Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Families CAN be together's up to us.

In an effort to help my girls gain a love for the scriptures, each Tuesday and Thursday morning after our family scripture study I tell them a story from the scriptures and ask them a question or two about their feelings of the person we talk about or the events that take place.  I'd had a feeling that reading scriptures as a family and them on their own wasn't quite enough.  For a couple of them they've just started and are still struggling to understand what they're reading.  I'm thrilled with their obedience and enthusiasm but I really want them to have a great understanding and love of what they're reading.  There are amazing stories!  I'm sure that each of my girls have someone from the scriptures they can (or will eventually) relate to.  I think that's when that real love comes.  When they realize that the people in the scriptures were like them- PEOPLE, with problems and trials just like us, who don't always know what to do about the issues at hand but have a guide in the Lord and our church leaders.  In the successful stories in the scriptures there is a trend that when we turn to the Lord, he walks us through our struggles and everything ends up for the best- Heavenly Fathers best for us that is, which is far better than anything we could create for ourselves.

A couple months ago I taught them of Hannah.  I've thought a lot about Hannah since then.  I absolutely LOVE her!  I've wondered if my mom related to her?  My mom passed away about 10 years ago so I'm not able to ask.  Hannah was a righteous woman who, like many women in the Old Testament, was barren.  She wanted a child with all her heart.  She watched Pininnah, the other wife of her husband, have children and was then ridiculed by this woman for not having any.  There was so much pressure then to have a son- each person hoping the Savior would come through their line.  Add that to wanting to please your husband as well as the natural yearning of a woman to nurture and love a precious child of their own.

My beautiful mother
My mom had a terrible time carrying children.  Because of an extra uterus she was able to carry a child in one uterus and while pregnant with that child, get pregnant in the other uterus as well.  She was already two months pregnant with a little boy when I was conceived.  Unfortunately, she usually got pregnant in her right uterus but was rarely able to carry a baby full term in it, when she did they didn't live.  The consequences?  5 still births, 11 miscarriages, 1 absorbed pregnancy and 4 children that lived.  I was the oldest living child.  6 of the miscarriages happened before I was ever born.  I know that like Hannah, my mom yearned for a child of her own.  I know she spent a significant amount of time on her knees asking the Lord to help her body take care of the life inside of her rather than fight against it.

Hannah was ridiculed and teased by Peninnah which hurt her terribly.  Interestingly, she didn't go to her husband, who was a righteous man that loved her deeply, with her problems.  She went to temple and cried in anguish to the Lord.  I know my mom was somewhat ridiculed for her choice to continue trying to have children.  I remember a time when someone had made a comment about it being her own fault for getting pregnant knowing she'd have problems.  I could see pain in her eyes.  I never heard her talk badly about this person.  There was a time later in life, after her child bearing years were over, my own little family moved up the street from her.  Our next door neighbor came to meet me and gave me the "lowdown" on the ward.  She said there is a lady down the street who she avoided all the time because she'd ask for rides and was a big inconvenience, often faking illness.  This woman was talking about my mom, not realizing we were related.  I kindly let her know who I was and that my mom's brain tumor and health problems were anything but pretend.  I know my mom felt certain peoples judgments but was always kind in return.  I know she went to the Lord with her concerns.  I picture my own mother going to the temple like Hannah did.  I picture her doing this when her body betrayed her heart and fought the precious lives inside her and I picture this when she'd lose yet another child.  I remember her going to the temple for answers, for peace, to be closer to Heavenly Father when she talked to him in prayer.
For This Child I Prayed by Elspeth Young
For This Child I Prayed by Elspeth Young
On the night Hannah cried to the Lord with all her heart she made a promise to him.  If she could be given a son she would give him back to the Lord.  I'm amazed at this.  This is the thing she wants more than anything.  She didn't promise to bring her son up righteously, she offered back the very thing she was asking for.  And it was a life condition.  In other words, she offered to give him to the Lord, for the entirety of his mortal life, not for a certain time period.   Hannah was granted her deepest desire and Samuel was born.  True to her word, as soon as he was weened she took him to the temple to live, learn and serve the Lord for all his days.  Hannah said that she lent Samuel to the Lord.  I think of that in relation to my mom and the children she didn't have on this earth.  In a way she was lending them to the Lord.

The same must be so for people who lose children to death after birth as well.  I know people who've lost children at young ages.  In each case I'm amazed at the strength they must have to get through such a trying time.  They truly suffer.  I have no doubt they come out stronger than before, and probably stronger than they'd imagined possible.  They too remind me of Hannah.  If they are righteous then in a sense they too are lending them to the Lord.  The knowledge that there will be a time when they are reunited makes it much easier to live with this type of loss.

