Tuesday, June 11, 2013

[June 11, 2013]

June 11, 2013
20 weeks

Good morning, Handsome!

I woke this morning with tears already flowing.  This week is going to be a really hard one.  One year ago today (the day not the date) you last set foot on the baseball diamond.  You played your last ever (earthly) game of baseball.  You didn't actually play much that last game because you hurt so badly.  Yet you cheered the entire game for your team.  Two days from today (the day not the date - the date would put it three days from today) is the day our reality was altered as you were confirmed with a diagnosis of AML.

We had a really good weekend.  Friday night we drove to Grammy's house and spent the weekend with her.  It's always good to be there - the place you loved nearly as much as you loved your own home.

Dad and I went through an endowment session Saturday afternoon at the Idaho Falls Temple as Aunt LaRue received her endowment.  We also attended the sealing of Aunt LaRue to Grandpa and Grandma Justesen and to her husband.  I love being in the temple.  You're so close there.  McKayslin played at Uncle Chaddy's house while we were at the temple.  She had a great time with the little girls.  I loved snuggling baby Acadia while we were visiting with Chad before and after the temple.

Sunday we attended church with Braydon as he shared experiences from his mission.  On the way to Ammon, we were listening to the radio and the song "Consider the Lilies" played.  I've heard it before and really liked it.  But Sunday I actually listened to the lyrics.  

The opening hymn was Hymn 85 - How Firm a Foundation.
  1. 1. How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
    What more can he say than to you he hath said,
    Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
    Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
  2. 2. In ev'ry condition--in sickness, in health,
    In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,
    At home or abroad, on the land or the sea--
    As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
    As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
  3. 3. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
    For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
    I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
    Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
    Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
  4. 4. When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
    The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
    For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
    And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
    And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
  5. 5. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
    The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
  6. 7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
    I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
    I'll never, no never, no never forsake!
  7. Music: Attr. to J. Ellis, ca. 1889
    Text: Attr. to Robert Keen, ca. 1787. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.7. 
My whole life I've loved music.  Most especially Hymns and music that represents teachings of the Gospel.  Because of this, lately, more often than not, the message that our Heavenly Father keeps trying to give me comes through music - whether it be what I choose to play when we're at home or in the car, or the hymns and special musical numbers chosen for our church meetings.

Imagine my surprise when the first musical number during sacrament meeting was a piano/violin duet of "Consider the Lilies."  I think that was direction for me to spend some time learning the lyrics and taking them to heart.

Consider the lilies of the field,
How they grow, how they grow.
Consider the birds in the sky,
How they fly, how they fly.

He clothes the lilies of the field.
He feeds the birds in the sky.
And He will feed those who trust Him,
And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sheep of His fold,
How they follow where He leads.
Though the path may wind across the mountains,
He knows the meadows where they feed.

He clothes the lilies of the field.
He feeds the birds in the sky,
And He will feed those who trust Him,
And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sweet, tender children
Who must suffer on this earth.
The pains of all of them He carried
From the day of His birth.

He clothes the lilies of the field,
He feeds the lambs in His fold,
And He will heal those who trust Him,
And make their hearts as gold.

He clothes the lilies of the field,
He feeds the lambs in His fold,
And He will heal those who trust Him,
And make their hearts as gold.

The past 20 weeks have been anything but easy.  They've been painful.  Sad.  Lonely.  And exhausting.  Yet through the past 20 weeks (I could even say through the past 7 months starting back in December when you were diagnosed with "preliminary relapse" - or even through the past 12 months) I have been able to develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of, and gratitude for The Atonement.  

What a blessing to know that when we pray for peace, asking our Savior to take our burdens, our sadness, our heartache, our pain, our brokenness, He will.  That peace will come.  It doesn't mean that the trial will go away.  I means that we will have the courage, faith, and strength to face that trial.  

