Monday, December 24, 2012

Finding strength on your knees

"I am grateful that I was [able] to turn to God almost daily...[it] taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God.  I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise...I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart.  I learned to walk with Him day by day."  Elder D. Todd Christofferson.
I had an interesting experience this week.  I have really become lazy with my prayers over the last several months.  I am always so tired when bedtime comes, that I decide I am too tired to get on my knees to pray.  So I lay there and try to pray, but fall asleep within minutes.  I had a situation come up this week that I really, really needed the Lord's help with.  I felt like I needed to fast for His help, but I can't right now since I am still nursing.  I asked Him what I could do to show my willingness to make a sacrifice, to show how important His help to me was.  The answer came to me that I should get on my knees to pray.  Not just at that moment, but every time I pray.  So I did.  In doing so, I realized what a disservice I had been doing to myself.  The moment I knelt down to pray, I felt this incredible peace and clarity, and quiet strength.  And the thing He asked of me was so simple.  It is the smallest of sacrifices, if you can even call it that, to show our love and respect for our Heavenly Father who does so much for us.  I thought, how selfish of me, to expect so much of Him, but to not even being willing to kneel down in prayer.  And I was only cheating myself.  Committing to do this simple act allows me to feel the windows of Heaven open, and allows me to feel like I am in direct communication with my Heavenly Father.  It is amazing what a difference it makes.
I just want to share my simple testimony of prayer.  I really feel like it is one of our greatest blessings.  We can pour our souls out to Him, and He will listen.  We can pray about anything, and Heavenly Father will answer us.  As we express gratitude to Him in prayer, we are able to realize how much He is involved in our lives, and how we never go unnoticed.
This Christmas season, I am grateful for the life of the Savior.  I am grateful for His perfect example, and His perfect love.  Sometimes life will knock us down, but He will be there to pick us back up and carry us forward.  I am grateful for this.  I am grateful for what He sacrificed to make that possible.
The song I chose for this post perfectly explains why we need to pray.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What it was like for me

I have literally spent weeks considering what I have wanted to write about for this next post.  This time of year completely snuck up on me.  Tuesday the 11th will mark the one year anniversary of my little brother's death.  What I really would like to do is to share what it was like for me.  As I have reflected on this, I keep thinking, you never know what tiny moments in your life will become the most poignant ones.

Sunday, December 11th.  Wow, little did I know at the time what a significant day this would be.  In church that day, the subject was actually on death, and finding comfort in the lost of loved ones.  I remember thinking "I know there are several people in this ward who really need to hear this.  I'll just tuck it away for later when I might need to apply it."  I gave a lesson to the Beehives that day on dealing with trials.  There was a story in the lesson about a woman who lost a husband in a car accident while they were out celebrating their 20th anniversary.  I admitted to the girls "I don't know if I could ever handle something like that."  This lesson had me thinking about how much time I spend worrying about the next bump in the road.  I decided that I should quit worrying and just enjoy the good times.

Birthday party.  We were at my in-laws, celebrating mine and my sister-in-law's birthday.  I started getting these strange text messages from people.  My dad finally got a hold of me.  I knew right away he had been crying.  I thought "Oh, his dad must have passed away.  Of course he's sad."  He told me I needed to sit down, so I did.  Then he spoke the words I never ever thought I would hear.  "Zach is dead."  "WHAT?"  "Zach is dead."  "No!  How?"  He told me what had happened, and I kept thinking that at any moment, my dad would say he was kidding.  There was just no way it could be real.  However, the most amazing thing happened.
As soon as my dad told me, a voice came to me: "He is ok."  I felt in my heart that he was with loved ones, and I knew he was in a place where it is impossible not to be happy.  I felt this sense of strength and comfort that I never expected to feel at a time like that.  I was sad, but I have never been more sure that my Savior was standing there with me, carrying this burden with me almost immediately.  It carried me through those first few days, and showed me that I had an inner strength I never knew I had.  For the first time in my life, I knew what the power of the Atonement felt like.  I knew what it meant to have your burdens carried by the Savior.  I knew that He is real, and that He lives and loves us.  Everything I had ever been taught became so much more real than it ever had been.

