Monday, February 28, 2011

Touched By An Angel

A new post so soon? CRAZY, I know! Yesterday, I played the organ for church. When I do that I get to sit on the stand and just watch the people in the congregation. They probably don't know how closely I watch them. :) But I am inspired by watching them. I sit and ponder about what each of their crosses are that they have been called to carry in this life. I wonder if they know how truly amazing they are.

There was one woman who brought tears to my eyes. She wasn't doing anything show-stopping or anything people would take notice of. All she was doing was holding someone's baby for them. But that isn't all. I happen to know that she wanted to have more children. She is about my age and was blessed with two beautiful children, but she desperately wanted more. What touched me was the way she was glowing when she held that baby girl. She stroked her face lovingly. She rocked her back and forth. She was RADIANT with the love and the joy she felt! I felt so much love for her! Other good qualities she has: Her husband and children are THE center of her universe. She always says what is on her mind. That is a quality I wish I had. She has the best laugh. She is strong and determined to finish what she starts. She is an Angel.

So I started to think about ALL of the beautiful women I know in my life. Each one that has touched me, but doesn't even know. I decided that I am going to do a series of posts entitled "Touched by an Angel". These posts will be dedicated to the "Angels" that cross my path. I won't mention any names in case they might be mortified that I wrote about them. :) Maybe you'll recognize who I'm talking about, but more importantly, maybe you will recognize the "Type" of angel I am talking about because you know someone just like that in your life.

One thing I came to realize about myself this past year is that I am a person who searches out beautiful things and tries to incorporate them into my life. It could be a beautiful piece of art, or a piece of music, the lyrics to a song or a short, touching story. But the most rewarding thing I try to seek out is "beautiful" women. Not that they are beautiful as the world portrays beauty. I am talking about the light that shines from within. I see a trait that they have that I want to exhibit and I learn from watching them. What is sad is that most of these women don't even know the light they have to offer. By doing these posts, I am hoping that women will start to see who we are and what we can accomplish. We might not be CEO of a major corporation, we might not write a best-selling novel, we might not ever be on the cover of People magazine, we will NEVER be Oprah, but we work our magic through small and simple means, touching one heart at a time through little acts of kindness.
SO STAY TUNED! I don't know how frequently I will write them. They will come as I'm inspired. :) I hope you will join me as I seek out the Angels among us.
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Take Two Steps Forward....

and one step back and you've made a little progress. That is a line from a song I heard growing up. First, off on a little tangent...everything I ever needed to know I learned from Janeen Brady. She helped write a series called "Standin' Tall". If you've never heard of it, I suggest you google them and buy them for your kids. You won't be sorry you did. :)

So back to my topic...okay, another tangent...if anyone ever does a story of my mediocre and mundane life, it really MUST be a musical. I can think of a song for every situation I have ever faced in my life. I sometimes think that I could speak so much more eloquently through the words of music. Wow...I think I'm coming down with adult ADD.

NOW on to my my topic. Does anyone else feel that this is the pattern of your life? You seem to make some giant leaps forward and then you come across a snag or a minor set-back. Then I'm bounding off again, learning, growing, line upon line, precept upon precept, two steps forward then one step back. But I am such an impatient person. I want to know it all NOW! I don't want to learn a step at a time and I definitely don't want to take any steps back. Sometimes it just feels overwhelming realizing all the things I need to learn to become like my Heavenly Father. Some days are so good and I'm feeling on top of the world and then some days I can't hardly face it all. The back and forth is agonizing at times. So I was pondering and reading in the scriptures and this Book of Mormon study manual I have from my good ol' days at BYU and something just HIT me!

President Spencer W. Kimball: "We knew before we were born that we were coming to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, ease and pain, comforts and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments, and we knew also that after a period of life we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a GLAD HEART, (emphasis added) eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward even though it might be only for a day or a year. Perhaps we were not so much concerned whether we should die of disease, of accident, or of senility. We were willing to take life as it came and as we might organize and control it, and this WITHOUT MURMUR (again emphasis added), complaint, or unreasonable demands."

