I remember seeing her perfect face on the ultrasound—perfectly still. The first thing the doctor told us was that this wasn’t our fault. At the time I wasn’t concerned about that. I still had the… More
I walk around with my 5 kids and I hear people all the time say, “Enjoy them! You blink and they are in college.” or “I remember those days,” or “Enjoy it. It goes quickly.” There are days when I smile and walk off with my five beautiful children. But there are other days that I stare at those people like they are crazy. I go home saying in my mind, Enjoy it? Enjoy it? Not only am I supposed to work 24 hour days taking care of little people and their big problems, but I am supposed to be enjoying it? And then I feel guilty. Because I can manage taking care of everything—keeping people fed, and clothed, and semi-clean. But I don’t have enough energy to enjoy it too. It seems like I am running a marathon and the people sitting on the sidelines are telling me– “Hey, I really hope you are enjoying yourself out there. Because it will be over pretty soon.” Well there are day that I am hoping it will be over pretty soon.
So I finally decided to stop worrying about it. I could enjoy life and my children if I wanted, but if I didn’t have enough energy to enjoy it, that was ok. We would all survive anyway and get through it. And besides, who was going to know if I was enjoying it anyway?
But then I stumbled upon a truth. I was watching my kids play, and I heard a voice in my mind tell me “When you enjoy it, it changes things.” I suddenly saw things differently. It wasn’t that I should enjoy them for the sheer purpose of my own enjoyment. It was that when I paused and enjoyed them, it changed the outcome. It changed the moment.
The other day my two year old grabbed a 5 pound bag of pinto beans out of the cupboard. I was holding the baby and watching in slow motion as she raised it up above her head and sent it crashing down on the living room floor. The bag burst open and with tiny hands she said, “I’m sorry, Mommy,” and started scooping them up. I could have gotten mad. But they were old beans. So I grabbed a bucket and gave her and the baby scoops, and we dumped the beans in and took them out on the patio. My two girls played scooping beans for a while, but then they were joined by their three older brothers. Soon the boys were scooping handfuls of beans and throwing them high in the air. The kids were running around laughing and saying it was raining beans. They thought it was hilarious. So I went out and joined them. We laughed at the bean fireworks, and the beans raining down from the sky, and that the whole patio was covered with beans.
Neal A. Maxwell said “Moments are the molecules that make up eternity.” I guess I’ve realized that those small moments we have together are the bricks that build our family. There is something magical about when the parents and the kids are all enjoying themselves together. It changes the moment. It builds relationships. And it builds a family. It might be true that I will blink and they will be in college. And it might be true that some days it seems like the rice on the floor, and the paper scraps, and crayon marking will never end. But that isn’t what matters. What matters is building a strong family. And that comes from moments.
One day I watched my two year old daughter roll down a hill. There was grass in her hair as she rolled and looked at the sky and was perfectly free. I stood there watching her and felt a twinge of jealousy. I wanted to run over and join her, but there was a baby in the stroller and three of my boys pummeling down the metal slide at earth shattering speeds. I wasn’t free.
“Oh”, I thought, “if we were the same age we would have so much fun together.” But she’s the daughter. I’m the mom. We aren’t the same age. I wondered why it is that we are put in these units (families) with people who are all at different stages than we are. My husband and I are the same age, but we are different. We have different day to day activities, different perspectives, different roles. There is a little bit of me in each of my kids, but we are in different chapters of our lives. We are all different.
Perhaps because the family gives us a basic place to start to understand other human beings. To develop empathy. Yes, they are all at different places than me. But we love each other. We cheer when our one-year-old dances in a circle. We laugh when someone says a funny thing. We all eat ice cream together. We plan trips together, we live through hot days with no air conditioning together. We are different, but we are together.
And if I’m paying attention, I can sometimes catch the moments, where the ages and the stages, and the time fades and we are in a moment together. When somehow the stars align, (or my husband is with us) and I run over and scoop my little girl up and give her a big hug. There is grass in my hair and dirt on my shirt from her bare feet, but there’s something I can’t quite explain in my heart. We are in this world and we are in it together.
