Monday, September 28, 2015

When adversity happens...and it will!

Before going into surgery my whole entire family was with me.  I still had my long flowing hair and a smile on my face but was unsure how this would end.  Would this be it?  Would I die?  Would my family miss me if I did?  Had I lived the best I could?  Would I live?

I went into the hospital bathroom and decided to make everyone laugh instead of think of these same things that I was thinking of.  Pretending to be the Scarecrow from the Wizord of Oz I said with some theatrical enthusiasm.  "I am Oz the great and terrible...If I only had a Brain"

Laughter is the best medicine.

A few months later I was asked to give a talk on adversity in my ward.  I thought yeah...if anyone new adversity it was me.  I will share it with you here today.



The gospel teaches that before we came to earth we used our agency and
accepted the plan to obtain a physical body, gain an earthly experience and to
qualify ourselves to return to our Fathers presence and enjoy eternal life. In fact
it is noted in the scriptures that we SHOUTED FOR JOY in acceptance of this “Plan
of Happiness”


Now here we are on earth. We experience a lot of joy but also times of trials, misfortune and grief.

We may experience heartache over the unexpected death of a loved one.
Struggle with a child or spouse who is not making wise choices, perhaps you are
devoting your life to caring for a loved one who cannot care for themselves.
There are some that never marry, or aren’t blessed with children. Some suffer
from feelings of inadequacy, rejection or dark times of depression and Others
may endure painful illnesses.


In times of Grief, Stress, worry, confusion and discouragement we must
remember that this is all part of the plan…remember…the one we voted for in
heaven? It was meant that we experience opposition in all things ---to learn the
difference between righteousness and wickedness, good and bad, life and death
and happiness and misery. To receive a fullness of Joy---and “men are that they
might have joy”

It is important to recognize that living a righteous life does not guarantee that bad
things will never happen to us. We may believe that if we strive with all our might
and follow the commandments, that nothing bad will happen to us. We may
believe that if we are married in the temple our marriage will automatically be
heaven on earth or that if we live the word of wisdom we will never get sick. But
the truth is Bad things happen to the best of people too.


“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. Through them we develop qualities such as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our character, purifies our heart, expands our soul and makes us more tender and charitable…and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education we come here to acquire which will make us more like our Father in Heaven.”



There is a saying “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” (Epictetus)


On Labor Day of Sept 2013 I was hiking with my family when I got a headache that
was so severe that immediately my appetite was lost and I felt no comfort…I
literally thought my head was being pounded with a hammer and some rebarb,
and then with no other symptoms I started vomiting. After describing how I felt
to my husband as “I feel like I am going to die” we went to see a professional
who after consulting with me sent me to the hospital for a CAT scan which
showed that a very large Tumor was on my Brain.


Because I am mortal this news of a Tumor added upon every other challenge I
was dealing with. It didn’t matter whether those other challenges were my
own, my children’s, or my spouses. Whether they were personal, spiritual,
mental or physical. Whether they were because of me or someone or something
else…THIS was MORE to endure. Surgery forced me to defer running a
marathon that was only 4 weeks away. But to give me hope I told my Dr. I was
determined to run a Relay that was 2 months later…even if I had to walk.

While in the hospital I wrote…This last week has been a blurr. I wonder why some
things happen. I have realized lately that there are factors related to that WHY.
Things happen as an outcome of a choice we made or are making , perhaps
because of others choices, or simply because we are mortal and God allows them
to happen.


But I believe:


“ If God Brings you to it, he will help you through it.” And as Proverbs says “Trust
in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”
I need to keep looking up, rely on the savior , trust in him and continue in faith
through whatever he thinks will allow me to become better, stronger and more
spiritual. He knows me and feels my trials, pains, sorrow and joy. The famous
poem of the Foot Prints in the sand…but this time down hospital halls…he carried me.”


