Thursday, October 7, 2021

Healing Heart

 Today has felt like my most normal day since before finding my cancer lump in 2017. I can't explain it except that I was just making dinner and I realized that I wasn't holding my breath, waiting for the ground to drop from under my feet. McKay gave me a blessing about a year ago and one of the things that was said was that Heavenly Father has healed me and that He would continue to heal me. I have thought about that so much this last year as I've yearned to feel like I had before. I know it's coming- and even better than before- but I can sense a disconnect that feels like some protection my mind wants to have on my heart. I just can't feel things all the way, and I know it's because I know what it feels like to feel all the way, and then have to accept that everything may be at risk. That risk was never a reality for me before, but now I know what it feels like to not be able to take care of my kids, not have energy, wonder if I can have any more children and so many others (but those are the big ones). 

Throughout these last five years I have felt so much light and SO many blessings. Part of that though, was accepting that I had to be okay giving up what I thought should be. I also had to be willing to endure trials and whatever Heavenly Father's plan was for me. The willingness to trust God and not resist His plan has truly made me feel like I live in a realm of miracles. I have felt so tutored by the Holy Ghost and so guided as I have made my way down this unknown path. I know this was the plan for me and what I needed to learn lessons tailored for me, but with all that, came a relinquishment of all my plans for me. Because so much of my plan felt altered, I have come to not expect things to go the way I want them to. I expect a hard lesson instead. My heart and faith tell me to expect happiness and miracles too, and I do. In fact, Heavenly Father has never given me a reason not to trust Him and I know He never would- but I kind of feel like I am standing on this ledge and below me is all of this joy and excitement I'm allowed to feel- but I'm scared to jump. 

I think back to those words of my blessing every single day. At the time, I wasn't sure what they meant but now I think I am starting to understand. There are parts of my mind that still need healing. Still need to expect joy and good things to come- to trust that they will. My heart completely trust Heavenly Father. I trust impressions I have received and feelings I have felt, and I feel like the luckiest girl that I get to experience all I'm experiencing right now. Last week I ordered a bunch of baby girl clothes (even before our ultrasound). I know the baby will be okay. My heart knows it- but my mind wouldn't let me get too excited. Then yesterday, we had the heartbeat ultrasound and everything went perfectly. It feels like my heart just had to prove itself to my mind over and over again, but my head is starting to be won over I think? 

Right now Jonah and Cash are at soccer with McKay. Jax is outside with friends. My house is clean and I am cooking dinner. I'm not worried about cancer. We have a baby girl on the way. I just feel so happy. I feel so excited. I feel so normal- like things aren't at risk. Like the ball isn't about to drop. I never thought I would feel like this again. I think this is the healing I need right now and I am so happy that I'm feeling it come. 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Transfer Week!

 I was looking at me calendar from 2020 and can't believe it's been so long trying for a baby. This January, it will be two years since Camille and I met. On my September 2020 calendar I have "transfer" written on one of the days- just like a few other days throughout these past year's calendars. In July we finally arrived at a real transfer, which ended up failing. Ten days after is when they do a blood-test to see if the transfer resulted in a pregnancy, and in July when we found out it was negative, Camille texted me before the doctor called, which I was so grateful for. 

I always had in my mind that we would try twice with each carrier- particularly Camille. At the beginning, when we write up the legal contract, we have to agree on the number of transfers we will attempt. Of course, ultimately, either of us could change our minds, but we both thought two was a reasonable amount of times to try. The likelihood of it working statistically is about 75-85%, but to be honest, I have never really given that much thought- this time, even less than I did last time. What we really need is a miracle, which I have more faith in than any statistic.

Last year at this time, McKay gave me a priesthood blessing. It was one of the most special blessings to me, filled with so many special feelings and words I know were uniquely for me. I wish I could write down all I remember and all I have felt- but I feel this is too public of a place. I will just say that God is generous in what He is willing to reveal to His children, and I feel He has been so generous with me. These last several years have been so challenging. My life is different than I thought it would be- but I have imagined myself so many times in the preexistence asking for a challenge. I know I didn't want to forget my Heavenly Father or my Savior, but in order to know Them here on earth, a reacquaintance process was essential and I could only be reacquainted in a season where I would need to know Them and look for Them. 

