Towers of Strength: a Call for Stories

January 28, 2015 in Adversity, Atonement, Book, Book reviews, Depression, Divine nature, Fear, Grace, Grief, joy, Lani, Miracles, Pain, Postpartum Depression

Last weekend I attended Felice’s Therapeutic Imagery Facilitator Training. It was five billion times more awesome than I ever could have imagined it would be. I’ve been guiding my daughters on imagery journeys nearly every night since, and I can’t wait to share these new skills with everyone and anyone I can. So much healing happened in that sacred space last weekend. What an honor and privilege to have been a part of it. I love these women!

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After the workshop was over, I was talking with the lovely Anna Hargadon (one of the creators of the awesome film Women of Faith). She asked me, “So what’s your next project? Do you have anything you’re working on?” Maybe it was God’s way of nudging me to get moving. One of the first things that happened after I recovered my will to live last fall was that God gave me an assignment. It’s time to write another book, He said.

So this is me acting on that prompting. Last Sunday, as I drove home from church, the book’s title came to me. It was inspired by something I learned reading Heather’s new book, Walking with the Women of the New Testament. In my review of her book, I wrote:

Heather writes, “While we don’t know the details of Mary Magdalene’s infirmity, we might deduce based on what we know of the others whom Christ healed from evil spirits that she was tormented with some sort of mental infirmity. The fact that she had seven devils cast out of her suggests that her infirmity may have been severe” (p. 77).

Heather explains that Christ called Mary “Magdalene” (meaning “tower of strength”) probably in much the same way that he called Simon “Peter” (meaning “rock”). After her healing, Mary became a devoted follower of Christ and a likely “tower of strength” to those around her, including Christ Himself. Of all the people Christ could have appeared to immediately after His resurrection, He chose Mary Magdalene.

Being a woman who struggles with “mental infirmities,” I gather peace from Mary’s remarkable recovery. If Christ can turn an infirm and darkness-plagued Mary into a “tower of strength,” maybe then there is hope for me too?

The title God gave to me for this book is inspired by Mary Magdalene, the original “Tower of Strength” and one of my heroes.

Towers of Strength: Stories of Triumph over Darkness. What do you think? This probably isn’t what the book will look like, but I had fun making a pretend cover. A quick search on Deseret Book’s website only brought up a few titles discussing mental illness, and none of them (as far as I could tell) is written from the perspective of the “mentally ill.” Mental health practitioners and caregivers certainly have valuable insights and perspectives to share, but I just feel strongly that we need to give a voice to the ones living with the illnesses. I feel like there is a sort of assumption that the mentally ill aren’t capable of speaking for themselves, but I couldn’t disagree more. Our voices need to be heard. It’s time.

So far this is what I have in mind:

  • Spiritual thoughts and stories about mental illness from the perspective of Latter-day Saints, emphasis on stories of triumph.
  • Written by those who have lived with and/or overcome mental illness.
  • Stories of all types of triumph (through counseling, medication, meditation, energy healing, temple work, prayer, priesthood, etc.)
  • Similar to The Gift of Giving Life with stories from a wide variety of people with a wide variety of challenges.
  • Intended to bring hope to those who are still struggling in darkness and their loved ones and to help doctors, counselors, and caregivers to better understand the perspective of “patients.”

If you feel impressed that you have a story to share or know someone who might, please send me an email (askbusca at gmail dot com). And please spread the word on whatever groups, forums, and facebook pages you feel might generate interest. The deadline for story submissions is May 1st. And if you know of a publisher who might be interested, please pass the word along to them too! Thank you!

**Posted today, January 28, 2015, in memory of Ashton Mayberry who suffered from depression and anxiety and took his own life on January 28, 2014.**

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Praise God for Hacker Angels

March 19, 2014 in Adversity, Angels, Faith, Lani, Miracles, Prayer

Monday night, after getting the kids to bed, I sat on my family room couch, staring straight ahead, with a heart weighed-down by multiple worries. Over the past weekend, we (my coauthors and I) discovered and worked to resolve a malware attack that began to create ripples,  starting to affect any website that had ever linked to our Gift of Giving Life site.

