Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rainstorms, Tears and Living Water

Here in the desert the ground is mostly dry and brown. Particularly in the summer months, the earth lies parched, eagerly waiting to soak up moisture from the occasional rain storm.

And so I usually rejoice when the storms roll in. The water, raining down from heaven, cleanses the air and brings life to the desert below. Unseen seeds, that were patiently lying dormant, suddenly begin to grow.

And what once was brown, in just a few days becomes green.

Everywhere dead shrubbery is replaced by an abundance of fresh new growth.

While watching the desert change over the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about the blessing of storms. What can appear as threatening, can also bring nourishment and growth.
And so it is, I believe, with the storms of life. They may be difficult at times, and may be watered with tears, but those same tears cleanse our souls and awaken within us the seeds of new growth.
I have never been one to pray for trials, or to embrace them, but in reflection I am always grateful for the softening of my heart, the planting of the seeds of faith, and the spiritual and emotional growth life's storms may bring.
John 4: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Look Who Is Driving Now!!

Watch out Arizona!!
Michelle has her driver's license!
Yes, my baby is old enough to drive. Sad but true.
Now she just wishes I will let her drive.
For some reason I am terrified to let her out the door on her own.
(Probably related to the fact that she is my BABY!!)
Last night I did let her drive to mutual.
My husband celebrated her independence--and ours.
I wanted to cry.
And I was down on my knees in fervent prayer the entire time she was gone.
So that is a bit of an exaggeration,
but I did have a fervent prayer in my heart the entire time.
And I was so very relieved when she returned.
Tomorrow I may let her drive to the mall to shop for a prom dress.
She also has her first date on March 6.
She is going to the Mormon Prom (we have had to provide a substitute since the one at the school is so raunchy) with the boy next door.
I am so glad.
He has been one of her best friends since she was three.
And in fact, he taught her how to ride a bike.
So, who could be better to go with on your first date?
Although, dating and a driver's license is just about more than I can handle.
Personally, I wish she could just stayed small.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Because My Parents Will Never Read This . . .


Tonight when we got to the elevator on our way out of the hospital, my dad turned to me and said, "You can push the down button. I know all little kids like to do that."


Although I have been disappointed my mom is still in the hospital, it has been fun to watch the interaction between my parents. Every night before he leaves, my dad will say prayers with my mom, give her a goodnight kiss and then tuck her into bed. But tonight she decided to go for a walk before getting in to bed for the night. As it was already almost 7:30 and we hadn't eaten dinner, my mom told us to go ahead and leave. So after prayers and a kiss my dad explained to the nurse that he wouldn't be there to tuck my mom in for the first time in her eleven day stay. The nurse replied, "Oh, don't worry. I am a very good tucker-in-er. " He then told the nurse to be sure and connect the monitors as well. (She has to be connected and disconnected when she gets in and out of bed) I could see the twinkle in her eye as she assured us my mother was in good hands.

We think she will be coming home in the morning. If she can manage the pain with pills and keep her dinner down, she will be good to go. I am so glad about that!

At the top of my last post I wrote about a conversation I overheard in the hallway. Today I overheard a lot of other conversations and all of them were sad. They included being told the cancer had spread, and a doctor telling how they tried in vain to save the life of a young girl fatally injured in a car accident this morning. I decided a hospital is not a very happy place to hangout in, unless perhaps you are in labor and delivery. My heart goes out to all the people we have met over the past several days who are suffering.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Utah . . .

Overheard in the hospital hallway:

Nurse #1: How is your day going?
Nurse #2: All my patients are crazy! They are seriously crazy!
Nurse #1: Well, I guess crazy people get sick too.

(And I did check to make sure my mother was not one of her patients.:-)

Dear Everyone,

I have missed reading all your blogs and hearing about your lives. I have also missed writing and telling you about mine.

I am in Utah right now visiting my parents and my daughters. My mother had surgery February 8 and I came up to help. I thought she would be out of the hospital by now, but due to some complications, that has not yet happened. Today was a positive day, however, so I am hopeful she will be able to go home before I return to Arizona on Saturday. Mostly she just has to prove she can eat food. She tried eating two days ago and got violently sick so they haven't let her have any food since--until tonight. Before that she hadn't eaten since February 7. Tonight was a big night though, she drank three entire swallows of grape juice!! When we got home from the hospital she called and asked us to bring her a fried egg and some toast in the morning. We wish we could. I don't think the doctors will allow it, however. But if all goes well, she may get some broth. Funny how you can become so grateful for such small things.

