Eyes Toward the Sun

   Sunday, October 28, 2013

Mark suggested that I post some of my writing assignments from school this semester on the blog.  Since the blog has suffered a little neglect since we started the crazy transient life of a family in clinical rotations, I thought, "sure why not?"  Hopefully, a little action on the blog will remind me to give it more attention than I have been.  I surely need to practice my writing and this is as good an avenue as any.    
This is an assignment that corresponds with the This I Believe project/campaign that was started in the 1950's.  It is a public dialogue about the beliefs of people from all walks of life.  This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs.  Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”

You should check out their website.  There is a good chance that some of your mentors might be included in the essays (such as Jackie Robinson, Albert Einstein, Hellen Keller, and Maria von Trapp).  Serious, go check it out.

Eyes Toward the Sun

I believe gratitude heals broken hearts.  Sometimes our lives don’t pan out exactly like we’ve hoped.  Have you ever dreamed about winning the lottery?  Winning it big would make a person’s life pretty great, wouldn’t it?  How would you respond if you didn’t win?  What are you going to do?  Cry, sulk, allow depression to overtake you?  That would be pretty silly to get upset about something that God, or say, the Universe didn’t give you, right?  For me, the lottery scenario, as trivial as it might seem, helped put things in a better perspective.  Even though I didn’t win one of life's metaphorical lotteries, there was still much to be thankful for. 
April 3, 2013 was another quiet day as my seventeen-month old daughter, Eden, and I played together at home while Daddy was away at school.  Not long after Eden went down for her afternoon nap, I rushed to the bathroom.  My heart sank as I saw the familiar signs.
I recognized the process of what was happening.  I tried to convince myself it wasn’t and it could possibly be attributed to something different, but I knew better.  Two previous times in the last nine months I had experienced these symptoms; my body was aborting my pregnancy.  I was helpless as I watched the loss of yet another developing baby.
The sparkle that had been in my eye disappeared immediately.  I refused to cry because to me that would have been admission of certainty that I wasn’t willing to concede to then.  I prayed asking that it might not be what it seemed it was.
Into the night the symptoms persisted.  I was rapidly growing weaker.  Despite my husband’s demands that we go to the hospital, I refused.  With no more strength left to argue, let alone stand, he picked my limp body up off the ground and carried me to the car.
My cousin drove from a distance away where she lived to our small little town to take Eden for the night. 
At the hospital after an IV, tests, ultra-sounds, and the same questions asked over and over by different medical staff, we were left to wait in the sterile ER room.  I thought to myself, “Maybe it is with dual purpose that these rooms are so cold and austere feeling?” It ensures a hospital visit to be more like a business transaction – a brief exchange of information, straightforward and as little emotion as possible.  
In the early morning hours, we finally received the long awaited results.  The doctor informed us that I had indeed “lost the pregnancy.” 
I was grateful for the lack of embellished words that night.  I was grateful for the ambiguous cold of that stainless steel room.  I was numb and unwilling to think of my disappointed hopes and my desire to give Eden a best friend with whom she could play.  It helped me forget the burning desire, which emanated from my very core, to bring forth another spirit from Heaven.  It assisted me in temporarily forgetting the photo of a smiling Eden we had sent to family and friends a few weeks back with her holding a sign that announced, “Big Sister.” 
We thanked the doctors and staff and went home.
My husband and I were grateful for the remaining time that night to be alone and to exist as husband and wife and receive strength through our bond of love.   
 In the morning we drove to meet my cousin and pick up Eden.  We joined Eden in her excitement to have just experienced the first sleepover of her young life.  We embraced her tightly.  It is probably because of our loss that we were that much more aware of the blessing and miracle that had come to us at her birth.  She made us a family of three and for now we would continue as such – celebrating our happy moments and milestones (such as first sleepovers with cousins), loving each other as richly as our capacities would allow, and being grateful for the day in front of us that demanded to be lived and its potential exhausted.
While I initially mourned our loss, I could not be permanently sad for not having received another child into our family.  My Heavenly Parents have given me one of Their spirit children.  She is ultimately Theirs and so are all children that come into this life.  If Heavenly Father desires another one of His children come to our family and our stewardship, then accompanying our righteous desires, it will be so.
I resolved that I would be grateful for those people and those blessings in front of me.  For a period of time, I mourned the loss of another precious soul coming to our family but I simultaneously recognized my family is as Heavenly Father would have it be. 
I believe gratitude heals broken hearts.  To cast our eyes in the direction of the light is restorative of our joy.  Despite the bitterness of disappointed hopes or expectations, there is a world of beauty and wonder in front of us that deserves to be savored and appreciated.  The time to live and be cheerful is now.
“Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.”  - Doctrine and Covenants 101:16
These things I know.

