Monday, April 20, 2015

This life is the test.

Life is rough. 

"This life is the test" - those five words say so much. I hear them regularly. It is more of a passing statement when life doesn't go your way. But why are we really here? What is the purpose? Why is it that it seems we sometimes just hot one dead end after another? And that the days sometimes feel as if we get punched one more time, we will break. 

I've spent many sleepless nights lately. They have been long and accompanied by indescribable pain. The torment of this disease has me ready to scream or quit. I do all I can to endure. I read scriotures, watch netflix, play iPad games, listen to conference talks... Anything and everything to distract myself from the pain. 

Last night, as I searched for some distraction, the song, "The test" by Janice Kapp Perry began playing in my,mind. I heard the words, "Didn't He say, He sent us to be tested. Didn't He say the way would not be sure. But didn't He say we could live with Him forevermore, well and whole, if we but patiently endure. After the trial, we will be blessed. But this life. Is the test." 

I was taken back to my mom being sick and paralyzed and sitting in the chair with her feet up in the mauve and dusty blue flowered ottoman. She asked me to play this song on the piano. Jake, JD and Jodi gathered around the piano with me. We sang the words. As each word came, I thought of my mom. I looked at her as I played the notes on the piano, ...."well and whole" and thought of her being able to walk a again without help. Of her being able to fully smile without her lips dropping. Her being able to make her own meals and drive a car and take care of us. My heart broke for her. Just as quickly the next words, "patiently endure" rolled off the tongues of the kids. I looked at her sitting in the chair with her arms wrapped around Jodi. She was smiling with tears rolling down her cheek. I wondered what she was thinking. How hard it must be to be in her situation. I saw her signal to keep going. Keep playing and keep singing. Then the words, "after the trial we will be blessed" bellowed out with the piano. I thought of all the good my mom continued to do while she was battling her own living hell. She was helping unite families, she was taking care of others, having me haul her to the hospital to sit with sick friends, and continuing to praise our Savior. And the words that forever stuck with me, "but this life is the test." I thought about tests in my own limited view with watching her endure so much. 

My mom had bought me a picture of Christ with the quote, "I never said it would be easy, only that it would be worth it." As I sat at the piano, playing this song, my mind drifted to this picture next to my bed. Is this worth it? Does my mom think this trial will be worth the joys that lie ahead?

As I sang the second verse and additional verses and it talked of being blind, and why the healing doesn't come when the Savior could just remove the burdens. "Tell me friend. Why are you blind? Why doesn't He who worked the miracles send light into your eyes? Tell me friend, so I understand" I thought of all the good my mom had done. She was the relief society president, worked in the schools, always had extra kids over, took every underdog and struggling mom, child, puppy, and loner in and gave of the clothes off her back. She loved with a perfect Christlike love. Why? Why when she was so good and so Christlike did she have to suffer so much? Where was the justice in that. 

My mom always comforted everyone around her. Her disease and paralysis didn't stop her from doing good, having faith and comforting others. She patiently and cheerfully endured. She never doubted. She hardly complained. She understood deeply that this life is the test. 

As I have walked a similar journey, I have often reflected on how she handled things in relation to how I have handled them. I've tried to have a perfect faith that casteth out all fear. Somedays that perfect faith is strong and other days I too, struggle. The road of life is hard. It's taken everything I have. There hasn't been very much of this journey that has been easy. It's hard. I see why it's called "a test". It's not any test but the doozie and the final. Everything is riding on it. There are no do-overs. We have one shot. 

Oh how often I feel I have failed. I've wondered if it is worth continuing with the test or if it's all in all better to throw up my hands and retreat. But I am taken back to this song. 

As a youth, I had no idea why the Savior wouldn't just work miracles like He did so often when He walked this earth. I knew my mom could do so much more good if only she were well. And I needed my mom. All of us did. Weren't me and Josh, Jake, JD and Jodi worth the Savior healing my mom? I had more questions than answers. 

