Sunday, August 31, 2008

Drama Queen

Annie and Mikenna (Britt's daughter)

The fever has gone and now the rash has come. This virus that has gone one by one through our little family has certainly had more of an effect on me than it did any of my kids. They all got fevers for a few days and then a rash for a day or two after that. But neither of these stopped them from eating, sleeping, playing, or doing. The only one that even complained at all was Ann Marie. 

Annie is my drama queen. She is the last person I want sick in this house because when she is sick I have to practically carry her everywhere and she cries ... no wails most of the time.  All she said when she had this was that she was itchy. She kept scratching her thighs and arms and I could see the rash spread to most of her body.

Now either this has hit me way harder or I need to newly declare myself the biggest drama queen in this house. 

I had the fever and chills and my body ached so badly I couldn't do my normal chores. I had to soak in a hot bath to warm myself everyday and then go to bed early covered in blankets. Then I woke sweating and bare several times a night. That was the fever part. I am done with that part. Yesterday I noticed the rash.

The rash is the same one Annie had. And yes, it is itchy. It isn't too bad though. No, it is just bad enough. Just bad enough to make me grumpy yesterday. Just bad enough to cover my whole body from the sole of my feet to the crown of my head. Just bad enough to make my skin red and hot like it is sunburned. Just bad enough to make me have to think not to scratch because that really hurts. Just bad enough not to let me sleep.

Aye there's the rub. No sleep. Coming off a week of bad sleep, I really need my rest. Last night, that was not happening. I can only count one other time when I was more frustrated by not being able to sleep and that was in the hospital with Camille. I was just so tired last night. Finally at 1 a.m. I got up and went downstairs and watched a movie.

I think I finally got to sleep around 4 a.m. only to be woken by Lauren at 6 something. Then I couldn't go back to sleep because of the insane itching. 

In the hospital with Camille, my sister in law Nikki and sister Lesli each took a night and read scriptures to me to calm me so I could sleep. It worked for about an hour each time. This morning I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep and came downstairs. Annie was awake by this time. I couldn't even open my eyes but I could tell it was her that came to hug my by her height.

She took my hand and let me to the couch. She laid me down and asked if I wanted her to read me some scriptures. I said yes. She opened to Alma 30 and started to read. After ever verse or so she would say, "Mama, now tell me what I just read to you." 

Sometimes I had been conscious enough to remember and could repeat some of the words. Then she would say, "That is good Mama. That is right." Other times I couldn't remember and she would say, "Okay Mama now listen this time as I read it to you again."

She read the entire chapter to me just like that. By the end of it I knew exactly who needed to take me upstairs and put me to sleep. She and her sisters took me upstairs and Sabrina told me a story first. Next was Annie's turn. I was not conscious for the end of it, thankfully. 

I love my gifted little Ann Marie for her ability to read, her vast ability to love, and for ability to put me to sleep.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How Quickly They Grow

Sabrina and Annie Sept. 2007 


Last night I was headed to bed after finishing my Midnight Sun reading. I heard a noise as I reached the top of the stairs and went to investigate. I found Sabrina up going to the bathroom. As I turned to leave her she spoke. "No, Mama, Don't go," she said. "Come sleep with me."

Sabrina is the only baby I have ever had that would sleep more soundly with me than in her own bed. She is seven now and seems so mature sometimes. I figured there may not be too many more years that she would want me to snuggle her to sleep so I indulged us both and went in to lay with her till she was soundly back to sleep. Then I stayed a little longer. 

Laying there next to her, I felt all my love for her wash over me. I was so glad we have had so much good alone time together. I love the sweet loving girl she is and the helpful sensitive young lady she is becoming. I was also astounded once again at her incredible beauty. The soft tender skin of her neck and clavicle were just a breath away and got several kisses from her mama while she slept with one arm wrapped under my neck.
"Some day she is going to get married," I thought to myself. "Someday some man is going to look at that neck and admire it with such different feelings than mine." I began to think, "Whoever she dates or marries better treat her with all the respect and pure love she deserves. He better adore her. He better live to take care of and protect her."

I thought of all the ways men can and often do inflict injury on their wives. Finding a good husband is not always easy. Even good men can make stupid mistakes that cause their wives major pain. I feel so blessed that the Lord turned Jon's heart to me. But what of my daughters?

I have no guarantee for them. Well, except Camille. I do have a pretty sure guarantee for her. Whoever she chooses will already have overcome the trials of this world as well. There are so many trials on this world she will never have to suffer.

Sabrina, Annie, and Lauren I will still have to worry about. I will watch them grow in beauty and stature. I will teach them and train them. I will admire and love them. I will hope for them and pray for them.

And for now, I will lay with them when they want me to because I know one day they won't ask any more. One day, they will be too big to snuggle in my lap. One day they won't want me in their rooms. So for now, I will snuggle with them all I can.
Sabrina June 8, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Midnight Sun

Some of you may have already heard about the leak of this much anticipated novel by Stephenie Meyer. I feel really sad that someone leaked a partial draft of her book on the internet. I am even MORE bummed that she has put the book on hold indefinitely because of this leak. 

I am thrilled, however, that she has made the partial draft available to us her fans who wouldn't go read it illegally on the internet. If you want to download it go see her site HERE I have spent the day reading on my laptop. I would SOOOO much rather be holding a book than a computer, but I have throughly enjoyed reading this side of the Twilight novel. I actually wish I had read this before I read Breaking Dawn.

I hope Meyer decides to return to this novel and finish it someday. I just know how bummed I am going to be when I get to the end of this draft. I think having this partial draft out there will only whet appetites all the more. 

