Archive for the ‘Beliefs’ Category

It’s never what I expect, and today is no exception.  I miss 2nd ward traditions, I wanted to see our little Primary singing, etc.  Our new ward is starting to feel less strange, but I still miss our old ward.  It’s apparently about a 4 year long recovery time and we are 4 weeks in.  I’ll make it.

They did something today that I liked and have been thinking about all week, trying to gather my thoughts.  Sharing our favorite hymn with a short why.  Like many of my other favorites, context matters but all week I’ve been thinking of “A Child’s Prayer”

Rules were simple, a 1 minute “why” and from the hymn book.  I had managed to write down a why that was condensed and photocopied the song from the Children’s Song Book.  Both rules circumvented, but it was very busy and I still feel a bit guarded {unless I’m spilling all of my inner thoughts on here} so I didn’t get a chance to share, hence being here.  The song is above, with scenes from Cokeville Miracle {great movie by the way} Here is my “why”

Spring of 2013 I was dealing with The Very Hardest of Hard Things and was very traumatized.  Up didn’t seem like up and for a week or so I was surprised each morning when the sun came up.  I had no grasp on reality, but I knew that Christ knew me personally and believe that his heart ached with mine.  I’d had a priesthood blessing from my Bishop and I know he cared, but I felt very alone and very scared.  My prayers had very few words, lots of sobs and tears filled with emotions that there aren’t words in the English language to describe.  I’m not certain how that week ever ended, but it did as the Hard Things continued to pour forth.  I acutely felt the lack of priesthood guidance in my home, as well as a partner or helpmate to get me through.

A few weeks after that very first night was General Conference.  I remember so many details of that conference, the feeling of the blanket on my lap, my snacks, the smell of breakfast, my little TV with crappy signal, the pajamas I was wearing.  Boyd K Packer gave his talk These Things I Know and in that talk are two great truths I needed to understand.

I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.

Up until then I’d thought of faith as a feeling or emotion, not a power in itself and I discredited the power behind my wordless prayers that went straight from my heart towards heaven bypassing my mouth entirely. I knew God didn’t answer my prayers how I had planned but I believed that yes, he does answer every child’s prayer.  I don’t remember anything else that conference, just that I was going to be okay.  I was fine on my own {fine is a relative term} and that my faith had power behind it, not just warm feel goods.  We were going to get through

Things are different now, We are dealing with Hard Things 3: Cancer, Again. instead of  Hard Things 2:  The Very Hardest of Hard Things  The kids are older (easier and harder all at the same time) and I’m not alone (but at times I still feel very lonely and afraid) and in some ways they are the same.  That first week feels like an alternative reality, and I’m not certain how it ended.  I’m not sure what I’m suppose to learn this time, but I’d like to learn it so we can move on to a chapter I’d like to call After Hard Things Life is Grand but I don’t know that my life gets that chapter, so I’m working on finding grand things in the midst of Hard Things.  Life feels very uncertain for me right now, but I know Christ understands me, and he knows what it’s like when I’m paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.  God does answer every child’s prayer, and not just all those other prayers but my prayers too.  I believe in the power of believing.  What I wish I knew is where all of that is going to leave me, but for tonight I pray in sobs of uncertainty and fear knowing that there is power in that prayer.


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We went on Trek to Martin’s Cove and Rock Creek Hollow end of June and first part of July.  I’ve been before.  4 years ago we went on a youth trek through Kiabab forest ending overlooking the Grand Canyon.  When Michael was a baby our Ward went, so 14 years ago or so.  Every time I have not been able to write about the experience to a level equal with the intensity of the week.  I expect this time to be similar, and I have no idea how to even proceed, but I go back to work tomorrow so I’m trying to get something down for now.

The History

This is where I will fail miserably.  Click here for another account.  Fire and the Covenant is a historical fiction novel written about the handcart companies, and Follow Me to Zion is a collection of journal entries and stories.  A quick search on amazon has several books listed.
In 1856 Brigham Young authorized LDS saints to travel to Utah by handcart.  They had started the perpetual emigration fund to help gather the saints in Zion and using handcarts could gather 10 saints for every 1 by wagon train.  The first 4 handcart companies (about 500 people each) had made the long trip successfully.  Traveled by ship to either Boston or New York and then by train to Florence, Nebraska.  In Florence they built handcarts and sewed tents for the journey.  These saints were not frontiersmen nor had they been trained for the journey ahead of them.  They did have the faith to do whatever was required of them.  They started late in the season and had several set backs to getting started.  They were allowed 17 pounds of belongings.  
As they came through Wyoming they were hit with a harsh winter storm and they had been on reduced rations already.  The Martin Company along with Hunt and Hodgett Wagon companies (about 1100 people) took shelter in Martin’s Cove and the Willie Company took shelter at Rock Creek Hollow being 100 miles ahead of the Martin Company.  When Brigham Young heard that there were saints out in the storm he said “go and bring them in” sending out rescue parties and supplies.  

