Y9

Y9

I am happily settled into my condo with all of my many loves so very close to me that I can almost hear all of them breathing at night from my room. Actually, most nights, they stay up far longer than I do, talking and giggling and goofing around until long after I am coherent.

Y9

Y9

At first I thought it was ironic that we were in “Building Y” as in “Why did I think this was a good idea?” But, I have come to appreciate it.

I am thankful that we are on the third floor because it is great physical therapy for me. Sure, there are no fireworks at the end of the day, but there is something absolutely spectacular about a full moon rising over mountains. It’s ethereal and full of a kind of mystery that makes my heart beat faster and makes me feel like I am part of it–the moon, the mountains, the rocks….the earth.

Moonrise Over Timp

Moonrise Over Timp

Whenever I have to make a 27 point turn to get my 15 passenger van into the little covered parking space in the very compact parking lot of buildings W, X, Y , and Z, I wonder if it isn’t preparing me for a future in parking 747s at the airport or something. Who knows?

I miss my special things. All of our belongings are in storage until September.

I wonder if Moses or Miriam ever missed their special things they left behind.

Not because they were materialistic, but because there is a comfort in using your favorite knife to chop vegetables every day, in seeing the same pictures on the wall…in knowing that if you ever need a friend or an adventure, your books are right around the corner, tucked quietly into their snug little bookshelves, just waiting for you.

I am glad I am here because I think it’s time for me to settle. I am feeling grown up–like it’s time for me to quit going on adventures and be the one that is home.

Maybe I am feeling old.

Daydreaming...

Daydreaming…

I have always been the one to jump at the chance to go sailing on some uncharted course–to walk forward in the dark, excited at the prospect of undiscovered country. I have always had it in me–some inexplicable urge to journey on….

I feel like I am making the transition from trying to be the hero to being the round, kindly woman who has a warm bed and a hot meal for the wayfaring travelers who are going to save the world.

I am such a romantic idealist. My husband is, too. We got married and wanted to do Something Amazing.

Now, we just want to be Home.

I am coming to realize that perhaps I never really was meant to be a hero. Perhaps I was always meant to be what I am becoming….

What I Thought I Was. Home Sweet Home, Samantha Shirley

What I Thought I Was. Home Sweet Home, Samantha Shirley

It’s hard to realize that I am not the heroine I thought I was. I really thought I was going to be forever young and forever impetuous, forever wanting to be close to the center of, well, everything.

But, the years and the children and the living and the dying and…well, the realness of everything–it has burned off the pride and the self-deception and left me with nothing but my core. And my core is not what I had daydreamed, and my goals and wishes and hopes were silly when I take into account who I really am.

I am sitting in Y9.

Y9

Y9

It’s not very heroic, is it?

I’m not climbing Everest, or making quilts, or advocating for….anything. I am not even politically active right now. I have not posted even one status on Facebook about the president or education or even evil Monsanto.

I am concentrating on clean sheets and warm beds. Hot meals and kind words. On prayers and hugs and figuring out why this little person is sad today and why that bigger person isn’t talking much at dinner.

I am trying to purge our family of our whining and pride.

Mostly, I am trying to purge it in me, because when it’s gone in me, it has a tendency to be gone in my children. It hurts me to admit that, but it is the truth.

Climbing Mother, Brian Kershisnik

Climbing Mother, Brian Kershisnik

I want to move into our new home with nothing left but my core. I want to walk through the door and be completely comfortable in my role as Mother–and not the mom who is battling dragons and wandering the world.

I want to walk through the door and leave behind the little girl who thought she was the main character, and be the Woman who knows she is best suited as the comic relief, the best friend, the keeper of secrets and keeper of the castle.

Home, Kim Berggren

Home, Katie Berggren

The Woman who knows she will never be the center of attention but will always be the center of comfort and healing…the Woman who can be brave enough to look herself in the eye and admit she doesn’t need to be what she once wanted, but what she is destined to be.

I am sitting in Y9, wondering if I will be ready.

I am sitting here wondering if I can somehow conquer the many days when I sneak off to the laundry room to have a good cry.

Wondering if I can become settled with my core. Wondering if I can accept me for who I really am.

We can do no great things–only small things with great love.

I used to think I knew what that meant. I am only beginning to realize and understand what it means to do small things with great love.

Mother and Child

Mother and Child

The clean sheets, the warm beds…the sleepless nights when I am drawn by necessity to the throne of God, completely bare in my weakness, crying in faith that He will give me what I need to be true to what I really am….

Prayerful Nights

Prayerful Nights

I am an armour bearer. Every time I notice a lonely look, a trembling lip and respond with a listening heart and warmth and kindness and good, every time I say no to something that will distract me, I am giving my loves the greatest protection they could ever have to go out and face the evil that threatens them–love and a sense of Home.

She Will Find What Is Lost, Brian Kershisnik

She Will Find What Is Lost, Brian Kershisnik

There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness.
We must have the courage to recognize it. 
The poor you may have right in your own family.
Find them. Love them. –Mother Teresa

What if that is all I am supposed to do? What if it terrifies me that it is so simple, yet seems so unfathomable and impossible–to simply love them? To have the courage to see the loneliness in my family and simply be Home–to comfort and cheer and heal?

But then, there is God in the night after the wakeful prayers and the long wrestling, and He tells me that this is my destiny.

To find them and love them. Even if I have to find them over and over again.

I hope I am brave enough to be who I really am.

Maybe in a way, that is the most heroic thing of all to do–to be what God wants instead of what you thought you wanted. To bow and to bend and not be ashamed…

To Bow and To Bend...

To Bow and To Bend…

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when you find yourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come ’round right.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be true,
‘Tis the gift to labor ’til the day is through.
And when you find yourself in the place so fine,
‘Twill be in the cool of the birch and the pine.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come ’round right.

‘Tis the gift to be joyful, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift, ’tis the gift, ’tis the simple gift to be!
And when you find yourself filled with pure delight,
The gift to be simple has led you aright.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come ’round right.

writer’s block

writer’s block

I love Idaho.

God always sends me here when I need to heal.

When I need miracles.

14639_HY3rF_Tetonia_Idaho_md

When I can’t go much further.

I have writer’s block.

Some chapters are dark and dreary and need to wait to be written.

Too lonely and unsure.

I was supposed to be entering my second trimester of pregnancy this week. Instead, I am recovering from surgery.

There was no heartbeat. Just the other day.

But I am alright.

I know I am in the hands of the living God.

