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Wives, be faithful to your husbands. I know you have to put up with many unpleasant things, and your husbands have to put up with some things as well. Doubtless you are sometimes tried by your husbands, on account perhaps of the ignorance of your husbands, or perchance at times because of your own ignorance. … I do not say but that your husbands are bad—just as bad as you are, and probably some of them are worse; but, never mind: try to endure the unpleasantnesses which arise at times, and when you meet each other in the next life you will feel glad that you put up with those things.
Lorenzo Snow

I love this quote. I think it is one of the most realistic, down to earth pieces of advice about marriage that I have ever heard. I know I’m not always capable of responding in a Christ-like manner, but I think I can handle putting up with “unpleasantnesses.” I like that a prophet of God admits that marriage isn’t always easy because of our human imperfections. I think he was wise to point out that, in healthy marriages, both the husband and the wife need to take an equal share of blame.

The last line makes me smile. Thinking about meeting up with my husband in the next life helps me put this life’s inconveniences into perspective, and I look forward to a time when things like dirty socks on the bedroom floor won’t be an issue.

http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-lorenzo-snow/chapter-9-sacred-family-relationships?lang=eng

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Couple Working in Homeless Shelter

I teach one Sunday a month in what we call Relief Society, our women’s organization. This month, I was asked to teach about service. Again. I gave a lesson on service last year. The Bishop, our ecclesiastical leader, just talked about service a couple weeks ago. I feel like my church is always talking about service. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I just wasn’t very excited to prepare another lesson on the topic.

But then, as I was thinking things through, I remembered an experience that I had earlier this fall. After watching my Autistic daughter run in her first cross country meet, I allowed my younger girls to play in a canvas pavilion while we waited for the meet to end. I intentionally left my oldest to be with her teammates. What fifteen-year-old wants to hang out with her mom?

After a while a group of girls, including my daughter, walked by the pavilion. I watched them as the lined up along the rope that marked the course. I don’t think they knew I was watching them. After cheering on other teammates, the other girls turned and walked toward the finish line. My daughter didn’t seem to notice they had left and remained where she was.

I wasn’t angry that the girls had left her behind. I understand that my daughter’s disability makes it hard for her to fit in. Sometimes, she can be downright rude. But I felt very sad as I watch her stand there alone. For a moment or two, I debated whether to go over to be with her.

But then I heard someone call her name. I looked to see the other girls, standing about a hundred yards away. When they had noticed that my daughter wasn’t with them, they stopped and called for her. They waited for her as she ran to join them. I was so grateful for their kindness.

I realized that God feels like I did that day. He loves us each individually, and with His infinite power He watches each one of us just like I watched my daughter that day. And when we are left alone, or anything else negative happens to us, He is saddened just like I was. But unlike me, He can’t come rescue us. He has the ability, but He chooses not to because His appearance would affect our agency.

So He has to send someone else.

Box

I recently introduced a friend to my Addiction Recovery Program meeting, a twelve step program that is offered through my church. After attending a meeting and looking through the manual, she gave me some wonderful feedback that I would like to share:

Thank you so much for the idea and the motivation and support to start addiction recovery program. There are very powerful messages. It also gives me an idea of where to start to get into my mind and soul and start cleaning things out. Have you ever had to clean out a garage and just didn’t know where to start? It seems so over whelming, so you close the garage door and lock it up and find an excuse to do it later. Then you finally get the courage to do it and you open up the first box and find things you forgot about. Some good. Some bad. Some indifferent. Some things so specific you pull it out and hold it and go back to that exact memory.

I like how she compared the program to cleaning because that’s really what the program can do. Help you clean out whatever you don’t want in your life any more, including painful memories. The Program doesn’t cause you to forget these painful memories, but it heals you for the memories no longer hurt.

SaucepanI often listen to inspirational messages from my church leaders (Conference Talks) when I exercise. The other day I listened to Elder Uchtdorf’s talks “Of Regrets and Resolutions.” One line really stood out to me. He said, “Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.” I have really thought about this line and usually my thoughts are along the line of, “I wish it was that easy. I wish I could just make the choice to be happy.” Believe me, I’ve tried and at least so far, it hasn’t worked for me.

So yesterday while I was running I listened to a talk from our prophet, Thomas S. Monson. When he started talking about how we can be happier, my ears perked up. He said, “I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness. . . . I would recommend . . . that you take an inventory of your life and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, you have received.”

I wanted to take a moment to review some of the blessings I received just this week.

Blessing #1

In May, my husband lost his job. As I prayerfully considered what I could do to help support my family, I felt impressed to expand what I call my rice bag business. For over a year my chiropractor has been selling my products. I thought that if I could increase my clientele this would be a way for me to help support my family without having to work outside my home. I worked all summer, developing brochures and expanding my product line. My sweet husband went around to a number of chiropractic offices as he looked for work himself. Toward the end of the summer, I became a little discouraged. I had sold a few rice bags, but had not added any regular customers. I couldn’t understand why the Lord would encourage my efforts if they weren’t going to be fruitful.

