I have been wanting to write something about what my experiences have been over the past several years. I haven’t had the time or energy to do it just yet, but today I saw something that I need to share because I needed to see it. So, I’ll give a short version of my life since sometime around 2006.
Fear. It started with fear. I was afraid to do something that would have changed my life and hopefully, someone else’s. I wanted to go on a mission. I had always wanted to go. My bishop approached me and told me I was ready. But fear stopped me and I didn’t go. Since then, I have struggled with fear, anxiety and depression. It was very slight at first and I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Certain events, those involving BIG changes (graduating college, relationships, marriage, teaching, infertility) contributed. In the past year or so I have realized what’s been happening to me. I try not to let it define me. It comes in waves. Some days I am me…happy, positive, sunny, and free. Some days I am trapped. I am lost. I am confused. Some days I am at peace. Some days I am in turmoil. I have managed it and feel like I am coming through to the other side of this and I have more good days now. But there is still one thing that lingers.
I have never in my life doubted my faith. I have been diligent in study and prayer and service to God. I knew who I was. I knew God. I knew Jesus Christ. I knew they were real and they loved me. But depression and anxiety do funny things to the brain. For the first time in my life, I doubt. I struggle to believe, and to feel anything. This is harder for me than dealing with infertility. How can I, Bobbie-Jo, who’s always found it easy to believe, who’s always been happy and positive and found joy in the gospel and knowledge of Jesus Christ, struggle like this? I never thought depression or anxiety would take hold of me. But it happened and I assure you, I’m fighting my way out. This is what I want to share: there is one thing that has helped me hold on to my testimony. One thing that keeps me feeling, when my brain suppresses emotion. One thing I cling to. The Book of Mormon. When I pray and don’t know if anyone is hearing me, I can read the book and know it. When I feel empty and lost, I can read it and find my way, even if it’s just for a few days at a time. I am not my best in study and prayer, and some days I REALLY don’t feel the desire or motivation to do it. But this video reached me today and reminded me of something I know. The Book of Mormon is a testament of Jesus Christ and His love for all of us, regardless of who we are, where we are, or how we feel. He loves us and the book can prove it to you.
I’m just going to say it…infertility sucks. BUT we have been very blessed through this whole process and most days we don’t feel anything but peace and happiness. Occasionally, we get frustrated, but not because of our infertility, because of our desire to have children, and because of the finances required to get there.
During General Conference a few weeks ago, I wrote down specific questions and prayed for specific answers. Specifically, I prayed about our family. What do we do now? More tests? Treatments? Adoption? Wait it out? Nothing feels right yet. So here we go. Ask. Seek. Knock. Open. Listen. TRUTH. The most direct (indirect) answer to this very important question about our family, came in a talk not about family or marriage or children, but about tithing. Read the whole thing here: The Windows of Heaven
“Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.”
I wasn’t told what to do about starting our family or which direction to go. But it was pointed out to me that the greatest blessing we have received through this is peace. That is our answer. Heavenly Father has blessed us both with incredible peace in what could have been an incredibly difficult journey. We are doing just fine and that is a tender mercy.
Speaking of tithing and everyone’s favorite…finances, here’s another win. We have been very blessed with Jeff’s work. He has such a strong skill set and he is in the right industry, so I know we are luckier than most in this area and we can’t/don’t complain! Even still, Heavenly Father takes care of us and gives us blessings we don’t expect or feel like we deserve.
When it came time to renew insurance with Overstock, we stuck with the high deductible plan because for our purposes (maternity, we thought) it was about the same as a the regular plan, except that monthly premiums were less. So it sounded like a good deal! Then after months and months of no pregnancy, we started infertility testing and we starting paying for it, all of it, out of pocket. It adds up pretty quick and we were worried about paying for treatments (if we decided to go that route) or adoption. And then, Jeff got a new job, which means new insurance, which means for us…more coverage. Tender mercy.
