Monday, September 29, 2014

Through a Father's Eyes

I believe in fate.
I don't believe in coincidence.
I believe that when something sporadically comes into your head, you're meant to remember it, and ponder it. There is something that someone wants you to remember.

So, last night, when this memory came into my head at 3 in the morning, I knew it wasn't just a coincidence.
And when it was still there when I woke up at 8 in the morning, I knew there was something I was suppose to remember.
It's one that I hold dear and near to my heart, one that I've shared many times, and feel that I need to share again.
I very well possibly may have shared this before. But I hope to share something new. Something that can help someone out there, as it has helped me today.

...

June of 2009

I was 17. It was my last ward youth conference for my church.

We were at Scout Mountain, Camp Taylor. There were a lot of youth, and a few leaders. Whoever was in charge that day had planned an activity. The activity was suppose to be a representation of listening to the Spirit, even when life is crazy and loud.

The Activity:
Blindfold all the youth. Take them into the big field. Have the leaders play different noises: tambourines, whistles, and whatever else.
Have one leader ring the jingle bells.
Allow the youth to find the jingle bells, despite all the other noises.
 
 
We were all excited to participate! It was going to be fun, and probably really funny to watch.
 
I had disregarded the fact that I am hard of hearing. I had also not thought about my hearing aid, and how it would amplify ALL the noises that would be played.
 
But, that wasn't going to stop me anyways.
 
We were all blindfolded. (Check)
We were led to the field. (Check)
The leaders took out their instruments and started to play them. (Check)
 
 
And we started to listen for the bells.
 
Everything was black. I couldn't see anything. But, happily, I started listening as hard as I could.
I listened...
And I listened some more...
And more.........
 
I don't remember how long I was out in that field, but I was definitely out there longer than everyone else. My hearing aid caught all the sounds, so much so, that it drowned out the bells, which was exactly what my hearing aid was meant to catch anyways! I tried to play it cool though.
 
No big deal, I'll find them eventually...
 
I realized that I was taking a while though, when some people played less of their loud instruments and the person with the bells was trying to be louder.
 
Embarrassment started to rise within me. I was the only one out there now, and I was beginning to feel like a failure. But, I would never show it...
Although I knew that I wasn't getting anywhere.
So, I tried to play it cool.
 
Um, help?? *Sarcasm*
 
And the youth laughed. Not sneeringly. Not in a mocking manner.  I think it was suppose to be encouraging in a way.
But, it wasn't helping.
I wasn't getting anywhere...
 
I should just stop now. They've been waiting long enough... It's time to move on.
 
As I was just about to take off my blindfold, I heard a voice. A voice that was the most familiar of all the teenagers in that group. It was coming towards me.
 
"Here, Jense, take my hand. I'll help you find the way."
 

And Ian did take my hand. He didn't take off the blindfold. But I knew that wasn't necessary.

He wouldn't lead me astray.

 ...

Most of those guys learned how to listen to the Spirit that day. They learned how to listen carefully, and to follow it.

I, on the other hand, learned that we can't do things on our own. We need a Savior. We need our older brother to guide us...

...

February 28, 2014

Ian and I sit side by side. The 4 caskets sat in front of us. Everyone was sitting behind us, listening to my dad's older sister speak.

She spoke about this story.

And she shared the part that came from my father's eyes.

*A conversation between a sister and a brother*
The Sister: "How could you stand not rushing out to help her? Wasn't it hard?"
The Brother: *Choked up* "I knew Ian would get her."
 
...............................................................................................................................................................
 
 
There was more that I was suppose to learn about that experience.
 
Perhaps, this can be a parable for a lot of things.
 
We are here. We are struggling. We ask for help. We do all that we can. And sometimes, we just don't feel like we are getting answers.
 
Does that mean that Heavenly Father doesn't love us?
No.
 
Heavenly Father is a celestial, immortal being. We are imperfect, mortal beings. And when we came here, we lost that ability to physically speak to him. We lost the ability to physically hear him on a regular basis.
 
It's not that he doesn't want to. I truly believe that if he could, he would. I truly believe that he hates to see us this way with whatever we are struggling with, whether that's financially, whether that's not knowing what career path you need to take, whether that's high school drama, or whether that's losing a family.
 
Because of the Laws of Heaven, he is unable to do that.
 
But... because of the Mercy of the Atonement, we have an advocate.
 
Christ came down to suffer those pains, so that when we struggle, we can be helped and guided.
 
What if my dad came and rushed to my side and said, "Oh Jens, you shouldn't have to do this. You have limitations, so it's ok if you quit right now. You did enough."? Why didn't my dad come to me, take off the blindfold and let me just walk to everyone?
 