The other day after my husband and I got everyone up, read scriptures, helped 5 kids eat Cheerios, cleaned up spilled milk, made sure everyone had shoes on, hair brushed, snacks packed and homework done, (and ran back to get a forgotten library book) I finally dropped my 3 boys off at school. I breathed a deep sigh and thought, “Wow. This is a lot of work.”
It’s true. Having a family is a lot of work. No matter the size or the situation, having a family requires work. As I pushed the stroller along the sidewalk of a busy road, I watched the cars go by. And I realized that a family is a lot like a car.
A car has to be maintained, has to be cleaned, has to have some sort of energy input in order to run, and every once in a while has mechanical problems. The same thing is true of a family. It has to be maintained, it has to be cleaned up (physically, emotionally, spiritually), it requires a lot of energy to keep it running, and every once in a while there are problems.
But as much as it takes effort to keep a car running, I didn’t design my car. I didn’t build the engine. And I didn’t decide which part went where. Someone with a lot more knowledge than me did that. And I’ve realized that while a family takes a lot of work to keep running, I didn’t design it. I didn’t create the engine that powers it. I didn’t figure out how to make it run. Someone with a lot more knowledge than me did that.
When I have a problem with my car, I take it to someone that knows about cars. Someone who understands what it should be sounding like, looking like, running like. Likewise, when I have a problem with my family, I should take it to Someone that knows about them. And not just families in general. My family. God knows about my day to day problems and successes. He knows when I am going crazy trying to potty train an almost 3 year old, or when I am worried about something at school, or when I just want everyone to go to sleep. He knows.
And He will teach me. He can teach me about the patience that oils our family and keeps it running smoothly. He can teach me about hard work, cooperation, and forgiveness that will be the gas to keep us going. And he can show us that at the very center, the engine, is our Savior Jesus Christ. His Atonement and His love are the power behind it all. His beautiful gospel and his commandments are the instruction manual.
I’ve had happy moments in my life, but none of them compare with the happiness I feel when I am with my family. They are a part of me. They love me. I am grateful to God for these people (big and little) that matter more to me than anything else. And I’m grateful to God for showing me how to maintain it. He gave His family, His Only Begotten Son, so that my family can be strong and happy here on earth and together in the world to come.
Should I put her down or just hold her for a minute? I was dealing with the two-week-delayed guilt of having weaned my one-year-old. Now I could just put her down for her nap without sitting in the chair and feeding her. But didn’t she need that time with me? There was a lot to be done. I still had to put the two-year-old in her nap, and then clean up from lunch and do a million other annoying things and then get some time to write. But as I walked in the bedroom, I saw the chair.
Oh, just for a minute, I thought. I sat down with her snuggled in my arms. She was holding her bottle and drinking. I exhaled and held her close. All of the other million things faded a bit. I was here with my baby. And oh, it felt so good. I said to myself, I thought I was doing this for her, but the one who really needs it is me.
I sometimes fly through the day doing my million things and at the end wonder what it was I really did. The truth is, I need my kids just as much as they need me. I need those moments, those slow-down, snuggle, listen and wonder moments, just as much as they do. Because those are the moments that make everything else worth it.
I picked at the scratchy maroon material on the choir seats and tried to swallow the prickly sensation in my throat. I stared out at the empty chapel and didn’t sing. I thought about last year. Last year, I had been a celebrity. We had ridden home from the state track meet with the bus windows down and our heads out, cheering and yelling. Last year we had a huge trophy to carry together into the school. Last year people at church stopped me in the halls and congratulated me, handing me newspaper clippings with my picture. This year I rode home with my mom. This year I was a nobody.
I sat, unsinging, in my mom’s choir practice, and then stayed in the choir seats alone, while she bustled out the door talking to people.
Why didn’t Heavenly Father answer my prayers? Why hadn’t He healed my foot? Was I not righteous enough? Why hadn’t the blessings my Dad had given me worked?