Well I am 150 pages into the 264 page draft and loving it. I am feeling better today. The fever seems to be more under control and Edward and Bella have been occupying my thoughts. I think I will return to them now. Happy reading!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Wonders of Being Sick


I have to give a shout out to my awesome sister Lesli. I have not been feeling well and she has helped with the blog, my calling in Young Women's, and today she came over and cleaned my whole kitchen. Les, you are heaven sent.

So this is the first time I have really been sick since Camille died. I was sick when Camille died with a nasal thing that seemed to drag on forever after. Now however, I have been fighting a fever, chills, and body aches. 

The funny thing is, I actually feel so much better inside than I have in a long time. I don't know if I am delirious from the fever, or if it just feels like all the inside pain is taking a backseat to the teeth chattering chills, but I almost feel like my life is -- normal?

How can that be? I don't know. And frankly, I am not too worried about it. I want to get to a place where I feel this way more often. So I am riding it out as long as it will last. 

I have had a few thoughts this week in my deliriously normal mind. We grievers hold on so closely to our grief as if it is the last piece of our child. It feels subconsciously like letting go of the grief is letting go of the child. This is not true. 

God did not allow us to suffer this trial with the intent that we spend the rest of our lives in sorrow. Rather, we are to learn to bear the sorrow with broader shoulders than we thought possible and find joy once more in our lives.  I really believe that I have suffered this trial for purposes so vast that only my Creator knows their entirety.

No it is not the grief we must cling to, it is the love. The trick is that they are so linked. I suppose there will always be sorrow in the separation. That is only natural. But I want my sorrow to be the kind that is over powered by joy. 

Joy in the blessing my daughter was and is to me and my family. Joy in my work here on this earth. Joy in the work my daughter is engaged in beyond the veil. Joy in my other beautiful children. Joy in my relationship with my husband. Joy in the Savior. Joy in the love from all those angels in heaven who have stood by me in every time of need. Joy in the love of a Heavenly Father I trust implicitly.

Enough from my fevered brain. May I share a quote from William Wordsworth:

"There is a comfort in the strength of love;
'T will make a thing endurable, which else
Would overset the brain, or break the heart."

END OF AUCTIONS!

Time is up. This is the end of our three auctions. It is Nie Nie Day today and we feel so grateful to those of you bidders out there who contributed so much for this special cause.

The three winners are as follows:
Item #1: Eye Candy necklace, winner A.P. at $150.00
Item #2: Blush Lavender earrings, winner Jennifer at $60.00
Item #3: Navy Love necklace, winner Maine626 at $135.00

CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS! We hope you love your items and especially the good feeling in your heart that you helped a fellow blogging mamma and her darling Mr. Nielson.

Winners please send an email to lesli2go@yahoo.com and include the following:
1) Your first and last name, 2) mailing address [where you want the item shipped to], 3) your blogsite address if you have one you wish to share

I will email you my paypal account and then you can make payment there. Then when I see your payment has hit the account I will be able to ship out your item. I will donate the total of the three payments to the Nielson's recovery fund via Paypal.
This just seems easiest to do--less steps for everyone involved.

So I look forward to hearing from you winners. And our many many thanks to those of you who participated and even browsed our auctions.

If you would still like to donate to the Nielsons you can do so by clicking on the following Nie Recovery button. It will take you to the official donation site.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another silent auction


My friend Emily is also holding a silent auction for the above pictured bracelet. It is 7.5 inches and made with gorgeous green freshwater pearls with green and new jade stones and pewter bead caps.  It has a pewter toggle clasp. For more information you can visit her website HERE. Or you can just make a bid on this item by emailing here at adornmail@gmail.com.

Thanks again for all the support for this family!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Silent Auction Item #3

What a remarkable response we are having with our first item! (see below)

We have decided to add two other items for auction. Each auction will end on Thursday, August 28th at 10:00 pm PST.
See the two previous posts for the other two auction items.

This is auction item #3:

Navy Love Kazuri Necklace





22 inches total length
Adjustable length at closure
Color: navy Kazuri beads with a center dark grey bead with navy polka dots

Made with sterling silver secure closure so as not to come undone while wearing them. I made this design with some of my loose Kazuri bead collection. The beads are made of clay from Mt. Kenya and hand shaped and hand painted by underprivileged women who are employees of the Kazuri factory.


TOP 10 AUCTION DETAILS:

1) what am i bidding on?
Navy Love Kazuri Bead Necklace and free shipping of course

2) when can i bid?
now. the bidding begins with the publication of this post.

3) where do i place my bid?
in the comments section of this post we will leave the first comment with the starting bid such as "i start the bid at $40". then the next bidder can submit a comment with their bid like, "I bid $50." and with each bidder to follow they just leave a comment with their price. only bids posted in this post's comments section will apply to this Navy Love necklace.

4) what amount can i bid?
please keep all bids to an even $1--no change please. example: if the bid is $65.00, then the next bid should be $66.00 not $65.50.

5) how do i know what the highest bid is?
check the comments. it will be the most recently posted comment.

6) when does the auction end?
THIS THURSDAY, AUGUST 28th @ 10:00 PM PST

7) what if i win the bid?
after the close of the auction we will post the winner and their bid.
if you are the winning bidder, just email your contact information to lesli2go@yahoo.com.

8) how can i pay for the necklace?
a paypal payment would be preferred. (that makes it easiest for us to transfer the full amount to the nielson's fund) but we will also take a check/cash if you know us personally.