Because my dad understood that regardless of my hearing impairment, I can still do it.
And even more importantly, he knew that my brother knew.
In his eyes, I was able to finish it. He knew I wouldn't quit.
And he knew that my brother would be there to help me when he couldn't.
 
And now, he is physically gone. He can't physically come to me, take my hand and say, "Oh Jens, you shouldn't have to do this. You have limitations, so it's ok if you quite right now. You've done enough."
Even if he could, he wouldn't.
 
Because he knows that Ian and I are quite capable.
 
Even moreso, Heavenly Father knows it, too.
 
I've got 2 fathers who have my back.
As well as 4 brothers. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blessings on an Autumn Day

Some days are hard.

Some days, the tears keep coming and won't stop. It's a never ending gush. There are breaks, but they always come back to finish the job.
Some days, the body is achy. Muscles are sore from walking, spinning, working. They scream for rest. Yet even rest doesn't seem to cover it.
Some days, the road of nostalgia is long and tiring. But it's impossible to get off that road. Because if you get off that path, where will you go?
Some days, even just to smile takes all the effort that is required, let alone being happy. It would be so much easier to just be angry and sad and depressed.
Some days, "Why?" is always going through the mind.

...

Today was not a some day day.

Today, the weather was beautiful. Autumn is here. One day, it will be winter. An entire cycle of seasons will have run its course, and the year mark will come.

But, it's not here yet. So, be happy today.

Today, the leaves were brown and red and orange and yellow. They are beautiful and fun. Some hang on for dear life, while others float to the ground.

But, I am stronger than those little leaves. So, be happy today.

Tomorrow may be hard. I might cry, or become angry. Maybe I'll stress over all that needs to be done. Maybe it will seem like more than I can handle.

But, tomorrow is not today. So, be happy today.

The holidays will be here soon. It will be hard not having them here. It will be a different holiday season, as will be the next one. And the next one. And the one after that. I'll be with other family members. We might cry. We will laugh. We will remember good times. We might ask why.

But, the holidays aren't here yet. And we still have each other. So, be happy today.

...

I drive down the road of my old neighborhood. I see the house.
It is empty.
It hurts a little bit.
I pass the house. I don't look back.
Because looking back stops me from looking forward.

Life moves on fast.
So, be happy today.
Someday, it will be ok.

"Men are, that they might have joy."



Friday, September 12, 2014

A Long Road

It started out as a normal day. Normal morning. I actually was going to be on time! Class one was normal. Class two was normal. Lunch was awesome! And I was happy.

Class three started.
She is so cute, with her girly dresses, and tights. She's always smiling, her hands always waving. She always has to have a pen in her hand.

As she is waving her left hand, pen zooming with it, something caught my eye. Her wedding ring. It's bigger. It stands out.

And once again, my mind instinctively takes a trip down memory lane.
Only, this memory was not one I was anticipating.

It's just like the movies. Once you start thinking, you can't stop. Once you're there, you're not where you were before. Once that door is cracked, it will swing wide open, and it's hard to turn around.

..................

I'm at the funeral again. Keegan's and Liam's casket were already closed. Tears had been welling in my eyes, and I had already pushed everyone out of my path and booked it out the doors, out the church building, and hid behind a wall. I sobbed... I knew that they wouldn't continue without me, but at that moment, I just needed to be by myself. No hugs. No tears. Just me and the cold air.
People found me and coaxed me back into coming back. I walked slowly. I let the tears stream.
He was there at the door, holding it. He had seen me run. He was a hug that I wanted at the time.
People put their hands on me.
"Please. Don't. Touch. Me." Release.
Next was Mom. She was still beautiful. Her nails were just done. Her hands were stiff, and still soft. Her left hand was over her right. Her ring was bigger. It stood out.
"Jensen, I think you should take her ring."
People began coaxing me.
"No, I can't! That's not right! No."
"You will want it later..."
They lift her stiff soft hand. They are tiny fingers. It takes a little while before they get it off. They hand it to me.
I hold it tight.


.........................
 
I force myself to remain in class. It's been almost 7 months. Just face the reality already.

But, that door has already been opened. Just a crack is enough.
And they are there again.
When I saw them for the first time. When the crowd was suffocating. When I saw Daddy. Mom. When I saw Keegan with his basketball teammates. Liam in his brand new suit that was bought for his first time to pass the sacrament.

And I cry.
It's all within seconds.

I still have a lot of life to live. Hopefully anyways. And that's a long time without them. When I think about that, it makes it harder to see the bigger picture.

