Friday, October 10, 2014

Grief and Loss

Today I read this great article about the honest grief that comes when a woman miscarries.  It was well spoken and so very true. Click HERE for the article.

As I read over this article, my mind was sympathetic and ached for those I know who have lost children in this manner.  But deeper within me there was a different grief that was not mentioned in the article. It was my own grief of never having the opportunity to lose a child this way. There is no physical evidence of loss. No baby to name, no baby to remember. Just a lot of broken hopes and dreams. I wept, remembering my own loss, my own grief.

There is loss in this world of all different types. One type of grief is not more valid than another. We all have need of compassion. We all have need of the loving, tender, healing touch of the Savior.

May I be one of those that lift the hands that hang down and strengthen feeble knees as the Savior has done for me. (Hebrews 12:12, D&C 81:5)

Sunday, July 13, 2014


I know it has been a while since I have written anything, there has been something I have been trying to write for at least a month, but without any success.  So onto a different topic. Today during church my mind for some reason was thinking about some people who have influenced me.

It all started when I let a young girl "color" on my iPad while her mother had to go up and play the piano.  I enjoyed this time with my young friend.  And my memories went back to when I was 4 and 5.  There was a elderly woman by the name of Sister Smith (no seriously that was her name) in my ward. My mother was her visiting teacher and often had to bring me along for her visits.  Sister Smith always made sure there was a bowl of malt balls on the table for our visits. I always felt welcomed into her home. During Sacrament meetings, I would sneak up to where Sister Smith and her husband were sitting and sit on her lap and she would let me play with her beads, she was always wearing beads. She passed away quite a while ago and while I don't remember her exactly, I remember there was a kind woman who always made me feel special and feel loved. Because of her influence, I try to offer the same kindness to others.
Yeah, that was me at age 4, I know I was cute.
Later, I was talking to a sister in Relief Society and how she had just been hired on as a PE teacher at a local high school. My mind floated to my junior high PE teacher, Ms. Green. Junior high, you remember that time when your body was changing and you just weren't sure who you were, who your friends were, and you always felt weird and awkward.  If that wasn't your junior high experience, my hats off to you.  She was a little light in that weird awkward stage.  She greeted each girl with a smile and would call us beautiful or gorgeous. I can still hear her voice call out, "hello beautiful." It always felt sincere when she said it and helped me feel good about who I was. She was patient and kind teaching those of us with less athletic abilities with our ever changing limbs helping find the confidence within ourselves to give it a try.  I can't even begin to tell you how long she worked with me just so I could serve the volleyball over the net. Today I try to follow her example hoping that those around me always feel beautiful.  I'm not very good at it, but I am trying.

Of course there have been many more who have been an influence in my life, but this post would be quite long if I started to list them all.  I never had a chance to really thank either of these women who had such a huge impact on my life, but I am grateful for their positive and righteous influence. I'm sure neither of these woman thought their simple small acts were making much of a difference at all, but they did.  They impacted the way I see the world, they impacted how I want to treat others, how I want others to feel when they are around me. Is there something small you could be doing to help others feel the love of our Savior?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Left Out

So this post may be a little messy and not very well thought out and that's OK. My goal here is not to be a prolific writer, but to be honest to myself and to my readers.

Last week was a rough week for me.  It has been filled with anxiety and poor eating choices.  A couple of weekends ago we all hopped in the car (my husband, my two "sons", and we picked up one of my missionary sons along the way) and headed off to Utah so we could see all of our missionary sons and daughters at a mission reunion as well as enjoy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' General Conference with friends and family.  All-in-all it was a great weekend.  I even got to visit with my first roommate whom I love so dearly.  However, the trip on the whole was a huge wake up call to me about some of my food addiction triggers and how far away I am from truly overcoming them.

I hate being left out.  Always have and now that I am trying to avoid foods that not only trigger my food addiction, but also my autoimmune disease, this is especially apparent.  Think about all the social events you have been to in the last year; how many of those involved food?  I bet most of them if not all.  This is a cause of much anxiety for me.  I don't want to be left out of the fun and part of the fun involves food.

So after a week of hanging with friends and family and eating right along with them, I was feeling terrible; physically sick and emotionally down.  I just couldn't bear to be left out again.  I had failed again.  I had failed myself and my health.  I was feeling so weak by my recent fall and lack of self-control.  I was beating myself up and just feeling miserable.