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I wish I could be different sometimes.

Sometimes I wish I could be the pretty girl who is feeling blessed and who gets along with everyone. Someone who doesn’t seem to constantly fail.

I feel fat today.

Fat and blechy.

I keep thinking about these women in Florida–nice, fun, beautiful women for whom I had a fine regard.

Women with whom I associated because of my church obligations. They were cute. Fun. They had many talents and were friendly with each other.

I worked with them up until the end of my time in Florida. I was a bit overwhelmed at the end there–pregnancy, horrible morning sickness, John out of town most of the time, my Aspie daughter having some really big challenges….

And on top of that, I realized these women had decided to find and discuss my flaws.

It was really hard for me to know these women were critical of me. I daresay that it is oh, so easy to be critical of me. I am a blunderer. Somewhat of a mess, most of the time. But, I was, at first, completely oblivious. I thought the world of them, so I thought they could, at the very least, put up with me.

No, I was not to be tolerated but with a bit of derision and some backbiting and meanness thrown in.

I never said anything to them. What could I say?

Yes, I see your point. I am really a mess. Thanks for taking the time to discuss it amongst yourselves.

What could I do? The hardest part for me is that when it happened, it became a wall to them accepting my love for them. Because I really loved them. But, loving them somehow made me feel stupid.

For example, why would they care if I, the object of their many observations about my failings, loved them? Wouldn’t it seem a bit beneath them to accept love from someone so unacceptable?

I don’t know. But, this week, when things were hard, for some reason the reality that I was the object of gossip by some fun, cute, church women made me cry.

It somehow seemed to magnify the icky thoughts I was having that somehow I failed by losing a pregnancy this week. And I almost could imagine what they would be saying when they discovered I had a miscarriage.

And my imagination got the best of me and made me cry.

I understand logically what happened with this miscarriage, but my heart is having a hard time with it. It’s hard to let go of life.

mesa_d71ae1fe59

Because in spite of everything, life is beautiful, and with all my soul I believe that life wants to keep on living–no matter what the cost. That no matter how difficult, life is worth it.

But, you know what is neat? In the midst of my affliction and feeling blechy and unlikable and ugly, my dear friends in Eagle Mountain literally rescued me. We don’t have a home yet, so we stayed in my friend Michelle’s basement. The same basement we stayed in years ago when temporarily homeless waiting for our house to close three days after I gave birth to Ephraim. Her ministering angel self and all of her angel family made us feel loved.

My friend Jen (though not from Eagle Mountain), brought me lunch and drove me to my house lot and prayed with me and then took me to get a lemonade because she knew I wasn’t quite ready to face the family yet. She also let me borrow her 15 passenger van for a few days while we waited for ours to get there.

My friends Kristal and Cindy took my children into their homes and loved them just as I would have all day long. They let me come over and have a conversation with them–just fun, happy talking that got my mind off of feeling discouraged. They made me laugh. Their love for my daughters made me cry tears of gratitude.

My dear, sweet friend Kariann did my hair and gave me compliments that went straight to my head and in the ultimate act of love, presented me with a tray of treats from Blue Lemon. I cried. I know I don’t deserve it, and maybe that’s why it means even more. She did it anyway.

She loves me even though she knows me really well. And it is humbling and makes me feel more beautiful and worth it

My adopted daughter brought over her beautiful baby and I got to meet him for the first time. I got to meet this little person who means so much.

And the truth is, I felt home for the first time since Joy died, I felt home.

I felt loved, in spite of my blechiness and my overall messiness and dorkiness and sassiness and I-talk-too-muchness.

And then I read well wishes and prayers from my friends who read my blog and whom I have known for many years. What you all didn’t say is just as important as what you did say. No platitudes, no judgmental remarks….nothing but heartfelt love and care and compassion and inspired words of kindness.

It was balm to my soul.

And in the end, I didn’t feel so icky. In the end, I felt home. And I know I will be okay.

Here Is Hope

Here Is Hope

He who healed our sorrows
Here was bruised and broken.
He whose love no end knows
Here was forsaken,
Left all alone.

Here despair cries boldly,
Claiming this its vict’ry.
Sweeter peace enfolds me:
Hope did not die here,
But here was given.
Here is Hope.

He who was rejected,
He knows well my longing
He, so long expected
Carried our burdens,
Bore ev’ry sorrow:
Here is Hope!

Here is love unbounded,
Here is all compassion,
Here is mercy founded!

Hope did not die here,
But here was given;
And ours is the vict’ry.
Here is Hope.

 

Deliverance

Deliverance

On this day five years ago, I was laboring to give birth to my son, Ephraim.

Ephraim

Ephraim

It was a three day event. I birthed him at home. It was wonderful and painful. It was probably the closest I will ever get to understanding real pain. It was excrutiating.

It was painful because it was a long, slow labor. It was painful because it had been only a little over nine months since Joy had gone back to God.

Life and death had been my companions for that nine months.

And here, at the end, it was so very, very hard.

When he was born, the cord was wrapped around him four times. His hand was wrapped, too.

He didn’t breathe at first. But, then God was there, breathing into my son the breath of life.

And then my son was a new soul, shouting to the world that he was here and life goes on.

And it was so stabbingly joyful to me.

And I was so happy and melancholy and exhilarated and aching.

I was sanctified through water, blood and spirit.

When my son was delivered, so was I.

And I thought about how when we are born, we usually cry. It is an ordeal to get to earth.

And I wondered, as I watched him in the early, early morning hours–those first few hours when everything is…eternal…I wondered if he understood how I felt about Joy. After all, he had just left heaven and maybe he was crying because it was a stabbing joy, to be born and enter mortality.

It means we leave behind heaven for awhile to come here.

Every birth is a miracle. And I suppose, every death is a miracle, too.

Because death is just another beginning and we are delivered, truly delivered from the pains and sorrows of this world.

All because Christ was born and lived perfectly and died perfectly…for us.

There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth,
For the virgin’s sweet boy is the Lord of the earth.
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

And we look to the star while the beautiful sing
To the manger of Bethlehem.

We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song
Coming down through the night from the heavenly throng.
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

I love that, especially at Easter, my heart knows this, because sometimes I forget.

But, it’s true. And I want to shout, “Hosanna!” every time I think of the miracle of death–that it is not the end–it is the beginning of an adventure so glorious there are no words.

I promise you, I know it. I have been there for a moment. It is better than you can possibly understand.

It is light.

It is mostly love.