The road to eternity is a long one. It's a specific one. And the steps must be thorough. There's not shortcuts. There's not breaks. It's just moving on, enduring on, and relying on faith.

It's not easy. Faith is just. Not. Easy.
But it's the only way.
So, that's why I take it.

Not because I'm so great and inspirational. Not because I want people to think I'm so strong. Not because it's easy.
Because there's only one thing that's important to me. And that's to be with them again.

Faith is not the easy road. But it is the road that gets you where you essentially want to go.
Faith is an action. It's a choice.
You can choose to be stronger.
You can choose to start now.
You can choose to change things that you don't like.
Life was not meant to be easy.
Don't choose the easy way out.
Do the hard thing.
Rewards are given to those who work. Those who try. Even better yet, those who stumble and get back up.

I've had to make changes. I've had to let things go. And it was very difficult.
But if you want the prize, you have to be willing to change.

And I know what I want.

"Grief does not change you... It reveals you." -John Greene

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sealings and Tears and Happiness

I went to Seattle this past weekend.
It's been years.
Last time I went, it was with them.
So many memories...

.............................
 

One of my best of friends got sealed to the love of her life. It was wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

Two weeks ago, I went to my trainer's wedding sealing. They got married early in the morning. It was wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

In three more weeks, I will go to my closest companion's wedding sealing. It will be wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

While I'm there, in the sealing room, I tear up. Most people may think it's because I'm so happy for these guys. That is true! I am so ridiculously happy.
But, I also can't help but think...

My parents won't be there.
Will it still be wonderful, being there, with me, and him, and friends and family?
But not with them?

If I get sealed, they won't physically be there. And that is hard. Really hard.
And so, I cry.
I just let the tears flow.

But as I'm sitting there in that sealing room, I realize.
This is what it's all about.

My family is all good. They are secure. They are happy.
And thank goodness for saving ordinances.
Or else, where would I be?

Matthew 16:19-
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Happiness is not meant to only be temporal.


Monday, August 18, 2014

"That Girl"

Believing is just the first leap of faith to knowing.
Just let that sink in.

When I was on my mission, I became known as, what a lot of people called, "That Girl." I was "That Girl" who bore her testimony every fast Sunday since Primary days. I was "That Girl" who knew all the answers during the Primary lessons. I was "That Girl" who loved to go to Seminary, and, lo and behold, I knew all the answers there, too! I was "That Girl" who read her scriptures, and loved analyzing them, and knew all the stories, and understood doctrine. I was "That Girl" who gave a million and one devotionals, (all voluntary, by the way) and lessons, and whatnots. I was "That Girl" who never really questioned anything that was told to me.

I was "That Girl." That girl who never had a reason to question anything. I was "That Girl." That girl who never had any real trials. Oh ya, sure, there were those ridiculous moments when I thought I was ugly, or didn't have friends, or had a hard time during school. But, none of those ever made me second guess things or doubt things.

I had it good. There was no reason to. I just kind of naturally "knew."

...

I've been thinking a lot. I think more than I speak nowadays. Since everything has happened, I've been REALLY thinking about "The Eternal Plan of Happiness." How families can be together forever, being married with the right authority. How death isn't the end, but just another step in the grand spectrum of things. How there's even more to it that I don't even know.

That's the thing. There's so much that I don't know.

It's not a doubting factor. It's more of I just don't know a lot of things. I don't know where Heaven is. Ya, we as people fabricated this idea that heaven is the sky, but if that was the case, wouldn't we see angels all the time, dancing around in their white robes, playing their harps? And even then, do we know if that's what angels do? I, personally, have a hard time believing that. My father, as well as my mother, were not lazy people.

(Plus, none of the four of them know how to play the harp...)

The point of the matter is, I DON'T KNOW. I don't know EXACTLY where Heaven is, or what we do, or when we become resurrected, or yada yada yada.

I do, however, have faith. That those kinds of things exist and those kinds of things happen.

I was reading my scriptures the other day, in Mark. (I tend to jump around.) And something caught my eye. It was Mark 6:6. This is what it said:

"And he (meaning Jesus, as he is trying to heal people,) marveled because of their unbelief. And he went around the villages, teaching."

Understanding that the verses before that were talking about how he couldn't do any miracles because no one had faith, I footnoted the word "unbelief." This is what it said:
 
UNBELIEF: Lack of faith
 
I'm not really sure why, but my mind started racing as I continued to read. It's kind of ironic, really, because later on in the chapter, it tells the story about the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes, and because of the faith of the 5,000+ people there, Christ was able to feed them all, with just that much food! (Blows my mind, by the way.)
 
