Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reflections on Ten Years as a Mother

Ten years is a long time. I've reflected a lot on the path my life has taken as I've celebrated a decade of mothering.

Ten years ago, I never imagined where life would take us, nor that I'd have seven kids so close together. I didn't understand how hard some seasons of life would be, nor the devastation of certain events in my life.

But I also didn't understand the incredible growth and joy I'd feel in my work as a mother, nor the blessings of following this quiet path.

I've always been smart and I've achieved a lot of academic success. In high school, I interned at the Idaho governor's office and was one of just a few high school students chosen to intern at Hewlett-Packard after school. I've always been a good test-taker and I got near-perfect ACT and SAT scores. I had two colleges I really wanted to attend. I was one of 24 students who earned the top scholarship at one university and was one of 24 finalists for the top scholarship at the other. I passed every AP test I took and was a T.A. for a calculus class in college.

If I hadn't met my husband and gotten married at age 19, I'm sure I would have continued on my academic path, probably studying something in the hard sciences or business, and definitely going on to graduate school.

But I did meet DH. I hadn't planned on getting married after my freshman year of college, but it was the right path for me and God confirmed it to me. DH and I took a full load of classes and worked part-time to make ends meet, going to school in the summer so we could graduate two years later. I changed my major to Family Science, so I could prepare better for my role in the home, raising our children.

Four days after I graduated, I became a mother. DH still had years of schooling left, but we sacrificed so I could be home, devoting my energies to our children. We didn't have a lot of money, but we had love and commitment.

The transition to being a full-time mother wasn't easy for me. I felt lonely and had to work to make friends in this new stage of life. It was hard work being a mom sometimes. And those night-feedings? No one really warned me about how tired and exhausted one could become.

What was also hard was I was doing such a wonderful job, and no one noticed! DH did fine supporting me and letting me know he loved me for what I did for our family, but even he didn't really understand all that I did in surrounding our daughter with love, reading to her, singing to her, filling our world with good music and good experiences.

I'd been used to getting rewards and recognition for my efforts. An A. A top score. Magna Cum Laude. A paycheck. An excellent teacher evaluation. Being surrounded by my peers and enjoying the camaraderie of learning together.

The rewards of motherhood are real, but they're not so tangible, and I've had to learn to see them in my life daily -- "the fruit of the Spirit," after all, "is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance" (Galations 5:22-23) None of these gifts can be printed on a trophy or handed out at an awards ceremony. They are internal.

One of my favorite scriptures is in Matthew chapter 6, in Christ's Sermon on the Mount:
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Most of the alms I give as a mother are unknown to those outside our family. Even my husband knows little of the work I do in the middle of the night, for instance. He sleeps peacefully while I tend to the needs of our children, rocking the one with an ear infection, nursing another, comforting the one who has a nightmare. Years ago, I used to count up all the times I was awake at night and report it to my husband or to a sympathetic friend: "I was up 3 times last night!" "I'm so tired." etc. But I've learned in the years since that it is best not to count the cost of the service I render. I simply need to have faith that God, who loves me more than I comprehend, sees all.

After all, nothing I give or do could ever approach the service the Savior has given us:
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the athanks and bpraise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and cpreserved you, and has caused that ye should drejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should aserve him who has created you from the beginning, and is bpreserving you from day to day, by lending you cbreath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own dwill, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your ewhole souls yet ye would be funprofitable servants. (from Mosiah chapter 2 in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ)



I got an email from my mentor at Hewlett-Packard a month before my wedding, urging me not to get married. This good woman, who always loved me even though she didn't understand me, was worried that I was throwing away my potential. She warned me I'd lose myself when I got married. "And then will come children," she wrote, "And that's a whole other level of losing yourself." She was sure I was making the biggest mistake of my life.

She was right in one point: being a wife and a mother does involve losing yourself. It involves sacrifice. I have put aside many of the things I would like to be doing in order to give myself more fully to my family. I have lost myself, but it is not the calamity she worried about. She didn't know -- how could she? -- that it is in losing ourselves that we grow.

Matthew 16:25 aFor whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will blose his life for my sake shall cfind it.
Sometimes people gasp when they realize how many children I have, "You're one busy lady!" "What a lot of work," "You've got your hands full." "How do you do it?" or my favorite, "but isn't that . . . hard?"