The love is the best part.

I promise. He has delivered us in more ways than we can possibly realize. He loves us far more than we ever understand. And it is so beautiful.

Our Hope and Deliverer promised of old,
For whom we have waited e’er long,
Hath come to redeem us from slavery’s yoke
And deliver His people back home.
Come, Israel, come and see He who shall reign,
In whom we will ever rejoice,
We hear the sound of the glorious refrain
And it echoeth back in our voice:

Hosanna! Hosanna! Thy Savior hath come, O Israel,
And blessed He’ll ever be called!
Hosanna! Hosanna! Sing praises to God,
For our Hope, our Deliv’rer, our All!

Oh, why should we wander as strangers from Thee
And turn from Thy bounteous hand?
Restore and defend us, oh, set us free,
That beside Thee we ever may stand!

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for His word;
He speaks, and eternity, filled with His voice,
Re-echoes the praise of her Lord:

Hosanna! Hosanna! Thy Savior hath come,
Our Hope, our Salvation, our All! (The Lamb of God)

the darkness is only the night

the darkness is only the night

Sometimes I get caught up in the darkness.

I whine and complain and get lost in all of the Bad Things.

I was alright until this afternoon, and then I just got swallowed up and couldn’t even see anything.

Stormy Afternoon

Stormy Afternoon

Storms were raging and clouds were boiling and thunder and lightning.

And rain.

And I think my heartache from writing about Joy caught up with me. And then my heartache for the time I wish I could have back with my other children started swelling.

And I kept trying to take deep breaths and think of things one at a time.

But that didn’t work. And then I worried that I was going to forget Important Things, because post-spinal meningitis/stroke/brain damage, I forget things so very easily.

And then I cried about that, too.

And then I worried that I would forget to remember that I forget things.

I was a whirling dervish. A discouraged whirling dervish.

I just didn’t like spinal meningitis today at all. I wanted it to disappear. I wanted it to never be a part of my life. And, as I called to make an appointment with my neurologist, I wanted to yell at the receptionist:

I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to have to call you. I don’t want a neurologist. I don’t want this. Please, can I just make a call to a travel agent and go to Bali instead?

This Would Be Better Than The Neurologist

This Would Be Better Than The Neurologist

Yes, I would take myself and my children to Bali, because I tell you–they are my loves. They are my happy thought. They are everything to me.

I love them fiercely and forever and that love hurt today because I kept thinking that I was the most horrific failure of a mother on the planet today because I can’t remember things.

Because I can’t always walk. Because my “gait” is still ugly.

Because I am limited in certain abilities and it frustrates me.

And I feel like I have failed in my vocation–my Holy Calling–you know?

It’s like if Mother Teresa one day just had decided to take a year off.

It just isn’t natural for me to be so bad at this.

Anyway, I thought a lot about all of those feelings and I got mad at my husband for no other reason than I was mad at myself (he is away on business right now), and I just wanted to get the ugly out of me, only I should have just said a prayer instead.

But no, I yelled at him like Bilbo growled at Frodo when he showed him the ring at Rivendell. (I won’t show you the video, because it is too terrifying and it’s late and I don’t want to give you nightmares.)

I was Bilbo.

And I felt lousy, and then I remembered that the darkness, it goes away.

There Is The Morning

There Is The Morning

There is the morning.

And with that, a fresh perspective. A new lease on life. A freeing feeling that even if yesterday was a failure, tomorrow can be brilliant. Or even just good. Or even just better than today.

And that is when I am most grateful for Jesus Christ.

When I pour my stormy heart and soul out to Him, and He helps me see. And He calms the storm and gives me a new heart full of light.

Christ’s Atonement makes the dark go away–He brings the morning with healing and balm and forgiveness and hope. He does that even on the darkest nights.

Through the power of the Atonement, Christ vanquished darkness and insured that for all of us, there will always be another dawn to try again and feel better and see truth and go forward with faith.

easter-christ-becauseofhim-2

And, tomorrow  I can try to be the person I wish I would have been today, because of Him.

Why dost thou weep?
What is thy longing?
Why art thou cast down and turned from the light?
Lift up your eyes,
Look for the morning,
Wait, for the darkness is only the night!
And sing Gloria.

 

 

More Than Conquerors

More Than Conquerors

I am taking part in a worldwide campaign to share a celebration of Easter and how Jesus Christ has changed the world. This is a slightly edited version of something I wrote last year.

In the midst of my wondering about life and death and Joy–I came to the conclusion that the Easter season is about death…and the overcoming of it.  But it is still about death.

Christ's Burial

Christ’s Burial

Maybe that’s why we people get caught up in Easter basket shopping and gift giving and parties and eating and hunting games and resurrection cakes, because who wants to celebrate death?

I know we are celebrating the overcoming of it, but that is something we wholly base on faith.  And, when it has hit too close, it can become something we wrestle with.  And, who wants to celebrate wrestling with their own faith on Easter?

Easter reminds us that there is that death.  The Holy Spirit gently tries to teach us that it is overcome through Jesus Christ.  If we are listening, Easter becomes a holy day, to try and understand what this means in our own lives.

He Is Not Here, Walter Rane

C.S. Lewis once said:

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?…Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.

So, for some, if we would think about it deeply enough, Easter is a time to wonder and ponder how much we trust the truth of the Resurrection.  And for others, we have been given the chance to experience the matter of life and death, and been hung over that precipice of grief and sadness beyond comprehension–and what have we discovered?

This Easter, I have contemplated why our family does not say “Joy died” very often in our conversations.  I found out, quite accidentally, why, when one afternoon my three year old son spoke up in a very loud voice after I had said something about “when Joy died”:

Mom. Mom. Mom! Mom!! Joy didn’t die. She’s alive!

Our Joy

Our Joy

I knew exactly what he meant.  And so did he.  He was reminding me–echoing the words of President Ezra Taft Benson:

Yes, there is the ever expectancy of death, but in reality there is no death—no permanent parting. The resurrection is a reality.

The spirit world is not far away. Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us. One great spiritual leader asked, “But where is the spirit world?” and then answered his own question. “It is here.”

Yes, Joy is here–and I am sure my son sees her and knows her in a way I cannot comprehend, because my grief is still too great to rend that veil–and maybe it’s because I have not yet become as a little child, as the Savior commanded.

For Of Such Is The Kingdom, Jared Barnes

To understand the resurrection fully, I think we have to get there–to be as children. So then Easter becomes a celebration of being as a pure, submissive, loving, faithful child in the arms of her Father.