When I now look back on those precious and tender moments of singing and playing the piano, I am grateful for he important gospel truths I learned from my mother. One- trust the Savior. Always.  Two- this life is the test. That's all. Tests end. Trials end. Life ends. It's all temporary. Have a good attitude during it. Three- take care of on another. Fourth - there is no room for bitterness. Fifth- take life and find the good - there is always good. 

My heart breaks for my mother. I can only imagine the thoughts going through her mind as we sang knowing that her days with us were numbered. That she must teach us so much in a shortened time. 

Now, I sit in a similar situation. Each day, I try to teach Hayden all I can wondering if the opportunity for me to teach him whatever tidbits of knowledge on the subject will be my last. I identify the spirit wondering how many more times I will be able to do so. I wonder if I will be able to have one more discussion on the deadly effects of pornography or why it is critical to wait to use the procreative powers for marriage. I try to impart of all my knowledge prior to me no longer being here to do so. 

I try to anticipate his questions. I tell him things like my favorite color is: turquoise. But yellow makes me happy  it lifts my mood. My favorite songs are ones that invite the spirit. I love who he is becoming. I am grateful for each day on earth with him. I talk to him about his future wife and my grandchildren. 

Most of all, I hope he knows how much I love him. How grateful I am that I was chosen to be his mother. What a great honor I feel in this sacred calling. How not one day has ever gone by that I have have not taken the opportunity to give thanks for him and the blessing of being his mom. I tell him all the good qualities of his dad and how he is like him. I tell him that success is being. Wonderful husband and caring father. That being a worthy priesthood holder and honoring his priesthood matter more to me than any worldly honors he could achieve. I teach him that the plan of salvation is real. There is life after death. That loved ones that have gone before continue to help us, we just no longer see them. I assure him the gentle breeze across his face will be me stroking his cheek ever so gently and kissing him lightly. I will be cheering him on. And most importantly, the Savior knows Hayden personally. Better than I know Hayden. The Savior loves Hayden infinitely more than I do even if I cannot understand it. That He is as close as a prayer. And he can never walk too far to come home again. 

It's hard to guess which life lessons I need to prepare him for. I have tried to teach him how to find answers and where. Prayer. Scripture study. Temple attendance. Meditation. Bishop. Conference talks. Fasting. Listening to the spirit. 

It's hard to have moments like listening. To the song, "the test " and staying strong when I'm not sure how much longer I will walk this earth with him. It breaks my heart. I wonder if it was this hard on my mom to say goodbye to all of us- to me. 

My world crumbled when my mom died. I don't want Hayden and Thomas' world to shatter. For them and the love of my Savior, I keep fighting. But, in my very human moments, I'm scared and afraid that they will experience the heartache I faced. 

And I am afraid I will miss them terribly. And although I understand this life is merely a test. That it is hard. That we were sent here to be stretched and tried and tested. I'm sad. I don't want to leave them. I'm willing to sty here in a body that is riddled with pain and dysfunction. That doesn't work how I want. That keeps me up all night in excrutiating pain. That struggles to walk from one room to the next. And nights like tonight when I just cannot get enough oxygen to keep me breathing, I plead for more time. More time to assur Hayden he is loved. More time to teach him of our Savior. More time to bear my testimony. More time to just be with my boys. 

I'm grateful for the knowledge I have of the plan of salvation. That whatever happens I will see my mom again. Death will be sweet as I will hug her and cry in her arms. And she will teach me to navigate the spirit world just as she taught me to walk and talk, dance and sing here on earth. I pray Hayden will always stay close to his dad and our Savior. That he will remember how much his mom loved and utterly adored him. I plead with my Savior every day for these gifts. And that he will remember that it won't always be easy but it will be worth it. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My comforts

Tonight, as I decided I could no longer bear the pain and needed to move rooms, I started to head for the couch. I could tell my tossing and turning was waking up Thomas. Poor guy. He needs sleep. 

Maxwell, came over, laid his head on my lap. Maya also curled up on my leg. All of a sudden, I wasn't alone facing another night of unbearable pain. 

I thought of how we got the puppies. I thought we were getting them for Hayden. How wrong was I. These pups have been one of the greatest and tenderest blessings from my Savior. 

