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Thursday, November 27, 2008


Given this season of thanksgiving, I've been thinking a lot about the blessings in my life. A few months ago I had a hard time recognizing anything that might be labeled a blessing. Grief has a way of clouding one's vision and obscuring the view of blessings in life still to be appreciated.

Gratefully, I've been having more moments of deep, heartfelt recognition of blessings. I've even been able to start counting blessings that have come as a direct result from the nightmare experiences we've been through this year; blessings that could only have been born out of adversity. Blessings that have come wrapped in the most painful and heart-breaking packages.

I've been reminded of some thoughts I wrote down last October. While the trials of this year are much different than last year, the lesson is still the same. Blessings sometimes come in the most oddly wrapped packages, and the goal is to always have the faith in God to receive His gifts and rejoice in the gifts that He gives, trusting that He knows what and when to give. Today, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of God's blessings to me, maybe even especially the ones that have come wrapped in pain and sorrow.


The Oddly Wrapped Gift - originally posted on October 18, 2007

"For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift."

The other day I decided to post about some of my more honest feelings about the difficulty of some of our trials. While it felt good to express that raw emotion, I want to be perfectly clear about a few things.

Yes, dealing with infertility has been painful.

Yes, the wait for adoption can be hard.

But, I would be completely ungrateful if I didn't admit that somehow in the midst of going through these trying times, we have found so much beauty. How is it possible that adversity can be a blessing?

I've started to recognize that the most wonderful of life's blessings have usually come to us in the most oddly wrapped packages. To look at something on the surface, it's easy to be deceived into thinking it represents something awful and unattractive.

Have you ever been to a white elephant party where the beautiful box wrapped in gold paper with the perfect red velvet bow on top is coveted by everyone? That is, until the person who finally ends up with it, and no doubt fought hard for it, finds that its contents are totally undesirable... you know, like an old fruit cake or a half burned candle or something.

While, on the other hand, there is a plainly wrapped gift that everyone does everything they can to get rid of it... only to discover at the end that it contained some very desirable gift... like, a large box of See's chocolate. {can you tell what I'm in the mood for right now?}

So, where was I? Oh yeah, packages. When we first found the "infertility package" on our doorstep, we were in denial. "No, no, it wasn't intended for us... we'll just ignore it there in the corner until it goes away." We didn't even want to go near it... it was not a gift... it was most definitely a curse.

Well after a couple of years, either out of desperation or curiosity, we decided to unwrap it. But, we did it very slowly. Just a little bit at a time. We went at our own pace. Even while in the middle of unwrapping it, we were trying desperately to understand how this could be a blessing. We were still deceived by how it came wrapped. We wanted the pretty, gold wrapped package with the big red bow.

After some time, we finally started to recognize little blessings of having received this "gift." We have found the gift of empathy. The gift of bearing each others' burdens. The gift of knowing that everyone has their quiet struggles. The gift of very faithful, supportive family and friends. The gift of knowing how to let each other mourn in the way that works for each of us. The gift of a strengthened marriage. The gift of patience. The gift of faith. The gift of learning what it means to pray intently. The gift of seeing past the awful wrapping of infertility, to find that we had been given a very wonderful gift. Adoption.

We're all given different "gifts"... they come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes, and most importantly they all represent different things for each of us. The key is to "receive the gift" and "rejoice in the giver of the gift" even if it appears at first to be something that we think we don't want.

Because, there is a loving Father in Heaven who knows how to bless us, and always blesses us with "good gifts."

Monday, November 24, 2008

I will not take these things for granted

* photo taken Autumn 2007

My sister made me a CD recently and included this song on it. Good song with an even better message.

I guess it's probably obvious that this year has majorly changed our life. It's different.

Little things have come to mean so much more to me than they did before we lost our twins.

This morning Marc was up early to get ready for one of the classes he teaches at the college. On most Monday mornings I'm usually still in bed by the time he leaves. Which was the case this morning, since I was up past midnight last night.

