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Friday, September 26, 2008


For as long as I can remember, I have always loved hummingbirds. When I was in high school my Dad gave me a ceramic vase that he had made, with a hummingbird etched on the side of it. I love that vase.

We have a hummingbird feeder right outside our kitchen window. I think we must be the only house in our neighborhood with a feeder, because we have to refill it at least once a week. I love it, though! I love that they come in flocks to drink our colored sugar water. I always add one drop of blue to about five drops of red, to give the water a slight purple-ish color. I think they like purple better than red.

This morning I noticed that the feeder was empty, so Marc brought it in for me to fill up and then left to run some errands. While he was gone, I was doing the dishes, and two different hummingbirds came to where the feeder usually hangs, hovering in their graceful, lovely way, seemingly confused when they couldn't find their fountain of purple deliciousness. And they disappeared as quickly as they came.

I'm not tall enough to put the feeder back up, so as soon as Marc got home I practically met him at the door with the feeder in hand - "please put this up... the hummingbirds are looking for it and can't find it." I was afraid if we waited too long that the hummingbirds would find a new source of food and never return. And, that would just make me sad. As simple as it sounds, I find so much joy in watching them drink from our feeder. I especially love it when they actually rest on the edge of the feeder and really drink (I've only seen it happen once, though)... usually they keep their wings flapping furiously while taking quick sips over and over again.

Gratefully, within probably ten minutes of getting the feeder back in position, the hummingbirds were lining up again for drinks and I was admiring them from the kitchen window.

And, in that moment I found myself feeling grateful for another reminder of the constant, never-failing fount of "Living water" that has faithfully quenched my thirst. I'm so grateful that I've never gone to drink and been disappointed to discover that there was nothing there to satisfy and fill. When drinking from the "waters of life," I always come away feeling refreshed and renewed. And, I'm pretty sure there is great joy experienced by both the Provider and the partaker when we rest our wings and linger a little longer to fill up on the "Living water" that will never fail us.

These reminders of the One constant in my life have come to mean so much more to me than ever before. When life seems to crumble and cave in from every direction, I find myself questioning when and how and in whom I can ever fully trust again. My heart has been so profoundly touched to know that there is One who won't ever fail me. He is the Son of God. He is my "living water."

"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." - John 4:14

"Whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come." - Alma 42:27

Getting over it...

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to heal from a loss, what it means to "get over" a loss. The best explanation I've found has been from C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed, which he wrote right after the passing of his wife. 

"Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he's had his leg off it is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he'll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has 'got over it.' But he will probably have the recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again."

I really love this analogy that he gives. It feels like there has literally been an amputation of the heart... and we're just having to learn now how to live in a new way. It won't ever be the same as it was before. Everything is different now. We'll adapt and find our new 'normal', but we won't ever really 'get over it' in the sense of 'forgetting about it'... but, we will find ways to live anew.

And, actually, though the pain is sometimes intense, I'm finding that I'm enjoying the perspective and view this new life has provided. Life is simpler. It feels less cluttered, less hurried, less distracted. Just one of the many blessings that has come with the whole package of this experience.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prayers for Amy

I've been having so many thoughts running through my mind, so many things I need to write out. But, every time I sit down to write the only thing that comes to my mind is my blogging friend Amy. She lost her unborn baby boy on Monday. Hearing her sad news has made my own wounds feel fresh and new again... my heart aches for the loss she is experiencing. 

Please keep her and her family in your prayers. I know that the prayers offered on our behalf have carried us through our darkest moments... and I know they will carry Amy and her family.

"I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee."

- 2 Kings 20:5

Friday, September 19, 2008

Burning fevers

"Too often we are so busy checking on our own temperatures, we do not notice the burning fevers of others."

