Saturday, June 8, 2013

Strength for the Week

I had a prayer answered this week.

I keep asking the Lord what my path should be, and what would He have me do?  I also complain a little to Him as well.  But only in a whisper...

And this week through my personal Gospel study and then getting up and going 'to work', a little perfect truth seeped into my weary but grateful heart.

"Be patient.  Your duty is to learn everything you possibly can during the pain.  Make the most of your tutelage.  Trust Me."

It has not only stayed with me, but it has broadened my shoulders and changed my attitude for the better this week.

In essence, I feel hope.  

Yes, my friend April S. said it well:  God is good.  He is so, so very good.  

BYUI Devotional quote from Tuesday, June 4:

"Our goal must be to find the good that can result from our challenges.  God in His great wisdom and love will do what is best for us and those around us, if we will but turn to Him and have faith in Him.
It will often require enduring experiences that are not pleasant or easy, but enduring them with faith that will eventually result in greater blessings for us and certainly a blessing to those who watch how we handle these difficult challenges."

-- Harold C. Brown
President, Draper UT temple

How have I seen God's love for me in my personal life this week?

1) This quote has a sentence that is in my patriarchal blessing word for word.  Coincidence?  Nope.

2)  One of my favorite mission companions whom I have not spoken with in years, sent me a beautiful card this week.  I read it with tears.  I love her.

3)  My friend and drama teacher from high school also owns the Playmill Theater in West Yellowstone.  I stopped in to say 'hi' last weekend when the kids and I were in town.  He gave us 5 comp tickets to see Beauty and the Beast that night.  It lifted my spirits.  There's nothing better than live musical productions to enrich the human spirit.

4)  Our friends the Abel's gave us the gift of creating new memories with them last weekend.  They hosted us in their beautiful cabin in Island Park, and a day touring Yellowstone (which my children have never seen.  Ridiculous because we live in it's backyard, I know.)

5) My son made a new friend this week.  We have been praying since Leech's left for him to make new friends... and he is the happiest 13-year old.  Hanging out with Jaxon has been a daily adventure for Josh.

6) I got to talk to each of my siblings this week.  They call and check up on us.  I love that.

7) I was informed that our names have been placed on 19 different temples' prayer roll.  I'm feeling it!

8)  Earlier this week, the Primary Presidency came by and visited my Emma.  (They had visited my youngest a few months ago, but had missed Emma somehow.)  They gave her four hand-crafted, personalized journals for each of our four children (even though Josh is in Young Men's.)  They told her that the presidency is concerned about them, and that they love them.  They also told her that sometimes when things in our lives are hard, it helps to get our feelings out in our journals.

On the inside cover, each journal reads,

"Allow the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not:  for of such is the kingdom of God.
"And he took them up in his arms, and put his hands upon them, and blessed them..."
"... Behold, your little ones.
"And they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven...; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and the angels did minister unto them."

Emma read those verses to me, lovingly copied into each child's journal, and something about the offering from someone else who cares for my children almost as much as I do, made me cry.

Emma said, "Mom, I don't feel like writing.  Can I draw my feelings in the journal instead?"

I responded, "Absolutely, Em.  Get all your sads out on paper.  It's up to you."

9) One of my BFF's is going through a similar trial.  While our sons were on the Fathers and Sons Campout, she and I took our daughters to dinner and shopping at the mall.  And then to breakfast in the morning.  She has been a godsend.  We push each other forward when things seem so bleak...

Lastly, my mission comp sent this thought:

"He will sit as a Refiner and Purifier."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study, and they pondered what the statement meant about the character and nature of God.  One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

That week the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work.  She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.  As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were the hottest as to burn away all the impurities.  The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; in Malachi 3:3, it reads:  "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purge them as gold and silver , that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the entire time the silver was being refined.  The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire.  If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment.  She then asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"  He smiled and answered, "Oh, that's easy-- when I see my image in it."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Ramblings-- Gratitude

First I want to say 'Thank you' to my sweet friends and family who have contacted me after the last post updating our lives.  I so appreciate your prayers on our behalf, as well as my husband's and I appreciate your generosity, too.