Sometimes he comes in to kiss me good-bye, but sometimes he sweetly leaves me undisturbed. (I don't know if he knows this, but I never mind being disturbed by his kisses.)

I heard him in the kitchen, getting his jacket on and zipping up his bag. I squinted over at the clock to see the time.

At first, I thought, I'll just wait 'til he leaves, and eventually I'll roll myself out of bed.

And just as that thought scrolled across my mind, I found myself jumping out of bed and hurrying to the kitchen in hopes of catching him before he got out the door.

He heard me and met me halfway on the top step that leads into the kitchen. I think I was still half-squinting because I only half-noticed what he was wearing. Even still, I noticed enough to know that I'm married to one incredibly handsome man. He pulled me into him and hugged me like he meant it, even with my morning breath and bed-head hair.

As we had our good-morning/good-bye kiss, my body tried to remember every detail of his embrace, and my heart was busy memorizing the way it beats just for Marc.

I guess that has been one of the results of experiencing our tragic loss. I know there is so much I've taken for granted in my life. And, I don't want to do it anymore.

The thought that bounced me from my bed in half-slumber to my feet in half-sprint was this:

What if this is my last chance to tell him I love him? What if something happens and he doesn't come home at approximately 11:10am like every other Monday morning? How hard would I kick myself for not getting out of bed early enough to tell him I love him?

Does that make me paranoid? I don't know. Maybe. But, I don't care. I'm grateful that our twins have taught me how fragile and precious life is. I'm grateful our recent experiences have made me want to embrace life like I mean it.

Because the honest truth is that I don't know when tragedy will strike. And in most cases I won't be given advanced notice.

Marc did come home at 11:06am this morning. I was watching from the kitchen window. He saw me from the front walkway and his smile made my heart skip a beat.

I will not take these things for granted.


Friday, November 21, 2008

"Rejoice with them that do rejoice"

Back in March when I found out I was so unexpectedly pregnant, it was incredibly hard to share the news. Having been down the painful path of infertility, I knew our news would be received with mixed emotions by some of our friends who have walked that painful pathway with us. I felt so blessed beyond measure, and even undeserving. There was a very real internal battle between feeling joy for our gift and sorrow for those who were still waiting. I wanted so badly to somehow pass out fertility passes to every infertile couple we know.

I found myself thinking of the scriptures that command us to "mourn with those that mourn" and "comfort those who stand in need of comfort." After sharing our news and getting some mixed responses, I wanted there to be a phrase that included something like "rejoice with those who are rejoicing." Since I was the one rejoicing, it seemed like the best idea around. C'mon, everyone, rejoice with me!

Don't you think it fits?

Well, apparently it really does fit. I came across this verse in Romans 12:15: Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Now, that our greatest grief has replaced our greatest joy, and we're back on the other side of feeling pain and uncertainty of infertility, I've struggled with these feelings. Why is it so much easier to mourn with those who are mourning? Why is it not just as easy to rejoice with those who are rejoicing?

I wish it wasn't so hard. I wish I didn't have worries about when and if it'll ever happen for us. I wish I understood why it has been so hard for us. I wish I didn't worry about heaven running out of children to send to our home.

It's a struggle, and I know it isn't something that will come quickly or easily. But, I know there are great things to be gained from making an honest effort to get my heart to that place of rejoicing, even if it's rejoicing over someone else receiving the one gift I would give anything for.

I'm a bit overwhelmed with challenges like this that take such serious self-mastery of pride, of jealousy, of entitlement, of bitterness, of frustration, of any other number of vices you can imagine. But, those are things I want and need to purge anyway. There's no doubt that this refiner's fire I've found myself in is my chance to do some serious purging.

This is my chance. My opportunity. And, possibly the greatest challenge of my entire life.

(With that said, don't be surprised if it takes me my entire life to get to that ideal point. And, if you're one that is rejoicing, please understand that I'm trying. I really, really am.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interesting times we live in...

