Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Traveling Snowman

About 6 years ago or so, my Mom bought the same Christmas gift for my daughter and her two cousins that are close in age; a snowman head. It's a pillow really, yet kind of hard to use as such because of the loooonnnnnnnnggggggggggg carrot nose. But it IS cute and SOOOO soft. My daughter kept it on her bed for a couple years until she felt she'd outgrown the little-girl-stuffed animal stage. She did not want Mr. Snowman anymore.

Summer came, and along with it, the drill team annual garage sale. All the girls on the team contribute items to be sold in order to earn money for their Fall trip to California. My daughter decided to sell her snowman head. After all, Gma never comes into her bedroom and never asks about Mr. Snowman, so she'll never know, right? WRONG! Gma is a garage sale junkie.

Gma had moved to Santaquin though, so who would've thought she'd hear about, let alone come, to a Mapleton garage sale, when there were probably hundreds of garage sales going on all over the place, but come to this one she did. Would she remember or even recognize Mr. Snowman? Of course she did. He's quite unique. She asked the host about the garage sale and found out it was being hosted by the SHS drill team, so my Mom asked if a girl by my daughter's name had contributed Mr. Snowman. Indeed she had. BUSTED!!!

Now my Mom could've been hurt, disappointed, or upset, but she was able to chuckle about it and came up with the brilliant idea to buy Mr. Snowman (again), hang onto him until Christmas, and then re-gift him daughter. Hilarious! Now every year since then, they pass that snowman back and forth, coming up with creative ways to package him up, wondering if the other will guess what the gift is (as real gifts are given too). My husband thinks they should both "get over it already" and cease this silliness. But I think it's a wonderful thing. It's a reminder every year, of a situation that could've caused discomfort, maybe even bitterness, but has rather fostered a fun relationship in sharing a private (not so private anymore) joke that causes them to laugh and love. A gift is a gift, from someone you love, whether it's something you use or not isn't important.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Heavenly Home

A couple weeks ago I taught a lesson in Relief Society that I wanted to share with my family, including our married children. A had the nagging feeling that I always spend a lot of time preparing nice lessons for others to hear, but I never do the same for my own family, so I decided it was about time I do something about that.

This was a silent lesson, as far as talking goes. I have pictures depicting Christ's hands from babyhood through the ressurrection. I have had these pictures for over a decade and have loved them, but the thought came to me that they would be even more powerful set to music. I was able to choose songs that I love, and I found the perfect ones to go with all 9 pictures. There's also a scripture for each one. So...the way it worked is, I would post the first scripture and picture, and everyone could look up the scripture and read it to themselves as the song was playing. There was a small pause between songs while I posted the next scripture and picture. There was no talking. The entire thing takes 40 minutes.

I thought about my two adorable grandchildren, ages 2 and 19 months. I knew it would be completely unrealistic, even ridiculous to expect these little ones to be quiet, therefore I modified my expectations of tonight's lesson. I told everyone before we started, not to worry about the little ones, to let them play, and we would just get out of the lesson whatever we could.

When the music started, all was quiet. There was a reverant, peaceful feeling in the room. The grandchildren, without ever being prompted or instructed in any way, played in the most reverant way I've ever seen, even speaking in a whisper. These two special little people are typically hyper when they see each other and they sometimes try to "one-up" each other in their cute antics. Not tonight, or at least not during those 40 minutes. They were the sweetest little angels.

Our two year old granddaughter spent her time methodically building a pedestal with blocks. Then, without fanfare, she quietly stepped up on her pedestal and started waving her arm as if leading the music. She moved her lips as if singing the song. She had a reverant, respectful, angelic look on her face as she did so.

At the conclusion of the lesson, I bore my testimony, sharing my story of when I really KNEW that Christ's atonement applied to me personally. I had shared my story with my older children, but not my younger three (at least not in full). Ironically, my happiest, most joyful moment of my life, was at the passing of our firstborn son.

Brandon was born healthy, however 2 weeks later, he was very sick and was admitted to the hospital, where he died 36 hours later. It was a rare staff infection that shut down his organs, poisoned his blood, and took his life. A cause is still not known for omphilitis, nor a cure. I had complete faith that he could be healed, and my prayers were uttered with that healing request. Brandon was moved up to NICU, where he hovered between life and death. I would retreat to the bathroom over and over and over again, PLEADING for his life to be spared, exercising all my faith and love in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, to use their healing power on my son.

The words always came to my mind, that I needed to say "Thy Will Be Done", but I didn't want to do it; consciously REFUSING to say those words. I realized that my pleas were turning from begging, to commanding God what to do. The nurses were honest with us and told us that they were surprised Brandon was still with us. Specialists all over the world were consulted on his case, and all were stymied. A few hours later, we were asked to give permission for Brandon to have a complete blood transfusion. It was then that I retreated to the bathroom one last time. I knelt on that cold, tile floor, and pleaded with Father in Heaven, as I felt my heart was literally breaking, and I felt such pain in my sorrow and time of need, yet as I once again pleaded for Brandon's life to be spared, the words "Thy Will Be Done" were again brought to mind, and this time I knew I HAD to say them, and truly turn the matter over to the Lord.

What happened next was the most spiritual, incredible experience I've ever had in my life, and one on which I draw on from time to time to remind myself of the answers I received that day. I have always believed in Jesus Christ and His atonement, but never until this day, had it sunk in, that he did what he did for ME; that he not only atoned for our sins, but also for our hurts and pains and sorrows.