9) will all of the money go to the fund or just a portion?
ALL OF IT, we promise

10) why are you doing this auction when you don't know the Nielson's personally?
because we were so blessed by the kindness of strangers in our time of need.
where much is given, much is expected. this might not end up being much but we feel a need to do what is within our abilities to help. help us help them.

*just a note: to donate directly to the family go to here: www.leslistreets.typepad.com and click on the blue "donate to Nie Nie" button on the left side bar.

HAPPY BIDDING! click comments to leave your bid.

Silent Auction Item #2

What a remarkable response we are having with our first item in the previous post.

We have decided to add two other items for auction. Each auction will end on Thursday, August 27th at 10:00 pm PST.
This is auction item #2:

Blush Lavender Kazuri bead earrings



To bid on this item please go to the comments for this post and leave a comment with your bid. Only bids left in this post's comments will apply to these earrings.

For auction details & "how tos" please see under our first auction item in the previous post.

And by the way, thanks everyone for the kindness!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Silent Auction Item #1



Welcome to our silent auction for burn victims Christian and Stephanie (Nie Nie) Nielson

People have been so giving to our family in our time of need. It spurs us to want to do something to help this couple in their time of desperate need and pain. Knowing they both suffered serious burns and that burn victims go through numerous months even years of skin graph surgeries and physical therapy makes one shudder to think then of the medical bills that will follow.

Stephanie, and I are hosting this silent auction here on her blog. All money that is paid for our item we will donate to the Christian and Stephanie Nielson Rehab Fund at Bank of America. 

What treasure are we auctioning off? 

Something the girls in our family can't get enough of. Something close to our hearts. Something of value. Something that is one-of-a-kind. Something handmade. Something that represents women from around the world.


Our ITEM #1 FOR AUCTION: 
This Eye Candy Kazuri Bead Necklace




20 inches in total length
About a 9 inch drop
Colors: periwinkle, purple and marbled purples on the large egg shaped beads

Made with sterling silver secure closure so as not to come undone while wearing them. I made this design with some of my loose Kazuri bead collection. The beads are made of clay from Mt. Kenya and hand shaped and hand painted by underprivileged women who are employees of the Kazuri factory.

TOP 10 AUCTION DETAILS:

1) what am i bidding on?
This Eye Candy Kazuri Bead Necklace and free shipping of course

2) when can i bid?
now. the bidding begins with the publication of this post.

3) where do i place my bid?
in the comments section of this post we will leave the first comment with the starting bid such as "i start the bid at $40". then the next bidder can submit a comment with their bid like, "I bid $50." and with each bidder to follow they just leave a comment with their price. 

4) what amount can i bid?
please keep all bids to an even $1--no change please. example: if the bid is $65.00, then the next bid should be $66.00 not $65.50.

5) how do i know what the highest bid is?
check the comments. it will be the most recently posted comment.

6) when does the auction end?
THIS THURSDAY, AUGUST 28th @ 10:00 PM PST 

7) what if i win the bid?
after the close of the auction we will post the winner and their bid. 
if you are the winning bidder, just email your contact information to lesli2go@yahoo.com. 

8) how can i pay for the necklace? 
a paypal payment would be preferred. (that makes it easiest for us to transfer the full amount to the nielson's fund) but we will also take a check/cash if you know us personally.

9) will all of the money go to the fund or just a portion?
ALL OF IT, we promise

10) why are you doing this auction when you don't know the Nielson's personally?
because we were so blessed by the kindness of strangers in our time of need.
where much is given, much is expected. this might not end up being much but we feel a need to do what is within our abilities to help. help us help them.

*just a note: to donate directly to the family go to here: www.leslistreets.typepad.com and click on the blue "donate to Nie Nie" button on the left side bar.

HAPPY BIDDING! click comments to leave your bid.






Stephanie -- "Nie Nie"

I am not sure how many of you have heard about the story of Stephanie and Christian in Arizona. My sister in law put a link to them on her blog with a call for fasting a prayers on their behalves. I took special note because we share the same name. Knowing all too well the power of fasting and prayers by the masses, I went to her site and read about their tragic airplane crash. You can read about it HERE.

This lovely couple have four children, another thing with which I identified. They are severely injured with burns over much of their bodies. Their family is caring for their young children during the long recovery ahead of them. My heart goes out to them. You can read about their road to recovery HERE. 

I am posting this now because the family is encouraging people who want to help to hold silent auctions on their websites and then donate the money to help cover the medical costs. We have been getting a few bills for Camille's medical attention and I know first hand how quickly deductibles and co pays can add up. 

I have been incredibly touched by the generosity of so many of you during this difficult time for us and I hope you will consider bidding on the silent auction my sister Lesli and I are doing for this couple. 

My sister will guest post the auction tonight for a beautiful Kazuri Bead necklace that she strung. It is made with beads hand painted by single mothers in Kenya. We both visited the factory where these are made and met some of the women. This company is designed to specifically help women in need. I love the story behind the beads and I LOVE the beads themselves. I am sure my sister will write more about them.

Thank you all for your love and support of me and I hope you will read more about this other Stephanie who needs all the prayers, and support she and her family can get right now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

True Charity

Think of the hardest thing you have ever had to go through in your life. Now imagine the way you think Jesus Christ would look at you if you saw him while you were thinking about this trial and mentally reliving it. What do you think his eyes would look like? He KNOWS how your trial feels. He has been there. He knows you can get through it. Even when you don't think you can. He is there to help bare the weight of your cross when it becomes too much.