- Neal A. Maxwell

Yesterday I mentioned some words of advice I received five years ago that have helped me lately. It was actually a priesthood blessing that Marc gave me just after my miscarriage. I was promised that I would find healing as I sought out opportunities to bring joy to others through acts of service. I was experiencing such deep emotions at the time that I was honestly frustrated by those words. I hate to admit that now, but I didn't understand how I was expected to serve others at a time when I didn't feel like I had anything to give. The phrase stuck with me constantly for a couple of days, until I finally decided that I would put it to the test and see if, in fact, healing would come.

All I remember is one day making loaves and loaves of bread and taking them to some of our neighbors. It was something so simple, but the advice was exactly right... I did find healing come to me as I looked for ways to help those around me. Even in very small ways. I got out of my comfort zone, and was able to see that I wasn't the only one with challenges.

It has been interesting to go to the grocery store or to be out in public right now, knowing that all the pain I have inside is completely unknown to most people I come in contact with. There is no outward indication of what is going on in my heart. And, as I watch people now, I find myself wondering what they might be experiencing that goes unnoticed to everyone else. If I can feel such intense heartache and still appear to be functioning like a normal person, I wonder what all these other "normal-looking" people are thinking about, worrying about, what burdens are weighing them down.

It reminds me of a talk by Elder Eyring from a few years ago that has always stayed with me. Here is just the very beginning of that talk:

When I was a young man, I served as counselor to a wise district president in the Church. He tried to teach me. One of the things I remember wondering about was this advice he gave: "When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time." I thought then that he was pessimistic. Now, more than 40 years later, I can see how well he understood the world and life.

Just like I have troubles that are painful and unknown to others, I know that, chances are, most people in my life have quiet sufferings as well. As I've been thinking about these things lately, I've found myself seeking for the strength and courage to put it into practice once again. I've had small glimpes lately of the healing that comes from finding ways to help others. And, those small glimpes are motivation enough to continue seeking the Lord's direction in who and how to help. I know He knows my quiet moments of suffering, because of people He has sent to comfort me in the precise moment I was needing it. So, I know He knows who else is going through quiet struggles, and can guide me to them, if I'm open to His promptings.

I understand there are still going to be moments when I'll need to grieve and have some quiet time to myself. But, I know there is truth in the promise I received five years ago, that healing will come through service. In the midst of pain, it is really hard to seek for ways to serve others, but I'm learning that we can do hard things, with the Lord's help. And, in return, I know He will bless us in abundance for what little we give.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


*Image credit: Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory

My life feels like it's in some sort of strange time-warp. I can't keep track of the days... they all just seem to blend together without beginning or end. When I realized today that we were already half way through September, I found myself wondering where August went. It just made me realize how much everything feels like a blur. 

I know there aren't any shortcuts through this pathway of grief... and sometimes the weight of time can become so heavy. I find myself looking ahead to the coming months (and years) and I try to figure out how I'm going to get through them... and since I rarely find anything there but overwhelming fear, in those moments I try to find reasons to want to live right now, in this present moment.

Most of the time my reasons revolve around simple things, even things that surprise me at times in their simplicity. Like, riding my bike without hands, or eating an ice cream cone, or noticing a new flower blossoming, or watching the hummingbirds in our front yard. These moments give me little injections of joy, which I'm grateful for. But, there is still this sort of emptiness in time that I'm trying to learn how to live with. There's a feeling of knowing it's good to embrace the present moment fully, but it's hard to do while feeling a constant pull to heaven. It feels like Tug-o-war of the heart. 

I've been grateful for what others have said about time, and how much their words express so much of how I feel.

Neal A. Maxwell: "Eventually, the veil that now encloses us will be no more. Neither will time. Time is clearly not our natural dimension. Thus it is that we are never really at home in time. Alternately, we find ourselves wishing to hasten the passage of time or to hold back the dawn. We can do neither, of course, but whereas the fish is at home in water, we are clearly not at home in time - because we belong to eternity. Time, as much as any one thing, whispers to us that we are strangers here."

C.S. Lewis: "And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn't seem worth starting anything. I can't settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness."