The Stories

The stories are endless, and I could talk forever about the ones I know, what they taught me and what I hope to never forget.
Francis Webster (He settled in Cedar)
In a Sunday School class the teacher was being harsh and critical of the handcart companies coming so late in the season and Francis Webster was sitting in the class and said 

 ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? …“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’”He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’” 

After my hardest of Hard Things I’ve often thought this Hard Thing is my price, and I have become better acquainted with God.  The second part I am eternally grateful for.

Ann Jewel Rowley

She’s my ancestor, was part of the Willie Handcart company and best known for the sea biscuits in the Dutch Oven as portrayed in 17 Miracles.  She’s one of my favorites because she came across a a single Mom bringing 7 kids.  “If Ann Jewel can do that, I can manage kids schedules, work, school, and the house” got me through days I didn’t think I could go on any farther.

Samuel Rowley

I learned this time that after being part of the Willie company he was later called on a mission to settle San Juan.  He was in the first group that went through Hole In the Rock.  Not only can we do Hard Thing, but can do multiple Hard Things.  I can’t think of anyone who would say that was ‘fair’ but he was called and he went.  He never complained.

Trek 2015

Pre-trek: Sewing, sewing, and more sewing. Packed in 5 gallon buckets and gathered epi-pens, inhalers, first aid supplies, portable nebulizers, last minute tent crew stuff. 

Day 1:  We left the Stake Center at 5 am (well, we were suppose to) and most people loaded onto tour buses, significantly different than the train ride in crowded train cars being threatened as they passed through towns.  Neil and I were fortunate enough to be able to ride with Benson’s.  We drove, what seemed like forever through empty Wyoming plains to arrive at Martin’s Cove.  Neil at the last minute was put on tent crew (the second tent set up didn’t go so well, due to some lack of miscommunication/knowledge/information) and in minutes it went from raining and blowing while setting up tents to heat, sticky humidity, and mosquitoes.  

Bishop Heap spoke at a fireside, everyone was clean and fresh.  We were well fed (the entire Trek we had plenty of good food) and then the adults worked on getting the kids to go to sleep.  Michael and Dallin caught rabbits and went looking for rattlesnakes.  ‘oy.
Fitbit has me at about 12,000 steps.  Most of it from tent set up I’m certain.
Day 2:  Breakfast at 7 am to load the buses at 8.  Breakfast was great — biscuits and gravy with delicious sausage patties and we were on time, much to my surprise.  They broke the stake up into two main groups (orange flag and a red, white, and blue flag loaded onto the front carts)  We also divided medical staff so that 3 of us were the 9 families and 4 of us were with 10 families.  All of the kids except Kaede were in my group.  Later I wished I’d been there to watch her closer.  Reminders to start drinking.
They told us stories of Dan Jones and trying to eat hide glue then took us to the chapel where they played this video.