Pardon me, if I get a little riled....

                  Wednesday, June 26

For nearly the last two years, Mark has been attending Southwest Baptist University enrolled in their physical therapy program.  When making the decision about which school to attend, it was appealing to both Mark and I that at SBU we would be in an environment with many other Christians who were of other denominations.  We have enjoyed many conversations with friends who have known relatively little about our faith and likewise have had enjoyable conversations with friends who are a little more familiar with the identity of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  However, we often experience the effects of misinformed and preconceived ideas about what the Mormon church is.  I would hope that Mark and I are able to correct some of the misinformation out there and along with it help others to know more about the divinity of our personal belief system.

The other day Mark told me that he had another religious themed conversation with one of his Christian friends and a little of what they had talked about.  Since then my thoughts have been pulled back to what was spoken in that conversation and other similar conversations.  And I cannot deny, that sometimes I tire of the illogic of it.

During the conversation, Mark's friend wondered how Mark can be sure that if he is not right (Mormonism not being right) that he is not going to be damned to hell.

Mark pointed out that according to mainstream Christianity (including the Baptist point of view) that in order to be saved, all a person must do is proclaim Jesus Christ as their Savior.  End of story.

Mark claims Christ as His Savior.  Not only does he profess it, in addition (and to the best of his ability) he lives it.  So according to mainstream Christianity, Mark has qualified for salvation (and as his wife, I can say, he's far exceeded the bare minimum requirement as set forth by mainstream Christianity).

Pardon me, if I get a little riled up when someone ignores all the physical and intangible but observable proof of my husband's conversion to Jesus Christ, and in disbelief, asks him how he can be so sure that he's not going to be damned. 

How is the fallacy of argument not as obvious as the blaring tornado sirens that grace our little town?  

Again, pardon me, if I get a little riled up when the Baptist preacher (or most any another Christian preacher) spends so much time disillusioning their congregation to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to the effect that logical thinking evades even the most schooled individual.

For those of you that might be offended right about now, please go back and read about how my husband claims the Savior Jesus Christ as his Redeemer but also lives the principles taught by God's Only Begotten.

If you don't see the fallacy yet, ponder this...  

LDS CharitiesHumanitarian Aidthis, this, or this...   or the words of a living prophet?  Have you listened to him in order to judge whether or not he is a living prophet?  Ask the Holy Spirit after you've done so, he will answer you.

For the third time, forgive me, if I get a little riled up when a fellow Christian suggests that what I believe and live to be the work of an evil spirit.

Maybe it would help if I reminded you what the Lord taught in James 3:10-12 and more thoroughly touched upon in Moroni 7:10-13):

Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift. 
For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.
Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. 
But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. 
In fact, the whole of Chapter 7 in Moroni is inspired teaching regarding this subject.  