This season has been one of those. Something said in my blessing last year that I have wondered about is that I would become who I have always wanted to be, which would be different than I was imagining then. That was so interesting to me- but I guess throughout this last year (and especially with the failure of our last cycle), I have changed. It almost feels as if I have shed pointless habits, ways of thinking, even anxieties, or just things in my head that weren't serving me. My mind has been refined and that has been one of the greatest blessings. My desire to share and teach through my trials has really waned. Not that I don't want to bare my testimony, just that I don't feel a responsibility to be an example or teacher all the time. There is peace and freedom that comes with that- a freedom to move through my trials and let them wash over me- a concept my college Book of Mormon teacher taught us to do when we went through the temple for the first time. 

I have kept a note of things I am learning. And this has been messy- which is okay. I am okay with messy now. I am okay with being sad or happy or disappointed. I am better at prayer. I can speak in prayer like a daughter to her Father. I can ask for miracles. I understand that while the miracle I want not might be what I receive, I can ask for it anyways. I can totally and fully believe in God's ability to grant it to me. And if not, I have learned that my faith was not in vain, but that God has a different plan. My requests to God do not have to be open-ended- in fear that I have to leave all options open. I can ask for exactly what I want and feel I need. 

I loved this translation of the first few verses in James by Eugene H. Peterson. It describes so many of my heart's deepest feelings I have never been able to put into words- and also so much of what I am learning and trying to be better at. 

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely- let it do it’s work in you, so you become mature and well developed and not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father, He loves to help. You’ll get His help and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believing, without a second-thought. People who worry their prayers are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way- adrift at sea, keeping all your options open."

The Message

Sunday, March 28, 2021

One Year

 I am not sure I know how to write anymore, but I want to. I'm not sure I have ever been in a season of life quite like this- where I feel almost empty of all creativity, brainpower, stamina- while at the same time, blissfuly grateful to be experiencing the very thing that got me there. I have so much time with the kids. They've been home with me for a year. School at home for over a year (actually, Jonah went back for a few hours, four-days-a-week last week. Still, feels like they're always home). I love it and I'm tired. I wonder how long it will take me to recover and be back to inspired writing and going to bed at a normal time (and not requiring four hours to myself every night). My sleep schedule is bad. I'm trying to wake up before the kids. Last week was better, but it's been pretty bad. I am teaching an aerobics class which I still cant decide is good or bad for me to be doing right now- except that it's my one thing I'm doing- and it requires no creativity because all the choreography is given to us.

This time has been such a gift. As I dropped Jonah off at school last week, I felt so much anxiety- instantly aware of all the dangers that come with him being away from me and at school. My body and brain are tired, but my spirit and heart have been at rest for an entire year because my kids have been at home and I have loved that. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

In the Meantime

 This last few months has been challenging waiting for a baby- but the last week has been completely brutal. So many concerns arise in my mind again and again and again until I feel so exhausted that I just scroll through my phone or make my kids quesadillas for dinner again (okay, it hasn't been that bad every day, but it't getting there). There hasn't been a time I've felt truly frustrated and even mad until now. I hate feeling like that and still, I know it's only a part of my nature- the human part that has to ask why and needs to vent and make meaning of everything. The other part of me is still trusting and hopeful and even still feels a tinge of excitement to see what Heavenly Father will make of this. How He will provide a miracle when "all seems lost," as Elder Holland put it. I feel like things are a little lost. Not all the way, but I can see how it could get there. This week McKay told me he felt that things would be okay and so I have leaned on that, which has given me this sense of relief. Maybe the faith and holding onto hope so tight isn't completely all on me. My grip is getting so tired. I have been here so long. I have always known I am trusting. It's an innate part of me that I guess sometimes has made me naive or make bad decisions (not really bad, just not smart) because I trust people easy. But today I was kneeling in my closet wondering what to hope and pray for. Pray for hope and trust in what I think is the plan and in what McKay things is the plan or pray for peace, come what may. (This is kind of a frequent thought I have). I remember a time when my mom had to go to the doctor for something that had worried her and my dad. I can't remember how long the worry lasted but even as a little girl, I could sense that there was worry in our home. I have a distinct memory of standing with my dad in the hall near our laundry room and asking him what he thought about my mom's condition. I remember him saying, "I feel she is going to be fine." I'm not sure if he explained that he felt that by the spirit and also by way of his patriarchal authority in our home, but I remember definitely recognizing that those were the two ways by which he know she would be fine- and she was. So this week when McKay said, "I really think it will be fine, Ali," I have been able to just trust that, and I do, and I think it will be fine.

