What to do, what to do?

When I was newly married I started to feel like I was depressed. I was in college and they had a mental health clinic. I went to the clinic and met with a counselor there. He asked what had brought me to him. I told him how I was feeling and he responded that to him I wasn’t depressed but grieving. We discovered that I had never grieved the death of the man, who would have been my first stepfather. He died on the day he was to be married to my mother. I was around the age of 9. It was in the summer between 3rd and 4th grades. I remember when my mom told me. I remember talking with his foster brother outside while I was sitting on a swing on the day of the funeral. What I saw was my mother was devastated and his foster brother so sad, that I held in what I was feeling. Then years later as a young adult it came out in the form of depression. Once the counselor said I was grieving that was all I needed to know and I don’t think I saw that counselor again. He had done his job for me when I needed it.

It is important as you do your healing journey to seek out professionals to help you move along when you need it. There are many techniques and methods to help us and having the right one at the right time is very beneficial.

The important thing about seeking a professional is finding one that you can feel some trust in because it is important to be vulnerable and share. Usually, the first session with a professional is spent getting to know each other enough so that you can have a sense of whether it will work for you or not. Being open and honest with this person is important. If it doesn’t feel like it will work it is ok to tell them and they might have suggestions about how best for you to proceed. It might be the person or it might be the method.

Recently I had such a conversation with my counselor. We were talking about different methods. The one we decided that might be good for me to try is a different method than my counselor normally uses so she suggested a different counselor for me to work with as I use that method. An example of various approaches is listed here at Talkspace.com. I am actually going to try something not listed there. It is called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or rapid eye therapy.

In my work doing family history, I have come across a place called an insane asylum and those days are long gone. The world of mental health has progressed far from lobotomies and shock therapy. And thank goodness for that!

It is not a sign of weakness to seek professional help. I mentioned a few blogs ago how it is just another form of help that our body needs. We go to a medical doctor for medical ailments and seeking professional help for recovery from trauma is just a version of the same thing. Our brains are part of us and we need them to be healthy as well.

I also want to mention that feeling uncomfortable with a therapist has more than one meaning. Feeling uncomfortable because you are facing something difficult to work through is different than feeling uncomfortable about sharing or being in the presence of someone. Counseling needs to be a safe space and the latter is definitely a sign it is time to find someone new in which to counsel.

I have had many different counselors through the 50 years of healing. Most of them provided what I needed to help me move forward. Occasionally I encountered one that was not helpful. Sometimes I didn’t stay long with a particular counselor because it was not helpful but also sometimes I only needed one thing to get me moving in the right direction like the one from my story.

Our mental and emotional health is as important as our physical well-being. A good book that illustrates that is called, “Our Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk. Finding someone to help us be healthy is important so maybe you should give it a try.

Peace and Quiet

My mother was older when she had me. My siblings were all married off by the time I was 4. So when I would ask her what she wanted for a present her usual response was peace and quiet because she had everything else she wanted. I am at the age where I understand that statement now.

My last blog was about the murky middle. The murky middle can last a while. Our bodies can only take so much. To be able to sustain ourselves we need to take a rest once in a while and in the last few months that is exactly what I did.

I gave myself the gift of peace and quiet, mostly. Taking care of ourselves has become a big thing lately. It is called self-care. It is not meant to be selfish but simply the act of doing things to help our bodies and mind to not be so stressed and find some peace and quiet.

I have mentioned I am in a current ‘murky middle’ of my own with a new trauma and last month got particularly murky. I am a religious person so I prayed and fasted for some freedom from conflict in my home. It worked. On Easter no less, I had a calm day. My husband and I had some wonderful conversations and our dinner was particularly restful as we talked and laughed. While I was laughing I realized it has been a while since I had laughed like that. It was so refreshing. This was my big day of peace and quiet.

So the day of rest was truly that and it provided some clarity. How? One way is to be still for a moment and let things settle. The trials and troubles don’t go away but you can see more clearly. I think the body’s nervous system has a minute to catch its breath, so to speak. I was less triggered and less sensitive. Little things that had been nagging at me and after the rest, they weren’t. I was more tolerant and adaptive.

