Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Give Me Strength

Tiny toes and fingers still curled around my heart
eyes too unfocused to see. A mouth without words only cries of pain and hunger.
     O Lord, give me strength.
Those hands are into everything. The feet patter across the floor where ever I go. Watching, always watching me, the tears still flow from the little mouth, now full of babble and bits of cheerio.
     O Lord, give me strength.

The skin is scraped from knuckle to knee. Dirt, blood and tears smear across a little face. Baths are impossible. Pajamas torture. Tomorrow I'll break out the bandages again.
     O Lord, Give me strength.

A single tear drops, unwelcome. Too big hands wipe it away before I'm supposed to have noticed. I offer more food, a shoulder for tears and a shaky smile. Broken hearts don't need mom anymore.
    O Lord, give me strength.

Those fingers are the last thing I see. Long, grown up, waving from the window as the plane departs. The tears and cries are mine, this time. My child, alone in a great big world with only what I have given. Is it enough? I can't wrap those hands around mine, wipe away the tears, or promise it'll all be better tomorrow. If only I could tuck the little fingers and toes safe against my breast. curled around my heart forever more.
     O Lord, give me strength.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Favorite 15 Year Old

Fifteen years ago today, I'd already been in labor for 36 hours with no end in sight. I'd been on bedrest at Utah Valley Hospital for 11 weeks and I was worn out. I clearly remember curling into a ball and begging my husband to demand that the doctor get the baby out. It was one of the most excruciating things I've ever been through.
Fifteen years later, I can tell you it was all worth it. Tomorrow my first born son came into this world.
Not all pink and pretty. Not with a shout or cry of elation. After 72 hours of labor and a delivery with forceps, he was purple, bruised from stem to stern and lifeless. The Newborn ICU team went to work on him and managed to get him breathing. A mere two weeks later we brought him home, but those first few days were pretty hard on both of us.
If you could only see him now! He's beautiful, smart, strong and my favorite teenager. I know that rough beginnings never determine what outcomes will be like, but back then I was terrified for him. So tiny. So fragile and so dependant.
Tomorrow he'll be fifteen, and it amazes me how far he's come and how quickly. It seems like only yesterday we were snuggled up on the couch together watching Elmo or singing along with the Star Trek theme song. He doesn't remember the worst parts of it, probably a good thing. I, however, still see his brilliant blue eyes and tender little face every time he lets me hug him or kiss him goodbye before school in the mornings.
I don't get the chance very often to babble on and on about him. He's a teenager, and I only embarrass him. Tomorrow is his birthday though, and I can indulge for just a moment. I earned that right after 3 days of labor.
So, despite the rough beginning you had, Zack, I'm so glad you're here. Even when you don't do your chores, tease your brother and argue with me just because you can. I adore you. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Wind rushed past me and then at my back. My ears filled with the low buzz of tires on asphalt followed by the shrill honk of a car's horn. "What the...?"
I turned around and hurried back to the curb as fast as I could. The auditory cross walk was still intoning, "Walk...Walk...Walk." But I was wiping dirt, scattered by the oncoming traffic, off of my face instead.
Something was terribly wrong. I was on the right corner. I'd pressed the button on the crosswalk and the computerized voice told me I was clear to cross the street. Why were the cars barreling toward me as if I wore a red cape in the middle of Pamplona?
I used my cane to find the cross walk again, pushed the button beside me and turned to wait for the cross walk to tell me traffic was clear again.
Once more, when the cross walk said "Walk" I stepped out into a throng of cars speeding around me. Everything around me told me I was doing what I was supposed to in order to safely cross the busy road. My instincts argued with my thoughts as I stepped from the curb and a car blared its horn at me again.
"Stupid crosswalk is broken," I mumbled under my breath, now safely back on the curb. "If the city doesn't keep these things repaired, someone...like me...is going to get killed." This particular cross walk was on the busy corner of 700 South and River Road in St. George, Utah. Compared to 6 th south in Salt Lake City or the Time Square crossing in New York City, its not that dangerous. but there are 6 lanes North and South and 5 turning from east or west. I decided with all the traffic noises, I'd never figure out when my lanes were clear. It was too loud. I used the GPS on my phone to make sure I was where I thought I was...and then I prayed.
Its always amazing to me that God teaches me things one morsel at a time until I understand volumes. This day I had an entire library downloaded into my brain in those few moments when I asked my Father-in-Heaven to get me across the street. He didn't part the traffic like the red sea. He didn't surround me in a protective bubble to keep the cars from hitting me. He didn't make me invisible and move me 'through' the traffic. Instead, my mind filled with the image of the sidewalk on which I stood. The enormous pole holding the buttons to the cross walk appeared in my head and I saw arrows pointing the direction on the button I was pushing.
The button to cross the street pointed the same direction the side walk headed, south. I was crossing the road, west. I pushed the button going the direction I was walking and then I turned to cross the street. The crosswalk wasn't broken. I was doing my very best to make the right moves. I was listening and being careful. I, however, had changed direction, meaning to do it, but ignoring the signs all around me that I was doing it wrong. God allowed me to walk into traffic, twice, without getting killed, as he waited for me to stop thinking I saw clearly. Getting smashed by a car going 50 miles an hour is a high price to pay for using the crosswalk wrong. The laws of justice however, don't take that into account.
So often we walk through life, absolutely sure we see clearly. We know we're doing what's right. We are where we're supposed to be. We're following all the rules and commandments. We refuse to 'see' that we're walking out into traffic. Cars will zip past, honking and spitting dirt in our faces, but we insist its the crosswalk, or the cars, or the idiot's who don't see or pay attention to the path we're on. All the while, the problem is much simpler.
If you find yourself, working hard, following all the right instructions and still struggling, it might be because you've changed direction, listened to the wrong voice, or blamed someone else for something you must fix in yourself.
Our own foolish pride makes for dirty glasses through which we observe the world around us. The answer is to clean your spectacles instead of waiting for the view to change. Its the only action you can take to cross the roads by which you find yourself standing

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why Not Me?