Earlier this week, we received another one of those bills. It was pricy. We went through upcoming expenses (including tithing) and decided that if we are careful with extra spending, we’d be fine, so the bill got paid. It should have stressed me out (I am a financial hoarder…I dislike watching money disappear), but it didn’t. “We’ve been so blessed” I thought. “So lucky that Jeff has such a great job and we will never have to worry about finances.” We pay our tithing faithfully and we have always been taken care of. That feeling: Tender mercy.
Literally, the day after I paid that hefty bill, I got a phone call from the medical lab. Apparently there was a glitch in the system and my bill was going to be 85% LESS than what we thought. Huge refund check will be in the mail. WHA!!?!?!?! I don’t know why we deserve it, when so many people can’t pay their bills and we can. But still…tender mercy.
In the smallest and simplest ways, I have felt Heavenly Father’s awareness of us. It’s not overwhelming. It’s not a spiritual experience that is “Ensign worthy.” It’s gentle, it’s subtle, it’s simple, and it’s beautiful.
Heavenly Father loves us. He takes care of us. He blesses us in undeserving and unexpected ways. Tender Mercies.
I know I’m a few months late in reporting, but this is a story that deserves to be told. Enjoy! If you’ve ever wondered if God has a sense of humor, here’s your answer.
A few weeks before the holiday, I thought “Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to host Thanksgiving? We’ve never done that before!” Food assignments were made and a time was set. I bought a turkey and potatoes and we were feeling so good! Everything was working out so well.
On Monday, I got the turkey out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. Check.
On Tuesday we found out Jeff’s brother, Jared, was going to stay with us. Great! We have two empty bedrooms. Check.
On Wednesday, we found out Jeff’s brother Mark and his family were staying with us too. Great! They can take our room so they have a place for their two kids and a comfier bed. We’ll sleep in the guest room and Jared can take the air mattress in the other room. Check.
So far so good! My family was coming for a nice quiet dinner. We had Jeff’s family staying with us (Lisa and Sam and kids, Jared, and Mark and Kelley and kids), so even though we wouldn’t join them for dinner at Dave and Kathy’s, we’d still spend plenty of time together! Plus there is always pie at Grandpa Hicken’s. I was excited for all this family time! Check, check!
On Wednesday night I started to feel anxious! I’ve never made a turkey before. What if it’s gross? What if it’s dry? What if the seasonings are bad? Awe, crap, what if it’s still frozen?? So right before bed, I checked the turkey…still partially frozen. Yikes! We did some research and found a way to get it thawed and cooked, just in case. Phew! Breathe easy and go to bed. It’s going to be fine! Smile.
Thursday morning was restless. I was wide awake at 5 am for no reason. My alarm wasn’t set to go off for another hour or so, but I couldn’t seem to stay asleep.
5:20 AM–We get a text from Kathy (the host for the Hicken’s Thanksgiving dinner). She’s sick. With a new baby in the family, another one close to arrival, and other kids just getting over being sick, it didn’t feel like a great idea to have Thanksgiving there anymore. SURPRISE! Looks like they’ll all come to our house!
7:20 AM–Lisa came up and we made a plan. Sam put another (frozen) turkey in their roaster. We told everyone to bring their assigned foods, nothing more, nothing less. If the Hickens brought what they planned on for the Hickens and the Kemps brought what they planned on for us, we’d be fine. No worries, right!?!?! We’ll make it work. It’s only…uh…40 PEOPLE.
7:30 AM–I prayed for a Thanksgiving miracle–specifically warm enough weather that we could send kids outside. Dear Heavenly Father, Our numbers jumped from 15 with my family, to 40 with Jeff’s family. FORTY PEOPLE IN MY HOUSE…BAHAHAH! My kitchen/dining area is NOT that big. We just put in new carpet, so I didn’t want people eating over it. We were going to be CRAMPED as it is, so if the kids could just go outside, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
7:40 AM–The turkey is going to be fine! Still a tiny bit frozen, but no big deal. I pulled out the neck, but I couldn’t find the giblets inside, so I thought “Maybe this one doesn’t have any?!? Meh!” I prepped it and stuck it in the oven for a nice slow roast. Check.