Since that day I have been giving myself moments of rest. I have been doing physical therapy for my arm that broke and it starts with an ultra sonic wave through my shoulder with a heating pad. At first I would take my phone and try to work. Then I started leaving the phone in the car and bringing in a book. This is where the rest comes in. Taking a moment to just be still. Let the dust settle or sediment settle and let the nerves calm down. I would just lay there and let the machines work their healing magic while I did peace. I would take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Our lives get really busy and we think if we just hurry up and finish then we can rest but let me share a story that might make you rethink that choice. Once when I was taking a typing test I noticed something. When I started I was typing as fast as I could. I was seemingly moving forward but was making tons of mistakes some I would correct but some I would miss. Then I would get my score and it would be terrible. The next time I took the test did what I thought was much slower and I found actually had a better score. I wasn’t just more accurate, I was faster. In my first effort, I was typing, going back to fix things, and then continuing on but I was actually impeding my movement forward. Instead of doing the two steps forward one step back, I was doing one step forward and two back.

In our healing we just want the pain to stop and be done but it is like my first typing test and my forward growth wasn’t there. The rest period is actually helpful in our forward journey of healing. It allows our body to rest and recoup from all the pain and stress.

So my best advice for this month is to take a moment to allow yourself some peace.

Murky Middle

Somewhere between trauma and healing is the murky middle. It is murky because you have your highs, lows, and many days you can’t see where it is all headed.

Recently I broke my arm and there is nothing like physical pain to remind you of the emotional stuff. This is when I realized I was in the murky middle of my current trauma. There was a lot about the middle I had forgotten from my previous trauma. The feeling that was most prevalent for me was feeling alone. I knew that I had people around me that were supportive but it was the middle of the night. I was sad, lonely, and in physical pain. The physical pain reminded me of the emotional pain I was also dealing with. I needed something and I didn’t know what the something was.

One thing that people who have had trauma or abuse is they miss the normal and many times don’t know what ‘normal’ is. All I have to gauge my ‘normal’ with is tv, social media, and glimpses into others’ lives. What does it feel like when someone is there for you? -That special someone. From my sexual abuse I was left out of what it felt like to be loved, just loved for the child I was. I missed the discovery of intimacy. The lines of boundaries were blurred. I didn’t know what appropriate behavior was. Life got murky.

I had forgotten about the many times when I felt in the middle emotionally as well. I wasn’t happy but I wasn’t sad either. Those were the days when I didn’t hurt, maybe I was numb. When I was hurting and working through the emotions was when the water around me seemed the murkiest. It felt like I had stirred up something and it hurt. I don’t like pain as much as the next person but the thing I learned most from that trauma is that the sooner you recognize the pain, name it and where it is coming from the faster you are able to move on. I spent 30 years just circling the murky. It was when I decided to go through it that I discovered it looks scarier from the outside than from in.

I remember a time when I was sitting in my bedroom. I was crying and hurting. I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t understand all the rush of emotions I was feeling but I could sense I was on the verge of progress. Progress appeared to me like a scene from some sci-fi movie. I was facing this wall of pain in the form of fire. I could not go around it. I either stayed put or I went through it. That night I decided to face up and go through it. What did I find? The wall was an illusion. All the anguish, pain, and anticipation of pain were not really there. I felt a sense of relief. There had been pain on one side of the wall. There was still stuff to work through but in the end, it was not nearly as bad as my anticipation.

In my current trauma, I have learned there is an easier way to work through things than waiting until I felt build-up and finally had to go through or be stuck. I have found one thing to do is keep moving forward and working through each emotion as it comes. For instance, grief is one of the emotions experienced in all types of trauma. Grief is about a sense of loss and that loss can be anything from your favorite person to the life you had wanted to live.

In America particularly, we don’t do grief well. It gives us a moment then buck up and move on. Grief doesn’t follow a timeline. As a delayed griever I have come to the knowledge it is best to allow the feeling to envelop you and you express it. It is ok to feel sad. It is ok to cry. I also believe that grief should be a private affair.

