Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Childhood Trauma



My boys in the Dentist office.
Today as we were driving to the dentist (for tooth cleanings) my 10 year old son said something that took me by surprise. He said that he only sits in the middle of our van because it's the safest place to sit. He then added that his friend Jason died in the car accident because he was sitting by the door.

I told him I didn't realize that he felt that way, but I expressed that I thought it was Jason's time to return home to Heavenly Father and that he would likely have died wherever he'd been sitting.

I didn't express it (okay, maybe a few tears), but in my heart I felt a sadness to see just how the trauma of a friend, and classmate dying, could affect my son's feelings about where he sat in a vehicle.

Some people underestimate the power that traumas may play to the psyche, but just this small exchange with my son was a powerful reminder of how delicate we are in this mortal sphere.

I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that through Him we can pick up our crosses each day and learn how to more bravely follow Him, even when it seems we can't take one more step.

With the power of Christ, I have found that I can take not just one more step, but many more! Each
small effort keeps adding up to miles and miles I never dreamed possible that I'd be able to walk.

These steps have come at a high price of sacrifice and a willing heart, but somehow I find that with each new day I can make it through- as long as I have the help of the Lord!





I'm so thankful to God for my many blessings. I'm thankful for the healing and strength that can come through Christ! Healing takes time and effort, but it's worth the fight!Let us keep carrying our crosses and follow Christ. Through Him we will have victory!


Matthew 16:24–25:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples,
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, 
and take up
his cross, 
and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: 
and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Have hope, for through Christ we can be victorious!
Christine

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Sorrows forgot, love's purest joys remain"


Just now, at 2:08 pm, I heard these words from an LDS hymn ""Sorrows forgot, love's purest joys remain." How sweet they are to my heavy heart.

1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Text: Katharina von Schlegel, b. 1697;
trans. by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897
====

Today I'm feeling a bit low as I was struck with some insight of those I call friends. And it is hurting my heart. There is rarely anything that can be done when someone wrongs us, or misunderstands us. What we can do is kneel to pray, and that is just what I have done this morning.

I knelt and told Heavenly Father that I know he has all power. I prayed for greater meekness and humility. I prayed to be at peace when there are people who are not completely kind to me. I prayed that they might understand me better, but I prayed to ultimately accept His will, even when they don't understand. I told Him how thankful I am for his protection and blessings, and I listened several things I'm grateful for. I told Him that I trust him completely, and I prayed that I would give all my fears into his hands.

I prayed many things, and I took comfort in kneeling before my creator. I took comfort in knowing that He has truly blessed me and directed my life this far. I know He will continue to do so, as I give my will to Him, and as I do my part for righteousness.

Of course, God does have all power, but he also respects our agency. He won't make us be good. He won't make us walk a certain road. But when we do listen to His Spirt, and walk circumspectly before Him, He rejoices. He delights in granting us blessings, which stem out of our righteous efforts, and our willingness to give Him all we have and are.

My husband and children--with a photobomber on the far left!! True Story!
Those few words that God brought into my mind seem so simple, yet are so profound. As we walk through the darkness, the fear and sorrow can be all consuming. And yet, when we step back into the light of joy and comfort, the depth and expanse of those sorrows are almost completely forgotten.

It's that way with childbirth too. I experienced a great deal of agonizing pain in my 5 deliveries of my children, but now I can remember so little of what I felt. If I do remember, I can express the details only on a logical level- not on the emotional or physical level of what I was going through! It's amazing how joy can wipe away those memories of pain!

There are just going to be days we don't feel our happiest. That's part of life. On those days you may do some of what I try to do... pray, read scriptures, clean & organize in my home, listen to BYU devotionals or LDS General Conerence Talks, walk, sew, draw, or listen to happy music. Those things are healthy ways to process emotional pain, and they will hopefully help as they do me.

