Chronological Scripture Study Series: The Fall

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Welcome back guys.

If you are new to the series, I am going through a chronological study of scripture. You can read about my purpose here and read the first in the series here.

This week I read about “the fall”.

The scriptures I read were:

Genesis 2-3

Moses 3-4

If you grew up even on the fringes of any christian tradition you are well aware of the story. Adam and Eve lived in paradise and then Eve was stupid enough to be tempted by Satan and got them kicked out of the Garden of Eden and caused all manner of problems. Darn that Eve. Except that is not the whole story or the right characterization.

Hold on to your hats. I remember when the Elders were teaching me and we discussed the fall I was trying to figure out a polite way to speed it along, I knew the story of the fall so let’s get to stuff I don’t know. Then those brilliant Elders said something that shocked me and took me a while, as in days, to fully process. They said

“The fall was not a bad thing.”

“What? Yes it was.”

“If the fall was a bad thing that was not a part of the plan then Jesus was just a backup plan.”

Did your jaw hit the floor? Mine did. I went from half tuning them out because I “knew” this story to staring at them in stunned disbelief. I had never looked at it that way…the logic tracked but I couldn’t process it, it went against my entire understanding of this pivotal story.

So, what does the scripture say about it? To completely understand this we have to have the basics of the Plan of Salvation, I am just going to discuss the basics because we will get to each part of the plan in a chronological order. We are all the literal spirit children of heavenly parents. God’s plan was to make us mortal and give us free will (or agency) so we could grow and progress to become closer to him. As any parent will tell you, when your kids are growing they will mess up and sometimes they need some help. The Lord knew we would need a saviour and Jesus was the man for the job. However, Satan wanted to take away man’s will so we HAD to follow God. He arrogantly thought his plan was better and there was a war in heaven after which Satan and a third of the hosts were banished. The Atonement of Jesus is so huge, but it was always necessary to help us overcome our shortcomings or trials we face in life and bring us back to be with God.

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What does this have to do with Adam and Eve? A lot. If Christ was always the plan and we always needed him to return to our father in heaven than we HAD to leave the Garden.

If we jump ahead a little, in Moses 5: 10-12 we learn that had Adam and Eve stayed in the garden there would be no joy, because there would be no pain, we must have the dark to understand the light. There would be no children, there would be no chance for all of us to return to God in the flesh, there would be no joy in our redemption, and most importantly there would be no path to eternal life with our Father in Heaven.

Life in the garden was beautiful but it was stagnant, there was no chance for growth there.

I am still blown away by this idea because it never occurred to me before. God’s plans are always better than our own and that has been true from the very beginning. That is so wonderfully amazing to me.

If you are reading along, I am following this Chronological Scripture Timeline. Next week I will be covering Cain and Abel.

 

 

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Chronological Scripture Study Series: Creation

Creation

This week I want to cover the creation scriptures in our study of scriptures in chronological order.

The scriptures I have studied for this post are:

John 1

Abraham 4

Genesis 1

Moses 2

We could spend hundreds of hours discussing this, there have been people who devote their lives to this portion of scripture and this time in human history. This will be a super small dive into the subject.

I started reading with John 1 and nothing jumped out at me, at first, because it was very familiar. I then moved on to Abraham 4 and stopped in the first verse.

And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

Abraham 4:1

That “S” stopped me. Godsssss. Explain yourself you scandalous little “S”. I vaguely remembered my lesson with the Elders who baptized me, and a conversation we had about Jesus being there at the creation, but that hazy memory was not enough for me right now. This study is about me finding it myself so I dug into the footnotes and the topical guide, and down the rabbit hole I went. Has anyone been there before chasing an explanation in scripture?

