Author Archives: Whit

Grief and the “Sting of Death”

From my journal: 18 February 2014

I got an email from Aunt Carol today updating us on Grandpa.  Grandpa’s body is failing.  It’s been true for weeks.  He can’t get enough oxygen even with the O2 levels at 100%.  He’s being moved to a hospice center for rehab.  He has a clot in his lungs.  He sleeps most of the time and tires easily.

I think of Grandpa often these days.   I remember things like being pulled off my feet by his big hands placed over my ears: compress and lift!  I remember sports and newspapers.  I remember an underwhelmed reaction (to say the least) at his first and only viewing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I remember a spiritual presence. Always…when I think of Grandpa’s life I think of constant, quiet service…”  Grandpa passed away 2 days later.

Another excerpt 13 August 2014

Yesterday I received a call midday from Anne [Brendan’s sister].  The police had called her.  Ben [Brendan’s brother] was found dead in his car by a self-inflicted gun shot.  Ben is dead…Anne wanted to talk to Brendan and was having trouble getting a hold of him.  I gave her his direct line and told her to tell them who she was and that it was an emergency concerning his brother.  She got through and I heard from Brendan a few minutes later.  Everyone’s reaction has been shock.  No one knew.  It seems no one ever knows with suicide.  So lonely.  So much despair that you feel the best option is death.  So difficult. … I pray for Ben.  I’m grateful for [the Grandparents] that are there to nurture Ben.  I’m grateful Heavenly Father knows all and takes into account the extraneous circumstances that lead us to despair.  I’m grateful for the Atonement which covers our griefs and sorrows.  I’m grateful for Mercy…

Another excerpt 03 January 2015

…Aunt Becky passed away the morning after Kev’s wedding.  Honestly, all I can feel is relief! For Becky!  For the first time her suffering mind will be at ease.  She’ll have her own thoughts and control over every single one!  She and Grandma can sit and chat in ways that were simply impossible during their lifetimes.  Uncle Bill spoke of Becky’s endurance of her trial in this life and how well she bore it.  I have to agree with Bill.  The imprisonment of schizophrenia is something I cannot fathom.  But for years (maybe 40?), with medication she lived in her own apartment at a living center, managed her own money, made some of her own meals, sewed her own clothes, took classes at the local community center and endured well!  I’m sad that Brendan and my kids never knew her as I knew her growing up.  My Dad pointed out that none of us ever really knew Becky except her Savior and Father in Heaven.  And now Grandma too.  That makes my heart happy. “Deep peace in Christ!”- A Gaelic Blessing Grandma’s favorite and what we sang at Grandma’s funeral a few years back.

One more excerpt  4 Januray 2015

Aunt Meg [Becky’s and my Dad’s sister] passed away this morning…my heart feels heavy.  I feel very tired.  At least Meg, Becky, and Grandma are having a glorious reunion.

My mind and my heart have been greatly weighed with grief in all sorts of ways.  I feel sorrow at Grandpa’s absence. I feel anger at the circumstances of Ben’s life that, in my grief, I am blaming for his death–there is no way to know whether this is true, but grief is not always rational or compassionate.  I feel relief for Becky and great sorrow for her dad, my still living Grandpa.  I feel weariness and sorrow at Aunt Meg’s passing.  Sorrow for Uncle Ken and my adult cousins.  I can’t imagine loosing my mother whom I still need so desperately even though I’m supposed to be a grown-up.  And great sorrow for Grandpa who lost two children in a week’s time.

I have spent a good deal of time studying my scriptures and contemplating death.  I hope to relay the impression I have felt as it has brought me peace and will carry me through my grief.

I have been particularly touched by this scripture “But there is a Resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ” (Mosiah 16:8)  The Atonement of Jesus Christ comprises two parts 1) an atoning for our sins-our spiritual death and 2) the conquering of death-The Resurrection-the restoration of our physical bodies, then perfected, with our spirits.  Both are essential to our eternal salvation.  Because Christ rose again and conquered death we will live again.  Grandpa will live again.  Ben will live again.  Becky will live again.  Meg will live again.  Their spirits will no longer be trapped by an imperfect body but liberated by a Celestial, physical body. They will be whole.

