I’ve been asked a number of times where the inspiration for Evelyn’s name came from so I figured it was time to write it down. The explanation for her first name is easy: she shares this name with her great grandmother, Evelyn Darlene Hargiss. It’s a beautiful name. The not-so-simple explanation is needed for her middle name, Grace. This name holds particular meaning for Michael and I as it is a name inspired by all it took to bring this beautiful person into the world and into our lives.
In December of 2015 Michael and I began feeling that the time had come for us to have another child—that there was, in fact, a child waiting to come into our family. Despite my many reservations and fears (products of a difficult first pregnancy and even more challenging postpartum depression/anxiety), we decided to trust the Lord and begin trying. In mid-March I found out I was pregnant, and a week later I entered the hell of hyperemesis gravidarum. For those unfamiliar with this disease, it is severe nausea and vomiting that afflicts about 1% of pregnant women. Unlike “morning sickness,” this nausea and vomiting is constant. For ten weeks I laid in bed, unable to keep any food down. I lost 40 lbs. The muscles in my legs atrophied, and were used as food by my body for the baby. Most days I had trouble keeping even water down, and spent quite a bit of time at the hospital getting fluids. My digestive system shut down. My kidneys were beginning to fail. The feeding tube they put in (horrible) just made things worse, so I took it out. I was dying. But I didn’t. As suddenly as the sickness began, it stopped. My nausea medication started working. I stopped throwing up. My body began the painful and frustrating process of recovering. Then about two months later, as my belly finally started growing and my body was stretching, the constant pain in my legs and hips started. The heartburn got worse. The insomnia set in. Constant discomfort and pain. Hormones coursing through my body making me feel like I was going crazy. And for as horrible as all of that was, for as often as I cursed my body and sometimes wished I had never gotten pregnant, I have never been so richly blessed or seen so many miracles.
I felt the Lord’s love in the combined faith of those who prayed on my behalf. I saw so much of the Lord’s love in my husband as he cared for me. When people would bring dinner over for Michael and Isla, I saw His love. When people would stop Michael in the hallway at church and tell him they were praying for us, I felt His love. When I would get text messages from friends and family letting me know they hadn’t forgotten about me and were praying for me, I felt His love. That love sustained me. It saved my marriage, and my life. It took care of Isla when I wasn’t physically able to. And it is bringing me back to health.
I feel my Heavenly Father’s and Savior’s approval and love now as I recover. I feel it when I am being way too hard on myself for not being able to do more—for not cleaning enough, not cooking enough, not playing with Isla enough, not being more patient with Isla, etc. I feel it when I get frustrated that my hips still send pain shooting down my legs when I put my pants on in the morning. I feel it when hormones overtake my mind and I feel crazy or depressed or intensely irritable, and They remind me that it won’t last forever. And then I feel it again when I realize I’m being spared from experiencing postpartum depression.
And that is why Grace. Because when I look at Evelyn, I am reminded that His Grace hasn’t just saved me. It saved her mortal life as well. It allowed me to carry her to term. It allowed me to have the most beautiful delivery and to experience some of the most profound joy I’ve ever felt as I saw and held her for the first time. I get to be her mother because of His love and Grace. And I get to keep on loving Michael and Isla and experiencing my life with theirs. This has been an exceptionally challenging period of time, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I never want to forget what happened, the good and the bad. Being saved by Grace doesn’t mean as much if you can’t remember or longer appreciate what you’ve been saved from.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
I find immense comfort in this invitation and promise. I think the parable of the widow’s mite provides a beautiful example of what His invitation means. As usual, I think children best explain the most important gospel principles.
(If the video is about baptism, skip ahead to video 7 in the playlist.)
Herein lies one of my favorite principles in the gospel of Jesus Christ: God doesn’t expect perfection or exceptional results. He simply expects our individual best with our full devotion to Him.
Who can meet this expectation? Anyone and everyone. In my mind, that’s the central miracle and message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My best isn’t your best. Your best isn’t your neighbor’s best. The expectation depends on the individual. Now that’s an easy yoke and light burden!
God hasn’t prepared heaven for perfect people, nor has He prepared it exclusively for exceptional missionaries, outgoing leaders, spectacular sponsors, or that one person you know who seems to have it all together. No, they don’t set the bar for eternal life.
Rather, the Lord has prepared heaven for the faithful, the loyal, the ones who love Him with all their heart, might, mind, and strength… the ones who give all they have, no matter the amount. This includes the imperfect performers, the clumsy speakers, the high school dropouts, the recovering addicts, and repentant sinners. This includes the honest, humble, fault-filled followers of Christ. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, God has prepared heaven exclusively for these.
This means that when I falter, lose my temper, relapse, or let a repulsive four-letter word escape my lips, I can repent. Praise the Lord, I can repent! And once I receive His forgiveness I can move forward with complete confidence that I have met His expectations.
What a relief! What a source of rest to my soul, indeed.
Of course, the more I keep the commandments of God the more peace and happiness I’ll enjoy. And while I work toward that unending goal, I’ll place my trust in Jesus Christ, my Hope and my Salvation. I invite you to do the same.
“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…” (Alma 37:6)
About two months ago I was driving home from work and feeling overwhelmed by the changes I wanted to make. My faults and sins seemed to outweigh my efforts to repent and change. I prayed for help and wisdom. The Holy Spirit reminded me of certain principles I’ve learned in software engineering named Scrum.