8:00 AM–I started cleaning, moving furniture, and setting up as many tables and chairs as I had, and asked my mom to bring hers and table cloths. Don’t worry about dishes. We’ve got paper and plastic! Check.
10:30 AM–I’ve got a nagging feeling to check the turkey. I’m sure I’ve missed something. I pulled it out, couldn’t find anything and put it back. The nagging wouldn’t leave so I did some research on giblets. Turns out, sometimes they stick them in the ‘other’ end. As a first timer, I hadn’t thought to look there. Oops. I also learned that if the giblets are wrapped in plastic and you cook them…you’re done for. Plastic leaches dangerous chemicals into the bird and we’d have to throw it out. If they’re wrapped in paper, you’re safe. PANIC. “What if I have to throw this turkey away? We are going to try and feed 40 people with this one turkey, because we don’t know if Sam and Lisa’s will be done in time (there’s was fresh from the freezer at 7:00 am!)! Awe, blast…I’ve ruined Thanksgiving,” I thought. “We may be buying pizza.”
10:45 AM–I pulled the turkey back out and found the giblets in the wrong end (…I know now!), wrapped in paper. SAFE! Thanksgiving Miracle #1.
12:30–Jeff and I begin to peel the potatoes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told that boy to throw the peels in the garbage, not the sink. But he’s a man “It’ll be fine. It’s not that many.” Well today, we were cooking for many. Still, he peels them (a lot of them) in the sink. I was chopping while he peeled, so I didn’t get a chance to stop him. He ran the disposal to clear out the sink. The disposal jammed, but he kept trying to make it run, filling the sink with gallons of filthy, starchy water. To remedy the clog, Jeff decided to try the toilet plunger…
1:00 PM–My family starts to arrive. Seeing our dilemma, my brother in law Ben jumps right in to help. They decide to disconnect the disposal…and before you know it, the kitchen is filling up with filthy, brown, starchy water. I let out a laughing scream and ran for the towels while they tried to catch the water with a bucket. Meanwhile, the potatoes are boiling over on the stove (more water mess) and the gravy’s not getting made. The rest of Jeff’s family is showing up and wanting to use the stove to cook green beans and such. Chaos. Utter chaos. But somehow, instead of doing what I usually do (stressing to the point of being bossy and ornery and not very nice), I laughed. I just laughed. I found it completely hilarious. Not stressful, but amusing. Somehow, with only a few hours of sleep, I managed to stay positive, smiling, laughing, and Heavenly Father knew I would need that. Thanksgiving Miracle #2.
2:00 PM (ish, I started losing track of time)–We pulled the turkey out of the oven. My mom and Grandma carved it up and discovered it wasn’t quite done. Close, but not quite. My mom worked on that while Grandma started gravy. “Where are the giblets?” Um…in the garbage?? Am I supposed to save them? Oops. Dinner fail. BUT don’t worry, mom and Grandma Bell are geniuses and made some delicious gravy and fixed up my turkey. It was tender and flavorful and no one died. Thanksgiving Miracle #3.
We started setting the table to eat. I was all for paper and plastic…I did NOT want to do dishes for 40 people, plus the pots and pans from prepping dinner. My dad was NOT loving this. He wanted fancy. So we got out the fancy silver and china they had brought. Some people used it and others went with plastic. Dinner was chaotic, we didn’t stuff oursevles because there were just too many of us to sit comfortably and the kids were more interested in playing together than eating. So we had PLENTY of food, too much actually! My mom is incredible and had the dishes cleaned up in no time. Thanksgiving Miracle #4. And the kids spent a lot of time eating and running around outside! It was sunny, in the high 30’s, and they didn’t have a care in the world! Thanksgiving Miracle #5.
I wasn’t stressed, but my dad was…too many people. Loud. Crazy. Cramped. Socializing. All his favorite things. We got cleaned up and were just starting to sit and relax with some pie.