And then the sweet words from a hymn came softly to my mind. “Though He giveth, or He taketh, God his children ne’er forsaketh” (Hymn #299). I felt as if Heavenly Father’s arms were wrapped around me. I knew right then that God still loved me. He had given me a gift. And then he had taken it away. But His love for me was still there.
That experience came back to me years later. My husband and I had two baby boys who were only 13 months apart. Our life was crazy—and so it was with a lot of faith that we decided to have another baby. We found out we were going to have a girl and we were all excited. We laughed about us having three under the age of three, and three kids in diapers. But we were filled with excitement to bring her home to our family.
When we got to the hospital, we found out she wasn’t coming home with us. She had wrapped her legs so tightly in the umbelical cord that it had cut off circulation, and her little heart was no longer beating. We were shocked. We had been so willing to do a good thing. And then Heavenly Father had taken her back. I struggled with a lot of things. What about the prayers we had been saying for months for this baby? What about the blessings my husband had given me? I knew God could do miracles. Had he forgotten about us?
And then once again those same words from that hymn came to my mind. “Though he giveth or he taketh, God his children ne’er forsaketh.” I once again felt encircled in the arms of God’s love. I knew without a doubt that He loved me. He had given us our little daugher, and then he had taken her away again. But His love for me was still there.
And I know it is still true. Some things work out the way I expect them or even better. Sometimes things fall through, and I am stuck facing the effects of mortality. But, through it all, I know that there is a God in Heaven. I know that He knows me and I am His daughter. I know He lives.
I was tired. More than tired. I had a 10 month old baby and I was 6 months pregnant. I was still waking up at night to feed the baby and my body felt like it was going to give out. I just wanted to eat chocolate and go to sleep. But it was a Wednesday—a Wednesday afternoon and we didn’t have anything planned for mutual that night. And I was Young Women’s president.
I sat on the couch in a stupor. If I were more on top of it, I would have delegated it to a counselor. Or I would have planned out all the activities in advance, or better yet would have let the girls plan things. But I wasn’t on top of things. I was just tired.
I wanted to just tell Heavenly Father I couldn’t do it anymore. This was a big calling and I just didn’t have anything to give. But then I remembered the story from the New Testament of the Widow’s mite. It says in the gospel of Mark: “There came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites,” and then Jesus tells his disciples, “this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury; For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had.” I felt Heavenly Father telling me that I didn’t need to do everything. All I needed to do was give what I had.
So I sat and thought about it for a minute. I didn’t have much, but what could I give? I sorted through my thoughts and decided that I could go. I could go and show up at the church. I didn’t have the mental capacity to plan anything, prepare anything or contact anyone. But I could go.
So I did. I went totally unprepared and offered my widow’s mite. I was there. The girls showed up and I asked them what they wanted to do. One sweet Beehive said, “Hey! Let’s go look in the closet at the craft supplies and we can make bookmarks.” So we did. We opened up the closet and got out all of the cute scrapbooking stuff that some other YW presidency had left. The girls cut and glued and found cute quotes and pictures from old Ensigns and had a great time.
I have often thought about that night at mutual. In the following weeks, sometimes I had more to give, sometimes I didn’t. And after I had our second baby and wasn’t pregnant anymore, sometimes I had even more to give. But Heavenly Father wasn’t really concerned about the amount I gave. He didn’t care as much about the decorations or refreshments or even well-planned activities. He cared about those sweet girls. And he cared that I gave what I had. He could take care of the rest.
It was almost my turn. I could feel my heart racing. What would everyone think?
I was in a creative writing class in college. We had each written personal essays and now were sharing them in groups. I was drawn out of my worry when the classmate started sharing her essay. She was a bit older than the rest of us and in beautiful words and moving words she told about her stillborn son, Jacob. About the pain and grief that racked her heart.
