"Mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort"
There are seasons of triumph and seasons of trials. During our triumphs we see the clearest, and grow from what we learned in the midst of trials. At least that is the ultimate goal. Sometimes when things are messy and unbearable God sends us kindred spirits or tender mercies when He knows we need them the most. As a pediatric nurse many of my patients were tender mercies for me at specific seasons of trial in my life.
A while ago I heard the scripture Mosiah 18:9 twice at two different places by two completely different people. This is what it reads,
"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn ; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the..."
I've been pondering this verse and wondered its meaning. Even without complete awareness, we minister to those around us, placed in our path, by simply serving with love and compassion. Sharing our heart and caring for others. With these thoughts on my mind I have been also pondering where I am most able to serve others. While working out this morning I was in communication with a gentlemen from Africa and contemplating the needs he is sharing with me and orphans that he is caring for. A question that I get a lot lately, since bringing home our newest daughter from Ecuador, popped in my head. “Do you feel like your family is complete?”
This question comes up a lot, probably because people who ask know me and know that I would bring all the children in the world into my home if it was possible. Alas, this is not possible. So when asked, I hesitate to answer. I hesitate because in my heart, no I don’t feel complete. However in my home, yes I think we are complete. It does sting a little to even admit that, because if the opportunity were right and we knew it, I would of course welcome another child or two into my home. Let’s go back to the response, “in my heart”. No I don’t feel complete in my heart because I know that I have so much more to give to other mother’s, other children and a whole tribe of people. I know I can better serve a community of mother’s who may feel isolated, lonely and just need someone to talk to. I know there is more work to be done in the adoption community, bringing the human connection full circle with open adoption. There is also plenty of need within the closed adoption world. I can’t even begin to explain the need within the orphan and foster care world. The needs far surpass what I can do, but making the effort to change even one life is worth it.
There is a story of “The starfish”. You can read more about it HERE. The premise of the story is that anyone can make a difference, just one person at a time. When we adopted our daughter from an orphanage in Ecuador, she became our starfish. From this experience, along with our complete adoption journey, drives my desire to feel complete in my heart, because my home is there.
I love it when I see His hands so clearly in my life. Often these moments, and life experiences come through children for me. I love children, their innocence, pure hearts and unconditional love, light up every room. This little darling in particular was a bright ray of sunshine for me, as well as so many others.
This is my little friend Princess Cosette. While serving in the nursery of our last ward, I was fighting an internal battle, one that I have fought on and off for over 15 years. Depression is such an ugly word, and certainly an ugly feeling. But as much as we wish to shut it out, its there and it is real, for so many of us. As desperate as I am to have more children, being around little children can sometimes break me. Break me to my very core, where my heart turns cold and wishes to close off to the world around me. But despite my weak and aching heart, I knew God put me in this nursery for a reason, even for just a short season of my life. I knew He was trying to soften my heart and teach me to serve always, especially His most precious.
Within the first couple Sundays in the nursery, my beautiful friend Princess Cosette came running into my lap and stayed by my side for the 2 hours of our time in nursery, and then each Sunday following. Occasionally she would jump up and dance, or grab a toy or book for me to read, but she stayed close by, warming my lap and heart and filling my empty. As if she knew I needed to feel His love. She knew just how to show His love for me.
Each week I could feel my heart soften and have more faith in His plan for me. The sting of infertility still haunts me and occasionally breaks me, but not for long. I know how to fight stronger each time I face the darkness.
It was Princess Cosette that saved my heart, it was Princess Cosette that knew how to love and was sent directly in my path when I needed His love the most. It is Princess Cosette that touches the hearts of so many now.
I've learned that even in or darkest hours, we can find a ray of light. He is always there, He always hears our prayers, He listens and provides. We just have to accept it in faith.
"Mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort"
“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” -albert pine
Adoption has always been a dream of mine, and when it became my only reality for motherhood, I welcomed the gift my husband and I were given. After being able to adopt two children through domestic infant adoption, we tried to grow our family for 8 years and had to walk through 6 failed adoptions. Each time, we experienced the excitement of what was coming, only to realize we were going to have to do this over and over and over again. Eventually, the excitement even wore off a bit. When the opportunity to finally be blessed with an international orphan adoption arose, it was like the night before Christmas and Groundhogs Day all mashed together. Adoption can be a very long process, and eight years felt like forever. To add to it, we experienced a snag in every step along the way. I’m sure that sounds dramatic, but I am serious. With nearly every document to be signed, every online class taken, every medical visit and legal process, we had hoops to jump through. I thought I had seen every hoop to jump through. I was getting good at hoops. But I was also getting tired of hoops. Then we headed to our daughter’s nation and found out there were far more hoops to jump. I wasn’t sure I could take anymore. Certainly, we are all given hard experiences in life, and we can choose to grow from them.