He carries me still. Over the last few months I have continued to rely on him to
carry me. I know that God will pick up the pieces when we have done all we can
do…he”ll take care of the rest. I have allowed him to lead me…and guide me…to
walk beside me. D&C 78:18 And you cannot bear all things now; never the less,
be of good cheer for I will lead you along.


Elder Richard G Scott said: “The Lord is intent on your personal Growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether it be to your liking or not….If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the lord to bless you.”


Prayer is vital:

If everything had an explanation there would be no reason to get down on our
knees and receive personal revelation. I don’t ever go a day without it. Ask for
help and understanding. Ask to see what good can come from whatever it is your dealing with and what you can do to get the best from it.

Along with Prayer is Scripture Study:

I believe Accelerated growth comes from reading our standard works. We can
liken them to our own lives…

There are few stories in the scriptures where people lived in happy valley and had
no opposition. They were in essence just like us, experiencing opposition.

Have you ever felt like Laman and Lemuel? A task put in front of you that seemed
impossible and unachievable? There have been times in my life when I didn’t
want to be like Nephi. When it seems like it would be so much easier to turn back
and run a different direction…or just stand still.


When I turn to the scriptures it helps me focus on my Savior Jesus Christ and his
love for me and all of his children, because we are all his sons and daughters.

In D&C 84:88 it tells me that he is on my right hand and on my left with angels
round about me to bear me up…I am never alone.



D&C 121:7 “Thine afflictions shall be but a small moment”


(This is where I learn challenges require patience.) Patience is not just about
waiting. It is waiting with a good attitude. It means staying with something…even
when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is
enduring it well!” President Uchtdorf says: Patience means accepting that which
cannot be changed and facing it with courage, grace and faith. It means being
‘willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon us, even as a
child doth submit to his father (mosiah 3:19) Ultimately patience means being
‘firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord’ (1
Nephi 2:10) every hour every day, EVEN WHEN IT IS HARD TO DO SO.”

D&C 68:6 reminds me to be of good cheer!!! BECOME SOMEONE WHO SEES THE CUP HALF FULL NOT HALF EMPTY


Be GRATEFUL and find JOY in each day. There is always something to be grateful for. Pres Uchtdorf said:


“No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is
something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day
that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.”

It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop. When life hands
you lemons make lemonade. Instead of being a victim become a victor!

Finding Strength in challenges most definitely can draw us closer to God. We
must believe that when we ask God for help and wisdom He will give it to us.
Because He WILL give generously and liberally.


My relationship with my Savior is much Stronger than it has ever been before. I
understand more fully what the Atonement really is and how it can bless our lives.
It is one thing to know that he died for us, but I also realized that it can empower
us. The Atonement is not just for sinners, it is for good men and women who are
obedient, worthy and striving to become better. It is through the grace of the
lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement receive strength and
assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to, through
their own means.


Nephi relied upon the enabling power of the Savior. His brothers had bound him
and he asked the Lord in prayer: “Oh Lord according to my faith which is in thee,
wilt though deliver me from the hands of my bretheren; give me strength that I
may burst these bands with which I am bound” He did not pray to have his
circumstances changed. But, he prayed for the strength to change his
circumstance. He knew the lord work help him. Most likely the bands didn’t just
magically fall from his hands and wrists…Nephi with the strength and help from
the lord, worked and twisted and tugged on the cords until he was able to break
the bands.

Some of my prayers that I thought were broken records were finally answered
“after” I applied the enabling power of the Atonement. That is I began to pray
and seek for strength to change my circumstance rather than praying for my
circumstance to change. It required me to act…instead of just waiting for the
Lord to do.


There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or
weakness that you or I will ever experience that the Savior didn’t experience first.

Have you ever cried out “No one understands. No one knows?”

No human being perhaps, but the son of God knows and understands, for he felt and bore our burdens before we ever did.


He knows how I feel now and he knew how I felt then. We shouldn’t let things
discourage us or knock us down to the point where our faith is warvering…we
have to trust it will all work out, maybe not in our time line but in the lords.
I like the saying: Even if your on the right side of the tracks…You’ll get ran over…if
you just sit there.