When I got divorced I grieved what could have been. I had three children that I still needed to take care of as well as life went on. But I took the time when my children were with their father to grieve. I thought about the dreams of what I had wanted life to be like. I played music and for some reason, certain songs were really good at bringing the grief to the surface and I cried. I allowed myself that time to feel the sadness. When my children came back I was doing much better since I have given myself that time. Of course, there were moments in between of sadness but they were not as overwhelming as they could have been if I had not given time to me.

Sometimes a good way to process grief is to produce something with your hands or imagination. Create a piece of artwork using clay or words. For me, in my current trauma, I processed some of the grief by creating these cards. The feeling I want most with my healing is peace. Then I spent time in my Canva account and started creating cards about 5×7 size that I could print out, frame, and put around my home so that I had a reminder of what my goal is.

Here is an example of one:

I’m a pretty spiritual person and I used that to make my little card but I also included quotes from popular authors. I intend to create more with just the word peace but in an imaginative way of displaying the word.

The murky middle of healing from trauma is not the favorite part but the most essential if one wants to get from the trauma to the healing. It is the part thrust upon all that have this experience. But it is also the part that allows the most growth.

“Honor your humanness and all of your feelings – the messy ones, the growing pains, the ache – because we can’t have the dark without the light.” ~ Sabrina Ward Harrison

The Story

When I was about 7 years old, my parents, namely my mom, decided to help out a friend of my stepfather, Ray*. I call the friend, Steve, to make things a little more simple. Steve had a work accident and this was back before workman’s comp and benefits so he was out of luck while he healed. He could not work due to the accident which meant he also didn’t have money for room and board. He had met my stepfather as a youth even though he wasn’t much older than that now. He didn’t have his own family he could count on. So we were it.

I don’t know much more than that as I was never told and I didn’t ask. I believe I can safely assume that because of Steve’s prior situation his childhood had not been great.

My mom took care of his wounds. I watched as Mom took off the old bandages, cleaned out the wound, and put on a fresh set of gauze and tape.

I had just recently moved into the house as well. My mom had sent me to live with my dad while they found a place to live where I could be safe. Ray’s previous wife had done things like a drive-by shooting during the process of getting a divorce so my mom didn’t want to take chances. The small town we moved to was at the base of the mountain below Camp David. We lived in the outskirts that I call the boonies. We could not see our closest neighbor. It was on a gravel road with woods and fields. There was a little wooden bridge as you came along the road about a mile from our house. We could hear cars drive over the bridge so we would know that someone was coming. We didn’t get a lot of traffic.

My mom’s relationship with Ray had started about 3 years prior but she was still insecure about it. She didn’t like it when Ray paid me too much attention; she got jealous and made up stories about my intentions. I was 7 so I really doubt I had the ability to follow through on such intentions.

So in the house was a young man, wounded both inside and out and a child really wanting some attention and love.

I paid attention to Steve as a 7-year-old would and in Steve’s mind I became the girlfriend he so desired. But he took things too far.

Much of this story I know now because when I was first married and pregnant with my first child Steve came to me. He shared all this and how things were messed up in his mind. He had seen me as an 18-year-old girl, not 7. He apologized and said he never meant to hurt me. To the best of my knowledge, Steve never saw anyone else like he did me other than his wife.

I am sure that this story leaves all kinds of questions about the situation as well as some feelings of sympathy or maybe even empathy. But I am leaving it there.

I spent many years telling this story only to a very select few. My best friend from childhood knew and my husband knew. I put up what I now call a shame shield. I thought I was protecting myself but I was really distancing myself. It does take courage to lower that shield and become vulnerable.

It took a long time to lower that shield. There was a question attached to that shield and no one had asked that question so I felt safe. After I have divorced my husband and started dating I knew I should share that story with whoever I got close to. I am not the kind of person that hides things willingly so I knew I would share.

Then I met George, I got close to George. I finally shared my story with him. And he did the very thing I was afraid of – he asked the question.

He asked me why I didn’t tell. The truth: I don’t know; I was 7.

Steve never threaten me more than to say ‘you shouldn’t tell your mom.’

I also don’t know if my mom ever knew. There are things that happened that made me think she might have an inkling like working hard to find a real girlfriend for Steve. It worked. He married her and lived with her his whole life. But years later my mom had something she had to do overnight and I needed a place to stay- she sent me to Steve and Eve’s. Eve was a friend and former coworker. So I can only assume that she felt I was safe.