It's a challenge to take time right now and transform it into meaningful moments... but, it's a challenge I'm willing to accept, because I don't want to look back on this period in my life and see only "empty successiveness." I want to find purpose and reason to live joyfully even when my heart is in pain.

As my thoughts have been circulating around time, I've been reminded of advice given to me over five years ago... and I'm still finding wisdom in those words of advice that have helped me through so many hard things, and will probably continue to help me as I go through life. I'm pretty sure they will stand the test of time.

Hopefully I will, too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sweet Surprise

This probably could have been included with our previous post, but I felt like this deserved its own, separate post. When we first looked towards our daughters' grave this morning, we noticed there was something sticking out of their vase:

We pulled it out and this is what we read:

Needless to say, our hearts were so touched by this sweet note. Tears immediately filled my eyes. I used to work with the Young Women at Church and these two, Mahala and Sage, are the most thoughtful teenagers! When they found out I was expecting twins, they wrote me a beautiful card on Mother's Day and brought me over homemade popcicles to help me through the morning sickness. They had already been designated as our babysitters... they were so excited to fulfill that responsibility. We were all excitedly looking forward to the days ahead.

A couple of weeks ago, they asked if they could ride their bikes with us one morning to the cemetery, since neither of them were able to be with us for the Memorial service. I was touched that they would want to come with us. It was nice to share some of our thoughts and testimonies with them that morning. But, I didn't think they'd visit the gravesite again on their own.

We really weren't expecting to find this note today. We assumed we were the only ones visiting our daughters' grave. Their reality is so much more powerful in our hearts and minds, and we don't expect others to feel the same reality of who they are to us. But, just for a brief moment this morning, I was completely overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for the love that others feel, not only for us, but also for our girls, Elliana and Emmaline. I know they are loved by so many. I can't wait for the day that they'll be showered with that love from those who already love them, even without having the chance to get to know them here.

And, so I guess, more than ever before, we're still excitedly looking forward to the days ahead....

Two months...

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep, I was having all of these awful bike accident scenarios swarming through my head. You see, I had a little bike accident on Saturday morning coming back from my ride to the cemetery. Marc was teaching a class at the college, so I was on my own that morning and... anyway, it wasn't a big deal. I was definitely watched over and protected from suffering any major, serious injuries. It really could have been A LOT worse!

This morning those same scenarios from last night were still haunting me, and they almost kept me from getting back on my bike this morning. But, I was finally able to convince myself that my fears weren't going to win. Plus, today is the two-month mark of our girls' birth and passing, so I just felt like I especially needed to go today.

And, I was so glad I did.

When we got there, we noticed a newly buried grave closeby where our girls are buried, so after securing our bikes, we walked over to see who was just buried. We have found so much interest in other peoples' graves, wondering who they are, what their stories are, who their families are. The grass that had been cut up and placed back over the top of the burial place was bulging and still so loose you could pick it up.

It reminded me of an email I received from a new friend of mine who has also buried two of her children. About a month ago, she shared some thoughts in an email with me that have stayed with me and really helped me. I hope she won't mind me sharing them here... it's just too beautiful not to share!

After the funeral, the ground around the gravestone is torn open, raw, exposed. The rain comes along and tears it open again. It takes time for a few pieces of grass to begin to grow. It must be dealt with carefully, or it will not grow over and "heal." It is taken care of by the groundskeeper, and straightened and smoothed when we go to visit. And then one day, when we go to the cemetery, we notice something. The ground is grassy all around. It was such a gradual change that we hardly realized that it happened. The gravestone is there to remind us, but the ground is healed, completely healed from the stress of being torn open, and there is no more proof of the raw dirt that was there not so long ago. I think the ground and our hearts have something in common. They are both torn open and raw, but with time, we begin to see the beginnings of healing. And then one day, we laugh and have a good day and realize, our heart has healed.