It IS hard. But here's the secret: Everything worth doing involves sacrifice. Everything worth doing is going to be hard. Some things as a mother get easier as I learn and grow, and as my capacity to serve grows as well. But there are always new trials, new levels of exhaustion, new parenting challenges to face and overcome.

I've long since lost contact with that mentor who wrote me with concern. I'm sure if she saw me now, she would just shake her head, unable to fathom why I would choose this path for my life. She might lecture me, again, about what I might have given up.

And I would talk with her about what I've gained: an opportunity to, in some small measure, pay my Savior back for the lonely road he trod, for the gift of salvation and eternal life he offers me. A chance to use the small talents He has given me to serve the children He has graciously given to my care.

Matthew 25:40 Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have adone it unto one of the bleast of these my cbrethren, ye have done it unto me.
There are seven little children in my home. Seven opportunities to serve God and share His love. There may be more children in your home, or less, but all of them are a gift from God:

Matthew 18: 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my aname receiveth me.

We sometimes think we need to do great things or be wealthy or well known to be important. We want the whole world to praise us and hand us awards. But God's gifts are so much better than the world's.

In my journey, I've had the opportunity to KNOW God by serving His precious children. I've felt His support and His love. I've felt peace, joy, and confidence. Yes, there are days when I cry, days when I feel the tasks are too heavy for me, when I pray simply, "Father, I'm tired, please help." And yes, there are days when I wish my life wasn't quite so hard. But I've found the words of the hymn to be true in my life:

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
(How Firm a Foundation)
God has been good to me. He is my loving Father, and I'm thankful for the privilege of nurturing His children.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ten Years

Ten years and four days ago, I graduated from college with a degree in Family Science (also known as Marriage, Family, and Human Development). I'd been married two years and I was expecting our first child, a girl we'd call Lillian, the next day.

I was nervous about the experience. I'd never given birth before, and I'd never really loved babies. I'd always loved to babysit toddlers and older children, but I found babies boring. I worried I'd feel the same way about my own.

Ten years and three days ago, my second anniversary, which was also my due date, passed with no baby in sight.

Ten years ago, I gave birth at 11:53 p.m., seven minutes before our student insurance ran out. The peace and joy of the experience changed me forever.

Lillian has always been my joy and my light. I loved her more than I knew it was possible to love someone. When I greeted her, I felt as though I was meeting my best friend after a long absence.


I loved being a mother. A few days after I got home from the hospital, I took out my school backpack, put away my tests, my notebooks, textbooks, and snack wrappers left over from trying to keep one step ahead of the morningsickness while also going to school and working two jobs (teaching special education seminary and being a T.A. for Family Money Management). Then I filled the backpack with diapers, wipes, desitin, and the like.

I'd traded one chapter of my life for the next.

I've never regretted it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Behind

I've got projects to tackle everywhere and I can't seem to catch up this week (this week? what am I saying? I can't seem to catch up this year!). I spent two hours this morning folding laundry, then another hour to straighten the kitchen and take a load to D.I.

But it seems like everywhere I go, there's another pile to take care of. Right now, I've got:

a messy office to tackle,
laundry room shelves to organize,
pictures to put in empty frames in the family room,
pictures to put up in the nursery,
the spring wardrobe shuffle to arrange (long-sleeve shirts to put away, shorts to pull out, lists to make of who needs what),
a van that needs to be cleaned out and vacuumed,
a garage to organize and sweep out (but can't do very much w/o DH's help)
lots of little home repairs to handle (but can't do much w/o DH's help)
a DH who isn't very available to help
a messy storage area
floors to mop
presents to buy for a wedding and baby shower this weekend
computer projects to finish, such as our family's 2008 scrapbook
weeds to pull,
garden to prep,
lawn to mow,
outdoor toys to sort,
AND
a to-do list that is more of a "wish I had time to do this" list
(edited to add: I just remembered two more things to add to the list: I have to get the twins' kindergarten papers filled out and the fridge cleaned out)

So, of course, when I found strawberries for $6.99 a flat this morning, I bought three flats. Because who doesn't have time to make freezer jam for her family?

(And lest I sound like I'm whining I should say this: I realize that when I look at the overall picture, I am able to do the most important things. My children are healthy and happy and my house is fairly clean, though not always picked up and organized the way I want it to be. My children are learning to be responsible, helpful, loving and kind. We enjoy doing things together. DH is not available for extra projects right now, but that's because he pulls his fair share of the workload around here -- parenting, putting kids to bed, spending time with the kids, cooking on weekends -- in addition to his demanding career.

