Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby Anderson and Med School

I have pondered when to share the "news" to the online world regarding a special delivery that should be landing in Portland, Oregon, around April 9, 2012. Today was the day, because a)we got some really cute ultrasound pictures of this little one (hoping to find out the gender but the tech said she'd get in trouble if she told us before the 18-20 week appointment. grrr :) and b)we got some other great news today--T got accepted to the University of Colorado medical school! The joy is overflowing around our dismantled house right now. I wish you could come and squeal with us!

I know the joy is great because the sorrow has been great, too. Dreams do come true, but literal blood and tears sometimes have to be shed first. My heart aches for those who are still trudging down the path of sorrow, but likewise, I would not be here if I had not gone down that path. It was the only option. Brigham Young said (in his journal of discourses) that when we see our deepest trials as they really are, we will discover that in fact, they are "the greatest blessings that could be bestowed upon" us (p.345).

In CS Lewis's "A Grief Observed," Lewis proclaims, after much deliberation, that "It there is a good God, then these tourtures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict them if they weren't." Amen. Absolutely necessary. Transformation equals heat, fire, affliction.
My favorite poem, ever, which I discovered while going through what at the time was my hardest experience yet, that of serving a mission in South Africa, goes as follows:

They cut desire into short lengths
And fed it to the hungry fires of courage.
Long after—when the flames had died—
Molten Gold gleamed in the ashes.

They gathered it into bruised palms

And handed it to their children
And their children's children. Forever.

-Vilate Raile, 1947

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's past time to be moving now

One of my favorite mission companions, Sister Mbithi from Nairobi, Kenya, used to say this phrase at the end of appointments when either the investigators or members were getting long-winded: (imagine it in the best, darling African accent ever): "It's time to be going now" (emphasis on time and going). I would always try to hid my smile, because my companion was the picture perfect portrait of patience, but once we got out, she would mumble something about being there forever if she did not speak up. She was very good at getting us out of there.

This morning, upon returning home from a weekend-long babysitting adventure, I saw the boxes, the laundry from Thursday, the odds and ends that on their own wouldn't be so bad but together are reminiscent of Joplin Missouri footage--and I thought, "It's PAST time to be going now."

Tyler from the kitchen: Oh no.

Sundy from the stairway: What? What?!

Tyler: Something gross. Don't come in here.

Sundy: Ants?

T: No.

Sundy: A mouse? A slug? [mind you, we have had all of these appear on the floor of our kitchen at various times throughout our stay by the mule pasture].

T: I'm not going to tell you.

S: [the unknown is much worse than anything, right?] Tell me!

T: A snake.

S: Ahhhhhh!

It's past time to be moving now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Dreaming Doctor

When Tyler was 2 years old, his sister BreAnn was born with physical and mental impairments. From a young age, Tyler learned to protect his sister. The few times I have seen Tyler shed numerous tears have centered on situations where those with physical and mental infirmities were treated with humiliation or mocked. I have become much more sensitive to those with special needs and also those who in jest and often without realization mock the children of God.

One of the first things I fell in love with Tyler over was the bond he still has with BreAnn. BreAnn is capable, brilliant, strong-willed, lovable, and full of dreams and hopes. She once told me about what it will be like for her when she gets married and has babies to tend. I know that BreAnn has a special sense of the eternal "now" that only the godly can see. Her mortal body is merely a temporal house for her eternal spirit. She senses that blessings, even ones that take years to come to pass, are still very much in her grasp. Never in a million years would I try to tell BreAnn that she should pick a different dream--she KNOWS she will be a mom, a wife, a queen (well, in her case, a princess--every Halloween, this is no question; BreAnn will be Princess BreAnn) to her family. It may take time, but one day, I know it will happen. And the waiting, the patience, the diligence in struggling through, will bear BreAnn precious fruit that is desirable above all other fruit.