Here are the explanations I found. In Genesis 1:26 God is talking about making man in “our” image. Is God channelling men far in the future and using a royal we or is there another being part of that we? Moses 2:26 begins with God talking about his “only begotten” who was with him from the beginning. Ok, now we are getting to something that feels familiar and I quickly flipped back to John 1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God

John 1:1

Holy cow. I have read that piece of scripture a million times and never stopped to put two and two together. Jesus is often referred to as “the word” of God and here we see that “the word” was with God in the beginning. Also down the rabbit hole I read Mosiah 4:2 in which Christ as a creator is discussed and in Psalms 33:6 there is another reference to “the word” and the creation of heaven.

That little “s” makes a lot more sense now. Was it just the two? Hmmmm.

I remember the moment the concept of a Mother in Heaven was introduced to me during my lessons with the Elders. You know sometimes you hear something that just feels right and clicks with you on a deep level, even if you never thought much about it before? This is how it was for me when we discussed the Mother in Heaven. I am not going to delve too deeply into this idea right now but you can read more about this topic here. What role was our Mother in Heaven playing in that little “S”? I do not know but it does not seem preposterous to assume she was around.

I could go into the plan of salvation and the spirit life we all had originally, because it is connected to creation but I am going to go into this at a later time.

Let’s move on to talking about the Garden of Eden being created. It sounds gorgeous first of all. I loved the references in Abraham 4 to the planning and organization. Everything within our universe works so amazingly well together there is no way that could be an accident. If you study chaos theory you see that even in the randomness around our lives and world, if you look hard enough you will see the patterns at play and that it is not in fact random. I also love the reference to the “days” of creation as times in Abraham 4. There are certain religious traditions who become painfully literal about the timeline of our world- people who deny dinosaurs or say science’s estimate about the age of our universe is wrong. I do not think faith and science have to be enemies. I think they give depth and meaning to one another. Faith answers why and science answers how. Those are different things. Big bang, creation, evolution- shoooo that debate can get HOT. However, not one place in these scriptures I read did it describe the process God used to create, so why create a fight where there does not need to be one? None of us have the answers completely.

Lastly, for this week, a line of scripture that spoke to me deeply comes from Moses 3 while describing the organization of creation.

And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it. And it became also a living soul. For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good for food.

Moses 3:9

I have always felt there is something sacred about our natural world and this bit of scripture mirrored that truth back to me. The tree was spiritual and a living soul. Our world was created spiritually first and then physically. Everything is spiritual. How we treat our world, that was created for us, is a reflection of us seeing God in the tree in our yard or the bird in the sky. I wonder how this concept, if truly accepted within our hearts, would change our behaviors in this consumer driver world today?

Next week we are going to talk about the “fall” and Adam and Eve. This was a BIG turn for me in my lessons with the Elders, I remember having my entire understanding of the story shaken and needing quite a while to process it all so it is going to be awesome.

The scriptures I am going to go through for next week are:

Genesis 2

Moses 3

Genesis 3

Moses 4

Religiously Bipolar: Chronological Scripture Study Series

Religiously Bipolar, this is how I have been describing myself over the last year. I have alluded to it but I have never really delved into it too deeply. I have avoided it for a few reasons, it is a sensitive topic for many people and I was concerned with feeling judgement from all sides. I believe in being really transparent and tip toeing about this issue feels unnatural for me. So here we go, I am just going to word vomit all my conflicting thoughts and ideas on you all. Ha-ha.

I am going to start with where I am now and then explain some backstory. I am starting a new study and I am going to share it with you all as I go. I am going to be studying all the scriptures in chronological order. This means I will be studying from; The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants, The Family Proclamation to The World, The Living Christ, Preach My Gospel, and all General Conference Talks.  Holy Hannah Banana- that is a whole heck of a lot to read and study when you consider it all. Here is my purpose; to gain a new and deeper understanding, to deepen my faith and testimony, to answer questions I do not know the answers to and to discover questions I don’t even know that I have yet. If you are interested in joining me on this journey, please follow along on this weekly update on my chronological studies. I will be adding my weekly thoughts and reflections and scriptural references every Monday.

I am following this list of LDS SCRIPTURE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

Chronological SCripture Study

Now, for my own religious journey story, if you are interested in my background coming to the study please read on, if you are only wanting to follow along with the scripture study feel free to stop reading and wait for the next post.