But ultimately we must elevate out thoughts to see beyond the storms of this moment. We must tell ourselves positive, grateful, hopeful thoughts. Thoughts that declare that God will give us the strength to get through. Words that declare that Jesus Christ saved us through His atonment and that with His power we will be victorious!

But, in this moment, I can honestly say that I can hardly wait until "loves purest joys remain!" :)

Hugs!
Christine

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Answered Pray

This afternoon I was feeling kind of sad, and therefore very tired. I like to give my time to God, as he sees fit, so I pray through out the day for special direction on how to better use my time. 

I especially needed direction because my mood was low. So I knelt in the quiet of my room, by my bedside, and I asked if He'd be alright with one of my three choices. 

1. Go play the piano at the church. 
2. Write a letter to my sick niece 
3. Take a nap!  

I immediately heard "family time." I softly chuckled because of my tired brain had not considering the fact that I'd presented God with 3 options, but He presented me a fourth!

I finished my prayer and sat on my bed. (It hurt to much to kneel any longer). I am sure God gave me the idea because my 16 year old daughter came into my room and laid on my bed and asked if Brady Bunch was an alright Sunday activity. I said it might be alright to watch, but that I wanted to play family games. 

We went down and sat in the front room and I asked Briant (my husband) what game we could play. He's a teacher, loves game playing, and is very creative-- so he always has some idea to pass the time. He started out with a word game, "Hangman." Then he said "Pictionary." (I was so tired I was laying on the couch acting out "the queen" and "Sunny (rhymes with bunny)" (That's the name of one of our dog's!) 

Everyone really had fun and got into this. A few examples: My 10 year old acted out our wild dog "Sunny" (so the answer was the same 2 times in a row-since he followed me. My 16 year old acted out "Lettuce Party" Who's ever heard of one of those??!!! My 18 year old refused to join us. He just got home from a pioneer trek yesterday and was down in his room writing about it in his journal. (Okay, a worthy goal, so I didn't push his family presence. But I missed him!)

Following that my husband began the "Guess who this scripture person is." A few of his questions were, "Who slayed Goliath? (David)" "Who had a coat of many colors? (Joseph)" We also did people from the Book of Mormon, as well as the bible. We had a lot of fun with that game, and it was a great time for teaching. 

After this game my husband switched to playing a "Guess which child this is?" We asked such questions as: 

  • "Which child was on Oxygen as a baby?" 
  • "Which child got left at the church after the family baptism?" 
  • "Which preschooler destroyed the rabbit/pigeon hutch?"
  • "Which child weighed the most at birth, weighing 9.8 pounds?"
  • "Which child was the littlest at birth, weighing only 7 pounds?"
  • "Which child always pooped in the bathtub, EVERTIME they were given a bath?"
  • "Which child has silver teeth? (acid reflux)"
  • "Which child would have gone swimming in baptismal font, if we'd said it was alright?!"
  • "Who was the only child to sleep in a crib as a baby?"
  • "Which child learned to talk the soonest?"
  • "Which child walked the latest?"
  • "Which child learn to ride a bike first?"
  • "Which child likes to draw for hours on end?"
  • "Which child doesn't like bones (in meat..or pretty much anywhere!! She doesn't like Halloween!?"
  • "Which child likes to fill in the cracks when they sleep?"
  • "Which child makes up crazy animal/frog names?" (Hannah! Such as Korea the frog. Nanny Goat Sniffer--a dog we had!)
  • "Which child threw up in Daddy's mouth?"
  • "Who went on wild, crazy adventures with Musubi? What was their secret weapon?"
  • "Who uses up all the tape in our house?"
  • "Who loved the Wiggles?"
  • "Who got on the internet twice, by themselve, before the age of 1 year old!" 
  • "Who was born on a cold, foggy, winter day?"
  • "Who was born on a warm winter day?"
  • "On which child did Mom's water break?"

And on we went as a family, playing happy Sabbath style games, and uniting as a family. My heart felt happier, and I knew I'd done the right thing.  I am certain it helped make happy memories for our children.