I could all of a sudden see myself back in the premortal existence and we were being told the plan. We could see all of the various trials we would face and the sorrow that would come. Knowing what I know now and am feeling at times in my life, what would have made me eagerly accept it with a glad heart? Only one thing. I could see what the end result would be and it must have been breathtakingly beautiful and wonderful. I could see what I would become when I was through with this life after facing each new challenge and I longed for it like nothing else. And really, this life is such a short time compared to all of eternity. I probably thought to myself, "I only have to endure a few short earth years to receive all of the blessings of eternity? Done!" So this is what I keep in my mind as I'm going through life's trials. When I am done with this trial I will be changed and stronger and one step closer to becoming something beautiful and Celestial.

President Howard W. Hunter: "At various times in our lives, probably at repeated times in our lives, we do have to acknowledge that God knows what we do not know and sees what we do not see. 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.' (Isaiah 55:8)"

This past year has taught me this more than anything. Either you believe you are here by chance with no purpose and to just SURVIVE, or you believe that there is a loving Heavenly Father who is so invested in your future that he has "prepared the way for you through the wilderness". As I have studied the scriptures, this point has jumped out at me over and over; with the Israelites, with the Jaredites, with Lehi and Nephi. God prepared the way for them to make it through the wilderness. Would He not do the same for me? We are all travelers through the wilderness of life and I have seen God's hand preparing the way for me through the challenges I am facing. There are great blessings that come through facing the difficulties. We must keep our eyes open for what can be gained on the other side when we finally make it through. The other side yielded the "Promised Land". When we are in the midst of those trials it seems unbearable at times, but I look towards the other side to see what I will have gained by coming through it. Pain fades, memories fade, but the lessons can be remembered and become a part of our character.

Again, a song to put the point so eloquently; " How Firm a Foundation" Hymn #85
"When through the fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply,
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine."
This was really more for my benefit. It's me thinking out loud....
Thanks for stopping by. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

McKenna Update

I don't know how many of you are familiar with my daughter McKenna and her heart defects. For a run down you can visit the page we set up to connect with loved ones while we were in the hospital and click on "McKenna's story". It has been a while since I had to really address this issue because her last surgery was such a success; she leads a pretty normal life. They had to reconstruct her heart when she was four and it took 3 surgeries before that just to get her big enough that they could do the reconstructive heart surgery. It used to consume my thoughts and actions pretty much every day, wondering if she needed surgery, wondering if she was going to survive. Then we moved to Colorado and it was like a new life. No one knew about her and the stress and the trauma we had been through with her. There really wasn't a need to bring it up so I put it all in the back of my mind.

Last year I had a chance to home school all of the kids and I got to really watch McKenna and see how she was doing. I started seeing that she wasn't doing as well as the doctors hoped she would. They were hoping not to have to do another surgery until she was almost a teenager. They will have to do at least a couple more heart surgeries because as she grows the gortex parts they used to re-plumb her heart don't grow with her and that causes her oxygen levels to get lower. Before, they would let her O2 stats get into the low 70's before they would do anything. She is in the 80's right now and you can already tell a difference. It is different watching her now that she is more active and can express what is going on a little better. She gets frequent headaches, she tells me she can't feel her feet, she feels dizzy, all of it a little worrisome. Sometimes she just doesn't feel good and so she tries to put a name to her pain, but just can't, saying her legs hurt, her arm hurts and I can't DO anything to help her...just hold her and give her some love. I know they won't do anything until she gets a lot worse. You can see her heart beating it is working so hard. Her hair and nails stop growing so her body can use the energy somewhere else, she eats a ton but loses weight. But now that she is older and more active and needs to be in school, it will be hard. She looks tired, her eyes droop, she turns dusky, she has a dry cough because as her heart works harder it enlarges and pushes up against her esophagus. I'm beginning to feel like I did the first few years. The old worries creep back. We have been so blessed to have these last 5 years not really having to think about it other than when we visit the dentist (she has to take antibiotics just to have her teeth cleaned), or every year when it's time for flu shots (getting influenza can put her in the hospital). She actually contracted it a couple weeks ago (despite the flu shot) and missed quite a bit of school, another worry.

