Category Archives: Personal Challenges

Lessons Of Leadership From Sacrificing To Save Hobber

Father's Day

Father’s Day

Quotes on leadership that I find well-suited to Father’s Day:

Kaladin held his side, feeling the blood there. Straight laceration, only about an inch long, not wide enough to be of danger.

It was his father’s voice.

Kaladin panted. He needed to get to safety. Arrows zipped over his head, fired by the Alethi archers.

Some people take lives. Other people save lives.

He wasn’t done yet. Kaladin forced himself to his feet and staggered to where someone lay beside the bridge. It was a bridgeman named Hobber; he had an arrow through the leg. The man moaned, holding his thigh.

He checked the other two. Hobber was smiling openly. He was round-faced and lean, with a gap between his teeth and short, black hair. “Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for saving me.”

Kaladin grunted, inspecting the man’s leg. “You’ll be fine, but you won’t be able to walk for a few weeks. I’ll bring food from the mess hall for you.”

“Thank you,” Hobber whispered, taking Kaladin’s hand, clutching it. He actually seemed to be tearing up.

That smile forced back the gloom, made the aches and soreness fade. Kaladin’s father had described that kind of smile. Those smiles weren’t why Lirin had become a surgeon, but they were why he’d remained one.

“What are you up to, Kaladin?” Hobber asked just as Kaladin got a flame started.

Kaladin smiled, standing. “Have a seat.”

Hobber did just that. He hadn’t lost the near-devotion he’d shown Kaladin for saving his life. If anything, his loyalty had grown stronger.

[Quotes from Brandon Sanderson’s outstanding novel, The Way of Kings, Pages 267, 313, and 403. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. It’s also a treatise on loyalty and leadership. Yes, everyone should read it. Try it; you’ll like it!]

I apply the above quotes to leadership of a family, quotes that hold a key to quality parenting: If you give up your life for a time to spend it parenting your kids as if parenting were a full-contact sport, then they will recognize your role in losing your life in order to save theirs. Their loyalty to you as a parent will only grow stronger as they grow to recognize your sacrifice, grow to understand it not as an intellectual exercise but as something to choose as a model for their own behavior. You will see them pay their devotion as you see them give up their own life for a time, in order to spend it parenting their own kids.

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

To me, the above quotes not only apply to Fathers’ Day but teach us important truths about leadership. D. Todd Christofferson teaches us more on loyalty and leadership:

I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed: “Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.” [David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (1995), Page 62.]

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.” [Blankenhorn, Fatherless America, Page 5.] We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, Nov 1995 Ensign, Page 102, or Nov 2010 Liahona, Page 129.] We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” [Family Proclamation.] We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.
[D. Todd Christofferson, “Fathers”, Apr 2016 LDS General Conference.]

I agree with him.

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

“And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.” [Alma 39:16.]

Mike, Brian, Brendan, Kyle, Kevin, Todd, Bob, this post is for you. Thank you for helping to lead the way.

Family Studying Scriptures Together

Family Studying Scriptures Together

Please note that these quotes on loyalty and leadership apply equally to motherhood and fatherhood. They particularly apply to both of them in equal roles as complementary leaders, specifically as wife and husband leading together in the joint venture of parenthood.

Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina Is A Great Way To See Fall Foliage

Father And Child Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina—A Great Way To See Fall Foliage

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Bonus Material:

Watch/download the video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” at lds.org or at YouTube below:

I love the words of the narrator as we focus on his wedding ring at Time 2:53 and the kid at the door watching his parents pray at 2:34. When I walked in to see my own parents at prayer, I remember the whoosh of feelings of safety and security but mostly of sacredness.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Father’s Day”, from private collection
  • Photo, “Family At Home In Accra, Ghana”, www. lds.org/media-library/images/family-portraits?lang=eng&start=1&end=10
  • Photo, “A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home”, www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-daughter-dancing-1018852?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Family Studying Scriptures Together”, Aug 2013 Ensign Magazine, Page 3, photo illustration by Cody Bell
  • Photo, “Fathers Providing A Sacred Moment In A Holy Place”, photo by: Masood Bhat/Kashmir Headlines—kashmirheadlines.in/kashheadlines/11222013-ND-getting-ready-for-prayersa-group-of-people-making-ablution-to-perform-prayers-in-historic-jamia-masjid-srinagar-photo-by-masood-bhat-kashmir-headlines-3452.aspx
  • Photo, “Father And Child Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina—A Great Way To See Fall Foliage”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/ american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Watson Studios
  • Photo, “Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Rachel Sarai