This thought made me think about those parents who don't have this knowledge or understanding, or those parents who don't want to listen.  Our Heavenly Father made a way for families to be together after this life and forever.  Some of us choose to follow the guidelines in order to obtain this blessing.  Others choose not to.  I found an article from the November 1999 issue of the Liahona by Jay E. Christensen of the seventy.  He said, "When serving as a mission president, I met a couple who were grief-stricken over the death of their infant son. The young couple had gone to other denominations for help and answers but found that their doctrines brought little comfort. Also, their limited family funds could not cover the costs for a funeral service in their church; therefore, we assisted them with the funeral and burial of their son.
The missionaries began the discussions and watched in the parents’ countenances the transformation occurring in their hearts. Divine doctrines from the Book of Mormon began to dispel the sorrow and sadness from the loss of their little one.
The words of Abinadi comforted them: “Little children … have eternal life” (Mosiah 15:25). They learned that eternal life is God’s kind of life, to live forever as families in God’s presence. It is the greatest gift He has given to us (see D&C 14:7). Furthermore, they were taught that little children cannot sin, for they are blameless (see Mosiah 3:16, 21D&C 29:46–47) and need not make the covenants with Christ their parents do (see Mosiah 6:2).
The infant the couple lost has the promise of eternal life. To enjoy the same kind of life their child will enjoy, the parents need to repent, become like their little one, and make covenants with God, beginning with baptism by immersion by one who holds priesthood authority, followed by confirmation as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and bestowal of the Holy Ghost.
For my mom, this was incentive.  She so wanted to be with these children she lost, and those of us that lived, that she was determined to live the way she needed to be with us again.  I'm sure Hannah had a knowledge that through righteous living (on both of their parts) she could be with Samuel again.  Maybe this knowledge made it easier for her to not be with him as much during this earthly life.  After all, she must have had an inkling of this which is why she said she had loaned him to the Lord, inferring that she'd get him back after their mortal existence.

What if Hannah, or my mom would've let their guard down after these experiences?  What if they'd forgotten the Lord?  What if they only remembered him when it was convenient?  What if they were nice to people but didn't follow all the teachings of the Lord?  Is that good enough?  A baby or child is pure.  Can purity be with impurity?  What is the limit of impurity that can be with purity?  Jesus Christ suffered and atoned for our sins- he now has the right to free us of our sins and he will if we do our part and repent, make amends and quit doing those things which are impure.  There are also promises which must be made and kept through baptism and other ordinances.  The beauty of this is that through scripture and prophets we have the know-how to be with our families again after this life.  Will we achieve what is needed in order to get there?  It's up to us.  We've been told that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of the Lord.  If these sweet children are with the Lord then where does that leave us?  Needing to do those things which the Lord taught us.

I'm amazed at how many people try to make up their own rules thinking they count.  I remember a taking a humanities class.  The professor said that for those of us who attended every class and handed in every assignment on time we would get no lower than a C+, no matter what the test scores and assignment grades were.  He was the teacher, the boss.  He determined how the scores would effect the grades.  There was a young man I got to know in my study group that showed up to class most of the time but not all the time.  He attended our study group consistently (I think because it was mostly girls) and took us girls out on dates to the "community events" that were part of the assignments.  He frequently missed the labs and I'm sure his tests suffered for that since it's where we got to know the different art work and classical songs.   When it came time for grades he earned something lower than the C+ (I don't recall what the letter grade was).  He was very upset.  He went to the professor and demanded the C+.  He was told that since he didn't attend every class period he had not met the requirements to earn that C+.  This boy felt he still deserved it because he went to a study group which was above and beyond the requirements.  Evidently the professor explained to him that going to the study group was great but not part of the deal in order to get the C+.  The boy was stuck with the letter grade he earned.  I remember him telling me how unfair it was, how the teacher could've made an exception but chose not to.  He felt he was entitled to the grade because he met his own standards.  The rules are set forth, if they are met the extra blessing is given, if they aren't the extra blessing is not given.  President Ezra Taft Benson said, "You are free to choose — but you are not free to alter the results of those choices.”  If God was to go back on this then he would cease to be God, not following his own laws, therefore becoming imperfect.

Just as Hannah and my mom loved their children our Heavenly Father loves us.  Because he wants us to return to him and because he wants us to be with our spouses, children and families again he has given us the steps we must follow.  He hasn't left us in the dark.  Families CAN be together.  It's up to us to do what's required so that we can obtain that wonderful, remarkable blessing.


  1. This brought back so many memories. Much too often she was aware of and felt the pain of other's judgements. She held her head high knowing the Lord knew the truth. I remember the funerals of your sweet siblings and the losses of her empty arms after lending them back to a loving Father in Heaven.
    Tears are flowing. Yes, I too feel your wonderful mom was very much like Hannah. She was so humble and went through so much...I love her dearly! Thanks:)

  2. I made a copy of this for grandma to read and also to put in your mom's book.
    I know your mom is so pleased of you and your sister and brothers and of how you are all living your life. She loves you all so much and her sacrifices/sufferings have become beautiful blessings! Love you much!
    (I am heading to the temple in a great frame of mind because of you!)

  3. Trina, That was one of the most beautiful messages I have ever read! Thank you for taking the courage to share such a personal message. And...thank you for your pure heart and noble life. Beth, above, is right; your mother certainly would be very pleased with you and the way you are living your life. your message and her life has reached out and blessed others'. Thank you so much for sharing. Your Mom has touched me a great deal today!

  4. What an amazing story and one that will live in the hearts of your children as well because they've benefitted from your mother's great love and sacrifice. You are really blessed to be here and to experience all that life has to offer both the good and the bad. Thank you for sharing.

  5. That was wonderful, Trina. Thank you. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing enough or if I'm just barely getting by. Am I fit for His kingdom? All I have to do is think of the innocence and purity of a child. That is what I should be striving for.
    And I never knew your mom, but I love her anyway...she raised you and you're amazing!

  6. Thanks, ladies. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  7. That was a very heart felt post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Hannah and the beautiful thoughts about your mother. I am sure that this story will have an great impact on your children. Blessings to you for a wonderful post.
    Thanks for dropping by to visit my blog.

  8. Oh wow, what an amazing story about your mother! And how amazing to think of all of those children that are her struggle ultimately was not in vain!

  9. How sad for your mom! What an amazing woman.


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