I did not grow up in a religious family. I went to churches sporadically as a child because I wanted to, often on a church bus that came to the neighborhoods we lived in or with friends or family who were church goers. So I attended dozens of different denominations throughout my childhood without really claiming any affiliation with one or another. In my young 20’s I lived with a roommate with a deep faith and I remember antagonistically grilling her on her beliefs and trying to understand it, sorry Kim, I was a pain and you were super gracious. Kim got me to go to her non-denominational church and I loved it. I dove right in, like within a week I had started volunteering in the special needs ministry and I was all in.

At the end of my 20’s I was pretty much still in the same place spiritually, I hadn’t grown a ton but I had not taken any steps backwards. I loved the Lord and knew I needed Him in my daily life but I never felt like I found my true fit denominationally. I went to a few different churches during those years. Then there was a huge shift, and I ended up joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can read about my conversion here and my baptism here on my old blog.

As a baby convert, and only member of my family (my husband did not join the church), we moved halfway across the country and had a new ward to figure out and a new schedule. My husband’s work schedule changed from a Monday-Friday day shift job to initially a third shift job and now second shift. This made the logistics of how to get our five, high need, kiddos through the three hours of church (which we had never really mastered in our original ward) by myself hard. I had to figure that out within a ward where I knew no one and no one really knew us to know the challenges our children face that make them coming to church a difficult prospect. Into the mix also came that we lived closer to my family, none of whom are members and who do not totally understand my draw to the church. All of this difficulty dug up every doubt I had ever had, everything I did not understand about church policy or doctrine and a million questions I did not have answers to. I met with our new bishop to seek guidance and had what was not a good conversation. I am not going to get into what was said but it has taken me almost a year to work through it and get over it. I have been pouting and angry, I am not going to color it any other way, I have been a cranky baby about it. Suffice it to say he is a human man, and although I now understand where his intentions were, it was not a good representation of that position.

The last year has been a year of feeling like I have split religious personality disorder. It really comes down to this- being LDS works for me personally, but has not worked for everyone else in my life. I also felt like there was this mold of perfection I needed to shove my crazy, wild family into to fit us into the Mormon world. I had a conversation with my dear friend Heather recently and watched this YouTube video by Haleigh Everts that made me realize that maybe I was assuming there were doctrinal things that made it so there was not room within this church for my children and all their challenges and needs, but that assumption may be wrong and that some of it was just cultural norms. I think I was making it harder than it needed to be trying to make us fit into my perceived notion of others expectations. This revelation does not solve my logistical issues with getting through church with my kiddos but it helps me with the ideology struggle some. If that makes sense?

What are the logistical struggles, you may be wondering? The main issue-I am one person. I have six kids total, but of the five that live at home still, they are all six and under and all have special needs. I can seclude us in a separate room like the relief society or primary room and listen to the sacrament meeting through the speakers, but that only solves the first hour. The next two hours are where the wheels come off. I cannot be in multiple classes at one time helping each kiddo where they are struggling and within the church they would all be in different rooms based on their ages. I cannot help my kiddo with autism handle the sensory overload that is just being in the church building (not counting all the people), while also being with my kiddo with an attachment disorder who will be acting out because he struggles following any acceptable behavioral idea when I am not with him right now, while also being with my kiddos with Apraxia who cannot communicate easily with people and often do so in their own little language, and still also be with my kiddo with a sensory issue, ADHD, and an auditory and visual processing disorder which makes a classroom setting a challenge. So, yeah… I do not know the solution to that. While I wait for an idea to occur to me I am going to focus my efforts on this study. I hope you enjoy following along and I look forward to all we will learn and discover together.

As my history with religion should hopefully have made clear, I am not a religious scholar so I may get it wrong from time to time- this will just be a window to me learning as I go.