This is what happened to our Church sometime late Saturday night (or early Sunday morning).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"my soul did long to be there"

I've had some heavy feelings weighing on my heart lately. I've written at least a dozen blog posts that have all remained unpublished, and I'm left feeling rather frustrated in my inability to express what I've been feeling lately. I think it's the wide range of topics and situations that have been pressing on my mind.

But, today, I just miss my girls.

If they could have waited until their intended delivery date, they would be about two weeks old.

I hate marking time now by their passing. I wish every month I could just skip over the 16th day. The more I try to avoid thinking about it, the more it seems to wait for me to take note of it. And, I've found it frustrating that if I don't stop and acknowledge it, then I'm pained with the most awful, guilty feeling.

Today I came across a verse of scripture that immediately brought tears to my eyes and seemed to sum up at least a portion of my feelings perfectly.

Yea, methought I saw,... God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there. - Alma 36:22

There is something about reading about a vision of angels praising their God that makes me so desperately want to be there with them, and with Him. I know that's where my girls are, and I know that's what they're doing.

And, then I happened upon this quote by one of my heroes, Neal A. Maxwell:

Such longing for a heavenly home is real, especially in view of how this life is designed. After all, brothers and sisters, when we rejoice in beautiful scenery, great art, and great music, it is but the flexing of instincts acquired in another place and another time.

Life turns out, however, to be just what one would expect of a deliberately constructed proving and tutoring experience which features opportunities, choices, and deprivations. Furthermore, there is no way around—
the only way to go is through!

And, so, tomorrow I will go through the day. I will give myself permission to feel whatever I need to feel. I will no doubt be reminded of the heartache that comes with many of the memories of July 16th... and longingly look forward to the day when that pain no longer stings my heart.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Surprise

Saturday morning we woke up early and made our morning bike ride to the cemetery. I enjoy that bike ride so much for so many different reasons. Just love it. And, I love it when Marc is able to come with me... it's much nicer when it's shared.

We came home and while Marc took I shower I started cleaning like a mad woman. You would have thought we were expecting company. I just really love getting everything cleaned and organized for a peaceful Sunday (little did I know of the company about to arrive). I finally jumped in the shower by 10:30am, I think. Just as I was getting out, Marc told me we had some friends stop by and were outside, waiting to talk to me.

Anyway, so I threw on some clothes and as I opened the door all I saw was Marc talking to some guy. As I looked closer, I realized it was my oldest (or is it nicer to say biggest?) brother Jamie, who lives in Idaho! He had just called like an hour earlier and asked to talk to Marc about a technical question. Having a computer genius for a husband, this is a common occurance... but apparently the "technical question" was simply to find out if we were going to be around for the day.

Jamie drove down from Idaho with his childhood best friend - Kenny - who is probably his adulthood best friend, too. They were in town to pick up some of Kenny's things in storage, since he and his family recently have moved down the street from Jamie and Janet, in Idaho. Oh the fun they're going to have being inseparable again!

(Kenny, where are your shorts?! I hope this photo isn't too embarrassing!)

I really don't have many memories of Jamie growing up, seeing as he left the house when I was 6 years old. I'm so grateful that as we've gotten older we've been able to create such a strong friendship with each other.

And, grateful for others who captured these kinds of photos of Jamie, that I wasn't able to witness firsthand:

(Jamie, do you have any explanation for this picture? Please tell me it was halloween or something.)

And, now that I may be in very big trouble for these two photos, here are some that should redeem Jamie as an awesome big brother, who always goes the extra mile. This first one was when we were together for a family reunion during the Summer of 2001. Everyone had already left for church and I was sure to be late... so Jamie brushed my teeth for me while I did my hair. Seriously, who can say their brother has done something like that?