As I thought further I realized that because of them, I do not face some of my scariest moments alone. They are there as I go into seizures, lose consciousness, struggle to endure the pain and just survive the sleepless nights. Furthermore, if my Savior cared enough to send me a constant reminder that I am never truly alone, how much more does He sit with me. He holds my hand, strokes my head, helps me endure and calms my fears. He faces each long night and each miserable day with me. He never makes me walk it alone. He sent these pups to me to remind me. He is always near. 

Instead of feeling discouraged that my feet and hands are stabbing so bad that I can not escape into sleep, I am grateful for the knowledge that I do not walk this night or any other pain filled day truly alone. There are countless seen and unseen angels bearing me up and carrying me along this journey. 

The pain may not end. Relief may not come. But I am not abandoned. The Lord, my Savior has suffered all, and I will walk where He asks me to walk and go where He asks me to go. Knowing the where He sends me, He will already be preparing the way and lining the road with angels and friends, family and puppies, loved ones and selfless saints to help me on my journey. 

So although the suffering is real and long, I will continue to endure and try my best to "submit cheerfully to all things that my Lord, my God, shall try me with". I have so far to go. But I will not give up. Someday, He shall extend His arms out and welcome me home by saying, "welcome home my daughter. Enter my kingdom and find rest." And in that moment, the pain will end, the test will be over, the journey will have been worth it and I will find comfort and peace in the loving arms of my Savior. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My thoughts

This morning I awoke and did what I should do everyday when I struggle. I turned on my favorite Jenny Phillips CD, took a hot Epsom soak bath with all of my pain relieving essential oils. I relax as some of the pain decreases and relaxes. I say a prayer of gratitude for the temporary relief. I no longer ask for full relief. (OK. Once in awhile and I would gladly welcome it) but for relief enough to be able to bear the pain and this burden. I feel such gratitude when moments like this morning, the pain lessens.

I decided to leave the music on while I read my scriptures this morning. I couldn't turn off the pleasing music, comforting words and tangible spirit I felt. So, I turned down the volume so I could still read and think over the volume. I picked up my Book of Mormon and turned to some of my most treasured and reassuring verses. 

As Mormon council-ed Moroni of the utter destruction and sheer disregard of the people for God, I felt the ways I could be better. That I could exhibit more faith. That I could be more patient. More loving.  More Christlike. 

I continued reading and my heart filled with overwhelming peace and comfort. I also felt the Spirit talk to me as to how I can be better. 

Than I read in Moroni and was reminded of important truths. I found overwhelming comfort as I read  Moroni 9:22 and heard the precious words, " I pray God will spare thy life". I pleaded for my life to be able to continue. I continued my reading and my heart again leapt when I read the words, "Jerlyn (or technically My son) be faithful in Christ.... May Christ lift thee up". 

As I continued into the final chapter of the. Book of Mormon, Moroni exhorts us to do certain things to come unto Christ and teaches us how to live. He tells us to read, remember, ponder and pray. He exhorts us to not deny the power of God. And that we do not deny the gifts of God. We need to remember all good things come from God and to have gratitude. To remember that God is always the same and unchanging. To remember the time of God comes soon. And to Come unto Christ and lay hold of every good gift. 

I read and re-read these verses. I made a mental note of where I stood on each and where I definitely have room for improvement. 

Most importantly I allowed he spirit to teach me. To comfort me. To bear witness to me of the truthfulness of these things. 

I don't know why me being confined to a disabled body is best for me, my husband, my son and for the furthering of. Christ's gospel but I do know it is. 

I may not always see things as clearly as they are but I have learned so much. 

I am much closer to my Savior. I hear. His voice. I love Him. He matters more to me than anyone else or anything else. 

As I read the gifts that come from God, I was able to reflect at how many blessings I have been given and my family has been blessed with. What beautiful gifts we are given... Manifestations of the Spirit of God, ability to teach words of wisdom, ability to teach word of knowledge, to have exceedingly great faith, gifts of healing, ability to work mighty miracles, to prophesy concerning all things, be holding the angels and ministering spirits, the gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and to know that every good gift cometh of Christ. 