One of the many questions we as human beings ask more frequently  than any other is Why me? In a life story or any story full of tragic occurrences, heartbreaks, and disasters we shake our fists at the unknowing sky for answers to Why? and Why me?
     One of my favorite stories comes from the book "Divergent" by Veronica Roth.These questions are sifted, almost seasoned in this novel. The setting is a community broken into five groups or factions who are given aptitude tests to discover their particular strengths. They are then given severe physical and emotional training to enter the elite of the faction. Our heroine in this story is gifted in more than one of these areas, but chooses to go through extreme physical trials that will improve her natural gifts and allow her to be stronger and more courageous. My favorite part of this scenario is the fact that The Author allows you to avoid even the suggestion of a need to ask Why me? It is made completely clear why? Because you have the capacity to excell in this arena.
     If life is a series of great emotional and physical trials with the potential to break or brighten the abilities of those who live in it, then perhaps the question we should be asking is Why not me?
     Am I not talented, strong,or resilient enough to handle a little flame? Am I not capable of learning, inspiration, or excellence? If I sit on the sidelines of life and watch others climb, crawl, and claw their way to a higher plane, then what are my capabilities worth?
     The good news is that each of us stand at the foot of a mountain. A mountain that is dangerous and difficult. The climb will be treacherous no matter whether it be, the alps the
Andes, or the Appalachians. It is not a matter of perspective. Whatever your mountain is. don't be afraid to climb it. Do not stand in the mountains shadow and shake your fist at the monstrosity asking Why? or Why me?
     Instead, push your hair back from your face, plant your feet firmly on the trail and ask; Why not me?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

That Your Burdens May Be Light

When I was in my early twenties, my immediate family was on rocky ground. My father, who'd passed away a few brief years earlier, left my mother's life in a shambles. We were all young, between 18 and 9 years of age. My youngest brother had little or no influence from men in his life as my older brother moved away from home a few months after my father's death. My grandfather, who lived next door, passed away one year after my Dad. My sisters and I were dealing with boyfriends, proms, birthdays, graduation and significant occasions in our lives without a father. The brother who was left was just a kid himself, having to shoulder the burden of being 'the man' in the family all alone.
My mother, only 41 years old, was a widow with 6 children, a full time job, a mortgage, a diabetic daughter and the grief of losing her very best friend.
"Its too much," I thought. The grief, the loneliness and the pain, those of us left behind had to endure. I decided then and there, my life would never burden a husband, or children in such a way as my father's death crushed us in those early years.
When I fell in-love with Erik, I told him of my concerns. I was blind, in poor health and my doctors told me I probably wouldn't live beyond the age of 35. Erik never even blinked at this revelation.
"I'd rather spend what ever time we have together than the rest of my life without you," he said.
His faith and vision have been the buoy I've clung to for the last 17 years. As of April, 2014, the burden of my precarious health as eased because of the pancreas transplant. I knew from the time we were married, Erik bore burdens I didn't comprehend. The financial responsibility to work over 12 hours a day. The load of knowing he will surely be left alone early in his life. The weight of having to be both father and mother after I'm gone. An overwhelming sense of failure because he couldn't be everywhere doing everything when I was hospitalized and our children were young. The enormous amount of faith, his only life line, to get him through failed transplants, recoveries that made my health worse instead of better. The long nights when he didn't know if he'd seen me for the last time. The brutal days when every phone call held the promise of catastrophe at the other end of the line. My ring tone on his phone was an ambulance siren. My obituary was always being written in the back, and at times, in the front of his mind.
My children have had Halloween in the hospital. Birthdays around Dr.'s appointments. The first weeks of school alone, field trips by themselves because mom wasn't strong enough. My oldest son wonders if I'm Okay every time he hears a siren. My youngest son, worries about me walking around by myself and falling in a hole. Zack, my little knight-in-shining-Armour, asks me constantly if I'm Okay?
Even as I write this, I'm beginning to understand the burden I have placed on the people I love most.
When I thanked Erik for bearing my burdens, he told me..."It hasn't been that bad." He believes that with all his heart.
If you give a small child a stone to carry, it isn't long before it becomes a natural part of their stance and stride. With each added stone, their burden makes them strong until they no longer consider it a burden. It's possible that my guys have just gotten used to their burdens. Thinking about the weight I've felt lifted from my shoulders after the transplant and the hope and faith I feel from them reminds me. Our burdens, are collectively lighter because we carried them together. Not just Erik and I, or Erik and I and our kids. Each of you have carried a little with your love, your prayers, your help and your thoughts in our behalf. My burdens at the time of my father's death were not lighter because I got used to them. My father has been gone for more than 25 years and the empty place in my soul is still just as empty. The days, weeks and times I lost and my family lost are still gone. None of that changed because we got used to it. Time heals all wounds, but not by itself. What we do with our time heals our hearts and minds. What we allow Christ to do with our weaknesses, failings, heartaches and disappointments is where healing comes from. If we fill our time with bitterness, anger, hatred, or resentment then we are filled with a weight we cannot escape. If we fill ourselves with His light, love and comfort. there is no burden which is a heavy load. His perfect hands lift it and carry it for us. Your burdens are meant to bring you strength and wisdom, but in the end...
Our burdens are meant to be lifted from our shoulders by The Savior. Only he can truly make them light.