The look He would have in His eyes would be full of true charity -- the pure love of Christ. I have been thinking more about charity lately and how the "look" of true charity would look in the Savior's eyes. I imagine it would be a deep knowing, ultimately loving, completely empathetic and totally confident look. The look would give your strength. It would help you stand taller, walk straighter, breath easier. It would let you know you were not alone.

After a tragedy, people look at your differently. Most people do one of two things. They either have a look of pity and concern in their eyes, or they ignore the tragedy and try to act as if it never happened. They don't want to bring it up and make you think about it. Neither of these reactions feel right. 

A few people, those who KNOW, look at you differently. They look at you with a sorrow in their eyes that matches your own. There is a knowing in their eyes. They don't have to ask how you are doing. They know. They don't ask why you are crying. They know. They don't worry if you are going to be alright. They know you will be because they will be. 

They don't avoid talking about your tragedy. Neither do they feel compelled to verbally acknowledge it every time they see to check on how you are doing. It is not an awkward subject with others who know. It is a piece of common ground.  They grieve with you, not for you.

Most importantly they look at you with love. Yes I believe the look in their eyes in a pure form of charity. Your hearts are bound together in trial and you feel each other's pain. This is how Christ can love us so purely. He knows. Our hearts become bound to his through trials as we feel the pains he felt. With each different trail we gain a precious new aspect of charity.

I have spent the last four days with a friend like this. I met Brittany Kunz on the miracle of the World Wide Web after both our babies died within a week of each other. We have corresponded often since. We have talked on the phone frequently. We have laughed together and cried together. Meeting her in person has been the most comfortable natural thing I could imagine. There is no need for explanations. We both just know. There is empathy in the truest sense. There is love. There is true charity.

Doug and Brittany Kunz and Stephanie and Jonathan Waite

Here are our girls. Savannah, Lauren, Annie, Sabrina, Mikenna.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Surviving the Hurricane

This weekend we have been busy. We have the pleasure of being in the company of the Kunz family. They are in town on business. I will write more about our visit tomorrow. For now, I just want to say how wonderful it is to have someone with you in the storm.

Today we spent the afternoon at the Lied Children's Museum. I convinced Britt to come join me in the surviving the hurricane exhibit. Here is our best photo from the fun.
Here are Lauren and Annie and I on the left and Mikenna and Britt on the right. Now I am off to play some games with these new friends.  Rook anyone?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obituary


Our little 3.2 megapixel Sony cybershot digital camera died this week after an accidental beating by unnamed little women. Sony was a loyal and trusted member of the Waite family for nearly a decade. She was the newest hottest camera available when the Waite's purchased her so many years ago. 

Over the last 8 years, she has served the family well. She captured the births of 4 lovely daughters, 16 birthdays, and hundreds of everyday wonders. As of late, little Sony had seemed a bit sluggish in her flash speed. She simply could not get a picture of Lauren with her eyes open if she used her flash. She also found her megapixels more limiting in these modern times. 

We will miss our little Sony cybershot. 

May she rest in pieces. 

She is survived by a new Nikon Coolpix P80. We are anxious to get to know this new arrival and begin recording new memories with her. 

Welcome to the family little Niki!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What is Real?

"What is Real?"

This is one of my favorite questions. It has been ever since I read The Velveteen Rabbit. In that story we are taught that "real" is something you become through love. 

These days, waking up to a deafening silence reminding me of my harsh reality, real takes on new meanings. I have had to remind myself over and over What is Real. 

What is Real?

Love is real and undying.
Heaven is real and close by.
Angels are real and all around ministering.
God is Real and He loves me.

I am real and I am here living.
My husband is real and so is our love.
My girls, Sabrina, Ann, and Lauren are real and they need me.
Camille is real and her spirit lives.

Camille's death is real and it breaks my heart.
Christ's love is real and it heals the broken heart.
Our separation is real but it is temporary.
Our family bonds are real and they are eternal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Hearts of the Children Turn to their Fathers

Dreams are funny things. They twist a bit of reality with a bit of inspiration into a crazy impossible story that once in a while teaches a lesson. Lately my dreams have been rather vivid. Last night was no exception.
Right now I am at my daughter Sabrina's piano lesson with Grandma Waite. She is currently learning to play Keep the Commandments. There is the reality. Now let me tell you about my dream.
I was going to my piano lesson. I arrived at an older home and my mother in law was there. She looked exactly as she does now. There was another woman with her. They were obviously family. They looked as though they could be sisters. In fact this other woman looked very much like my mother in law's sister Aunt Josephine. But the likeness was not exact and the woman in my dreams was about my own age and had longer hair.

Aunt Jo, Grandma Jo, and Kathleen (my mother in law)

My lesson was not with my mother in law. It was with the other woman. I had forgotten my music. Actually, I hadn't even practiced. I was totally unprepared for this lesson. I searched for Sabrina's book so I could play something for her. Not finding it, I told her that maybe I could play Keep the Commandments. She handed me an old blue hymnal. I said the only song I knew was not in that book. She told me we would have the lesson anyway and she would teach me one of the songs out of that book.

There was no piano in her house. There was only an organ that I could see. We used the organ to do the lesson. Just before the dream ended, I walked through the old house and found my mother in law and this other woman sitting together on a piano bench playing a duet on an instrament that was both an organ and a piano. One played the piano and the other organ. It didn't seem like the music should go together for some reason, but it did. Together they played the most beautiful piece of music.

Then I woke up. I woke up and realized the house we were in was very similar to the house in which my mother in law grew up. The living room where we had the piano lesson was the same even down to the wall paper. I believe the woman in my dream was my mother in law's mother, Grandma Josephine Christensen.