That video was my moment (along with the fireside the night before)  I wasn’t worried about people being dehydrated yet, I wasn’t dehydrated, only 1 minor injury and no sore feet.  
From the visitors center we walked towards the Sweetwater River crossing.  Lots of reminding people to drink and then drink some more.  I want to go back in the winter.  When the pioneers crossed there were chunks of ice floating down the river and we looked forward to the relief from the heat.  Later in the day when we crossed on the bridge I paused for a second and tried to imagine the green banks covered in ice and snow and the wind blowing bitter cold instead of like a furnace blower and my mind can’t make that connection.  Crossing the Sweetwater is Holy ground.  There was reverence, tears, and beautiful violin music.  Shortly after the Sweetwater we stopped at some statues.  I can’t tell you much about them because I was busy doing medical stuff, inhalers, sick kids, and reminding people to drink some more.  From the statues it was a short walk to lunch.  Shade, cool water, and food. 
At this point all is going well, most people are drinking well and the rest from the scorching sun was appreciated.  Just above the cart parking/pavilion is Martin’s Cove.  There are no handcarts and no water in the cove.  Along the path to the cove is Dan Jones amphitheater where we stopped again.  Both groups are together at this point and Kaede finds me to walk with me.  She’s red and not sweating and “can’t find” her water bottle so she has a little 16 oz bottle that she’s not drinking.  I ask her to drink and she keeps talking.  I asked if she has been drinking and she said no, I’ve been too busy pushing (and most likely talking) so I hand her my full water bottle and have her drink it and she perks up a little and starts sweating again.  I’d forgotten how long it is around Martin’s Cove and have never been in the middle of the day.  Kaede drinks all of our water and rests at the top of the cove in the shade.  I pause for a moment and try to imagine 1100 people laying underneath canvas from their tents and wish just for a moment that I could feel -10.  At the top I realize Neil still has water and try to ration it between the 3 of us the rest of the way down.  
Once I get back to cart parking I drink water like crazy, alternating water and gatorade.  By crazy I mean 2 L.  I keep drinking and feeling increasingly tired and hot.  I don’t know if my feet hurt because I don’t care.  The Women’s Pull left me in tears, and I didn’t even pull or push — I promised myself  I’d be kind to my back.  We had 2 girl in rickshaws in our group and we got all 9 handcarts, 2 rickshaws up with “women can do hard things” pushing.  At the top the guys were silent, hats removed out of respect with tears on many faces.  Bishop Heap once again did an amazing job talking to our boys.
From the women’s pull you can see camp in the distance.  In camp is my bucket, shade from a tent, and food.  Once we got to camp I sat down in the shade of the Bishop’s tent.  Dude continues to comment on how wonderful I don’t look and has my every need taken care of by others.  As the night goes on and I keep drinking and feeling worse I actually ended up with an IV laying in front of our tent–the point I started to get nauseated I knew that all the water I’d been drinking was not enough.  
In a heartbeat I’d do the same thing again, give my water up for my children–any of us would.  I knew it wouldn’t be a long term problem.  I can’t imagine what it was like seeing kids going hungry knowing that you had to eat too, or you wouldn’t survive.  At one point rations were cut to 4 oz of flour for the day.  There wasn’t endless food just ahead like I had water, they had no idea where their next food would come from.
Fitbit: 23,000+ steps
Day 3: I spent in the visitors center at Rock Creek with a couple of youth not well enough to trek.  Long day, lots of water, reading, and a flushing toilet.  Tents were not set up because Dude and I thought we’d be hanging out with the non-trekkers at our camp site so we sent Neil on trek.  The missionaries were confused about where we were camping and so there was nothing to do but hustle to get the tents up when everyone got to Rock Creek Hollow.  

That night we camped at Rock Creek Hollow, had the most beautiful testimony meeting I’ve ever witnessed followed by strawberry shortcake.

Day 4: I refer to day 4 as “gratitude for Benson’s day”  The young beehives sang, clapped, laughed the entire way home.  There was no rest, no sleeping, no quiet.  The bus seats were comfortable for about 40 minutes until my back started to complain.  We were all home, showered, and in bed by midnight.

Post-Trek:  My backyard has been tent city since trek.  The day we broke camp the tents were all very wet so we set them back up to dry them out and just as they’d get almost dry a thunderstorm would roll through.  Tents are all down now, one still draped across to dry and we are back to “live as normal”  I wish I knew how to keep the lessons learned during these glimpses into our past to help us re prioritize, strengthen our resolve but I don’t.
Getting to the Salt Lake Valley was important to the pioneers so they could be sealed as a family in the Endowment House.  Getting those temple blessings were so important to them that they gave all they had to have the opportunity and they were grateful for the experience.  I hope my resolve and priorities can be as set as theirs.
p.s. A few more pictures to come, but not many as we were electronics free and I didn’t bring my camera. 

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I again missed much of Conference Saturday and Sunday, so I’m reading, pondering and studying bit by bit. The talks I did hear on Sunday I didn’t make any notes during, so far from my standard. While reading Boyd K Packard’s talk on fasting I realized how much work and progress I need to make in fasting. For years I had reasons not to fast. Pregnant, nursing, too hard when you have kids to feed and so reasons turned into excuses.  

Then I had my big epiphany that wasn’t about fasting at all. For decades I’ve sat through General Conference feeling inspired, uplifted, and spiritually fed but not once have I thought to set formal goals based on the inspiration received. This time I am going to write them down in the notes section of my Gospel library. Easy to link to the talk that prompted the goal and gather other references.
The first talk I read was President Thomas S Monson on Sunday morning. I loved this quote about temples. “Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.”  On our quick trip to St George and back Neil and I took a few minutes to walk around the temple grounds.  I truly do love to see the temple.  I snapped this picture and have been test running apps for photos so I tinkered and came up with this–it’s going in my note for goals too, if I can add pictures that is. 