President Hinckley also said:

…death is not final. Though it seems so when its dark shroud overshadows mortal life, to those who accept the Christ and His eternal mission there is light and comfort, there is assurance, there is certainty.

Certainty.

So, for me Easter becomes a question in my mind:

Am I certain?  Am I sure that I will see her again?  Am I certain that all things will be restored to me?

And, then there is weeping–because of that comforting wave of absolute certainty that flows over and through and in me.

Why are there so many tears?

Why do I cry almost harder when the balm of the Savior’s resurrection and the overpowering sense of His Living Presence surround me?

The tears of relief that come are the most precious to me because they are tears of faith and hope.  They are the cleansing tears of being washed clean through the blood of the Lamb.

Yes, this pattern can be repeated in our tears, when we repent and come closer to Christ, and through His blood and the Spirit we are cleansed, too.

And with that cleansing and that certainty, many things that are supposedly real are washed away and fade like sidewalk chalk drawings on a rainy day, and many things that are not “real” becoming adamant stone–impervious to any vacillating thought or foolish fear with which the adversary tempts to pierce my heart.

But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart…

So Easter becomes for me a miracle of healing. About the Living Christ healing my blind eyes so that I may see rightly. So  I might become whole again.

Touch mine eyes, and bid them see

That my gaze might pierce the veil

And behold the wond’rous scene

That in dreams I’ve long beheld.

Oh, touch my heart and bid it know–

That every sorrow here

Is but a moment’s tear

And thou wilt make me whole again…

Easter, then for me, is a time for my questioning and faithless self to die and to be born again, through the Atonement.  To see clearly and pierce the veil. To understand that in reality there is no death.

Elder Richard G. Scott said this (quoting President Joseph F. Smith):

“We are not separate from them. … We are closely related to our kindred… who have preceded us into the spirit world. We are associated and united to them by ties that we can not break. … If this is the case with us in our finite condition, surrounded by our mortal weaknesses, … how much more certain it is … to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond … can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them. … We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; … their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”

Relationships can be strengthened through the veil with people we know and love. That is done by our determined effort to continually do what is right. We can strengthen our relationship with the departed individual we love by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that covenants made in the temple are eternal.

Easter for me is a challenge–how can I better see Joy?  Maybe not with my eyes–but with my heart?

I remember the last time I visited Joy’s marker.  We call it her marker, because “grave” did not fit.

Where Joy’s Marker Is

We say that little spot is her “marker”.  The beautiful hill, the pine trees, and the Tetons combine to mark that she was here–that she did make a short appearance on this earth –she was here only three short years.  For me, the remembrance of that perfect time could be marked by nothing less than the Tetons.  Only that valley and those mountains could do her justice.

So, I went there to ponder.  I looked around and tried to grasp the juxtaposition of such beauty and such sharp, stabbing grief in one spot.  While I was thus sitting, a whisper came to me, almost an audible voice asking me this question–the same asked of another weeping woman long ago:

Why seek ye the living among the dead?

I paused, taken aback, because I was–to be perfectly honest–in the midst of somewhat feeling sorry for myself, and I just didn’t want to leave that valley. It was the nearest thing I’ve ever experienced to heaven in my life.

I couldn’t leave.

I was in the middle of telling Heavenly Father that was just something I could not do when the Spirit said with more conviction:

Why seek ye the living among the dead?

I thought about it–I would not find her here.  Over the months since she had gone back to her Heavenly Father, I had come closest to finding her in the most mundane situations and places.  But not here.  I would not find her here.

Why Seek Ye The Living Among The Dead?

I needed to realize that I could spend my whole life staying in this place–this moment in time where I could imagine she would just come running around the corner, her one little curl bouncing and her smile and her chubby little cheeks and feet–or I could seek to find the reality–I could seek her through living hand in hand with Christ, her Friend and her Companion.

So, now, Easter–it’s really not so much a holiday for me–it truly has become a holy day–one of the holiest days in my life, as year after year my eyes are repeatedly stripped of their blindness that seems to continually build up throughout my days, so that I may see with certainty that Christ is Risen.  That through water, blood and spirit, I may repeatedly die and be born again, each time coming (hopefully) closer to Joy, through Christ.

Hope Will Come

What I have also come to see is that it is a miracle whether Christ chooses to raise a daughter from the dead within minutes after that death, or after centuries–the separation is still temporary–

Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.  And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

And, for me, this Easter I was able to begin to understand why I must not seek the living among the dead…why there is no reason for this ado–because of Jesus Christ, I know that like Jairus’ daughter, my damsel only sleepeth–and one day–and it will only seem a moment–He will gather me and my family together and we will enter in and He will take her by the hand and say unto her “Talitha cumi,” and she, too, will arise.

And then, I feel it–Easter is about hope and intense, eternal happiness.  And, while death is a part of that, it is only a small part.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

ordain women? we don’t know what we have.

ordain women? we don’t know what we have.

Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fulness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together.” Sheri Dew

This post may shed some light surrounding a website in the news that wants women to be ordained to the priesthood.

A lot of people wanted to know what I thought, and other people just want this to go away.

I wouldn’t have said anything at all, but after researching, it appears that the creator of this website may be a silly woman (as defined in the scriptures) who is preying on the emotions and pain of women of the church for her own agenda. 

These leaders have led away some really nice people by convincing them that all they are doing is asking about ordination, which is a lie.

The leaders of this website are calling for the dissolution of key doctrine in The Proclamation on the Family. I don’t think most people even know this.

The Proclamation on the Family is a living, breathing document to me. It is my banner.

And so I have to say something, because, well–that’s who I am. 

Ordain Women?

Ordain Women?

I actually read through the website, trying to understand the “why” behind this. I don’t know if very many people have.

Most bloggers weighing in on this issue sound a little exasperated.

They are tired of this debate because it paints us as somehow victimized, when in reality, most of us are empowered, sassy, amazing, forward thinking women who work in an equal partnership with our husbands.

I understand some of why the women identifying with this group want to be ordained to the priesthood. And for me it’s not a stretch of the imagination to posit the question, because endowed women already have access to the priesthood power.

I think that’s what our leaders have been trying to get across to us recently. Here are a few quotes:

We sometimes overly associate the power of the priesthood with men in the Church. The priesthood is the power and authority of God given for the salvation and blessing of all—men, women, and children.