How can this not speak peace to my mind?  It brings me such peace and comfort in my grief.  Because let’s face it: death stings.  Death stings when you think of something you want to share with a loved one who is no longer there to call.  Death stings when you go to family gatherings and someone is missing.  Or there is an empty chair you know should be filled.  Death stings when you go to a wedding in the same place you were married and Grandpa isn’t there to perform the ceremony anymore.  Death stings when the family is singing in the living room and no one is jamming out a symphony on the piano. And no one is harmonizing.   Death stings when you have a question about your family heritage and the one with all the answers is now a part of that heritage.   It stings at the family reunion where the family patriarch is absent.  It stings when you put on your brothers tie for church on Sunday.

Death stings.  And I cannot express how grateful I am that “the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”

“You’re just keeping up the habit”

I wrote this a little over a year ago, but today’s experience reminded me of it and I wanted to share it with you.  Enjoy!

“Boys, please whisper.” I’ve said that a bazillion times since we sat on this pew a half-hour ago. “We’re in the Chapel, and The Sacrament is being served. Please show reverence and think about Jesus.” My two oldest sons (ages 5 and 6) quietly resume their contest: racing to see who can find a specific Hymn number first.  I look to the ceiling and roll my eyes—I taught them that game.   Allowing them a little lee-way, I attempt to take my own advice and think of my Savior. The baby begins to fuss. I tuck his blanket around him and rock the infant carrier, hoping to sooth him to sleep. Simultaneously, I grab my 3 year old daughter’s feet to prevent them from, again, kicking the pew in front of us. Why do they have to have wooden pews in this acoustically sound room?  Rock, rock, Rock, rock. “Mommy, I’m thirsty, when will the water come?” my daughter asks at the top of her voice. Why the acoustics!? I whisper a response she doesn’t like and a tantrum begins. Fussy baby—Rock, rock, Rock, rock.  I attempt reasoning, to no avail, the tantrum escalades. Oh church during naptime! I give my daughter the option of getting a grip or having a time out on my lap in the hall. She chooses the time out.   I don’t like 3 year olds! I grumble to myself. I look down the row at the blessed woman who sits near us. She nods her head and begins to shuffle her way, over her son and my boys, toward the baby to continuing the rocking. I yank my three year old to her feet and march her down the isle and out into the hall serenaded by her discontent.  In the hall, time out is unpleasant so that behaving in the Chapel starts to look good.

Sitting with my melodramatic three year old I wonder WHY do I EVEN try!? Why do I bother coming to church? I never get to listen to the talks in Sacrament Meeting (even when I manage to STAY in Sacrament Meeting)! I partake of the Sacrament each week, but I hardly am able to think of my covenants at all. And if I’m in my other meetings I, still, can hardly hear them. Why do I do this? What do I get out of it?  

Suddenly I hear my Mom’s voice in my head, “You’re just keeping up the habit.” I think about that for a little while.

In the evening, before bedtime, we read the scriptures as a family. My oldest two boys can read (even though it is sometimes a painful lesson in long-suffering) and my daughter repeats the verse after Brendan or I read it in pieces for her.   Lying on our tummies in the living room each with his/her own set of scriptures, bookmark, and red marking pencil scripture reading goes something like this: “First Born you start.” “No! I wanted to start” “I want to read 2 and 32 and 9 and 16” “We’re only reading two each, Sweet Girl” “HE HAS MY BOOKMARK!!” Enter The Baby (10 months) “AAAAAHHHH!!!” (happy squeals as he gets a hold of someone else’s something and shreds it, or attempts to) “OKAY EVERYONE, Frist Born is starting, no more talking!” “And…behold…it…came…to…pass…’  My daughter is wielding her marking pen like a wand and whispers, “I command you to be a Chihuahua!” and whacks her scriptures. Second Born is fending off the Baby. Dad is trying to get a good grip on the 23.5 lb baby and I’m attempting to help First Born read.  The thought reoccurs to me , Why am I doing this to myself!? And again, I hear my Mom’s voice, “You’re just keeping up the habit.”