Having that shame shield prevented me from healing. I was in my 30s before I started being willing to share my story with others. Wounds rarely heal when covered by bandages that are never changed. Each time I did become vulnerable and share my story it was like I was changing the dressing. I was able to gain strength and move to the next step. Looking back at my journey I see how the steps all played a role in my healing. I took a long time between steps, mainly because I was stumbling along, mostly alone. When I had gathered enough strength and support I really made grand strides towards my recognition of what needed to be.

My story, like anyone’s story, comes with some grief of what could have or should have been. I learned with my mom’s passing that telling the tale of her end was very soothing. The more I told the better I felt until one day I didn’t feel the need to tell anymore. So it goes when I encounter someone who is grieving I just listen knowing that each time the story is told is one more step towards their coming to terms with the grief.

I share my story now to help others have the strength and support to be able to tell their story.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

I am broken

When I hear the words “I am broken”, it is very heart-wrenching for me. But really, it is the feeling that is behind the words that get to me.

Here are two examples of how this was expressed:

I was with a group of women and one of the women was describing how her week went. At one point she stated, “I am broken”. She said this with the utmost despair, hopeless to feeling a possibility of being repaired. Her feeling of sadness and helplessness showed through her expression of her words.

Another example when discussing someone’s trauma with them I made a comment about healing from it and they said, “Oh that is not possible, it is too bad. I can never heal.”

Both persons were making the statement that they were broken – broken beyond repair. If we break our leg we don’t just decide to throw away the whole body. But for some reason the person who feels “broken” goes to “I’m unfixable, I am worthless, or even just throw me on a shelf since I am clearly not a value to society.” We are not broken toys to be trashed. Each one of us has value.

Not too many years ago when someone had a stroke it was thought that whatever ability that was lost or paralyzed was done. In recent years the medical community has learned that is not necessarily true. The brain can make new pathways to the information. However, it does take work.

I am actually a case in point. I had an incident happen with my blood sugar levels that forced my brain to shut down. It gave the neurologist the impression that I had a stroke. Since then they have learned this happens with diabetics from time to time. I am not diabetic but hypoglycemic. My body produced too much insulin and my brain was literally starved for the energy it needed to function. The result for me was 3 semesters of calculus were seemingly gone and several other memory and physical issues. I was so embarrassed. As a teacher of math, you can understand the devastation this felt. Over time I started to share that sometimes I had trouble recalling things. I spoke with a man who studies brain traumas and he said the information was still there I just needed a new pathway.

I continued to teach and tutor learners (students) and even worked with a young man taking Advanced Placement calculus. It took me a bit to prepare for working with him but I was able to help him. Then one day he came to me with a question and I had an answer without doing any preparation. He knew my plight and we shared in the celebration. I had regained my pathway to calculus again.

So if our bodies can work around the physical limitations of broken synapses and neurons don’t you think it can also work around a broken soul?

Having gone through the entire process of healing from trauma I know that one can heal and not be “broken” anymore. In fact, I felt better than just being healed from the broken state – I felt stronger. I was also wiser.

In my current state of trauma, I have heard it mentioned more than once that one of the things I can say is my eyes are now wide open. How’s that, you might say? Well before I was abused I didn’t know how such a thing could happen and now I do, thus I am wiser.

I think that one of the reasons people might feel despair is because science hasn’t necessarily caught up with the healing of the mental processes that go with our soul. With that lack of help, we may flounder. But good therapists exist as our ‘intervention’ or intermediary.

The journey to healing soulful parts is not as well defined as healing a physical part. For one thing, it is a very individual thing. A femur bone in one person is much the same as a femur in another but our soulful part is unique to each of us. Even those who have experienced the same event will have a different insight into that event.

One thing that is not unique is now that we know that it is possible it is just a matter of working on it. I’m not saying that is the easy part, just that it exists. It is interesting how finding a light at the end of the tunnel makes something more obtainable.

My healing journey

Recently as I lay on my couch at 3 AM dealing with pain from some emotional trauma. I realized that my finding joy is tied to a healing journey that I have already experienced. So my blog is going to share that process so that I might find joy.