Reading this blog post really helped Failing Conference especially this quote:
“Lucifer will do all in his power to keep you captive. You are familiar with his strategy. He whispers: ” …You can’t change; you have tried before and failed.” “It’s too late; you’ve gone too far.” Don’t let him discourage you.” (Richard G. Scott)

So, what is the point to all of this?  Remember to change the mental tape that you cannot do it.  That is only Satan trying to divide us.  Because of the Lord our Savior Jesus Christ, we can always start over again.  Because of Him there is always hope.  Because of Him nobody no matter their situation or in my case eating plan, is left out from His table.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Trusting the Lord

Trust is a very tricky thing.  We expect people to let us down.  It is disappointing. They lose our trust; but somehow, we move on, learn to forgive, and maybe, just maybe, the person can earn our trust once again.  But what happens when the being who is incapable of lying lets us down?

In my last blog post (found here), I talked about my brief history with infertility and adoption.  My Patriarchal Blessing promised I would be a mother in Zion and have a large posterity. But here I am in my 40's, childless. (Now before you all start writing me about how Patriarchal Blessings are eternal blessings and not just for the here and now; let me state very clearly, I KNOW.)  While I don't feel unfulfilled as mother, you know and I know, it is not the same.  I hold "my children" and know they are mine for a short fleeting moment.  It is not the same as holding your child and knowing they are yours for the eternities; connected legally, physically, and sealed to you for the eternities.  I love who I am as a mother. I have a different connection with "my kids" than their mothers, I see things their mothers can't see, and I nurture them in ways they cannot.  Please don't read this post as some whiny, 'poor me' post.  It is not. OK? Side bar over.

So I have been promised this blessing of children, and yet my life is here where it is with promises so far into the future. I cannot see them.  The being who cannot lie, lied. Or at least on some level that is how I took it.  I don't even think that I had consciously realized that I didn't trust the Lord.  I just didn't.  I figured I was on my own with this life.  I clearly had not worked out the way I thought the blessing had laid out my life, so what was there to trust?  Which is most interesting because as a youth and young adult, if I felt the Lord had directed me somewhere, I went with gusto, jumping into any situation with both feet.  So, now at 40, I had lost that trust and confidence in the direction the Lord commanded me.

It wasn't until several weeks ago that I even came to the realization that I didn't trust the Lord.  I was talking to one of my "sons" about what we should I should teach at the next young single adult meeting that Monday.  He eagerly announced that I should teach about trusting the Lord.  All of a sudden, my eyes filled with tears as I realized that anything I had to say about it wouldn't be truly from me.  I didn't know about this topic enough to give an effective lesson about it. I was in shock.  I suddenly realized the truth, I did NOT trust the Lord.  What do I do?
Christ wiped the mud from my eyes, healing my blindness.
After our conversation ended, I immediately went to my bedroom knelt in prayer asking for Heavenly Father's forgiveness and asked him to direct me in why I didn't trust Him.  How could I, a faithful daughter of God, not trust the Lord?  The Lord directed me to read my Patriarchal Blessing which I had not in probably a year. So I went to where I always kept it, but it wasn't there.  After a frantic search throughout my house, I found it about 2 feet away from where I usually have it. (Blessing in disguise, by bed-side table got a thorough cleaning.)  As I read it, every instance that spoke of motherhood would bring great emotion and it clicked, this is where my trust in the Lord took a wrong turn.  It was as if Christ had wiped the mud from my eyes restoring my sight.

Interestingly, through out this whole realization the Lord kept whispering to me, "Look at how faithful you have been even though you have not trusted me."  Boy is it a good thing the week before this, he taught me that faithful does not equal perfect as I wrote about here.  Otherwise I might have thought he was lying to me again.  It was an interesting thought that I have been faithful, but I didn't trust the Lord.  I wasn't sure how those two thing could really exist together, but there it was.  Somehow they did in me.  So here I am faithful daughter of God with a huge trust issue.  What now?