I have asked lots of questions in prayer, like What do I need to learn? What haven't I learned? What am I doing wrong that I need to stop doing for this to work? Do I need to bare my testimony more for this to work? Naturally the things I love that are keeping me occupied right now, I have bargained with. Like if I quit teaching my fitness class, then can all this work? It's put Heavenly Father in a position that He isn't in- as a Father who is playing a guessing game with me or who has set me in a maze just to watch me figure it out alone, but I have learned time and time again that is not the kind of Father my Heavenly Father is. This week I had the thought to change my perspective. What if everything good in my life now were not things I was expected to bargain with, what if they were gifts "in the meantime." What if I haven't been able to see all the good there is right now- all the ways a loving Heavenly Father was trying to encourage me, distract me from the wait, show me my worth in other areas, and surround me with support while I'm waiting for what I want the most. I am waiting for a miracle, but there are miracles in the meantime. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Brother of Jared

 The story of the Brother of Jared is one of my very favorites in the entire Book of Mormon (in fact, it may just be my very favorite). I love what it teachers about prayer and faith and personal revelation. Last year when we were going through the process of having a baby with a gestational carrier, I thought of the story so often- particularly about how it teaches us the ways our prayers are answered. Figuring out how to receive and recognize personal revelation has been important to me, especially in the last few years. I feel like I need it for my survival- literally and figuratively. So many life-changing decisions have had to be made in the last few years and often times the choices are impossible to make given when I know. 

The wonderful thing about trials is that most often, God is revealed to us within those trials- just like in the Brother of Jared's challenge to find light for their barges, God's hand was eventually revealed. It is in our struggles that we usually see God the clearest. 

I was thinking about something yesterday that I hadn't thought about before- something else that this story is teaching me. Another lesson to add to those of revelation, faith, prayer, and that is TRUST. The Brother of Jared and his family and friends were in the barges in a storm on the sea for almost a year. The barges had no light except for the 16 stones the Lord had touched, one by one. I was thinking about that, and how so often it feels like blessings and promises come with limits or ends or expirations. I feel like that all the time. I feel like I need renewals on special promises I've felt in sacred moments- or priesthood blessings. I think of promises the Lord made to so many in the scriptures- promises He never forgot about. Some were kept for thousands of years. Some are still in the works today. How silly of me to think that an answer given to me would run out or change, in my short life on earth- or even in just a year- or three. I love that after the Lord touched the stones, the stone's ability to provide light was never brought up again. Were any of the people worried the light would dim or run out? I don't know. But I'm sure it didn't. 

As mortals on earth we are eternal beings that have grown accustomed to mortal rules. One of those rules is that things have limits- even the very best people can break promises. Even the best built machinery at some point, breaks down. Medicine stops working, children grow up, feelings change, etc. etc. But there is one constant- and that is the Savior Jesus Christ. His touch is eternal and unfailing and unbreakable- and I am sure those stones never lost their light, even if it seemed impossible and unfathomable. The promises the Lord made the the Children of Israel have been in the works for thousands of years. And God can also make promises to me. Promises that seem unfathomable and limited. Those usually come in the form of words in blessing by the power of the priesthood. I always feel like blessings can run out- that the promise eventually expires, but that's not how our Heavenly Father or Savior work with us. I think one of the things that tethers us the most to them is our trusting in promises and the Savior's keeping of them. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Hello from Inside!

We are still here, inside out house! I have been itching to write and at the same time don't know if I can even form a sentence for lack of my ability to think straight. I was looking back over old blog posts and I am grateful that I at least documented a little but truly, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster. I wish I had finished my last thought in my last post but I think where I was going with the hamster wheel analogy was that at times, things have just felt so exhausting and there is no end in sight. At times, days feel like they just flow into the next and there is no real relief or break. The summer felt like that. We were traveling A LOT this summer- which was great and so tiring for me, as I really like to be home in a routine and more in control of what we're doing. I have been in this really bad habit of staying up really really late (or early in the morning...like 2am). I just really really love the quiet dark in my house at those hours. It is not productive. Sometimes the next day I wake up at 6am and sometimes I have no self discipline and I wake up at ten, but regardless, I am always tired and I always think to myself how I need to go to bed earlier. Then I don't cause I need that quiet time at night. 