As I uttered those words "Thy Will Be Done", I truly meant them, knowing Heavenly Father knew what would be best for little Brandon. As soon as I spoke those words, the most incredible warmth that is hard to describe, completely enveloped me, as if arms were wrapped around me. In that moment, I KNEW that yes, Heavenly Father loved ME, and that he and my Savior were aware of ME and my pain at that particular moment, and that the Savior had suffered for me already. I also knew that Brandon would be called home, to his heavenly home. The words came to my mind, "everything will be OK". Those words were a constant mantra going on in my head for quite a while, and the warmth that encompassed me carried me through the next few difficult hours, and days ahead.

As I ended my prayer and headed back to the waiting room, a nurse immediately came out and told us that Brandon was not going to make it and did we want to hold him. Although filled with grief, I knew it would be OK. I knew that the love I felt for my sweet baby boy, could not even compare to the love Heavenly Father has for him, as well as for me, and each of us. I said goodbye to my son, but knew it wasn't really goodbye.

Tender mercies were shown to me throughout my experience. #1) I knew I would be quitting my job after my baby was born, yet I didn't feel I should give official notice until later, so I just took an indefinite maternity leave. My boss, who also handled the insurance for the company, asked me if I wanted to add my baby to our insurance. I told her No, because I knew that after he was born, I'd most likely tell them my intentions of quitting. When I notified her of his birth, she again asked me if I wanted to add him to the insurance. Again I said No. Two weeks later, I called her from the hospital after Brandon had been moved to the NICU, and told her the situation and asked if it was too late to add him to the insurance. I dreaded her answer, as surely I WAS too late, and how wrong it was for me to wait until there was a problem, and then request the blessings of insurance. This woman answered immediately, without pause, "Done...he's on your insurance as of NOW"! Hours later he was gone. Thousands and thousands of dollars was covered by my insurance plan. A few weeks later, I was able to return to my job, which was truly a blessing. #2 Brandon hung on, until I could accept the fact that he wasn't meant to stay with us. I KNOW he hung on for me, and as soon as I had received my answer in that tiny hospital bathroom and felt peace and acceptance, he was gone within minutes. #3 The hospital had taken newborn pictures of him, which we never intended to purchase, thinking that we'd take plenty of pictures ourselves. Three weeks following his death, a packet of pictures arrived in the mail from the hospital. Tender mercies continued to feed my spirit, and testified to me, where my blessings come from.

At one point prior to Brandon's death, I felt such intense pain in my heart, I wondered if I might be having a heart attack. I felt as though there were a hole right through my heart. Over time, my heart was healed. The scar is still there, which is a reminder of the good that came out of the heartbreaking experience, but it is healed.

I cried as I shared my story, not from sadness, but from the joy I felt at receiving the answer I did, in the way I did, and how powerful that experience was, and how it has carried me through life many, many times.

I felt a special, sweet spirit in our home tonight. It felt like a heavenly home, at least for that brief time. That feeling comes and goes in our home, as life happens, but those moments, however brief they might be, are precious, and I am filled with a longing for our true heavenly home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rat Race to Peace

I attended my youngest son's choir concert tonight. It's one of my favorite things to do. I found myself totally relaxed and enjoyed the evening immensely. I then realized that I only have 2 1/2 more years before he graduates, thus an end to all the running around to sporting events, fund raisers, concerts, volunteer work, and so much more. I remembered back, not too many years ago, when all six kids were in school, each involved in something, and it seemed like we were in a rat race all the time, running from one thing to another, but ya know what? I loved every minute of it.

My quest for the month of December has been to take the time to slow down enough to really enjoy the season; to experience it with all my senses. Is it really possible to "slow down" while in a rat race? Yes, it is. I realized tonight, after tiredly plopping down in my seat, that I could push other concerns aside and just enjoy the moment. I experienced pure joy watching my son perform and I allowed myself to be carried away in the music and feeling in the air.

We had been invited to a party this evening as well, but once home, I didn't want to shortchange my son and run off to one more thing. This was his night. I wanted to talk to him about it. My rat race ended at home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Freaky Smiler

I was running around today trying to accomplish at least two week's worth of catch-up errands and grocery shopping, when I realized that I was scrunching my eyebrows and wearing a frown, so deep in concentration, thinking of all the tasks I needed to hurry and get done. That's when I remembered my last post.

So...I made a conscious decision, right then and there, to unscrunch, open up my eyes, notice my surroundings, turn on some Christmas music, and smile. While making a great effort to make eye contact with every driver I passed, ready to cheer them up as well as myself, I found that I might look a bit freaky, because by unscrunching my forehead and opening up my eyes, I had the look of a rather "surprised" and overly stressed woman, with a forced smile painted on my face. Oh well, it cheered ME up, and brought my focus back to things that matter.

I enjoyed the Christmas music as I drove. I made an unplanned stop at Deseret Book and just browsed, totally relaxed. I didn't buy a thing, but it was a good few moments to myself. Then on with the grocery shopping, which I always enjoy, knowing that those I love are waiting at home with hungry tummies and I get to go fill them.

Went out with hubby tonight and we're now relaxing together. That smile is still on my face. Forcing a smile over a frown, really works!