While re-listening to Elder Hale's talk from this past General Conference, this line struck my heart: " ...To all of the good Samaritans who minister to the sick, succor the weak, and care for the mentally and physically infirm, I feel the gratitude of a loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son." Maybe it's too personal to publicize on a blog like this, but what struck me in the gut was that this line applies to Tyler's personality and spirit, both pre- and post- mortal, and especially now. It was not coincidental that he would be chosen as an older brother--a guardian--for his sister. He had already developed those qualities before coming here. And it is no wonder that he continues to have a desire to care for the sick as a doctor. He has spent his whole eternity thus far preparing. It didn't start with his good grades and test scores. It's been in the works for ions of time.

I speak of all this at a time when, for the fourth go-around, Tyler is attempting to show admissions committees and interviewers around the country that he is fit and capable to do the work of becoming a doctor. I wish that for 20 minutes, the veil could part and they could see what I've only gotten glimpses of, glimpses that bring me to tears and gratitude that I get to share an eternity with this healer. He has been learning the healer's art for a long time.

I recently updated a loved one on Tyler's status of interviews for medical school. This loved one gently asked if Tyler had considered some other options besides doctor that would be "less demanding" and not as competitive. I know that question came from a place of true love. Who likes to watch someone get up numerous times and get beaten back? Everyone wants
to cheer us on, but to me, it felt a little like telling my sister in-law that she should choose a different dream; "Don't work to be a mom, a princess,
a wife. . .
You can always be a baby sitter." She knows what her destiny better than I do. She sees beyond the current hardships and day-to-day tragedies. BreAnn is mastering patience.

And she has inspired me to do the same. So has her brother, my eternal companion and choice. Here's to you, honey, and to all the lives you will heal and bless. You are fit for the label of healer, of doctor. President Monson said that the "future is as bright as your faith." What a noon-day, mid-August Portland day that will be like.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Serenity Prayer

We're moving at the end of this month, going to take over "a fortress" while the owners serve an LDS mission in Finland. I'm delighted to move, especially as winter starts to come on. While there are so many joys I will miss about this townhouse (namely, the mules in the backyard and the memories), I'm already feeling the coldness that seeps from the single-pained windows. Fortunately, no frogs or slugs have crept into the dryer vent--yet.

Tyler has definitely been the motivated one as far as packing goes. He was explaining to me last night that it probably took him more time than it needed to to stack boxes in the guest room because he loves to make things "fit perfectly." We are definitely from a different mold. I'm grateful for his somewhat OCD tendencies, as they definitely compensate for my more "creative" qualities (also referred in a former life as being "me_sy"--it's still a swear word to me).

I ramble. All this packing and organizing left me in a good place this morning to start taking pictures and wall hangings down. Nothing says moving like blank walls. I feel it's important to have this transition time, to take away and pack layer after layer of the home we built while we lodged in this house.

As I took down this wall hanging from my mother-in-love, which has been hanging over our staircase, I paused for several minutes:

Most people know the serenity prayer (if at all) from AA or other addiction recovery programs. I think we all have addictions in our lives. The addiction to want to control, the addition of over-eating, the addiction of gossip, etc, etc--not just drugs and pornography, though lots of good people struggle with those, too.

But this morning, my pause was a pause of overwhelming gratitude. The Spirit of God swelled in my heart and ended up emptying my eyes of some moisture, as I realized how much closer I have come in living out this charge; I have been given--by God--acceptance, courage, and wisdom in sorting out the painful parts of my life. Annette gave this quote to us the Christmas after our late-staged miscarriage. 10 months later and the wounds were still fresh. I could not heal from that experience until I came to a place of acceptance, of courage to change the things I actually have control over. The bitterness of loss has been cultivating a place in my heart for hope, for joy, for love in unexpected ways.

This morning, on the staircase, I thanked my God for every opportunity for growth (aka as disappointment, discouragement, heartache, pain) that I've experienced, here in this house:

"And the blessing of the Lord shall rest upon thee and thy house"
Alma 10:7
I feel the blessings. I feel them today.