I have been so blessed. 

If I make a list of my earthly blessings, I feel although I am greatly blessed, I come up short. I struggle with my health, financial struggles, trying to desperately figure out how to do our obligations, losing our home, and the list goes on. 

But, if I judge my life based on the gifts of. God and His blessings, I feel so richly blessed. I have felt the ministering of angels. I have been the recipient of so many miracles. I have felt His redeeming love and continue to do so. I have received knowledge that our Savior lives. I have experienced such hope, such love and such comfort that I cannot deny that my Savior walks with me. That He is aware of me, Jerlyn,  his daughter. And. He loves me. Jerlyn. 

I feel so much gratitude. I feel such peace. I feel overwhelmingly loved and cared for. 

As I look back on my lists. I'm grateful for the latter. I wouldn't trade the spiritual and eternal security for temporal security. I wouldn't trade heavenly blessings for earthly ones. I wouldn't trade financial security for the precious gift of knowing my Savior. How much would I give up to have experienced the miracles and felt the power of Heaven bring my body back to life. These gifts are priceless to me. 

So although He asks me to bear horribly hard earthly challenges. Where we have not been able to find any security whatsoever. He grants my spirit peace and security. He loves me. He knows me. He cherishes me. And someday, I will again be wrapped in. His loving arms. I will find refuge and find peace and hope and comfort in knowing I am His. 

It's a true gift when nothing changes yet everything changes. By keeping the commandments and following our Savior, and picking up my scriptures, nothing changed but everything changed. My circumstances are the same. But now, I feel overwhelming gratitude for what I've been given. Just simple joy. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015


For years I have tried each day to get up and fight this disease to the best of my ability. I've done as well as I have because the Savior, my loving Savior, has strengthened me and helped me to do so. He has helped me to endure what I would have told anyone was absolutely impossible and beyond my ability. He has lifted me and carried me. He has been my strength.

However, with each passing day, and each passing hour, the weight of this trial bears down harder and harder. When I think I have hit my maximum capacity for pain and heartache, I am in awe as I awake the next day with deeper an more exhausting pain, that take me to my knees and causes each step to be filled with horrific shooting pain. 

Yesterday as the severe pains moved or I should say spread from my left foot to my right hip, I gasped to hold it together in spite of the pain. When I say spread, I could say, the autoimmune began to additionally attack my entire right hip, hip socket, muscles and tendons surrounding it. I thought the deep stabbing pain in my foot was awful but this. Oh the deep pain it shot was making it difficult to even breathe. I prayed and pleaded for relief. I tried everything all natural that I could think of.  I took pain meds and a hot Epsom salt bath to no avail. This pain was sticking around. 

As the day progressed, so did the pain. I awoke from my brief nap to the pain spreading to my,right arm, wrist, shoulder and hand. I couldn't type, I couldn't write and I couldn't even hold a drink in my hand. I cried out in pain and pleaded for help from the only one who can make a difference, my Savior. 

What causes me more anguish and heartache than the physical torment my body has been facing is the emotional despair running rampant in my heart. 

I have fought this disease, with my Savior's loving help, because I felt like I was still needed here. Still wanted. That my life was worth fighting for. That I mattered to those around me. 

Unfortunately, the good of me staying here, continuing to live my life as if it mattered, seems to be fleeing quickly. Those that have stood by my side and fought this disease head on with me, helping to carry me and easing the excruciating torment of loneliness and heartache, pain and isolation, is slipping. 

Someone once told me that as humans, we are great at rallying around those that are fighting something, helping them to get over it and being a strength for a certain amount of time. After that, it just becomes too difficult. When the illness is lifelong, the circle of those enveloping the patient dwindles. There is speculation that they are just trying to get attention or exaggerating or have just outlived their support. 

This is where I stand today. At a crossroad. The fork holds two very different roads. Neither appealing. Neither desirable. One, the easier way out...returning to live with our Savior. And although it seems ideal, and I do so badly want to return to Him, I am not sure that is the road that my Father in Heaven would yet have me walk.  And I am definitely not ready to leave my dear son. 