What I love the most about Zach's story is that it didn't end there.  I know that his spirit lives on.  I know that he has touched so many lives since his passing.  He has sent messages of comfort to each of us in different ways since his passing.  I know there have been times when he has been close by.  Sometimes, my sweet little Brielle will be looking up at the ceiling and she will just start laughing for no reason.  I can't help but feel that Zach is playing with her sometimes.  I know he would have loved her.  Even as I write this, I feel an incredible peace, thinking about the incredible things he is doing now.  His life, his story is not over.  We just can't be there to witness it right now.  I know he is where he needs to be, and I also know that, at times, he is not far.  One witness of this for me is an email my mom found about a month ago.  One thing I have really struggled with is wishing I could know for sure that Zach knew how much I love him.  Then out of the blue, this email shows up.  I felt like he was sending me a message from above:
Z: "Hey Chelsea thanks for the great Easter weekend. It was a very fun time up there with you love ya sis."
ME: "I had loads of fun seeing you too bro. Miss ya and love you lots"
Z: "Thanks your the best sister love ya <3"
This short email is such a treasure to me now.  So, I'll let his words end my post.  I love you Zach, and I miss you everyday!  I love this song because I feel like it's Zach telling me these things, so it's my song for him.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What I need to Remember...

"He loves me the way I am.  He is my strength when I need help to stand."
"I am His Daughter" by Nichole Sheahan

I am writing today because I feel like I need to unload all of the feelings that have been building up inside over the past week.  Work has been so stressful lately.  I forgot how crazy this time of year is for my job.  And I don't know why, but it seems like Brielle saves her fussy days for when I am home with her on the weekends.  The hardest thing about that is that I am used to her being so happy, that I really don't know what to do for her when she gets like this.  Those two major stresses seem to have succeeded in pulling me into this weird funk that I sometimes fall into, where I dwell on all of the things I have not been doing right, or as well as I should, and I feel really down on myself.  For example, we had a lesson on service in Relief Society today.  I loved it, but it made me realize how much I have pushed this aside, and I feel like I have started to be really selfish.  I have just been too focused on me and my "problems" that I forgot to look outside of myself to see what is going on around me.  I am sure there are countless people around me struggling with similar feelings and feeling overwhelmed by their problems, but I have not done anything to help others in this situation.  In reality, my current stresses are small problems, and I would gladly deal with the stress of those problems than some of the other trials I could be facing or have faced.  I know that this is just a part of life.  I just had to get it off of my chest, and I realized something important today, amidst all of this.

No matter what happens, Heavenly Father still loves me.  Sometimes I think I am harder on myself than He is.  I found this song today that brought me so much comfort because it reminded me that I am His daughter, and He knows I am trying my best, even though I fall short everyday of what I would like to be.  It also reminded me that I am not in this alone.  I keep forgetting that when things get tough, I need to turn to Him to help me bear these burdens.  That is another thing that stuck out to me at church today--He has told us to "seek Him" and to "ask."  I can't be afraid to ask for the help I need.  He has never denied me that support before.

As I write this post, I am listening to this song on repeat: "I am His Daughter."  The spirit is so peacefully and tenderly wrapping me in this comforting hug.  I can truly feel of the love Heavenly Father has for me, and it is wonderful.  How blessed we are to know that He does love us perfectly and unconditionally.  He will never give up on us, no matter what happens.  I am reminded of this quote I have on my wall: "Prayer: When life gets to hard to stand...kneel."  This is so true.  Can anyone deny the peace you feel as soon as you fall on your knees and start conversing with Heavenly Father?  When you really pour your heart out to Him and start expressing gratitude for what He has blessed you with; when you plead for help, guidance, or comfort for something, with a sincere heart, not doubting that He will be there to help you, don't you feel of that love?  He is real.  He is always here.  He is waiting.  Our Savior is real.  They live, and they love us, and they are rooting for us.

There is something else that just came to mind that I have been reflecting on a lot lately.  That lately statement made me remember this.  I have been thinking about my sweet Zach a lot this week.  Honestly, I feel like his death, while it will always be sad not having him here, has become something so much more beautiful and amazing than I ever thought possible.  I have not doubt that he is also there, cheering for me and watching over me.  Knowing that I have my own sweet angel watching over me brings me such peace and happiness.  Thanks for being there Zach.  :)

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.  It really does help me to reflect on these things, and I hope I can pass it on to someone else who might be needing it as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Jeff!

"The greatest love story ever told was your own."

