Sunday, March 20, 2011

Passing the Sacrament

Bryan turned 12 in January and was so excited to become a Deacon. He was excited to be able to do baptisms for the dead, but passing the sacrament was a scary thing. He struggled for months being unsure of himself, afraid to stand in front of so many people. Brent even offered to pass the sacrament with him but he still didn't want to do it.

"How do I know where to go? How do I know what to do?"

A few weeks ago one of Bryan's leaders approached me at church. "I noticed Bryan hasn't passed the sacrament yet." I explained to this leader how Bryan was unsure of how to do it and was nervous being in front of so many people. He then offered to come pick Bryan up before church and have the other Deacons show Bryan how it's done. What a great idea this was. I couldn't wait to tell Bryan.

When we got home from church I told Bryan about what his leader and I had discussed. I thought Bryan would be so happy he would finally be able to pass the sacrament. However, all I got was, "Why did you go talk to him? I will do it when I'm ready." That was so not the response I thought I was going to get.

We then had a long discussion and had come to the agreement that he would go early and let the others show him the process and then he would decide whether to pass the sacrament then or to wait until the following week.

Well today was that day. I got Bryan up to get ready for church. "It's after 7:00, you need to hurry. Your leader will be here in 45 minutes." There was lots of grumbling from under the blanket. I wonder if he thought I would go away if I couldn't see him? Then there came the, "I don't feel good." and the, "I'm too tired." Being the mean mom I am I told him too bad you are going to church. As I walked down the hallway to get my other two children out of bed I heard, "FINE" and his not so little feet stomping to the bathroom.

7:50 came and off Bryan went.

When the rest of us had gotten to church and took our seats Bryan was already sitting with the other Deacons waiting to pass the sacrament. I think my heart skipped a beat. After we sang and the prayer was said I watched as my young son stood with the rest of the young men. He seemed so grown up standing there. He started passing the bread row by row. Watching him from the side I could see the corner of his mouth turn upward into a smile. Then came the water, again I watched him as he went row by row. I could still see that hint of a smile on his face. As he got to the end and went to stand in line with the other young men he turned to me and smiled.

I was so proud of him. I was so proud that he was honoring his Priesthood and blessing others by passing the sacrament. And most of all I was proud that he had decided to do it for himself.

As Bryan walked back to sit with our family he had this ear to ear grin on his face. Once he got closer I could hear him say, (along with the three rows in front of us) "Yes, I did it!" He sat next to me and I put my arm around him. He proceeded to tell me how "awesome" that was and that next week we need to sit in his area so that he can pass the sacrament to us. In that moment, I don't know why but, I was reminded of a book title I had once come across. "Even the Prophet started out as a Deacon." I couldn't help but wonder at what the Lord has planned for my son. Will he be a future Bishop or Stake President? Will he serve as an Apostle, or be in the Quorum of the Twelve? Will he one day serve along side the Prophet? Will he be a great Young Men's leader and help others to fulfill their divine rolls? 

As we got in the car after church Bryan announces, "I'm going on a mission!"

It was a great day to have been the mean mom.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

5 Months Ago Today.....

Five months ago today I woke up like every other day. I got my children ready for school, made lunches, checked homework, found a missing shoe. It was just like every other day except I had this fear in my heart. A fear that only a mother can know. A fear that there is something wrong with my child. Five months ago today Connor was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Last month we held a fundraiser for Connor, to be able to get him the insulin pump that he so longs for. I started out with this huge fear. I didn't want it to look as though we were just asking for money. I didn't want to bother people with our troubles. I just felt this desperate need to help my child. As we started organizing things for our garage sale weekend people started making donations, ordering bake sale items, then I found a new fear. What if people don't donate items for us to sell? You can't have a garage sale if there isn't anything to sell. The donations of items started flooding in. We had more then I ever thought we would. Then I feared that no one would come. What happens if no one shows up and we are left with all of this stuff? Then we found out it was supposed to rain. We pressed forward with faith that everything would work out. As we put everything out on Friday morning people slowly started to arrive. The sun was shinning. It was a beautiful day. Then all of a sudden we were flooded with people. Everywhere I turned there were people. It never stopped. As my heart filled with emotion I looked and saw my friends. People from our ward who had come to support our family. They never stopped coming. By the end of the day we had raised over $1500.