I only had a chance to meet Grandma Jo a couple of times. She had a very straight forward personality. I liked her. You never had to wonder where you stood with her.

I have thought of Grandma Jo many many times in the last two months. Grandma Jo's older sister died when she was very young. And Grandma Jo also lost an infant son. I remember the last time I visited with her before her death, she told me about losing her infant son. She had twins boys. One was healthy. The other never got to come home from the hospital. She told me in tears how hard this was for her. She said when she came home with the one healthy twin how mad she would get when people would say, "Well at least you have the one healthy one. That must be a great comfort to you."

"No," she told me. "It was no comfort. It didn't make the loss any easier." She was still upset saying this so many many years later.

I remember thinking at the time, "Geez, you would think you would count your blessings for the healthy children you did have." I did not understand. Back then, I did not understand. Now I do. Now I do.

I am grateful to be sealed to this incredible woman through the binding ties of eternal marriage. I feel her strength and empathy often. Though I only got to meet and talk with her a handful of times, I feel a great kinship to and love for Grandma Jo. I am glad she is there to teach me, an unprepared student, how to play this unexpected piano on this stage of my life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Little Things Are Really The Big Things


This Sunday Elder Robert D. Hales came to my parents stake conference. He is one of the 12 apostles who serve as special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. We decided to take the opportunity to go to hear him speak this Sunday instead of going to our regular church service. 

Elder Hales gave a good talk. I will admit that I didn't catch the full effect because kids just don't stay reverent for a full 2 hours. I was half listening, half entertaining.  One thing he talked about that I did catch really hit home. 

He talked about being a graduate student at Harvard. There was so much pressure to put your whole self into the program. The professors looked for who showed their commitment.  He and his wife were called in and their ecclesiastical leader asked if he would accept the calling of Elder's Quorum President. 

Jonathan was the Elder's Quorum President in several wards since we met and I can attest that it is a time intensive job. Elder Hales talked about what a difficult decision this was. He knew it would take away from his schooling and would be frowned upon by his professors. He and his wife decided in the end to accept the call. 

Elder Hales said that this decision was actually far more difficult than the decision many years later to leave his profession and home and serve as an apostle for the rest of his life.  He had already decided long ago where his priorities were. 

There are so many small decisions with which we are faced in daily life. Do I get up and read my scriptures or head straight for breakfast? Do I pray or go straight to bed? Do I follow the promptings I am having into the scary darkness or stay in the comfort of the status quo. 

In the Book of Mormon, there is a man named Lehi who is a prophet. He has a vision in which an angel of the Lord bids him to follow. He follows the angel and finds himself "in a dark and dreary waste." (1 Nephi 8: 7-8

He says that in this vision he traveled for many hours in this dark and dreary waste. He then began to "pray unto the Lord that He would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies." He is then shown a marvelous vision of the path to the Love of God and an iron rod representing the word of God that stands as an anchor to lead men to this Love which is represented by the fruit of the tree of life.

I have had times in my life in the past where I have heard the promptings of the Spirit calling me to an unknown, far away, and seemingly scary path. They have been paths I would not pick for myself. I have had to leave my family, my security, and other more appealing opportunities to follow what the Lord wanted me to do. I had an unshakable faith that the Lord wanted me to walk the unfamiliar path. I had an equally strong faith that the Lord would be with me on that journey and would provide for me if I would but walk forward with faith.

I walked. The road was as difficult as expected and sometimes more so. But the Lord did provide for me with just enough support to help me pass the test. He did not make it easy. But He always made it possible. 

I now face the longest, darkest, hardest road of my life. I know it is the Lord's will that I am in this path though I would never have chosen it for myself. I am grateful for my past experiences that teach me that He will provide for me now even as He has in the past. It will not be easy but I know that He will always be with me to help me and make the journey possible. 

I am reminded of a quote a friend gave me during a dark time in college; 
"It is amazing what two people can do 
when one of them is God."

There is a comfort in the trial 
when the Lord is by your side.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Great Analogy

I want to share an article by a local columnist from a few years back.  Thank you for sharing this this with me Jonelle!  You can read the article 


This article so accurately describes what it is like living after the death of a child. The rest of this post will make more sense if you read the article first.

I feel like I am learning to play that unexpected piano on the stage of my life. The music isn't always pretty yet. But, I think someday it will be. I have already found some joy in my playing. Some days, the notes seems to fall into the right places as if they are inspired. On those days I hear the voices of a supporting choir who, inspired by the song, have taken voice to sing along. There is strength in the song and it seems less sad when so supported. I have no doubt the Great Conductor is pleased with the music inspired by his beautiful, loving, diligent, faithful angel Camille. 
My Sweet Angel Girl Camille

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I is a Blogger now


OK, I’m hijacking Steph’s blog today. I figured she needed a break, so she’s off taking a nap right now. Now, I’m not an expert in the ways of the Internets or of the webloggers. However, in my limited experience I have noted some things about blogs and I will try my best to comply with your culture.

Alright, first: bloggers like to eat. Have you noticed all the airtime Chris Herrin and Bouchon get on this site?? Also, just how many blogs are out there dedicated solely to recipes? And for the few of those that are password-protected: just what are you hiding on those sites, hmmmm?? So, in honor of my domestication here is a yummy cookie recipe. Pretty simple, yet yummy ;) (notice my effective use of emoticons)

Snickerdoodles

Description: This is a Harris family favorite recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 ½ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 1/3 –2 2/3 c. flour (less if possible)
1 t. cream of tartar
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt

2 T sugar mixed with 2 t. cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in other 6 ingredients. Form small balls about 1T in size. Roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat. Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet and bake for 8- 10 mins at 400 degrees.