What was the difference between these two groups of people? The group that couldn't, or perhaps even wouldn't, be healed, and the group that was able to witness 5,000+ people be fed with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes? Well, when first reading it and thinking about it, the answer is the latter group had faith...
 
 But here was where my mind started going...
If you refer back to the footnote, according to this, and if I understand this correctly, Christ was dumbfounded by the lack of FAITH the first group had.
If you continue to read in all kinds of scripture, he always require people to have FAITH.
Miracles happened when people had FAITH.
 
He never reprimanded people that didn't have KNOWLEDGE.
He never marveled because of the lack of KNOWLEDGE that people had. (Not including people who had ALREADY RECEIVED that knowledge, who needed constant reminders. Which were a rare group of people.)
In short, He doesn't expect us to have FULL KNOWLEDGE. Not right now.
 
How could he? We are so imperfect!
 
Faith is a power. Awesome things happen when you have faith. Miracles happen.
And faith is developed when one BELIEVES first.
 
This life is all about believing and developing faith. More often than not, we will not have the FULL KNOWLEDGE of things here on Earth.
But believing, which develops into faith, will eventually become knowledge.
Will it happen while you're here in this life? Maybe. Maybe not. I cannot say.
 
To all those who may feel like you don't know things, you're not alone. You don't need to know everything right now.
But just exercising your beliefs to become faith is the first step.
 
I don't know exactly where my family is. I don't have that full knowledge. I don't know where Heaven is, or Paradise. 
But, I have a whole heck of a lot of faith that they are happy. And things are going well, wherever they are.
They were just those kinds of people. They make wherever they are a better, happier place.  
I believe I will see them again. I have faith that the gospel will enable me to have that opportunity.
 
And, I also believe that someday, I'll understand and know why things had to happen the way they did.
 
I'm not "That Girl" who knows all the answers.
I'm "That Girl" who believes the answers will come.  
 
 




 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Now, it is August

July was a tough month.

I'm not sure why that is. Maybe because it would have been the month that I would finish up my mission. The way that I planned to, that is.
Maybe it's because it would have been when I saw them all again. At the airports with their signs and smiles and hugs.
Maybe it would have been when I would come back to the life that I loved and left for a time, and I was would have been excited to be back.

I can't pinpoint exactly.
But, for whatever reason, July was hard.
Extremely hard.

And now, it's August.
And it's still hard.
Mainly because of how I was in July.
Angry. Depressed. Apathetic. Rude. Inconsiderate.
(I'm in that phase of grieving, I guess.)
I'll be the first to admit it. I've been a pain. I know I have. I've avoided people like the plague, for fear of hurting them or exploding at them, or just because I'm annoyed at them and don't want to deal with them. As those that I do indeed let in, I just become angry and frustrated when they try to help.

It doesn't matter how many words of advice I hear, or bars of chocolates I eat, or martini glasses I smash.
That helps the exterior me.
It does nothing for the interior me. And, unfortunately, the interior me is what demands the most attention. The most healing. And people try.
And try.
And try...

I've shut down. I've set a barricade around me. I want people to come in, but I don't know how to help them through the wall, because there is no door. I forgot to add that part when I was creating it. It's high, and it's hard to get out, and it's hard for people to come in.
And so, what do I do? Yell. Scream.
If they can't feel it, then I will let them hear it.
Which results to... confusion. More hurt. More fear. More exhaustion. And more helplessness.
And not just for me.
More importantly, for those who try to help.
And you can only try getting through a barricaded heart for so long before you have to just move on.

All the negative build up from July caused the most hurt and exhaustion I've ever experienced. The load is so heavy, but I don't know how to give it up. It builds upon me, to the point of exhaustion so severe that I shut down.
I stare at people as they speak to me.
I tune out a lot more than I take in.
It's hard for me to listen to other people's problems.
I watched people became lost for words, after hours of coaxing me. Counseling, spiritual experiences, opinions... nothing worked.

I became selfish.

And now, it is August.
And as I sit in the corner of my barricaded heart, I realize.
I AM NOT WHO I WAS.
My heart is hard. It is not what is was.
I don't LIKE this me.
And, I highly doubt that they do, either.
Or them...

Why do I write this?
One.
I'm sorry to all who have tried, and felt like they failed. Because you didn't. I love you more than you realize. And you help more than you will ever realize.
Two.
I'm deep into this. And it's the worse pain and worse feeling I've EVER experienced. And it's going to take more than a few days to get out. It's going to take a while.

