Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 8 - {modern prophets}

100 days of gratitude tag

Thanksgiving was so wonderful, and I'm looking forward to some fun posting about that. Today, though, I need to express gratitude for a special experience, an example of a tender mercy from Father today just for me.

I have been feeling a lot of numbness lately, with all the painful grief tucked down deep. Staying really busy has helped me stay afloat emotionally, and I intentionally avoid probing into the depths that I know are there.

This has helped me get through November. I hope it will also get me through the next few weeks. But I am already feeling some side-effects, one of them being a lack of Hope. Today in particular--I got home from church and could just feel the clouds surrounding me. Doggedly pursuing other interests keeps me from crying and makes it easier to sleep at night and get up in the morning, but it also prevents me from exploring my heart. It leaves me with the numbness. Today I felt inclined to stop resisting and just give up to despair, crawl back into bed and cry. Cry over Benjamin and his absence from my life. Cry over the fact that I can't seem to get pregnant again. Cry over how horribly long a day can feel.

But I felt a pull to do something uplifting. Someone must have been praying for me at that particular time! Thank you, whoever you were! :) The pull was strong enough to make me pick up the Conference report. It was freezing, so I started a fire in the fireplace, curled up on the couch, and rather half-heartedly started on the talk where I last left off reading.

It was "The Infinite Power of Hope", given by President Uchtdorf. How blessed his words are!


Here are some of my favorite passages. . . .

Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. Its absence--when this desire of our heart is delayed--can make "the heart sick."

I have felt that "heartsick" feeling all too many times. I had never realized that it was partly because of my lack of hope. . .my tendency to begin yielding to despair. Pres. Uchtdorf knows personally what this is like, having grown up in Germany during post World War II, and spending much of his early childhood as a refugee. He shares an amazing experience his mother had during that dark time (to read the whole talk click here).

Hope is a gift of the Spirit.

To me this means I can pray and ask Heavenly Father to bless me with this gift.

The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. [It]. . .advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart.

This was so illuminating to me! The adversary has been trying to kill my hope. He could see that as I was beginning to lose sight of eternity and become enmeshed in the things of this world and its pains and unfairnesses, I was pulling away from the Lord. Now that I recognize that, I can resist it!

The things we hope for are often future events. If only we could look beyond the horizon of mortality into what awaits us beyond this life. Is it possible to imagine a more glorious future than the one prepared for us by our Heavenly Father?  

Why don't I think about that more often?!

Well, because it seems SO LONG until that future! The part that is hard is maintaining hope during the hard times here in mortality.


Here comes my absolutely favorite quote from this talk:

No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations.

Isn't that breathtaking? I remember hearing him say those words during Conference and feeling as though Father in Heaven were saying them to me directly! I just want to engrave that sentence on my heart right now.


The photo below is one I took last December, only a few weeks after losing my precious little son. I was having lunch alone with Hyrum, and he looked outside and said suddenly, "Mommy, why are the clouds so bright?"

I answered, "Because of the sun. The sun is behind them." Immediately the Spirit struck deep into my heart the truth that because of the Son, even the dark clouds in my life are not really dark. They just mask the brightness for now, and someday they will be moved permanently, and the sun will shine down on me in all its brightness and glory and warmth.

I quickly grabbed the camera to record the image and hopefully remember what I had just learned. :)


This bleak "chapter of my life" is only a chapter. I already know the end of the story, and it is such a happy ending.

And to all who suffer--to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely--I say with love and deep concern for you, never give in.

Never surrender.

Never allow despair to overcome your spirit.

Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart.

Isn't it wonderful that Heavenly Father still sends prophets to the earth today? To me that is sure proof of His continuing love for His children.

Dear Father, I thank Thee for Pres. Uchtdorf's words, and for Thy Spirit in leading me to them today, bringing me strength and comfort!

painting credit: Carl Heinrich Bloch "The Doubting Thomas"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 7 - {a seven-hour drive}

100 days of gratitude tag


We leave tomorrow morning to drive to Round Rock, TX! I'm so, so grateful to have Becky only 7 hours away! Close enough for Seth's baby blessing, and the 4th of July. Close enough for Benjamin's birthday, and. . .