I've decided that I vacillate between four emotions throughout the past several days:
Anger, Hope, Indifference, and Compassion (but not in any particular order.)

However, I feel more hopeless with each passing day.  I don't know if that's reality settling in and preparing me for life as a single mom, or perhaps opposition running it's course to deter me from my goal to work at keeping my end of the marriage intact.  (Holy abundance of prepositional phrases, Batman!)  The kids have stopped asking for their Dad.  (I don't know if that's a positive thing or not).  We have all settled into a 'new normal' and are adjusting much better this week.

Can you see my dilemma?  I'm trying so very hard to discern God's will for me through promptings and impressions I feel from the Spirit.  But I have so many conflicting feelings...

I am becoming stronger in almost every area of my personal life.  (Physical health, spiritual closeness to my Heavenly Father and Savior, financial independence, and home improvement/maintenance.  I mean, come on-- how many women can start a fire for roasting hot dogs/smores with a few pieces of wood, newspaper and vaseline-soaked cotton balls?  I rock, I know.)

I say almost every area.  Emotionally?  As you can see, I'm all over the map.  Today I nearly broke down in church, but held it together until I got home.  But in the end, surely I will become more resilient, as well as compassionate through my trials.  No matter what the outcome entails.

Church was very uplifting.  I felt so grateful for the privilege of partaking of the sacrament.  It gives me renewed conviction to keep my promises to the Lord, and it provides a time for introspection.  (I have a lot of weaknesses and I have never been a perfect spouse or parent, or anything else, for that matter...and either way, I need to improve many things about myself.)

The lessons in Relief Society and Sunday School had personal, poignant lessons for me.  I'm trying to soak all those truths in and figure out how to apply them to me.

I received some bad news today-- another good friend and mother of one of my violin students attempted suicide last night.  I am so very sad.  She brought me in two meals last week.  I miss her, and hope she will get better soon.  Can the millennium please come a little sooner?  Pretty please?

How wonderful the Gospel of Jesus Christ is!  How kind and loving my neighbors and friends are!
And I love my children so much.  I am in awe at their uniqueness and strength.

I do not know what our future holds, but I am trying to not fear whatever that may be.  My God is an 'on-time' God.  He knows what I need, when I need it.  One day at a time.

"In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that.  When disappointment and discouragement strike... you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection."   ( ~ Jeffrey R. Holland, In Times of Trouble, March 1980)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Swimming in Deep Waters

I sleep alone.

It's been 13 days since the Mister left our family, suddenly and painfully.

I have been mourning our marriage, and our memories.  It's as if he erased 16 years of our lives.  And it hurts.

My ward has been exceptionally supportive and compassionate.  My neighbors, friends and family (my in-laws, too) have been life savers.

It feels like he died.  My house is full of cards, flowers, gifts, and meals.  Yet I have no grave to visit; except the other side of our bed.  Which lies empty and undisturbed.

The kids had a rough first week.  Anxiety attacks, teachers calling from school because the innocent kindergartener won't stop crying in class.  The 11-year old who comes home from school every day and has to be held like a baby on my lap for long periods of time.  My oldest feels responsible for Dad leaving.  He sees the school counselor regularly.

It's as if my neatly stacked apple cart has been dumped over, and the order and predictability of my life is scattered in all directions.  The energy previously used for other things is rerouted to gathering, cleaning, sorting, and restacking the apples.  Our lives are fraught with disorder, confusion, despair, and loneliness.  I focus only on surviving one day at a time.

Last Saturday, I couldn't get out of bed.  I wanted my life to be over, for the pain to stop.  The despair and feelings of betrayal were thick and wide.  I only had 4 reasons to get up that day, and they were all hungry.  So finally at 11:00, I made breakfast.

"Mama, can you make the waffles that Daddy makes?" she asked hopefully.

I smiled weakly, and made sweet rolls.  (He never used a recipe, but made the best weekend breakfasts that I can't begin to replicate.)

I find great comfort in the knowledge that God loves me, and through the love of my Savior and Healer, Jesus Christ, we can have our broken hearts healed.  God counts each of my tears, as well as my children's.  There will be more 'Saturdays', but I will get through them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Missing her

Dear blogger friends-- this is my therapy tonight.  Typing out some memories from last weekend, and some feelings.  It's pretty personal, so bear with me.