As Brent and I sat in the temple Friday night there was this feeling of overwhelming love. It was so strong you could almost touch it. We both sat there in silence pondering the events of the day. I looked at Brent as he held my hand. "There is no way we did this on our own. Heavenly Father had a hand in it all." We left that night with a renewed sense of strength, and peace in our hearts.

Saturday morning as we were setting up for the day the clouds were dark and heavy in the sky. My heart sank. "Please Heavenly Father don't let it rain. Not today." We started off a little slower than we had the day before but once again the people came. Once again there were my friends, all there to support our family. Once again everyone proved more generous than I could have ever imagined. At one point the clouds broke right over our house. I could feel the warmth of the sun's rays on my face and felt as though I was being embraced by the love of a merciful Heavenly Father. He had opened the windows of Heaven and was pouring out a blessing that there wasn't room enough to receive it.

At the end of the day we counted everything up. It was just over $1600 bringing our two day total to over $3100. Who does that? Who makes that kind of money at a garage sale?  Everything we were blessed with has only been possible by the grace of God. It is so humbling to have been witness to this miracle He made happen on behalf of our little family.

That night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to take me I couldn't get the image of the sun shining through the clouds out of my head.

This process of learning to live a new life has lead me down many paths. I am no longer that same person that woke up on October 15th.  Yes, I still am me. I still get my children ready for school. I still have to locate that often missing shoe. But, there is something that has changed within me. These past five months I have gone through a range of emotions from deep despair, to everlasting gratitude. I have found a strength that I haven't know before. I have gone from believing in, to knowing the love my Savior has for me. My family has been brought closer together. I cherish that they are mine forever. I find great comfort in that sealing power. I've learned the power of prayer and have gained an unshakable faith. The fear and doubt that once took residence in my every thought has been replaced by an assurance that Heavenly Father is watching over us. He knows of my struggles. He knows of my burdens. He knows the intent of my heart. And that is why, as I ponder that image of the sun breaking through the clouds, I am reminded that we must walk through the storm and it's trials to be able to fully appreciate the Son and the peace He brings. That is something that I will treasure always.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Doubt not

In this world of chaos and uncertainty it's hard to always have a positive out look. As we've had some major trials in our family this last year, sorrow and fear seemed to continuously loom around us. When you constantly expect bad things to happen it's hard to accept the good.

We have had some pretty uplifting experiences recently while trying to help Connor. It's been so wonderful to be a part of the miracle that is taking place. Last night as I realized how close we are to reaching our goal I started to feel this little twinge of doubt. This inner struggle that rages on in my head. Are we doing more than we should? Am I worthy of such a marvelous gift? As the night went on this feeling of unease took over me. What's wrong with me why can't I just be happy?

Late last night I was once again on my way to meet my mom to deliver cinnamon rolls. As I sat in my car waiting everything was quite and still. As I pondered all of the recent events several thoughts came to my mind. We've been having all of these amazingly spiritual experiences that I forgot for a brief moment that the adversary was out there fighting against us. That the fear and doubt was not from me but from one who wants us to be unhappy.

Suddenly a warm feeling came over me as I sat there in the quite of the night. And this still small voice impressed upon my heart, "Be still and know that I am God. I shall open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." In that moment I realized that the Lord's plans for me and my family are bigger than my own. That I have to have the faith that He will lead me where He wants me to be.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I believe in miracles

A few weeks ago I had an idea. I wanted to help my son. I wanted to make him feel more empowered, to help him know that he can set big goals and that he can do hard things. So as a family we decided to hold a garage sale/ bake sale fundraiser to help Connor raise the money he needs to get an insulin pump. We started the planning process, picked the dates, and started our journey. I had realistic expectations. Honestly how much can you make at a garage sale? The amount we needed seemed so big. But, we felt it was better to be proactive. To try and do something and not just sit and wait for something to happen. And what has occurred since we started has been nothing short of miraculous.

The first week we made between $400 and $500. This was more than I thought we would ever receive total let alone in the first week. Not only were we blessed that so many people were willing to help but I started noticing something begin to change in our home. Connor still has his bad days. Days were the depression seems to get the better of him, but as we would talk about the things that were starting to happen with the fundraiser something started to change in him. He had something to look forward to again. He gets excited when he comes home everyday and asks, "So how did we do today mom?" When I inform him of our progress he just smiles, gives me a hi-five, and says, "I can't believe that so many people want to help me."