“Bobbie-Jo…where’s the drill? The hammer?” Why!?!? Turns out one of the little boys had locked himself in the bathroom downstairs. A bathroom lock that requires a key. A key that we don’t have because the previous owners didn’t leave one. Awesome. We can’t get to the hinges. We can’t unscrew the doorknob. So they did the responsible thing and broke the doorknob off with a hammer. Child rescued. No harm done (except the doorknob which we will replace with a NON keyed lock). The 3 year old actually enjoyed his time alone in the bathroom. “It was fun!” he said. Thanksgiving Miracle #6.
Things started winding down and people started leaving to go for pie at Grandpa Hicken’s or the in-laws. My family was so helpful and so patient and understanding in all of this. Jeff’s family was just as awesome! They went home with smiles on their faces, even though I know it’s not the day they were expecting and we didn’t get a lot of time to just sit and enjoy each other. There was too much going on and too many people to entertain. I love our family for this. They just went with the flow and kept things positive!
The house is quiet, the furniture is put back together, the day is over. We can just head out to Grandpa’s for pie. We made it. Thanks for the miracles today Heavenly Father. You’re one funny guy!
That’s what I thought. But He wasn’t done yet. We went in to the garage and pushed the button to open the door and…nada. The motor was running, but the door wasn’t moving. So, my brother and Jeff pried it off the ground and held it up while I backed the car out. Thankfully, my brother and parents hadn’t quite pulled away when the garage door decided to break. Thanksgiving Miracle #7. It was a “perfect” ending to a “perfect” day!
Moral of the story–Miracles come AFTER the trials. Heavenly Father has a great sense of humor. If you pray for a miracle, He’ll give you one. But He might create some mishaps to help you recognize and appreciate them.
I’d say our first Thanksgiving went well, wouldn’t you?
PS…Look who decided to show up for dinner!!
Read the article!
I like this. It rings true in my ears. I didn’t believe in soul mates necessarily (although I was certain I’d found “the one”), and I didn’t go on a mission, but there was a boy, and he went on a mission, and I was hopeful when he returned. And then…nothing.
The first words Jeff and I spoke to each other were “Well…this is awkward.” My thoughts were: “Meh, he’s cute I guess.” Our first date was to a CES Fireside, followed by sharing favorite scriptures and experiences, watching Church History videos and music videos, and laughing hysterically while we battled to see who could make the most ridiculous facial expressions. Instant comfort in his presence, which isn’t easy for me. I am a bit socially awkward with new people. But it was easy. Jeff made it easy.
So, yeah, Jeff isn’t my soul mate, but I chose him then and I choose him now and forever! We are becoming soul mates one day, one adventure, at a time.
Speaking of adventures…wait til you hear about Thanksgiving. Yikes! Pictures and stories coming soon! Haha!
I know…sometimes it’s hard to just sit and read stuff. It’s hard to just sit and write stuff. I like visual things. So here are a few of the highlights from the past few months!
We made it down to the Manti Pageant this year! It was wonderfully cheesy and spiritual. Just the way I like it.
Hailey and Brandon participated in Music Camp this Summer! Hailey has been doing it for a while, but this was Brandon’s first time! They both did amazing and I am impressed with their talent!
Jeff had a birthday! 27 never looked so good!
Prius wins again (seriously…that spaceship of a car is magical when it comes to transporting goods)! Our water heater started leaking late one night and after talking to the manufacturer and a few others, we learned that Riverton water has a tendency to destroy things. It was going to cost quite a bit to have someone come replace it because it happened to be Pioneer Day. So we decided to tackle the project ourselves with a little help from Marci and Dan.
Jeff got a new job! He now works for Alianza. To celebrate, his recruiter treated us to a super fancy dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I don’t typically like steak, so when I tell you it’s good…it’s good.
We finally got the railing installed on our basement entry. It was a long time coming (sorry Jon and Melissa!), but other things kept us from doing it sooner (like flaky contractors, figuring out the deal with having kids, making sure we had enough money in savings, and other house projects). Anyway, it’s done, it’s safe, and it looks really good! Thanks to my brother in law Johnny for the great stucco work!
We fixed our sprinklers. It was a nightmare. I hope I never have to tunnel under concrete ever again.
