Sunday, August 30, 2009

Comings and Goings

Yesterday we welcomed our new baby girl into our home. When we got home we had a brother and sister, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins waiting for us. It was an exciting, if not particularly peaceful, welcome home. Right across the street from our apartment is the city cemetary and I noticed, as I was carrying my new daughter into the apartment, that a funeral was taking place at that moment. What an interesting contrast. On our side of the street there were a bunch of people gathered to say "hello" to a loved one and on the other side were people gathered to say "goodbye" to someone equally loved.

I then realized that on the other side of the veil the scene was very different. I don't know anything about the person whose funeral it was, but I can envision that he or she was having a very exciting welcome home by perhaps parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. While for my little daughter I'm sure there was excitement and apprehension before she started her new journey here on earth, perhaps some tears shed by friends and family being left behind for a time.

I am sure of two things. First that there is much more to life than the scene played out here on earth. We lived before we were born, and we continue to live after our body dies. Second, after all of these comings and goings we can be together as families for eternity through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The arms of love

My husband and I recently moved our little family almost 2,000 miles away from our hometowns to South Texas. I have never felt so lonely in my life.

I would count down the hours until my husband would get home and I would cry when he left for work in the morning. Even though I had my wonderful baby girl to spend my days with, I was desperate for adult interaction. I have always been a people person so being alone was especially hard.

I went to church the first Sunday dreading being by myself but I wasn't. From the second I walked in the door I was surrounded by the arms of my brothers and sisters in the gospel. These people whom I had never met before welcomed me into their lives. They immediately cared about me and wanted to help me in anyway they could. One of the sisters in the ward even said to, "Debra, even though you may be so far away from your family, you really aren't. Your ward is your family and we will take care of you."

I now have a strong testimony that we are all children of God and we have the opportunity to take care of each other. It is an opportunity that I will never pass up again because I have been so grateful that the people in my ward didn't pass up the opportunity to take care of me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Priesthood: The Power of Healing

I knew it was going to be hard when my husband and I decided that the Army was for us, we just didn't expect the blessings and learning experiences that would come our way. We have two little boys (3 1/2 and 2) and our oldest is "special needs" -- so I knew it was going to be hard being a single mom while my husband was gone for 8 months of training. In a way, I had been preparing for it for a long time. What we weren't prepared for, was the physical trials my husband was going to endure in Basic Training (boot camp).

He has always been a physically active guy, and can run a mile or two in a cinch. We thought he would fly through Basic Training and that would be it! But fate had other plans. A couple weeks into training and my husband broke his toe -- had to be on crutches for a few days. He was so depressed because he felt he was missing out. Once he was off his crutches he did really well, though. That is, until a fateful run.

He was doing a long distance training march/ run and was doing great until he started to feel a sharp pain in his leg. At first he thought he must have strained a muscle, but the longer and harder he pushed on the stronger the pain in his leg. By the end of the run he was in so much pain he could barely move. His drill instructor rushed him over to the hospital where they ran some tests. In an MRI, it showed he fractured his hip bone. My husband was devastated when they told him the news and that they were probably going to have to send him home for a month to recover. He only had 3 weeks of Basic Training left! And now it was looking bad for him.

He called me with the news on Saturday and thought I was going to be disappointed in him -- but I wasn't. Instead, I told him he needed to do everything he could to get to the church the next day there and find some priesthood holders and get a blessing. I just knew we were doing the right thing and the Lord would help us. My husband, so far, hadn't had an opportunity to go to church while at training, and worried that they might not let him go, but promised me he would try.

After that call, I called all my family and friends and asked them to pray for his speedy recovery so he wouldn't have to come home. Everyone was more than supportive. I even fasted for him, and told the Lord in prayer, that whatever happened I would except it as his will.

I waited all week for Ben to call to tell me what was going on. No call. I have learned quickly that in the Army, no news is good news. Finally, on Sunday, over a week since I heard from him, he called me.

He told me that he had gone to church and the moment he walked through the door, he was blasted by the warm feelings of the spirit. He said he started to cry because he felt at home. The church services were wonderful and afterwords they asked if any one needed a blessing. My husband hobbled up to them on his crutches and told them he really needed one.

He said the blessing was amazing and lifted his spirits and gave him hope. The next day, when he woke up, he was feeling better. But he grabbed his crutches and went over to the hospital to get some follow up tests to see if he was going to get to stay or have to come home. When the doctors took his x-rays they were completely mystified. He no longer had a fractured hip. There was no sign that he ever did. My husband said it was funny to watch them trying to figure out what happened. He knew. He knew that the Lord had healed him.

They took his crutches and he walked out. He has been running and training ever since.

I feel so blessed to have the power of the priesthood in our lives and even more so for getting to see the miracles first hand in my family. I know that my Father in Heaven is mindful of us, all the time, and wants to help us. I am so thankful, that we get to have these trials, not only for the growth that we receive, but so we can also be part of His miracles.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Less than a month ago I had my third baby, so I've been a (thankful) recipient of much service. As I've reflected on the types of service people do, I've made a few observations on different forms of service.

1. No Service.
As a member of the Church, I think it's hard to imagine life without service. Service seems to be an integral part of the Church, and we can't ever seem to get away from it! We may serve because it's our calling, or an assignment, or voluntary. I suppose some people don't do service as I've observed that the "food co-op" that we're a part of encourages some sort of service by members each year. (Each YEAR? I ask.) I didn't realize it was an option to not serve!

2. Service when Convenient.
Sometimes we serve when it is convenient with our schedules. If it's not convenient, we don't do it. If we remember the opportunity, then great, but if we forget, oh well.

3. Service when Asked.
Sometimes someone asks us for service and we willingly do it. We may not know how to help the person who has asked, so we are glad they did ask.

4. Seeking out Service.
This is when we see a need and we take care of it. We are "observationally literate." My mom is an excellent example of this. She told me that she and my sister were going to come be my "merry maids" for an hour. They came and cleaned my house, and it was wonderful! My mom also snuck over at 6:00 a.m. two times to pull weeds in the yard.

I also have neighbors who see needs and take care of them: one showed up up with a picnic lunch/dinner one day that could be used now or later. Another dropped by enchiladas ready for the oven or the freezer.

In my previous life (the one before children), I worked for LDS Employment (they help people find work and educational opportunities and train Church leaders to assist members of their congregations in doing such). We strongly encouraged Church leaders to seek out those in need and not just wait for the needy to show up for help.

Now some may say, "But what if a person doesn't want service?" Well, maybe that's a pride issue that person needs to deal with. Some may also feel that a person doesn't deserve service. In that case, we are not the judge, but need to listen to the Holy Ghost to determine when it is right to give service.

I've recently compared service to our Fast Offerings (voluntary monetary donations to the Church to assist those in need). We are encouraged to give a generous fast offering, enough that it hurts (or at least that we can feel it). Perhaps this is how we should treat service. Are we serving enough that we are rearranging our schedules? Is it just a little inconvenient, but not so inconvenient that we don't like it? Are we sacrificing to serve? Are we showing charity to others through our service? Are we exemplifying the Savior in our service? Are we doing the things He would do?

I hope I will seek out those in need and be happy to serve. The more we serve, the happier this world will be, and people will feel loved and taken care of.