However, I struggled with where I should begin telling that story. The obvious answer would be when the trauma occurred. I’ve spent a lifetime not really sharing that.

One of the reasons you may think that is the case would be shame. Embarrassed that this thing happened to me even though I did not ask for it. But for me that wasn’t the case, I didn’t want to share because I didn’t want people – people who knew me especially – to have their opinion of me change. I never wanted my trauma to define me.

Now I am so far past that emotionally and mentally it would be difficult to even see myself as that person.

I was sexually abused as a child. I was between the ages of 7 and 8. While I never wanted to be defined as the victim of that abuse, it has colored just about every aspect of my life. Much of the journey that I am going to share with you is about that coloring.

I also want to share that my journey has come full circle. I lived my young life, was abused, lived life afterward, got therapy, worked on my journey, healed, and finally found the blessing in having been abused. That is what I mean by a full circle. It took a long time – almost 40 years. It doesn’t have to take that long.

Now having said that I want to emphasize that this is not the journey I recommend to go from one person to a stronger person. But it happened and this is what I did.

What does that mean for you? Hope.

I am not some extraordinary person with all these skills and talents that helped me overcome. I am an ordinary, plain jane person, so plain that many overlook me.

But I had this experience that traumatized me and I have recovered. So can you.

I can still learn from all this. I then apply the lesson to my life. In fact just this week I had an A-HA moment that is going to be a future blog post. The cool thing is that now it is an A-HA moment not some release from pain.

So my journey story begins as the trauma heals I open myself to feel the joy around me.

Life isn’t totally devoid of happiness but the peace and comfort one feels with lasting happiness is what joy means to me. Trauma pain interrupts that ability to last. So as my journey moves from pain and I heal the pain is replaced with lasting joy. This is the connection I wish to share with my healing journey that leads me to find joy.

Myopic

I have this quote on my wall: “A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized prayer is listening.” (Soren Kierkegaard). Right now this is where I am at, I am listening but let me back up a bit to tell you how I got here.

Several weeks ago I posted on Facebook that I was going through a trial of suffering and I could not really share what I was going through. The point wasn’t about the suffering but the result that I knew God was there for me. Since that time some radical shifts have happened and trials have taken a whole new turn. About 2 weeks ago I had a meeting with my husband in my bishop’s office that I was anxious about.

Let me share that I am an empath and what that means for me, as there are many different kinds of empaths, it means that I have a discernment of spirit and my spirit regularly communicates or acknowledges the spirits of others. Things like I know when women are pregnant, sometimes before they do, happens because I sense the two spirits in their body. Sometimes the spirits of others commmunicate to my spirit then my spirit in turn communicates with my consciousness. I don’t always get it right and am still working on that communication.

So this meeting that I had I knew there were several possibilities but I was leaning towards a certain one because of a sense from my spirit and that possibilitity was my least favorite.

During the meeting I found out I was right and I certainly did not like being right. In addition a whole lot of other things happened at that meeting. I walked out feeling I was covered in dust from the crumbling of my world. I also felt numb, lost and unloved. To make matters worse I felt abandoned by God. Part of being an empath means I have a relationship where I have conversations with my father in heaven much like I have conversations with any other person. He is there, I am here and we talk. But after the meeting I could not find him. He was not ‘there’.

I could not find him in his normal place because he was not in his normal place. He was all around me and carrying me. I have this picture in my mind of his carrying me out of the rubble of a building, thus the dust. He knew what that meeting would do to me. I had certainly prayed about it several times during the day. I have a greater understanding of the poem about footprints in the sand. I am now looking back at one set of prints instead of two.

After about a week he put me down. I was able to stand up, dust myself off and look back and then forward again. Have you ever noticed that when you are looking out at the world your viewpoint is limited? If you want to look at the sky you must move your head. If you want to look down again, you must move your head. Our vision is limited. However, God has an aerial view where he can see all. After the meeting I was nearsighted, only seeing what was about myself. I certainly didn’t see what He saw. My vision of what transpired was very limited and I was quite myopic.