It's just that when there are seven kids under ten, organizing a house is like shoveling the walks during a blizzard. The moment one corner of my life is the way I want it, three other corners demand attention. It's just the way it is. I know it won't always be that way, so I try not to, well, complain. )

And now I'm off to do what any mom whose eight-month-old still doesn't sleep through the night would do: settle the kids for quiet time and try to get a nap.


Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Why we have three cats and not just one:



Saturday, April 18, 2009

Look Mom, No Hands!

Harmony has learned a new trick!

Eight months old and standing up!

For weeks, Harmony's been practicing this skill, especially in her high chair, which makes us all a bit nervous:



(and for those who actually watched the video -- I KNOW! We have now put her highchair on the floor, anchoring it by attaching it to the chair legs.)

She also gets up pretty high on her knees, trying to be a part of everything around her:



But yesterday she spent a good part of the day grabbing onto my hands, pulling up, letting go, grinning, falling down, and grinning some more. She's absolutely pleased with herself, and so are we. She's not walking, but she's able to balance and stand without support!



My kids have all been extremely active and seem to reach the moving milestones a bit early. I think their brains are just wired for early movement, though when Lillian started scooting at four months and walking at ten months, of course I was sure it was a sign of her intelligence (I know, those crazy first-time moms!).

Since then, I've learned to appreciate the wondrous variety of both my own children and of those around me.

For example, I have a friend whose six kids have always amazed me with how quickly they learn to talk. My own kids tend to be late talkers; I guess their brain focuses so much on movement that they don't even think to figure out how to speak. Just about every time I go to an 18 month doctor's appointment, the doctor will ask me if they're talking, and I'll say, "sure," then think to myself, "if you count moo, mom, dad, and meow, we're up to about ten words!" We're never anywhere close to the fifty words most 18-month-olds are supposed to know.

My friend's kids, on the other hand, are always miles ahead of mine in their verbal skills. Our last few kids have been born about the same time. By the time they nearing their second birthday, we'll get the kids together and hers will be saying complete and complex sentences while mine are only saying simple words.

It seems like every time I have a child reaching their second birthday, I start to worry (I even had Joey evaluated when he turned two because he talked so little. He turned out to be bright in every way except verbal skills. I know, I know, those nervous new moms!). Within a few months after their second birthday, however, they all seem to catch up and speak in sentences almost overnight.

Which is my point, actually. My friend's kids? They don't do much moving around. They don't crawl on schedule and don't start walking until after fifteen months. I don't think my little movers are smarter than her little talkers, they're just different, all of them wonderful in their own little way.

Wouldn't it be boring if every kid crawled, talked, and walked according to a set schedule?

By the way, my earliest child on the standing up milestone was Sarah, who was just six months old when she balanced herself:


Ironically, and adding to the discussion about the wondrous variety of God's children, she and Allison, her identical twin, started walking within a few days of each other, both at nine months. Here's a picture of nine-month-old Allison walking:
We don't have any pictures of Sarah walking at that age because after a day or two, she decided it was too scary. She crawled around for three more months before deciding to let go, giggle like crazy, and walk:


Aren't babies wonderful?

Friday, April 17, 2009

So much for camping!

We were all set to go camping tonight. The kid are out of school; DH had worked with Joey to plan the menu (and fulfill a Scouting requirement), and we were so excited to go to Arches National Park.

That is, until yesterday:



The weather in Moab, Utah, was to be the same as here, 32 at night and 53 during the day.

I miss Spring. I think I caught a glimpse of her last week, teasing me by stopping by for a day or two, but otherwise, the last few months have been very cruel.

I tried to convince DH that since we weren't going camping, today would be a great day to clean out the garage. He didn't go for it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Every baby believes the world revolves around her.

Babies in our family don't just believe it.



They know it.





Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simplifying Birthdays

Birthdays in our house come in clusters. We have two within 10 days in the spring (April 27, May 6), three within 20 days in the fall (October 27, 30, and November 11), and four within 40 days in the summer (July 2, July 29, and August 8 -- yes, I know that's only three dates, but I have twins).