We sat outside and Jeff played some tunes.
We went to a soccer game!
And our garden! We got more cucumbers than we could handle, delicious raspberries, and we have loved making salsa with all our tomatoes and peppers. I even got all “domestic” and canned a few bottles. I know it’s a little weird for me.
And what’s Summer without a good hike or two?
Change is an interesting thing. It’s not easy to accept, but most often proves to be for our benefit. It’s wonderful to get comfortable and to settle into a routine and lifestyle. I like to be “comfortable” and secure and safe. I love little changes like rearranging the furniture, getting a hair cut, or teaching a new topic in math. I don’t like to step outside my comfort zone. I dislike when my “flow” is disrupted in big, dramatic ways. It messes with my emotions and flares up the anxiety. However, I am learning quickly that allowing ourselves to get “too comfortable” often results in stagnancy and lack of upward progression. I am learning to recognize that I can expect something to change, large or small, when I start to feel too comfortable; and that is a good thing.
Jeff was contacted in August by a recruiter he’s worked with for a few years. He regularly gets contacted by recruiters and various companies who are interested in his skill set. This one started out just like that…a regular contact. This particular recruiter had recently been calling Jeff as more of a connection to other nerds…ahem…programmers because Jeff was in a great leadership position at Overstock. He loved his team, he loved his work, he was happy with his salary…he was comfortable. He had been telling recruiters for months he wasn’t interested in change. So when Evan (the usual recruiter) called about this job and asked Jeff if he knew anyone who fits, it wasn’t really that exciting or unusual. But the more Jeff heard, the more he liked. This happened on a Thursday. We went to the temple that weekend hoping for some guidance and in he went for an interview on the following Tuesday. Jeff sent me a text while I was teaching Summer school wanting me to call him asap. Unusual for him, so my anxiety immediately flared up. YIKES! After I sent the littles on their way, I called him and he told me what had happened. The company was so impressed with him, they asked what he would need to make the job offer a no brainer. He threw out some numbers and they said “done.” He had a new job. In less than a week and with no effort on our part, things changed. I admit, my response to this was a little less than supportive. It freaked me out and it took a few days to get my heart to stop pounding. This new company is very small, no one has heard of them, so it felt risky to accept. Overstock was comfortable, it is huge and doing very well. We had job security and I hated losing that. Aaaahhh!!! But Jeff felt very good about the change, so we moved forward. Overstock threw a mighty protest and tried very hard to get him to stay, but Jeff had made a commitment and he felt good about it, so despite the promises and comfort offered to us, he left. (They did tell him that Overstock is home and he will always have a job there, which eased my anxiety quite a bit. Phew!)
Things are going very well at his new job. He has more flexibility in his schedule, benefits are fabulous, and his opportunities for growth in his skill set and knowledge are tremendous. It is a very good thing for him, and though he misses Overstock (mostly his team), he feels like he made the right move. He is now working for Alianza, a small VOIP company in Lindon and he loves it. See…change is good.
As for me, I am still figuring myself out. I struggle with who I am, I struggle with self worth, and I struggle to feel like I belong. The past few years have been particularly difficult for me, and I have had my fair share of doubt. But one thing I know for certain is that the Lord knew what He was doing when he called me into the Young Women presidency. I am not influencing them, they are influencing me. They have been the pathway to the change I need. I feel it. I know Heavenly Father is aware of me and of my personal struggles. He has provided me an opportunity for growth and for improvement.
As our lives move forward, I can feel myself changing. I sense subtle changes in Jeff and in our relationship (don’t worry…it’s all good!). New callings, new jobs, new experiences. You see, one of the many reasons God sent us to Earth was for our personal growth and development. He is teaching us to become like Him. He knows who we were, who we are, and who we can become. As we are, change is required. In order to become, change is required. It’s definitely not easy, especially when we like who we are and we are comfortable. But again, being comfortable can result in halted progression if we aren’t careful. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is constantly providing opportunities for us (sometimes unsolicited and in the form of trials) to grow and to change just a little more until we have become who He needs us to be. Thankfully, He has given us an example to follow in His Son, Jesus Christ. All we need is the courage, the faith, the diligence, the humility, to move forward, even when it’s scary. Change is good.