A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one who is asked to administer the gift. –Elder Neil A. Andersen

Here is something else to consider:

Elder M. Russell Ballard said: “When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which by definition is priesthood power. … The endowment is literally a gift of power.

So we already are endowed with the same power. We just use it differently.

Because we are different.

Also, for those who have been adamant that there is no precedent for ordination of women, and who are stating that the prophet would never get revelation to ordain women, please, I advise you to never say never.

President Joseph Smith said to the Relief Society on March 30, 1842:

[I am] going to make of this Society a  kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day

From minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society:

Respecting the female laying on hands, [Joseph Smith] further remark’d, there could be no devils in it if God gave  his sanction by healing— that there could be no more sin in any  female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with  water— that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or  if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration….

these  signs, such as healing the sick, casting out devils &c. should  follow all that believe whether male or female. He ask’d  the Society if they could not see by this sweeping stroke, that  wherein they are ordained, it is the privilege of those set apart to  administer in that authority which is confer’d on them— and if  the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold  their tongues, and let every thing roll on.

Two women were also formally ordained in the first Relief Society meeting.

Women indeed have administered the priesthood in the early church, presumably, I would guess, because the men were dead, serving missions, or in hiding during the polygamy situation.

Maybe it was a mercy, as so many of the women had been raped and assaulted by mobs. Perhaps many of them had psychological trauma that made it difficult to trust men.

For whatever reason, women have done that.

Deborah, Painting by the incomparable Elspeth Young

Deborah, Painting by the incomparable Elspeth Young

And Deborah held a predominantly male title of “judge” in the scriptures because of the wickedness of the men at the time.

A lot of women seem to not understand that we are already endowed with priesthood power.

After having done years of research on the phenomenon of pornography addiction, I sometimes wonder how we will find men to lead us . According to Elder Andersen’s recent statement saying that men who look at pornography must repent and change and forsake that sin before they are worthy to administer and officiate in the priesthood, I mean, who knows?

But we’re not there yet, in great part due to the wonderful 12 Step Programs available for those struggling with pornography addiction.

And of course, because of the Atonement.

And, because of the Proclamation on the Family. It’s saving us, I tell you.

That there are abuses of male authority within the administration of the church, there is no doubt.

Abuse is a problem everywhere. President Hinckley said:

Such abuse is not new. There is evidence to indicate that it goes back through the ages. It is a most despicable and tragic and terrible thing. I regret to say that there has been some very limited expression of this monstrous evil among us. It is something that cannot be countenanced or tolerated. The Lord Himself said, ‘But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea’ (Matt. 18:6). That is very strong language from the Prince of Peace, the Son of God.

The above quote is taken from the church’s official statement regarding child abuse. It is comforting to read those words from President Hinckley. At the same time, it is disheartening that many other paragraphs in the official statement are often not implemented at the local level, and often even the regional level.

I wish the church public affairs office could talk with some of the hundreds of people I know of who have had different experiences than what are described on the official statement. 

Perhaps some of them are behind the Ordain Women website.

Perhaps the creators of this site have seen women in pain and saw a way to take advantage of it, manipulate, and gain a following. Ugh.

And, you know, I wish instead of just issuing statements and opinions, someone would just thoughtfully sit down with these women, who do appear to be very brave (I don’t agree with this at all–but I think what they did still takes courage)–and simply ask them the question no one is asking:

WHY?

Why?

Why?

There is a problem with some of those in authority enabling perpetrators, covering up criminal acts, and, at the same time, ostracizing and aggressively attacking the victims and their families. I have seen it. I have talked to LDS counselors, Relief Society presidents, law enforcement personnel, district attorneys and victims of such abuse–and it truly is a tragic problem.

Many of the problems seem to stem from the fact that within the priesthood leadership, there is a fraternity of good feelings. It is important to work together for the good of all, and important to feel a genuine love and unity to receive revelation and help others.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to male priesthood leadership turning a blind eye on one of their own when allegations of criminal abuse or other wrongdoing is brought up (usually by a woman, but sometimes even by the courts and law enforcement).

In many instances, male priesthood leadership have unintentionally (most of the time), blamed the woman and sought to exonerate the man.

The fact that there are any followers of this website at all probably stems from many instances described by President Uchtdorf last conference:

And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.

The church is still true, and it still goes on, however, in spite of wicked men (or women)…President Uchtdorf continues:

It is unfortunate that some have stumbled because of mistakes made by men. But in spite of this, the eternal truth of the restored gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not tarnished, diminished, or destroyed.

I think if the women who created this website are in any way manipulating victims of abuse for their own agenda, they should be ashamed of themselves and called out on it. If this is true, they also are no better than the males with whom they have a problem. 

I believe some women in this group feel  desperate because perhaps they have been severely traumatized by or have seen women getting hurt through the wickedness of men in the church. 

And maybe they are tired of hearing things like they can just call a home teacher for a blessing if they don’t have a priesthood holder in their home.

Do you know how hard that is? To find someone who will come with whom you have trust and are comfortable?

What if you have been a victim of rape or other abuses and have a difficult time trusting any man?

What if the very thought of being alone with men puts you on edge because of past history of abuse in your life? What if the very thought of having a male touch your head would be a trigger?

In all my years as a member, I can think of a small handful of men I would trust in my home at that level of intimacy.

I believe that is one reason these women want the ability to give blessings to each other, as faithful women in the beginning of the restoration did.

There may come a time when there truly aren’t enough worthy men and women may be called upon again to do this, but in the meantime, Ordain Women is missing something.

They don’t know what they have.

They already have the ability to call on heavenly angels to minister to them.

 I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the world Himself. --Elder Holland

I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the world Himself. –Elder Holland

They don’t need to feel like they are uncared for and cast off if there isn’t a man available to administer the priesthood to them personally or if they are going through a period of recovery from trauma and cannot psychologically deal with men.

If they are in a desperate circumstance, current doctrine suggests the blessings from angels are just as valid and helpful:

Elder Ballard also taught: “Our Father in Heaven is generous with His power. All men and all women have access to this power for help in our own lives. All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, [and] to commune with God. (Carole M. Stephens, Do We Know What We Have?, italics added.)

I don’t believe that it is in any way wrong to petition the church leadership for change if we feel inspired to do so.

In fact, I think some of the voices (not necessarily Ordain Women), which have been raised have resulted in change–mostly based on the fact that I think it got people thinking.

For example, we now have women saying prayers in General Conference. And we now have the portraits of female leadership displayed at the Conference Center.

