Sunday, September 8, 2013

The puzzles pieces

I rarely like to share such personal experiences in such a public forum but I have felt prompted to multiple times so here goes.  As many people know Jerry is in the process of being laid off from his job.  It is not the end of the world but it has definitely strained our spirits a bit and definitely left us wondering what's next.  For now, he is finishing up at Belle Foods and I am working full time hours at a per Diem job in Birmingham.  We have been a bit stressed but we have also been blessed in numerous ways.  One of those ways has been in the peace that we both feel.  We know that we are in Birmingham for a reason and while we don't know exactly what that reason is, we feel like it is all part of the Lord's plan for us. I am very grateful for the Spirit of peace that we have right now and don't know how we would get through the trials of this life without it.  In speaking of the Spirit I would like to be able to say that my most spiritual experiences happen at church or in the temple, but in reality most of them happen at work.  Working in the Intensive Care Unit I see a lot of people in their most vulnerable state and I see many at the end of their lives.  The veil between this life and the next is very thin and the experiences at both birth and death tend to be very spiritual for me.  Last week I just happened to have one of those days.

It was Tuesday, I arrived at work (not a scheduled shift) and got report on my assignment.  One of my patients was very stable and expected to transfer out of the unit.  The other was extremely unstable and not showing any signs that she would improve.  I started in the room of the unstable patient and spoke to the family.  She was a Full Code which means we would resuscitate her if and when she her heart stopped.  Given her condition I knew we would be coding her during my shift and I also knew that coding her would not change the outcome of the situation but merely prolong the inevitable.  Her husband and daughter were at the bedside.  I introduced myself and updated them on her condition.  In the first few minutes of being with the family I knew that they didn't want the patient to suffer and that they had a strong faith so I approached them about her code status.  Long story short, the family made her a Do Not Resuscitate and she died very quickly into my shift.  I was the nurse more for the family than the patient and that was OK. My other patient transferred out of the unit and by noon I was patient less but expecting another very unstable patient from the ER.  I got report and went to have a quick lunch.  In the 20 minutes I was off the unit for lunch I got a call that the patient had been emergently dialyzed in the ER and had improved so much that she was going to a regular floor but that I would be receiving another patient.  I got report and the patient arrived.  In admitting him I came to find out that we share the same faith.  He too is Mormon.  He immediately perked up and thanked God for this small gift.  For him it was a reminder that God was aware of him and his needs at that very moment.  As I sat at my desk to chart I started to think about how chance could have played NO part in our meeting.  For starters I wasn't scheduled to work on Tuesday.  If it weren't for a last minute need, I would not have even been at work.  Secondly, I started the shift with two patients and most days finish with the same two. And lastly, the first admission from the ER miraculously improved and had her orders downgraded.  (This NEVER happens)  Usually even if they improve they come to the unit first and we transfer them out.  As I thought about all of the days events, it struck me that only one being could have manipulated all of those pieces so strategically, and that is our Heavenly Father.  And then the aha moment......He is doing the very same thing in ALL of our lives.  We just can't see it.  And at that moment I knew with the utmost assurance that we are going to be fine.  That God is in total control of our lives right now and that he is manipulating the puzzle pieces of our lives in just the same way he had for my patient.  We just need to continue to exercise faith in His plan. 

I want to share my testimony.  I know that God lives.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that they are aware of each and every one of us.  That they know our needs even before we do.  I know that they want us to have joy in our lives and that the trials we face are for our benefit.  They make us stronger and better and I am grateful for the chance to improve.  I am grateful for my Savior who has provided a way for me to return to the Father despite all my imperfections.  I am even more grateful for their influence in my life and for the plan they have for me.  And I leave this with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Marriage.....10 years and counting

I have been asked a lot of the years what the secret to being in a happy marriage is.  I have to say I always chuckle just a little bit when asked because I in no way proclaim to be an expert in the field.  But given that today we are celebrating 10 years of pure wedded bliss ;) I figured why not put my thoughts into words.  Jerry and I have been together 15 years today and have been married for 10.  It seems crazy to even type this.  And while most of it has been fabulous, some of it has been really hard.  Especially those early years.  I know, I know, believe it or not I'm not always the easiest most lovable person in the world and Jerry is well...Jerry.  We love each other like crazy and honestly we do rarely fight but when we do....well we do.  I personally think it's healthy.