Hello world! Just a quick update on our lives and the happenings of 2013!
In December, the primary president told me they were moving me to nursery. I was excited because I love being with the littles. Then she told me that the nursery is cursed. Everyone they put in the nursery ends up pregnant. My excitement level tripled and of course told her I was fully expecting to be “cursed” in such a manner. Unfortunately, we haven’t been cursed yet (so please…pray for us to be cursed, haha!) We did however, start the process of infertility testing in January because after nearly two years of no babies…we decided we should get help. And that pretty much sums up January through probably the rest of the year or so! YAY! Don’t worry…we are not too sensitive about it and we will answer questions and fill in details, just not publicly. 😉 And if you tell me you’re pregnant I am still VERY excited for you, but don’t be shocked or offended when I freely admit that I am probably 80% excited and 20% jealous. So…after learning that our chances are lessened due to ONE crucial hormone that’s much higher than it should be, we did what any responsible person would do. We blew our money on a relaxing vacation to a beautiful tropical location. If you would like to see the pictures and read about our trip to Jamaica, click on the Adventure Time tab and scroll down to 2013. Read the short ish blurb and click on the Jamaica header to see the pictures in Picasa. Don’t forget to read the captions! We did some fun things!
I completed another school year! My first one in 1st Grade and as a part time teacher. I LOVE working part time. It has been great for me! I am excited for the next year when I can do it better! I also completed my ESL endorsement (18 credit hours of night classes, online discussions, too many textbooks read, and so much homework!) and it feels good to be able to have my weekends and Tues/Thurs evenings back. I’ll be starting Summer school in about a week teaching pre-K students at my school. They are extremely low and we’d like to prepare them for Kindergarten a little bit. It’s making me nervous, but I am also very excited because I know how big of a difference it can make for the kids, their parents, and their kindergarten teachers. I love what I do, even though it’s stressful. We are literally creating a future for many of these kids. It’s exciting to think about them growing up and doing big things!
Jeff is still working at Overstock and is the FED Architect. He basically helps build the website, teaches his team, and integrates new technologies. I am very proud of him! His hard work is paying for him and for our family! He is also working on several side projects with his brothers, our brother in law, and just for fun. You know you’re in the right profession when your job is your hobby. Jeff goes to work and programs. He comes home from work and programs. AND HE LOVES IT! I’m grateful he’s found his place and his passion!
Together, we are enjoying serving family and friends, playing games (I even play video games occasionally and Magic…the things you do for love), and working around the house. Our garden is growing finally! We have struggled getting our cucumbers and watermelons to establish themselves, but I think they’re finally coming! YAY!
We both got new callings last week! It’s funny, because I have been feeling change coming for a few months…I hoped the feeling of change related to babies, but this works too! So…I was in the nursery and Jeff was teaching the 14-15 year olds in Sunday School. When we got called in, I was nervous because Bro. Niedert told Jeff he was going to have to support me a lot and sacrifice his time with me. Sounded scary, but it’s not! I am in the Young Women’s presidency! YEAH! I am so excited! After Girl’s Camp last year, the bishopric felt impressed to put me with the youth somehow, but primary wouldn’t let me go until now, so this calling has been in the works for at least a year. I am really looking forward to personal growth and learning with this new opportunity. I know I will be changing and the calling will influence my life…I just have to pray that I can do something positive for the girls too.
Jeff is now teaching the 4-5 year olds in Primary! He was not happy to be released from working with the youth. He LOVES teaching teenagers and he’s good at it. He’s very willing to serve wherever Heavenly Father asks him to be, but he is nervous to teach the little ones. I could not be happier about this change. We have traded places (primary to youth, youth to primary) and there will be much to learn for both of us! I feel REALLY good about Jeff’s new teaching opportunity and although it may be challenging for him, I think he will learn to love it and he will be amazing.