And I think it wasn’t about changing revelation, just about realizing that it was the right thing to do, but they had just never thought about it.

Yes, it is good to question, like President Uchtdorf said.

But there is something wrong when the questioning is just a method to cover up a denial of established doctrine–important established doctrine.

And this is where Ordain Women got lost.

They apparently can’t see that they are in a degree of apostasy if they are actively denying the truthfulness and validity of LDS doctrine and seeking to destroy it.

(And, to be honest, maybe some of them are not even aware that this is the real agenda of this website. Perhaps many of them don’t know.)

The website states that the proclamation is antiquated and demands to abolish eternal gender roles. A snippet from their FAQ page:

The Church’s Proclamation on the Family declares that men preside over their wives and families, thus preserving an antiquated and unequal model in both the domestic and ecclesiastical realms.

My problem is Kate Kelly’s desire to erase the gender role found in the Proclamation on the Family. That men are to preside in righteousness in the home is actually doctrinal. The proclamation is clear when it says that individual adaptation may be necessary in adverse circumstances, so I don’t understand why this would be an issue at all.

The Proclamation on the Family is the doctrine of the church. Said President Hinckley before he read it in 1995:

“…we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,”Ensign,Nov. 1995, 100).

It has been continually spoken of at every conference since it was proclaimed. It has been referenced as doctrine by the current prophet and apostles.

Official Doctrine.

Contains Official Doctrine.

It is constantly referred to in official church publications as doctrine and revealed truth.

It is our doctrine that gender roles are eternal.

It is our belief that the problem is not the “unequal model”. The model is not unequal.

It is our belief that the problem is not the priesthood. The presiding priesthood is not “antiquated.” It is eternal.

The problem is that men are not perfect and sin. Sinful men and women create inequality, not God or his prophets or His doctrine.

(Women also sin, and are imperfect, too.)

I wish I could shout that truth from the rooftops! It would stop so much contention and hand wringing and maybe then we could start actually fixing problems by fixing individuals. We could try living the actual gospel the same way Christ did, to enact change.

Christ enacted change through love, not by hiring a human rights lawyer.

The Atonement is real. Men can change. So can women.

That is where advocating for change has the greatest worldwide effect–in the confines of the human heart.

I can completely understand why a woman who has had negative experiences with males (or has only been taught negatively regarding eternal gender roles), would feel so antagonistic toward this proclamation of the ideal way of life.

So, for someone of our faith to demand that the eternal, God given roles of mother and father be abolished–to demand that men no longer preside in the home–it would be like demanding that the prophet make the earth flat. It goes against eternal truth.

Not everyone may live the ideal in this life. There is far too much of wickedness. But the only way to improve our lives is to actually know what the ideal is.

What Kate Kelly is demanding is that we dissolve the doctrine of the church and institute her doctrine, which is, by definition, apostasy.

It is contrary to what faithful and even questioning and even sassy pants Latter-day Saints believe is eternal truth.

Even if women were ordained officially (we already have the priesthood power), someone needs to preside in the family, and we believe that someone is the father.

Rather than add to dissonance, I find that the fight to stop wicked men in the church can be done in a different way.

Levi Savage, My Hero

Levi Savage, My Hero

I was so heartened by the story of “17 Miracles” and the situation with Levi Savage.

He was right.

The rest of the leadership was mistaken, including a General Authority, who prophesied that the handcart companies would make it to Salt Lake before the snow fell. Either ignorant of all the facts, or just inexperienced, or confusing emotion with the Spirit, they were wrong to believe that there would not be serious consequences in trying to get the handcart companies to Salt Lake. Levi Savage is quoted as saying this:

What I have said I know to be true; but seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, and if necessary, will die with you. May God in his mercy bless and preserve us.

I feel the same way with regard to abuses of power in the church. I will express my opinion–sometimes obnoxiously–and I will help all I can and  then pray that God will have mercy on all of us.

I know that the Lord knows what He is doing, and that He walks with those who face severe situations of injustice, even if they cannot see Him. He is there.

To the women who have gotten involved in this thing, I say, even if you have been wronged and even if you are utterly alone and feel cast out–just remember that God counts you. And realize what you already have. If you keep your temple covenants, you already have the priesthood power.

Also, remember that while the Lord asks us to attend church regularly in order to receive the ordinance of the sacrament and have a temple recommend, that is not the only way we can worship our Creator:

Behold thy brother hath said, What shall we do?—for we are cast out of our synagogues, that we cannot worship our God.

Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?

I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren…that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble.

If we can feel, in effect, cast out, and still maintain a testimony of Jesus Christ and the saving ordinances found in the holy temple, then we are truly learning wisdom and humility.

Good can still come out of this for us. We can take even this experience to become more holy.

I wish my sisters and brothers associating with this website could have found a better way to gently raise awareness of these kinds of things without smacking people over the head with demands to change what we believe to be the sacred roles of mother and father and openly rebel against and deny the doctrine of the church found in the Family Proclamation.

Perhaps we could have truly found ways to progress and move forward in love and light rather than create contention and divisiveness over such a sensitive, personal and sacred issue.

And I have waxed eloquent (or maybe not so eloquent!) long enough! I will end my sassy pants post with these words from Sister Carole M Stephens:

We all need each other. Sons of God need daughters of God, and daughters of God need sons of God.

We have different gifts and different strengths. First Corinthians chapter 12 emphasizes the need for sons and daughters of God, each one of us, to fulfill our individual roles and responsibilities according to the Lord’s plan, that all may benefit.

Sons of God, do you know who you are? Do you know what you have? Are you worthy to exercise the priesthood and receive the power and blessings of the priesthood? Do you embrace your roles and responsibilities to strengthen homes as fathers, grandfathers, sons, brothers, and uncles? Do you show respect for women, womanhood, and motherhood?

Daughters of God, do we know who we are? Do we know what we have? Are we worthy to receive the power and blessings of the priesthood? Do we receive the gifts given to us with gratitude, grace, and dignity? Do we embrace our roles and responsibilities to strengthen homes as mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts? Do we show respect for men, manhood, and fatherhood?

Yes, let’s remember that. We all need each other.

my little secrets

my little secrets

I have a confession to make.

I have lots of little secrets.

And I think I should share them. That way you know if you still want to be friends.

My oldest son likes to eat Funfetti cake mix out of the box mixed with water.

Funfetti Slushie...Gross.

Funfetti Slushie…Gross.