In the meantime I get to spend my days in the hospital. It was one year ago exactly she almost died and I got to spend 9 days sitting by her side in the ICU. Coming back to the hospital again at the same time of year brought back a lot of bad memories, and I was not looking forward to it. But this time has been a lot better. At least she has been awake to visit with us. And I have been able to spend time visiting with most of my siblings as well.

When I am not in her very teeny, tiny hospital room (due to other visitors filling the space) I am out in the waiting room, abiding my time by talking with everyone who walks by. I met a poor father of newborn twins who took the day off work to be with his wife (and watch the babies) while she had gallbladder surgery. I helped one very lost patient find her way back to her room, saw a cousin whom I haven't seen in about 20 years, and got to meet several families coming to visit grandma or grandpa.

At one time my daughter Kathryn and I were sitting near a hall way partially blocking the hall (the best chairs were there) Since everyone had to go around us we started telling them we were the official greeters for the hospital floor. We also told one man it was a toll hall and he had to pay. He said he didn't have to pay because he knew the secret password. And each time he would pass us (we were there for about an hour) he would give us a new word. It got pretty funny.

So you can tell we have had some long days.

But tonight I also went to dinner with my two BYU daughters and that was lots of fun. They are so funny and clever when they are together and always make me laugh. For example when I got off the plane in Utah and made my way to baggage claim, I saw in the distance my daughter Kristen with a large neon green poster board that had my name on it with a question mark at the end. She was standing there asking people if they were me as they went by. Several middle aged men volunteered, but she told them she was pretty sure she was waiting for a female. When I saw her I about died laughing. For a brief moment all my worry over my mother vanished while we had a good laugh and a hug. Humor is such a blessing!

I hope all is well with everyone who read this and that your Valentine's Day was filled with love. I also hope to be back to regular blogging soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Life in Costa Rica--A Tropical Adventure

Yesterday was one of those days where you pace the floor, watch the clock and hold your breath. For hours. My mother was in surgery for six hours but seems to now be doing well. (My poor parents have had a hard time of it lately). Thanks so much to all who helped support me through the day with emails, Facebook, phone calls and text messages. It was greatly appreciated. I love you for it!

While walking back and forth over the tile all morning, my mind went back to my days in Costa Rica. I was nine when my father was called to preside over the Central American Mission. My mother was 33. A rather daunting calling, I believe, for someone so young.

I looked forward to what I was sure would be an adventure. That sentiment was not shared by my older siblings however. Terri was a senior in high school and Randy a junior. Both looked forward to spending their final years at Skyline High in Salt Lake City. Now they would be in a class of less than 20 in San Jose.

We attended an English speaking school called Country Day which was run by a Mennonite couple, the Bakers. The elementary school bore a close resemblance to the classic haunted house in the movies. It was an old hotel with rickety wooden steps and rotting verandas. You could bring your own lunch or order from the school. The food was cooked at the high school on a grill many roaches called home, and consisted of such nutritious choices as hamburgers, milk shakes and French fries. My classroom had walls that only extended three quarters of the way to the roof. The rest was open air, but in a tropical setting, that was never a problem –except during the daily rain storms.

Our house was an adventure. All the windows were made of slats and covered with bars. You had to pass through a gate to get to the front door, and once inside there was another locked gate (yes, inside the house) that separated the bedrooms from the living areas.
(March 2008 in front of our old home)
The backyard was a tropical paradise, filled with trees, flowers and a man made pond. We loved to play out there, until the gardener brought us a tarantula he had chopped up while using a machete to cut the grass.

We were blessed to make many friends, although there were no other members of the church our age. Many of the people we met worked for the American Embassy or the Peace Corp. Another family owned a coffee plantation and we enjoyed going out to their ranch, riding horses and enjoying the beautiful Costa Rican country side.

And another friend, the Gants, owned a private island. Once during winter break, my sister Ruth and I were able to travel to the island and spend a week there. We spent all day in swimming suits, and for our meals ate fresh fish caught that day in the ocean, rice, and vegetables grown in the garden. And we craved terribly soft drinks. So much so that one day we sent a boat to a neighboring island to see if they had some for sale--which they did.

