.

There are miracles all around us.

Some are big, like that of us finding our Ark.

Some are little, like the blossoming of a lily.

I am grateful for them all and our Heavenly Father’s

love.

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Filed under Miracles, Religion