The boys are doing school at home and we have taken a little time to get into our groove, but we are getting there. I remember last year feeling like my boys were gone all day and that I got to spend no time with them. So much of my days felt wasted. I would go exercise in the middle of the day and run errands and by the time I got home and showered, I had about an hour until I needed to pick the boys up. Then it was dinner, sports, bed time and my kids were growing and I felt like I never saw them. I knew I was doing a lot but it didn't feel like I was doing the most important things. Life now feels completely opposite of that. I have almost no freedom or time to myself (except in the early morning hours when I am still awake!). I am either getting over the feeling of being overwhelmed or am just learning to carry it better. I am needed all the time. It seems like by the time I clean up breakfast, help with school, get things packed up, read a book to Cash- it is time for lunch. My days are filled to the very tip top with demands. I am so exhausted by the end of the day. I have never been a napper and a few times I have just zonked out on the couch! But is is like my body and mind and heart are being pulled and trampled (literally) and pushed in the very best way. I have never ever felt more fulfilled or like there is a more important place I could be in my entire life. I am right here where I need to be. I am doing the most important work in the world here with my kids. It felt a little like drowning at first (and lets be honest, sometimes still does...) but I am swimming above water a lot more and am seeing so many things I have never seen. I am learning so much more about my kids and so much more about how to be a better mom for each of them individually. I am learning how to set safe boundaries when I struggled with that before. I have always been a little scared to say no. It's true. I just want to always be on my kids' team and I want them to know it. But with McKay and heaven's help, I'm finding that I can be their coach and their teammate too- but most importantly, their mom. I want to take time to write about my kids individually because I just feel like the luckiest mom that I have these boys. I love seeing them all day every day doing everything they do- hearing them talk in class, having them ask me questions, snuggling with them when they're tired, doing art and baking, etc. If time is going by and it has to, at least i'm spending my time right now. There is nothing wasted. 

Baby world is still turning but turning slow. Camille is starting acupuncture now- something that used to feel a little hokey to me but Camille came across some information and it just felt kind of right to both of us. So many times on this baby journey I have just felt guided down a road. Like I see it, I feel peace, and I'm just like, "Okay!" I am so grateful that Camille is the same way. This is such a long, hard, incredible and miracle-filled journey. I haven't noticed as many miracles lately, but I know they're there and I know they're coming. There are things happening in the waiting even if I don't see them now. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Man in the Gadarenes

We have been home for four months now! Life feels beautiful and hard. Beautiful because we're all together, all the time- hard for that very same reason. I can feel something better and brighter on the other side of this. And like all mountains to climb, there will be struggle and push and pull, but on the other side we'll see views we couldn't have imagined.

My kids are currently ringing the doorbell. I've been cleaning all morning- finally getting the house back into shape after four months of homeschooling and winging it every day. I've told myself every day that it doesn't matter if the house is clean and that other things are more important- and they are. But today I just needed to get the house whipped back into shape. I have felt mostly like I can handle what I need to do, but at times, I find myself so overwhelmed and not quite sure what to divert my attention to. Everything seems hard. Everything seems like too much for me to do and at the same time, not near enough. During those times I usually do nothing, which adds to the guilt of not doing enough. It's kind of been a bad cycle that has happened at times during our time at home and it usually ends with McKay coming home from work, giving me a big break, and then I try again the next day.

Some weeks are just worse that others and last week, the boy's last week of homeschool, was just one of those weeks. I am trying to readjust how I spend my time and scripture study is a tad more challenging when it's rarely quiet around here, and I NEED it. Studying the scriptures is my cure-all. It calms my fears, encourages me and probably the most helpful- shifts my perspective back to where it should be. Most times, things I have been worried about just melt away, and I have more endurance and faith to deal with the things that don't. I have been awful with scripture study lately. Most nights I stay up until around two, savoring my do-whatever-I-want time, and most mornings I don't get up in time to read them (my kids wake up around six). I have known the schedule is bad but haven't had quite the willpower I need to change it. But then last week I knew I had to.

We are studying the Book of Mormon right now for Come, Follow Me. Right now we are in Alma. I have been a little behind, so I made a goal last week to catch up. I had a small window to read my scriptures and instead of reading in the Book of Mormon, I just began reading in Mark 5. Mark 5 is one of the most sacred and special chapters I have ever read. I don't think anywhere else in scripture I have learned more about the character of Christ. I don't think there is another account I think about more than this one. The man in the Gadarenes who was cutting himself with stones. I remember being a fourteen-year-old at EFY and the other kids talking about this chapter and how strange it was. For that reason, I always remembered Mark 5. And then last year when we studied the New Testament, I, along with that man, came to know the Savior better than I ever had before.

It has been a special chapter to me because it's taught me that Christ will meet us where we are. He shouldn't have been near the tombs in the Gadarenes. In fact, it was contrary to Mosaic Law for Him to be there. However, He was there and He healed a man who didn't even know his own name.

Last week I was feeling sort of like I was trapped on a hampster wheel. There was no getting off and it just kept moving and I wasn't really sure I was doing any good for myself or anyone else- yet, life just continued and there was more to do and more...

(never finished)
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