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***This was suppose to be posted March 26, but as usual life got in the way***

I love spring, the flowers, my birthday, the hope of longer days after the short days of winter, Easter, picnics, yard work and sunshine.  There is so much that is very renewing about Spring, it seems as if each day comes with it’s own dose of hope.  Some of my hardest things have start dates in Spring, some bitter to help me appreciate the sweet.  Today I was sitting in the car thinking for a moment about not just Hard Things, but my very hardest of all the hard things and I realized how overwhelmingly grateful I am for the atonement.  The rest of this post may seem vague, but it’s intentionally vague.  This isn’t about how I dealt with my very specific Hard Things, it’s about Hard Things in general.  We all have them, they all look different, and what is hard to one person may be easy to their neighbor.  This isn’t about comparing my life to yours, or your neighbors, or your uncle’s dog’s breeder’s neighbor who had something sort of similar (but not really) happen.

The opportunity the atonement gives to repent of  sins and poor choices is invaluable and completely necessary for everyone.  It’s taught through various denominations of Christianity starting at very young ages.  It’s outlined in steps during Primary Sharing Times and Family Home Evenings and follows an easy format (easy in listing the steps, more difficult in applying the principle into your life)

Today I’m most grateful for the “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you restfrom Matthew 11:30.  It’s less concrete to me, I’ve not found a list of steps to take to get that rest.  In fact there have been times in my life when I’ve been doing everything I’m suppose to very well scriptures, prayer, pondering (lots and lots of pondering), attending Sunday meetings and carrying the Spirit with me throughout the week but the Savior didn’t come and take my burdens away from me because I held onto them with all of my Erickson stubbornness.  I benefited greatly from those habits and often felt at peace but things were still hard. I didn’t see how to let go of my burdens and I was only dealing with Hard Things, not the smothering very hardest of all the hard things.

I don’t know that there is a set format to turn over a heavy load to the Savior, but it is possible.  It took time, patience, following some very specific advice, and lots of faith.  I still had to do all the same things but the overwhelming weight of everything was gone, almost as if I’d grown stronger but I hadn’t.  I had learned to rely on the Savior and trust that everything was going to be okay — whatever okay meant.

For that extra strength I am deeply grateful.  That when my world was shattered I could still find up, I knew that somehow I could get through even if it took my entire life I could do it, for the ability to repent of all my mistakes and the knowledge that there is so much more to the atonement than I can understand at this point in my life.

Spring Blossoms on my crab apple tree

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The two second catch up. Wedding was absolutely perfect, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Married life has been amazing, Michael broke his arm and it’s healing very nicely but he’s missed basketball for the year, my back is slowly improving (ever so grateful for epidural injections!) Christmas came and went with all the typical magic, flu came with all it’s fun and somewhere in there we ended up with a new year. I’ve missed blogging and hoping that things are settling a bit. 

At work there is a quote up that says “a goal without a plan is just a wish” I think about at Girls Camp this year when we talked about maps and charting your course. Having a compass will give you the ability to stay the course, but only if you use it. 
I’ve been very blessed this last year, in ways far beyond my dreams. I am completely happy and at peace and I want this to be my course not just a pathway I cross. I want to never lose the faith I’ve gained the last two years, the understanding and personal relationship I’ve built with the Savior, the realization of what my perfect life is (which is full of bills, chores, work, family, friends, obligations, and joy) and what it isn’t (there isn’t much easy in my perfect life). As I’m on this path I’m finding I’m becoming more of who I want to be. I’m more accepting, more grateful, happier, and hopefully more giving. It’s hard for me to find a compass for these goals. When your goal is tied to something easily measurable like pounds lost, money saved, miles ran it’s easier to find if you’ve fallen from your course. 

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On my short list of Priesthood blessings that have moved me the most are a few I’ve been present for as an RN.  Something different happens when it’s someone you only just met as a patient. It was that kind of day today.  I’m also grateful that oh so very soon there will be a Priesthood leader in my home again. If I take a moment to be quiet and still I can already tell a difference. 

Sorry no picture tonight, I’m exhausted and worn out — plus I don’t have one handy that will work. 

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It’s not yet 10 am and I already have pictures (poor quality phone pics, but that’s ok) for four days worth of gratitude. Maybe I can make it all the way through the month. 

Today I am grateful for the strength of my testimony in the Gospel. Like the candlelight I used this morning when the power was out it has given me the ability to see enough to have hope during my darkest times and Hard Things. The days I felt completely isolated and was certain that night had the ability to swallow me up without anyone noticing I knew that Christ was aware of me and understood in a way that only He can. My testimony got me through that night, then the next few weeks hour by hour and sometimes breath by breath. 
Like the candle light above, a testimony positioned properly can be magnified while one hidden and suffocated will die out. As a child my testimony mirrored my parents actions until it was strong enough to grow on it’s own, I don’t believe that scenario to be very unusual. 

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