Tag Archives: Hope

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Lying about it would be futile. The reality is that I spend an enormous amount of time thinking about my children. I put a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual effort into them. I worry over them, I pray for them, and I try to anticipate problems. I do my best to teach them the principles of courage and strength, obedience and faith.

Lately, as I've watched the state of this country spiraling out of control at an ever increasing rate I've darn near had a panic attack because of them. The political chaos, the rapid moral decline, and the attacks on our God-given freedoms leave me feeling almost desperately afraid when I focus on them too much.  And by too much I mean any longer than 3 minutes.

I've sat around wondering how my children are going to survive it. I've prayed for answers on how to help them survive it.

I didn't discover a magical solution, but I did remember a time-tested one.

There's so much more going on with a tree than what we see on the surface. The healthiest trees have root systems underneath the ground that are larger than what is visible. These trees have extensive and efficient tangles of roots that not only nourish them, but that also help all that is visible to withstand the blows. Trees make sure that there is the same amount of work, if not more, going on underneath the surface.

About 65 years before Christ, Helaman led an army of young, teenage boys to battle in defense of Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty. That Title of Liberty was flown throughout the land. It said, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." This battle had raged on for years when these young boys joined the fight.

But even a man as faithful as Helaman was nervous about these boys. He didn't want to lose any of them in battle. However, his observation of them helped quench some of his fears. "Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."

When the Lamanites surrendered as prisoners of war, Helaman went to count how many of those 2,000 boys he had lost."But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war."

History has taught me two incredible lessons. First is that even amidst incredible fear, deep roots of faith instill courage and hope. The faith of these boys didn't grant them some invisible force field that guaranteed their protection. But what their faith did do was give them the courage to fight. It gave them the courage to lose because truthfully, they knew that even had they lost that battle, they were still winning an even greater one. Their motivation to fight was greater than any possible outcome.

The second thing I've learned that has planted itself firmly in my heart is the incredible power of a faithful mother.

I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother. -Boyd K. Packer

So to mothers and fathers everywhere: Hang onto hope. We are not helpless. We don't have to sit idly by while a decaying world steals our children. We have power; power granted to us from on high; power to lift and power to save. The conversations and the prayers and the scriptures that are being shared in our homes will do more to combat the insanity that is occurring every day than any amount of worrying ever will. Be courageous. Be faithful. Make sure you leave no question in the hearts of your children about the reality of your faith or the power of the Savior of mankind to save. Stand on the winning side, regardless of how small that side becomes. Victory is certain. Just make sure there is more good happening underneath the surface than storm raging up above.

 

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It's taken me days to write this post, not necessarily because I haven't had time to finish it, but because my feelings have been raw and my mind restless.

WRDD A couple of days ago was World Rare Disease Day (WRDD). Rare diseases touch so many lives. And these diseases seem to be multiplying at an ever increasing rate. I haven't heard of most of them, nor can I attempt to pronounce their names.

I'd never even heard of PLEVA (Pityriasis Lichenoides et Varioliformis Acuta) until my son woke up one day, suddenly in its grasp. And while WRDD is meant to inspire and raise awareness for so many of this Earth's strongest warriors, it also left me feeling somewhat melancholy. It left me thinking for too long about the disease that has taken up residence in my sweet son. The fact that there is even a need for such a day sprinkles salt into an already gaping wound.

Prior to the 28th I'd already been obsessively thinking about Tanner's disease and his future more than I would care to admit.

Thanks to a dear friend of mine that connected us, I am suddenly in contact with another mother of a child with PLEVA. We chit chatted via social media about this horrible disease. For the first time since Tanner's diagnosis I felt like we weren't silently fighting this battle alone.  We were suddenly part of a team, however small it may be, fighting this beast together. It was uplifting.

But it was also sobering. This little girl has been fighting for a year longer than Tanner and she's right in the thick of it.  Tanner's in the middle of a slight reprieve and it's been easier to ignore for a little while. This little girl even sees the same doctor at Seattle Children's. The scariest part is that her current reality is a look into our most likely future.

The rosy picture painted by our doctor was most likely wishful thinking. In the event that Tanner never has another full blown flare, that might be how our future will look. She was probably being hopeful and extending that hope to us.

When I checked him the other day he had 11 spots in various stages. If we get to 20 active spots he starts chemotherapy. It's the only time in my life I've ever been truly frightened by numbers.