 Family Scriptures study

Sometime after my oldest was born, my Mom taught me that moms with young children go to church not because they are regularly edified and rejuvenated (although that certainly happens on occasion) but rather to keep up the habit. Mom taught me that the consistency of attending church, keeps the habit for myself, and also teaches my children that I view The Gospel as a high priority item.   I knew church was important to my parents and that was largely in part because we went to church weekly, unless we were contagiously sick. I know that regularly attending church as a child is a main contributor to my desires to be a faithfully attending adult. I also know that my daily habit of scripture study is deeply rooted in my parents’ consistent efforts to hold family scripture study. Even especially, when we were all in sports, working jobs, and had extracurricular activities.

“Keeping up the habit” circumstances like continually attending church services and holding family scripture study are cases where actions do speak volumes to my children! The things I spend my time and efforts on communicate to my children how I feel about them! THAT is why I keep attending church. THAT is why I keep holding family scripture study! In spite of the ridiculous that occurs during these sacred moments going to church and family scripture study are important to me. I want my children to know not just because I tell them, but because my actions show that these things are important to me. So I’m gonna keep “keeping up the habit” like my Mom has taught me and have hope in the promised blessings of obedience and diligence in my efforts.  I know that when we are obedient to the Laws of God, when we diligently strive to follow him by studying the scriptures and attending the church meetings which He has provided for our learning He will bless us and our families.  I have experienced those blessings myself, I know they will come!

“Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.”

Read, watch or listen to Elder David A. Bednar in his talk, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”, Oct 2009.

Stumped by my Son

Once a week we hold a family activity we call, Family Home Evening.  Or if you are my second son “Hamily Fome Evening.”  He is definitely big enough to say it correctly.  However, I’m pretty sure I’ll cry when he stops calling it that.

Family Home Evening is a program designed for parents to give gospel instruction in the home and for fun!  Our children love Family Home Evening! As a parent, I love what it does for my family.  I love taking an opportunity to teach formally about gospel principles and scripture stories.  Most of all, I love helping my children learn how to take these principles and stories and apply them in their own lives, and in our home!  “Making connections!” as my seven-year old would say.

Many wonderful things can come out of preparing for, and holding, regular Family Home Evening.  I truly believe that it was a strength and blessing in my life growing up, and that it will be in the lives of my children.  If nothing else, Family Home Evening provides us a setting to ask questions, discuss, testify, and grow in our faith at home.

One such question came up this week.  Brendan and I had wrangled all the kids into the living room, through the opening song and prayer, and coerced them all into reverence (sort of…).  I pulled out the objects I needed to present my lesson on King Solomon and Wisdom when my son raised his hand and asked, “Mom, how did Jesus do it?  How did He not ever mess up and do anything bad?…Because, it’s hard…” My son’s voice trailed off and he choked a little on that last line.  Looking down at him, seated on the floor next to his 5 year old brother and his 4 year old sister, he suddenly seemed so old to me.  And so young.  He swallowed hard. I could see the tears begin to brim in his eyes.  Those blue almond shaped eyes, like his Dad’s.  I had never really considered his question before.  How had Christ done it? because it IS hard!  Even for wonderful little boys (and girls) who know what is right and want what is right! IT IS HARD!  I struggled with my answer.

Fortunately, my husband had an insight that I think is true.  Brendan explained to our children that Jesus could live a life without sin, without doing anything bad, because He loved Heavenly Father more than anything else!  Jesus loved Heavenly Father so much that He never let anything this world had to offer come between Them!  Jesus loved Heavenly Father so much that with every decision He made (big or small) He never forgot what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do.  More importantly, Jesus never forgot the kind of person Heavenly Father wanted Him to become!

So, how do we live our lives to be Christ-like?

“Thou Shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind.  This is the first and the great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (I added the italics KJV Matt 22:27-28)

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (KJV John 14:15)  Obedience is the evidence of our love for the Savior, as was the Savior’s obedience evidence of His love for the Father.