My essay suddenly paled in comparison. She had shared with us a part of herself—a really deep and painful part of herself. I went home and rewrote my essay. If she had the guts to share a piece of herself with the class, I could share a part of myself. I wrote about having my heart broken. My classmates liked my essay, my teacher told us about times he had gotten dumped and we all laughed.
We finished class and life moved on, I got married and moved to the East Coast with my husband. We had two little boys and a happy life. Then lightning struck. When we went to the hospital to deliver our third baby—a precious baby girl—the doctor’s couldn’t find a heartbeat. She was born still. I wasn’t prepared for the depth of pain that I experienced. I had thought that being a mom was hard. Now I was facing not being a mom, at least right then, to my little angel. My heart was broken.
Time passed. I felt peace from the Holy Ghost and the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life, but I still struggled. It was hard to see the world move on—my friends, my family—while my mind still centered around Nellie.
On one particularly hard day, a few months after we lost Nellie, I suddenly remembered my creative writing class. I thought about my classmate and her essay. It had been years, and I had switched computers about 3 times. Was there any chance I still had that essay?
Anxiously I opened my computer and drummed my fingers on it while it loaded. I looked back into my file of college classes, in the folder for english classes, and then in the folder for creative writing—there it was. Of all the essays I had peer-edited I had only saved one. I don’t know what made me save that essay, but as I read it, tears streamed down my face. Here was someone who had felt the things I had felt. There were some things about her situation that were the same as mine—and there were some things that were harder. I read about her wanting another baby—but only being willing to adopt one if she could be sure it would be a boy. That was exactly how I felt about my girl. I read that little piece of her heart and it somehow helped stitch up some of the holes in mine.
I still think about that essay. I think about the little details that remind me of my life. I think about the questions she had about stillborn infants. I think about how I am not the only one who lost what they so desparately wanted. It still brings me peace.
A few months ago, I went to a writing conference. I was sitting down in one of the chairs near the front waiting for the class to begin, when I saw a lady standing in the back. I squinted my eyes to read her name tag—and I knew who she was. Something pushed me off my feet and to the back of the room.
“Hi,” I said, “you don’t know me, but I was in your creative writing class years ago.” I told her how I had had a stillborn baby girl and that I had found her essay stashed away on my computer. While the noise of people talking buzzed around us, I just said, “Thank you for writing those words. They helped me.” I saw tears form in her eyes. We understood.
Sometimes writing isn’t just about getting published or changing the course of human history. Sometimes it is about touching a human soul. Sometimes just that fact that your words may touch one person is enough. In this case, the person was me.
I hate books, I grumbled to myself. Why do we even have all these books. I slammed my handful of Sandra Boynton books on the shelf and reached for a handful of Dr. Seuss books from the mountain in the middle of the floor. This was the second time today that my two-year-old had pulled all the books off of her shelf.
“You put me in a time-out, Mommy. So I did this,” she said to me when I opened her door and saw the mountain.
I pulled her out of her room and shut the door. And later cleaned it up. And then later cleaned it up all again.
As I was stacking (or slamming) the books onto the shelf, I let myself rant and rage a bit. What kind of job is this anyway? Here Elizabeth, do all of this work. But don’t do all the work. Because that would be wrong. Love your kids and give them attention. But by the way there is all of this work to do and if you don’t do it you will be stuck in horrific scenarios of screaming children and empty water bottles and mis-matched shoes. But just enjoy life. Don’t stress.
The truth was, I was mad because I had somehow missed the mark. I had brought all my kids home from school, and somehow or other I must have messed up. Because instead of us enjoying time together suddenly we were in the pattern of them mess up, me clean up. And it left me feeling frazzled, tired, and mad.
Later that same day, I took my two older boys and dropped them off for piano lessons. I knew when we went back home that I would have to start cooking dinner, because we were having the missionaries over. But my four year old was grumbling that he had no one to play with.
“I’ll play with you,” I said. “What do you want to play?”
“Dinosaur Escape!” he said with a big smile. So Richard and I set his game up on the table. “I got this game for my birthday” he said proudly.
