Thought

Golden Nuggets

Photo by Lucas Benjamin on Unsplash

Dear friends of mine,

It’s May. My trees outside in my view are full of beautiful and fragrant blossoms. It is a beautiful day.

I last posted on February 21st. That was the day before surgery. I had “made it” and was feeling relief. I was sure the next part would be easy compared to what I had experienced. Here I am over two months later. I’ve written “Tender Mercies 4 1/2” and “Tender Mercies 4 3/4” and “Tender Mercies 5″…but they’ll stay in my personal files, at least for now. It’s hard to say why I have had a hard time posting since the surgery. I can say for certain that I have felt more tender mercies, not less, during these last several weeks. I haven’t lost hope, and I have a lot to say. For now, I’ll share a few musings and see if I can get back in the saddle…

Have you heard the analogy by C.S. Lewis comparing us to a little cottage? Here it is:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

I love that so much. It’s very similar to the analogy I shared on here earlier about the Provo Tabernacle being burned and charred and then was transformed into a temple. You probably can guess which part I have REALLY been able to relate to: “He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense.” Oh man, friends, that’s the road I’ve been walking. It has hurt abominably- physically, mentally, emotionally- all of it. Mercifully, I am healing. Each week I get a little stronger, feel a little more like myself, feel more up to the responsibilities in front of me. But the road has felt long and steep.

I heard a Ted talk the other day that said “Suffering can break you, or break you open.” If it breaks you, you will have a tendency to pull inward, pull back, and feel that the world is a less safe place to be. If it breaks you open you become better at connecting with people, warmer, more connected, and less guarded. I have loved thinking about that idea this week, and to the degree I can choose, I want this suffering I have experienced to break me wide open; open so I can feel closer relationships, so I can help others heal from similar challenges, and so that I can be more gentle, patient, submissive- in short, more like my Savior, Jesus Christ. A friend of mine offered this variation which is a prayer: “Help me allow myself to be transformed.” That is my prayer too.

4 years ago, my Dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma- cancer of the lymph nodes. His treatments were difficult and he was very ill for some time. Nobody would want to go through that- right? I have no desire to experience cancer treatments either- just to be clear. But one day while my dad was fighting cancer and was sharing with me some of the things he was experiencing, I felt…was it jealousy? Yes- I was jealous that he got that experience. You see, it wasn’t the sickness that I was intrigued by (yikes!)- it was the gold nuggets he was getting out of it. I could tell that he was learning important life lessons, becoming a better version of himself, and I could tell that it was cancer that had given him this dynamic opportunity to grow that I didn’t have. He was becoming more gentle, more humble, more peaceful. And that’s what I wanted…without all the hard parts, right?! Ha! It doesn’t really work that way…

Well, you probably would rather not have a cranky uterus, mad intestines, and ripple effects of a psychotic episode. Ya, me neither. And yet…I have gathered gold nugget after gold nugget during this experience and I’m not done yet. They are mine to keep and they grew out of struggle, pain, and sorrow. And ultimately….that’s what I want…right? The Master Healer is still at work, but I trust that I’ll come out of this a much better version of myself than I was before.

This beautiful version of “Savior, Redeemer of my Soul” has spoken to my heart so many times during my recovery. If there is one golden nugget I want to share today, it’s that Jesus Christ is real, and is way more aware of us personally than I ever realized. I know Him better now; He is full of mercy and compassion and weeps with us as we suffer. He rejoices as we learn by our own experience, wherever we are at right now, how to reach for Him, and reach for Him again.

He has promised to “fill with sweet my bitter cup” and I believe Him.

Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.

Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.

O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.

Love,

Laura

Thought

Tender Mercies

Hello friends! Last year went fast and slow. My youngest son broke his leg at the beginning of this year before the world shut down from COVID and it seems like that happened years ago!

Today I’m writing to you from the couch with a heating pad on my mid-section. It’s been an interesting few months for me. I’m hoping to share more music soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I met with my doctor and we decided that I need a hysterectomy. It’s not a surprise to me- in fact, 8 years ago my doctor was pretty sure I’d need to have a hysterectomy. At that time I prayed and prayed to be able to keep my uterus (what was I thinking! Ha!). For one thing, I was sure that a girl was coming to our family (we had already named her Lily!) and she needed a way to get here! (At the time we didn’t feel like fostering or adoption was part of our path…). Anyway, after 8 years where my health has been…less than desirable, and since we have been at peace for some time with our family being complete, I readily agreed that it was time to do surgery.

In the meantime, I get to figure out what to do with the limited energy I have. It seems that over the last several years I have gotten so good at tuning out my body that I didn’t “hear it” talking to me until it was yelling at me (aka I pretty much could not do ANYTHING else and had to lay down). How else do you do whatcha gotta do? Slowing down didn’t feel like an option with 3 boys to keep up with and a sweetheart to support, as with no end in sight to the health issues, pushing on and doing whatever I could do was my best option.