Remembering Alma's great lecture on faith (Alma 32), he tells the people that if they no more than desire to believe their faith will grow.  Well, I had a desire to trust him, and that seed could be planted and grow.  So I prayed to have the Lord help me plant that desire deep in my heart. I prayed that it would grow until it was a full strong oak of trust, never to be blown or bent by the winds of doubt again.
I wish I could tell you that my tree of trust looks like the one above, but sadly no.  It will take some time, but I can tell you that the seed of trust has begun to take root.  It looks more like the one below, but the seed and tree are in His hands, and so it will grow to the mighty strong oak of trust and complete devotion to His timing and His way.  There is hope, and with that hope their is great growth.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Mother God Made Me

Ever since I can remember, I have had one goal for my life.  I wanted to have children.  I planned and prepared myself for it.  In high school when I my German teacher asked why I was taking Early Childhood Education instead of German 3, I responded that the most important job I would have is to be a good mother and I should prepare myself in every way to be a good mother.  In college while trying to pick a major, my first consideration was is this a career I can do from my home so I can be available for my children.  I have been an aunt since I was 4 and have 32 nieces and nephews. Children was always a part of the picture for me.
Me on the left with my oldest niece only 4 yrs and 3 days younger than me
When I was 14 I received my Patriarchal Blessing.  (For those of my readers who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Patriarchal Blessing is a blessing from an ordained Patriarch of the church who is set a part to give specific prophetic blessing to members of the church.  These blessing are prophetic eternal blessings, council, and promises.  These blessings are recorded on the records of the church. For me it is the word of God for me and my specific journey here.) In several places my blessing talks of my children.  In one place even saying that I will have a large posterity.  Oh how I looked forward to that day.
Not all but most of my nieces and nephews
So what happened?  For one thing I didn't get married until I was 31.  As my twenties dwindled down, I wondered how this large posterity was going to come about.  I reminded myself that Abraham was told that his posterity was going to be numbered as the sands of the sea and he only had two sons late in his life.  So I waited patiently.
Aren't they cute?  I love them so.
Then I got married.  Finally!  We both wanted to have children right away.  It was difficult to really time it since my menstrual cycle wasn't really regular.  I never knew when I was ovulating.  So I went to my doctor to work it out with him, maybe he could figure out why my periods weren't regular and then he also sent my husband to the doctor to have test done.  Well, the problem wasn't just me, but both of us.  We went through a lot of options and after A LOT of prayer and A LOT of discussion, we decided foster-adoption was our best option.

About this time my husband gave me a priesthood blessing ensuring me that I would know my children when I met them.  To me this clearly meant adoption was the absolute way to go.  Until we met with brick wall after brick wall.  (I may share more of this story later as it included so many life lessons for Gavin and I, but as this post is already getting to be the length of the Bible, I will sum up.) A funny thing started happening around this time.  I would be talking to a friend and the Spirit would whisper, "This is your child."  I would teach a Sunday School Class and the whisper would continue, "These are your children."  Being with my nieces and nephews, "This is your child." This started to happen over and over again, but never to a child we were hoping to adopt, not to mention the many road blocks and brick walls we kept facing each time we tried. (Again, a another long story for another day.)

After several years and many nights ending in tears and sorrow, we got off the adoption roller coaster and started to cope with our loss.  This was so hard for me with many complex and deep feelings of failure and loss.

During this time we volunteered to house missionaries in our home.  These boys became my surrogate children.  Most of them I still keep in touch with and still love with all of my heart.   Their losses are my losses and their joys my joys.  One of them even moved back in with us after we were done housing the missionaries and he was done with his mission.

My husband and I were called to be the Young Single Adult Advisers for our ward (congregation for you non-LDS readers) and more surrogate children came into my life.  I seemed to find new purpose and a new definitions for mother and motherhood.

I slowly morphed not into a MOTHER, but not the mother I dreamed of being as a child or a mother as the world would define it, but the mother that God made me.  Eve was called Eve because she was Mother to ALL living. (Genesis 3:20)  Not just those beings who would be born from her womb, but ALL living.  The title mother is not predicated on anyone's ability to give birth or raise children, but the ability to nurture and love. I believe these are qualities Eve had in abundance.

My new goal?  "Loving Mother to all I meet."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Giving Up

Worthiness is a tricky thing for me.  Somehow, somewhere in my existence, I got the notion to be worthy meant to be perfect.  Perfect is a hard thing. A really hard thing, so hard that Heavenly Father knew only one could do it, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

So what is a girl like me with a perfection complex to do?  Give up.  Yep that's right just give up.  Now before any of you get your panties in a twist over such a thing, let me explain further.
Carl Bloch's Healing at the Pool of Bethesda
You see this picture above by Carl Bloch?  I love Carl Bloch by the way, his paintings speak to me in such a personal way.  Anyway, back on topic.  Here we have Christ offering up healing for this crippled man enshrouded by darkness.  You would think that the two key figures of the story (Christ and the old crippled man) of the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda would be the center of focus, but if you look at the way different figures are illuminated, the man in the red cap and the Savior are really who this painting is about.  Yes, I've spent a lot of time looking at this painting.  I am like this man.  He is obviously in need.  His needs may not be as great as some in this scene, but greater than some others.  His eyes and attention are completely focused on the miracle that is going on right next to him, but his body does not turn to it.  You can see in his eyes his longing for healing, but he doesn't ask for it, maybe like me, he feels unworthy of it.  He clearly longs for it, he so wants to be found, but why does he not cry out for the miracle too?  Does he too feel like he is not perfect and therefore does not deserve to ask for help from the one being he longs to be close to and so is left to heal himself?