At the beginning of last week I met my mom at a half way point between our houses to deliver all the cinnamon rolls I had just finished making. It was a marathon event. 168 cinnamon rolls made in 2 days. We sat in the parking lot and talked for a while about how amazing this experience has been. How much it has touched each of our lives. This process has been more emotional than I thought it would be. Every time someone would give so freely and so willingly whether it was money, or buying some of our bake sale items, or donating things for us to sell at our garage sale I would be overcome with emotion. My heart would be so full and in such disbelief that people would be so generous. As we were getting in our separate vehicles to return to our homes my phone went off. I had just received an email. I quickly started to read the words CONGRATULATIONS and your son Connor and $1000. I jumped out of my car and stopped my mom. As I tried to compose myself I read the email out loud. It was an email from a representative from The Prayer Child Foundation. They are a charity that was formed by Gold Canyon Candles to help children in need. A wonderful lady in my parents ward had contacted my mom about PCF and told her that I should apply. That Connor met the criteria for children that they help. We got our letter submitted a few days earlier and this email was what we had been waiting for. It said that our request had been considered at a recent meeting and that our son Connor had been approved for $1000 donation from The Prayer Child Foundation to be put toward purchasing Connor's insulin pump. I could hardly get the words out through the tears streaming down my face. We hugged each other and said our goodbyes. I sobbed the whole way home. Once I reached my house I gathered my family together. Brent read the email out loud for the children to hear. I was still so overcome with emotion. As Brent read the words Connor looked at me and started to cry. Once again I held my son on my lap, tears running down each of our faces, just like I had done a few weeks before. Only this time we cried for joy. In a weeks time we had already raised half of our goal.

We had already raised more than I had ever dreamed possible but we still had a long way to go. In the last week people continue to show their generosity. Our front room is filled with items donated with love for us to sell. My parents garage is also half full. People are still buying our bake sale items and making donations to help my son. I don't know if I have any tears left to cry but they always seem to come. I am astounded at the kindness of others. Strangers who don't know me, who don't know my son but  feel compelled to help.

This whole experience has been so healing. It took me a long time to realize that I was in mourning. I still have my child and he is still for the most part healthy and happy. However, life has completely changed for our family. Things aren't so simple. Everything is meticulously calculated and planned out. I didn't realize how simple things had been before. We had been stuck in survival mode just trying to adjust to the new day to day tasks that I never actually took the time to think about how much this all, for the lack of a better word, SUCKS.  I was mourning for the loss of the carefree life of my son. I was mourning the fact that my child was now faced with more grown up things, that he has been faced with his mortality, that he now sees a therapist, the fact that he has more doctors than the rest of us combined. Life seemed difficult before but I now long for the simplicity of being able to say, "Just grab something to eat," to my hungry child. Our life these last few months has been defined as before and after. Now we are slowly being able to say once again, here and now.

In the last 2 weeks we have raised over $2000 and it's growing more everyday. I know we have not come this far on our own. I know the Lord's hand has guided us every step of the way. I was reminded of this the other night as we were having family prayer before bed. It was Connor's turn. As he went through the normal, thank you for this day, thank you for our family, etc. I was overwhelmed when I heard my sweet son say, "Please bless those that have helped us with my fundraiser. Please help them to know how thankful we are for them." And I am, SO thankful for them. I will never be able to fully express the gratitude I have for the many people who have so greatly blessed our family.

These last few weeks I have been taught so much. My family has been strengthened and brought closer together. The tender wounds we all bear have begun to heal. I have been reminded of the power of prayer. I have learned to have faith in what the Lord can do. And, to dream bigger. I have learned that even though it is hard to ask for help that people are kind and more generous than I thought possible. That in order to bear our own burdens we must sometimes lighten the load for someone else. I have always believed in miracles. But, I now can say I've have been witness to one. That we have come so close to reaching our goal in such a short amount of time and how it has impacted our lives forever truly has been miraculous and it makes my soul want to cry out, "My God how great Thou art."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Faith, Hope, and Cinnamon Rolls?