My son is right, though.  It truly is hard.  We live in a fallen world, but we are not left without resources to guide and strengthen our faith!  We are not left without a way to correct our mistakes!  Through the Atonement, through Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, His death, and His glorious Resurrection we are blessed with power over the bad!   We are blessed with the power of repentance!

Repentance is what makes perfection possible in this life.  Repentance is the sweetest blessing.

To my sweet boy, who feels things deeper than many, and to all of us pondering similar questions:  You LOVE God the Father.  You LOVE the Savior.  You LOVE all others.  And when you mess up, whether you meant to or not, you LOVE the Father and the Son enough to turn to them, confessing your wrong, seeking forgiveness, compensating and making amends to those you wronged.  Love Him enough not to do it again.  It will be hard.

Don’t worry, sweet boy, I’ll help you.  I’ll remind you how very much our Heavenly Father loves and treasures His Children.  I’ll remind you that hard things always take practice and that’s what this life is for, to practice!

Will you help me, too?  I need you to remind me that it’s okay to forget and mess up and that we can make it better by turning to the Savior.  I need you to help me remember how to forgive quickly.  You are so good at that.

Please, let’s help each other.  Let’s love Heavenly Father more than anything this world has to offer.  Let’s help others on their way.

What a Canuck on an airplane taught me about God

The plane is incredibly crowded for a late evening flight.  My seat is on the second to last row and I have the isle seat.  Not my first choice, but I don’t mind so much, the guy by the window is taking his first trip via airplane!  He’ll enjoy that seat more than I would.  He has short hair and a scruffy beard and he’s probably somewhere close to my age.  He talks a lot!  I don’t mind that either, I like to meet new people and learn their stories.   It’s February and this guy’s wearing plaid shorts and a t-shirt.  Being from Canada, he’s prepared for his first trip to Florida!  The more he talks the more I like him, he reminds me of my big brother Mike.

A teenage boy settles into the middle seat.  This kid graduated from high school last summer and has spent this winter snowboarding!  I didn’t catch where he is from, but he likes snowboarding and guns. He’s planning to go to welding school in the fall.  He’d like to custom build a snowboard park!

The flight attendants prepare for take-off and my friend by the window excuses himself from the conversation so he can watch the city lights disappear beneath us! I don’t blame him, it’s pretty spectacular to watch.

As our flight progresses, the three of us get to know each other a bit.  We laugh, and share stories of home and places we’ve been.  We are, perhaps, a little loud for such close quarters, but in a jovial way!

Canuck on an airplane

Throughout our conversation, my Canadian friend frequently mentions God and scripture.   He shares with us three of his favorite scriptures from the Bible and the reasons he loves them so much.  He repeatedly uses the phrase, “When I meet My Maker”

“When I meet My Maker, I want to be able to tell Him I’ve done something good with my life.”

“When I meet My Maker,  I want to tell Him that I spent my life helping people for Him.”

“When I meet My Maker, I want  to feel good about what I can tell him I did with my life.”

My friend explained that this coming Autumn he is going to Bible School in Chicago to become a Youth Minister.  He believes that working with children and teenagers will be the most rewarding career for him personally and one he feels would glorify our Heavenly Father.

As I listen, the Holy Spirit brings to my mind The Parable of the Talents.  I recently studied this Parable in my personal scripture study.  My friend was sharing it with me in real time!

(Or same video at link.)

We are, each of us, given different talents, skills, abilities, assignments, and roles.  We are blessed with these gifts to better the world around us, that we might bring glory to our Father in Heaven, who created All.

My Canadian friend is seeking ways to sharpen his gifts, to learn, and grow that he may better serve others.  He has this desire, not to be seen of men, but so that “when [he] meets [Our] Maker”  he can report that he has increased the talents with which he was blessed and he is prepared to return them (and the glory) to Whom they rightfully belong.

As my new friend shares his conviction, I can feel Our Maker’s love for him in my heart.  I feel inspiration and encouragement because of this man’s faith.  I feel love for a stranger to myself, but not a stranger to God.

In this moment, on an airplane to Florida, My Maker is teaching me of the very great love He has for All His Children.  My Maker is teaching me that we are intentionally not created the same, and intentionally not provided the same gifts, and intentionally not given the same assignments and roles in order that God’s purposes may be accomplished.