Together we helped the dinosaurs get away from the exploding volcano. Then we set up another game and played. It didn’t take more than half an hour. Richard was grinning because we won (I love cooperative games) and I was happy. And somehow or other the two girls were playing together nicely.
Then I said, “Richard, I need to start cooking dinner. We are having the missionaries over tonight.”
“I’ll help you!” he said in an excited little voice. So while I cooked up the taco meat, Richard watched to see if the water was boiling and ready to put the rice in. He watched the butter melt and the bubbles start to rise to the surface. We poured in the rice and then put the lid on.
“There we go!” he said.
We went and picked up the two older boys from piano lessons, came back home and everyone played. The missionaries came over and ate and it all went (relatively) peacefully.
So what was the difference between the first scenario and the second? I think it all comes down to what I call “the Martha Dilemma.”
In the new Testament there is a short story (only 5 verses) of Mary and Martha. Mary is sitting and listening to the Savior, while Martha is preparing food or other things. Martha was working hard and starts feeling like no one was helping (they weren’t). She says, “Lord, dost though not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” Jesus’s answer is a gentle rebuke,
“Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 38-42).
I never thought I would be a Martha. I read the story of Mary and Martha as a teenager and wondered, “What’s wrong with her? Would she really rather be doing dishes than listening to Jesus?” Dishes and laundry and cleaning still aren’t my favorite things. But now that I’m a mom, I have sometimes found myself stuck in the “Martha Dilemma.” It’s not a fun place to be.
The Martha dilemma is a bit complex and can be confusing. Is the person doing anything innately wrong? No. The person is actually doing a good thing. So why is it wrong?
It’s sometimes easier to see in others than it is to see in myself. A few weekends ago, we went to the beach. It’s a lot of work to pack up kids and get them to the beach, but this time we got to the there in a relatively peaceful mood. Our kids started digging in the sand and my husband went out in the water. As I sat down, I couldn’t help but overhear the family next to us. A ten-year-old boy was whining and I could hear frustration in the dad’s voice when he responded to him. I know how it feels to do a lot of work to get my kids to a fun place and then have them whine at me. But right then, I could also see the boy. I could see him as just a 10 year old boy, who was a bit frustrated. He probably needed a hug. The dad’s voice got more frustrated and the boy started crying. The dad walked off. I wanted to say to that dad—let it go! I know it’s annoying, but look. You are at the beach. It’s beautiful here. You have a son who is healthy and strong. Just give him a hug. Don’t let it ruin the whole day.
Thirty minutes later I took my 7-year-old son out to snorkel. I had to remind myself that it actually didn’t matter if he put his face in the water, even when he said he wanted to and then wouldn’t do it. I didn’t need to get frustrated at him. What mattered most is that we had fun together. He finally put his face down in 4 inches of water for 3 seconds. He came up and happily told me he had seen a clam. “That’s great!” I said, and he waddled in his flippers up on the beach to play in the sand.
I’ve realized that getting out of the Martha dilemma requires two things: First recognizing our priorities, and second using our faith. Was it wrong for Martha to be cooking and cleaning? No. But when it became a choice between dishes and listening to Jesus, it suddenly became less important, not by the nature of the task, but by the nature of the choice. It’s not wrong for me to fix dinner, or make sure my kids have clean clothes, or make sure our house doesn’t fall down. But when placed in a choice with taking care of my children’s physical needs or taking care of the soul, which becomes most important?
One night as we put the kids to bed, I was walking through the house and mentally making notes of what rooms were clean and which ones weren’t. (I’m not a clean person by nature, so my level of clean means no toys or broken glass on the floor). Then I felt the Holy Ghost whisper a soft rebuke in my mind, What if you were mentally checking on the status of each of your children instead of the status of the rooms? It wasn’t too hard to make the switch. But I was surprised at the peace it brought me.