We'll be back Saturday night.


And, so you don't go through Hummer-withdrawals in the meantime :), here's something I just found on the computer after he had been typing today. It probably took him a good half-hour to type all this. I love seeing what's going on in his adorable mind. . . .


hapy  brthdey
to  uoy  beyby  benjamin
hav  a  noys  brthdey  beyby  benjamin
rooby  lic  wich
beyby  benjamin
ant  becy
prezidint  hyngcly


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 6 - {our new chickens}

Let me apologize for the long drought here. I have been experiencing some rather odd emotions and it has made it hard to post, because I don't feel honest unless I share how I'm really doing, and it's hard to explain. This is the fourth or fifth time I've tried to get something written, so here goes. Hope you don't think I'm totally losing it. :)

The weeks since Benjamin's birthday have been peaceful for the most part, and very productive. I felt an almost tangible peace that whole week after his birthday. Then the next week I felt it threatening to slip back into heavy grieving. So I got busy to try to keep my mind occupied.

I decided to start preparing our house for when we will have to sell it. I want us to be able enjoy the changes ourselves, so I've always planned to start early!

I also decided to start a new weight-loss program--wish me luck!

You may be shocked by my next decision: if I am not blessed with another pregnancy by January, I'm going to go back to school and get my R.N.! I've started researching the nursing schools in the area, and am very excited about this. Of course, things will hopefully change and I will finally be able to bring a baby home again. I just found myself starting to be obsessed about that, and it was not helping my mental health. For now, to have these plans helps me face the future.

This past week I found myself intentionally avoiding thinking about painful things--for probably the first time since this happened. I was so grateful to finally be into productive mode again, I didn't want to be pulled back down. I hope that is not unhealthy. . . . I still feel a huge urge to cry for about 10 years, but it doesn't help me to cry all day (unfortunately I know that from experience). I'm grateful to be healed enough to hold back the crying and save it for the evening, or for during scripture study, etc. I'm finding that I don't really need to cry every single day.

So, anyway! Now you know probably way more than you'd like about what's been going on in my head. :)

On to my next gratitude post!

100 days of gratitude tag


Since getting married and giving birth to my first son, and subsequently three more sons, I have grown accustomed to being the only female around the house. It's kind of nice in some ways, but I admit there are times that I would appreciate another girl around. :)


As of last week, though, the total number of girls around here has increased and now we're WINNING!



  (Exacto says we're tied because of Benjamin, but I say that in this case he doesn't count because he doesn't live here.)


Benjamin is around the house, too!



Okay, so anyway, I'm grateful for two more girls! Some of you may not have met our first chicken, so I'll introduce her here, too.


DSCF4217 edit


This here is the sweetest little hen you'll ever met. She lets us pet her, hold her, and she even follows us around when we're out in the Chicken Run with her. We've had her since November 2005.

Ms. Dickens has survived several companions: her childhood friend, a duck named Chuck; later a rooster named Cute; another duck, named Cutie; and a sweet little gray hen named Priscilla. Her latest compatriot was an elderly red hen named Matilda, who shuffled off this mortal coil last summer. With the cold weather starting, we worried about her not having another warm body to snuggle close to at night.

I mentioned it to our Relief Society president, who keeps chickens, and asked if she had any retired layers that she could spare. She let us come out and choose two. (Thanks, Tracy!)

So, now I introduce our two newest chickens, named by Exacto and Hummer, respectively. . . . .

DSCF4202 edit



DSCF4237 edit


Ruby was hysterical when we brought them home. It was pretty hilarious. She has the run of most of the backyard, but what she REALLY wants now is to penetrate the fascinating, chain-link-fence-enclosed Chicken Run.