Number Of Servings: about 30 cookies
Preparation Time: 30 mins

Now, I understand that there is a lot of “tagging” that goes on in the web logs of the world wide webs. This involves stating 5 random facts about yourself. Since I have no web playfriends I thought I’d tag myself. Here goes:

Random Fact #1. I really do love taking long walks on the beach – especially since I got out of prison.
Random Fact #2. Most memorable concert experiences: New Kids on the Block and Michael Bolton
Random Fact #3. Favorite Job I’ve ever had: Wolfman at the circus. You’d never know it, but the circus has a great pension plan.
Random Fact #4. Favorite Performing Artists of the 80s: Rick Astley, Taylor Dayne and Culture Club
Random Fact #5. I spend all of my spare time reading the blogs of my sisters and sisters-in-law.

I would like to tag the following people: 1, Oprah Winfrey, 2, Kim Jong-il, 3, William Hung, 4, Coolio and 5, Frodo Baggins. You’re it!!!!

OK, not sure if Stephanie talked about this but my girls just got back from China with wonderful news. They were medalists in the little followed swimming competition, the 5-meter doggie paddle. They edged out an Australian retriever for the gold. Thank you Aunt Carolyn for snapping this GREAT photo!!!!












So, I think I have done the necessary rites to become a full-fledged webblogger: 1, posted a recipe 2, was tagged and 3, bragged about my kids with accompanying picture posted. Mission accomplished and I think I smell my snickerdoodles burning. Oh, and see please my second post below.

Where Do We Come From?

Now for a little more serious topic.

First of all, I want to tell all of the readers, commenters and named/anonymous givers of gifts/letters/notes/etc. that I am SO extremely grateful for your kindness. The amount of support we have received (and continue to receive) from friends and strangers is truly humbling. In my own prayers, I pray that you will feel the peace of heart that comes in knowing you are helping another in need.

To the commenter Kathryn_m from yesterday, I would point you to the two links below for information on our pre-earthly life:

First, is a small informational site on mormon.org. I think this one is pretty simple and 101 in nature and doesn’t source much of the information but is useful from a basic standpoint:


The second link is to a lesson in our Sunday School manual (Gospel Principles) of basic gospel tenets that includes some scriptural reference as well as words from modern-day prophets:


In pondering the origin of our spirits, we have to understand first of all that God is our Father. As Jesus taught his disciples about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, he referred to God as “your father” (Matt 6:8, italics added) and “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt 6:9, italics added). Thus, we share the same spiritual Father with Our Savior, Jesus Christ. (See also Acts 17:28-29)

In addition, the Old Testament states that God is the “…God of the spirits of all flesh…” (Numbers 16:22)

Now, one can obviously assume through these scriptures that even though God is the father of our spirits, that the inception of that spirit was at birth. However, the following scriptures are my favorite Biblical references to a premortal existence of our spirits. The first one comes from Jeremiah and shows God’s close relationship to Jeremiah (and likely other prophets of the Bible) before his birth:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

In speaking about death and our immortality Ecclesiastes says (note the use of past tense)

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecc 12:7)

Paul, in an epistle to the Ephesians, said:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Ephesians 1:4)

Now, I have read several explanations of these scriptures by leaders of differing faiths on the Internet, all reconciling these scriptures to their overall view of the nature of mankind’s spirit. Each came to his own conclusion and I respect their beliefs. For me, I believe in the literal reading of these scriptures. Namely, that we existed before birth and that we had a relationship with our Father in Heaven before coming here. This also shows the need for a prophet (or mouthpiece of God) to, at times, clarify existing scripture (See Amos 3:7). Otherwise, we are left to the differing viewponts of such fundamentally important facts about our existence (see 2 Peter 1:20). Most of the more fleshed out, detailed information we have about our premortal existence comes from modern-day prophets (including some modern-day scriptures in Doctrine & Covenants below) that is fully inline and in tune with the above scriptures from the Bible.

For the LDS crowd, here are some additional scriptures (from the LDS cannon) that talk about our premortal existence:

Alma 13:3 – “And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God”
D&C 93:29 - Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
D&C 138:56 - Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
Moses 3:5 - For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.
Abraham 3:22-23 - Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

NOW: why does this knowledge help me? Of what use is it to me? Look, I’m a pragmatist and realist, which is why I ask the question. Knowing that I was with Father in Heaven before birth, makes me feel closer to God and have a closer relationship to Him because I know that I didn’t just pop into existence in the 70s. The eternal nature of our souls puts this life into perspective as the pivot point from which we can catapult ourselves into God’s family or waste away in mediocrity. As a Christian, I believe that the only way we can find that pinnacle of getting back to our Heavenly Father is through the atoning sacrifice (i.e. mercy) of our Savior Jesus Christ.

In light of the events in our family, I feel the eternal perspective gives Camille a greater role in our family especially in light of the fact that we only had her for 14 months in this one. I think about how Stephanie and I could have had a great relationship with her before this life that will continue on in the next one. At the end of the day, each of us can choose whether or not we believe this.

As for me, this Good News gives me hope and joy.

Ceding Control

Hello. Today I am doing something truly scary. I am ceding control of my blog to my ever loving husband. I must note that I had read and approved one of his posts that he wrote in answer to the comment by kathryn.m from yesterday. He offered to write a response and I agreed to let him. 

I did not know he would be writing a second post, but a deal is a deal. I guess you and I will see what he does with my blog for the day.