However, this issue is one that cannot be muscled through…and therefore I have literally had to slow down. A lot. Why is slowing down hard? That is the weirdest thing. Relaxing feels good. Deciding to put up your feet and pamper yourself feels good. Watching a show at the end of the day when you’ve worked hard feels good. Stopping when you have a lot that you want to or feel like you should do? Hard. Gratefully receiving the giving from others instead of feeling guilty and wondering if really you should have just pushed through and done it and spared them the work? Hard. Wondering if there’s anything you did to contribute to the pain that you could do differently…but not knowing what that would be? Hard. So I won’t lie and tell you it’s been all silver linings because it has STRETCHED me big time.

Can I tell you something else though? It has been amazing. Really. And honestly part of the reason I am sharing this is because I NEED to share it. This afternoon I was reading the creation story, and as I read about God seeing what he had done and saying that “It is good” I reflected on the power of dwelling on the good. Seeing the good. Looking for the good. He wasn’t focused on how mangy animals look when they’re about to shed, or how many days were gloomy in England this month…perhaps that is why God is so good at joy- he looks for it and focuses on it…So for anyone that wants to keep reading, I’m going to share the good because I need to dwell on it today.

In early October, I was watching a church conference when I had a very distinct thought that I needed to call up my OBGYN and make a physical appointment with him. “What?” I wondered. Things had actually been quite a bit better with my female parts since getting an endometrial ablation last September- so of all the times in the last 8 years to make an appointment with this doctor, right then felt a little….unusual. And unneeded! But the thought felt so distinct that I was sure it came from the Holy Ghost and I acted on it- I made an appointment. They were totally booked up until December (!) and since I was in no hurry, I made the appointment for December 18th and wondered why I just did that.

That next week I started having thoughts about getting a hysterectomy- which also felt way out of the blue. I told my brother in law the story of a friend of mine walking into my life just when I needed her. It was about 8 years ago when I thought that I may need to get a hysterectomy- and I found out that she had gotten a hysterectomy many years before. She provided the comfort I needed as she talked about what a positive difference it had made in her life. A few days after retelling that experience, I needed to stop by this same friend’s house for something and I felt a nudge to talk to her about a hysterectomy again. I did, and we had a half hour long conversation where I was teary-eyed, and when I left I was pretty sure I needed to get a hysterectomy. But I still had no idea why! This was still early October.

About a week later, in mid- October, I started having strange symptoms- I felt like I was coming down with the flu (achy, yucky, tired) and then the pain and nausea…etc. The symptoms lasted about two weeks, went away for two weeks, and then they pretty much…haven’t gone away since. Some days are better, some are worse, but the symptoms are there. At first I was really focused on getting through the pain/nausea/etc until the next reprieve…until the reprieve didn’t come and I was left with finding a new strategy. I spent some time trying to figure out what caused the pain so I could do something about it. Also futile- the ultrasound showed some internal problems that (go figure) need surgery…so there’s not much I can do about it. And the things I think might help sometimes help and sometimes don’t. Dead end.

It didn’t take me long to put two and two together. This is why I needed to schedule an exam with my doctor, and it’s also why I felt the need to think about getting a hysterectomy. The more I thought about it though, the more grateful I felt- God, my loving Heavenly Father, knew about all this before I did (of course He did!). He made it very clear to me that He was aware of me, and that He is taking care of me and that He loves me- even before I knew why I would need that message. (!!!!) The word that kept occurring to me was “mercy”. He didn’t have to do that! But he knew it would make the road I would need to walk easier if I knew before it happened that He cared. So that’s exactly what He did.

Well friends, His love has felt wonderful. Heavenly Father has been listening to my prayers and has led me through this challenge through promptings from the Holy Ghost. You know what has been even more amazing to me though? Through this whole episode, I have discovered how personal our relationship with Jesus Christ can be. And how nearby He is. HE IS!!! This morning I felt like I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Jesus Christ is near, he is there to help, to strengthen, to empathize, to help you make more of your life than you ever thought possible. He is there.

I have more to say, but this will have to do for now.

Happy New Year, all!

Love

Laura

Wow- this inspires me!

Watch this!

IMG_2268Last week, several of my family members and I had an email discussion about cheese.  No, not parmesan and cheddar- cheese as in “cheesy”, “over-the-top”, “hard to experience without cringing” kind of cheese.

Sometimes I watch little videos that are supposed to be really touching but for some reason, it just doesn’t do it for me.  And then I watch one like this that just makes me cry because it’s so beautifully done.  This is a must-see as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  It so beautifully shows the healing that can take place for each of us this season- healing that is possible because of our Savior.  (Get comfy and grab some tissues!)

https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/videos/silent-night-starring-kevin-sorbo-music-video.html

Wow!  Tis the Season,

Laura