I confess that I don’t care. I mean, he’s sixteen. I guess if he wants to put that chemically laden pseudo-crack into his system….I guess there are worse things he could be eating.

Like meth candy.

Or car oil.

Or, according to the 100 Days of Real Food blog, anything but quinoa is almost as bad as meth and also causes cancer…maybe. Probably.

Okay, I do care. I just can’t exert myself to care enough to change it right now, so I don’t let it get under my skin.

Artist representation of my daughter in the shower.

Artist representation of my daughter in the shower.

My daughter (I won’t mention which one because she would probably never speak to me again), doesn’t like showering.

I don’t know why and I can’t mentally, emotionally or spiritually figure it out right now. We talk. Just not about that.

I have prayed about it, and Heaven says she’ll grow out of it.

I always respond with

WHEN?

And then Heaven laughs, because the angels are probably all wondering the same thing about me–not about the showers, but when will I “grow out of” some of my inexplicable behaviors.

I used the word “reactionship” (coined by Nicholeen Peck), so many times in two days that my family (including my husband!) mutinied. Completely. I was tied to the mast and threatened with having to walk the plank if I ever use that word in their presence again.

Quite possibly the most wonderful mom who ever lived aside from Mother Teresa. And also, she is cute and sassy!

Quite possibly the most wonderful mom who ever lived aside from Mother Teresa. And also, she is cute and sassy!

(Literally, I kept saying, “No, you guys, that was a reactionship. We want a relationship.” Over and over and over.

I was hoping they would get the point about reacting rather than relating, but instead they all ended up getting along because they were unified in their undisguised hatred of that phrase. Even their aunt joined them.

So, I guess it was kind of a win-win, because at least they quit fighting amongst themselves.)

There are other things less trivial that I hide.

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and I wonder how I am  going to make it through the next half of my life this way. You know, the way it feels after the earth shifts under your feet and you realize that nothing is really solid.

Except for the things you can only touch or see or feel with your heart.

I wonder how I will live like this, knowing that any moment everything could change.

Like when I first learned about how we breathe. Do you know how difficult and complicated that process is? How we keep breathing? Everything in our bodies has to work exactly right and at exactly the right time for it to work. Or we stop breathing.

For a week after I learned how complicated it was, I walked around aware of every single breath I took.

 

Taking the Picture, Counting their Breaths, and Praying Gratitude.

Taking the Picture, Counting their Breaths, and Praying Gratitude.

It’s like that now, only it’s not my breaths that my heart is listening to hear. It’s my children. My husband. I am listening, always checking….

It can be distracting, sometimes. And, I know I should learn to just let them breathe without thinking about it–it’s supposed to be involuntary.

But, I don’t know how to let it go, yet. And sometimes, I wonder if I ever will.

I get nervous around authority.

Store Managers. Policemen. Boat Captains.  Judges.

Store Managers. Policemen. Boat Captains. Judges.

It always comes across the wrong way, like people in authority would look at me and think,

She looks guilty. What did she do? She probably belongs in jail.

I don’t know why. I just don’t like authority figures. Any kind. My palms sweat and I start thinking I am breaking out in hives (although I never have, I just imagine that is what it feels like to almost break out into hives). I just don’t like people who think they have the power to say “no” to me.

Or, somehow, I think that if they have the authority to send me to jail, then I must have done something wrong in my past somewhere that I don’t remember, and they are going to send me to jail.

That’s why I don’t speed. Last time I got a ticket, I thought I was speeding. I started crying and I confessed to every time I’ve ever gone five miles over the speed limit, all the times I didn’t follow cars at a three second distance on the highway, and ever single time I have looked down at my phone when I should not have done it.

The police officer was either overwhelmed with all the incriminating honesty, or he may have taken pity on  me.

It was just for an expired registration. I stayed at home for a week after that.

I also know that I am spoiled.

Could I Live In This Yurt? Maybe.

Could I Live In This Yurt? Maybe.

And, I like it, kind of. Well, actually, I think I like it. I want to be brave and say I could live in a yurt, or go 24 hours without hot running water, but I am not sure if I could do it without complaining a lot about it. Maybe I could. I want to think that I could.

Best. Movie. Ever.

Best. Movie. Ever.

But, I don’t know. Maybe I would be a giant whiner. Like Max on SpaceCamp.

Jinx and Max. Friends Forever. Or Until You Die In Space.

Jinx and Max. Friends Forever. Or Until You Die In Space.

Gah! I just divulged the most embarrasing one of all! Oh, and maybe there’s more. My favorite character was Tish. I watched SpaceCamp about 30,000 times on an allegedly pirated beta tape copy that my dad allegedly made.

Tish. Coolest Girl Ever!

Tish. Coolest Girl Ever!

And I loved it. SpaceCamp. Thought it was the best movie. Ever.

They Are Like Family.

They Are Like Family.

In fact, a quote from that movie sums up my personality in less than 140 characters:

There’s a difference between being the boss and being bossy.

Amen, and I don’t know the difference yet. Ask my siblings, they will tell you I NEVER KNEW.

Sometimes, I really don’t care about dinner. Like, I have recipes and everything and I have vegetables that are going to turn bad if I don’t use them right away, and I just bag it and the kids eat cereal and bacon for dinner.

I also secretly (and not so secretly) sometimes wish that I could just get away from the SMeE–somehow escape it.

Like monks or people with meditation webinars on the internet.

See, Like The Webinar Lady. She Has Mad Meditation Skills.

See, Like The Webinar Lady. She Has Mad Meditation Skills.

Sometimes I try, but usually when I try to concentrate on releasing negative energy, I just fall asleep.

So, that’s kind of getting away from it, right?

I think we all have little secrets–secrets we think we can’t tell anyone because they are just so embarrassing. Or we think we are the only ones with kids who don’t want to shower, we are the only ones who get in a huge fight with our husband, or wear our pajamas, or sleep in on Sunday, totally unprepared for church, because we stayed up too late on Saturday night watching Netflix.

Whatever our little secrets are, I think it is safe to say that it would surprise you to know that even if your friends knew, they would love you. I mean, you still love me, right? I hope. I hope that my son’s indiscretions with the Pillsbury cake company don’t make you not like me.

I think it would be great if this week, we made a goal to share a little secret with someone. To just be a little more transparent with our friends and family. Sometimes it can be the means of getting help for a problem, like Funfetti cake mix.

Sometimes you will find that getting it out in the open makes you realize how silly it was to keep it inside and not share it. Sometimes it changes everything.