It broke my heart that all the wonderful people who had helped us promote our book with their sites were now suffering because of us. We did several things with our site in hopes of getting rid of the problem, but we still didn’t know whether we’d be able to salvage our site, whether our own personal blogs would also need to be torched, and whether all the other people’s affected sites down the line would recover.

We’ve known for years that writing The Gift of Giving Life had put us on Satan’s “black list.” He has tried attacking us from a wide variety of angles, but this was the first time he had used technology to try to take us (quite literally) down. I should have known better than to despair, but that night I admit I was beginning to fear that the forces of evil were winning this battle.

After wallowing in my despair for too long on Monday night, I checked my email one last time and saw that Felice had sent me the final piece of her new book to edit. It was good timing. Within the piece, she wrote about the power of intention. One of the statements that stood out to me was this:

At Princeton University, experiments required human subjects to project their intention at a computer-like random number generating machine to attempt to get the machine to generate a predictable pattern of numbers. The results were astonishing, showing that overwhelmingly people were able to influence the machines. (See Meditation as Medicine, p. 127)

If intention could affect a number-generating machine, I thought, then why not a website? Almost immediately, I posted requests on several facebook pages for prayers with the intention of the highest good for our website(s).

Then, later, as I was lying in bed, getting close to drifting off to sleep, I thought about my deceased brother, Steven, a self-taught computer wiz. I believe he has helped me with computer issues in the past. When I have been stuck and haven’t know how to fix a problem, I have thought of Steven and mentally asked for his help. Ideas of things to try would pop into my mind, and the problems were fixed.

I believe God and His angels are in possession of technologies so advanced that mortal minds couldn’t even comprehend them. Our little malware problem that felt so huge in that moment would certainly be nothing to them. So, as I drifted off to sleep, I asked, “God, will you please send Steven and some super-awesome hacker angels to fix all the issues with our websites and get Google to clear the sites quickly?”

In the morning, two giant weights were lifted off my heart. One, when my husband told me he got a job interview we’ve been hoping for (yay!). And two, when Sheridan emailed to say our site had been cleared by Google! In that moment, I praised God for hacker angels.

It’s so easy to forget the magnitude of the help we can call upon. Our Father is the “Lord of Hosts.”

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels
 round about the throne . . . : and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and
 thousands of thousands. (Revelation 5:11)

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How often I try to fix my problems alone. How often I forget that angels stand waiting and eager to assist me, if I would only use my agency to allow them. I love these reminders to allow angels to help us:

  • “The angels knew the people by name and watched over them closely. . . . I saw that we could literally call down thousands of angels in our aid if we ask in faith” (Betty J. Eadie, Embraced by the Light, p. 121).
  • “There are many powerful, wonderful spirits who are being called home right now, that they can better help their families prepare for that which is about to take place in your world. One of the major reasons many of us are here is to serve and help those in mortality” (spoken to Lance Richardson by his deceased cousin, The Message, p. 86).
  • “Our agency is always honored, so much so that even though there are good angels around us, we still have to invite their intervention” (Visions of Glory, p. 41).
  • “Angels are our guardians and stewards. The purpose of their creation is to serve humanity. They want to adorn us with support, direction, protection, and assistance. There are multitudes of angels and heavenly hosts to call upon, and yet many people do not call upon them for a variety of reasons” (Carol Tuttle, Remembering Wholeness, p. 133).
  • “You must ask in order to receive. . . . You should resolve to be more specific in your request, expressing much more specifically the desires for which you are striving” (Grant Von Harrison, Drawing on the Powers of Heaven, p. 33).
  • “Angels are agents of power.
 Each of the Lord’s angels possesses extraordinary capabilities and powers, making them formidable
 beings” (Donald W. Parry, “Angels, Chariots, and the Lord of Hosts,” BYU devotional, July 31, 2012).
  • “I ask everyone within the sound of my voice to take heart, be filled with faith, and remember the Lord has said He ‘would fight [our] battles, [our] children’s battles, and [the battles of our] children’s children.’ And what do we do to merit such a defense? We are to ‘search diligently, pray always, and be believing'” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels“).