Today, while looking at the bulging gravesite of this freshly buried grave, and then looking at how much our girls' gravesite has settled, there was such a contrast. And, I realized that, while we haven't completely healed yet, there is some healing that has taken place. The ground is settling, the wounds are healing.

Here is how it looked two days after the funeral:

Two months after the funeral, here's how it looks today:

I know there is still a very long road ahead, but I'm grateful for the healing that has come, for the pains that have been soothed, for the many people who have reached out to us and loved us and cried with us. So much healing has come from the love and support we've felt in abundance over the last couple of months. Our hearts are so deeply touched. Thanks to all of you....

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sundays are hard. Feelings are extra tender, the hymns are extra powerful, the yearnings to find peace and comfort are stronger than ever. Today was definitely no exception. I woke up this morning, though, convinced that it was going to be a good Sunday, without my usual emotional breakdown.

The first meeting went okay... a few tears here and there, but I held myself together very well, I thought. The second hour I covered a Sunday School class for a teacher out of town. When I know I'll be in front of a group or a class, I always find a way to hold myself together... I guess in those moments I put up my thickest guard. So, that hour went even better. Phew! Two down, one to go.

Well, it was the third hour that ruined my plan.

Last Sunday they asked me to give the closing prayer for that third-hour meeting. I politely declined. I think it was the first time in my entire life I refused to pray. But, there is something about praying in public right now that is too sensitive, too tender... it makes me feel... too vulnerable. For right now, I feel a need to protect the privacy of my prayerful moments. 

Today, I was asked by a different person to offer the closing prayer. Again, I apologized and explained that I really wasn't able to right now. Something about refusing to give the prayer for the second time triggered the tears to start flowing. I quietly left the room, hoping to have a moment to just let it all out. I was glad to find the bathroom empty. I had a few moments of release in private.

While grieving, Marc and I have been advised to get rid of the word "should" from our vocabulary. That has been one of the greatest pieces of advice we have received. Wouldn't you know that the thoughts going through my mind while in the bathroom were "I should be able to give a simple prayer." "This shouldn't be so hard for me." It is now our new bad "sh" word. :)

As soon as I recognized that new bad word invading my thoughts, I knew it had to go. There are a lot of things that are harder to handle right now. I don't know why. They just are. And, I'm learning to just accept that for a while I won't be able to be and do the same things that I could before. I will again someday... I just need a little more time, I guess.

So, anyway, once I was recomposed, I went back into the classroom and finished singing the opening hymn with everyone, only then to discover what the lesson was for the day. It was a lesson that I thought had already been covered in my ward. I had a few friends in other places tell me about this particular lesson being taught in their wards the Sunday after our girls were born and died... I had found its timing to be so strangely fitting. And, since I didn't attend our ward that Sunday, I assumed it had also been taught here that Sunday in July. The lesson was "Words of Hope and Consolation at the Time of Death." Reading that lesson within days of experiencing the death of our girls, I found great comfort in the teachings and words of Joseph Smith.

Knowing I was already in a vulnerable situation, and after realizing this was our lesson today, my first reaction was to sneak out and find my way home early. I was already a mess... how could I stay composed through this lesson in front of everyone? Well, I stayed, but didn't stay composed. It was a lost cause... and maybe that was a good thing. Maybe I needed a reason to cry. Maybe I needed to give a glimpse of my heavy heart. Maybe I needed to openly mourn so that others could mourn with me. Maybe it was for them as much as it was for me. 

I read through this lesson eight weeks ago today. And, while it definitely triggers feelings of heartache of having to endure this awful separation... there is such powerful doctrine taught that soothes that pain. I felt that sweet comfort eight weeks ago... and I feel it again today. 

I felt badly for the teacher and others who apologized for the lesson today, thinking they should have just skipped over it. My reaction was exactly the opposite. I was grateful for the lesson. I was grateful that I hadn't missed it. I needed the reminder that our girls are ours forever. I needed an added witness from the Spirit that death has not won, that our girls continue to live, that they look forward to our reunion as much as we do. I needed to hear the comforting words that - 

The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.