As we celebrate this exciting day for Jeff (he is 30!), I thought back to how we met.  It really is a cool story, so I thought I would share it today.  We met while Jeff was still serving his mission for the church out in North Carolina.  Well, obviously nothing happened right away, other than my mom fell in love with him and wanted me to write to him.  So I did.  He was obedient though, and he didn't write me back.  However, he did orchestrate a meeting between me, Mom, and his family, while he was still in NC.  So I met his family, and they took me under their wings pretty quickly.  So...several months pass, as I continued writing him.  He came home July 2nd.  Two days later, his sister invited me to watch her horse show.  I had a date that night, but while I was at work that day, I got the strongest feeling that if I did not jump on this opportunity now, it would be lost to me.  So I cancelled my date and went to the horse show.  When I got there, Jeff was too nervous to talk to me.  His mom invited me to this huge extended family get together that was celebrating her birthday that night.  I was nervous about that, but excited for the opportunity at the same time.  I went.  Well, Jeff and I hit it off right away.  We spent the entire evening talking about everything.  We mostly discussed his mission and things related to that.  There was literally an instant connection as we sat there talking.  For me, nothing had ever felt so right, as being in that moment.  We went on a real date the next night.  The next day, I went to his homecoming talk and spent the whole day with him and his family.  Monday came, and we spent that night talking out on my aunt's porch.  That's when we had our first "What if we did get married?" discussion.  (Are you following the timeline here?)  After we had that talk, I prayed the next morning that I wouldn't get freaked out about getting serious with someone, like I usually did.  Good news--I didn't panic!  After that, we didn't see each other for 3 weeks, as we were both out of town.  We did spend a lot of time talking on the phone though.  Ironically, the first time Jeff told me he loved me was after our first fight, over the phone.  It was still exciting though.  When I got home, he picked me up from the airport and kissed me for the first time.  It was magical.  Honestly, up to this point, every time someone kissed me, this little switch flipped inside, and I realized I didn't like the guy anymore.  It was weird.  So, when this kiss actually made me excited and left me wanting more, I knew this was real.  :)  The final step in the journey for me was when I prayed to know if I should marry Jeff.  I had the most incredible feeling completely envelop me, and I knew I couldn't deny it.  I knew he was "the one."  He proposed on August 17th--5 weeks after he got home from his mission.  Now, I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the whole world.  He is my other half, and my life would be incomplete without him.  And now we have 2 beautiful girls to add to that love.  I am so grateful that Heavenly Father lead me to Jeff, and that we have been able to share these last 7 years together.  I love you forever Jeff!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do we trust enough in Him?

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  ~Philippians 4:13

This scripture has gotten me through many days in the past few months.  I thought it was very fitting that the first time I heard this scripture (that I can remember) was right after Brielle was born.  We were in the hospital over the weekend, so a sweet elderly couple came to bring us the sacrament.  They shared this quote.  I knew I would need this reminder constantly as I adjusted to this new lifestyle.  However, even though I have this quote visibly displayed, so that I can be constantly reminded, I forget so easily.

Along with this, there is something equally important that we also need to remember.  That is that Heavenly Father loves us.  These two principles go hand-in-hand.  Why does Christ strengthen us?  Because He loves us.  I feel like I am constantly battling feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.  I am a worrier.  The smallest things give me anxiety.  And I expect a lot of myself.  I often wonder if I am doing enough, if I am giving enough attention and devotion to each area of my daily life, especially as a mother and a wife.  My husband has had to remind me many times that I do not need to do this alone.  Heavenly Father will help me, if I but ask.  A thought has come to me many times, in regards to how important it is to ask Heavenly Father for help.  If He simply gave us all that we needed, because He does know what we need, we would fail to recognize and appreciate where our blessings truly come from.  However, because we ask, we are blessed with reminders that Heavenly Father is listening, that He loves us, and that He is waiting to bless us, if we but ask.  This is manifested in small and simple things everyday.  

There is a great example of Brooklynn learning this principle.  We were visiting Nana and Papa in St. George.  She really wanted to go swimming one day, but it was extremely windy.  Not good swimming  conditions, despite the hot weather.  I told her we should say a prayer that Heavenly Father would make the wind stop so we could go swimming.  He answered that sweet, simple prayer almost immediately, and she has never forgotten it.  