We didn’t know how to chase away the enemy binding us, but God knew, and His angels knew. After we had done everything we could, divine hackers finished off our foes. Praise God for hacker angels!

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Take that, Malware Devils! Image Source

God Keeps His Promises

March 12, 2014 in Adversity, Book, Dads, Depression, Faith, Fear, Grief, Lani, Loss, Miracles, Personal Revelation, Postpartum Depression, Priesthood blessings

It has been nearly two years since I experienced what I can only describe as a “nervous breakdown.”

It started in April of 2012, coinciding with the birth of our book, The Gift of Giving Life, a year and two months after my fourth child’s birth.

And then my Grandma died. And I fell. Fast.

After several months of struggling to breathe, struggling to eat, struggling to keep the panic and despair from crushing me, God sent a friend to my home. She said, “I think maybe it’s time for you to try medication.” I had resisted medicine for a long time, trying countless natural remedies for anxiety and depression to no avail. But my friend had been where I was before, and she could see that I needed more help. She went with me to the doctor. I got my prescription. I held the bottle in my hands, but I was terrified to take it.

So I did the one thing that I always do when I don’t know what to do: I asked my husband for a blessing. In the blessing, God told me that “the medication would be of benefit to me” and that I would “be healed.” With that promise to give me courage, I took my first dose the next day, August 1, 2012. Adjusting to the medication took many weeks, but I clung to that promise despite horrific medication-induced insomnia, emotional ups and downs, and an even-more-horrific spiritual numbness that came over me.

It was during this dark period of adjustment that I hit my deepest lows, losing my very will to live. But, with time, as my body adjusted, my mind and spirit began to come back into balance. My co-authors prayed me well enough to join them in the Los Angeles temple in September, a miraculous feat.

As we celebrated my 32nd birthday, nearly three months after I started my medication, I was truly happy again. I was eating (and finally gaining some weight back). I was enjoying life. I had endured so much discomfort, despair, fear, and doubt in those weeks of adjustment, but God’s word was true. The medication had been of benefit to me. It had helped save my life. God’s promise was fulfilled.

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The relief was so magnificent that I couldn’t help but exclaim in joy and complete sincerity (on a nearly daily basis), smiling from ear to ear to my husband: “I don’t want to die today!” The victory of that declaration filled me with overwhelming gratitude to God and to my many friends and family who had helped me reach that triumphant place, most especially my husband.

The next question that filled my heart and mind was: “How long?” I wondered, “Will I need to take this medicine for the rest of my life?” I was willing to accept whatever I needed to do to stay stable so that I could take care of my family, but I also hoped that I would find a way to heal whatever needed to be healed so that I could move forward without medical assistance.

In another priesthood blessing, God answered my question: “You will be able to be happy without medication.” He didn’t tell me how long it would take, but I was satisfied with just knowing that someday I’d get there. And so I went on, taking my medication, feeling grateful for my rescue from the darkness. 2013 came and then 2014.

It has now been a week since I took any medicine.

About a year ago, I started cutting back on my dose, little by little, very slowly, adding in supplements recommended by readers and friends to ease the withdrawal. I took a dose last Tuesday, but when I was due for another dose I felt restrained from taking it. The next day I felt restrained, and the next, and the next. I didn’t hear a voice, but I felt a message in my gut: “You’re ready. It’s time.”

I have said to my husband more than once in the past few days, “Now watch, I’ll probably crash next week.” (<—That’s a text message from “Anxiety Girl,” of course.) He shakes his head and says, “Nope. You won’t.” And I think I believe him.

The other night, I asked him for another priesthood blessing. He said, “God wants to remind you of the promises He has made to you. He will keep those promises.”

God kept His promises to me.

I am happy (without medication). (!!!)