And, it gets better. Today, Jamie decided to head home an hour early from church, so that he could get started on making the mashed potatoes to go with the pot roast that I had in the crockpot. Well, I was completely shocked at the scene I came home to. Not only were the potatoes already mashed and ready to go, there was a salad on the table, a pan of bread loaves rising, a tray of dinner rolls rising, butternut squash baking in the oven, and he was in the process of making the gravy. Seriously? YES! I was so surprised, I grabbed the camera to capture the moment. Proof:

(Even with a smile on his face!)

I can't even describe how wonderful it was to be surprised with Jamie's visit. It has been almost four months since he was here last - for the twins' memorial. As soon as I saw him, there was a joy and comfort that immediately filled my heart. I guess during trying times you start to recognize how precious your family is, how wonderful it is to have people in your life who accept you one hundred percept, who love you and desire to protect you.

I have been blessed with the best family. I really have. I also happen to have married into an equally best family. On top of that I've been blessed with friends who fit more into the family category than the friend category, which is a rare and special blessing. And, while I'm at it, I have to add a huge thank you to our blogging friends, known and unknown. Thank you for your continuous love and support through the last few months, especially. Much of the most loving support we've received has come through our blog. We've been so touched by the encouraging and beautiful comments that have been left for us. Please know how much your kindnesses have meant to us and continue to mean to us.

Jamie, thanks so much for your surprise visit! Your big brother hugs were more needed than I had realized. My heart healed a little bit more from your visit. It meant more than you probably realize. I love you. So. Much. Please drive safe tonight. (Janet, thanks for your hugs by proxy - I actually got TWO from you! And, thanks for the goodie box that was hand-delivered! Love it!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Desires of the heart

Boyd K. Packer:

Some years ago a president of a student stake asked if I would counsel with a young couple. The stalwart young man and his lovely wife had recently been told, with some finality, that they would never have children of their own. They were heartbroken as they sobbed out their disappointment. What they wanted most in life, what they had been taught and knew was an obligation and a privilege beyond price (part of the Plan), they now were to be denied. Why? Why? Why?

I consoled them as best I could and offered comfort that really was insufficient to quiet the pain they felt. As they were leaving the office, I called them back and said: “You are a very fortunate and very blessed young couple.”

They were startled and the young man asked why would I say such a thing as that. Did I not understand what they had told me? Why would I say they were fortunate and blessed, when they were to be denied the thing they wanted most, children of their own.

I answered, “Because you want them. In the eternal scheme of things that will be of inestimable and eternal value.” The Lord has said that He “will judge all men according to their works; according to the desires of their hearts” (D&C 137:9). Many people now do not want children or want few of them or consider them a burden rather than a blessing.” They were a very blessed young couple.

When you understand the plan, you can cope with challenges in life which otherwise would be unbearable.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Great and Precious Promises

There is a talk by Elder Spencer J. Condie from General Conference last year that I've listened to probably at least 26 times since he originally gave it. I literally sobbed through the talk when he first gave it, and have since shed many a tear as I've watched it again and again. It is a beautiful reminder of God's love, of His awareness, and of the assurance that He will fulfill His promises to us. I'm convinced that this talk was given specifically for me, and nothing anyone says will convince me otherwise. (I'm only 33% joking, btw.)

But, I still want to share it with anyone out there who might be wondering if God has forgotten you.

He hasn't. Trust me. I know He hasn't forgotten you or me.

If you still don't believe me, watch this. It might be the best spent 8 minutes and 22 seconds of your day.

(If you want to also read this talk, you can find it here.)

Some highlights that I just have to point out:

Sometimes, in our earthly impatience, we may lose sight of the Lord’s precious promises and disconnect our obedience from the fulfillment of these promises.


And the Lord changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah, and when he was nearly a hundred and she was 90 they were promised that Sarah would bear a son to be named Isaac (see Genesis 17:17, 19). Amidst their disbelief the Lord asked: “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).


The Apostle Peter testified that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering” toward us (2 Peter 3:9). In this age of one-hour dry cleaning and one-minute fast-food franchises, it may at times seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold or filed them under the wrong name. Such were the feelings of Rachel.