Stephanie

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Four Princesses

The Four Princesses

My sister in law threw a princess party for her now 3 year old Nora's birthday. We attended in royal fashion.  Even I dressed for the occasion.  Thanks to Kathryn for the bridesmaid dress I wore a decade ago to her wedding. :) 

Here are the younger princesses in their fancy clothes, hair and makeup. 
Sabrina is such a beauty. She thinks I never blog about her. Now is my chance to prove her wrong.  One funny story about Sabrina -- The other night we were watching TV as a family and a commercial for John McCain came on. After it was almost done Sabrina said, "Dad, is he dead?" Jon and I both started laughing. 

Little Lauren Cinderella 
What can I say? 
She is the cutest Cinderella I have seen in years.

And then we have Ann Marie. Red is her color. She thought the red princess dress we have was too itchy so she opted for her fancy Christmas dress instead. I love the sparkle in her eyes. She has the most magical eyes I have ever seen.

I met the sister in laws of two other grieving moms at the small party. It is amazing how small the world seems sometimes. Camille also attended the party. I could feel her there. I really believe she and I were very close before we came to earth. I believe I chose to be her mother knowing her life would be short because I would know her better than anyone else on earth ever would. I wanted to be close to her here for any amount of time I could. I still love being close to her. I believe she is close to us often, watching, comforting, and feeling joy in our joy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Concerns

Thank you all for your love and concern for me. Yesterday was probably the hardest day for me since the day after we found Camille. I really appreciate all your comments. I want to address some of your concerns for me.

First, the "burden" of the blog -- This blog is not a burden to me. I look at it as therapy/homework. I started the blog intending to write nearly everyday. The audience keeps me true to that. I like to write. 

Many who know me personally have asked me when my blog will stop focusing on my grief. My answer is, when I don't need it to anymore. Writing about my feelings makes me feel better. This has always been true for me. I have had some really good days in the last two months where I have written about things other than Camille and my grief. But I will keep writing about those subjects too as long as I need to get them out. I don't know how long that will be. I think it will be a gradual thing where the posts not about Camille become more frequent. We will see.

Second, as to my mental state :) I am doing much better today. I know the difference between sorrow/grief and depression. Most days I feel varying degrees of waves of sorrow. Some days I am not hit by any of these waves. Some days I am battered by these waves all day. Most days are somewhere in the middle with a wave or two a day and I am fine. 

Yesterday was a whole different animal. Yesterday I was depressed. But the source of my stress was not the burden of the grief alone. Bearing this grief is like carrying a weight around with you. It is incredibly heavy. It is never taken away. We are just made stronger to carry it easier, sometimes even without noticing. I still feel the weight of this burden. But it doesn't usually overwhelm me. 

Occasionally, big huge stressful things happen in life. You know the ones I am talking about -- illness, job loss, money problems, marital problems, family relationship problems, fight with a friend, etc. These happen all the time to lots of people and they just cause a lot of stress. Yesterday, I had a similar type of stressful situation with which to deal. It would have stressed me out and gotten me down under normal circumstances. But with the burden of grief already weighing on me, well it was just almost more than I could bear. That separate stress resolved itself favorably yesterday afternoon. Thank the Lord.

Here I have to say thank you to my mother and father. Their prayers for me gave me the strength I needed to pull myself up off the floor and carry on. Also a thanks to Mrs. Gallant whose heart boxes got painted yesterday by the girls and me. These little wooden boxes are so stylish now. And a thank you to my mother in law both for her continual prayers and for buying Hello Dolly and letting us watch it. Nothing can brighten a bleak day like singing and dancing to Hello Dolly.

As for the comment of the person who disagreed with the quote. Depression does not equal defeat. I am grateful I do not regularly have to battle with depression. I know so many people do. No, defeat is giving up the battle and letting the depression win. Defeat is physical or spiritual suicide. We must fight on with no talk of defeat. We must press forward steadfastly clinging to the hope we want to have when we can not see the Hope we need. Queen Victoria knew that depression can lead to defeat in battle. She would not let it win. 

Depression is a tool of the Adversary. I know many suffer with it everyday. I am all for doing whatever in necessary to pull free of it. The Lord wants us to have joy in this life. I don't begin to purport to understand what it is like to live with that everyday. For those of you who do--fight it and may the Lord bless you with success in your battle.

To those worried about me giving myself a break and taking time to let myself grieve. I am doing that as much as a mother can. My kids don't want a mopey crying all the time mom. They make me happy and I try to stay happy around them. I also take time for myself when I need it to just let it all out.

Lastly, I am creating a private blog for parents of little children who have died. Every person invited will be invited as an author. We will all be able to post our feelings to the other moms and dads and get support though comments. It is just different talking to those who really KNOW exactly what this feels like. I have found emailing some of these other moms very helpful. I am not including miscarriages and stillborn children parents in this blog. This is not to say those losses are less significant in any way. I just think it is the experience is a little different and I am limited on how many authors I can add on the blog. If there is great interest among those who have lost children in utero, let me know and I create a separate blog for that. I could be on that blog too. :)

If you would like to be involved in this separate private blog and have lost a young child, email me.

Loves to you all and Thank the Lord for a happier day today.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feeling the Weight of the World

Sometimes it feels like there is an elephant on top of me-literally. Today is one of those days. I have been fighting depression today. It is a difficult fight when I feel so beaten. I think one of the hardest things about this most difficult trial is the living part. 

Normal life is full of daily stresses. There are bills to pay, appointments to make, work to be done, children to worry about, money to be made, relationships to navigate... The list could go on for pages. Some of these stresses are hard to bear under normal circumstances. We have all felt stressed out about some of these things at some point.