With nine birthdays each year, it's been a bit of a challenge to figure out how to celebrate. When my oldest daughter turned 3, I was so excited because she was finally old enough for a party with her friends. We went all out and had a great time, and I continued throwing birthday parties for her and her brothers as they got older, but it didn't take very long for me to realize that, well, I just plain don't like throwing birthday parties. They're stressful an overwhelming. After nearly ten years as a mother, I think I've come to terms with the fact that I'm just not a crafty mom. Homemade party favors and fancy treat bags? I'd rather pass.

So our main celebration every year is a portion of our family home evenings (each Monday night we have a lesson, songs, and games together). On a Monday near the child's birthday, we give them presents and cards from the family and have them stand up while we take turns sharing all the things we like about them. It is so sweet to hear a child praised by her brothers and sisters and we enjoy reminding that child of their special place in our family. When possible, we invite the child's grandparents to come, both their biological and our adopted Hawaiin ohana.

My husband and I also take the child out to dinner sometime that week.

After getting burned out on birthday parties with friends those first few years, we decided to throw a big friend party just every other year. At first we thought we'd do it when the kids reached their even birthdays, but when we realized that most of the time that would be in the same year (we have births in 99, 00, 02, 04, 06, and 08), we changed our minds and decided that every other year, we'd throw a party for everyone in the family. 2008 was our year for friend parties, and we had lots of them.

But now, as we're approaching my oldest daughter's tenth birthday, I'm wondering if we should rethink our plans or bend the rules for her. She wants to have a party with her friends and I'm not opposed to it. We have space in our home for a gathering, and she's even thought of a few games she wants to play, like Apples to Apples. I'm sure she could plan most of it herself, so it would hardly be the major stressor that caused us to implement the "every other year" rule in the first place.

What do you think?

And how do you handle birthdays in your family?

(originally posted at 4 or more: Lots of Kids, Lots of Love)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter!

From our home to yours!

(Yes, I did make the three bigger girls' dresses, but it's not as impressive an accomplishment as it sounds. I cut them out clear back in October so I could make them for Christmas, but didn't finish them until this week for Easter)

We had a beautiful sacrament meeting yesterday. I got to sing with the choir some of my favorite hymns: "Jesus the Very Thought of Thee," "O Savior Thou Who Wearest," "That Easter Morn" and "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,"

I was thankful for the opportunity to reflect on what my Savior's Atonement and Resurrection mean to me. I was especially touched by these words that we sang:

What praises can we offer
To thank thee, Lord most high?
In our place thou didst suffer;
In our place thou didst die,
By heaven’s plan appointed,
To ransom us, our King.
O Jesus, the anointed,
To thee our love we bring!

And is it any wonder that this one is my favorite?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Wonders of Chicago

I've never been to Chicago. Unless you count sweating it out in the oppressive O'Hare airport for four hours waiting for a connecting flight (I don't). So I'm more than a little bit jealous that DH took his other favorite girl with him when he flew there for a conference last week.

Then again, I'm a wimp when it comes to heights, so perhaps I wouldn't have fully appreciated the view from the Hancock and Sears towers:

They've been planning this trip for ages, and Lillian paid for half of her flight and GoCard. She's been carefully saving her money since last June and by last month, she'd saved over $200, from her $9 a month for allowance ($1 per year of age), and money earned helping with extra jobs like babysitting and stacking wood.

I was so excited for her. Lillian and her dad left early Tuesday morning and had plenty of time between conference meetings to enjoy the sights of the city. They spent many hours in the Field Museum, enjoyed the Art Institute, took a bus tour of the North Shore and a boat tour on the river, enjoyed several rides at the Navy Pier, and had a fabulous time.

If anyone deserves such a trip, it is Lillian. She's responsible, helpful, and mature beyond her years. She can easily entertain herself for hours with a good book, so DH could attend all his conference meetings without worrying about her, and she really appreciated the culture, arts, and opportunities the city afforded. Besides the chance to eat at yummy restuarants for every meal, her favorite part of the city was the Art Institute.


And best of all, unbeknownst to them, they arrived just in time Saturday morning to watch World Pillow Fight Day!. They were on their way to the Art Institute for the second time on Saturday when there was a commotion up ahead of them:
Now THAT I wish I'd seen!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Living on the Edge of a Precipice

I've been uplifted and renewed by the talks given today in my Church's General Conference. Many of the messages focused on adversity. This is a subject I know something about, both from my own experience and by seeing and feeling deeply the trials of others. I've been thinking through what I might say on the subject a lot lately, particularly as I've watched my father deal with a crippling disease. He is now miraculously recovering, but the effects of the illness linger on.