In December, those words preliminary relapse were such a shock.  President Acevedo stopped the night we found out to give McKayslin and I each a Priesthood Blessing.  In that blessing, he asked specifically that I would have a sure understanding of The Atonement.  Later that night, after putting McKayslin to bed, I sat on the stairs sobbing.  I was scared.  Angry.  And so sad.  You were supposed to be getting better!  As I sat with my head in my hands, heart aching, tears streaming down my cheeks, questioning everything that I knew, I felt prompted to simply pray, "Heavenly Father, please send me peace."  I'll never be able to explain how my soul was quieted, my tears ceased, and I was calmed.

In January, when our loving Bishopric came to PCMC to give each of us a Priesthood Blessing, I remember hearing that we needed to have faith in The Atonement and to turn to our Savior.  And again, the night that your spirit took flight, your earthly mission complete, President Acevedo gave each of us a Priesthood Blessing reminding us of our Savior's Atoning Sacrifice - that He took not only our sins, but our pain, our sadness, our hurt, and our heartache.

The other night, McKayslin was really struggling.  She was missing you more than usual.  She couldn't stop crying.  And then I realized I hadn't taught her, reminded her, to pray for peace.  Through my own tears, I told her that if she could just have faith, and pray for peace, that she WOULD feel peace.  Her simple prayer, "Heavenly Father, please let me feel peace and please let me feel Kenton's arms tight around me as I go to sleep, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" was answered.  Her tears slowed, then stopped, and she drifted off into a deep sleep.  The next morning she affirmed that she felt your arms come around her before she even said amen.  

There is so much gratitude in my heart for The Atonement, for an all knowing Father who allowed His Son to suffer for us, that we may have that peace and that comforting strength.

I caught myself wondering this morning why it takes a fiery trial to turn our hearts and our souls in longing for that peace that comes only through The Atonement.  

Each of us have fiery trials that are different.  You and I spoke often of the trials faced by those we know.  You said, "Sometimes when we see other people, we might think that their trials are no big deal but we don't know everything that goes with that trial, and to them, that might be the hardest thing they've ever faced."

As we go through this week, my challenge to myself (and to anyone else that is willing to take it) is to turn, with a heart ready to listen, learn, and understand, to my Savior with everything - the joys, the sadness, the anger, the guilt, the frustration, the challenges, the successes.  You did that instinctively from the time you were very young, always living close to our Heavenly Father, with a sure knowledge of The Atonement.

I miss you, my boy.  All the time.  Sometimes I find myself at the store putting things in the cart that are your favorites, only to have to return them to the shelf.  Or starting to cook a meal that was your favorite.  Learning to live without you here is a huge adjustment.  There will always be an empty spot at our table, in our car, in our family, and in our hearts.  Thanks for 12 1/2 incredible years of unconditional love, teaching, patience, forgiveness, and awesome memories.  I love you LOVE YOU.  



Teresa said...

Consider the Lilies has ALWAYS been my favorite scripture, AND my favorite song. Thanks for sharing how it has also helped you.

Chris Ayres said...

Each of these letters has been a tribute to such a blessed soul. I appreciate a lot that you write so well in order to describe feelings as they are. Thank you for sharing each piece of memory. That's so priceless.
When you say that "will always be an empty spot at our table", it reminded me of my grandma. She had lost three kids under the age of 5 due to pneumonia and an accident even before my mother was born. She struggled for her entire life. I lived with here for several years when I was a child until my teen years, and we always had four extra places on her big heavy oak table. Three for her kids, and One for Jesus Christ, as she always said "for He is taking care of them until I get back, and He is always welcome in our life anytime for that and for all He has done for us". It didn't matter how many people we had for dinner (coming from an Italian family that was tens of people sometimes), those four places in the table with the finest china she had were always reserved.
Thank you my friend. Freddy and I often remember you and your family. <3

Sylvia Hook said...

Still praying for you and your family as you search for peace. Though I don't know you and never met Kenton, you all have touched my life. Blessings to you all.