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.