If we pay close attention, such reminders surround us everyday.  If we are not paying attention, we will miss them.   I am convinced that Heavenly Father placed each of us on this earth with a specific path to follow.  Only He knows the destination at this point.  Only He knows of our full potential.  We must place our complete faith in Him and trust that He will lead us there.  How are we going to reach that glorious end, if we do not stop and appreciate the little Heaven-sent reminders?  When I take the time to reflect on this, I am amazed to see that He is involved in every detail of our lives.  The other day, I was stressing about getting my Costco shopping done before I had to pick Brook up from school, because I had a small window. I prayed for help.  In answer to that, Jeff happened to finish school early that day, and he was able to get a head start, and together, we literally finished right on time.  I am constantly praying for help at work, because I am still so new and still have a lot to learn.  I am constantly getting help.  I prayed all summer that Brielle would start sleeping though the night before I went back to work.  If she did get up, I prayed that I would have strength to get through the day.  She started sleeping through the night 3 weeks before I went back to work.  Yay!  There have been nights I have had to get up once, but I have survived.  That is a huge blessing for me.  I think things like this are the biggest testimony-builders for me.  I pray for these seemingly tiny things, and He grants them to me.  I feel so much love for Him and from Him when I see these things manifest in my life. 

Something else I struggle with, is that for some reason, I have doubts that Heavenly Father wants to answer a prayer.  Our natural inclination is to pray for help.  Sometimes, I have this weird debate in my head, worrying that maybe Heavenly Father really wants me to have this trial, so maybe I shouldn't pray for help.  He gently reminds me: "What does it hurt to ask?"  He will answer that prayer according to His will, so why not ask anyway?  So, no matter how strange or menial a plea for help may seem, just know that it never hurts to ask for help.  The plea will be answered in one way or another.  However the answer comes, we have to trust in Heavenly Father's plan for us, and that He is leading us on the right path.

Sometimes, we do have greater difficulties placed in our paths.  If we forget to turn to the Lord, then, yes, it will remain a mountain.  It will bog us down.  But we MUST remember our greatest source of strength in this life.  We were not meant to walk this path alone.  We need to turn to Heavenly Father, and to our Savior.  They know where we need to end up, so why wouldn't we turn to them, to help us get there?  Our loving Savior suffered the unimaginable for us, for this very reason.  We would be denying His great gift, if we did not turn to Him for strength.  We CAN do all things in the strength of the Lord.  But do we trust enough in that promise?

"Do you believe that the seas will hold your feet if you go?  Close your eyes; feel Him inside.  Walk to what you know is true, and He will not fail you."  ~Jenny Phillips.
Do we trust enough that His love will get us through?

I had to include this song by Jenny Phillips.  I just love music.  It is so powerful.  It served as my inspiration for this post.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Caught in the Rain

"Wherever you find yourselves on this mortal journey through life, whatever trials you may face, there is always a point of safe return; there is always hope...God has prepared a [way] to bring you safely back to Him, to your divine destination."
Quotes taken from "Point of Safe Return" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (April 2007)

It has taken me a while to come up with a new topic for a blog post.  The passing of Zach's birthday stirred some strong emotions that I didn't realize were still buried inside of me.  It has taken me until now to work through them and feel again of that light that accompanies true happiness.

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the last week at my favorite vacationing spot with my family--the beach!  In North Carolina.  It doesn't get much better than that.  We did have a lot more rain than I have seen in a long time.  I forgot that it could rain like that.  I want to share the experience of getting caught in the rain.

Thursday of last week was probably the most beautiful day of the week.  I spent much of my time outside, just admiring the beautiful skies meeting with the ocean on the horizon.  The pictures created with the the splash of white clouds and rays of sun were so beautiful.  It was so peaceful.  Well, the next day was our last day there.  Of course we had to make the most of it.  Aaron told us it would rain at about 10:00 that morning.  (He served as our forecaster for the week.)  Knowing this, I convinced Mom that we should get out and do our last walk before the opportunity was lost to us.  It was another beautiful morning, albeit, quite windy.  We walked out 1 1/2 miles, blue skies all the way.  When we turned around to head back to the house, directly in front of us was the darkest rain clouds we had seen all week.  We knew we would be lucky to make it home.  We made it about 1/2 a mile before the rain started.  The further we walked, toward the house, the heavier the rain got, until finally, it was raining so hard I couldn't see in front of me.  I tried shielding my eyes, but it didn't do much good.  Mom thought maybe we should stop and wait it out under someone's deck.  However, we continued, and we saw that the sky ahead of us was not quite so ominous.  We both knew that if we kept pushing, fighting strong wind, heavy rain, and the sting of the sand against our legs, we would be able to make it home, where we were guaranteed shelter from the storm.  So we kept at it.  The rain had nearly stopped by the time we reached our house, but we made it.  We were pretty proud of ourselves!  And wouldn't you soon as we were inside and dried off, the sun came out again.