Preparing Our Daughters

September 30, 2013 in Atonement, Birthdays, blessingway, Divine nature, Eve, Faith, Lani, Menstruation, Motherhood, Parenting, Preparation, Puberty, Rites of passage, Symbolism, Temple, Young Women

Last week I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my birth into motherhood. It kind of boggles my mind that I’ve been a mother for a decade. It also boggles my mind that this baby…

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For the past couple of years, I’ve been pondering what I want to do to help her prepare as she nears the milestone of menarche. Over the years I’ve taught her little by little (through casual conversations) about her body, her reproductive organs, how they work, what will happen when she starts to bleed, how babies are made, etc. Being the daughter of a birth junkie has its perks! She knows more about women’s bodies than most girls her age, I’d wager, and certainly more than I ever knew before I reached menarche.

I wrote a bit about my own journey into the world of menstruation and my hopes for my daughters in my post “Red and Powerful” HERE. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted my daughters’ experiences to be more positive than mine was. So a month or two ago I started creating a book for my daughter.

It’s not so much a book about periods or vaginas. It’s a book that I hope will prepare her to be an empowered and courageous young woman with profound respect for her body and the beautiful things her body can do.

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It includes seven rainbow-color-coded sections (coordinated with the seven chakras) with values I hope my daughters will develop. The values may sound familiar to some of you…

  • Integrity
  • Virtue
  • Individual Worth
  • Good Works
  • Choice & Accountability
  • Faith & Knowledge
  • Divine Nature (white) 

With each section, I have given my daughter a…

  • Value and color
  • Symbol
  • Scripture
  • Description/definition of what the value means to me
  • Song/Mantra
  • Positive “I” statement affirmations (printed from this site)
  • Woman from the scriptures who exemplified the value (most of the text taken from Heather’s blog)

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(For those who are familiar with the LDS Young Women Values, in most cases the colors, symbols, scriptures, and descriptions I’ve chosen are different from those used in the Young Women Personal Progress program. I won’t go into all the reasons I did this, but I think this book will help my daughter to become familiar with the values and prime her for the Young Women’s program.)

Interspersed I have also included some poems I wrote about Eve and menstruation. At the end of the book I included a revised version of my “Red and Powerful” essay, diagrams of the menstrual cycle, and a print-out explaining the various menstrual product options so she can start thinking about which type she wants to start with. In addition to the binder/book, I am giving her a c.d. with all of the songs/mantras for each value on it. And I made her a charm bracelet containing charms of each symbol and the coordinating colors.

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My plan is to sit down with my daughter and go through each section of the book together a bit at a time (over the next several months) so we can discuss the topics and so she can ask any questions she may have. I think it will be a special bonding time for us, and by the time we get to the end of the book, my hope is that she will feel confident and prepared to face the coming adolescent milestones with grace and joy. Maybe she’ll still be awkward, embarrassed, and moody. Maybe that’s inevitable? But a mom can hope for the best, right?

If you’d like to do something similar for your daughter(s), I’m happy to share what I put together. Let me know in a comment below, and I’ll email you my file(s) and sources so you can make it your own.

Sacred Space

September 11, 2013 in Birth Stories, Breastfeeding, Faith, home birth, Intuition, Lani, Midwives, Motherhood, Personal Revelation, Pregnancy

Sacred Space
By Brittney Walker

I met Lani several years ago at a doula training I fell into after the postpartum doula training I’d signed up for was cancelled. Birth wasn’t so much my thing as was helping new moms through the trauma of those first weeks postpartum.

Lani and I kept in touch, and in time she invited me to contribute to The Gift of Giving Life while they were still collecting birth stories. I remember thinking it was cute that these ladies were collecting spiritual birth stories. Birth was many things to me, having experienced three of my own, but spiritual wasn’t one that stood out. Becoming a mother and bringing new life into this world are, of course, sacred, spiritual things but birth itself? Not in my experience.

Then I became pregnant with number four. For many reasons, we chose to deliver this baby at home with a midwife – our first outside of a hospital. Right off the bat we learned we were in new territory. After research and interviews we found a midwife we not only felt comfortable with but also with whom our personalities just clicked. I knew I could confidently trust my midwife with my baby’s (and my) life.