Dear Chrishel,

If I could talk to you right now, this is what I would say...

Julie and I miss you something fierce.  I can't even imagine how Tim and the kids are coping.  And Julie and I have had some significant trials in the past couple of months as well, and we both look at each other and say, "I wonder what advice Chrishel would give."  I'm so glad I have Jules.  You'll always be in our hearts.  I miss everything about you.  I don't cry much anymore.  And since my grief therapy session, I haven't had anymore anxiety/panic attacks that plagued me after your funeral.  But I think about you every day.  The doctor started me on some anti-anxiety/anti-depressant meds.  I think they are helping.

Last weekend, I received a text that made me giddy with excitement.  It was from Tim, letting me know that he was on his way to Idaho Falls and would be here in a few hours!  I also felt a sense of dread, because I was afraid of the emotions that seeing them up here would trigger for me.  After all, the last time they were up here, so were you.  And we had a grand time.

I knew it would be hard for Tim, because at the time of her funeral, he didn't ever want to come back up here... too many memories.

But when I told Julie he was on his way, she screamed happily and we were so excited to love on those kids and see Tim again!

Tim had some business to take care of over in the Boise area, so he left Grace and Isaac in my care Friday night and Saturday.  And it was a bittersweet experience.

Did you know that Isaac lost a tooth while he was here?  He saved it and put it in a plastic bag to put under his pillow.  But the tooth fairy kept forgetting to remind him to place it there, so we decided that the he/she/it would have an easier time finding him in his own bed.

His hair is lightening up into a beautiful golden brown and his permanent teeth are coming in so straight, Chrishel!  You'd love his smile.

It was such a delightful surprise to have "the Littles" (remember how you and I referred to our two youngest kids that way) with us for a visit that Julie and I spoiled them.  I even took Caleb and Lizzy out of school Friday at lunchtime and Jules and I took the Littles to Chick-fil-a for lunch.  Isaac couldn't get enough of the milkshakes:)

Since Bishop Hansen put Tim up in his hotel, I took the kids swimming there Saturday afternoon since he was out of town all day.  Julie was in Utah picking up a new van, so I was on my own with six chitlins on my own.  We had a blast.  We went to Arctic Circle (I miss how you used to pronounce it Arktic Circle, instead of like us locals pronouncing it 'artic') and guess what?  Isaac wanted another milkshake.  Cookies and Cream.  How could I say 'no'?  I did, however, require a hug and a kiss from him for payment, which he reluctantly rendered.

When we were swimming, Isaac proudly announced that he wanted me to text his Dad and tell him that he swam across the whole width of the pool without any floaties for the first time!  I took a picture and sent the text.  You would have cheered him on.

In the course of that day, Isaac only called me 'mommy' twice.

Sierra got a few more ear piercings since we saw her last.  I wondered what you would've thought about that.  Julie gave her a piece of her mind, though.  And I think you would have been just fine with that!

Once when I was drying off a Pampered Chef cool and serve tray in the kitchen, Grace came in the kitchen and stared at it.  I noticed and asked her if her Mama had one of these.  She slowly nodded her head.  You had tons of PC products, and I think it sparked a memory.  I'm guessing Tim hasn't pulled the appetizer tray out much...

Did you know that Grace is the spitting image of you?  She has your spunk.  She can talk my ear off.  She let me snuggle her many times and I cherished it deeply.  I rocked her in my bedroom rocking chair (the same one you sat in when we had our 'deep' conversations when you were up here last) and I snuggled and kissed her.  I didn't let her see the moisture forming in my tired eyes as I held her.

"Do you miss your mommy, Gracie girl?" I asked as I rocked her.

"Yes." she answered with determination.

"Do you know where she is, honey?"

"She's up in heaven and I bet she's rocking our little baby right this very minute!  Plus, I bet she's rocking Megan's baby Layna, too.  She's taking care of them for us."

"I think you're absolutely right, Gracie.  I miss her, too.  But I know she's okay.  She showed me that in a very special dream.  She's keeping an eye on all of us, and helping us from her side of heaven."