Welp…that sums up the year so far! Keep checking back, because I will hopefully start adding Picasa links to the travel page and keep our story going.
A few posts back, I mentioned something about striving to have daily interactions with the Spirit. While I do not post often, I assure you I am trying. Last night I read stuff and this morning it’s still fresh on my mind. For those of you who aren’t part of the awesome group a very close friend of mine started on Facebook, here’s today’s post. P.S. If you want to be a part of our group, tell me and I’ll add you! It’s called “I Need Some Help Putting On My Armor, Got A Second?” We share things, set goals together, and build each other in righteousness. I like it. Anyway…
**SORRY…I’m long winded. This will be time consuming, but I feel it and am impressed to share.**
Jeff and I are working our way through the Ensign and Elder Holland’s talk was last night’s reading. I love the way Elder Holland brings the gospel to life and I love the message of this talk. “Do you love me?” I am reminded of a scripture that I spent quite a bit of time studying and pondering over a while ago. In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked by a Pharisee “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus responds with the familiar words “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The Savior then delivers with a powerful statement that caused me to stop and really think: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” So there you have it. If we truly love God with all our hearts, we will love His children and will serve them. Once we have perfected ourselves in these two commandments, it seems to me that everything else will fall into place. “On these two commandments hang all the law…” We love God more than anything, so we do not hesitate to serve in any capacity. We love God more than anything, so giving Him our tithes and offerings is easy. We love God more than anything, so worldly things slip away without a second thought. We love God more than anything, so temple attendance, church meetings, and personal preparation are our first priority. We love God more than anything, so forgiveness comes naturally, faith comes easily, and hope is bright.
If you are struggling, start here. Pray for love. Study our Heavenly Father and rebuild your relationship with Him. Love will open your heart to trust, which builds faith and hope and will allow our Heavenly Father to really guide you. I truly believe that this is the first step in personal improvement and in preparation for the Savior’s coming. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
It still feels so surreal. How could something like that happen? How could those little children be taken so heartlessly? And what of the teachers and administrators? We are indeed thankful for their bravery and courage as they protected those precious souls.
I feel a need to offer peace and hope to those struggling. I don’t know who will read these things or if it’s of any benefit, but I can’t stop thinking about it, so for my sake at the very least, I continue to study and find peace on the revealed light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
From our dear Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, God’s mouthpiece on Earth:
“The darkness of death, however, can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth.
“I am theresurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)
This reassurance—yes, even holy confirmation—of life beyond the grave could will provide the peace promised by the Savior when He assured His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Out of the darkness and the horror of Calvary came the voice of the Lamb, saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) And the dark was no longer dark, for He was with His Father. He had come from God, and to Him He had returned. So also those who walk with God in this earthly pilgrimage know from blessed experience that He will not abandon His children who trust in Him. In the night of death, His presence will be “better than [a] light and safer than a known way.” 4
Saul, on the road to Damascus, had a vision of the risen, exalted Christ. Later, as Paul, defender of truth and fearless missionary in the service of the Master, he bore witness of the risen Lord as he declared to the Saints at Corinth:
“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
“… he was buried, and … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
“… he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
“After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. …
“After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
“And last of all he was seen of me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
In our dispensation this same testimony was spoken boldly by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he and Sidney Rigdon testified:
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:22-24)
This is the knowledge that sustains. This is the truth that comforts. This is the assurance that guides those bowed down with grief out of the shadows and into the light. It is available to all.
Someone posted yesterday that God either doesn’t care, or He isn’t there. I understand this perspective…it’s hard to believe that a loving God could allow such young children to be brutally murdered. I have been pondering this question, and while I can’t find an answer…I found counsel in the words of modern prophets and apostles. It is not for us to understand all the workings of God. He has a plan and a purpose. He has given us agency, the right to choose. He doesn’t control our actions. But He lives and He loves.
From Quentin L. Cook, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Something stirs us when we become aware of such tragedy, especially when suffered by innocent people.
“…Whenever tragedy occurs, we mourn and strive to bear one another’s burdens. We lament the things that will not be accomplished and the songs that will not be sung.