A few weeks ago on a not so cold night in January, Connor and I went on a "mother/son date." As we sat in our car and talked over frozen yogurt my son began to share the burdens of his heart. Missing his best friend, the loneliness he has, how he now feels different than everyone else, how he hates having Diabetes and the constant fear he has that he's going to mess something up or not do something right and in turn that he might die from it. As he sat on my lap and sobbed such a deep mournful sob I couldn't contain my tears. As I hugged his little body tighter my thoughts were instantly filled with anger. I hate Diabetes! I hate the bruises the needles sometimes leave on his body. I hate that he can't eat when and how he wants to without having to weigh, measure or count every carb. I hate that I have to poke my sleeping child's finger in the middle of the night. I hate that I have to worry about such things as seizures from low blood sugar, DKA or dead in bed syndrome. (We have never told Connor about any of these!) I hate that his body sometimes can't do everything that he wants it to. I hate that I'm slowly loosing a part of him to the depression that often accompanies Diabetes. I hate that my 9 year old son is faced with his mortality. And most of all I hate that I can't fix it for him. I can't take the pain away from him and I can't bear the burdens for him that he must face daily for the rest of his life. In that moment as I grieved with my son I thought of my Savior as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. I thought of my Heavenly Father. How He must have wept as His Son cried out to Him in pain and with a heavy heart, knowing there was nothing He could do to ease the burdens that His Son must bear. How His arms must have ached to hold and comfort Him.

In the days that followed I struggled to know how to help my child. The sadness that crept into my heart is at times overwhelming. Brent and I discussed what we could do. We prayed about it, and talked some more, and then prayed again. We came to the conclusion that the help Connor needs is beyond what we as parents can give him alone. Our children look to us for everything and it's hard to remember that we don't have super powers and sometimes we have to call in reinforcements. We also decided to have a garage sale and bake sale to raise the money we needed to be able to afford an insulin pump for Connor. I strongly feel that this will not only help him physically but mentally give him strength.

We started spreading the word about what we were trying to accomplish. So many people have offered of their time, their talents, and their generosity. My dad has turned into quite the sales man. The first day we raised just under $50. As I told Connor his eyes just lit up. You could see that little glimmer of hope in him. A few people have come up to my dad and gave him what they could and simply said, "This is for your grandson." A simple statement that has touched all of our hearts. By the end of three days and everyone's combined efforts we had raised 10% of our goal. And I now have 30+ orders of cinnamon rolls to fill. Friday afternoon I went to El Rico's to see if they would be willing to donate some of their salsa for us to sell like they had done previously for our ward girls camp fundraiser. As I pulled into the parking lot I said a simple prayer. "Heavenly Father please help me to know what to say that I may touch their hearts." It's so hard to ask people for help especially people you don't know. As I walked into the restaurant I asked to speak with the owner/manager. I was guided to the manager and I began telling him my story. The manager tells me to wait just a moment. As I turned around there stood a man with tears in his eyes and said, "Hi I'm Rich. My grandson was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a week and a half ago and I would be happy to help you in any way that I can." We both stood there eyes filled with tears. That look of knowing on each others faces. We spent the next several minutes sharing our stories about the children that we loved. I left my name and phone numbers and offered my support to his daughter and her son. Having spent the last 114 days coping with our new life I have slowly come to realize what it means to be the parent of a child with this disease. I walked away in pure amazement at what had just happened. This couldn't have been just coincidental. I knew Heavenly Father had lead me there and I was overcome with gratitude. I sat in my car and cried.

This started out as an idea. A way to help my son. I thought that by doing this I could teach not only him but my other children that they can do hard things, that they can set goals and work to achieve them. I thought it was a way to show my son that it's ok to ask for help when you can't do things on your own and that there are many people out there that care about him. I also thought it was a great lesson in service, but what I didn't realize was that in trying to help my child I've really been helping myself. Every step of the way there has been some spiritual reminder that we are doing what we are supposed to. Uplifting moments that change you forever. That open wound that has made a home in my heart has slowly begun to heal.

I hope that we will be successful in our efforts. As I continue to pray I'm reminded time and again to have patience and to have faith. I know everything will work out the way it needs to. I am and will be forever grateful to those that have given to help our family. And even though my arms are sore from kneading a lot of dough I'm thankful that so many people like cinnamon rolls.

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Come what may, and love it."