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Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Lessons Of Leadership From Candle Flames

A quote on leadership that I find well-suited to Mother’s Day, that I dedicate to all women, following the lead of Sheri Dew, who dares to ask women everywhere, “Are We Not All Mothers?”:

“ ‘Candle flames,’ ” Litima continued. The selection was from The Way of Kings, read from the very copy that Gavilar had once owned. “ ‘A dozen candles burned themselves to death on the shelf before me. Each of my breaths made them tremble. To them, I was a behemoth, to frighten and destroy. And yet, if I strayed too close, they could destroy me. My invisible breath, the pulses of life that flowed in and out, could end them freely, while my fingers could not do the same without being repaid in pain.’ ”

Dalinar idly twisted his signet ring in thought; it was sapphire with his Kholin glyphpair on it. Renarin stood next to him, wearing a coat of blue and silver, golden knots on the shoulders marking him as a prince. Adolin wasn’t there. Dalinar and he had been stepping gingerly around one another since their argument in the Gallery.

“ ‘I understood in a moment of stillness,’ ” Litima read. “ ‘Those candle flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant, they would destroy the very things they were meant to illuminate. Embryonic bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and dash kings to their knees. In later years, my mind would return to that calm, silent evening, when I had stared at rows of living lights. And I would understand. To be given loyalty is to be infused like a gemstone, to be granted the frightful license to destroy not only one’s self, but all within one’s care.’ ”

Litima fell still. It was the end of the sequence.

[From Brandon Sanderson’s outstanding novel, The Way of Kings, Part Two: The Illuminating Storms, Chapter 26 “Stillness”, Pages 368-369. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. Yes, everyone should read it. Try it; you’ll like it!]

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

I think that Dew would agree that this quote applies to Mothers’ Day, this quote that teaches us important truths about leadership. After all, she has said:

Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women.
[Sheri L. Dew, “Are We Not All Mothers?”, Oct 2001 LDS General Conference.]

I agree with her.

Kim, Whitney, Mary Lynn, this post is for you. Thank you for leading the way.

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

Please note that this quote on candle flames applies equally to fatherhood and motherhood. It particularly applies to both of them in equal roles as complementary leaders, specifically as husband and wife leading together in the joint venture of parenthood.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Thomas Hawk. Mary Lynn would love it!
  • Photo, “Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia”, www. lds.org/ensign/2017/05/general-womens-session/certain-women?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Family Prayer In Mongolia”, www.lds.org/ensign/2017/04/the-war-goes-on?lang=eng

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Family Prayer In Mongolia

Family Prayer In Mongolia

Do Your Worst!

Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” [Alexandre Dumas in his masterpiece, The Count of Monte Cristo (completed in 1844).]

For some, sorrow is the teacher of this sublime language; for others, a storm is the teacher. Some in our family have been taking major tests and qualifying exams this year. For some, success is quick. For others, success will come later than expected or preferred. For everyone in our family, life has explained to us in new ways the importance of this sublime language. Here are more of the words in the language to which Dumas refers:

Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you, as Albert Mondego, the man.

Storms teach. But the master teacher is what we see as we look into the storm.

Quote from Time 1:00-2:03 of a clip of the birthday toast from “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002), on YouTube below (or entire movie, with or without subtitles.) :

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Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header, Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2.jpg, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Bonus photo, “Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) And Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), Imprisoned In Château d’If” —www. imdb.com/media/rm1540921600/ch0010200
  • Photo, “Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel”—www. pinterest.com/pin/105764291222980072/
  • Photo, “Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill”—henrycavill.org/en/filmography/best-known-as/perfect-book-boyfriend
  • Photo, “Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk”—fanpix.famousfix.com/0671183/012040677/the-count-of-monte-cristo-2002-picture.html
  • Photo, “Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”—www. pinterest.com/pin/120541727497864394/

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“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

Never Been Easier To Share Your Life With Others

When I started writing my personal history, I was 18 years old, just out of high school, and I found it difficult simply to get started. I bought a nicely bound journal, but I wanted to start on scrap paper so that it would look good for my kids and grandkids when I wrote my thoughts in the journal. I had untold false starts and threw away tons of scrap paper with scratched out paragraphs. I was young, but I still wanted to include some challenges that I had experienced, some times when I succeeded, as well as times when I felt things down deep. I wrote about people who were important to me. After several months, I had about thirty pages of my life to date, and I was pleased with it.