The most beautiful and simple truth of it is that Joseph Smith did pray to God the Eternal Father in a grove when he was 14 years old.  In effect, God and His Son, Jesus Christ, two distinct and separate heavenly personages appeared to him.  Through him, they restored (not reformed) Christ's church to earth including the authorization to act in God's name and with God's power, the Holy Priesthood, and all rights, ordinances, and doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their perfect and undiluted fulness.  Joseph Smith was called as a prophet of God to bear witness of this event and to be an instrument in God's hands in whatever way the Lord saw fit.  From that day, there has been an unbroken line of authority, an unbroken line of prophets.  The work of the Restoration did not stop with the death of Joseph Smith because in fact it was not his work, it was and is the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Father, God the Eternal Father.  The Book of Mormon is a fruit of one of God's prophets.  It can be either true or untrue.  According to the 14,782,473 millions of people and the number is growing daily and most importantly, according to the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, The Teacher of All Truth, it is true.

And I know no matter what that, as prophesied by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the work of the Restoration that Joseph Smith was a part of will continue until my Savior comes to reign upon this earth.  Just as the stone cut out of the mountain:
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” - Joseph Smith, 1842  
I will add my voice to the passionate words of a living Apostle of Christ.

Perhaps there exists a conflict between what the world and what your preacher say of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or as most people call us, the Mormons, because what the antagonists say is not true.

This is His work and I know it.  Perhaps, if you removed some of the clouds of darkness in your mind regarding our church and the Book of Mormon, you might enable a pathway of communication for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of these things to you.

By their fruits you shall know them.  While our people are not perfect, as a whole we seek to follow Christ and to do as He taught.

My life is still in its early beginnings and I still do not know the details of what the Lord will ask of me, but I do know, that whatever the cost of my individual salvation, it will not come easy.  Although available to all, it is not easy.  Among other things, I will stand and bear my witness that I know these things are true and forever will they be.

Miscarriage: Because of Imperfect Conditions

                  Sunday, April 7, 2013

This past Thursday night, Mark rushed me to the E.R.  It appeared that my body was going into shock from profuse bleeding I had been experiencing.  After some treatment, blood work, an ultrasound, and a physical examination, the doctor confirmed that the pregnancy I had been carrying had been lost - my third miscarriage since Eden was born.

I had read somewhere that the likelihood of three consecutive miscarriages only affected 1% of pregnancies.  I had been confident that this pregnancy was going to be different than the previous two.  My body was responding more like it had when I was pregnant with Eden and I had a feeling of peace despite my initial fears of another miscarriage.

I am not writing because I wish to receive condolences.  That is the last thing I want really.  Pretty early on in the pregnancy some of our close friends observed that I must be pregnant and they of course were right.  Friends learned we were pregnant before some of my immediate family members knew, so we decided we might as well not try to keep it a secret any longer.  My excitement got the best of me and I made our news somewhat public - which is one reason that I am writing.  I don't like the idea of people thinking I am pregnant when unfortunately I am no longer so.  I don't like the idea of "breaking the news" to people one at a time when they inevitably and innocently ask about outdated information.

Although, yes, I do write to inform those that had known our news.  I mostly desire to write to share my testimony and gratitude (which is ironically the most difficult part).

Our unfortunate event was sandwiched between the Easter holiday last week and the General Conference of our Church this weekend.   Easter was an overt reminder that Jesus Christ has overcome spiritual and physical death, enabling us to do the same, so that we might live with God after this life- the ultimate comfort.  In General Conference, we hear words of a prophet reminding and reaffirming eternal truths that are confirmed by the Holy Spirit.  My heart thirsts to hear the words of the Prophet, Twelve Apostles, and other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I know the words they speak are true, and they are the same as if Christ had spoken them.  (D&C 1:38)  The reoccurring commandment, "Be of good cheer," (John 16:33, D&C 68:6) encourages me.  And perhaps the most comforting commandment of all that lends me peace is, D&C 101:16, Therefore, let your hearts be comforted... for all flesh is in mind hands: be still and know that I am God."

Multiple times throughout the experience, when Mark would comfort me with his touch, like an electrical current, the Holy Ghost again bore witness to me what it did so many times before during Mark and I's courtship and engagement, that Mark's love is genuine and he and I chose the correct eternal companion for ourselves.  

Despite some reserved sadness, our sweet Eden reminds us of the great blessings Heavenly Father has already bestowed upon our family.  I am grateful for what we have.  It would be counterproductive to dwell on what we do not have.