The other road is filled with pain, heartache and confusion. Fighting each day to live while feeling like a burden to all those around me and a mere obligation. 

The options, not the greatest I had hoped for. 

If the doctors and attorneys can make the next transplants doable, I must figure out what to do and who can help. Who wants to stand beside me not just those who feel obligated or pressured to walk this journey with me. 

I'd give anything to have everyone in my life be honest with me. I realize they don't want to hurt me and I am grateful for that. But I just need to know the truth right now. Beyond anyone trying to spare my feelings just adds to the fire. Because I don't know who to turn to or whom to believe. I wish I could put everyone's needs in a pile and know who to trust or ask for help. 

Unfortunately for Thomas and Hayden's sakes, they are stuck with me and we must walk this road together. 

For the rest of everyone, I am wondering if I write them all individual notes, expressing my love and appreciation and undying gratitude for their Service and release them from my life. They get a gold forever gratitude and get out of service card. Most of those close to me, I am sure have an automatic ticket to the celestial kingdom for how much they have sacrificed for me and my family. Something for which I will be eternally grateful. My love and appreciation goes far beyond words. It is the deepest level of gratitude for those that have walked this journey with me. 

Now, I feel as if I start a new journey, a new walk, and a new phase in my life. I'm not sure what this particular adventure entails or looks like. I'm not sure what turns and twists this new journey holds. The only thing that feels "real" or certain to me is that I need to find a new support group or team. One that hasn't already been tortured and walked thru the fire with me. I know I need my Savior, my husband and son by my side. But beyond that, I feel such gratitude and deep appreciation and thanksgiving for all those that have walked and journeyed by my side. But, I believe the Savior is requiring me to find a different way to approach this next phase of my journey. 

I may not know what l will be called to endure or walk next but I know this next phase of the journey will be very different than the last four years. The trials set before me will roll in. I will do my best to weather the storm. And whether it is me learning to face these trials only relying on the Savior or if He sees fit to bless me with a new support group, I do not know. But I have come far enough in this journey to realize that going back isn't an option. Staying in place doesn't happen. Our only choice is to pick up our feet and move forward. I must have faith that as I take the next steps, I will be guided to those that can help me along this path. Maybe, just maybe, just like Robert Frost stated, "I took the more difficult path ahead and it made all the difference." 

Whatever the Savior has in store, I will continue to trust Him.  And pray that. He will send me what I need, who I need, when I need it. I guess I cannot ask for more than that.....

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Verizon Store at Zions Mall

Last Thursday, I had an incredible opportunity. I was asked to give a short class on Communicating with our Savior. Since the theme of the Relief Society Enrichment night was dinner and shopping with friends at "Zions Mall" aka the church, I was given a store front and a topic.

Lisa was in charge of the event and she pulled it off amazingly. As we entered the mall, we passed the Honeyville, food storage room, the shoe store, and more. The food court had different food establishments decorated and we had styrofoam trays to fill up with yummy food such as street tacos and chips and salsa at Rubio's, salad from Olive Garden, cute chinese containers filled with fried rice and teriyaki chicken and a cinnamon roll from Cinnabon. Then everyone was split up in groups to shop with, and were given a list of stores to visit. Inside the shoe store, it was walking in others shoes, the honeyville store was on food storage, got milk? store was taste testing powdered milk to can, Popcorn factory had different treats, Mrs. Field's cookies had recipes and different cookies, passport store was there to take pictures for the ward directory and my Verizon store had a talk on Communicating with our Savior.

I showed a short video clip of President Eyring talking about the trials of life such as death, long term illnesses, losing a child and many more trials and how we need our Savior and faith in Him to endure the heartaches of life. I talked of how we needed to have a personal relationship with our Savior in order to make it thru hard trials. How we needed to know His voice just as much as we know if it is our child speaking when we hear, "Mom!" in a store. We all shed a few tears, but the spirit was strong and testified of the need to communicate with our Savior.

The entire event was amazing. I was exhausted after but so grateful that my Savior carried me thru the event so I could teach on the topic most cherished and beloved to me. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend 10 minutes talking of the strength the Savior can and does bring into our lives when we rely on Him.