A wise man once told me a phrase that forever changed my perspective on life. I forgot it for a while, but I'm reminded again:
"God doesn't do random."

No. No, he doesn't.
There is no growth in the comfort zone.
I'm going to get out of this barricade.
I'm going to start building a door.
It's not going to happen overnight.
And I'm not doing it alone. I'm going to require a lot of divine help. I want to be who I was before.
I take that back.
I want to be better than I was before.
That's going to require a lot of trust, a lot of change, and a lot of patience.
It's going to require the Atonement, which I know I need in my life again. I'm not a perfect person. I've stumbled a lot lately. But I'm going to keep going forward.

July was tough.
Now, it is August.
What better time to change?  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014

JULY 22, 2014
**EXPECTATION**
Best friend and I will be up all night, excited, maybe crying.
We will drive to the airport together.
We will sleep on the plane. Maybe, if we were up the night before.
Both our families will be there, together, with their balloons and "WELCOME HOME" signs.
We will sign. Throw them off.
When we can't stand it anymore, we will run to them.
I will run to them. Hug them all.
Probably Mom first. Mothers get first call.
Then, the boys.
Then, Dad.
Say goodbye to best friend. Drive home. Tell them everything.
 
*******************************
 
JULY 22, 2014
**REALITY**
Wake up.
Clean.
Apply for classes.
Appointment.
Work.
No hugs.
No brothers. No Mom. No Dad.
Drive around alone.
 
......


Sometimes, you just want to escape.

No, I'm not talking about going on a trip, or going to another state.

I'm talking about that confinement that you feel by just being you.
The realization that you are you and you won't ever be anyone else but you, and you have to live with being you.
Your struggles. Your weaknesses. Even your happiness and triumph.
It's all exhausting sometimes.
Escape would mean just having a brief moment of freedom of being you. Almost like as if your spirit could just leave your body for a few moments.

Not like death.

More like a jump. A jump through space. Matter. Time. A jump through your story.
What will I become? I need to know the end of my story...

Or perhaps, more like a dream. An escape from reality.
I love dreaming. It gives me a chance to be away for a little while.

It's interesting how many forms that confinement can be.

..................................................................................................................

This is a trial of faith.

I won't say the trial of faith. There may be more.

And from this, many things have happened.
Tears.
Trials.
Miracles.
Smiles.
Stumbles.
Triumph.
Confusion.
Inspiration.

The following does not happen in the above order.

..................................................................................................................

"You're an inspiration!"

You'd think I'd be used to hearing it. But I'm still not.
I appreciate it very much.
Although, I am still trying to see it.

Very few people see what happens behind the closed door and pulled curtains. All the suppressed feelings that build up. Even all the "what ifs" and "whys". They still happen.
I think, to some degree, they always will.
Confinement.

How is that, pray tell, an inspiration??

....................................................................................................................

I'm not the inspiration. As much as you all think.
It's not me.
Can't you see that? I'm just a normal girl, going through a crazy, unexpected ordeal.

The inspiration is the Atonement. The inspiration is that the crazy, unexpected ordeal can be fixed in due time.
No, they won't come back. Not anytime soon, anyways.
But we are a forever family.
THAT, my friends, is the inspiration.

Or, perhaps even, the inspiration is that we won't be completely and utterly alone. Ever. Although, maybe at times, we may feel that way.
You won't know how I feel, and I won't know how you feel. Even if we switched our circumstances, it would never be the same, because you are you, and I am me, and you and I handle things even slightly differently.
But we are never alone. Because that price has *touch finished* been paid.

Perhaps, the inspiration comes from that in a very small town in this gigantic earth, where things are becoming crazier by the minute, there is a girl who still believes that there is a God. One that can do miracles.
And there are so many more of the like.

Shouldn't that be SAYIING something?

My family were who they were.... who they ARE... because of the Atonement of Christ. My brother is back on his mission, sharing his experiences, regardless of how hard it may have been to leave, because of the Atonement of Christ. I am who I am because of the Atonement of Christ.

And when I remember that... I don't feel so confined anymore.
Because I know that Christ died for us, so that we wouldn't be.

.........................................................................................................

Confinement takes on many forms.

But so does freedom.

The freedom of being happy. Being with family. The freedom of togetherness.

...........................................................................................................

I wonder...

HEAVEN
**EXPECTATION**
Maybe, it's like a homecoming.
Everyone is excited.
Maybe they have signs that says, "WELCOME HOME!"
I hope they are there. I'll run up to them and hug them.
Probably Mom. Mothers get the first call.
Then, the boys.
Then, Dad.
 
 
That would be nice...