So what have I learned in 15 years?  Well the one thing I have definitely learned after being together 15 years is that men do not read minds well.  Let's face it, they don't read minds at all.  So if you want them to know something, you'd better just tell them.  It's a whole lot easier than hoping they'll figure it out on their own and takes a whole lot less emotional energy.

The other thing I've learned is that if I'm unhappy with the way things are going I need to work on myself.  Even if I think the problem is Jerry or it's easier to say the problem is Jerry (which of course it usually is) I need to work on myself.  It's been a hard pill to swallow but no one can truly make us happy but ourselves.  When we are happy with ourselves it's easier to be happy with the ones we are with.  These things being said, neither is in any way the secret.  The secret, at least for us, has been our faith in God and our perspective on eternity. Jerry and I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints together almost 9 years ago.  As Mormons we believe that we can be sealed to our families forever.  When I first learned this I was terrified of the prospect of being with Jerry forever but loved the fact that I could be with my children (or at that time child) forever.  Over the years that fear has flip flopped.  Now I can't image being without Jerry and shiver at the fact that I will be with my kids forever.  ;)  All kidding aside it is by far for me the biggest blessing.  Our marriage isn't until death do us part but will live on for eternity.  So I figure I can stick with Jerry and hope and pray with God's help he can molded into the perfect eternal companion or I can give up now and we can go to eternity with all our current baggage and problems.  Yes problems.  All marriages have them.  The secret is never ignoring them and knowing that no marriage is perfect.  Even the ones that look perfect.  I will tell you this and while this shouldn't be a secret, too many of us don't know this.  People only put their BEST stuff out there for the world to see.  Most people only post to Facebook and their blogs the perfect pictures, from the perfect outings, in their perfect outfits.  As women and sometimes men, we look at these things and immediately look at our own lives.  The messy house, the loud kids in mismatched clothes, the lack of family time we've had that week, whatever.  We look at the worst in our own lives and compare it to other people's best.  It's totally unfair and not real.  So let me be real.  Stop doing it!  We are all struggling.  Some of us our willing to share that fact and some are not.  But you do not have the market cornered on cRaZy.  Most weeks I do!  If you don't believe me, ask Jerry.

Back to that eternity thing.  About 6 years ago, just after Jerry and I were sealed in the temple, I was asked to give a talk on eternal marriage.  In preparing for that talk I came across something that has been engraved in my soul and for me has totally changed the way I look at all relationships, not just marriage. It was a talk given by F. Burton Howard.  In it he recounts what he learned from his companion, exemplified by a set of silverware.  The story went something like this.  We started out as two poor law students with little money to spare.  On occasion though, my wife would work as a part time election judge or someone would giver her a few dollars for her birthday, and instead of spending it, she would quietly set it aside.  When she had enough she would go into town to buy a piece of silverware.  Of course it took several years to accumulate enough pieces to use them, but when we finally had service for four, we began to invite some of our friends for dinner.  Before they came we would always discuss which utensil to use, the battered and mismatched stainless or the special silverware?  In those early days I would often vote for the stainless.  It was easier.  You could just throw it in the dishwasher after a meal, and it took care of itself.  The silver on the other hand, was a lot of work.  My wife insisted that I buy a tarnish free cloth to wrap it in, each piece in a separate pocket.  When the silver was used, it had to be hand washed and dried so that it would not spot, and put back in the pockets so it would not tarnish.  If any tarnish was discovered, I was sent to buy silver polish and together we carefully rubbed the stains away.  Over the years we added to the set and I watched with amazement at how she cared for it.  For years I thought she was just a little bit eccentric, and then one day I realized that she had known for a long time something I was just beginning to understand.  If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.  You shield it and protect it.  You never abuse it.  You don't expose it to the elements.  You don't make it common or ordinary.  If it ever becomes tarnished, you loving polish it until it gleams like new.  It become special because you have made it so and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.  Marriage, like the silverware is a lot of hard work, but if you want it to last forever it needs to be treated like the priceless gift that it is.