The word, myopic, lead me to a talk given by the man I call a prophet, Russell M. Nelson. In the talk he shared a story about his grandson’s wife. She was looking for some kind of solace and his response was only, ‘myopic’. I scanned that talk again this morning picking out the word myopic. One quote by the granddaughter in law stood out to me, “Myopic caused me to stop, think, and heal.” 1 My shortsightedness caused me to be too far inward and not let me see the infinite opportunities around me. Most of those probabilities are only available if I am open to the hand of God. The talk, in general, is about how to let God prevail. But specifically the talk has, at least, one paragraph written just for me about my situation. I am still amazed how God knows what I need, when I need it and is willing to provide me with that even if I don’t see the need. Right now, being myopic is making me stop and think. I am beginning to work on the healing.

In the past, I have been blessed with the ability to look around and eventually see His hand in my life. These last few weeks has caused me to miss seeing His hand. As the dust has settled I now see how He was there all along. I can continue to trust knowing He had and has a greater point of view. With these new realizations I can have better confidence and let Him prevail.

This leads me back to the quote at the beginning. In order to allow myself to let Him prevail I must be willing to listen and follow the direction I receive. I will only find those in the quiet places of my soul and spirit. So my prayer is listening.

Puzzles

Talk for Feb. 16, 2020

When Brother MacBean asked me to speak he told me the theme was what blessings do you receive from keeping the commandments but that I could do some version thereof based on what revelation I got.

I saw Brother MacBean about a week later and he said the same thing to me.  I began to wonder.  First, I felt he was putting a lot of faith in that I would not come up with something totally crazy.  I have given rather unorthodox talks before.  But there must be something to the part about the version thereof, I thought. 

This is my version of the theme.  

I will start with a story that Elder Kimball told a long time ago:  A story is written by Roy H. Stetler, publisher of a religious journal in the East:

“It occurred outside the Crimean Castle of Livadia. The castle was aglow with lights. A soldier was pacing in carefully measured steps back and forth, guarding the castle, which, at the moment, housed within its walls a most momentous conference of world men. The soldier appeared proud of his task, for what soldier would not like to tell his children, and grandchildren, that he had once done guard duty for the momentous meeting of the ‘Big Three.’

“Suddenly, out of the darkness, like a phantom, a figure appeared on the path that led to the entrance of the castle. As the figure approached, the guard commanded, ‘Halt! Who goes there? Come hither and make yourself known!’ And with that the guard quickly took his gun from his shoulder and poised it for any emergency.

“The stranger spoke. ‘I wish to meet with the men who are in the castle.’

“‘Preposterous!’ exclaimed the guard. ‘You cannot enter the castle. Do you not know that the “Big Three” are meeting to decide the course of the whole world? No one is permitted to enter.’

The man replied, ‘You say it is the “Big Three”? Why are they called the “Big Three”?’

“‘They are they,’ said the guard, ‘who shall say how this world shall be ruled.’

“The stranger looked intensely at the guard. His eyes flashed as he said, ‘That is why I must be with them, because I can help them. I have a plan that will really work, and will keep the peace of the world, if they will only adopt my plan.’

“The soldier laughed. ‘Go on your way, man; you have no credentials.’

“The man replied, ‘Credentials? Perhaps not—here.’ And he raised his hand in salute as he left. The guard saw an ugly scar in his hand. Then he looked at the other hand, and it, too, had a scar.

“‘You were in battle?’ he asked, a little more gently. ‘I see wounds in your hands.’

“The stranger turned again. ‘No, I did not think you would notice,’ he replied. ‘No, I did not receive these wounds in battle.’ With that, he disappeared suddenly, as if the darkness had enveloped him.

“The guard looked after him, and marveled. ‘I should have known!’ he exclaimed. ‘If only I had let him in!’ And he slumped to the ground in dismay.”

This was he who brought blessings to all the inhabitants of the earth. This was he who spoke of those who would ask the stranger this question:4

“What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.” (D&C 45:51–52.)

It is important that not only do we keep the commandments but that we also recognize the blessings we receive from doing so.  Without recognition we can not bare praise to the one who gave us the blessings. 

I am going to share today blessings I have either witnessed or experienced. 

More than 20 years ago I got divorced and one of the things I realized was I did not like the person I had become.  I have a natural tendency towards pessimism but I had taken the negativity to a whole new level.  In my previous marriage when my husband and I would talk about our day I could only hold his attention if I told him all the bad and negative things in my day.  He never seemed to listen when I talked about the funny or cute stuff. So I focused on the negative. 