And then my best friend got sick, and I began to spend a lot of time with her and her family. I can remember thinking more than once, “I am so glad I wasn’t able to find more people to sell my rice bags. I don’t have the time to sew, and even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to focus enough to do a good job.”

My friend passed away three weeks ago. My life has slowed down again, and my chiropractor finally needed more bags. Monday, I was able to start sewing again.  As I did so, I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to build up my business more. My husband did find work, but only for nine months. His contract will end in June.

Tuesday I received a call from a woman who had purchase some bags back months ago. She wanted to order more for her husband’s chiropractic office. She had lost my brochure and was only able to contact me by getting my name off her check register and looking me up in the phone book.

Blessing #2

One of the most important things my father taught me was that children are more important than material possessions. When I dented the fender of the family car, he didn’t even seem irritated. I have tried to follow his example and place my children’s happiness over my desire to keep my belongings in good condition.

I also believe that items are meant to be used, not treasured. So when my four year old asked to wear my grandmother’s necklace to preschool I grudgingly agreed. I have many items of jewelry that belonged to my favorite grandma and I didn’t think this particular necklace was an expensive piece. My daughter had already proven to me that she took care of the jewelry she wore.

When I picked her up from school, I was disappointed to hear that the chain of her necklace had broken while they were playing in a grassy area. Her teachers had not been able to find that quarter sized heart-shaped pendant. For sentimental reasons, I did not want too loose that pendant. I said a prayer in my heart and after an hour of sifting through leaves and grass with my nephew’s metal detector, we did find that heart.

Blessing #3

With four kids and a busy husband, life can get pretty chaotic. Wednesday, I left the house to attend a church activity with two of my daughters. I completely forgot that I had a pan of broth boiling on the stove top. An hour and a half later, I returned to a house filled with smoke and a very charred sauce pan. For some reason the smoke detectors were not working. I feel very blessed that nothing caught fire and I still had a house to return to.

I named my blog smelling smoke, because of the joke my husband always repeats when someone says, “I was thinking” or “I had an idea,” but this week we were all literally smelling smoke for many days. I grateful that a foul order was the only negative consequence to my forgetfulness.

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/of-regrets-and-resolutions

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/consider-the-blessings?lang=eng

RebekahH

Over the last couple of days I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I am doing since the passing of my best friend, Rebekah. I really am doing okay. Let me explain why.

Rebekah and I met over a year ago when she and her family attended services at my church, a Loveland congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We spoke briefly in the hall way, mostly about the challenges of raising strong-willed children. I saw her a couple of months later on Labor day. I was holding the door of our church building open for my family when she approached. She asked if I remembered her, which of course I did. I am sure there are very few people in this world who are capable of forgetting Rebekah. I invited her to sit with our family which she did. I did not see her again until after she had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in early October.

Six weeks earlier, Nicole, a friend of mine from high school, had discovered that her breast cancer, thought to be in remission, had progressed to Stage IV. I don’t know a lot about cancer and the different stages, but I knew enough that I did not expect either Rebekah or Nicole to recover. I think this expectation would bother anyone, but it meant something a little different to me.

Both Rebekah and Nicole had young children. I knew what it was like to be a single parent. I knew what it was like to lose the father of my children. I knew that the future their families were facing would be extremely difficult. I was determined to help, and hoped that by the time they passed away their families would continue to allow me to be a part of their lives.

My efforts help Nicole’s family were not as successful as I would have liked. Because Nicole lived I was not able to visit her as frequently as I would have liked to. I had a strong desire to share my religious beliefs with Nicole. She had expressed concerns online about what would happen to a person when they died. However, for some reason, I was too afraid to talk to her about my faith.

When I learned of Rebekah’s diagnoses, I decided that I would not make the same mistakes. I visited her frequently, and when I did, we talked almost entirely about religious subject. I set up a “Meal Train” for Rebekah and her family just like Nicole’s friends had done for her. When Nicole passed away the day before Thanksgiving, my efforts to serve Rebekah increased.

Unlike Nicole, Rebekah knew exactly who God was and I was amazed at her faith. She did not blame God for her illness, and continually expressed hope that God would miraculously heal her. I believe in miracles and had seen a number of them in my life and so this point, I supported Rebekah’s hope with all my heart.

I had recently read a book that talked about the miraculous healing of Lance Armstrong, the cyclist. He was given only three months to live. If I remember correctly, the cancer had spread throughout his body just like Rebekah’s had, and yet he is now cancer free. That man had gone on to make some pretty bad choices. If God could heal a man like that, He could heal Rebekah. I wasn’t 100% certain of my new outlook, because I know from personal experience that God does not always answer our prayers in the way we want Him too. But I was no longer 100% certain that she was going to die, either.