While just 11 and in sixth grade I met the son of the vice president of the country, who lived down the street from us. He was a senior in high school and for some reason thought I was close to his age. He also developed a bit of a crush on me (during our one time meeting) and hired a professional band to serenade outside my bedroom window at 2 in the morning. Being very young, I was not prepared to handle such a proclamation of love and spent the next couple weeks hiding from him when he came to the house or I when I saw him drive down the street.

All in all we survived several minor earthquakes, a volcanic eruption and the perverted men who came to our door to expose themselves. (Don’t ask me why, but that seemed to be a common thing to do down there.) We loved the people, and the rainy weather. (Although I had a sister complain it was so humid she was sure we all had fungus on our lungs) We loved the volcanoes in the distance and the little bread stores on all the street corners. We loved the missionaries that came for dinner and the sister missionaries who lived with us.

It was three wonderful years of my life, for which I will always be grateful. Although there were some difficult challenges, mostly our time there filled my heart with tender memories.

Two years ago I had the opportunity to go back with my husband and two of my daughters. It was so much fun to see the sights of my childhood. It was amazing all the things I could remember, and that I even found my old house! What a treat, and what great . . . joy to my journey.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

In defense of our freedom . . . A lesson from the Book of Mormon

This week we are studying the story of the righteous Nephite leader, Captain Moroni, and the wicked Lamanite leader, Zerahemnah, who "stirred up his people to anger” against the Nephites, which resulted in a very bloody war.

I love this story! Not just because Captain Moroni is the star of it, (one of the great heroes of the Book of Mormon and Mormon’s hero, which is why he named his son after him), but because it has such a powerful message for our day.

First—notice what the two sides are fighting for.

The Lamanites:
1. To eliminate the religion of the Nephites
2. To put the Nephites in bondage and exercise power and authority over them by stripping them of their rights.

The Nephites:
1. Their freedoms/rights
2. Their religion
3. Their families

It is easy to see the parallel with our lives today. We too are fighting a spiritual war for our freedoms, our right to worship and the protection of our families. However, it is no longer just a spiritual battle; it has also become a political one as judges and politicians try to destroy the family and strip us of our rights of worship.

With that in mind, it is interesting to see how Captain Moroni fought this battle for freedom and how we might apply what he did to our own lives. (Alma 43)

They made armor and weapons of war.
The Nephites wore breastplates, arm shields, helmets, and thick clothing. They also had many weapons of war. The Lamanites, on the other hand, wore loin cloths. Now, I wouldn’t want to wear a loin cloth anywhere, ever, but especially going into a war. It wouldn’t take much to cause great physical damage if that is all I had protecting me. And realizing their disadvantage, the Lamanites ran when they saw the Nephites coming.

So what does that teach me? Well, that in a war I want to arm myself and my children the best I can. I want to be sure every morning we walk out the door we are wearing our spiritual armor and carrying our swords and shields. I want to be sure we are reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, having family night and keeping our covenants.

But it also teaches me that Satan’s forces are naked in comparison and that a righteous person is more powerful than a wicked one.

They asked the prophet for direction
When the Lamanites ran, Moroni did not know where they went. He could not see the enemy, so he turned to Alma, the prophet at the time, and asked for help. Alma asked the Lord and came back and told Moroni where the enemy was and where he would strike.

Now the lesson from this is an easy one. The prophet knows where Satan is hiding. He knows where he will strike. He knows that pornography, and immorality are the enemy and they are hiding behind the internet, cell phones and early dating. He knows debt can lead to bondage and many laws currently being instituted will lead to the destruction of the family. If we heed his counsel he can help us avoid being attacked. And if we are attacked, he helps us have the tools to fight back.

They fortified their weakest areas.
Any general will want to attack you where you are your weakest, and Satan is no inexperienced general. Why do we have seminary every day, mutual, stake/regional youth dances, church on Sunday? We have them to protect the youth while they are young and inexperienced in fighting evil. What are the weakest areas of our lives? What can we do to fortify them?

They united in faith.
This is part of the story I found the most interesting. The Nephites are far outnumbered by the Lamanites and at one point are about to give up and accept defeat. Moroni rallies his troops by reminding them why they are fighting. The story then says they cried out “in one voice” in prayer to God. At that moment the battle changed. Instead of being on the verge of destruction they pressed forward, armed with courage and faith and in the end they won the battle.