This sweet, little girl has been on chemotherapy for 17 months already. And she was just barely able to successfully lower the dose for the first time. And yes, it's a lower dose than what a cancer patient would be administered so she still has all of her hair, but she gets really sick and exhausted and had to be pulled from school. She receives monthly cancer screenings because the risk of mutation is higher. Listening to this sweet mother explain her daughter's situation to me opened up every fear that use to overcome my thoughts. I felt my hope waning. Realistically, this will be our life.  This will be Tanner's life.

I am not without hope. I have hope in the Savior of mankind. I trust that all things work for our ultimate good and that things are as they should be. But my humanity and my motherhood have no problem screaming at the top of their lungs that this whole situation is a far cry from fair. It's humbling to submit my will to God when this avenue is so contrary to everything that I want for Tanner. I am certain that my Father in Heaven and I have the same end result in mind when it comes to our son and I am even more certain that He knows better than I the best route to get us there. But in my weakness I am incredibly afraid of the path He's chosen.

On days like World Rare Disease Day, days where I don't want to close my eyes for fear of my own thoughts . . . on those days I humbly have to acknowledge that there are powers in force far beyond my capacity to control. I humbly declare that God loves my son more than I do and He is fully aware of our needs during this life's journey. He is conscious of that feeling of fear that lingers just underneath the surface of my every day life and never goes away. He is keenly aware of all of us and in that I find peace.

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I've been absent from the blogging world for quite some time. It's quite shameful really. But hey, I was pregnant (and not pleasantly so) and I had my miracle baby. That's a story for another day, however.

Today when the school called me to come and pick up my sick Kindergartner I was barely phased. Normally a wrench such as this thrown into my already chaotic days would have sent me into a hyper stressed sort of inward panic. I would've been the perfect picture of calm and collected if you had seen me, however, because hey, being outwardly calm is one of my talents. But today I really was calm. It didn't matter that I was trying to work. It didn't matter that I was in the middle of homeschooling my 8 year old. It didn't even matter that I'd just taken my newborn out of the bath and was nursing him mid phone call.  All was well.

Why, you say? Because Seattle Children's Hospital has entered my life, that's why. Talk about an ideal relationship. They're perfect. Or at least close enough to perfect that you can blindly put them on a pedestal for the remainder of your eternal relationship.

Tanner1 blog

If you've read my blog for long you know that Tanner, my 7 year old, was diagnosed with PLEVA back in March. It's a rare autoimmune disease with flare ups lasting for months (or forever) that make you look like you have the chicken pox. It leaves terrible scars and is fairly unpredictable. It can mutate to lymphoma and we were told there was no cure. His diagnosis tore at this mom's heart. It's a tough thing to hear about your child.

We tried 2 different antibiotic treatments lasting for months that did nothing but weaken Tanner's immune system.  He was fatigued and caught everything under the sun. And he still had spots. It was awful and frustrating.

Finally our appointment with Seattle Children's came (there is quite the wait to get into the place because let's face it, nobody breaks up with the perfect significant other). Tanner and I went on Tuesday. It was heavenly.

Our doctor was phenomenal and hopeful. She said that Tanner had quite the impressive case of PLEVA from the looks of his scars (not the type of impressive you want to be). She also said that treating it with antibiotics was basically worthless and the last thing she would do. She treats PLEVA with a low dose chemotherapy drug. He'd be on the drug for 1 to 2 years. It's immunosuppressive and so he'd have to go off of it any time he was sick in order to heal, but the lengthy use of the drug stops the flare ups and then is used as a maintenance drug for awhile. Slightly scary, but at least it's something that works.

And in even better news, she told us that she has seen PLEVA burn out. I stared at her blankly. What does that mean? It means she's seen it cured. Not all the time. Sometimes it lasts a lifetime, but she's seen it go away. You know what that means? HOPE. One of the finest feelings in existence. Hope gives people reason to believe and to have faith and in this case, to breathe easy.

Oh, did you think that was it? Sorry, no. Are you ready for the news even better than that!? She's never seen it mutate to lymphoma. NEVER. NOT ONE TIME. She's not saying it can't or that it won't, but she is saying that she's never seen it happen. I could've kissed her. I think she knew it too because she told me my mama heart could rest easy for a bit. She even told me what to watch for if it were to mutate (we were previously told that lymphoma and PLEVA would look identical and that it'd be tough to know if it had mutated). Oh, be still my heart.