After we played that we read scriptures and listened to two songs (in honor of our dogs!! "Ebony and Ivory" and "Sunny days, chasing the clouds away..."(Sesame Street theme song), and have knelt to say the end of our day prayers. 


I feel so thankful that Heavenly Father "knows better than I." I'm thankful I could hear the voice of His Spirit giving me a better choice. I still felt tired as we played, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this cherished family time together. 








Book of Mormon Scripture

And while not all the concerns of my heart are settled, I certainly feel happier. I'm thankful that we aren't alone on this journey of life, and that our God is there to hear and answer---we just need to ask!

Always be praying, 
Christine




Monday, May 8, 2017

Scars

Noticed the bandaged finger. October 2016
Eight months ago, my little boy (age 7) and his brother (age 9) were playing outside. One day they came running into the house and big brother wildly slammed the front door on little brother!

Guess what happened?! Little brothers fingertip was broken, as well as almost completely cut off. I rushed him to his usual plastic surgeon (because he's been quite accident prone! We joke about a trip a year to this plastic surgeon!)

The doctor cleaned, stitched and bound up the finger, and for nearly a month we kept returning to check the healing.  At one appointment the doctor told my seven year old son that he didn't need to wear bandages any more. But my little boy kept insisting on wearing them. And I kept providing the bandaides so he could do so.

I can't find the recent plastic surgeon pics
of my son. But this was in June,
just a few months before the finger in the door.
(Photo taken before 5 stitches).
Our new puppy bit him as they wrestled!
But one day I sat him on my lap and pulled back the bandaide to look at the healing taking place. His fingertip was scarred and deformed. I asked him why he wanted to keep it covered. With quivering voice he talked about how he didn't want people to see it because of how it looked.

Even though it wasn't a "big deal" to me, I suddenly understood his shame in having a deformed, scarred finger- with missing fingernail. I held his finger and carressed the scarred area and I said, "M..., I'm sorry you've been embarrassed by how your finger looks. But when I look at your finger all I can see is how wonderful Heavenly Father is, and how much he loves you, and each of us."












I proceeded to tell my precious son how our body is the most amazing thing on earth. I said there is no material on earth like it. When it gets cut it can heal. And broken bones can grow back together.

I again gently touched the scarred area and said "You don't need to be embarrassed because of the scars. You can always look at them and remember what God has done for you because He loves you!"

From that day forward my son no longer wore a bandaid (bandage) to hide his finger. 

Our bodies are a miraculous gift of God. We are each unique and cherished creations and miracles of our divine creator. 

While some wounds may physically or emotionally scar or cause of cause to become deformed, we can each find ultimate spiritual healing through the power and mercy of God. That is of great comfort and hope to me.

My son's small finger is just one example of the greatness of God. I hope you can look a your life and see His love for you. His love and greatness is everywhere we look--IF we have gratitude in our hearts and His vision in helping us to see beyond the mundane things of life.



How do you see the hand of God in your life?
Christine

I just discovered this song. It has a powerful message of God's love for us!

Yes! He loves of any way we are! He loves us any way we come to Him! #ChristSavedUs!
#YOUareLOVED



Sunday, May 7, 2017

What is Love

Through the ages poets and song writers have tried to define love, but among the best description (at least that I can recall at this moment;) are these:

John Keats (adapted by me:)
"(Love) A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep...

And William Wadsworth wrote:
"The Soul (of love) that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar
"
 

Even Christina Perri attempts to describe love when she sings: "I have loved you for a thousand years. I'll love you for a thousand more." But she got something right...probably without understanding it.... LOVE IS ETERNAL! 

While it seems we are just beginning our relationships of love, they began long before we came to this mortal, earthly sphere! And real bonds of friendship and love will not end here! 

Love is Endless and Eternal! 