Thank you, my friend, for helping me to see Our Maker’s plan a little more clearly.  And thank you, for sharing with me your faith and your desire to honor and glorify God with your whole heart.

Heavenly Father and Jesus know me

A Mini Book authored by my Son

It’s dinner time.  My husband and my two middle children have just rushed out the door to make it to an Eagle Court of Honor, leaving my youngest and oldest (both boys) and me goofing at the table.  Gobbling and goofing at an end, we clear the table.  I’m feeling excited!  I don’t get much one on one time with my oldest son.  He’s nearly seven years old, a delightful age!  An age where he plays games well without a partner and where ridiculous scenarios about eight-sided light sabers are created.  An age when books come to life and the humor of a giraffe at a school looking for the bathroom door that is labeled for giraffes dissolves us into fits of giggles.  And an age when I’m still pretty cool.  Yes, I’m looking forward to this!

I pulled the one year old, still in his highchair, into the kitchen to watch as I washed dishes.  Turning the faucet on, I asked my oldest if he would wipe down the table for me.  A water fight ensued and he wiped down the table while I wiped up the kitchen!

Humming, I set to work on the dishes.

My seven year old had a seat at the art table and began a project.  The art table is set up in what is intended to be the breakfast nook of our kitchen.  However, for us, it’s an art room/cloak room.  The art table is an old flat door attached to 2×4’s.  It sports paint stains, heat marks (from canning applesauce), stickers, glue, glitter, and Play-Doh–it bears the marks of art/craft love.  I love this spot in our house.  I love seeing our kids spend hours cutting, pasting, coloring ,painting, creating, and imagining at this art table.

Chase writing

My mind wanders as I scrub, the baby babbles and drops his cheese on the floor.  Smiling,  I pick up the cheese as I respond to my son’s request to double check the spelling of ‘obey’ and then ‘disobey.’ He and the brother a year younger than him love to author and illustrate stories of all sorts!  I am used as a dictionary and thesaurus frequently.  Intrigued by his choice of words, I wait for him to explain.  He didn’t, so I went back to washing and a few minutes later he double checks the spelling of words such as, ‘lonely,’ ‘hurt,’ ‘steal,’ ‘heaven,’ and ‘everything.’  Now I’m bubbling with curiosity, and fortunately, he explains.  He is writing a mini book about the things Jesus wants us to do titled, Follow Jesus’ Doings

C book 3I was astonished!  “I wrote things like, ‘obey’, ‘help others who are lonely,’ ‘do good things,’ ‘help others who are hurt,” he explained.  My heart filled with so much love for this little boy!  We actively talk about the Savior and His role in our lives at our house.  We regularly discuss the things Christ did while on this earth and how we want to become like Him.  I thought to myself, “I wonder if this is a little bit how our Heavenly Father feels when we catch on!  When we come to Him in study and prayer and when we reach out, serve, and teach those around us.  What a blessed moment!  To see my son, developing faith and a testimony of our Savior, His Life and His Role!”

I finish the dishes, clean up the baby, and sit with him on my lap while my oldest shares with me his completed book.  The book is folded in thirds, which he unfolds slowly reading each small section to me, “Color good things.  Do good things.  Help others who are doing bad things to do good things. Jesus is good.  He made everything for us.”  Each section had a saying or a picture representing something of the Savior’s life.  Everything from Sacrament trays, to the Tomb from which Christ rose!  I watched in silent awe, as he carefully unfolded each new section and explained the picture or read it to me.  I felt so much joy.

Full bookfull back

“Children are an heritage of the Lord” Psalm 127: 3  Their faith is so quiet, so pure and so earth-shattering.

Am I of Worth?

Max Lucado wrote a children’s story about a wooden people.  The Wemmicks, as they are called, live in a small wooden village where they spend each day giving each other marks.  Stars are awarded for successes, accomplishments, and well-developed talents and dots are dispensed for failures, mistakes, and shortcomings.