One of my favorite parts of Scrum is the retrospective phase that occurs at the end of every work “sprint.” The purpose is to assess the team’s progress and identify the largest bottlenecks, then decide on the smallest changes the team can make that will have the greatest positive impact.
As the Spirit reminded me of these principles, I felt the Lord say to me, “What are your largest impediments to progress right now?” The answers came quickly: not taking the sacrament, and not exercising consistently.
Suddenly the changes I needed to make felt doable and my burdens instantly became lighter. I shared my experience with Jess, my therapist, and my bishop. He and I worked together so that I could take the sacrament again, and I did by the grace of God.
That was one month ago. Since then I’ve felt more peace than I have in a long time. Heavenly Father, Jess, my bishop, and my therapist help me keep a healthy perspective. I’m still working on the exercise part, but I’m gaining momentum there too. I am grateful for the faith, hope, and progress the Lord gives me.
A friend of mine died this weekend. I’ve struggled to define my feelings of sorrow since learning of his passing. He and I weren’t close, but I recall him with fondness and admiration for his inherent goodness and kindness. I can’t picture him in my mind without a smile on his face, nor can I do so without discovering a smile on mine.
Just now as I was pondering my friend’s death, God reminded me of something I recently heard. It comforted me, so I want to share it here.
“In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.
How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf).
I’m gonna make another sincere plug for arpsupport.org’s 90-day program. It’s simply an intense effort to work all 12 steps in 90 days with the encouragement and guidance of a sponsor—someone who’s worked the 12 steps and now enjoys the miracle of recovery and sobriety. My sponsor showed me how to work the steps of recovery. I wouldn’t be sober today had the Lord not led me to arpsupport.org.
I love to see the Lord rescuing us from our addictions as we submit our lives and will to Him.
One of my recovery brothers recently began working the 90-day program for himself. He’s about two weeks into the program. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“I can’t begin to fully explain how doing this 90-day program has already made a huge impact on me. In simple words, it has given me hope. Hope that I didn’t have before.
“A friend of mine told me that when he was caught up in his sexual addiction, the guilt, shame, and self-loathing was so overwhelming that he felt he had to pretend that he wanted to commit suicide so he could be committed into rehab. He wasn’t suicidal, but he felt his life was so out of control that really wanted to die. He stayed there for several weeks to try and get his life back under control. I can relate to my friend, because I have considered trying to get into rehab myself, just to get myself out of the environment where I continually fail to resist my addiction. With this 90-day program, I have the opportunity to have a rehab-like experience without actually having to go through the expense and disruption of being committed to a hospital.
“Rehab helps people detox from their addiction, and that is what this 90-day program is doing for me. It is helping me create the structure and environment where I can detox. And this is so much better than going to a rehab facility, because when a person comes home from rehab, their environment is the same as when the were in the addiction. This program is helping me change my environment so I can achieve permanent sobriety and recovery. It is helping me to replace bad habits with good, such as daily scripture study, prayer, and journaling.
“I recently watched a YouTube video that my sister-in-law posted about on Facebook. It was of a comedian on the Conan show, and though it was hilarious what he was saying, it really made me think. He was pointing out how just in his lifetime there have been some amazing technological advancements. He talked about rotary phones, and how today people complain when their apps don’t download fast enough on their iPhone. ‘Come on, it’s going to space to download it, and you can’t wait a few seconds?’ He talked about how people get on airplanes and complain that they have to wait on the runway for 40 minutes. ‘Have you stopped to consider that you’re sitting in a chair and will soon be flying through the sky, like a bird, flying through the heavens? Everyone who flies on an airplane should just be sitting there in total amazement that we can fly. It takes five hours to get from New York to LA, when before it took 30 years by oxcart, and you’d probably die along the way.’
“That video really helped me see that there are some miracles happening all around me every day, that I just take for granted. Not just technological miracles, but spiritual miracles as well. Rather than complain about how challenging this program is, I am holding on to my seat in amazement that I can actually fly. I am amazed at the miracle that is happening in my life right now.”
On 10 February 2014, I met my sponsor and began my journey with arpsupport.org. My sponsor has been a tremendous help to me. He’s helped me apply the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ to meet my needs and fill my soul. My God is rescuing me from my sins, addictions, and weaknesses. He is changing me and my life. I would not enjoy these blessings today if it weren’t for my sponsor.
Matt over at EmbracingPowerlessness.com offers an insightful analogy to help explain why we addicts need a sponsor, aka support person. It’s a great read. Plus, it references Star Wars, so at the very least we know it’s high quality. :)
Today I became a sponsor. I am afraid. I am inadequate. But I know in my heart that my God will enable me to do this. Through His grace, I can do all things. Because of Him, I can testify of the healing and delivering power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And I want to help. I want my brothers to know that they’re not alone. I want them to experience the Lord’s grace as I have.
May God bless me with the faith and power to do this according to His will!
Matt over at EmbracingPowerlessness.com wrote another great blog post that got the squeaky hamster wheel in my head turning. He shares some hard truths about why we addicts don’t want to get sober. He employs an insightful analogy about the lust train of addiction and the stoic addict who vainly tries to stop it head-on. The Lord has taught me some beautiful principles as I’ve pondered Matt’s words and testimony, and I’d like to share some of them with you.
“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times” (Mark Twain).