So, I wasn't able to make it through my Sunday without my usual emotional breakdown, but at least I came home having received a much-needed spiritual uplift. Pure doctrine flowing deep into my heart, leaving me comforted and with hope. I'm grateful for these sacred experiences that reassure me that we will be with our girls again, that they share our same heartache of separation, that they look forward with the same anticipation and excitement of being together as a family, forever. Forever. That knowledge has become so urgently important. It is (literally and figuratively) a matter of life and death.

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?"

- C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blessings unmeasured

"Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.”

- C.S. Lewis

* image credit:

When Marc and I were dating, I remember having a conversation with him where we talked about how sometimes in life we look at blessings like buying from a vending machine. Here's what I mean... you put in your money and then get to choose what you want from the vending machine. It can be easy to look at life the same way... you put in the time and effort working towards obtaining some desirable thing, and then naturally expect to receive what it is you want.

Life doesn't always work like that, though... sometimes we get the blessing we desire and sometimes we don't. And, I guess depending on how you look at it, that can be unfortunate or it can be fortunate.

We tend to go for what we like, what we're comfortable with... but, sometimes there are other options that would get us out of our comfort zone and require us to be a little more courageous. And, while there can be some disappointment in not receiving what we think we want... I feel confident that in the end what we receive and the way we receive it turns out to be so much better than what we ever could have imagined for ourselves.

I have gotten the feeling lately that in the end I'll honestly be able to look back and feel grateful for the paths we have taken, for the things we've learned along the way, for the alternate routes that have provided a completely different view, more complex and beautiful than the one we thought we wanted. I wouldn't trade what we've been given with anyone. Even at my lowest low, I still feel that way... the blessings have always far outweighed the affliction.

We received this thoughtful gift for our anniversary that has helped us reflect on all of the blessings we've been given. Counting blessings is really like eating M&Ms... you can't stop with just one (I know they say that about potato chips, but I feel it's more true with M&Ms...) So, anyway, the effect is this incredible awareness of all the blessings that we continue to receive on a daily basis. We love having this reminder of how blessed we are! (A HUGE thank you to our friends for giving us this gift!)

I was listening to this CD the other day, and loved the third verse of "The Lord is My Shepherd." (If you click on "this CD" you can listen to part of this verse - it's beautiful!).

In the midst of affliction my table is spread.

With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o'er.

With perfume and oil thou annointest my head.

Oh, what shall I ask of thy providence more?

Oh, what shall I ask of thy providence more?

I don't think I've ever paid attention to the beauty of those words... but I've found them to be so true for us right now. In the midst of affliction, we really have been blessed with blessings unmeasured. I know grieving is healthy and it's necessary to experience, but I feel so grateful that the blessings we've received have helped heal the grief we feel. As blessings continue to flow into our lives, we feel so grateful for the tenderness of a loving Father in reminding us how much He loves us.

There is a relief that comes from knowing that God knows best what we need and how to bless us in His way and in His time. We are learning that His blessings to us are more than what we ever could have imagined for ourselves. With Him in charge, don't things always turn out better than how we hoped?

"I don’t know how it is for you, but I have felt so often in my life so greatly blessed for what little obedience I have given. My that the Lord’s ratio of blessings to our obedience is a very generous ratio indeed. He is so quick to reward us, so quick to reassure us, and so anxious to take delight when we serve Him. So... the only bottom line I can give you is that the ratio of blessings to our comparatively minuscule obedience is a very, very generous ratio indeed.”

- Neal A. Maxwell

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Local Cloud Cover

*Image credit:

After getting through the first month of grieving, I sort of assumed the worst of the grief was behind us... and I guess in some aspects it was. We made it through our good-byes in the hospital, we made it through picking out a casket, we made it through buying a plot at the cemetery, we made it through the Memorial and Graveside services, we made it through the absense of our family members after everything was over. Those first weeks were definitely filled with some difficult tasks.