Punchinello is a very dotted little Wemmick.  Punchinello tries so hard to be what the other Wemmicks see as valuable and when he isn’t able to he is given poor dots so everyone else can see his failures too.  Punchinello receives so many bad marks that he comes to believe it when the other Wemmicks say that “he is not a good wooden person” and that “he deserves lots of dots.”   Of himself, Punchinello says, “I’m not a good Wemmick.”

As humans, there are many things to which we tie our value.   Our sense of self-worth is correlated with our ability to be successful or sociable.  The value we see in our own self is associated with the cleanliness of our home, the décor of our home, and/or the landscaping of our home.  We feel of value with the purchase of a new electronic device or a new car.  We feel a sense of self-worth with a smokin’ pair of shoes that lavishly complement our favorite pair of jeans, chic blouse, and accessories.

We often tie our self-worth to how enviable we believe we are to the world.  We, I think unwittingly, associate our self-worth with our vanity.   Our sense of personal value seems too often to be generated by what other people think of us.  Or by what we think other people think of us.

I can’t help but feel that when I place my own personal value in my material objects,  my ability to knock out a checklist, or in my physical appearance that I’ve somehow misplaced my worth!  These things are so fleeting!  And my feelings of worth fluctuate more than a Himalayan skyline when up against such facades!

So what makes me of worth?  What makes you of worth?

In Lucado’s story Punchinello comes to meet a Wemmick unlike any wooden person he has ever met.  Her name is Lucia and Lucia had no dots and no stars!  Not only had she no Wemmick marks but the stars and dots Wemmicks tried to place upon her would not stick!  Stars and dots would fall right off as if they had never been given.  “That is the way I want to be, thought Punchinello.  I don’t want anyone’s marks.”  Having asked Lucia why she was stickerless.  Lucia explained that every day she went to visit the woodcarver, Eli.  Punchinello works up his courage and goes to visit Eli.  The Woodcarver knows him by name and is thrilled to have Punchinello visit!  Punchinello is surprised that the Woodcarver knows his name!  “Of course I [know you]. I made you,” explains Eli.  Eli picks up Punchinello and sets him down on the workbench.   Eli mentions the dots and Punchinello swiftly exclaims,

             “I didn’t mean to, Eli.  I really tried hard.”

            “Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child.  I don’t care what                       the other Wemmicks think.”

              “You don’t?”

              “No, and you shouldn’t either.  Who are they to give stars or                                    dots?  They’re Wemmicks just like you.  What they think doesn’t                               matter, Punchinello.  All that matters is what I think. And I think you                      are pretty special.”

Punchinello and Eli

Punchinello laughs and swiftly explains all his shortcomings and reasons for not being anything, “Why do I matter to you?”  he asks.

“Because you’re mine.  That’s why you matter to me.”

Punchinello asks Eli why Lucia has no marks and Eli offers this simple, yet profound answer,

            The maker spoke softly.  “Because she has decided that what I think                      is more important that what they think.  The stickers only stick if you                   let  them…the stickers only stick if they matter to you.  The more you trust             my love, the less you care about their stickers.”

Punchinello doesn’t really understand.  Eli explains that he will, but it will take time, “You’ve got a lot of marks.  For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.”

As Punchinello left he thought to himself, “I think he really means it.” And a dot fell to the ground.

You and I are of worth because we were created by Divine Hands.  Our physical bodies were developed through the physiological methods our Heavenly Father set forth for our earthly life, and our Spirits! Our spirits were created by The Father before we were born (according to scripture, before the earth was even created!).  So our very nature is divine and our worth eternal.  If that doesn’t make us of very great value, nothing we can come to in this mortal existence will.

From now on, as I observe people throughout my day, I’m going to make a conscious effort not to compare myself to them, them to me, or them to others.  When I look at someone I’m passing I will think, Isn’t God an incredible Creator!   And then I’ll marvel at the phenomenal design of our physical bodies that vary in shape, size, and color but the physiological design is the same and equally as amazing in each version.  From there, my mind will wander to the personality and real life that our spirits put into our bodies.  Our spirits make our phenomenal bodies vibrant!

