Sunday, October 11, 2015

Be Anxiously Engaged

Today in church the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society, and my sweet friend gave a beautiful lesson on Elder M. Russell Ballard's 2012 General Conference talk "Be Anxiously Engaged".  I heard this talk two years ago. As she read, I recognized a few things. It was familiar but also new.
Elder Ballard starts his talk discussing bees. 

He says, "My beloved brothers and sisters, each time I enjoy a fresh, vine-ripened tomato or eat a juicy peach right off the tree, my thoughts go back 60 years to when my father owned a small peach orchard in Holladay, Utah. He kept beehives there to pollinate the peach blossoms that would eventually grow into very large, delicious peaches.

Father loved his gentle honeybees and marveled at the way thousands of them working together transformed the nectar gathered from his peach blossoms into sweet, golden honey—one of nature’s most beneficial foods. In fact, nutritionists tell us it is one of the foods that includes all the substances—enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water—necessary to sustain life.

My father always tried to involve me in his work with his hives, but I was very happy to let him tend to his bees. However, since those days, I have learned more about the highly organized beehive—a colony of about 60,000 bees.

Honeybees are driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and condense the nectar into honey. It is their magnificent obsession imprinted into their genetic makeup by our Creator. It is estimated that to produce just one pound (0.45 kg) of honey, the average hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of two times around the world. Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon.

Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part."

She then proceeded to show the Mormon Message called "LIFT". 

I have seen this clip before. I first watched it on Facebook after several of my friends had shared it on their feeds. I scanned over it the first couple times I saw it because of the length of it. I finally watched it though. I laughed and cried while watching it because the video struck many very personal issues for me.  I too have felt I was a burden, the awkwardness of things I have needed help with, and questioned if I had anything left to offer. I laughed when they talked about adjusting her in bed at night because in the hospital I had my own nightly routine that probably seemed crazy to everyone. It touched my heart but honestly I haven't thought much about it since.

As soon as the video was over there was a small moment of quiet. I knew there would be a moment of discussion with the class. I felt like my heart was going to leap out of my chest. I knew the spirit wanted me to speak. It wanted me to share my very personal connection to "Lift" but I held it in. I sat and convinced myself that what I was thinking in my head wasn't really a full thought. I decided to listen longer and see if my thoughts would come together more fully.

The conversation then continued to service. To how as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we often teach of service. If like the hive of honeybees, we each took a small moment to serve, our seemingly small effort could bring forth great things. In comparison, a large jar of honey. Through serving we all can grow and feel love. Whether we were serving or being served, our testimonies would grow and we could feel a deeper sense of the love our Savior and Heavenly Father feels for us. 

Finally as class ended my thought came together. I didn't want to lengthen our already out of time meeting but I knew that I needed to share.

So I am rectifying that prompting I had to share. Here.  Now

I didn't come up with some profound thought. Instead I feel a real desire to give thanks.
I have been blessed through this trial with endless amounts of service. I literally could not list them all.  Not even close. 

Over 5 years ago when I went into the hospital I thought being stuck in the the hospital would make me feel alone and isolated. That was not the case. My devoted parents were there all but 5 days of the five months I was in the hospital. They brought me food, clothes, and anything else I needed or wanted while I was in there.  They watched TV with me, took me for walks around the hospital, even sat quietly as I slept. They watched, loved, and cared for Jack as did Julie and Keith. I had two to five visitors almost every week. Family, friends, ward members, coworkers, and even strangers came. They brought me treats and snacks, flowers, gifts, and spent time with me. Nurses, therapists, and doctors became my friends. They brought me treats, stayed after their shifts to painted my toe nails, or spent their own money on supplies to do black crayon therapy with me on days that were tough, the brought me DVD's of their favorite TV series, movies, music, and books to read. After Talon was born we received baskets filled with clothes and other baby necessities from the hospital and its staff, blankets made by friends, and so much more.  For the whole 5 months I was in the hospital a nearby stake brought and blessed the sacrament every Sunday so I could partake.

After only a few short weeks in the hospital one nurse told me how lucky I was. The nurses had discussed how there was a frequent flow of people to my room. I hadn't really thought much about the visits but after that I noticed the truth in that. I noticed other patients would go days without anyone entering their room who weren't  from the hospital. I felt so much love.  When I was finally able to be discharged from the hospital the whole hospital celebrated with me.  There was a cake, gifts, and many hugs.

The service and visits didn't stop after I was released and came home to my parents house.  My ward and friends brought meals for weeks after we were home to lighten the burden.  I'm talking weeks. Friends and family stayed with me and the boys when my mom went to work. My aunt and cousin started taking Jack and Talon, as he got older, to story time and out to play so they were not always stuck inside. My friends and ward members did fundraisers to help pay off my extensive medical bills.  We were overwhelmed by countless kind acts like the 12 days of Christmas and a beautiful Christmas filled with presents bought by Cents of Style and those who worked with them. My friends also came to visit me often. They brought me favorite treats we used to eat, new movies I hadn't seen, and helped watch Jack and Talon so my parents could be forced away for a weekend.  ;)

After I had been home about a year I was able to go to Boise for some for extensive therapy. My brother, his wife, and my sweet niece and nephew accepted us into their home and let us invade their family, Matt modified their home, and they helped to look after, but mostly to loved, Jack and Talon, as well as my sister in law helping me with many personal needs I was unable to do myself. Without their love and extreme sacrifice I would never be as independent as I am now.

At rehab I met many nurses, therapist, CNAs, and doctor's who became friends as well. They help me learn new skills, set goals, and even spent time we should have been working sitting in my room watching TV, talking, and sharing snacks.

When I came home my friends were anxiously waiting for my return and took on many other large tasks.   They learned how to transfer me in and out of a car so we can go see movies at a theater and go out to dinner at restaurant. I have also been blessed these last five years to make many new friends. These friends didn't know me when I had a fully functioning body but not once have they hesitated at being my friend.  Not even once!
These things, though they are many don't even begin to scratch the surface of the service and the selfless acts that have happened and been given to my family.

I know because of these acts and because of the "bees" in my personal hive, my testimony has grown. I felt the unconditional love of those around me as well as the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Through this love my testimony has grown and I have been reminded that no matter what my body can or cannot do I still have much to offer. My life is in no way how expected it to be but I know that there is still a great road ahead.

I have a true testimony that service can change lives. I am impacted by the small acts of love and service as much as I am the large. I know that everyone has much to offer.  Everyone has worth and value.

After today's Relief Society lesson I guess the thing I need to express most is thanks.  I needed to write these acts down. I will never forget them but I want my children to know about them too. Thanks to my family, friends, my ward, my community, and my Heavenly Father and Savior. 

A a big thanks to Sister Wehrli for what I believe was a guided and inspired lesson. And of course for the yummy cookie as well.

I do not know where I would be or the road I would be on without these acts of loving humble service. So I know it isn't much and I can never say it enough, THANK YOU!