Four weeks ago, I celebrated my 40th birthday by throwing myself the biggest party I could. Even though Rebekah’s health had taken a turn for the worst, she attended and thoroughly enjoyed herself. This was the first time my family had met my new friend Rebekah. I was not prepared for their reaction.

Both my father and my sweet mother-in-law asked me about Rebekah in hushed tones. Their words supported my optimism, but I could read the concern on their faces. Their looks said, “We know your friend is dying and we are worried about you.” At first, I was angry at their lack of faith. And then I became upset. What if they were right? I really had to do some soul searching that weekend.

At the time, I had been focusing my scripture study time trying to find more information about how the Atonement (what Christ did for us) and the Gospel of Jesus Christ could help us overcome the effects of a dysfunctional childhood. I felt that I had been healed but I knew so many other people who had not reached that point yet and I wanted to help them. I had discovered a list of talks (articles) the one of our Church leaders had created for people in that situation and I was gradually reading the talks on that list. However, after my birthday party, it seems everything I read talked about how Christ could help us overcome trials, including the death of a love one. I decided that God was trying to tell me something. I knew then that Rebekah would not be with us much longer.

Because of the things I had just read and my previous experiences, this knowledge did not bother me as much as it had just a few days before. Because of the death of my first husband, I had spent a lot of time researching that topic. I knew exactly where Rebekah would be going, and what she would be doing when she got there. I knew that she would still be interacting with those of us she left behind (See Eternal Perspective post). I knew she would be happy and peaceful there.

I know I’ve mentioned this teaching before, but I’m going to quote it again because it is important:

“Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer, whose Atonement not only provides for salvation and exaltation but also will compensate for all the unfairness of life.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook, https://www.lds.org/liahona/2011/11/the-songs-they-could-not-sing?lang=eng

http://www.dictionary.com states to compensate means to provide or be an equivalent; make up; make amends. The Savior cannot return Rebekah to us, but He can make up her loss to us. He can make us whole again. As I’ve mentioned before, I know this is true because I’ve seen this in my life and the lives of my children after the death of their father. I have also witnessed miraculous healing power of the Atonement, as I was finally able to let go of the negative feelings I had for my mother just weeks before she passed away. Once again, I was healed and made whole.

I also know this is statement is true because God has written in on my heart through the power of His Spirit. I know this is true just like I know that the sun will rise tomorrow. Christ can heal any hurt. It just so happens that this time He chose to heal me before I lost my friend, not after.

Trust me. When I say I’m doing well, I mean it. Rebekah’s in a better place. Her family is going to be okay. I’ll miss her, but I’ve gained valuable experience and new friends and family members to love through knowing Rebekah. I’ve already been compensated for my loss.

Mountains

Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding and happiness.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, May 2010, 58

The experience in my life that best fits this quote has to do with one of my greatest challenges as a parent. My husband and I were forced to admit that one of our daughters suffered from mental illness when her second grade teacher urged us to take our daughter to counseling. We followed the teacher’s advice, but by the time my daughter was in middle school, her depression had only deepened.

Her struggle with depression was very difficult for the whole family. Our home was filled with constant turmoil and contention. I felt like this daughter was always in trouble. I became obsessed with her condition which led to my own depression. We had no idea how to overcome this trial. Those were dark days.

Years later, I cannot express the joy I feel when I see this daughter laugh or smile. She still had days, like the rest of us, when she’s hard to be around, but for the most part, her depression is gone. Occasionally, we have issues with how she interacts with other members of the family, but other than that, I couldn’t ask for a more obedient child.

Now that this trial has past, I can look back and list the blessings we received from this experience. During that time, I began attending the Addiction Recover Group which has drastically changed my life for the better. In an effort to help her, we made changes in the way our family eats and that has benefited all of us. We were able to discover that my daughter is Autistic, a diagnosis which helped us significantly. We were now able to explain behaviors that before were hard to understand. This new knowledge helped us change how we parented which had a positive result. We received yet another witness that our prayers were heard and answered. This trial was very difficult to overcome, but it was worth it.

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/continue-in-patience?lang=eng

Child Praying

If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled . . .No man would have to live by faith. . . There would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life.
Spencer W. Kimball, As quoted by Malcolm S. Jeppsen, Ensign, May 1994, 17

I’ll admit that I do not understand why there has to be opposition in all things, why we would not know joy without suffering. I’d like to think that my love for God is strong enough that I would depend on Him even if I was trial free, but I’ve never been without some kind of affliction. I do understand that with our physical bodies, without resistance, or something to push against, our muscles and bones cannot become stronger. I guess our spirits work the same way.

I do not understand why faith is more powerful than knowledge. I’d like to think I would obey even if I knew. I do understand that God does not make Himself known to mankind as a whole to protect those that would not obey even when they had a sure knowledge.

Even though I don’t understand completely why God does the things He does, I trust Him. I trust that His “program” is one that is carefully designed and overseen. Even though my life has not been easy, and my prayers have not always been answered in the way that I want them to, I know God loves me.