As I consider these thoughts regarding the people around me, I hope the Lord will fill my heart with the compassion.  I hope that I will begin to see strangers, friends, and family not as competition to be sized up and ranked, but rather as Creations of Worth, People of Value, and Children of a Heavenly Father, a Divine Creator and therefore worthy of my respect, my patience, and my kindness.

” In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”   Psalm 5: 4, 11

“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” Doctrine and Covenants 18:10

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, To All A Good Season!

Merry Christmas

A bit of a Pep Talk

I can remember my Dad hollering up the stairs at one of us (there were 6, 2 boys, me, and 3 more boys–and I breed boys…shocker) he hollered, “Next time you want to yell at someone, look in the mirror and scream SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!” It’s funny now and it was funny then, which means I was not the intended recipient of said instructions. Today though, I think I might rather alter the method.

You know how some days the motivation to do whatever, whenever has been completely misplaced. Or it kicked you out of bed that morning and said, “You do it today, I’m staying here” and then giggled while you stumbled around dazed. Those/these are the days I’m thinking I might try and re-apply my Dad’s method–whit style.

I think I’ll try standing, in front of the mirror, on the balls of my feet with my dukes up. Right foot in front (or left, however you’d snowboard–goofy or regular) and shifting my weight back and forth (the Boxer Shuffle, give it a bit of a bounce).  Hands up in front of my face (you use them to block). I can’t do this quietly, so, “Ha, ha, Ha, ha, Ha, ha” just letting out a little breath, not much sound…for now.

I’ll work it up for a minute or so, thinking about the locker room prep before the game.  Then suddenly I’ll start yelling, “I CAN DO HARD THINGS! AND I CAN FIND JOY IN THE JOURNEY! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! (Now grimace at the mirror! Show you your BRING IT ON face! Make your reflection squeal like a girl!)

Game Face


Flex with all your might

A few practice shots: jab, jab, cross—jab, jab, cross—jab, cross, hook, upper, jab, cross, hook, upper…. BRING IT! HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT! (a little electric slide…Fire Away!) Ha, ha, Ha, ha, Ha, ha…(it’s the cool down) ha, ha, ha, ha

Then I’ll relax my dukes, say “Let’s do this thing,” turn out the bathroom light, and start my day.

Thanks Dad, I feel better already.

P.S. My Dear Reader, feel free to adapt the above to your own specific needs.


Me and My CoPilot

A God Who Knows Us, A God Who Loves Us

Some time ago, a friend and I arranged for a play date for our children.  My two older boys were going to her house to play with her son!

My boys reacting to news of a playdate

My boys reacting to news of a playdate

The morning of the play date my friend called to touch base and make sure we were still on board for my First Born to come play.  Over the course of the conversation, she didn’t mention anything about my Second Son.  Not knowing what had led her to change her mind about my Second Born I didn’t ask, in case she wasn’t feeling up for both boys coming, but my heart sank!  My poor middle son who seemed often to get shafted!  I felt so awful for him! He was so excited to have been invited!

I spent the next hour thinking of places we could go, things we could do, to make it up to my Second Born.  I just felt so sad for him! It made my heart ache.  His tender little feelings were going to be crushed!

Crushed feelings

My mental image of crushed feelings

Not too long before we needed to leave the phone rang, “ I forgot!” my friend began immediately, “Bring both boys over!”  I was so relieved, I could have cried!

As I reflected on this experience and recorded it in my journal later, I felt distinctly that that second phone call had been a ‘tender mercy’ from Heavenly Father.  He knew my grief, even small, and seemingly insignificant as it was!  I believe that Heavenly Father brought to my friend’s mind the memory of our conversation about both boys coming to play, prompting her to call me and re-invite my Second Son.

I was reminded of the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep and leaves the ninety and nine to find the lost one.  He knew my grief! He knew my sorrow! Even for something so small and seemingly insignificant BUT that was the whole point!  Our Heavenly Father loves us greatly.  As much as I was grieved for my son’s sorrow, Heavenly Father grieves for our sorrows. He desires our well-being and He desires our happiness!  No one likes to see their children in pain–big or small, physical or mental.