Sexual Assaults Are Not a Joke

Sexual Assaults Are Not a Joke

****Trigger Warning****
I have been debating posting anything about this but my desire to alert women in our community to a potential danger out weighed my reasons not to post.
As some of you may have seen the local Eastown bar Billy’s Lounge recently posted a Meme on their FB page to advertise for business using a picture of Bill Cosby.
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Now, in my college days this was a bar my friends and I loved and frequented often. So I was surprised and disappointed to see this clueless and insensitive post. However, I thought the person running their social media deserved the benefit of the doubt that they did not connect why this would be inappropriate. I commented that it was odd to use a man who has spiked the drinks of many women and then sexually assaulted them as a means of promoting a bar. Others agreed with my comment that it was strange. Billy’s response was that it was “lighthearted” and that we were reading too much into it and should basically lighten up. I am willing to bet their social media person has not experienced or had someone they love experience a sexual assault or had someone put something in their drink. Thank goodness for them.
A story only a few of my friends know from my college days is that I once had something put in my drink at a party. Now I was lucky. The girls I had gone to the party with quickly realized something was not right with me and got me home. I only have a half an hour of time that the people I knew lost track of me, but from what I have pieced together from others there, I think I escaped unscathed-other than being ill from whatever was in my drink. Here’s the thing though, I do not know. I have no way of knowing. I have no memory. The last thing I remember was us walking into the party and then waking up the next day. Even though I am relatively positive that I was not assaulted it is terrifying to not know, to not be sure what happened to me or who may have done it or where I was for that missing half an hour. I thought I was being super safe and smart at that party, I went with a group of girls, not alone, we brought our own cups and kept them with us, and the party was at a friends house. I think the only time we set our cups down was to take pictures, I am assuming that is when it happened, but once again- I don’t know. We were only at the part for a very short amount of time, an hour and a half tops- not enough time that I had just drank a lot, and my friends I came with only saw me drink 1-2 drinks.
So you are right, Billy’s Lounge Social Media person, I did not take that meme in a lighthearted way. Because I know statistically women have probably been drugged and assaulted in your establishment. I know that statistically the number of Rapes and Sexual Offenses in Grand Rapids is on the rise, per the GRPD crime reports. I also know that if I were a person that still visited bars I would be worried about my safety in your bar- because apparently the concept of someone being drugged against their will and then assaulted is a “lighthearted” joke. I am not implying that your staff would condone the actions of someone drugging a person in your bar, I am sure they would not, but the fact that you seem out of touch with what could happen to someone makes me think you’re not on alert to be sure it doesn’t.
I hope women visiting this bar, and all bars and parties, are safe and alert and not the victim of predators in our mix. I also hope the owners of establishments where this can easily and frequently happen take notice of this issue and do what is within their power to help protect their patrons.

For more information on spiked drinks, sexual assaults, and how to protect yourselves visit the following websites:

Did My Three-Year-Old Just Call Me a Moron?

I stared at my daughter in disbelief and confusion and then looked over at my husband.

“Did she just call me a moron?”

Tyler laughed and said that while it sounded like it, where would she have heard that word? Which was a good point. We do not expose the kids to that kind of language and since they are homeschooled, it is not like they are hearing it out in the world and bringing it home.

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Let me give you some context, about a year ago the kids were all playing and one of the kids called another one “stupid”. I was rocked and devastated, which I know for a lot of Mom’s is laughable. I texted some of my closest Mom friends and my sister heartbroken that my kids would use such a word in the context of calling each other that. Why was I so shook up by it that I can recall it so instantly? My kids had never spoken mean words to each other before. We had issues with violent fighting when the kids first came home because of the violence they had witnessed and experienced and we had some cursing when they came home but never attacking each other verbally. I felt like some glass barrier had been shattered when that word was uttered. I spoke with the kid who said it and explained how mean it was and how much it can hurt people’s feelings and (since it was my empathetic kiddo) he has never said it again.

So Alizé using the word “moron” would be completely out of character for our house and for our kids. I asked her a few more times what she was trying to say.