But with the passage of time, we encounter four of the most beautiful words in holy writ: “And God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22). And she was blessed with the birth of Joseph and later the birth of Benjamin. ...

When heaven’s promises sometimes seem afar off, I pray that each of us will embrace these exceeding great and precious promises and never let go. And just as God remembered Rachel, God will remember you.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Finding joy... today

We have fond memories of our childhoods, memories of being surrounded with great love and lots of laughter, and we hope to build these same kinds of memories in our own home. We can't wait to play with trains, swing on swings, chase butterflies, and re-experience the beauty of the world through a child's eyes.

The quote above is taken from our adoption profile. I've decided it needs to be changed... here's why.

Soon after the passing of Elliana and Emmaline, I found myself feeling sad that I had failed to provide a full life of memories for my girls. Even though I knew there wasn't anything more I could have done to save my girls, there was still a feeling of guilt and responsibility weighing on my heart... I should have been able to save them. (There's that banned "should" word from our vocabulary.)

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, my girls became my sole purpose for living. For the better part of five months I literally focused 100% on my girls. I dropped everything during those months - school work, Church responsibilities, even many household chores (thanks to having an amazing husband). I did a lot of laying on the couch, a lot of vomiting, a lot of sleeping... I also did a lot of reading to my girls. We got through most of the Chronicles of Narnia.

Since they've been gone, I've naturally had moments when it has been difficult to find joy or purpose in life again. As weeks have turned into months, I've tried to look at things differently. I've tried instead to live my life as a gift to my girls. I know they want me to find joy in living... and since they aren't able to experience all the joys of life here on earth, I find myself hoping that somehow they can find joy in watching me experience things for them.

Evidenced by the quote at the top, when we were preparing to adopt, I seemed to have the mistaken idea that we had to wait for a child to re-experience the joys of trains and swings and butterflies. I'm realizing we can experience all of those joys with or without children in tow (though I know the joys are probably at least 100 times greater with). I'm grateful that the birth of our twins has re-opened our eyes to the simple beauties and joys of life. Here are a few of the simple blessings that have given me a renewed joy for life:

Mother Nature. Maybe I was just blind to them before, but in the last three months I've seen more rose buds and flowers blooming than ever before... as well as butterflies and hummingbirds. Maybe they are extra special gifts from God. He knows how much they mean to me right now, and I am so grateful. I love the earth. It is such a wondrous gift.

This is the bike I wish I had...

Bike rides. Before three months ago, it had been probably at least 7 years since I'd really been on a bike for any extended period of time. Now, as we make our rides to the cemetery, my favorite thing to do is ride down the big hill with my hands high in the air... well, relatively high, anyway. Nothing takes me back to being 7-years old faster than that. Love it.

Ice cream cones. The newly constructed Rite Aid added an ice cream counter, selling Thrifty brand ice cream, complete with the cylindrical ice cream scoops! We've only been once... but, I was all laughter as half of my double decker melted down to my elbow - it must have been 109 degrees that day! It brought back the joy of so many childhood memories. We need to go back.

Autumntime. Besides all of the vibrant, autumn colors to enjoy, this time of year it's so fun to go on walks and hear the crunching of leaves and acorns.

Meet our maid and butler...

Dancing. With or without music. Lately, I've found myself swept up in Marc's arms much more frequently, swaying and holding on to the moment together. I love it how time seems to stand still in those moments.

Singing. You know, the outloud, completely out-of-tune kind that only occurs in the car all by myself. (Thanks, Mandi, for the awesome CDs you sent me... they have definitely brought moments of dancing in the sun, like you hoped.)

So, when we get back into adoption at some point, it looks like we'll have quite a few things to change in our profile... our perspective of life has changed so much... we have changed. Life is way too short and fragile to not enjoy every moment; whatever moment we are in and whatever the circumstances of that moment consist of. It's silly to put off exploring and enjoying the world around us until a child finally joins our family. We can enjoy it now. And find great joy in what life offers us today.