One of the biggest complaints there is about motherhood is that nothing is ever done. Everything we do gets undone, or has to be done again the next day. But I realized that if I put my mental focus on the kids, I am doing things that last. I love that quote from Oliver Wendall Holmes that says, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” And I have often thought of the scripture in second Nephi that says, “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy (2 Nephi 9: 51). The truth is, cleaning a house that will most definitely be messed up again the next day, just plain isn’t satisfying. But loving my kids, and teaching them truth is. It makes me happy inside.
Sometimes it takes a bit of faith. If Martha sat down and listened to Jesus too, who would fix the meal? Who would be the hostess? There were obvious things that needed to be done. But the key is realizing who the Master is. Sometimes my gut reaction is, “I don’t have time to play Dinosaur Escape and make a meal for the missionaries,” or “I don’t have time to listen to this whole story about a toy plane and get everyone out the door on time,” But I should remember who the Master is. He held back the sun for Joshua and his army. He can lengthen out a few minutes for me. He made food for 5,000. He can help me feed seven.
I believe in Jesus Christ. And if he said to Martha that choosing the good part wasn’t cooking or cleaning, that sounds great to me. I’m not saying those things shouldn’t happen. They are good parts of mortality. But they aren’t the most important. We don’t know what Martha did after Jesus gently rebuked her. It’s not in the scriptural account. But we do know that later, after her brother dies, Martha comes running out to meet Jesus, while Mary stays in the house. Martha bears a pure and vibrant testimony when Jesus tells her that he is “the resurrection and the life.” She says, “Yea, Lord. I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11: 27). She knew who He was. And she knew where she was. She was on his side, a true believer. Martha had chosen the good part.
I don’t have the chance right now to sit at Jesus’s feet. But I do have little people all around me. And it is a scriptural truth that “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). A lot of the time, my children and I inhabit different worlds. But there are moments when our two worlds connect—moments when I am pushing one of them on the swing and we are both laughing, or when I am just listening and I get what they are saying, or when I sit down and read scriptures with one of them. Those are the moments that I savor. Those are the moments when we feel Christ is in our midst. They are the good part of life. At the end of my life, I want to be able to say like Lehi and Mary, “I have chosen the good part.”(2 Nephi 2:30).
And maybe I’ll move that bookshelf out of my 2-year-olds bedroom . . .
I was kneeling down on the rough rocks, peering under a parked jeep. I was sure the other missionary thought I was crazy. But I couldn’t let it go.
“Come out! Let me help you!” I said.
The big crab about the size of my fist just shrank back farther against the tires of the jeep, burrowing itself in the gravel.
We had been walking home from our last teaching appointment of the day on a beautiful island off of the coast of Sao Paulo. As we were walking along the sidewalk, only a two lane road separated us from the beach, the ocean and the sunset.
As we walked along, I saw the huge crab, it’s body bigger than the span of my hand, on the wrong side of the road. It tentativlely would scramble sideways out into the road, but then a car would come and it would scurry back to the gutter. Then it would try again. It somehow knew that across that road was a place where it could find food, shelter, safety. It could find home. But there was no way that crab was going to get across the road by himself. There were way to many cars zooming by.
I don’t know exactly why, but my heart went out to that crab—maybe it stemmed from my younger days of catching crawdads in resevoirs. But I couldn’t leave that crab caught in it’s predicament.
“We have to help!” I said to my companion. She looked at me strangely. “It’s just a crab.” she said.
“We just have to help it.” I said. I grabbed a long stick and tried to convince the crab to grab on. “I will take you across that road. Look! The ocean is just over there. I can help you get there.”
But the crab only ran away. It scurried up the sidewalk and over into a gravel parking lot. I couldn’t find any containers to pick it up in and I was scared of the pinchers. But I could see the sun setting on the ocean.
So I kept on trying. The crab scurried away and underneath a jeep. I still couldn’t leave. So there I was kneeling down in a dress in a parking lot, talking to a crab. “You aren’t safe there,” I tried to warn him. You are underneath the tire of a car. You could get smashed.” But the crab wasn’t listening. It just burrowed deeper against the tire. I finally brushed off my knees, and brushed off my hands, and left that beautiful ocean crab sitting in a dry parking lot. I can still see it’s little eyes poking out–scared, but not sure where to go for help.