As a side note: In place of "I have died everyday," Christina's song reads better to the truth of my soul when I replace it with "I have sacrificed everyday waiting (and preparing) for you...." (I add that because I have to make sense of things! And that part hasn't really made much sense to me- till now!:)

TRUE, GODLY LOVE means SACRIFICE! Sacrifice of our will for God's will. Sacrificing our comfort for the comforts of those we love. 

Don't confuse sacrifice with deprivation. God expects us to take care of ourselves and to treat ourselves with love, and He also wants us to be treated with love. But he wants us to do it within his guidelines and commandments. Elder Neal A. Maxwell paints a clear meaning of sacrifice when he wrote: 

So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving “away all [our] sins” in order to “know God” (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him.
Neal A. Maxwell. (Full talk can be read/listened to here) https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/04/deny-yourselves-of-all-ungodliness?lang=eng  

Today I saw the bishop of my ward stand to speak, and he joined others through the ages in his efforts to describe love, when he spoke of the love he felt in seeing the baby about to become his adopted daughter. He also described one of the reasons for his hetitance in having another child stemming from his concern in not having enough love to give. (And haven't we all felt that in one way or another. I know before I gave birth to each of my children I wondered if I could love the child about to come, or love them like the previous ones! But love has always come to me!) There is always ample love, when it stems from a place of righteousness.

This dear, righteous man described sweet, sacred moments with the adoption of his daughter, where he felt tuggings at his heart strings, and his spirit cried out to have this child join his family on their journey of life because of the stirrings of love he felt for her. 

He loved her beyond what seemed his own capacity. His love was flowing and unrestricted, despite his prior doubts of whether he could love another child, as his others. He felt love. And he knew love- God's love- as he accepted his sacred role of caring and protecting this gift from God. 

God made the difference by not just placing this child in his arms, but also placing her love in his heart long before he met her! Their friendship and love before these early moments of her life formed before this earth, and came "trailing clouds of glory" (Wordsworth)

I was fascintated to listen to him because I am always studying things of God's love, in an effort to make sense of my life. God is continutally teaching me to recognize love- when I feel so inept at my seeemingly feeble attempts to love well.  And, this may sound surprising, but it also seems like God is teaching me that I don't really know what love is! 

But there are times when I feel confident in my ability to love. 
So how could I not know what love is?! 

I don't think God is telling me I don't feel love, or understand it to some degree, but I think he has long wanted me to understand something which I only just figured out! GOD IS LOVE. God is the source of love. God is the author love. All forms of love ebbs and flows through God, by way of Jesus Chist- the mediator between us and our Father in Heaven. I don't completely understand how that works, but I know it does. 

We have the scriptures to teach us of love, but I do not believe that a description of ultimate feelings of love is possible in our limited mortal vocabulary and experience. We are weighed down with clouds of darkness and trial here on earth. Our mortal experience affects every part of our being-especially our mental perspective of recognizing truth and love. 

Here on earth we get bogged down with people treating us meanly or thoughtlessly, or who are difficult to get along with, and we struggle to see the light of God within them because of our pride and/or pain. But, SOMEDAY we will be stripped of sin and weakness and we will see others through the eyes of love--God's pure, perfect love! 

We will no longer be fettered by any degree of darkness, but we will be exposed to 100% light and 100% love, and it will beautifully consume every cell of our being. We will no longer doubt whether we are worthy of being loved by others. We will no longer wonder if we are good enough to be loved by others. 

Conversely, when we experience life without the curtain of our pre-existent memory drawn, we will no longer look at others and intentionally or unintentionally weigh their value based on the things we value (Such as being kind, sweet, generous, talented, or interesting...or a myriad of other factors). In short, we will see others in the light of truth. We will recognize the spirits of others and know just how loved they are, and how loved we are. We will be enveloped in love, that we only have glimpses here with the stains of earth life.