Several times throughout the day she asked for her Daddy.  She's pretty attached to him right now, and I guess she has since stopped asking for you.  I guess that's a good step.  But what a heavy burden for Tim.  We all wish they were closer so we could help them out more.  Tim says the ward still brings in a meal every week, and his mom does some cooking and leftovers get them by.  But Tim has lost a lot of weight.  I'm sure he doesn't have much of an appetite these days.

Grace let me put a pony in her baby fine hair (sorry to say it hasn't grown in any thicker yet) and Tim made some comment on Sunday that he needed to learn how to curl her hair so she didn't look so 'orphaned' on Sundays.  She's so dang cute, nobody would care.  Remember how you loved to do Lizzy's hair?  You used to bathe Grace and Liz together and then do these extravagant hair dos in her hair because Grace just simply didn't have enough?  I miss the curls you'd do in her hair to make it look so feminine.  I should've had you teach me how to do those cool braids.

We fed Tim and the kids dinner over the course of the weekend, and of course, we missed you.  Remember how last time you came up, you brought chicken noodle soup and rolls from Ruby's restaurant to feed us???  And a cheesecake for both Julie and me for our birthdays?  You silly.  We were supposed to be feeding and hosting you, but you were always making sure everyone else was taken care of.

Remember all of our combined meals?  We'd plan a menu and throw together a feast for our families.  Chaotic delight, no?  Remember how we used to joke about being sister wives?  (Well, except for the ... uh... bedroom part.  Because we shared just about every other responsibility!)

Taten didn't come up-- he had some other commitment.

Tim is being such a good daddy.  I know he doesn't feel very strong, but he is doing a great work with your babies.  I hope you'll let him feel your love for him and your presence somehow.  To say he misses you would be such a gross understatement.  You were his life.  You were all he had known since he was 17 years old.  He's trying very hard to move forward.  He's done what I would consider, very brave things.  He and I visited for a while Sunday afternoon.  I'm so glad he's so easy to talk to.  It was good to see him smile and joke around at dinner.  But I know those moments are few and far between in his life right now...

I think the ward was happy to see Tim and the kids at church.  Everytime I saw Tim, he had people surrounding him.  In fact, Joseph and I held a little open house for him before he left Sunday night.  It was fun to chat with the ladies, and Tim and JP chatted with the men while the kids ran wild throughout the yard and house.

I hope they'll come back to visit.  They are our link to you.  And we love them.  More than ever.


I have always, and I mean ALWAYS loved a good dill pickle.  Even when I was a kid, my friends' moms would give me pickles by the gallon with a ribbon on top for my birthday.

Chrishel knew this, and a few years ago, she raided her grandmother's food storage and found the holy grail of delight:  homemade, canned dill pickles!  She brought me every last 10-year old jar.  And not only did I eat every soft, salty pickle, but I drank every.  last.  drop. of.  pickle.  juice.  Bottoms up!

Fast forward to the Fall of 2012... Tim was up here doing some work on the house and she asked me to  send him home with a dozen quart jars because for my upcoming birthday, she was going to bottle her grandmother's homemade dill pickles for me.

And she did.  She came up later that month and proudly delivered them to me.  I gave her the biggest hug.  We used to joke that she was like my drug supplier.

She told me to let them sit until Christmas time, and then they would be ready to eat.

 I opened my first jar during the holidays and savored my birthday present.

And ever since she died on January 16, I go down to my basement and see my 11 unopened quart jars of lovingly pickled cucumbers.  And it is painful.  Because I want to eat them, but I simply cannot.  I start to feel guilty.  And sad.  Because what happens if I start eating and then get down to the last jar?

The pickles are the only thing I have of hers that are handmade.  I have jewelry she gave me from Ruby's Inn for my birthday, but her canning... she loved to garden and to can.  At her viewing, on one of the display tables in the church, her family had put symbols of all of her hobbies and talents... her gardening spade still grimy with last fall's hardened soil, her well worn hiking Keens, and a few jars of her beautifully canned fruits and vegetables.  (She was the one who taught me how to can applesauce.)