It hurts to see someone you love struggle.

Tonight, I visited with a woman I admire and love who has dealt with more than her share of trial. The trials she has experienced would fill more than a few books (and in fact, they have!). As we talked about the Savior's atonement, we both rejoiced in the power of His love and the strength of His ability to carry us through the times of sorrow and struggle.

The truth is, we all live one step away from disaster. Hurricanes rage, floods rise, and people disappoint. We all live on the edge of a precipice, whether we realize it or not. Tomorrow, we could be crippled in an accident. Or we could develop cancer. Or someone we love could hurt us by their choices.

Faith doesn't mean believing that our trust in God will keep bad things from happening to us. After all, God "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45) If we expect to somehow be exempt from real challenge, then we're living in a fantasy world.

Faith, instead, means that no matter what happens, no matter how lost or alone or weary we feel, we turn our faces to the Son of God and strive to submit humbly, willing to learn the lessons He can teach only through adversity. I was reminded recently that the joys of motherhood (and of life in general) come in moments. The sorrows of life also come in moments. Just as we cannot expect to have every moment be fulfilling, we can have hope that the sorrows we experience are simply events in life, not life itself.

The trick is to thank God for the journey, for the opportunity to taste the bitter so that we understand, appreciate, and rejoice in the sweet.

My favorite talk on the subject was given ten years ago and is entitled "An High Priest of Good Things to Come," by Jeffrey R. Holland. If you feel in need of God's love, to be reminded of all that we have to hope for and believe in, I challenge you to read the whole thing:
On those days when we have special need of heaven’s help, we would do well to remember one of the titles given to the Savior in the epistle to the Hebrews. Speaking of Jesus’ ”more excellent ministry” and why He is “the mediator of a better covenant” filled with “better promises,” this author—presumably the Apostle Paul—tells us that through His mediation and Atonement, Christ became “an high priest of good things to come.” 1

Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.” 2 For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.”

My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the “light that is endless, that can never be darkened.” 3 It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo’s reach, we say, “What light through yonder window breaks?” It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun. 4 To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His “more excellent ministry” with a future of “better promises.” He is your “high priest of good things to come.”

I think of newly called missionaries leaving family and friends to face, on occasion, some rejection and some discouragement and, at least in the beginning, a moment or two of homesickness and perhaps a little fear.

I think of young mothers and fathers who are faithfully having their families while still in school—or just newly out—trying to make ends meet even as they hope for a brighter financial future someday. At the same time, I think of other parents who would give any earthly possession they own to have a wayward child return.

I think of single parents who face all of this but face it alone, having confronted death or divorce, alienation or abandonment, or some other misfortune they had not foreseen in happier days and certainly had not wanted.

I think of those who want to be married and aren’t, those who desire to have children and cannot, those who have acquaintances but very few friends, those who are grieving over the death of a loved one or are themselves ill with disease. I think of those who suffer from sin—their own or someone else’s—who need to know there is a way back and that happiness can be restored. I think of the disconsolate and downtrodden who feel life has passed them by, or now wish that it would pass them by. To all of these and so many more, I say: Cling to your faith. Hold on to your hope. “Pray always, and be believing.” 5 Indeed, as Paul wrote of Abraham, he “against [all] hope believed in hope” and “staggered not … through unbelief.” He was “strong in faith” and was “fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, he was able … to perform.” 6

Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek. He does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed.

In spite of this counsel, I know some of you do truly feel at sea, in the most frightening sense of that term. Out in troubled waters, you may even now be crying with the poet:

It darkens. I have lost the ford.
There is a change on all things made.
The rocks have evil faces, Lord,
And I am [sore] afraid. 7

No, it is not without a recognition of life’s tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God’s love and the Savior’s power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only one who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us—as well as the sea—to “be still.” 8 Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to “be of good cheer.” 9 Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe!