I couldn't help but liken this to life.  I am a person who lives in fear of what trials I may be called to face in this life, but I am finally starting to get past that and just focus on enjoying 1 day at a time while I can.  I realized that it was easy to have hope in the promise of shelter from the storm if we pushed through the tough part.  We would be rewarded at the end, and we would no longer be "stuck" in the rain.  However, I have never been able to look at my trials that way.  When trials come, I just want to quit.  I don't want to feel the sting of pain, the sadness, the fear.  I want it to go away.  But we all know that life doesn't work that way.  We have to keep going.  We have to climb higher everyday, try harder everyday if we are going to reach that glorious view, feel of that peaceful light that fills our souls when we turn to the right source for strength.  In our darkest hour, Christ will save us.  "The Atonement of Jesus Christ can give us the assurance that sin [or trials are] not a point of no return.  A safe return is possible if we will follow God's plan for our salvation."  "This plan was prepared from before the foundation of the earth.  It is a great plan of happiness, a plan of mercy, a plan of redemption, a plan of salvation.  This plan enables us to experience a physical existence, including mortality, a time of probation, and to return to the presence of God and live in eternal happiness and glory...Following this plan has beautiful eternal consequences for us."  Just as Mom and I knew our safe house waited for us if only we pushed on a little farther, so it is with our eternal destiny.  We have the promise of 'eternal happiness and glory,' and 'beautiful eternal consequences,' for enduring to the end.  We cannot give up, knowing that these amazing promises are within our reach.

As difficult as it may be at times, we cannot give up.  Heavenly Father loves us, and the Savior will carry us through.  I have felt this many times throughout my life.  I really have.  We will never be left to walk this path alone.  We cannot allow ourselves to miss the many joys and blessings life has because there may be a dark cloud in our path.  When you cannot go on anymore, pray.  You will be amazed at the strength and peace you will find there.

I am attaching (hopefully) the link for this song that has spoken to me in so many ways.  I hope you like it too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

For Zach--Happy Birthday!

"Because our Savior died at Calvary, death has no hold upon any one of us."
(This and other quotes taken from "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" by Thomas S. Monson)

Tomorrow celebrates the 14th birthday of my sweet brother Zach.  I never thought we would have to celebrate this day without him.  But here it is.  I am determined that, even though Zach is no longer here, this day will always be special.  It will always be the day we welcomed him into the world.  The day he was born was special.  I was lucky enough to watch him come into the world.  It was an amazing experience that taught me at the age of 12, how miraculous life is.  I remember, as soon as he came, I burst into tears, with an emotion that was beyond my control.  I was so excited to be a part of everything that day--his first diaper change, his first bath, watching the nurses check his vitals.  I was a proud sister.  He was an adorable baby that grew into an adorable little boy.  Since I only lived at home until he was about 7, I remember him mostly as a cute little kid that I tried to keep from growing up.  Somewhere between that time and the last 6 years of his life, he grew into this hilarious teenager.  Now, as I think back on the last few months I had with him, I remember his endless random stories, his constant, contagious laughter, and his zest for life.  At my other brother's wedding, Zach really go into the dancing and took turns spinning me and Rachel around the floor.  At one point, he even dropped me.  He thought it was so funny, that he did it to Rachel too.  That is one of my most treasured memories with him, because we both just let go and enjoyed the moment.  My other special moment with him was last summer at the beach.  We went on a walk together, just the two of us.  He talked nonstop the entire time.  I seriously had a hard time following what he was talking about.  But he had his arm around me the whole time we were walking, and even then, I treasured that simple show of affection.  I have always felt that he and I shared a special bond, because I was there when he was born.  He always made sure to tell me that he loved me.  Well, I love you forever and always bud.
I try not to focus too much on the things that will never be in this life.  I suppose that's why I find so much comfort in the promise stated at the beginning of this post.  Our Savior overcame death for us all, and "this is the knowledge that sustains.  This is the truth that comforts.  This is the assurance that guides those who are bowed down with grief--out of the shadows and into the light."  Christ teaches: "I am the resurrection and the life."  "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."  Through the Savior, "There is assurance that life is everlasting."  I have experienced the incredible comforting and sustaining power of the Atonement of our Savior.  I am so grateful for this Gospel, through which I have been taught countless truths such as these, that have strengthened me, and helped me to find peace with the loss of my dear brother Zach.  Because I have felt the truth of these teachings in my heart, I have never really felt that Zach is totally gone.  Zach's presence continues to be felt by myself, and by many who know and love him.  I know that his journey continues on the other side.  I know that he was welcomed home by those who have gone before, including the Savior Himself.  I know that at this time, he is performing many miracles for people on both sides of the veil, and that he is one of Heavenly Father's special angels.  He is my special angel as well.