The first year after my divorce was spent healing as one should do after any event causing grief and mourning.  It was probably during that year I realized how negative I had been. The second year I decided to do something about my negative outlook by focusing on seeing how the Lord’s hand played a part in my life.  If I could recognize His hand in my life then maybe I could recognize the blessings. I knew I was somewhat successful when a year after that I was in a car accident with my three children.  

As I lay in the ER recovering with my son, David asleep on my legs, my second daughter walked in with a popsicle.  I commented to her that it was a good day to get a popsicle.  The nurse in the room commented that even though I had been in a car accident I was still positive.  Well, the blessings were good.  

My son was the youngest and received no hurt or pain because his car seat held him securely.  I even sent the seat to the company, at their request, for them to study.  

My daughter, Carolin was 5.  She was sitting in the front but had put her legs to the side and was looking at David in the back when the accident happened.  Her only injury was her face slapped the window.  She got the popsicle for laying through x-ray to see if she fractured it.  At exactly 72 hours the pain and swelling went away so no hairline fracture.  In addition, she was facing away from the actual crash so she was not traumatized by the accident by witnessing it.

My oldest daughter, Tedi, was 12. She received the most bruising of the three and I spent the most time reassuring her that it was going to be ok.  The seat under her moved away from the back of the seat by about 4-5 inches and while she did receive significant bruising along the seatbelt she was alive and no broken bones.  

I was laying in a bed because the doctor was waiting for me to crash – fall apart.  It became apparent to him after my comment of the popsicle I was not going to fall apart so they let us go. 

In addition to that the car would not have passed inspection so the accident saved me the cost of fixing it to get it to pass.  The insurance covered all our hospital bills and the amount we got for the car was almost exact to what I had paid for it a year prior so I had gotten to use a car for free for a year.

All these blessings came because I had worked hard at keeping the commandments and was trying hard to teach my children the gospel to the best of my ability, something I was slowing losing in my prior marriage.

After that yearly goal I have continued to see how the Lord has blessed my life and recently the Lord has been pointing out when others are blessed as well.  In last years stake conference I clearly heard the spirit say to me as President Nelson was speaking that something was his blessing.  I am still not sure why I heard that.  I throughly expect someone with such a calling of responsibility to be receiving blessings.

Another time I have been made aware of someone else’s blessing was in seeing the theme of the upcoming Elder’s quorum/RS party.  The person who received the idea of puzzles was truly blessed for that idea and in a minute you will see why I say that.

But more recently I saw the Lord’s hand again in my life.  During the snowstorm a week or so ago our car got stuck as Michael was trying to get out to go to work. I went out to help him but as I sat in the car neighbor upon neighbor stopped to help and in short order the car was out and Michael was on his way to work.  I asked the neighbors if they knew of someone who had a 4 wheeler that could plow.  They suggested Brother Newbury.  I called Brother Newbury.

I told him I was speaking about this and he knows I am sharing the story.  But when I talked with him on the phone he didn’t sound too confident.  What I didn’t know then but later learned he had plowed a few neighbor driveways that day and his 4 wheeler was stopping and he was having to recharge it or jump it to get it to work.  Brother Newbury said he would be there as soon as he could get it going.

I went outside with a shovel and started shoveling because the snow needed to be cleared so Michael could get back into the driveway when he got home.  It was our electric car and it would need to be charged so it could not sit on the street. I must admit that I didn’t have a lot of faith that his 4-wheeler would work either.  At my house I have been having for some time things not work from my kitchen sink slow flow, to hot water, washers overflowing, trucks not working, including my furnace and fish dying and so on.  It just made sense that Brother Newbury’s 4 wheeler would not work either.

But I had gotten one maybe two passes when Brother Newbury rolls right up on his four wheeler.  He helped me clear the driveway and sidewalks.  He shared that when he went out to start up the 4 wheeler he told the Lord if you want me to help her you need to help with the 4 wheeler.  He decided to try the key before attempting to jump and it started right up first try.  

I think this shows the blessings received by both me and Brother Newbury.