For those who do not know, Alizé has something called Apraxia of Speech. This means that while she understands language and can think what she wants to say, there is a disconnect between what she is thinking and the sounds that come out of her mouth. For a while all her communication was in something we came to call “Zé-Zé Speak” because of the garbled and confusing nature of the sounds, it really was it’s own language. It has only been in the last few months that she has begun (thanks to a lot of therapy) to communicate in a way that we can understand what she is saying, and even still she often uses approximations, or words that sound like the word she is trying to say. For instance, she struggles saying the word “milk” so she calls it “nilk”.

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This means that when Alizé wants to express a new idea, it can sometimes take a minute to figure out what she is trying to say if the words do not fit. After my shock I realized there was no way she was calling me a moron, she isn’t a teenager yet. So what was she trying to tell me?

I took her in the other room and chatted with her for a while and eventually figured out what she was trying to say was “a new one”. She wanted to change her pants and wanted “a new one”, a new pair of pants. I went to retrieve her pants and chuckled to myself that asking for a pair of pants sounded like a insult. Then my laughter died as I realized that had she been with someone else, out with someone or at church or- really fill in the blank, people would have taken the “moron” part at face value and missed what she needed and possibly thought she was being unkind. The times she will have to fight to have her meaning made clear to others breaks my heart. She has a lot to say, this little princess, and I know she will be hurt and frustrated by her mouth not saying what she  means to say. Her speech will likely continue to improve but she may likely always have to struggle with it. Once again, I wish I could wave a wand and make the world kinder and slower for her or make it all easier for her. Since I have no magic powers all we can do is help her with her therapies, and show her how to laugh in the face of the inevitable bungling of her message from time to time.

For more information on Apraxia please visit: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Resolutions In a Pessimistic World

It is the new year, 2018 is here. Which feels insane, wasn’t it 2005 like two weeks ago?! Shooo time flies.

As we approached the new year I noticed an increase of chatter on social media about resolutions. That is not shocking news, it happens every late December. This year it seemed different though, more negative. I even polled my friends on social media and over half of them do not do resolutions.

2018

What I originally noticed was a more cynical tone than usual. I looked back even two years ago and the tone was totally different. I saw endless memes about how ridiculous resolutions were or “I’m not making any changes, I was amazing before”. I saw a lot of people dreading the new year in ways that seemed different from previous years. So what is so different this year? What has made everyone so pessimistic about the future? It is not just the small subset of people on my social media, watch a tv show from say the 90’s or earlier and I guarantee there will be at least one episode about hopeful resolutions, even if they are not resolutions people complete- watch one now and it is more pessimistic about changes.

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Some people I know have told me that they feel you have a new chance to change your life every day, not just on January 1st and that is why they do not make “resolutions”. These people usually do not have a list of things they are suddenly working on but they are often people who spend time focusing on their self development throughout the year. They have resolutions, even if they do not call them that. In general, they are still optimistic about the future and the ability for us to change and grow throughout life.

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However, there also seems to be a very common way of thinking that says “I am who I am” or “I can’t help it-this is just me”. Which is so sad to me. I do not want to give away my power that way. I think everyone can always change, and improve, and grow. That is what we have all been brought here for; to grow and progress. I love the empowerment of people who shake up their lives and make big changes. Whether the person is changing their health, starting a new business, chasing a dream, finding a deeper faith, working on self love, or just trying to improve their day to day-it is all beautiful to me. We have a choice, every day,- really every minute, to make our lives what we want them to be, we have the power.

This is not to say that it is not humorous to watch yourself or others make unrealistic goals on New Years Eve that are abandoned by January 15th. I have been there, I think we all have. I think this happens because we swing wildly from pessimistic to too optimistic about change. Change is hard and we cannot suddenly become a different person overnight, even if that night is December 31st. I was an adult before I learned about making small, measurable goals to reach a larger goal. We need those mini victories to show us our efforts pay off and we need to make small changes if we want to make a big change. If you want to, let’s say, have your entire house organized, it is easier and more attainable to focus on organizing one room or section at a time. The same is true with our personal goals for ourselves. Baby steps.