Since this experience I have tried to remember to reflect on the day before I go to bed and pick out these little, almost insignificant moments, when God has showed me how well He knows me and how much He loves me.  And I have been quite surprised how frequently these small events occur!

If you look through your days and seek out the evidence that Heavenly Father knows you and cares for you, you will be wonderfully surprised how much He really does!

“O Remember, Remember”-Henry B. Eyring

“The Tender Mercies of the Lord”-David A. Bednar

Heavenly Father and Jesus know me

What One Can Glean from the Mud

I used to picture life as a fist fight…in the rain.  Perhaps that is because I’m currently at home with four young children (a stage in life oft referred to as “in the trenches”), I’m not sure but a muddy fist fight is what life looked like.  If I drew a picture I would have drawn a brown rippling circle, a Goliath stick figure with a little mud on his shins and t-shirt that said, “LIFE EATS PEOPLE”  or “GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE LIFE DOES” and a dinky stick figure face down in the mud with a large arrow labeling it, “whitney”

Life vs Whitney

A few months after my 3rd child was born, during my husband’s last year of  medical school/intern year of residency, compounded by some mixed muddled thinking in my own head, depressed and anxiety ridden I thought about that muddy fist fight A LOT.

Generally speaking, I thought of myself as a fighter.  And I used to be! Strong mentally and physically—breaking is not something I did.  PAH!   Oh, how the proud need to be humbled.  There were times when I felt I was still in the fight but I wasn’t making any forward progress.  In fact, I didn’t really have an offensive strategy at all.  It was all defensive and evasion techniques.   Soon I lacked the strength to even be evasive.  It took everything I had just to take the hits and stay on my feet.  I was so exhausted.

Then the hits started to hurt and they started to break things.  Then my will cracked and I flounder about lost. Within months, I was lying face down in the mud trying to figure out where I was and how I came to be there.   One evening my husband sat on the end of the bed and said, “Whitney, I think we need to get you some help.”

Over the next several months of healing I realized a few things I want to share:

First, when you get that low the outcome of your fight is determined by the decision you make with your face in the mud.  Do you lay there, conquered, and die?  Or do you tap out?  Tapping out is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done.   I had no idea the strength it would take to truly yield my will to the Father’s, trust in the power of the Atonement, and turn over my burdens.  Even as debilitated as I was, I felt it necessary to finish the fight on my own.

Segue way to another thing I learned: this fight is not intended or designed to be solo. You know those scriptures that talk about not being tempted/tried above your ability to handle it.  NEWS FLASH WHITNEY: If you attempt to take it on, on your own, YOU WILL FAIL.  Our lives are a partnership with Heavenly Father through the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  In our mortal existence we are blessed with all the things necessary to successfully navigate our trials and return home to live with our Eternal Father and our families.  We are blessed with scriptures, prophets, The Holy Ghost, prayer, families, and Priesthood leadership all to aid us in our fight for life and our eternal welfare.

While these were principles I knew in theory—I had topically study: faith, hope, patience, and humility in detail before—living out the very literal application of these Christ-like characteristics is a completely different experience and lends to a whole new realm of understanding.  Especially, I think, in situations where not only do you need to turn to your Savior to pull out of this one, but some professional help as well.

Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.”

Isaiah 28:10 “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”

So, why the heck didn’t I tap out earlier and spare myself the pain and suffering?  Pride.  Had I been humble enough to endure my trials with the Lord as my co-pilot… had I been teachable enough to listen and learn without being ‘compelled to be humble’… my ability to be long-suffering would have been enhanced and the shirt on stick figure me would have read, HEAVEN POWERS MY PUNCHES.

Me and My CoPilot

Now, a few years later, I try to remember to start out turning to the Lord.  Through Him my burdens are lightened and I can feel peace in my trials.  And I tend to view life as a climb, rather than a fight.  It’s hard work, there are some easy stretches and some extremely difficult ones.  Sometimes you move up and sometimes you slip and slide down.  In order to be safe, you must have other people aiding you in your climb.  You still get scratches, bruises, and broken bones, but there are always resources and people there to help you, lead you, and cheer you on.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:38 KJV