Just hours after surgery, I was moved to the ICU for recovery. When my physical
therapist came in, which seemed too often, I would put a smile on my face and
cheerfully try and do what he was there to help me do. Feeling weak,
naseaus and extremely dizzy upon rising from my bed our session would
begin…..the goal was simply to…. walk. Sometimes I just stood and that was
enough, other times I walked 5 feet and other times I was able to go all the way
around the nurse’s station. Some were not as successful and I found myself
asking for a wheelchair to finish the round . I wondered how I would ever get back
to walking, let alone running. But little by little, I found what worked for me. If I
sipped ICE water (and it had to be cold), and put peppermint in my mouth (those
little peppermint lifesaver candies are really life savers!) If I did that! I didn’t get
nearly as naseaus or dizzy and I could let the person I was walking with lead me.
If I got dizzy I would close my eyes and continue on.


I was told that for several months I would be tired and have no energy and I
would NEED naps. And they added running would make these things worse and I
would possibly feel sick if I pursued it. There would be no Marathon. I found that
my training for a marathon prepared me for Brain surgery.

After 8 days in the hospital I came home and began taking short walks around the
neighborhood. At first just to the corner was far enough. I soon worked my way
up to 2-5 miles a few times a week. If I kept moving all was good but as soon as I
stopped I would lose my sense of balance…if I was moving it seemed to be
better…better than standing still.

Fast forward: I ran a 5k 6weeks after surgery with the only goal being to not
stop. Then the Relay 2 months post-op, and this last October I ran the Marathon
that I had deferred the prior year. I can’t explain what happened that day other
than I had the race of my life. I was prepared , more prepared than if I had ran it
the year before. I had done all I could do, I had faith in myself and in my training.
I trusted that what I trained for had prepared me. Blain and I drove the course
the day before and I was worried about the hills that were on the course, but
while running I never felt them. It apparently was a hot day , but the heat didn’t
bother me. I am not a pioneer and a marathon is nothing like what they went
through, but that day I felt as if I was being pulled and pushed…there is no other
way to describe it. Nothing bothered me to say the least, even my head phones
stayed in and didn’t fall out. I tell you everything about that day was spot on
perfect.


I know that our Heavenly Father lives, he loves us. He cares about us and our
ambitions our goals our life. He wants us to succeed and most of all he wants us
to follow him and come back to live in his prescence.

It’s one of life’s great paradoxes
Accepting with gratitude whatever life throws at us

Is critical to happiness.

Yet without a goal and commitment, life loses much of it’s value.
The best we can do in the face of this paradox
Is to play to win, but be cheerful in defeat
And ready to play again.


There is no short cut to anywhere worth going and President Eyring said “If you are on the right path it will always be UPHILL!”


While we are climbing those hills, take it one stride at a time, one day at a time.
“It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.”
Make each cadence be one that will strengthen your testimony and empower you
to have a greater love for our savior and his gospel.

“For it is expedient that we be diligent, that therby we might win the prize”

Life is a marathon: While running the course we learn what we are capable of…stretching farther than we ever thought possible and digging deeper and deeper…even when it gets tough. Believe in yourself and others. Not every day is going to be ideal… Learn to push through, when you stumble and fall, rely on our Father in Heaven to pick up the slack and help ease your burdens. Pray, have courage and trust in your training… your testimony. Remember to look up! It wasn’t meant to be easy, remember we voted for this plan “the plan of Happiness” because we knew in the end it would be so so worth it. The final reward is far more greater than the middle.

Where there is hope, there is faith, where there is faith, miracles can happen.



I Boston Qualified!!!

Can a tumor change your life?

Well, It did mine. Here is part of my story I wrote one evening when I opened an email to find that Ragnar was looking for insperational reads.

http://blognar.ragnarrelay.com/2013/11/las-vegas-stories-monicas-story/