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I do not know if it is failure at previous resolutions, if it is the idea that we cannot or do not need to change in life, or the current political climate in our country that has spawned such pessimism this new year. I just know that I miss the hope. I miss seeing people full of hope and brimming with possibilities at the beginning of the year.

For me, 2017 was a rough year but it also held a lot of joy and blessings. Despite the trials of the past, my past failures, and my disappointment in our political reality; I am still looking forward to 2018 with hope and joy. I know that even the hard times will help us grow and I know growth, progress, and improvement are ALWAYS possible.

The Little Things

It’s the little things in life that always mean the most. The tiny moments that will stay with you years down the road.

Sometimes in the moment you know it, you know “I will never forget this moment”. Like yesterday when I casually asked Damien what his favorite present this Christmas had been and he answered with a full pure heart, “Kaitlyn”. His favorite part was his oldest sister coming home for the holiday. It was one of those Mama moments when your eyes fill with tears and you know you’re going to cherish it for years to come. Sometimes though, the moments that mean the world to you and you cannot shake, are not monumental when they happen. This week, thanks to Timehop, I was reminded of such a moment.

At first glance it’s just a picture of me holding Caleb while he sleeps and I’m not smiling. However, I knew what this picture was about the minute it came across my screen. This was a hard day. I’m not smiling because it was taking every ounce of my energy to not burst into hysterical tears.

As many of you know about 2 1/2 almost three years ago I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or as it is more commonly referred to, the Mormon church. I could write a century long saga on my cycle of joining the church and how it has gone. It’s been a whirlwind and I don’t know if I could rightly call myself a Mormon currently, it’s complicated and long and maybe someday I will try and explain it. The main point you need to know is that it is REALLY hard, as in close to impossible, for me to get all five younger kids successfully through a day at the church.

For those of you who don’t know, Sunday involves three meetings, each an hour long in the LDS Church. The first hour is the sacrament meeting and we would all sit (ha!) as a family and receive the sacrament and listen to talks. It was usually a circus but I could handle that part. We would sit in another room and listen through the speakers to the talks and then the kids wouldn’t bother anyone else during their worship. Additionally, the chapel can be quite the sensory overload so being in another room helped us try to manage the sensory triggers so we could (in theory) head off any meltdowns.

The last two hours the kids were supposed to trot off to primary where they go to classes based on their ages. This is where is falls apart. My kid with attachment issues is going to be anxious about this and his teacher getting him to sit and listen or even follow instruction is all but impossible. My kiddos with sensory issues are going to be on the edge of meltdowns and trying to self regulate which can involve some funky behaviors. My kiddos with Apraxia of Speech cannot participate in discussions or answer questions and it’s often assumed they just are not getting it since they cannot respond appropriately. That by itself is crazy and then there is Caleb. The dress clothes make him uncomfortable. The lights bother him, the sounds and all the people are overwhelming and before long the day often dissolves into me taking Caleb to a back corner of the church to start walking and rocking and trying to soothe him.

By this point I was usually already pretty close to tears. I would have prepped a new way I thought for sure would make it easier on the kids and the people at church who work with the kids and it never quite worked how I imagined. Additionally, as any Mom will tell you, it is heart wrenching to see your child inconsolable and not be able to help them calm down. That’s how it is with meltdowns and Autism, I cannot always stop the storm raging in Caleb’s body, sometimes all I can do is ride it out with him so he isn’t alone.

The day of this picture had been hard for Caleb. He had a huge meltdown that involved a lot screaming, a lot a crying, a quite a bit of slapping at me. To add into this mix, I was a new Autism Mama. I hadn’t gotten used to the careless things people say so each one stung as a fierce condemnation. Things such as

“I wouldn’t let him do that”

“He needs to learn that doesn’t work”

“You really shouldn’t let him hit you”

And those were just the things said to my face. That’s not counting the looks of disgust and eye-rolls that came our way from nearly everyone who passed us in that back hall. To be fair, these were not spiteful or mean people. These were normal people who simply do not understand Autism or that neither Caleb nor I can control how his body reacts once he starts having a meltdown.