Unfortunately the hens are rather clique-ish and completely unsympathetic.

DSCF4216 edit


So even though I'm not surrounded by pink stuff and dress-up clothes, it's fun not to be the only girl. Ruby and I hang out during the day--she's a sweetie. Most of the time. :)

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And sometimes I just go out and pet the hens and have a little woman-to-woman chat. (They're great listeners.)

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Yes, I'm a hillbilly wannabe.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Celebration at the cemetary

2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 214


I worried beforehand about the "Santa Claus" syndrome with this, that my children would ask if the balloons really got to Benjamin. (Hummer had already said that he thought Benjamin would pop his!) But a friend had wisely told me, "Just tell them the truth--the balloons will not get to heaven, but Benjamin will see them and know about them."


Exacto with balloons ~ Fluffy writing a note to Benjamin ~ special bracelets Jaime made for Benjamin's brothers

Hummer's note reads "H z noys and yoo r noys too" (H is nice and you are nice, too). :)


2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 219

It was one of those days that seem too good for this earth. A celestial day.


2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 221

There was a feeling of deep peace and joy. Someone suggested that we sing "I Am a Child of God" as the balloons lifted.




2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 228


 2008 11 03 Jim's Pictures 009 edit

It was a beautiful gift from Father in Heaven that this tree was in full glory that day, just like the day of Benjamin's burial. I loved feeling close to that time again. I never would have expected that before going through this experience! To wish I could go back to that? Yes. That was the last time I saw his face and touched his soft head. I want to remember that vividly, and the sight of this magnificent tree was a blessing!




2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 252





  Nature’s first green is gold,

  Her hardest hue to hold.

  Her early leaf’s a flower;

  But only so an hour.

  Then leaf subsides to leaf.

  So Eden sank to grief,

  So dawn goes down to day.

  Nothing gold can stay.

  - Robert Frost






After the balloons were out of sight, the children enjoyed the leaves that were on the ground. It truly was a celebratory day.

A year since an angel joined our family! We love you, Benjamin! Stay close. . . .

2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 331

2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 441

2008 11 03 Benjamin's BD 445

Friday, November 7, 2008

Celebrating a precious life

Balloon Post 1


November 3, 2008 was an amazingly joyful day. I was filled with much of the same peace I felt the day that Benjamin was buried.


Balloon Post 2


I had been planning for a while, even more carefully than for other birthdays, because I felt like this is part of what would create Benjamin's place in our family here on earth. I wanted us to start traditions that we can continue through the years so that he will always be included in our lives.


Balloon Post 3


Wonderful friends and family joined in the celebration from many other places. . . . .


Balloon Post 5


In Hawaii there is a tradition that started in the early 1900’s when the islands were only accessible by boat. As you were sailing away from the island you would drop your lei in the water and hope that it would return to the island. This was symbolic of your own hope to return to the Hawaiian Islands someday.

My sweet brother and sister-in-law used this tradition to celebrate Benjamin (since balloons were hard to come by), making their own lei with plumeria from the temple grounds. They talked about our Savior and that He made it possible for us to be with our families forever through the Atonement and resurrection. Then they walked to the beach where they threw the lei into the water and watched it return to shore. And it did return to shore.

My sister wrote ,"We felt that this was symbolic of the fact that we will all get to be with Benjamin again through the love of our Heavenly Father and our Savior."


Balloon Post 4


Even my very-busy student siblings took time to get the balloons, write notes, and send them off!

Oh, how wonderful you all are!


Balloon Post 6


Everyone sent me the most amazing pictures after doing this. Each one made my heart swell with love and gratitude. Thank you, beloved family, for remembering our Benjamin!

I'll post tomorrow about our balloon release at the cemetary and other celebrating. . . .


(Thank you to the Larsen family for this beautiful idea.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Peace like a river




Happy Birthday, Benjamin! I love you so much!



personal photos

Greg Olsen "Take My Hand"

Mack Wilberg, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, "Peace Like a River"