The first ward that Doug and I were in when we got married was perfect for us. The experiences and people have left a powerful impression upon me and changed my life for the better. I was so impressed with so many of the ladies in the ward that I decided I wanted to do a little something for them. With much effort and discernment, I made a list of only 5 that were my VIPs (Very Inspiring People) for that year. Among them, was a sister named Janet Rowley. (I want to grow up to be a Janet Rowley. She is an amazing scriptorian and her testimony is as solid of a testimony as I have ever felt.) The day I delivered my humble VIP package, Janet wasn’t home and so I left it with her daughter, Liz, who was in high school at the time. I did not have a lot of interaction with Liz but saw her around town a few times and was always impressed with her.
Last spring, Janet shared on facebook a post from Liz’s blog about how Liz’s new son, Eli, was struggling with some health problems. I began following the story, posting updates on my blog and facebook and trying to get the word out about benefits for Eli. As I read how this young mother endured the rollercoaster of doors seeming to open to a road of health, only to be closed in the most heartbreaking ways, I was awestruck by her faith and perspective. Eli passed away in May. (This coming January 4th would have been his first birthday.) I was able to make it down to UT for the funeral where Liz and her husband, Logan spoke. Liz’s talk can be found here. Her entire blog is filled with strength and wisdom beyond my comprehension. It also has a lot of adorable pictures of little Eli so please go give it a read.
Liz is working on another post for us as well but, in the meantime, I wanted to just copy this post from a few weeks ago.
I was hanging out with a few friends last week and we were having one of our many wonderful conversations about life when someone said to me: “Liz, you always seem so happy. Is it a front put on around people or is it real?” Without hesitation, I responded: “It’s real. It’s absolutely real.” Although I’m sure she already knew what I said next, I added: “It’s amazing what the gospel can do for you as long as you allow it to bless your life.”
From the time I was little and attending primary I remember being taught by my family and church leaders that the gospel would bring us peace and comfort during all phases of life and that the gift of the spirit would be one of the greatest blessings we would ever receive. What I don’t remember learning (I’m sure it would be difficult to explain this to a kiddo) is that we would have to allow the peace of the gospel into our lives – it would never force its way in.
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this but I don’t think I fully understood the concept of allowing the gospel to bless my life until recently. Logan and I had received the heartbreaking news of Eli’s diagnosis, we were living in a hospital and we had told our family and friends that in order to keep him as healthy as possible we didn’t want any visitors coming to see him. While we knew this was the best decision for his health, it was very difficult isolating ourselves for so long. The staff was incredible and I care about them more than they’ll ever know, but I desperately longed for the life I imagined we’d have when I got pregnant.
While I knew those thoughts were only natural, I hated that I was feeling and thinking that way. I wanted to wake up each day excited about my life and anxious (in a good way) for what was to come. I told myself that in order to genuinely feel those things, I needed to first pray and ask for those blessings and second, prove to God that I had the necessary faith in his promises to bring me that peace and happiness I wanted so much.
Many things in life are much easier said than done and for me, this was one of them. I knew I needed to give up all fear and doubt so I could prove that I trusted in God’s plan for Eli and for me and Logan but that was so difficult when so much was at stake. The best example I can compare this to is when you are asked to close your eyes and fall backwards and someone promises they will catch you. You stand there with your eyes closed, often for awhile, before reluctantly allowing yourself to fall. Fear and panic rush through you and you’re sure you’re going to hit the ground hard when at last someone catches you. There’s no better feeling, is there? That is exactly what I experienced, but 10x better when I finally stopped trying to do things on my own and allowed God to truly take over.
Rather than celebrating milestones parents typically look forward to, we found joy in things like successfully taking 5+ oral meds in one sitting, bravely completing a dose of chemo, not fighting nurses too much when a new IV was placed or mouth care was done and most importantly: doing the above mentioned things plus much more with a smile on his face!
I would be lying if I said things were never difficult after that because boy, they sure were but I am amazed to this day at how much love, peace and comfort I felt and continue to feel every sing day. Logan and I experienced a parent’s worst nightmare yet the happiness we feel is almost tangible and we know that has come, just like we were promised in primary, because we allowed the gospel to work miracles in our lives.
Life couldn’t be more different right now from how Logan and I imagined it would be yet it’s still wonderful. My heart aches to hold Eli and watch him grow up and not an hour goes by that i don’t think about him and long to see his all-telling eyes stare up at me with all the confidence in the world but I know my time to experience those things will come sooner than I can imagine and I would hate to miss out on this incredible chance at life I have been blessed with. while I am tempted at times to ask God: “Why?” I instead thank him for the perfect guardian angel Logan and I now have and offer all the gratitude I can muster for catching me before I fell.