We assign labels of love in all kinds of ways.... from people to food! But one day we will discover true, pure love,! Love that shines into all the dark crevices of our heart and mind. Love that is without limitation and illness. Love filled with hope and light, in a way that we can only dream. Love made of the sweetest essence never clearly imaginable or understood here on earth!

Because of our limitations in understanding love, we must continue to look to Heavenly Father to fill us with more of His love, and to teach us how to become worthy to enter his presence with purity of love- in both heart and mind. As we strive to follow the guidelines for love set forth in 1 Corinthians (as per picture above), we will have treasured and sacred experiences of God's love in our life, such as my bishop had with his daughter. We will experience that love if we are ever reaching for the hand of God.

Love can be sweet and cherished here, as we work at it, but imagine how much more magnified love can become. It fills my soul with wonder and delight to try and consider the potential! It's definately worth giving our life in the pursuit of purity and sacrifice, so that we can experience sacred love now, and an even more incomprensible joy and love later!

I pray you have others around you who help you to feel glimpses of the love of God. I hope that in the depths of your soul you will understand that true, pure love doesn't end, just because circumstances in your life change, or because you change (for better or worse). I hope you know that you are loved, and worthy of being loved. I hope you take HOPE in Christ and through Christ, and feel hope in knowing that you are destined for more than you see of yourself and around yourself. There is no lost cause to Christ. There is HOPE through Christ. Let Him be your hope and balm of solace.  

Christine

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The winding travels of life

This photo of me was taken by my college roommate-
about the same time as that Australia trip. 
As I went out grocery shopping with my children last night, I got to telling them a story about my trip to Australia (back around 1993). They wanted to know all about why I'd gone there. So I told them how I'd men a young LDS man at a Sunday devotional in Orem, Utah. Rob. He was visiting from Australia. We went on a couple of dates before he went back home. From there we kept in contact through letters and an occasional phone call. (Very expensive!)

At one point Rob wanted me to come out and visit him in Australia, and said he'd pay the way. Which he did. He arranged for me to stay with an LDS girl from his ward (Rhonda) who had room for me to live in her flat (apartment) during my visit.

My excitement grew about the prospects of this trip. I also wondered if this is the man I would marry. But one night, the Spirit of God made it very clear to me that I was not going to marry Rob. I felt disappointed, and figured the trip wasn't worth going. In fact, I wanted to cancel! But I felt strongly I still needed to go.

My children asked if I knew why I had gone, I explained that I do not know why, though I did make many friends, and I did share my testimony of Jesus Christ to them, but I know of no specific reason. Perhaps my influence and friendship made a difference in the life of someone I met.

I also told them that while in Australia I learned that Rob had begun dating another LDS girl there before I arrived. Eventually they were married! I only spent a little time with Rob while there. Mostly I spent time with single LDS men and women, and Rhonda, who rallied around me and showed me all kinds of wonderful Australian sights, and many other kindnesses.

I share this because that is how life works. We will not always understand the positive influence we had on others, nor can we remotely comprehend how our seemingly insignificant influence makes a difference in the work of God here on earth. We just keep doing our best in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

I was reading a beautiful BYU-Hawaii devotional today. And the stories he shared touched my heart. But, as those stories would take too much space to share, I will share an abbreviation of Brother Brian Carringtons closing remarks:

"You were leaders before you came to Earth..the Lord has picked you...You will have many difficult choices ahead of you. Like David and Goliath, you will confront many great "Goliaths" in your day."  
"There is a very good chance, that on your "road to Jericho" you'll not only find the fallen friend here and there, but you'll encounter Goliath between you and that friend. You will have to exercise the faith of a David, ... to accomplish whatever the Lord wants you to do in your life. ... Fear nothing. The Lord will be with you and you will conquer..."

"... I know God lives, that I know Jesus is the Christ. I have this testimony not because I've heard it, but because he has been with me every step of my life, and He listens to me sing in the ocean waves. He'll listen to you, and he'll save you, and he'll rescue you... pray that the Lord will let you be a servant for Him and use you to your best use..."
 