It's a new year and I have much to be thankful for. 2010 was an extremely difficult year for our family. We have endured many trials. Some more difficult than others and at times some seemed more than I could bear. I spent a lot of time on my knees pleading with Heavenly Father about the struggles my family was faced with. It just seemed like it was one thing after another piled right on top of each other. Some that really weighed heavy on my heart. There was a lot of "why" and "how come." Amidst the adversity were great blessings. I have come to know my Heavenly Father personally. I've gone to Him with great sorrow, turned it over to Him, and had the pain instantly taken away. I've had answers to prayer that I can't deny. Of all of these the greatest blessing is the constant reminder of His love for me and His reassurance that I am not alone. I have been surrounded by so many ward members and friends that have freely given of their love and support. There is a blog I read from time to time and there was a wonderful story I read awhile ago that has been in my thoughts lately and really applies to my life.

"You know I have a household of sick kids (well only 2 left now)...but when I went to bed at after 11 PM, I was really tired. As I was falling asleep, a bright-bright light kept shining in my window. It kept disappearing before I could focus on what it was. It was so very bright when it did shine, then it was really really dark again. I forced my eyes to stay open and watch to see if I could see it again. I did and still couldn't figure out what it was, so I got out of bed.

I walked to the window and do you know what I saw? Fireflies. A whole bunch of them outside of my window.

I stayed quiet, in the dark , trying to figure out what was going on. Outside the window a couple of fireflies were making a circle pattern around my window. It continued for a while, I was amazed that they could make such a good circle-about the size of a dinner plate. I wondered why though. Usually you don't spot fireflies so high up (they prefer the ground). As my eyes adjusted to their brightness (and they were blinking in unison on top of it all)...

...I noticed that there was one constant light on the bottom of my window. Upon closer investigation, I realized the little guy was trapped between the inside portion of our glass and screen. His light was left was dim, but very on. I slid the window up and talked to him (her?) gently. I told him I had seen his friends rescue signal and was here to bring him *OUT.* He hid in a corner for a while, but I persuaded him to climb in my hands. I stood there in amazement, as now his light was of a soft greenish glow and was growing ever brighter.

I carried him downstairs and let him out the front door. Thanking him for the light show and blessing his little lightening bug life. I told him he had really nice friends.

When I got back into bed his friends had left, only darkness and sleep were calling me. But the Lord really spoke to me in this little mini-drama.

Alone sometimes our lights are dim, during trials or hardship, but if we have that Light within us, it shines out and God sends help ;-) And even when we don't know it our light is shining among men, who hopefully are awake enough to see and take notice of the Holy Spirit that resides within us as Believers.
It is so good to have friends, it is good to have friends who willingly shine into our dark places-even when there seems to be no hope. How thankful I am that we don't walk this road alone, but that we are surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Hope this ministers to you as much as it is still ministering to me.
Shine on my friends, shine on!"
How this story touches me. It has been at times of trial and stress that He has sent His servants to lighten my load and lift my spirit. I was reminded of this again today as I checked my mail. I had been avoiding the mail box for weeks. It had been filling up with medical bills and avoidance sometimes is easier than facing reality right? Well it was back to school for the kids and once again time to live in the real world where we have responsibilities and bills we have to pay. Among all the grocery ads, bills, and junk mail was a green envelope. I thought it was a Christmas card from a friend but I opened it up and it was something else. Inside was a card and a sweet note. Also included was a large monetary gift. My eyes instantly filled with tears. I was and still am so overcome with emotion. This is another amazing reminder that my Heavenly Father loves me. That He hears me and surrounds me with people who care for me and my family. Aside from the fact that this gift will cover most of Connor's prescriptions this month, the simple words, "I've been thinking of you" is what has truly touch my heart. That this sweet friend would take the time out of their hectic life to think of me, to remind me once again how much I am loved is a blessing beyond measure.

In the January issue of the Ensign there is an article by Elder Paul V. Johnson titled "Make yours a great life."
In it he states; "Yes, we live in challenging times, but so did Mary, Moroni, and Joseph Smith. We don't have to be carried along in the current of times....Your future is not determined by the conditions around you. It is determined by your faith, your choices, and your efforts." He also quotes Elder Joseph B Wirthlin's last conference address titled "Come what may, and love it." Elder Wirthlin says, "If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness." I know this to be true. During all of these trials I have received more blessings than I can name and have gained such a testimony that I will be forever grateful for.

So for my resolutions this year? have a thankful heart love too much look for the Light of God in others and be a help to them as others have been to me make mine a great life
....and come what may, I will love it all.