I guess what I didn't account for was making it through some of the days ahead when there would be less numbness and when reality would haunt me with its starkness. I shouldn't have been surprised when I had some recent days of completely overwhelming grief, which came with a heaviness that I never would have imagined. 

I usually don't talk much about those moments, but I have them. I allow myself to go through them. I try to go through them in a healthy way. I try to come out of those moments with something more than what I had going into them. More strength, more faith, more assurance of God's power to rescue. 

I don't know if my pleadings have gotten more sincere, or maybe heaven already knows how desperately I need help right now... whatever the cause, the result has been unmistakable. Heaven answers immediately. The pain doesn't leave, but at least there is a strong sense of being surrounded by unseen arms who are anxious to comfort me.

In those darkest of my "midnight moments" I have felt a love and calm so strong it could only come from heaven. I really appreciate those moments of calm because they remind me that the storm is temporary. I may have a few stormy days here and there, and while they seem like they'll never end or I'll never make it through, there always has been an end (or at least a break, long enough to catch my breath) and I've always made it through. 

Lately I've found a lot of comfort in the words of Neal A. Maxwell, having experienced his own terrible suffering and pain from leukemia. I appreciate this reminder from him:

“I share with you again a simple little insight that may help you at certain junctures in your lives. It is that you must not mistake passing local cloud cover for general darkness. They are very different things, and for us to misinterpret local cloud cover, which will soon be blown away, as general darkness is a terrible thing. The restored gospel is so full metaphorically of light. We must not be mistaken about this.”

I feel so grateful for the perspective of the low moments of grief just being "local cloud cover." As much as those moments aren't fun, they really are "just a small moment." Plus, because of the light of the gospel, this experience has allowed us to experience things that have deepened our understanding and given us a clearer glimpse of the love and sacrifice of the Savior. With that glimpse comes a much deeper gratitude for His many gifts and blessings. There are so many ways our life has been abundantly blessed, even while in the midst of this experience... it just becomes a matter of remembering and being aware of the blessings....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Triumph is born out of struggle"

In the last few days I've thought a lot about submission to God's will, and I wanted to clarify that getting to the point of submitting to God's will has not been quick or simple. I suppose it comes as a result of a lifetime of experiences, often experiences that were learned the hard way. And, really, we're still learning how it's done and what it means. We have by no means arrived at our desired destination.

About a year ago we had an experience that ended up being a very painful learning experience in not seeking out or accepting God's will for us. Without going into a lot of detail, we had been chosen to adopt a baby girl and we exhausted ourselves in trying to convince God that we deserved this little girl. In the weeks and months leading up to her due date, my prayers consisted mainly of begging and pleading for this baby to make it to our home. I was too afraid to ask if it was right; too afraid to pray to know God's will for us and for that little baby. Well, the adoption ended up not working out. As a result, I fell. And, I fell hard. 

It was a scary place to be. Fortunately we were able to recover, but we learned a lot from that hard experience. Perhaps the most important thing we learned was that it was much more painful to go through a hard experience without seeking to know the will of the Lord, than it was to put the situation into the Lord's hands. I suppose that was one of our first experiences in learning the difference between "faith in Christ" and "faith in a desired outcome." 

Of course, having faith in Christ requires a trust and assurance that He loves us, He knows us, and He will ultimately bless us in ways we never would be able to imagine. There is a sense of freedom that comes from acknowledging that we are unable to see the entire picture of our lives. When we, then, put everything in the Lord's hands, we're able to find relief from the burden of our short-sightedness.

There is a deleted scene from the movie Bruce Almighty that has always struck me in a powerful way. It's unfortunate that they chose to not include it in the actual movie. I have to admit that I don't agree or approve of every aspect of the movie, but I do appreciate its attempt to bring some moral truths to Hollywood. Anyway, the basic plot of the movie is that the main character (Jim Carey) is given the role of "God" for a week. At one point Jim Carey is answering peoples' prayers and basically gets overwhelmed by the task, and just answers with a "yes" to everyone. Later, "God" (played by Morgan Freeman) shows Jim Carey some of the consequences of those "yes" answers.