It was an amazing night filled with love and laughter, tears and testimonies borne. It was a night I will always remember.


Life has a way of taking us to our knees. It stretches us beyond our human limits and requires us to gain strength beyond our own. Lately, I have found myself struggling. Struggling beyond the normal realm of the earthly challenges that have been placed in my path. And although I am sure that the excruciating pain is definitely playing into my feelings, it is definitely not the most compelling emotion.

Yesterday, as I struggled for another long and trying day, trying to find hope and find something or someone to cling to, I decided to put on one of my favorite Jenny Phillips' CD's. As I plead for help, my pain to be eased, someone to share my load or somehow or someway to ease the burdens and internal pain and struggle I am facing, and I pleaded for help, anything, phone call from a friend, some reason to hold on, someone to say something to ease the deep despair in my heart, this song came on. I sobbed as I listened to its comforting words over and over.

"When the world lets you down and you wish it would go away. When you're needing a friend. Someone to ease the pain. Just take my hand, know that I understand and I will be there until the end." As the song went on, my thoughts turned to my Savior. I fell to my knees. I sobbed. I poured my heart out to him. I begged him to reach down and ease the pain embedded deep in my heart. To somehow ease the burdens that were plaguing me from every angle and every direction.

Life is difficult for all of us. Life has a way of pushing us beyond our mortal limits and testing us beyond strength we currently have. We are required to rely on strength, help, and push beyond our mortal limits and find our eternal strength and apply the balm of Gilead to our lives, and to keep going and endure, even when it is beyond our humanly limits.

As I pleaded for help yesterday, it came, but not as I expected or wanted, but yet, it came. It came from my son climbing up on the bed next to me and telling me he loved me. It came by my cute little puppies jumping on me and making me smile. It came in a surprise text from my husband telling me how much he loved me and how grateful he is that I continue to fight to live, regardless of the pain and loneliness that this disease brings. It came in the form of a blanket of peace enveloping me by the power of the Holy Ghost. It came in the form of sleep, and a temporary break from the unbearable heartache I was enduring. It came in Chad coming down and asking if I was okay and if he could help. It came in my Savior whispering to me that He had not abandoned me and would always be with me.

I have had to learn to look for my Savior and His answers. He always answers me. He always sends me what I need. Even when it looks much different that I want or anticipate. He never abandons me even when the answer is not now, wait, simply no, or I have better plans in store for you. I have learned to wait on Him. And in return, I have gained unbelievable insight, and understanding, comfort and help. I have learned that regardless of what earth life holds, that my Savior will never leave me nor forsake me. I am His and He is kind and gentle with me. He sometimes requires me to endure more than I would deem earthly possible, but in doing so, I gain more strength, more understanding, and a greater capacity to endure greater trials and face deeper heartache.

But just as there is opposition in all things, when we are required to dive to deeper depths of heartache and despair, we are also afforded the opportunity to receiver greater joy, happiness and eternal understanding. And as hard as the pain is, and as deep as the loneliness sometimes feels, I wouldn't trade it for the great blessings that I have received. My greatest blessing is my relationship with my Savior. I love Him. He is my dearest friend and greatest supporter. And that is worth every step of heartache and pain that I am asked to face.

After, crying myself to sleep listening to these inspired words, I awoke with an awful headache from crying for days on end, but also with a greater resolve.

I remembered why I continue to fight this fight and walk this road or pain and heartache and disability. I do not walk this road for anyone besides my Savior, my husband and my son. Those are my three greatest relationships in life and the ones that I fight for.

And because my Savior carries me, I will do whatever He asks me to do and endure anything He asks me to face and endure. Because, although, I can not carry the load alone, and I am not strong enough to endure all of the heartache and pain alone, I do not have to. With my Savior, I can accomplish anything my Savior asks. Even if it is just continue to keep going on days I would rather throw in the towel and beg to be done. Long as I reach for Him, He will carry me. That is one of my most cherished and treasured blessings. I will never be truly forgotten. My Savior always knows my name, my needs and loves me regardless.