I remember the night before taking the bar exam how stressed I was. I couldn't sleep or eat. I could feel the stress oozing out of every pore of my body. It was the most stressed I had ever been in my life. It was just a test, but it stressed me out like nothing before that had. I wasn't nearly as stressed about it once I got in and started taking it. Once I saw the questions I realized it really was just another test. 

It is hard for me to hold onto that perspective now, with this incredibly long and daunting test in front of me. It is hard to remember that in the end, this is just a test. Life is just a test. When we tally the score, it will make no difference what kind of house you had, how much money you earned, how many degrees you had, how many tests you passed. What will matter is whether we became more like Christ or not. Did we use our talents to help us become more like Christ? 

There are two things I have been telling myself today.

The first is that at the end of the day, I am still breathing. My kids and husband still love me. I still have my faith. All these trials are but the fast track to becoming what I am destined to become.

The second is a quote by Queen Victoria. I think I need to plaster this quote on my bedroom ceiling so it will be the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see before going to bed. I also think I need to learn more about Queen Victoria. I am seeing she was quite a leader in my gooogle search of her. She had some fabulous quotes. Can anyone recommend a good biography on her? One that won't put me to sleep? In any case, in the darkest week of the South African war she uttered the following. A roommate gave me a copy of it long years ago; 

"Please understand that there is no depression in this house; we are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist."

Amen Queen Victoria. Amen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Comforter

I relate the following true story today because I need to hear it. I need to remember it. I need to be comforted in its message.  It is an experience I had years ago that taught me a valuable lesson. 

Also, yes you can use any of the stuff I put on my blog for your personal use. The stories, feel free to print them out and read them to your kids, or tell them to your kids. Any parts may be used for lessons or sent to friends or linked to or quoted in your blogs. 

I am all for sharing the love and the lessons. There is only one thing I ask no one to do. Please do not take anything off this blog and publish it to be distributed for profit. Other than that, you can feel free to use it as you please.  Thanks. Now on to the story.

The Comforter

In January of 2000, I was pregnant expecting my first child. I was about 10 weeks pregnant when I started cramping and bleeding. After a week of this, I was resting and watching a movie one Saturday night with my husband. The bleeding kept getting worse. By 10 p.m. that night, I was in so much pain and was bleeding so heavily that I was close to fainting. My husband took me to the ER.

At the ER, we were told to sit and wait. Long Beach Memorial has its fair share of gun shot wounds and other more serious emergencies to address. After a few minutes, I was bleeding through my clothes and not able to sit upright without feeling faint. 

I started to lay down on the floor in the waiting room. The nurse at the desk saw me and told me they had a gurney in the hall that I could lay on while I waited. I appreciated this and took her up on the offer. My husband held me up and walked me to the gurney. 

After about 20 more minutes, I was wheeled into a room for an exam. During the exam, the doctor noted I wasn't breathing very well. I have asthma and it gets worse when I am pregnant. He prescribed a breathing treatment, and told me to do it while I waited for an ultrasound.

One thing I hate about asthma treatments is how they affect my nervous system. They make me jittery. My regular inhaler does this a little bit. I had never had a breathing treatment before, but I would learn that night that their effect is 100 times that of my inhaler. After the treatment, I could breath. That was good. But, the side effects set in and my whole body started to shake uncontrollably. 

They did an ultrasound next. By the time the doctor came back to talk to us after the ultrasound it was close to 2 a.m. He told us my OBGYN was on his way. I had an ectopic pregnancy (it was stuck in my fallopian tube.) And I would have to have emergency surgery to remove the pregnancy before it destroyed my fallopian tube.

I had never even had stitches before. I had never been to the ER. I had never broken a bone. Now here I was going into emergency surgery? This was all a very new experience for me. 

We signed all the forms and headed off to the operating room. Operating rooms are cold. I think they keep them purposely cold to help prevent bacteria from growing or something. But they are cold. I had to lay down naked on a cold steel operating table in this very cold room while they prepped me for surgery. I had to stretch my arms out wide so they could also lay on cold steel.

I was already shaking uncontrollably from the asthma medication. This cold room, cold table, and lack of clothing did not help. I was now shivering and shaking. My teeth were chattering audibly and I could do nothing to stop them. 

The anesthesiologist started giving me the drugs to put me out. Then just before I lost consciousness, the nurse by my head came over and brought some blankets. She laid them on my arms and across my chest. They were so warm. They felt like they had just come out of an oven. My body immediately felt warmer and my shivering ceased. It was still cold and I was still shaky but these blankets felt like they were ... heaven sent.

I looked up at the nurse and the the last thing I remember was saying to her, "Thank you so much. I know I don't know you but right now, I LOVE YOU!" Her laughter in response was the last thing I remember before slipping into unconsciousness. 

We all have to go through cold rooms in life. Some are colder and more complicated than others. But they are just a part of life. They are uncomfortable, they can be very painful, they can cause us great anxiety. We cannot avoid all the cold, uncomfortable, pain inducing rooms of life. God will not keep us from them. He will not take the cold out of the room. The cold is essential for our health and safety.

However, we do have the assurance of the Holy Ghost to be the warm blankets to cover us in those cold rooms of trial. If we live worthy of this most scared gift, we will always have the peace that only the Comforter can bring. He is the warm blanket to comfort us in the cold rooms of our lives.

I am thankful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. When all else around me seems to be tumbling down I cling to the peace he brings to pull me through another day. May we all feel the warmth of the comforters peace today.

*As a side note, the doctors were wrong and this wasn't really an ectopic pregnancy. It was a miscarriage. I had a D and C two days later.