They take a look at Filbert Davis in gym class, being bullied by other boys because he can't climb the rope. He prays, "Oh God, please help me." His prayer is answered and he miraculously climbs to the top very quickly.

As a result of Filbert's prayer being answered the way he thought he wanted it answered, and with his sudden increase in confidence, the next scene shows Filbert being the bully, beating up another boy on the playground. And, at this point Morgan Freeman explains: 

Since when does anybody have a clue about what they want. Filbert was a brilliant young man; he was going to be a Greek poet. The soul of his work would have been built around his childhood pain. Now he's headed for a career as a professional wrestler, he will eventually test positive for steroids and end up managing a muffin shop.

Then, Morgan Freeman shows how the trials and challenges given to people were intended to bring about other blessings that couldn't come in any other way. After giving Jim Carey a glimpse of the good that would have come to certain people because of their struggles, Morgan Freeman says this:

Triumph is born out of struggle. Faith is the alchemist. If you want to paint pictures like this you have to use some dark colors.

(Definition of alchemy: process of transforming a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.)

I love that message that faith transforms us into something of great value... and our faith is best tested in the face of extreme challenges. In the last few months I have come to an awareness that God sees the full picture of my life and knows that "using dark colors" will bring about blessings and knowledge that we couldn't have received in any other way. Like with Filbert's childhood pain having a purpose in his life's mission, I know there are things I'm meant to learn through hard experiences.

It has not been an easy couple of months... there is deep pain that has carved itself deep into my heart. But with that pain there has also come an increased awareness of God's love for me personally. I am profoundly grateful for a loving Father who knows me and loves me, and who has been blessing me with daily evidence of His love for me - through gifts in nature, through the loving arms of a friend, through quiet moments on my knees. I do not know for sure what lies ahead in my life... but I trust in God that He will preserve and provide.

(As a side note, I found it interesting to read a post I made about a year ago, that you can read here. It's amazing how much I didn't know then about how this last year would go... but, I'm grateful for the ways I was being prepared and strengthened to handle these current experiences.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Source of Healing

I have always loved the story of Peter walking on the water to Christ, but in the last few weeks its message has come to mean even more to me. As we have had our own long, dark nights of navigating stormy seas, I have been touched with the message of Christ coming to the aid of his disciples who found themselves on a stormy Sea of Galilea. After a long night of struggling through the raging waters, Christ came in the fourth watch of the night, declaring, “be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

Peter then answers Christ, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” The invitation from Christ, ever consistent, is “come.” Peter then enters the troubled waters and, with his eye fixed on the Savior, walks on the water towards Him. It is only when his focus changes from the Savior to fearing the winds and the waves, that he begins to sink. Peter, knowing Christ could save him in that moment of need, cries out, “Lord, save me.” And, I love the next part: “And, immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him.”

I find myself wanting to be as quick as Peter in crying out for help. When the burden gets too heavy to bear or when I feel tempted to dwell on the "if onlys" and "what ifs", I'm learning to turn my focus to Christ. I've experienced great peace in doing that. When my thoughts and feelings are directed towards Him, my heart is softened, my pain is soothed, and I find immediate calm. And, those moments of calm have come to mean so much.

About a week ago I found myself going through a low moment. To help me get through that valley, I knew I needed to shift my focus to Christ, and away from the doubts and fears. I decided to put together a slideshow of paintings of Christ. Somewhere in that process I was reminded again of how much I need Christ to get through this, and that He wants me to need Him.

I also felt a sense of Him wanting and needing me to get through this, needing me to come out of this stronger and more faithful. It'll be a process that might take a while, but I am so grateful to know He is there to help me through whatever comes. He is there, just like He was for Peter, waiting and wanting to lift us and save us.

* Image credit: Greg Olsen, Simon Dewey