I wish I had had this list of starter questions. It would have made it tons easier, possibly with fewer false starts. I happen to be a person who loves to ask questions. Maybe there are some questions on this list that makes family history easier for you?

Dave As A Baby

Dave As A Baby

Once you get a good start on what you want to leave behind about yourself, if you wish to consider doing something similar for your parents, grandparents, or other ancestors, a 30-page booklet called My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together is an easy way to get you kickstarted. You can print the PDF file or fill it out online for free.

Hope this helps you to get started on your family history. I’ve had a lot of fun gathering info over the years, and I hope you find it fun, too.

Dave with his barbershop quartet from high school, at the state fair

Dave with his barbershop quartet from high school, at the state fair

Heroes, Superpowers, and Kindness

When I think of superheroes, I think of Maren Halversen.

We don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one anotherI am lucky to have learned from a leader in kindness. Maren was a friend in high school. Down Syndrome never kept her from trying anything. She was the first student with Down Syndrome in the state to have been integrated into the regular school system. When I moved to her school in 8th Grade, I was young and awkward. I remember that she always said hi to me. Maren always gave me good reasons to be kind.

At our 10-year high school reunion, Maren saw me from a distance and came running up and threw her arms around me. It was fun to introduce her to my wife. But it wasn’t until later as I reflected on the reunion moment that I recognized the real lesson at work here—that all along, Maren had been the leader. She had taught me to be kind. She had taught all of us well, and we had been following her lead. Why did I think that it might be the other way around? I was glad that I finally learned to see with better eyes than that. And, again, as I reflect now on that reunion moment and the strength behind her hug, I hope that—maybe, possibly—that I saw with better eyes than that even back in high school. After the reunion moment, I think that I simply had finally learned to recognize it. Again, Maren had lead me to that point.

As we all celebrate other reunions, I hope we take time to see and to recognize the real leaders in our lives. So often, they are not the ones clamoring for attention. So often, true leaders simply lead quietly, maybe even without realizing it. As Maren did. I think that was her superpower.

We can all be superheroes. What is your superpower?

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Vietnam, a small girl helps another to ride a bike by leading from behind”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another”—Image with quote, from Twitter quote of Yahya Adel Ibrahim of Pemberton, Western Australia—twitter. com/yahya_ibrahim/status/587185223076487168
  • Photo, “The Superpower Of Listening Closely”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Young Man With Superpowers”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/

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Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Young Man With Superpowers

Young Man With Superpowers

How Do I Teach A Young Adult To Step Out In Faith? Our Family’s Answer.

Discussing Things Of FaithReader Question:
What are ways that worked that you have found to teach a 25-yr-old-ish young adult to step out in faith?

Family Answer:
This truly is a good question. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids and their spouses, and here are the answers we gathered:

  • A big thing I think for me is that now that they’re older they don’t
    need or want to be told what to do. Once you’re 25, you can and should be making decisions on your own. I think that examples and suggestions should be made, or stories of what others have done, but ultimately make them feel like they have the power to make good decisions and that you have confidence in them to make those decisions wisely, especially the hard ones.
  • Doubt not what you know. It was really said best recently at general conference: “First doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” [“Come, Join with Us”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Oct 2013 LDS General Conference.] Analyze the source of your doubts and judge its validity. Why are these doubts coming now? Are they justified? Will this crush my peace and hope? Is it worth it to dwell on this or should I cast these thoughts aside?
  • Young Adults Participate At ChurchWhat’s vital for me and for anyone is teaching me the importance of a direct connection with God. Young adults must be able to get answers directly from God, on their own, through personal revelation. The entire Church of Jesus Christ is based on this concept. If they’re not willing to try that connection, that’s OK, but they’ll never know the source of information and comfort that they’re neglecting.
  • Go about doing things with pure intent, with real intent.
  • Have the courage to live up to your standards, to live what you believe. There is a point (or should be a point) when we realize that our beliefs are really ALL that matter. And what are we, if not our beliefs? What does that make us if we can’t live what we believe?
  • We as young adults need to decide to be a disciple of Christ. Will I live this or not?
  • Parents should find ways to share with me, share deep, internal feelings with the young adults in their lives. As we’re talking together, as we go through life, find ways to bear testimony to me. Don’t be dumb about it, but find a way to continue to touch my heart about gospel topics. This is so important to find a way to connect with me about situations or on a level different from the way a parent connected with me as a little kid or as a teen.
  • The feelings you felt from God were true then and are STILL TRUE NOW. Write down what He tells you. Read it again and again. Don’t criticize your past self but give yourself credit for how you felt and trust in your past feelings. If you once felt God’s love, don’t belittle yourself by casting that aside.

Family In Love

What are ways that worked that you have found to teach 35-yr-old-ish children with kids of their own to step out in faith?

  • I really like that you tell me stories of when I was a kid. They jump in my head when I need them with my own kids.
  • I have found a huge difference between me as an adult without kids, and me as an adult with kids, in terms of spirituality. I feel that feeling the spirit takes more work as an adult with kids. This may be due to a combination of things which I have considered recently:
    1. I attend Sunday School less due to having a child in arms who is not yet nursery age.
    2. I read scriptures with my kids each night so I have become complacent with my own personal scripture study and my scripture study with my wife since I can “check off” the scriptures for the day.
    3. The house is less quiet and it takes more concentration to feel the whispering of the Holy Ghost.
    4. I haven’t been as diligent in setting aside time to self evaluate/journal write/think about my calling or home teaching families.
    5. My personal prayers have not been very consistent at all, mainly because I feel like I am praying with my kids all day! In the morning at breakfast, before they go to school, at lunch, at dinner and before they go to bed. I notice a very obvious difference in my personal spirituality when I pray personally each day, but it is easy to think to myself that I “checked off prayer a bazillion times today, I don’t need to pray before I go to bed.”
    6. If I am not praying personally, then I am not repenting each day and explaining to Heavenly Father that I want to do better tomorrow. If I am not repenting each day then I am not able to have His Spirit as much in my life and, as a result, it is more challenging to listen to the spiritual guidance I need to be hearing.
  • FernandezEach of these six things take a toll on my spirituality and my testimony of God and His truths. I have had to actively try to increase my own spiritual experiences through hard work and great effort, because I want to. They aren’t coming naturally anymore. Just going to church isn’t doing it anymore for me. I am having to make an active decision to pursue my testimony of the truth. If I did not have this desire, then I would not be motivated to go through the work it takes to gain back the good habits I have lost over time. It is hard, and it takes time away from my own selfish desires, but I have to ask myself, “What do I want out of this life?” and things are put into perspective.
  • Things I can do to counter the six things I listed that are barriers to my spirituality.
    1. Actively read over the Sunday School lesson prior to going to church (something I should be doing anyway…), so that, when I’m able to be in class, I can actively take part.
    2. Read scriptures personally and with my spouse. This takes time away from selfish desires, which makes it challenging.
    3. Make quiet time for myself, whether it is during the day, or after the kids go to bed.
    4. Make time to contemplate how I am doing/journal write/think about home teaching families and my calling.
    5. Recommit to personal prayer daily, and pray for my home teaching families (for whom I have shepherding responsibilities) and for those I serve in my calling and assignments at church. This will allow me to be more mindful of those individuals throughout the day which will allow me to be more open to what Heavenly Father wants for them. Daily prayer will also allow me the opportunity to repent each day to allow me to feel the Spirit stronger.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

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We Love Our Kids

We Love Our Kids

 

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, discussing-things-of-faith— lds.org
  • Photo, young-adults-participate-at-church—lds.org
  • Photo, family-in-love—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, family-studying-together—www. lds.org/topics/family-history?lang=eng
  • Photo, “We Love Our Kids”—soloriquezas.info/salud-y-bienestar

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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.”