How many battles are easier to fight when we all are united in our defense and call upon the Lord for help? How does being united with the Lord as parents help in our parenting? How does being united with those we serve help in our church calling? We all know that any project you undertake will go much more smoothly if everyone working on the project shares the vision and equally contributes. How much better can we be at fighting evil if we all stand strong together. And how much better even still, if we are on the side of the Lord.

And that reminds me of the theme for the youth this year, “Be Strong and of Good Courage.” This story demonstrates the importance of the theme. We are fighting this battle against evil and only as we bravely stand together, united in purpose, and on God’s side, will we conquer the enemy.

Such wonderful lessons all from one small chapter!

One more reason . . . I love the Book of Mormon!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Well, no wonder that hurt!!!

My father stepped on a toothpick. No big deal. Many people have stepped on them before and lived to tell the tale, so we didn't think much of it. He complained of the pain in his foot and we giggled at how men don't handle pain very well.

Then his foot began to swell. And swell. Filled with infection and twice its normal size, no one was giggling any longer. There was something definitely wrong. But seriously, all this from a little prick of a toothpick?

A doctor's appointment was made. An MRI was ordered. Antibiotics were administered

Nothing was found and there was no improvement.

And so surgery was scheduled for yesterday morning to go in and see what was causing so much tissue contention.

They found the little offender, only it wasn't all that little. Buried deep in his foot was a shard of wood one and a quarter inches long!! How on earth does a piece of wood that size get that far into your foot?

No wonder he was in pain! The poor man!! Thankfully, today he is doing better.
Also, thanks so much to all of you who were so encouraging before my talk in church last Sunday. I loved reading your comments and appreciated the things you said. I felt so much love and support. And in case you were wondering . . . :-) both the congregation and I survived. There was one uncomfortable moment for a girl in the audience, though. She is one of my seminary students and I love her dearly, but when I looked out and saw her, she was asleep!! Without thinking--and probably more out of habit--I blurted out, "________ are you really going to sleep through my talk?" Her head quickly popped up. A few minutes later I looked at her again and she and her friend (also one of my beloved seminary students) both had their heads back and their mouths open--totally awake, just trying to tease me.
I love those kids!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I'm Off To See the Doctor . . .

I was walking with my friend Susan the other day when she asked me if I had been to the doctor recently. I laughed. I just barely went to the dentist after an eight year hiatus, (no cavities, thank you!!) and I was pretty sure it has been about that same amount of time since I have been to the doctor (minus the gynecologist).

Susan told me she had a check up recently and suggested I might consider doing the same. "Okay, I thought. When I get around to it, I will do that."

Then yesterday my friend Lisa called. She said she woke up with me on her mind and was wondering when was the last time I had been to see my doctor.

Now let me tell you something about Lisa. Lisa always gets premonitions about people. She knows who is pregnant before they do. She knows who the new Relief Society president will be before the bishop extends the call. So you don't want to dismiss Lisa when she says she has you on her mind.

"I am going to die!" I thought. My heart started racing, my chest was constricting, my head started pounding. In fact I was pretty sure I was going to have a heart attack or stroke that very minute.

"Calm down" I told myself. "You are going to be fine." But even so, I called the doctor's office. I told them I needed to make an appointment with my doctor. They told me my doctor is not taking new patients and I would need to see someone else.

"But I am not a new patient. I went there once about eight years ago."

"That is too long ago so you are considered a new patient"

"Well, maybe it was seven years ago."

"Still too long. But you can see one of the other doctors."

I didn't know anything about the other doctors so I had no idea how to choose between them. But I did want a female so I asked for that and they gave me a list and then added, "But most of them aren't seeing new patients for three or four months."

Are you kidding me?! Doesn't this lady realize both Lisa and Susan think I need to see a doctor now? What if I die before then?!

"Okay," I said, "Is there one you could recommend to me?"

"Well," she answered, "If you want to get in sooner you will want to see Dr. _______ (I can't remember the name). She doesn't have very many patients so is more available."

Great. I am trusting my life to a doctor no one else wants to see. "Okay. When can I get in?"

"March 2". Apparently even the unpopular doctor has a wait.

So that is how I have come to have a doctor's appointment for the first time in eight years. Now if I can only hold on that long . . . :-)