Years I have believed that healing belonged to those who "deserved" it.  Those who are faithful and to me faithful equates to perfect.  It's not that I didn't intellectually believe that I deserved to take part in the great and eternal Atonement, it's that I believed that is was for those that did those "really big" sins and for those that were "faithful".  Where did I fit?  There I was waiting at the side of the Pool of Bethesda waiting for the water to stir so I could lower myself into the waters.  Then I learned this important lesson while serving in the temple this week.  Faith actually equates to repentant not perfect.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Leaving Sodom

I've been thinking a lot about Lot and his family.  As it states in Genesis 13:12 ";...Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom."  As we know it did not turn out well for Lot's family in Sodom.  In contrast the people of King Benjamin "...pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple..." (Mosiah 2:6)  King Benjamin's people took upon them the name of Christ and were fully converted to the ways of God.

All too often we walk away from our Sunday School classes securely believing that our "tent door" is pointed towards the temple.  I know I have.  For years, I thought my tent door was pointed towards the temple and the Gospel of our Lord and Savior.  I also believe that most people that know me would walk into my house and believe that my tent door, the focus of my home, was pointed near the temple.  However what went unnoticed for years even by myself was the huge picture window pointed towards "Sodom".

Let me back-track a little bit to explain.  I have an auto-immune disease.  Please don't ask me what specific one I have, nobody seems to know and really it doesn't matter.  I have been dealing with it for about 20 years now.  This causes me periods of joint inflammation and pain (think hammer smashing a joint level of pain).  It has also caused some hormone issues and I believe my infertility problems.  Lately, I have also been dealing with excessive fatigue, depression, and anxiety which is fairly common with those dealing with chronic pain.

So what does this have to do with my picture window towards Sodom?  I promise, I'm getting to it.  In the last few years, I have noticed that a lot of my symptoms are increased or worsened by different foods.  You would think that any semi-intelligent person would just say, "hey this food is not good for me, I will stop eating it" and then just do that.  But for me it hasn't been that easy.  It has caused me to admit that I am an addict.  I am a food addict.  I'm not talking about the I-really-love-chocolate-so-I-always-say-I'm-a-chocoholic.  I'm talking about I-can-feel-the-food-making-me-sicker-and-sicker-and-I-still-can't-stop-shoveling-it-in-my-face-addict.

I went to see a well known and respected naturopathic doctor who specializes in chronic pain conditions and he gave me a list of foods I needed to avoid for at least 6 months and then he uttered the words, "no cheating".  I went home and cried because I knew I would fail. Instant panic and anxiety right there.  I would shop for foods in my new plan and cry as soon as I got done shopping because I couldn't bring any of my comforting food friends home.

If you are still reading this and still wondering what this has anything to do with that picture window towards Sodom.  I'm coming to it right now.  King Benjamin tells us that the natural man is an enemy to God and unless I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit using the atonement to root out the natural man, than I am longing after Sodom.  My food addiction is my Sodom.  Food has always been there for me, it has helped me bond with others including my family, but it is also keeping me from being healthy and feeling the ultimate joy the atonement brings.

I now can relate to Lot's wife.  She did more than just look back at her home being destroyed, she longed to be back in Sodom, but may I remind you that as a woman, her whole identity especially in that day and age was her children and her home (I'm not sure much has really changed about that).  She had a lovely comfortable home in Sodom.  We know she left behind two married daughters who with their husbands refused to come.  It is reasonable to think that if she had married daughters, she also had grandchildren; whom I'm guessing she loved and took great joy in.  What pains she must have felt, but she was not willing to leave behind her natural man/woman to follow the Lord.

It is time for me to close up my window towards Sodom, to flee the natural man and not look back.

PS One of the other ways the Spirit has told me to leave Sodom is to come out from hiding and let others get to know the real me...thus the blog.  Join me as I work through the ups and downs of life.