Among the most frequently asked questions of Church leaders are, Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people? Why are those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service not immune from such tragedies?
While we do not know all the answers, we do know important principles that allow us to face tragedies with faith and confidence that there is a bright future planned for each of us. Some of the most important principles are:
First, we have a Father in Heaven, who knows and loves us personally and understands our suffering perfectly.
Second, His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer, whose Atonement not only provides for salvation and exaltation but also will compensate for all the unfairness of life.
Third, the Father’s plan of happiness for His children includes not only a premortal and mortal life but also an eternal life as well, including a great and glorious reunion with those we have lost. All wrongs will be righted, and we will see with perfect clarity and faultless perspective and understanding.”
I look forward to that day when I can understand with perfect clarity why these things happen. But until that day comes and we are ready to learn, we must have faith and hope in God, His son, Jesus, Christ, and in the good of humanity.
“But little children are alive in Christ…” (Moroni 8:12)
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set Him in the midst of them…” (Matthew 18:2-3)
“BEHOLD YOUR LITTLE ONES” (3 Nephi 17:23)
I found myself wide awake at 4 AM today…unable to fall back asleep because my mind started wandering. I don’t know what brought it on, but I began thinking about my students and for some reason my mind focused on a strange “what if.” What if a gunman entered our school and threatened my students? I played out several scenarios in my head and although it would be terrifying, I settled on how I would handle the situation were it to arise in my classroom. I felt peaceful as I realized I had an obligation and a desire to protect my little ones at all costs. I didn’t go back to sleep, but after I reached that resolution my mind moved on to other things, like my lessons for the upcoming day. It seemed a little random, but that’s what happens at 4 AM.
The day went on without incident and I just felt so happy with my students. We have some challenging ones, but I just love them all so much! I felt at peace with who I am and what I do as a teacher. It wasn’t until after school that I heard the news. Being a teacher in an elementary school, it hit really close to home, and I was just stunned. I felt incredibly grateful for the teachers and administrators who were there for those children today. I was grateful for the reminder to be prepared. My seemingly random thoughts this morning at 4 AM helped me to answer the question so many teachers are asking right now… “What would you do if this happened at your school?” It’s an easy answer…protect God’s children, for that is what I am chosen to do.” In the moment, we have to know how to react because there will be no time to decide. I believe firmly in God’s power to protect and to give courage when it is needed, so I think and hope I will not hesitate.
As I’ve pondered the events of the day, I feel sadness for those affected by the tragedy. I can’t imagine the pain of receiving or sharing the news that a child, a friend, a parent, a sibling has been killed. I worry about those who witnessed it first hand, especially the children. I feel sorrow for the shooter and his family. I feel helpless, knowing I can’t offer support in a real personal way. But I also feel something powerful enough to wash out the bad…
I feel hope because of the Savior’s Atonement and God’s perfect plan for His children. I feel peace and assurance that those who were killed are being held in the arms of loved ones and angels beyond the veil. I feel peace and assurance that those who were left behind are being held in the arms of loved ones and angels beyond the veil. I see in my mind and heart a loving Savior, a kind Heavenly Father, and a gentle Heavenly Mother holding those precious children and weeping with them. I sense the sorrow They feel for all of those people…children and adults. “But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul…I have beheld His glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of His love.” (2 Nephi 1:15) “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelations 21:4). They rest with God, comforted in His arms.
Despite what many on the world may say, God is there. God cares. He is weeping with us. His pain is great because of His perfect love for all mankind. He didn’t allow this to happen. He HE LIVES. Do not lose faith in Him! Several years ago, I experienced something very personal and very sacred with a very special family, and I learned a powerful lesson from Mormon as I tried to offer comfort and support. “But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ…How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of His resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal…” (Moroni 7:39-41). Despite the tragedies that we have faced and will continue to face, we can have hope. Because of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and Atonement, we can be raised to glory, to live with Him, and with our loved ones. Pray for those who are aching, whose hearts are hurting, and feel God’s peace and assurance that He cares, that He loves, and that He lives. We are not alone.