Please...get help. Look, You even see double when you eat this stuff.

Please…get help. Look, You even see double when you eat this stuff. Double the fun, no way. Double the Danger.

And some little secrets can make people love you more. Like when I told my husband that I secretly wish we had more time alone together on a private beach in the South Pacific.

And all along he thought I was wanting to be with the kids more than him. This secret was shocking, but it sure did make for a great weekend. Even if it was still with the kids and he had the stomach flu. It was just nice. Nice for him to know that I still loved him and that we were in this together. And, on some future weekend, it will make for an even nicer one. Without kids or flu.

So, go ahead and try it. Share a little secret. Something from your heart or your craziness, and see what magic happens.

A Little Secret Shared Can Make It Easier To Love.

A Little Secret Shared Can Make It Easier To Love.

Also, my last secret. I like Frozen.

Am I pro-Elsa’s song or anti? Do I care about the underlying meaning of it all? Well, yes and no. I actually have an unusual, kind of personal take on the whole topic. So, I will soon be adding a post to the 5,874 posts per hour about this topic very soon. Make sure you look for it. It could get lost in all the other important opinions. 🙂

Maybe I’ll even do a cover on it. Ha. Ha. No.

Until then, good evening, beautiful world!

 

 

one year.

one year.

It has officially been one year since the spinal meningitis and I am celebrating!

It is also my daughter’s birthday tomorrow and Australia Day, so it’s a triple celebration.

I thought it would be appropriate to write a blog post commemorating the event. So I sat down and stared at my computer. And then I looked at Pinterest, checked Facebook, and got sidetracked with pictures of people playing Elsa from Frozen and wondering why it seems like Asians have so much time on their hands to make exact replicas of cartoon costumes. And where did they find that wig? And did they hire a professional photographer? And is that fake snow or real snow?

Real or Fake Snow?

Real or Fake Snow?

But, I digress.

I am determined to celebrate, because I think I grew up. I thought I wanted to when I turned forty, but I was just kidding, but then Heaven took me seriously and here I am.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from all of this is that life is ironic. Truly. And that is not just me saying that, I have it on good authority that, yes, indeed, it is:

Amid life’s varied ironies, you and I may begin to wonder, Did not God notice this torturous turn of events? And if He noticed, why did He permit it? Am I not valued?

Our planning itself often assumes that our destiny is largely in our own hands. Then come intruding events, first elbowing aside, then evicting what was anticipated and even earned. Hence, we can be offended by events as well as by people.

Yes, life is very ironic. And, having always been honest with you, I will be honest tonight. Sometimes, I did wonder if God perhaps had forgotten to check in on me. And I have been absolutely offended by the Spinal Meningitis Event (the SMeE).

SME (Spinal Meningitis Event Illustrated)

SMeE (Spinal Meningitis Event Illustrated)

The SMeE just came in and elbowed me aside and then kicked me off of a cliff into a canyon in the bottom of a dried out gully full of briars and then, for good measure, turned into a flash flood that subsequently landed me in a sink hole. With only one shoe.

Yes, that about sums it up, I think.

But, you know…I am celebrating. I am happy. I feel…strangely calm.

I look back over the year, and what I remember of it was excrutiatingly painful and hard. And somehow, looking back on it, and knowing that it was so painful–well, it is softened. Somehow, the balm of the love of God softens it.

I look back and feel–I don’t know what I feel, but I know it’s from Heaven. I guess it’s this feeling that I lost so very much, and I still don’t know why, but even though I don’t know why, I know it was important and meaningful. And I don’t even need to know why.

I think back to how awful I feel I’ve been as a mother and wife because of my limitations, and then I feel Heaven whispering that His grace is sufficient.

Oh, I have learned about grace. And imperfectness. And patience. And love.

Mostly it’s the love I think I am celebrating.

I can honestly say that I love more than I have ever loved in my life. I feel more genuine.

Yes, I think I am celebrating that I became more genuine. Less of a knock-off and more the real thing.

I am more real. I feel more…well, just more. I feel it deeply.

When I see someone at the store or in church or on the side of the road, I might catch a worried look or a frustrated expression and I want to know how I can ease that burden. I want to stop them and say,

You are loved. And if you feel unlovable, I will love you, because hey, I have been the most cantankerous, unlovable, unattractive person this year, and Someone still loved me. And even though I felt abandoned sometimes, I am here to tell you, you are not alone.

Sometimes I get to. Actually, well, to be honest, a lot of the time I get to. I get to learn their stories. And I get to love them.

I don’t know what lies in store for us this year, because, quite frankly, I am afraid to ask. And I don’t know how to make plans anymore because it seems that no matter what I do, ironic twists of fate get in my way.

But, I know that I want to love more and I want to worry less. I want to conquer as much of my disabilities that I can and accept the rest.

I finally realized this year that it’s okay to have meltdowns. Sometimes, that is what happens. And life goes on, and you don’t have to give up on yourself for three days  or a week or a month every time you really blow it.

I’ve learned not to give up on myself. And I have learned not to because there were so many times I wanted to and didn’t. Well, at least not permanently.

Here is what Elder Maxwell said about me. Sometimes I wonder if he was sitting preparing this talk many years ago and he had a vision of me, stubbornly refusing to use a walker:

If a sudden, stabbing light exposes the gap between what we are and what we think we are, can we, like Peter, let that light be a healing laser? Do we have the patience to endure when one of our comparative strengths is called into question? A painful crisis may actually be the means of stripping corrosive pride off of that virtue.

canyon

Stabbing Light

The SMeE exposed me and shone a light on the gaping chasm that was the difference between what I was and what I thought I was. I have been stripped and it hurts.

But, it’s wonderful. I feel like this is my true new year.

And I look toward the newness and think that it will be alright, because now, I am not afraid. Not afraid of death. Not afraid of “trials.” Just…calm.

And, somehow, even though I miss Joy more than I ever thought possible, I also feel a sense of moving forward–as if she is saying, “It’s alright. Go on. Move. Go. Breathe again, mom. Stop fighting the broken heart and let it just be all the way broken.”

Because, you know, once it breaks all the way, that’s when I get a new one. And I guess I feel like this year, I have been completely broken and I have been given a new heart. And I am thankful and at peace and know that whatever I am going to do or be this year, it is in the hands of the Living God.

And I am good with that.

So, happy SMeE/Australia Day/Birthday Day!

And, thank you for your prayers. Thank you for loving me through this breaking heart time of my life. I love you for it.