As you prayerfully seek God and study his word each day, He will give you direction and answers on the direction of your life. 

These words, of another devotional, gave me renewed gratitude to face the hardships of life.

"Some(day) we’ll understand fully, and when we see back from the vantage point of the future, we shall be satisfied with many of the happenings of this life which seemed so difficult for us to comprehend."

"We knew before we were born that we were coming to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, pain and comforts, ease and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments; and we knew also that we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a glad heart eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable."

"We were undoubtedly willing to have a mortal body even if it were deformed. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward even though it might be for a day, a year, or a century."

"Perhaps we were not so much concerned whether we should die of disease, of accident, or of senility. We were willing to come and take life as it came and as we might organize and control it, and this without murmur, complaint, or unreasonable demands."


"We sometimes think we would like to know what is ahead, but sober thought brings us back to accepting life a day at a time, and magnifying and glorifying that day."
[Spencer W. Kimball, “Tragedy or Destiny,” Improvement Era, March 1966, pp. 216–17]

Join with me in learning how to glorify God, with gratitude for our blessings of each day!  Christine

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day 365: The long wait...is NOT over!

I'm sorry friends. I haven't been very good at writing the last several month. I started back to school, and I even took a major costuming job for The Little Mermaid.

But, in celebration of today I wanted to stop in and say Hi!

I am not quite where I hoped to be today, but I have seen the hand of God every day this past year (and well beyond!). He has helped me through the tears and sorrow, and I actually have gotten to a very good, safe, happy, and very peaceful place in my life...and especially my soul!

I have remained faithful to God, and without excuse I have continued to read my scriptures daily, say my prayers daily, study BYU Speeches and LDS Conference talks daily, attend the LDS Temple each week, and I find ways to give service daily and weekly.

I don't share those things to boast. I share them to teach you the basic steps to be happy. I know I used to wonder how some people seem so happy and in tune with God.  I have learned that it takes a lot of effort and a lot of sacrifice. I have changed from wanting my way, to wanting with all my heart the will of God. #ThereIShopethroughChrist

I have accepted that He has a special plan for me. 
I have accepted that He does things in His own time. 
I have accepted that WHATEVER happens to me, that I will be thankful.  

When I was the costume designer for The Little Mermaid I had a vision for how I wanted the actors to look. I spent more than 300 hours sewing and designing. They looked amazing.... except those who didn't want to wear the costumes as I'd planned. One girl always gave me trouble with parts of her costume, and blatantly wouldn't wear it most nights of this 2 week show! Another up and cut up part of my costume that I'd spent time creating for her.

I was of course frustrated at the lack of gratitude. When I took it to God in prayer I learned that while I had a small, symbolic/literal part of creation-- that he Had a BIGGER creation. And the most important creation was us-- And I realized that we have our agency, and often use that agency with selfishness and ingratitude- just like the actors I costumed!

I also realized that just like me, He has a grand vision of our lives. And we sometimes think we know better and we want to step in and change or alter things to suit our desires not his.

The play looked beautiful, despite some hang-ups. But it would have been far more beautiful if people
had remained true to my creation and vision for them!

Let us pray for gratitude and acceptance. Let us give him ALL of our hearts and submit cheerfully.
There is a master plan and time. Let us be patient. There are marvelous glories to come!

Love,
Christine

Here's the text format of the above poster. A special thanks to DANI who created the beautiful scripture meme (from: http://livelovelearnandrepeat.blogspot.com/2012/03/natural-man.html)

Mosiah 3:19


"For the natural man is an enemy to God, 
and has been from the fall of Adam, 
and will be, forever and ever, 
UNLESS he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, 
and putteth off the natural man
and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, 
and becometh as a child, 
submissive, 
meek, 
humble, 
patient, 
full of love, 
willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him,
even as a child doth submit to his father."

I'm happy you stopped by. Please, share it with a friend!