Rob and I decided that when she needs the next surgery we are doing it in Minnesota. The team there did all of her surgeries and knows her case. They came up with the plan of how to fix her heart because the surgery had never been done before. That presents all sorts of fun things to deal with. Like how we are going to get there, what we are going to do with the kids, because I stay with her in the hospital 24/7 while she is recovering, or will our insurance cover it...

The one thing I know is that it is all in God's hands. He has taken care of us in the past and I have no doubt that He will keep on doing it. So no stress, just ironing out little details and .......waiting. That is the hardest part for me. Having to watch your child suffer, not being able to do anything to help it and just knowing that it will get worse before it gets better. Just thought I would update everyone on the current situation. Nothing urgent, but just things I am dealing with in silence. Prayers are always greatly appreciated. :)
Thanks for stopping by. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Am Needy

Most people when they think of someone being needy tie a negative connotation to it. I had someone tell me once, recently, that I must be a needy person in order for my husband to be able to put up with me or love me. Ever since that statement I have pondered what that means. How is being independent and not needing anyone become what we strive for in this life? How does that represent strength and power? I have to admit that I fell into that trap. I thought that I was strong and independent and didn't NEED anyone or anything because when you need someone and they let you down, it just causes pain. If you need something and don't get it, it causes pain. So I decided I would not ever need anything.

But it is a lie. We all need something. We all want love and acceptance. It is the most basic need in every human being and even animals. Think about the lengths people go to to get that love and acceptance. Gangs form because they want to feel needed and like they belong somewhere. Spouses have affairs because they just want to feel loved and valued. Some fill those needs with something else, like food, or buying new shoes all the time. Those are some of the unhealthy ways people try to cope. There are some healthier ways people try to cope. Women have this strong need to be loved and accepted. We love to get together and then we talk...a lot...all in an effort to compare with other women and see that we are okay, that we have emotional connections. Facebook is all about getting that love and acceptance from peers. We post a status about something going on in our life and hope that people will respond or "like" what we have said. When we get a lot of responses we feel good about ourselves. If we don't get a response, we feel a little down, like no one cares. I find it somewhat humorous and yet, it demonstrates that we are all needy.

So I have been thinking about my needs lately. Our spouse is one of those people that should be filling our needs. We have basically promised to forsake all others and only need that one person. We also promise to fill that one person's needs. But is it fair for me to need something from my spouse that would suggest he needs to change something about himself in order to fill that need? It seems so selfish and yet, if we are filling each others needs it can be the most rewarding and perhaps the one relationship we would need in our life in order to feel safe and happy. If those needs are being met then we wouldn't feel like we have to have them filled somewhere else. Friendships are nice just because we want to feel connected, but they aren't obligated to fill your needs like a spouse. Even turning to friendships to fill the needs we aren't getting from our spouse can be unhealthy. I guess the conclusion I came to is that my relationship with my spouse is the most important relationship and needs to come first (aside from my relationship with my Heavenly Father).

What if your spouse isn't filling your needs? I had a friend share her experience with me about her husband not being who she needed him to be. She talked about how that is where the atonement comes into play. Christ makes up the difference for that person's shortcomings. He fills the holes. When we rely on the Savior to fill those needs, it frees our spouse to be able to change at their own pace without the disapproval and disappointment coming from us. We just accept them for who they are with patience and love. That is what my husband did for me. He loved me unconditionally and allowed me to work through some things and change. Now I am in a better place to fill his needs and he is working to fill mine.

So yes, I AM NEEDY and I'm not going to apologize for it. I need love, acceptance, appreciation, and I need friendships and to know that I am okay. Those who don't think they need anything or anyone are really hurting themselves. They aren't open to closeness with their spouse or to real friendships. I know from personal experience. Just food for thought. What needs do you have and how do you go about filling them?
Thanks for stopping by. :)