Pictures and Thoughts on Suffering

So lately I have been taking pictures of our every day life (which isn’t terribly exciting to anyone else, I know) but lack the sufficient time to post anything on our blog these days.

Yesterday I took some pictures of our sweet baby Clara, my little moonbeam. She is about seven weeks and is getting really good at giving me really big smiles. I love it. I’d also love a clean house these days, but I’d much rather hold this little babe and revel in her sweetness and innocence. I know I won’t always have both.

But, do you blame me for choosing her over dishes or laundry?

I mean, how could I possibly walk away from this?

Also, these days I’ve been trying to remember to listen to the latest General Conference while I do whatever I’m doing. When I listen, my day runs a little smoother and my mothering skillz are much better (read: I have more patience with my children). From the most recent session, I love the talk entitled, “The Atonement Covers All Pain” by Elder Richards.

In particular, the story he relates of the 13 year-old girl just having gone through surgery and how she saw family members who had passed on makes me cry every time I hear it. He relates:

Thirteen-year-old Sherrie underwent a 14-hour operation for a tumor on her spinal cord. As she regained consciousness in the intensive care unit, she said: “Daddy, Aunt Cheryl is here, … and … Grandpa Norman … and Grandma Brown … are here. And Daddy, who is that standing beside you? … He looks like you, only taller. … He says he’s your brother, Jimmy.” Her uncle Jimmy had died at age 13 of cystic fibrosis. For nearly an hour, Sherrie … described her visitors, all deceased family members. Exhausted, she then fell asleep. Later she told her father, “Daddy, all of the children here in the intensive care unit have angels helping them.”

It makes me think of Clara’s days in the NICU. When she was in the NICU, another baby came in that had just been born 15 weeks early and only weighed 15 oz. The NICU has a special feeling. I believe it is partly from all the new little spirits that are starting their lives here on earth and struggling with their bodies they’ve been given. But I also know that there are angels, and other loved ones there with the babies.

It also makes me think of my Mom and her recent battle with cancer—of which she’s now in REMISSION! Whoo-hoo (fist pump)! I will never know the depth of her suffering, physical and spiritual. But I know that she really learned to lean on the Lord through it. That is why he suffered for all of us. Elder Richards said,

“Opposition is part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. We all encounter enough to bring us to an awareness of our Father’s love and of our need for the Savior’s help.”

But, we don’t have to go through major surgery to suffer or experience pain, there are varying degrees. Every day I am acutely aware of my shortcomings. I know I can do better and be better. Each night my goal is to try and be better tomorrow than I was today. Some days I make decent progress in achieving that goal, and other days I take a million steps back. This thought of Elder Richards’ is particularly for me:

“Perhaps His most significant work is in the ongoing labor with each of us individually to lift, to bless, to strengthen, to sustain, to guide, and to forgive us.”

Oh, I am so grateful for Him.

So, give the talk a listen. It’s a good one.

Our Easter Sunday

The Easter Bunny was kind to us.

But more than that, we were blessed with messages to help build our faith and bring peace to our souls. I loved the fact that Easter fell on the same weekend as General Conference.

And I especially loved the following talks (and quotes from those talks).

Sister Beck
“There has never been a greater need for increased faith and personal righteousness. There has never been a greater need for strong families and homes. There has never been more that could be done to help others who are in need.”
“Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently. The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.”

Elder Donald Hallstrom
“No matter the size of the issue, how we respond can reset the course of our life.”
“Never let an earthly circumstance disable you spiritually.”

The whole conference was so wonderful (as always). But these two talks. Well, it was as if they were written just for me. I’m sure in a few months, as I read or re-listen to the talks, I’ll feel as if some of the other talks were written just for me. Isn’t it interesting how you hear things differently as you experience challenges or trials in life?

I really, really, REALLY love General Conference.

Stupid Teenager Husk

I’m warning you. Right now, I’m warning you and I’m doing it with my serious, somewhat frightening, “I’m warning you” voice. This is post is preachy. And heavy-handed. And a lot bit clumsy.

But. It’s got a strong heart. And it tries. And that’s enough reason to go ahead and give it a read anyway, isn’t it?

I vote yes.

Okay. So, back when I was a stupid teenager, I hated General Conference. No. That’s not true. I didn’t feel strongly enough about it to hate it, but it did bother me. Every April and October it annoyed me.

It was just SO long. And SO boring. And SO frustrating.

The place where weekends go to die (photographed by the talented Jeremy Hall).

The place where weekends go to die (photographed by the talented Jeremy Hall).

Each time it rolled around, conference seemed to gobble up my entire weekend. Not just my Sunday, mind you, but my Saturday too. From 10 in the morning to 8 at night! And all those talks just ran together like a two-day chain of navy suits and tidy haircuts and droning voices. Those voices! That same soothing, rhythmic, peaceful cadence… in speaker after speaker… lulled me… to… sleep… JUST as one of my mom’s side jabs jerked me back.

Torture.

Long, boring, frustrating, teenage torture.

The fact that those weekend-consuming, tidy-haircut-sporting, sleep-inducing voices were the voices of latter-day prophets didn’t really register with me. As a stupid teenager, I just wasn’t ready to appreciate conference.

Going on a mission (and growing up a bit) has helped me to start to turn things around. I’ve slowly started hearing the value of those voices.

Now, at thirty-old years-old, I feel like I shed a layer of stupid teenager husk each year. I enjoy conference now. I engage with it.

Don’t misunderstand me. I still doze through a talk or two (or three?), but when I’m awake, I’m REALLY awake. I hear those voices now. They affect me. They change me a little bit.

I finally want them to. <brushes off husk flakes>

Wait… wow. Preachy, heavy-handed, clumsy, AND self-righteous. I warned you, right?

Anyway.

This conference—this time around—there was one voice that really boomed out, don’t you think?

If you’ve got 15 minutes and you’re not a stupid teenager, listen to Elder Holland’s talk again.

It might wake you up.