An early complication arose so we ran some tests and met with our midwife. She educated us, presented our treatment options, and then asked the game-changing question: “so what do you want to do?” There was no indication of bias or judgment in her face. She deferred the decision to us, the parents – our first crash course in midwifery care. It was clear that we would be in the drivers’ seat regarding our prenatal care for this pregnancy. I felt overwhelmed and inadequate. We’d always just been told what to do, and signed the dotted line and then done our best to be good patients. We had no medical training and didn’t feel qualified to make such weighty decisions. My midwife assured us that there was no one more qualified and that she knew we would make the right choice.

We didn’t understand the biology behind what was going on and couldn’t see the future so we took our question to the only one who can. We prayed fervently about what to do. We asked in faith, knowing the Lord’s love for us and our little one and we received an answer. I felt peace, went forward in faith and trusted that things would work out. They did.

This became the theme for this pregnancy. I relied heavily on the Lord for wisdom and peace. I developed a more active relationship with Him than I had ever had and happily handed over the steering wheel in favor of the passenger seat.

With three boys at home we went into our second trimester ultrasound with one thing in mind: Our baby’s sex. As focused as we were on that issue it took us a while to realize that the tech seemed oddly preoccupied with our baby’s nose and lips. After a long, very odd ultrasound, the tech left and then returned with an obstetrician, asking her to have a look. Then came the news, they suspected our baby may have a cleft lip and palate but couldn’t get a great look at his face. They needed us to come back in a couple of weeks. My first thought was, of course he doesn’t. (Yes, another “he”.) No family history of birth defects, no risk factors, nope, not us. My second thought was, so what if he does? Why are they making such a big deal about it? If that’s how it is then that’s Heavenly Father’s plan for my baby and our family. We can handle it. So, we scheduled the follow up.

A couple weeks and too much research on my part later, a second ultrasound confirmed that our baby would have a cleft lip, possibly palate. The news was harder this time with my newly acquired full knowledge of the implications. Likely, this meant no breastfeeding. Breastfeeding isn’t just a feeding method but a parenting style and the only way I know how to do it. And what about our home birth? Cleft babies have a higher risk of breathing difficulties at birth so many homebirth midwives won’t attend cleft babies’ births. There is also the possibility of related defects that may not have been caught on ultrasound. However, I’d also read stories of cleft babies being unnecessarily rushed away from their parents to the NICU where the hospital didn’t know what to do with them until someone from the babies’ cleft team could arrive (as much as a week or two later) to free them.

Again, I was faced with a decision I could never make on my own. Was I risking baby’s life? I found stories of cleft babies born at home with good outcomes but always by surprise. My midwife had recently delivered a cleft baby and was confident that she could handle whatever came up and planned on extra safety measures. Another thorough ultrasound didn’t show any signs of other related defects as far as they could see. He seemed a very healthy baby boy. But again, it wasn’t until we took the matter to the Lord that the overwhelming confirmation came, I was birthing this baby at home. I felt a calm peace about this decision that couldn’t be swayed and drowned out the concerns of well-meaning family and friends. I knew.

Months later our little boy was born perfect, the way God created him — into the waiting hands of his father. I wrote on my blog:

I’ve heard people talk about birth being a spiritual experience but with my first three babies coming into the world amid lights and hustling bodies in an unfamiliar and kind of scary environment, it just wasn’t something I ever understood.

But in my room, at 10:14 that Sunday night, I felt Heaven and Earth meet. In my room, surrounded by people who love me and baby Clayton I felt part of something great and eternal. I wondered how I’d ever shared something so sacred with strangers in a strange place.

That feeling has stayed with me through the last week and a half. When I would normally be feeling alone, fighting for my sanity, and feeling guilt and sadness for my baby’s rude entry into the world, I instead feel supported, joyful, blessed and in tune with my new little bundle.

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

His birth was perfect. I felt loved, supported and trusted by my caregivers and family members (including friends) that were present. I felt the comfort, peace and protection provided by the walls that house my precious family. The sacred space where we labor to raise these precious young men took on a new purpose that night as we welcomed a new member to our forever family.

With pain in my baby’s future, with surgeries looming on the horizon and more challenges in his future than I ever would have chosen for my child I took comfort in his gentle entrance into the world. With a childhood of doctors, nurses and therapists ahead I found peace in the intimacy of his birth. I couldn’t breastfeed this baby but nestled in his own bed between mommy and daddy from that first night he didn’t feel the lack. No strangers’ hands, no poking or cutting, no feeding tube, no hospital stay separated from Mom… my boy was born into a room full of people who will be there and support him through any challenge life has in store.