After three consecutive miscarriages, it is easy to think that there might be some permanent problem that would keep us from having more children.  I have never imagined myself to only have one child.  The joy we experience being Eden's parents, naturally instills in us a desire to bring more children into our family.  If it is a permanent problem, we, of course, know that there are other options to consider that might be right for growing our family.  However, no matter what happens, we know that life will unfold itself as it will - regardless of our best plans or preconceived notions.  We take comfort knowing that, if we are faithful in keeping the covenants we have made with the Lord in His Holy Temple, our lives will include all the learning and shaping experiences required so that we may live with our Heavenly Father again, and where our families can continue to grow without the imperfect conditions of mortal life on earth.

The closing song of the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference, was fittingly, "Come, Come, Ye Saints," a beautiful hymn of encouragement and eternal perspective.  

We know that you, our friends and family, are sorry for our loss.  We feel your love that some have already expressed to us in their concern.  We are grateful for you, we love you.  Above all, we are grateful for the eternal truths that shape our perspective of this mortal life.  We are grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the author of our beliefs.  We love Him.  We know that He lives, that through Him we can overcome all, and that He has again restored the entirety of His gospel through His prophets.  We know these things as surely as we know that we are made of flesh and bone.

One year older!

                  Saturday, December 8, 2012

October and November have been busy months!  In the last 3 weeks, we have celebrated three birthdays in our household, and I remind you we are only a family of three!  So from November 17th - December 6th its been a party at the Thompson's!  Eden Beaden turned 1!  Mark turned 31 on December 1st, and I am now 29!  We are really growing up around here.

Eden didn't get to enjoy birthday cake on her big day since two nights before we found ourselves in the hospital with a dehydrated baby thanks to a bad case of 'the big D."  With the addition of a bi-lateral ear infection we figured it a smart thing to skip Eden's first major dose of sugar.  Sorry E.  I plan on baking you your own mini cake very soon and we'll celebrate all three birthdays proper with some cake.

Here are a few pictures from Eden's first year with us.  (To see more pics you can jump over to my personal blog since I inadvertently uploaded the intended pictures for this blog over there).  

Eden's first hike.  Bell Canyon, Wasatch Front with Susan and her kiddos visiting from England in July.

Trying to get Daddy's attention when he's trying to take a nap.  School wears him out.
Eden on an early spring time walk.  A mini hippie.

I'm so glad when Daddy comes home, glad as glad can be!

Eden's 1st Birthday and trip to the Springfield Zoo.  She loves looking at the animals and clicks her tongue whenever she sees any animal because she saw us doing it when we took her to see some horses.  Smart and funny girl.

Sunny days sweeping the clouds away...

                  Friday, November 23, 2012

Eden has developed quite the attachment to Sesame Street.  Its fun to observe her and her obvious love of music.  Here are some of our favorites.  Maybe your kid(s) will like them as much as our does.

Bert and Ernie's "Will.i.am" hair cracks me up.  I love the subtle comedy that is weaved throughout almost everything Sesame Street does.  It makes it entertaining for adults as well as kids.  

Keep the fun songs coming Sesame Street!

The Surprises of Parenthood #728

                  Friday, November 23, 2012

A small cry comes from the darkened room.  The sound itself pulls at the strings of my heart reminding me of the transformation that occurred when I became a mother a little more than one year back.  Her cry persists for only a second before she nods off back to sleep.  The warmth generated inside my soul carries on much longer than my baby's short moment of wakefulness.

It is a rare occasion tonight as I find myself alone.  I am glad for the solitude that allows me to savor the feelings that are stirred inside my heart by the sound of my baby's cry.

For nine months we wondered what our progeny was going to look like.  Mark had a notion of what he thought she could look like.  Me... well, I didn't even dare to imagine.  Trying to comprehend the monumental task that lay before me that I had no less willingly wrought upon myself was enough of riddle to me that I didn't attempt to solve another of what our baby was going to look like.  The only thing I was sure of was that life was permanently changed, never again to be like I had known it.