Eventually, Caleb’s meltdown had exhausted him and he fell into a fitful sleep. I was so relieved the worst of it was over, I sank to the floor in this corner of the church praying he would find peace in that nap and that nothing loud would accidentally wake him up. I was sitting there feeling like the biggest failure as a Mom and as a church member. I had not heard one bit of a talk, I had not been in fellowship with anyone, I am not even sure if I got the sacrament before it all went downhill. I was also not fulfilling my calling to lead the music in relief society because I couldn’t get into the room long enough, I would pick the songs out but the Sister Missionaries had to fill in for me almost weekly. One more harsh word and I would have been crying as hard as Caleb had been a few moments before.

For reasons that confused me at the time a thought kept coming to me, “take a picture, you’re going to want to remember this”. At first I scoffed, why in the world would I want to remember being huddled on the floor in a corner, on the verge of tears after Caleb just had such a hard time. The thought kept coming though so I took my phone out and took a picture. I’m glad I did.

It was around the holidays and there were lots of fun things happening in those meetings I couldn’t go to. Everyone had just started the third hour meetings so the hallway was blissfully quiet. I was sitting there in my corner, watching Caleb sleep and praying over and over that I could become a better mom and I could help him more. I know it was not that I was a bad mom, but at the time that’s how I felt. I had been a mom less than 2 years and I had five kids with very high needs that I felt I never could meet well enough. It was an overwhelming time in my life but one I wouldn’t trade for a second.

I suddenly saw a Sister I knew only a little come out of the Relief Society room and head towards us. The bathrooms were in that direction too so I didn’t think much of it at first. But no, she was making a beeline to us. I mentally started preparing to hear her say the hateful things I’d been saying to myself about being a failure. At first she just sat quietly next to me and gazed down sweetly at Caleb. Then she whispered that in relief society they handed out Temple Christmas Tree ornaments and she wanted me to have one and she inquired where in the church I had left the diaper bag so she could slip it inside. Then she whispered the words that I hear whenever I see this picture of Caleb and I

“I don’t really know what to do with Caleb but how can I help? Now that he is asleep would I be able to hold him while you went to relief society?” (No, if he woke up it would be even worse) “I see how hard you’re working and you’re doing a great job, I want to help but I don’t know how. What can I do?”

To be honest I had no idea. I had no idea what would help and I told her as much. She assured me that the minute I knew what would help that I could call on her. She sat with me in silence a little longer, then patted my arm and went back to relief society. That small moment of love she offered me was like offering water to a dying man in the desert. I savored every drop of it. I was feeling so lost and alone and for those few seconds I didn’t anymore. I felt seen, not seen in the same way as the previous people who watched Caleb and I struggle and passed us by in judgement. I mean I felt like she saw my heart and Caleb’s and knew we needed a little moment of peace and love.

I still don’t have answers on how to help the kids through church, that’s why we aren’t there on Sundays if you look for us. I don’t know how to make it work and to be honest it’s been a hard year. Every day has been hard and I cannot take too many more back hallway meltdowns right now. Will we figure it out to make life easier? Yes, we get closer every day. Will we figure out how to make going to church possible again? I hope so, I pray for a solution regularly.

I don’t know the answers but I do know this. We have all had those days. It may not be because your son is having an autism meltdown. It may be because you lost your job, or a relationship you valued fell apart, or life has just dealt you some heavy blows of illness or loss. We have all been in that lonely and painful place. Sometimes when you see someone there you want to reach out and help but the situation seems too complex, it’s out of your wheelhouse and you are at a loss. You don’t have to know the answers either. The best thing we can do for each other in times of trouble is just be there. Just let each other know we aren’t alone in this and that we can overcome.

That moment with the Sister in our old ward lasted all of five minutes but it still brings me such peace and comfort all these years later. You never know the weight someone else is carrying and you never know how deeply your words and actions can penetrate. Be there for one another, even (and especially) when you don’t know what to do to help- just show up.