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

Heavenly Father had a plan for me and my baby. He answers prayers and provides us all the tools we need to endure our trials and hardships. Clayton’s gentle beginnings gave me peace when I soon had to hand him off to his first surgical team. He endures surgeries, recoveries, trauma and related struggles like a brave little soldier while I cling to the memory of the gift of his peaceful entry into the world.

His birth matters. To me, and I think to him in an intrinsic way he may not ever be aware of. It has had a profound and abiding impact on my relationship with my baby and the whole family. I thank Heaven every day for that gift.

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IMG_0285Brittney Walker is a homeschooling mom to four wily, awesome little men. She has written about parenting and babies online and in print since her nine-year old’s birth and currently hosts a support group for expectant and new moms, supports new mothers through placenta medicine and is pursuing her breastfeeding counselor certification through Breastfeeding USA.

Trial of Faith

May 31, 2013 in Adversity, Atonement, Death, Faith, Grief, Lani, Loss, Marriage, miscarriage, Pain, Pregnancy

Trial of Faith
By Shaylee Ann

My heart ached.
My head pounded.
My faith was tried.
I was in agony.

My womb was empty of the life that once grew there.

I knew before we lost her that I would miscarry.
I was cramping.
I was bleeding.
I was calm.

The compassion I felt for the people I saw as I accepted the loss of our baby was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I saw mothers with young children, and felt their deep love and concern as they raise sons and daughters in this fallen society.
I felt the pain and sorrow in the hearts of the people all around me.
I grieved for their trials and losses.

I asked the Lord,
Is this what I need to learn?
I prayed that it was, that I had learned it, and that my baby would stay with me.
I knew that my experience wasn’t over yet.
Still, I hoped.

The day came.
Her tiny body left mine in clots of blood and waves of peace.
I prayed, and the Lord was there.
I cried, and my heart was consoled.
My husband came to my side, and we accepted the loss of our baby together.
We distracted ourselves and carried on quietly.
Night came and tears soaked my pillow.

Then came the anger.

Why was my baby taken from me?
Why didn’t I do anything about it?
Why me? Why us? Why now?

I fought in an exhausted haze of confusion.
I didn’t understand.
We loved our baby.
What was happening to us?

I cursed the sympathy and begged for comfort.
I functioned merely on the adrenaline of anger and sorrow.
I wasn’t hungry.
I wasn’t thirsty.
I entertained the releasing thought of death.
Only my husband kept me going.

I gave into the loneliness, the agony and anger.
I questioned God.
I doubted my faith, my abilities, our future.
I succumbed to the numbing, damning influence of the devil.
I lacked confidence in my role as a mother.
I blamed myself.
Again, I wanted to die.

Still, my husband kept me going.

I realized at last that I am surrounded by love.
I am needed.

I craved joy.
I rested in the peace of the Lord.

Morning came, and though the sky was dark, my heart felt . . . light.
I laughed in genuine glee.
I smiled by the grace of His Mercy.

I live, though still in pain, with His healing balm coursing through my soul.

I have my Eternal Companion,
I have the Gospel,
I have family,
I have love,
I have faith.

I miss her with a fierceness that I never imagined would be a part of my life.
I yearn for her spirit.
I ponder on her mission.
I love her.

Yet, I await a new spirit.
I prepare greater than before.
Still, my faith in God, my love for my husband, for my children, and for my life keep me going.

My womb will once more be filled with life.
And I am happy.

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How Would it Change Things if You Knew You Would Succeed?

October 4, 2012 in Adversity, Faith, Fear, Heather

On Sunday we had a wonderful speaker. She started our her talk by sharing some of the very personal things she had been through the last few years– her husband being deployed to Iraq, his inability to re-adapt to family life when he got home, his leaving her and her five kids, her divorce and sudden poverty, moving back in with family, his re-marriage to another woman, and the struggles that she had had to forgive and to keep going.

