Sunday, July 27, 2008

The things I KNOW

I was thinking the other day how this blog serves as a family and personal journal for myself, and is therefore an appropriate place to share some personal beliefs and things I have come to know for myself. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormons). I was blessed to be born into a family that was already a member of this church; I think it is a huge advantage that helped limit the amount of time that I might have flailed around trying to find guidance and direction in my life.

I know that God really does know who I am and cares about me. There have been times in my life where this love has been easier for me to feel and other times where I did wonder if God knew ME and really cared about my happiness. A time that I struggled with this the most was in the late summer of 1999. Alex, Birch and I had just been in a terrible car accident. Alex suffered from a collapsed lung, fractured skull, and fractured spleen. Birch later found that he had dislocated his collar bone and severed his vertebral artery. I was 17.5 weeks pregnant with our second child but through a simple exam in the ER it showed everything was going to be okay. Two weeks later, after Alex had been discharged from the hospital and we had been greeted by much love from our friends and family back at our home in Montana, Birch and I found ourselves again at the hospital. On the previous day we had gone in for our regularly-scheduled ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby and to check on the growth and development, but found that our little girl had died. That night I laid in bed and cried in agony pleading with God to do what he had done in days of old and raise my child from the dead. I had faith that God could bring my baby back to life and the following morning prior to my induction I demanded to have another ultrasound to see if my baby had come back to life. During the following weeks and months I struggled with depression and with knowing if God really did love me and cared about my happiness. I felt hopelessness and a lack of desire to pray to my Heavenly Father. Birch and I had always prayed together each night before going to bed but I no longer felt like I wanted to take part in giving these prayers. A couple of weeks after the death of Sara Elizabeth I was at church and we were singing the hymn "Count your blessings."

Count Your Blessings

When upon life's billows You are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged Thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you What the Lord hath done.


Count your blessings Name them one by one.
Count your blessings See what God hath done.
Count your blessings Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings See what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened With a load of care,
Does the cross seem heavy You are called to bear.
Count your many blessings Every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing As the days go by.

When you look at others With their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised You His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings Money cannot buy,
Your reward in heaven Nor your home on high.

So amid the conflict Whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged God is over all.
Count your many blessings Angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you To your journey's end.

I couldn't finish the song. I had lost the desire to "count my blessings" and see that God was watching over all. It wasn't long after when I had a very personal experience with God where I felt SO strongly that God did care about me and my family and that he was watching over me. It was such a personal experience with God's love for me that I wept uncontrollably, filled with such peace that I was not just one of millions that lived here on earth merely existing. Yes, I know God loves ME.

I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon contain the fullness of the gospel. In John 10:16 it says, "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." After Jesus was resurrected he visited the "other sheep" on the American continent and this visit is recorded in the Book of Mormon. I know that Joseph Smith was used by God to translate these sacred ancient writings into English. As I have taken the time to read the writings of ancient prophets in the Bible and Book of Mormon I have again felt God's love and his plan for me.

I know that there is life after death. Almost eight years ago Birch's father suddenly passed away.

The pain of his death is very real for Birch's mom and for all of us who love his dad. Knowing that his father's memories and relationships with those he loved on this earth were not erased at death is very comforting. I know that once I have died and have been resurrected at some point, I will have the opportunity to have eternal life and carry on those relationships that I have made here on earth. Eternally being with my spouse, my children, and others I love is such a rewarding promise.

I know that God gives us commandments in order for me to be a happier person. I'm sure that I have not always looked at this concept in the same way that I do now, especially since having children. What an amazing thought that God loved us all so much that he gave us the opportunity to choose right from wrong. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost which not only can help me choose right from wrong but also brings me comfort when my soul is in need.

I know that this life is all about family. Not only does God love and care about my family but he cares about the kind of mother I am to my family. If Birch and I fail to teach our children God's commandments at home, how can we expect them to flourish in the world? "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3) and the family is the center of God's plan.

These are a few of things I KNOW. I am grateful that I know so many answers to life's greatest questions.


Mama Nirvana said...

Wow, Sara! I wish I could say I KNEW all of the same things. You are an amazing person, who I admire so much. Thanks for sharing such personal experiences for us all to learn from.


So Many M's said...

Thank you so much for sharing your testimony of your love for the gospel and enlightenment it has brought you. I appreciate people like you and your strength. Your family has been through things that no one should ever have to experience, but in the end it made an amazingly strong person who can help others in the same situation. As I scrolled down and saw Brother Ditto, it brought back a flood great memories of that man, and it's comforting to know that his family WILL see him again. Thanx for sharing your life's experience with us, you are loved,

Prissy & Hero said...

This was beautiful Sara. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

kg said...

What wonderful knowledge you have. It made me reflect on the knowledge I have as well. What a great place to share this for others. Your testimony strengthens mine. I can feel the peace you have in your life.

Dunstan Family said...

Thanks for sharing. You write beautifully. Your testimony is wonderful. I too can feel the peace you have in your life. I continue to look for mine. You are a wonderful mother and person.

Heidi C. said...

Thank-you Sara for sharing your testimony. I am greatly touched by it. I am grateful for the things I know,too. What a blessing it is to have the gospel. It has brought such strength and comfort to me in my times of happiness and times of saddness.

Meta said...

You are amazing. I'm love reading your honest words and feeling the spirit. You have a great testimony and your dedication to your family and faith and an example to me. Love the pillow idea out of pant cut-offs! Too cute!

Cami said...

This also made me very reflective about the knowledge I have. This definitely has strengthened my testimony.

Elyse said...

Beautiful, Sara, just a wonderful testimony you have.

Nancy Clark said...

I loved reading this post. Sara, I think the things you know are always evident in the way you live and in all of your writings, but I loved how you spelled it all out here. You have always been a shining example of so many great virtues! Thanks!

Lisa Rampton Halverson said...

Thank you for your openness in sharing your knowledge, Sara.

I am so glad the song "Count Your Many Blessings" touched you as it did. You know, Taylor has realized that Moroni 10:3-5 has a point we often miss, in our desire to focus on the promise in verses 4-5 that we can know the truth of all things. In addition to that, verse 3 tells us to prepare by remembering all the merciful things God has done to His children since the beginning of time. If we REALLY did that we would be on our knees our entire lives! More importantly, we would be overwhelmed at His tender mercies. I am glad you know He is merciful, even in our darkest hours.

Amanda said...

Thank you for sharing your exeriance. We have lost 4 and the last loss was really hard on both of us but after 2 and a half years I am finally finding the healing I was looking for. I have a hard time talking about it because I wonder what people will think of me for still having to struggle over it and, whether they will doubt my ability to serve in the position that I do while I was still dealing with the emotional issues. SO I keep it pretty quiet. Which is probably another reason it has taken me so long to go through the healing process. I still have days but it is easier and I can honestly say I do feel my Saviors love for me and don't let it burden my heart to much. Thank you for sharing, something I am not so good at!