So last night, I was craving one of her pickles.  (I have been a pickle snob my entire life, and I can unabashedly say that hers are THE BEST I have ever tasted.  Ever.  Maybe it's that red jalapeƱo pepper she adds with the garlic...)

I went down to the basement and gingerly took a bottle of the pickles and brought it upstairs to the kitchen.  The house was quiet.  Everyone else was fast asleep.  And like a drunk, I sat in the dark at my kitchen table and ate pickle after delicious pickle as I stroked the smooth glass bottle.  I tried to imagine her with her hair pulled back, lovingly packing those cucumber spears into the sterile bottles.

Today I told my husband that I had made progress and opened a jar.  But tears started to spill onto my cheeks as I described what I was feeling.

"Am I going crazy?  Over some damn pickles?!  Why am I so sentimental over this?"

He quietly smiled and wiped my stray tears and replied, "Maybe you should go see the counselor again, honey."

But then I mentioned how Julie soothingly told me recently, "She would want you to eat her pickles and enjoy every last drop.  She wouldn't want you to keep a shrine of those for her.  Enjoy them, and remember her."

He said, "I'm glad you have Julie."

Tonight before our couples prayer, I shared one small spear with the Mister.  He savored it.  He smiled in appreciation.

Maybe, just maybe, things will get a little easier.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baptism Day for Isaac!

It's been another week.  I'm not sure how I'm doing.  The tears have dried up the past few days, still no panic attacks, but I still don't feel... normal.  I really feel numb.  Like I'm in survival mode with the auto-pilot switch turned on.

I've been mindful that today is Isaac's baptism.  I'm sad because I know Chrishel would have wanted to be there.  I wonder if she was, in fact, present in spirit?  If so, was she saddened that she could not be there in person?  She would be so proud of him.  And so proud of Tim for carrying through for the both of them.  I texted Tim to ask how the day went today, and he said it went as well as it could have, but Chrishel's absence was noticeable.  Family support has been good, so I'm sure he's relieved about having all her family around...

I want to post about the funeral, but I'm soooo tired.  Soon.  ANd then I will take down the condolence cards and her funeral program that have been sitting atop the piano in my living room since.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tender Mercies

Yesterday was an interesting day.  At church, all the youth in the ward took over the primary so all the adults could have a combined meeting in the chapel.  (Our ward is H.U.G.E.)  The bishop had arranged for a counselor from LDS Family Services to come and speak about Suicide and Depression.

It was well timed, considering the loss of one of our former ward members and neighbor.  It was a pretty good meeting.  There were some helpful things said, but overall, I was just relieved and grateful for our bishop's insight in discussing such a sensitive topic, and being open about it so we all can move forward and heal.

Julie sat by us, and she and I had trouble keeping composure.  Bad day to forget tissues...

After that meeting, the other ward was anxious to come in to the chapel for their sacrament meeting.  One of my good friends took one look at me and asked, "That must have been some topic!  Are you okay?"  ANd she opened her arms and hugged me.

I had cried a river during that meeting, and I was exhausted.  After church, I came home and took a two-hour nap.  I was awoken to find a neighbor in a different ward standing on my porch with homemade hot rolls and jam in hand.

A few hours later, two more dear friends brought plates of goodies.

I know these kindnesses seem so insignificant, but they touch me and feed my soul.  My heart has felt so broken since January 14.  But God in his mercy, has sent so much generosity my way through caring family members and friends.

I want to do another post when I am not so tired, and journal the many other kindnesses shown to us this past month, but because yesterday was recently difficult, and so many people reached out, I wanted to testify that God notices me.  And I love Him.

Incidentally, more bad news from Tropic:  the husband of Chrishel's second cousin shot himself over the weekend.  His funeral will be later this week.  He left behind a wife and 3 young children.  I really hope their ward does something similar.  I don't know how a community that small can recover from these tragedies so close together, and the vulnerability of the youth would frighten me.

Tim called a few days ago and reported that he survived Valentine's Day.  He took red roses to each of Chrishel's sisters.  How sweet is that???  I sure look up to him.  He doesn't feel too courageous right now, and things are getting harder, but I pray he recognizes how truly good he is.

God is good:)