Her talk was powerful and heartfelt and I was so impressed by her positive attitude. I could tell that looking on the positive side of things was not something that came easy to her, but rather something she had worked diligently at. One thing that she said really stood out to me. She shared how during one of her hardest times that her mother had shared a story by sister Virgina Pearce with her. She paraphrased the story in her talk but I searched the internet and found original story. Here is what Sister Pearce said at BYU Women’s Conference in 1998 (read the whole talk here):

 This is a personal metaphor, but it helps me understand the power of guaranteed success.

I hate to shop. Did I say that strongly enough? I hate to shop.

I have very little skill and so have very limited success. And besides, I don’t have good feet.

Anyway, one day one of my daughters and I were shopping. She needed a particular piece of clothing for a particular occasion that would make her look close to spectacular. All this for a reasonable amount of money. Is that the worst formula? We started out in the morning full of energy and hope. But by early afternoon, we were dragging in and out of the dressing rooms. Her hair was full of static, my feet hurt, we were hungry, and we were getting grouchy. And then we had a startling idea. If we knew, absolutely guaranteed knew, that at the end of the afternoon we would have found the perfect dress, would it make any difference to how we felt now? We inventoried—the hair, the feet, the hunger, the discouragement—and we said unhesitatingly yes! We could easily go another three hours, if we knew there was unequivocal success ahead. And so we simply told ourselves that we were going to find the outfit—and, I am amazed to tell you, it worked! We were laughing and talking again instead of whining and dragging

Could it be the same with life? Do we get exhausted because we quit believing that success is assured? You know, it is! In the sooner and later context, it might not be sooner, but it will for sure be later.

“Thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. He that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come” (D&C 63:20).

There must be dozens more implications, but I will only mention one more: We will expect to have to make this choice many, many times. Our ongoing responsibility is to keep offering ourselves and everything that we have and are to Him—to work actively but to cease judging each task with our mortal measurements. Great paradox of the gospel: In the total giving away, we receive total abundance, the only total security available. When we submit voluntarily and joyfully, far from being passive victims, we become victors, because we have accepted a partnership with an all-powerful and all-loving Being.

The sacrament speaker than said that this message had given her the courage to keep going forward because when ever she felt like giving up she’d ask herself, “How would my attitude change if I knew that everything was going to work out in the end?” She said that she had faith that God wanted her to be happy and had faith that He could do it. She said she began telling herself, “Everything is going to be fine in the end, so I should stop wasting energy being scared and angry and be happy now.”

And then my favorite part, she said, “Well, and if things are just going to get worse I for sure want to be happy now!”

As I listened to her I talked I began to think about how her message is an important one for women to remember during pregnancy and birth. The world tries to surround the process of pregnancy and birth with so much fear and anxiety that often times women can get so caught up in worrying about the unknowns–will the baby be okay? Will I be able to handle this pregnancy? How will I cope with labor? Will I get the support I want? Will I be a good mother to this child?

There are so many unknowns in pregnancy and birth that it can be easy for women to let fear dominate their bodies and their spirits instead of faith. Id’ like to challenge you, whenever you being to let those fears and concerns enter your mind, ask yourself instead, “How would my attitude change if I knew that  God was in charge, and that even if things don’t go as I plan, everything is going to turn out okay?”

Would knowing that you were assured of being successful  give you the patience to wait the last few week for your baby to be ready? Would it give you the courage to make the choices that you know are right for you and your baby? Would it give you the faith to welcome another child in to your family? Would it give you the strength to handle one more contraction, endure one more minute, one more hour?

Like Sister Pearce said in her talk I  answer with a resounding ” Yes!”.

Knowing that you are going to be successful, knowing that you can do it– changes everything. It washes fear away and replaces it with a sweet and powerful faith that God is aware of you and that He is in perfect control of the Universe.

And the most beautiful thing is that God has promised that each of us that we will be successful that we will be happy and that all things will work together for our good. He is aware of each of His children, born and unborn, and he has special experiences planned for each of us on this earth. We can’t always control what those experiences are but when  we remember that God is in charge– and the He wants us to be happy above all else –it makes being afraid and worried seem like a waste of time.