So, yes, my son still has a rare autoimmune disease. And yes, it may never go away. There are all sorts of terrible things that could happen. But his doctor is hopeful and confident and she has a plan; an effective plan that has worked for her many times before.

Tanner currently has only one new spot on his leg. Unless it flares up and he gets more spots, he doesn't have to be on the medication yet. We can rest easy and not have to feel the panic of the  uncertain every moment of every day. And if things turn south we have someone we can call. Someone who knows what to do, someone who's done this before.

Things don't always turn out the way we'd like them to. Sometimes they turn out exactly opposite of our ideal. Sometimes our hearts break and sometimes hope seems just out of our reach. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes we're blessed with little miracles. Sometimes things take a positive turn. And sometimes God has prepared other people to improve our journey and make it easier.

Thank you , Seattle Children's Hospital.

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I'm not a very eloquent speaker, especially when the words are coming from my heart and not my mind. But those words that are written all over my heart flow from my hands with complete ease. It's always been this way. So sometimes I don't speak up when I should. And sometimes I'm not so great at defending and sharing the truth.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself guilty of both. I sat in sacrament meeting (our church's congregational meeting where we also partake of the sacrament) listening to people bear testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I knew I should get up. I knew I had something important to share. But I didn't do it.

I'm hoping to redeem myself today.

More than fifteen years ago I went through one of the hardest times of my life. One of my dearest friends was in a fatal car accident. The experience shook me to the core, both emotionally and spiritually. And I'm ashamed to say it, but I ran. I ran away from everything that I knew to be true. I turned my back on my Savior and the principles of the gospel. It was more than I could handle.

I spent a couple of miserable years living my life that way, but through God's loving mercy I found my way back. And not only did I find my way back, but I did it with a much deeper understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the plan of our loving Father in Heaven. My foundation was solid. And I've been unshakable ever since.

But recently I found myself in that place again. The details are very different, but the feeling of despair was the same. I felt my spiritual knees buckle and I knew I couldn't stay on my feet. I had done all I'd been asked and I knew I couldn't give one more thing. I'd reached my limit. My strength was gone. I felt myself giving up. I decided I was going to turn my back and run.

The difference this time was that I could hear how crazy I sounded. Even as I uttered my feelings of despair out loud I knew it wasn't right, but I couldn't shake it. Very thankfully, I had the sense to inform my Father in Heaven this time. Our relationship is such that I speak with Him frequently and my natural reaction was to tell Him every detail of the pathetic situation I found myself in.

So I did. I cried. I begged. I asked Him where my miracle was. I told Him that I didn't have the strength to do one more thing . . . whether He was the one asking or not. I told Him I was done.

He responded almost instantly as a scripture flashed into my mind. " . . . peace be unto they soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high . . . "

Well, sure. But those words were directed to Joseph Smith. THE prophet of the restoration of the gospel. He was special. He was stronger. 

Essentially I ignored the direction. I went about my business as usual, but with a feeling of desperation. I could see God's hand leading and helping everyone around me. But I couldn't see His hand extended to me. That scripture kept coming back to my mind and finally, almost screaming to myself, all of the despair came pouring out.

Is that supposed to make me feel better!? Joseph never got a reprieve. Not in this life anyway. His "small" moment lasted all of his shortened life. I can't do that. I'm at my limit. You're asking me to do more than I'm capable. I'm NOT strong enough.

My loving Father in Heaven answered instantly again on my behalf. Firm words came into my mind. Yes, you are! Hang on. Help is on the way.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I don't know if any of you have ever passed out. It's only happened to me once, but as I was about to go down, I remember someone grabbing me underneath my arms and holding me up before all went black. I felt that way again. It was almost as if I was literally being held up as my spiritual knees buckled. I was strengthened. My situation had not changed, but my capacity to endure it had suddenly increased because I had an extra set of hands lending support. I felt a small glimmer of hope. It was real.

Look, I know that everyone tells you that God won't give you more than you can handle, but they're mistaken. He absolutely does. He has to. It's the only way He can help us to realize our need for His strength and mercy. It's the only possible way for us to learn how to rely on Him instead of on our own limited capability to endure the trials of this life.

