As time marches on I am finding memories come forward. This family picture is one of those tender memories I cherish.
We had this picture taken while on a family trip to Utah the summer of 1998. It was before Nate left for his mission to Cochabamba, Bolivia for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love being a mother and my whole goal back then as a mother, who was struggling having her first child leave the nest, was to have a family picture taken that would forever remind us that we were an eternal family.
As a mother, I knew close families didn’t just happen, it takes time & effort and down right hard work sometimes! Sacrificing, forgiveness, compassion, service and unconditional love to build an eternal family but worth every effort! I wanted a picture that spoke even when words were not said.
So I set to make it happen. My sister Sue had mentioned people were dressing in white and taking pictures in wheat fields. I thought that is perfect, a visual of my desire, a forever family!! She lined the photographer up for us and I began rounding up white clothes for 8 people ages 4 to …, this was not easy on a shoe string budget, but anything worthwhile I have learned takes effort!
The day of the shoot I woke up to see rain :(. Not only rain, but our 3rd son, Josh had the stomach flu and was running a fever! I had worked so hard on the trip making sure everyone was safe, no one fell and got a black eye or major injury but the flu… My heart dropped and I thought “Can we really pull this off?”
Scott and I were determined and with my sweetheart by my side I took courage. I told myself “We are from Washington what’s a little rain!” We said our prayers, got everyone ready and climbed in the car, Josh with medicine, a blanket and a bowl “just in case”. Next blow to my perfect dream vision came when we pulled into the address the photographer had given us. I imagined we would be standing in a beautiful wheat field but instead we pulled up to a small wheat patch between a busy road and an industrial business parking lot. I was stunned… I prayed now that the photographer saw something I did not see. She did!! The sun came out just as we pulled up in the parking lot. Josh was able to stand & smile long enough for the picture and a mother’s wish was fulfilled! A capture of time, a family picture before Nate left on his mission, an eternal perspective to hang on our wall.
Little did I know how important this picture would become a little over 20 years later. It is 6 weeks ago today on February 5, 2019 Nate passed.
This picture hangs in our living room by the front door. When I look at it, it reminds me that families ARE forever. YES, this life is fragile but death is not the end. Nate has just stepped on to the next part of his journey in Heaven. So whatever it takes to make it back to where Nate is – IT IS WORTH IT! No one left behind – we want each of our children, their spouses & children to be with us. That is what our Heaven is… all our family together again.
Sunday a talk was given that helped me look forward on this sometimes daunting and long path back to Heaven.
The speaker quoted a talk given by Brad Wilcox a BYU educator said;
“There should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)…
Grace is not the absence of God’s high expectations. Grace is the presence of God’s power (see Luke 1:37)…
Don’t quit. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, and, as you do, you will feel the enabling power and divine help we call His amazing grace.”
The speaker went on to say…
In our family we have a few sayings that really influence how we think about life. One of those sayings is: own your choices. What does that mean exactly? It means that we value our freedom to make choices and we own the consequences of our choices. I honestly believe that owning our choices is both empowering and a source of joy. We aren’t big fans of exercising our right to choose and then complaining about the consequences. For example, if we choose to take hard classes in school because we want to advance our learning we don’t get to complain about the work load. If we choose to keep the Sabbath day holy we don’t get to complain about worldly opportunities we are forfeiting. If we choose to not keep the Sabbath day holy we don’t get to complain about the eternal blessing we are forfeiting. If we choose to be involved in many activities we don’t get to complain about how busy we are. If we don’t choose to do any activities we don’t get to complain about our lack of talent development. I call this the “own your choices” philosophy but perhaps my kids would call it we don’t get to complain philosophy. Either way it seems to work for our family. Remember this is a philosophy we follow, not something we have perfected.
This week I have been pondering this family philosophy of owning our choices with what I have studied about grace… I love that every day I get to wake up and choose grace. I get to choose eternal life. If during the day I fall short, I get to choose again, and again, and again until I finally stand before my maker and he blesses me with the degree of glory that is consistent with my desires and choices. Because of the grace of Christ I am now in control of my destiny regardless of what craziness or sorrow I experience in this life.
I am thankful for the eternal perspective – I can choose to live worthy to be with Nate again.
It was Nate who set up this blog to document his fight against cancer and I had the blessing and privilege, although hard at times, to help record his thoughts and feelings during this battle and watch first hand his amazing strength, endurance, courage and faith as he fought to stay on earth for his family. They were and still are everything to him.
In the end the Lord had a different plan and Nate told us in his final hours it was time for him to go, and he was at peace with that.
Now the challenge is for us to find peace with that. My life has forever changed. It has been heart-wrenching, tear producing, eye opening and brought me to my knees as I have plead for peace, strength and understanding on things of eternal value. I don’t know it all but I can say peace has come more often than not as I choose to trust the Lord and His bigger plan.
I know the blog has fulfilled it’s purpose. It has shown the ugly side of cancer but more importantly the wonderful Drs, nurses, friends and family who supported us along the way. It highlighted Doses of Joy we found even in the hardest of times. It showed a young family who relied on each other and the Lord to see them through this trial they were called to bare and Alicia and the children continue to do the same.
Most of all it showed the amazing side of a father, husband, son who fought with all his might, mind and strength showing faith in every footstep.
So today, I choose not to forget Nate or all we went through on this journey as a family but I choose to look forward and focus on lessons learned through Nate’s example and those Doses of Joy that will continue to come because the Lord has a plan of Happiness for each of us. We have set up a new blog site: dosesofjoy.com.
My prayer for you and me is that we can keep that focus. To MAKE time for Family, to MAKE time for the Lord and to TRUST in His plan of happiness for it is real and there is Joy ahead.