Remember this beautiful promise that God has given to all of His children:

{S}He that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome…” (D&C 63:20).

And that is a promise you can nail your faith to… over and over and over again.

One Family, Different Paths by Kara

February 20, 2012 in Adoption, Guest Post

Today’s birth story comes for Kara. I met Kara few years ago. We were standing in line for lunch at the restaurant on the bottom floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial building and somehow I mentioned the book project I was working on. She shared her story with me and I asked her if she would be willing to send in her story for our book. Due to space we weren’t able to put it in the book but I wanted to make sure her story was shared. I think it is a beautiful reminder that God is ultimately the one who opens or closes the womb and that he knows when and how each of his precious children need to come to the earth.

         After struggling with infertility my husband and I were able to adopt a beautiful little girl. When I watched my eldest daughter Brooklyn being born I was in awe that a woman could carry a child for nine months and then allow herself to place the infant in someone else’s arms. With our second daughter, Ashlyn, I watched in awe as not just a woman, but a whole family, placed an infant in my arms.

Before Ashlyn’s birth I had a powerful experience. My oldest daughter Brooklyn was two weeks old and she was refusing to sleep. My husband was away on business and so I was solo on that night’s battle.  As I sat in a chair with my infant laying on my lap I plead with Heavenly Father to inspire me on how to get her to settle down and go sleep. Immediately after my prayer Brooklyn stopped crying and smiled. She looked over my right shoulder and then over my left and then she then proceeded to cry again. At that moment I was blessed with the inspiration to know that she saw my second daughter, whom we were waiting to be born, and that she also saw a third person waiting to come into our family. From then on I knew that we were meant to have three children, but I had no idea how they were going to get to our family. I always kept that thought in my head and was constantly looking for inspirations on how it was going to happen.

Little did I know that my third daughter would come to us, through my body and not through a birth mother.  Most people I come across, even strangers, tell me that they see this all the time—that since I had adopted I was relaxed enough to get pregnant. I have a different version of the story.

***

         When going through the process of “finding” Ashlyn to adopt we encountered many spiritual and divinely guided experiences. When we met her birth mother and her family it felt like I had known them for years. The welcome and love they gave us was incredible and it testified to me that this woman’s unborn daughter was mine to raise. After spending a lot of time with the birth mother she and I formed a relationship that few women have the privilege of experiencing– we are bonded in a way that only she and I can understand.

After she had given birth she had hoped to transfer Ashlyn into our care immediately but State law required her to keep the baby for three days before placing her with her new family. When the third day came we expected to meet her but instead we found her Mom. She was sitting in a chair holding our tiny baby girl and crying. I saw the pain in her eyes in knowing that she had to say goodbye to this child not knowing if she would ever see her again. As I walked towards her and sat down next to her  I couldn’t help but share tears with her. We and I had shared the moment of Ashlyn’s birth together, as well as the birth of the motherhood companionship that had formed between me and her daughter– one that could never be broken. I knew the blessing of Ashlyn coming into ours lives, yet understood the heartache and hardship of a family letting her go. Now, after carrying and birthing my own child I have a better understanding of what these women did for me and my daughters.

Once, when I was feeling quite discouraged and overwhelmed with my three little active girls I asked for a blessing. My husband asked a close friend to give the blessing since he felt too close to the situation. After they prayed together in a separate room they laid their hands on my head and gave me one of the most intense blessing I’d ever received. The strongest thing said, and that I still hold onto today, was that I was friends and sisters with my daughters in the pre-existence. In that moment the Spirit testified to me that regardless of how my three beautiful daughters came into my life, we had been together in the Spirit world since the beginning of time.

If I had been able to get pregnant when I wanted to then Brooklyn and Ashlyn would never have come to our family and their birth families wouldn’t have gone through the growth that they did. I know that all of my children were meant to be with me but had to come different ways. Yes, I have fears of teasing, arguing and harsh words between my daughters regarding their adoptions and biological births but I hope they will eventually come to understand the process just as I have. I know this is how the Lord’s plan has worked for us and after all is said and done I know that that our lives are in the care of God’s hands.