We will absolutely be pushed until we break, whether once or multiple times. And it's at that breaking point that we make a decision. We decide whether we're going to run or whether we're going to let the Savior of mankind lift us up. If we can muster up even enough faith to shout at our loving Father in Heaven, telling Him we can't make it, telling Him that we feel ourselves quitting, help is on the way.

I bear my humble witness that you will be lifted in your times of direst need. These times of desperation are designed to reveal the loving power of God. They're there to bring light to the perfect Atonement of our perfect Brother. These times come to help us understand that we need Him. They're there to show us our weakness . . . and then to show us our strength when yoked with His mighty hands.

So if today is that day for you, the day you're certain you're going to drown, please trust me when I tell you to reach out your hand. Even if you can't see through the pain or the haze to know that someone is there waiting to grab it. Just reach out your hand. Even if you think it's the last thing you'll ever be capable of doing. And then feel free to cry tears of joy when you realize that the weight has lessened because someone else is helping to carry that load.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is an awe-inspiring reality, His gospel the power of God unto salvation. Trust in Him. And hang on for help is most surely always on the way.

As featured in The Reflector:

Last week I spoke at an activity for a bunch of women at our church. The theme involved being a light in the darkness, essentially being figures of hope.

Hope has been on my mind a lot lately. I shared with them a conversation I’d had with my little sister. She and I had been talking a lot about the moral and political state of our country and were feeling quite forlorn over it. We worried for our children and the battles they would have to face because of it.

Then we talked about how we believed in something better. We discussed how we believed in the human race and how we knew goodness and morality were still there. We ended up feeling a little perplexed about the fact that the voices representative of that morality and goodness, including our own voices, are strangely silent in comparison to the opposition.

I possess a lot of hope. Even when things seem irreparable or hopeless I’m still capable of feeling it. A significant portion of my hope rests in God, but I’m also inspired by my confidence in others. I’m confident that there are good people in the world. I’m confident that those people don’t have to be forced into kindness and caring. I’m confident that there are people who still possess the capacity to be moral compasses to those around them. I’m optimistic that people can still differentiate between right and wrong. I’m optimistic that when given the opportunity, those people will choose all that is good and right and moral.

So if I’m confident that these people exist, if I’m hopeful in the goodness that still remains in this world, then why aren’t I hearing more of it? Why aren’t I sharing more of it?

I told my sister that sometimes my silence stems from the fact that I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I don’t want people to find my stance offensive or rude. I don’t want anyone to feel like I might be trying to force my religion or my opinions on them.

But guess what? With hope comes responsibility. I strongly feel that the two are inseparable. If we feel hope and confidence in humanity, then we should be spreading that hope. If we feel optimism in regards to the morality of our nation, then we should be encouraging and sharing that hope out loud. If we find hope in the God of us all, then we should be sharing it. It’s our responsibility.

It’s amazing to me how tolerant we are of the voices of dissent and immorality and irresponsibility. No one questions their right to voice their opinion. They’re screaming loudly and everyone is listening.

Yet those with a message of goodness and hope are comparatively silent. We feel our hope inwardly. We share it with our inner circles. And even when our morality is yelling at our souls, that what we’re hearing is not right, we sit silently at the risk of offending the supposed majority. And the supposed majority engages in fighting our right to share our beliefs and our hope, in the way that they so freely share theirs.

You know, I was amazed as I spoke to these women. There were about fifty of them and they weren’t from the congregation that I attend, but from a neighboring one. So some of them I knew and some of them I didn’t. But what amazed me was that as I looked around, I could see the hope in the eyes of every single one. And if there’s that much hope right here in the middle of nowhere, I have to believe that there’s that much hope everywhere else too.

The hopeful need to start talking more loudly than they are. I told my sister that I feel almost guilty that I’ve been so reserved and quiet on the source and subject of my hope. If immorality can spread like wildfire, morality can too. If irresponsibility can be made to look good, then responsibility can be made to look as good as it once did. Honesty, integrity, loyalty, hard work . . . all of them can make a comeback. I believe that. I believe there is still good in the world.

I’m a mother. I have children. Four of them. There are four, lovely, little people living in my home. I want them to grow up feeling hopeful. I want them to recognize what’s right when they see it. I want them to embrace morality and goodness and kindness. And I want them to be strong enough to share what they’ve acquired with the rest of the world.

If I want those things for my children then I have to 'be' those things for my children. Children are what they hear and do what they see. They have to hear my voice in chorus with the rest. They have to see me defend all that is right. So my silence is ending today.