Happy Birthday Zach.  Thank you for the life you shared with us, and thank you for your continued love.  I hope you know how much you mean to me.  I will always love and miss you, and I look forward to our sweet reunion someday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lessons and Memories

“When you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small.”
(by Carrie Underwood)

I decided I want to start writing a blog because I have a lot of feelings swimming around inside, and I need an outlet for expressing these feelings.  It seems like every time I go to church, I spend the entire 3 hours thinking about my little brother Zach, who left us just over 7 months ago.  Every talk, every lesson, every comment made in church seems to relate to Zach somehow in my mind.  I suppose it’s my own way of trying to find peace with it.  Yesterday was a particularly emotional day for me.  In Sunday school, we were discussing the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s from the Book of Mormon, who made a covenant with the Lord that they would never again raise their swords to kill another man.  This act took an incredible amount of faith.  They trusted in the Lord so much that they basically did not fear death.  They knew they would be saved in Heaven if they stayed true to the covenant they made.  This discussion went in several directions, but the point that hit me the most was the fact that these men ultimately gave up their mortal lives to show their dedication to and love for the Lord, and because of what they did, their enemies, the men who were slaying these Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s, were converted to the Gospel.  The thought that resonated with me was the fact that they died young, and with their death, thousands were converted to the Lord. 
            Of course I thought of Zach.  He died so young, but with his death, dozens of lives have been changed for the better.  I look at my parents who continue to deal with the heartache of losing their child, and how they have dedicated themselves so completely to the Lord, fulfilling callings and spending hours in the temple, studying the teachings of our Latter-day prophets for greater understanding and peace, and so willingly helping others who are suffering.  They have definitely grown spiritually and learned things they never would have learned otherwise.  Of course, I had several spiritual experiences related to losing Zach, that I might share at a later date.  I also know several of his young friends now have a completely different outlook on life because of who he was while he was here on Earth, and what he has done for them since leaving this life.  The stories continue to pour in about how his presence is still felt, and he is still teaching those of us left here without him.
            Another thing I have been contemplating almost daily is how important it is to treasure those we love and make the most of the time we have with them.  I have also realized what is most important in life.  With Zach being gone, I constantly find myself grasping for any little memory of him.  Before this, I never really appreciated how much these can mean.  Of all the things we can accomplish and own in this life, I am convinced that nothing is more important than the legacy and memories we leave behind for our loved ones.  We need to take the time to create special moments with our children, our siblings, our parents, our dear friends.  You will never regret time spent with your loved ones—only the time you did not.  You will never regret telling someone you love them, but you will regret not taking the opportunity once it is lost to you.  As I have learned, we won’t always have tomorrow to create those special memories.  We have to do it today.  I know we have to continue living our daily lives and supporting ourselves, but we can’t let the unimportant things get in the way of making the most of our lives, of making the most of our time here to grow individually, and making the most of the time we have to spend with those we love.  Now that someone I love so much no longer has a “tomorrow” here on this Earth for me to look forward to, my biggest regrets are those opportunities lost to me, the ones I did not make the most of when he was here with me.  I don’t know that that pain will ever go away, but I hope that it is never repeated, that those same mistakes are never repeated.  It is something I will spend the rest of my life trying to do right with the family I have left, because, even though I do not have “today” or “tomorrow” with Zach, I do have today with them, and maybe if I can make it right with them, someday I will be able to forgive myself for not taking those opportunities with Zach in this life.  And I sure look forward to having them when I see him again on the other side.