When she was born I didn't feel an instantaneous bond.  Whether that was from the anesthesia from Eden's arrival into the world via cesarian birth or just a slower awakening of my maternal instincts I do not know.  Despite the anesthesia though I remember when I gazed on my baby and touched her for the first time since leaving the operating room thinking to myself, "so this is my daughter."  I felt relief that the journey of pregnancy was over and that E had arrived safely.  She was healthy and living proof of the miracle of creation that Heavenly Father granted us.  After nine months of pregnancy, we were finally at our beginning of being parents.

Eden crying tonight reassures me that even in her sleep I am now bonded to this little person.  Her cry brings images of her smile, glowing countenance, sweet face, babbling voice and toddling little legs into my mind making me anxious for when she will again wake in the morning so that we can start another day of adventure and discovery while we laugh, cuddle, play, and feel the love that accompanies our family of three.

Adding on to the list of "The Surprises of Parenthood" is your infant's soft cry in the night is actually a lovely, little, sweet, tender thing.  Who knew?!

Cows, Goats, Rabbits, and Chickens

                  Sunday, October 28, 2012

On an evening walk not too long ago, Mark and I were playing one of my favorite childhood games that has carried over into adulthood.  You know the game we could probably be safe calling "When I grow up my life is going to be like this."  

But since we are already grown up, we played the "What do you want our life to be like after physical therapy school?"version.  

By the end of the game, we jointly decided that post physical therapy school we would like to live in a mountainous, somewhat rural area in a modest home, on some acreage, with a garden substantial enough to collect most of our own produce, some fruit trees, a cow or two, some goats, chickens, rabbits, and maybe a few other minor details that escape me.

Often I, Amanda, have been disappointed with the discrepancy that exists between the kind of life I want to live and the actual life I am living.  I'm not talking about the big stuff - it goes without saying that I don't love living off student loan money, collecting debt, living too far away from family.  Those are necessary parts of this stage of life for our family.  Real choices we have made to benefit our family in the long run.  What I am talking about is how I spend my time day to day.  The small decisions that ultimately shape what kind of wife, mother, and friend I am and will be.

To assume that I could jump from my life as a stay at home mom while my husband goes to school all day and studies all night to a future life of working in the garden, feeding the livestock, maintaining the pasture, and taking care of even more kids than we have now would be absurd.

Sometimes it takes some time of being disappointed with oneself before real action is taken.  No matter what, it takes courage and discipline to change.  In a small way, this new family blog is an attempt to help us make that change. 

One of the changes we are making concerns Facebook.  Facebook has become an unnecessarily large presence in our home.  In an attempt to fill our lives (mostly mine because Mark deserves accolades for his accomplishments at school) with more productivity and increase the number of quality time activities we are ditching Facebook.  We have discussed the issue and believe despite some of the blessings of Facebook it is in the overall best interest of our family to kick it to the curb.  Hopefully, this blog will help you stay up to date with our family, our achievements, milestones, and if I am brave enough to write about such things, even our trials and heartaches.  

The people in our families that have lived in earlier generations have displayed extraordinary character which is no doubt attributed in part to hard work.  Our technological society has changed the way we live and interrelate with one another.  I understand that our goals as a family will not be accomplished merely by eliminating Facebook.  I think it would do much good for the development of our family to simplify and filter the things that we allow to enter our home.  By so doing, when the time comes for land, cows, goats, chickens, oh yeah, and even more Mini-Marks running around, we will be better prepared to put our shoulder to the wheel.

I have a tendency to beat a dead horse.  I think we can consider this one beaten (notice there were no horses on our farm... now you know)! 

Anyhow, WELCOME TO OUR NEW FAMILY BLOG.  We are excited to document some of the happenings of our family.  For those of you that may also have blogs, leave a link in the comment section so we may follow along with you too.  We look forward to more face-to-face social time, emails, phone calls, altogether a more genuine and in-depth way to stay connected with our friends and family.