Because of all that is happening or mis-happening as the case may be in my life lately I take these words from that talk a little more to heart.

Elder Kimball, who became President, stated: “There are depths in the sea which the storms that lash the surface into fury never reach. They who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties.

There are so many beautiful promises. To read the scriptures and turn the pages, and it seems that it is almost all rewards, evidence of living the commandments of the Lord.”

To me one of the greatest blessings I can receive is the voice of the Lord sharing, caring and guiding me.  If I can remain poised and serene through the trials all the more the blessing.  

A Sunday or so ago we sang “How Firm a Foundation” as our closing hymn.  Verse 3 states; Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

Before singing the song following the testimonies my thoughts were “my life may be crazy right now but I am ok”. When we came to that verse I could not sing I felt as if the Lord was trying to tell me something and the message came in Sunday school as well.  When I got home I saw why the Lord was telling me He knew me and my life. 

You see in my life there have been times when I felt as insignificant as a grain of sand on a beach.  But that is not how the Lord sees us.  For I think it is more like a puzzle than a beach.

Have you ever been putting a puzzle together and one piece is missing, it might even be the last piece. What do you do?  You look for it.  You get up look in your lap, under your chair, under the table. Maybe you pick up the box on the table but it kind of bugs you that the piece is missing.

Here is the link to the puzzles I mentioned earlier.  You see we are the puzzle pieces and the Lord can see the whole puzzle – an over a billion piece puzzle.  Now you know why you can n12ever see the whole thing from the beginning.  In that puzzle we all link together and if one is missing or lost it is important to go looking for that piece.  

You can bet the Lord is looking.  When you find your missing piece, you examine it to make sure it is ok and then you ultimately put the piece into the puzzle.  

He – Heavenly Father and Jesus love you.  You are important to Him.  He will search for you and remind you that he loves you and he is there with you.  He will remind you with a song, starting a 4 wheeler or just wrap you in peace and comfort like a blanket.

Please forgive my personification but I envision Heavenly Father standing in heaven, possibly dancing from foot to foot anxiously waiting to bless us.  Hopefully we recognize those blessings when they come so we can be reminded how much he does love us – no Matter what.  

  • 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.
  • 5. When through 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, thy dross to consume,
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
  • 6. E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
    My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
    And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
    Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
    Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

A New Day

This year has been a hard one for many people.  For me a lot was going on and then the pandemic hit.  As soon as I get up from one thing I get hit by the next wave.  So lately I have not really been wanting to get up.  Putting the one foot in front of another has gotten a little old and difficult.  Basically I want to sit down and say, “I’m done.”  “Can we stop the world and I get off now?”.

Well I am a spiritual person and it is often the Lord will interrupt my thoughts.  I used to talk to him all the time whenever I was alone – kind of keeping the prayer in the heart thing going.  I don’t do that as much because I know he is there.  I was thinking how tired I was and saying “I’m done” as I was driving home from taking my husband to work. This is the thought that came to me.

Many years ago when my oldest was 12 and the others were 5 and 1. We had some friends ask us to join them to go to Disneyland.  We would caravan and enjoy the park and other outings together.  Well, our car broke down and we didn’t get to go with them.  Since the money and the trip was planned I decided to go anyway on our own, after the car was fixed, just the three kids and me.  The trip was long and we did go to the park, camped out, visited family and started home.  We had one more place I wanted to go and that was the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  We left the family and headed out.  I was hoping to get there in time to get a campsite.  No such luck – we got there in time to find a spot in the grass for dinner.  My oldest was lamenting.  She had been a good sport most of the trip but it was getting to her now. All three kids got sick at one point with throwing up.  The trip was colder than we anticipated and she just wanted to get home.  She could not see what all the fuss was about – could we just go home?  I kept telling her it would be worth it – to just wait until we got there.  

When we arrived we got out and walked to the overlook.  The expressions from her mouth said she could see what the big deal was.  Wow, this is amazing. It was worth it.  

So when I was thinking I just want to be done I thought of this trip.  Now I am the daughter and I am saying can I just go home now?  But the thought in response was – Just wait, you will see.  It will all be worth it.

I have no idea what is to come but I do have enough faith to know that it will be worth it.