No one’s eyes were more penetrating than His, and much of what He saw pierced His heart. Surely His ears heard every cry of distress, every sound of want and despair. To a degree far more than we will ever understand, He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” 10 Indeed, to the layman in the streets of Judea, Christ’s career must have seemed a failure, a tragedy, a good man totally overwhelmed by the evils surrounding Him and the misdeeds of others. He was misunderstood or misrepresented, even hated from the beginning. No matter what He said or did, His statements were twisted, His actions suspected, His motives impugned. In the entire history of the world no one has ever loved so purely or served so selflessly—and been treated so diabolically for His effort. Yet nothing could break His faith in His Father’s plan or His Father’s promises. Even in those darkest hours at Gethsemane and Calvary, He pressed on, continuing to trust in the very God whom He momentarily feared had forsaken Him.

Because Christ’s eyes were unfailingly fixed on the future, He could endure all that was required of Him, suffer as no man can suffer except it be “unto death,” 11 as King Benjamin said, look upon the wreckage of individual lives and the promises of ancient Israel lying in ruins around Him and still say then and now, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 12 How could He do this? How could He believe it? Because He knows that for the faithful, things will be made right soon enough. He is a King; He speaks for the crown; He knows what can be promised. He knows that “the Lord … will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. … For the needy shall not alway[s] be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” 13 He knows that “the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” He knows that “the Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” 14

Forgive me for a personal conclusion, which does not represent the terrible burdens so many of you carry but it is meant to be encouraging. Thirty years ago last month, a little family set out to cross the United States to attend graduate school—no money, an old car, every earthly possession they owned packed into less than half the space of the smallest U-Haul trailer available. Bidding their apprehensive parents farewell, they drove exactly 34 miles up the highway, at which point their beleaguered car erupted.

Pulling off the freeway onto a frontage road, the young father surveyed the steam, matched it with his own, then left his trusting wife and two innocent children—the youngest just three months old—to wait in the car while he walked the three miles or so to the southern Utah metropolis of Kanarraville, population then, I suppose, 65. Some water was secured at the edge of town, and a very kind citizen offered a drive back to the stranded family. The car was attended to and slowly—very slowly—driven back to St. George for inspection—U-Haul trailer and all.

After more than two hours of checking and rechecking, no immediate problem could be detected, so once again the journey was begun. In exactly the same amount of elapsed time at exactly the same location on that highway with exactly the same pyrotechnics from under the hood, the car exploded again. It could not have been 15 feet from the earlier collapse, probably not 5 feet from it! Obviously the most precise laws of automotive physics were at work.

Now feeling more foolish than angry, the chagrined young father once more left his trusting loved ones and started the long walk for help once again. This time the man providing the water said, “Either you or that fellow who looks just like you ought to get a new radiator for that car.” For the second time a kind neighbor offered a lift back to the same automobile and its anxious little occupants. He didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the plight of this young family.

“How far have you come?” he said. “Thirty-four miles,” I answered. “How much farther do you have to go?” “Twenty-six hundred miles,” I said. “Well, you might make that trip, and your wife and those two little kiddies might make that trip, but none of you are going to make it in that car.” He proved to be prophetic on all counts.

Just two weeks ago this weekend, I drove by that exact spot where the freeway turnoff leads to a frontage road, just three miles or so west of Kanarraville, Utah. That same beautiful and loyal wife, my dearest friend and greatest supporter for all these years, was curled up asleep in the seat beside me. The two children in the story, and the little brother who later joined them, have long since grown up and served missions, married perfectly, and are now raising children of their own. The automobile we were driving this time was modest but very pleasant and very safe. In fact, except for me and my lovely Pat situated so peacefully at my side, nothing of that moment two weeks ago was even remotely like the distressing circumstances of three decades earlier.

Yet in my mind’s eye, for just an instant, I thought perhaps I saw on that side road an old car with a devoted young wife and two little children making the best of a bad situation there. Just ahead of them I imagined that I saw a young fellow walking toward Kanarraville, with plenty of distance still ahead of him. His shoulders seemed to be slumping a little, the weight of a young father’s fear evident in his pace. In the scriptural phrase his hands did seem to “hang down.” 15 In that imaginary instant, I couldn’t help calling out to him: “Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

I testify that God lives, that He is our Eternal Father, that He loves each of us with a love divine. I testify that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh and, having triumphed in this world, is an heir of eternity, a joint-heir with God, and now stands on the right hand of His Father. I testify that this is Their true Church and that They sustain us in our hour of need—and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Of that I personally attest. I thank my Father in Heaven for His goodness past, present, and future, and I do so in the name of His Beloved Son and most generous high priest, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.


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