I felt tears roll down my cheeks as we walked home. I couldn’t quite explain to my companion why. But it was more than just a crab to me. My companion and I had been working for 6 weeks on this island, trying to teach people about Jesus Christ. We wanted to help them get to a place where they could find comfort, peace and shelter. We were trying to get them to Christ. And right then it wasn’t working. So when I was kneeling down there calling to that crab, I saw more than just two beady little eyes staring at me. I saw Ricardo who didn’t want to give up his worldly habits, or Nilda whose husband wouldn’t let her be baptized. I saw Selma who was just plain afraid. And I wanted them to accept our help. I wanted to help them get across that road and to the beautiful cleansing waters of the ocean.
I thought of the scripture in Helaman 3:35 that says, “Yea, see that whosever will, may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil and lead the man of Christ in a straight and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked.”
It really is true. Because of Christ, we can all get across the gulfs that are separating us from peace, happiness and healing. We don’t have to be stuck on the wrong side of the road in a gravel parking lot. I am grateful for my Savior and that he loves me. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
I always wanted to see an angel. On my mission I knelt down and prayed that I could see one. The answer I got was, “Stop wasting time, Elizabeth and get to work.” So I did. And I still haven’t seen an angel. But I noticed in a scripture there is a line phrased a little differently than I expected. It is talking about how spiritual gifts are give to some and it says, “And again to another the beholding of angels and ministering spirits” (Moroni 10:14). What exactly does it mean to behold? It could mean to see. But maybe it means a little bit more.
Seth and I took our family up to Rexburg, Idaho to see the solar eclipse. While we were there we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. We decided to go to the temple together. In the temple, I was thinking about our little daughter Nellie. I was kind of sad that she hadn’t been with us on this trip. We did a lot of fun things together—and I wished she could be there. Then I heard a voice in my mind say, “If you would just look you could see.”
“What do you mean?” I questioned. It came again,
“Just look.” and then a third time. “Look.” So I looked in my mind back through the things we had done on our trip. And this is what I saw.
I saw our family hiking up a dusty trail, to find a natural waterslide. We were high in the Sierra mountains. The air was clean and fresh and the pine trees rose with the mountains up to the sky. I was pushing Lillian in the stroller. The boys were walking a long and I felt happy. Then two-year-old Mary went bouncing by me. “My whole family is here!” She said dancing a long. “My whole family. My whole family.” Maybe she was right.
I saw Kenny, Joseph and Richard walking through a field of Barley with Grandpa Taylor. The evening sun was casting a golden glow and Grandpa was pointing out different types of wildlife. I imagined Nellie along with them and it made me smile.
I saw our whole family piling out of the car. We had just driven 7 hours. We had thought it would be a good idea to stop and get something at a store before we went to the hotel. But as we were piling out I realized that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. The kids were fighting and teasing and screaming. I was tired and hungry, and Seth had been driving for a long time. What in the world had made me think that going into Wal-mart right then would be a good idea? This was going to be a disaster. But we went in. The kids danced in the aisles and found Lunchables for a dollar (Mary wanted to sleep with her lunchable) and everyone was happy. I will call that a true miracle.
And so, I’ve realized that even though I don’t see angels, there are different ways to behold. Maybe I have to look past what the eyes can see. Then “the scales of darkness will fall from my eyes,” (2 Nephi 30:6) and I will be able to see what angels have done for me. There are a lot of things in this world that we don’t really see. We don’t see exactly how plants take the sunlight and turn it into food, we don’t see exactly how the clouds gather precipitation and the rain falls. All we see are the effects in our lives. And we can be grateful. So maybe I should stop looking in the wrong place. Stop looking to see an angel or a personage and start looking at what miracles God has wrought in my life. And maybe then I will see a hint here or a gift there and I will behold the evidence of angels. My angel.