While in our daughter’s country finalizing her adoption, we drove through so many tunnels. Each time we entered the tunnel, not knowing how far it was to the other side, I would look for the light signifying we were almost out of the tunnel. Mostly, I was just curious as to how big the mountain was, because the tunnels got longer and darker as the mountains got bigger. It was incredible to think that we were driving through a mountain - not driving over it, but straight through the bottom of the mountain. I would imagine the force of pressure that could be on the walls of those tunnels. And in this moment of failure, the sides of the mountain were crushing me. The pressure was too much. All I could think about was WHEN I would see the light at the end of the tunnel. What was I supposed to be learning from this pressure and darkness? Was I supposed to be learning anything at all or was I destined to live in this darkness and pressure forever? Many times, in each of our adoption journeys, I asked myself these same questions. And this is where I realized that I didn’t have to succumb to this pressure. This was not my burden to bear. And here I was, in the middle of a tunnel, pressure on all sides, before I remembered to look for the light. More than anything, I didn’t want to wait for the end of the tunnel to see the light! I needed to see the light right here, in the middle of the darkness. So, in this moment of complete fatigue, I rolled off my bed and knelt in prayer and pleaded for reprieve. I knew that I couldn’t do this alone. I knew that I needed my Savior’s atonement and God’s help. More than anything, I needed His light.
We are given opportunities in life, choices to make and paths to take. Those opportunities and choices either build us or break us. How many times have we asked for opportunities to grow and then curse the day life gets hard instead of seeing the opportunity we have been given? I do it ALL THE TIME. However, in the trenches of a trial, it can be draining to try to see the light. That light that is in the tunnel (not at the end) but in, what is that? That light is the light of Jesus Christ. The light that He emulates in all our trials and triumphs. He is the light in the darkness, and He has given the light to us, whether we use it or not, when He knelt in prayer for our sins and when He bled and died on the cross. I am a follower of His light, even when the light is hard to find.
This past weekend we experienced quite a bit of His light. And even though we are at the end of a tunnel, with a new tunnel beginning, I am so grateful for the insight a dear friend shared with me recently. In this observation of light, this is the story of our daughter’s baptism.
After two years of road bumps, we were on our way to the church for our daughter to be baptized. A decision she made on her own, after hearing the words of Christ shared with her by many of our faithful missionaries and devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As we got out of our car at the church, my husband gets a call for the missionaries sharing with us that the baptismal font was locked up and not filled with water. The exact water that we would need to have for her to be baptized. To give you an idea of what this means, the font takes a few hours to fill, and we were 30 minutes away for our family and tribe arriving at the church. They were coming to witness this special occasion and support her and our family in her decision.
My first thought was not of panic or frustration, it was honestly that of acceptance that we were ok, we would get the key, fill the font and proceed with the baptism. Until it dawned on me that we had many people driving from far away to be here and this special event was a bit of an inconvenience for people to be there on a Friday, mid-morning. A work day for most. As we scramble to find a key and contact the proper authority regarding this road bump, my friend said to me, “Isn’t this just the way it should be…?” Did we really think that we would get through something that is so big and important for our daughter and our family without a road bump? Did we really believe that Satan wasn’t going to try his hardest to keep her from the waters of baptism, knowing the amazing things she will do for so many generations to come. In this moment of thought and thousands of questions, the tears hit me like a freight train.
I wasn’t crying out of anger, or frustration or even fear of the things that were happening. I was crying incredibly emotional, happy tears. I was given a small glimpse of the realization that all of our children are here to do amazing things in service to our Father in Heaven and I knew this because of the lengths that Satan has gone through to stop them. Then I was overcome with His love for us and comfort that I knew we would win over the adversary. I knew that we would do anything to move forward and overcome power over he that was sent here to destroy our happiness. I cried because this momentary obstruction gave me a stronger belief that I know the gospel is true and my family needed to see this through, at any cost.
With many little miracles from then on in that day, she was able to be baptized in a friend’s pool, (of course with permission from the proper authority). Her father (my amazingly faithful husband) surprised us by performing the ordinance in Spanish. I had no idea he learned that and I know it meant a lot to her. The view of the temple from the pool and the beautiful landscape that surrounded us made the scenery breathtaking and the ambience of this occasion that much more special than it already was. The feeling that came over me as a mother when the two of them walked up the stairs and out of that now sacred blue water, was overwhelming peace that we had won over the adversary, in this one battle.
This particular experience taught me to find the light in the midst of the tunnels. I learned that you don’t have to wait until you are through the tunnel to see the light. God’s light is always there, shining brightly. We just have to learn to see it through the darkness.
I am a mother of three beautiful children, through the blessing of adoption. Lover of the human connection. Wife to the best husband in the world. Daughter of God