Tuesday, March 31, 2015

He Lives

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a baptism of a friend.

When we first moved here, when my belly was round and my heart anxious I was asked to visit someone who had moved here from China for marriage. Anna had met her husband online and knowing no English moved to America, to a tiny town in central Washington. She graciously welcomed us into her home and we struggled to communicate using an iPad and phone. This is also how she spoke to her husband and it confused me a great deal. I felt sorry for this woman, there was no one in this town that we knew of who spoke Chinese. I visited her every so often and as did others. She started coming to church and would stay only for the first hour, where we would partake of the sacrament.

Fast forward a bit, I had a baby, we discovered someone who had served a mission in Taiwan and spoke her dialect of Chinese (a miracle!). Through discussions with friends and missionaries and through the spirit I saw this woman light up within. It was not a quick transition, but when I came to a lesson (via phone with sister missionaries in Salt Lake City) they asked her to close the lesson in prayer. I, of course, could not understand a single word, but it was unmistakable feeling the spirit of that prayer.

Her baptism was beautiful. She was glowing and the room was packed. Afterwards, she was asked to share her testimony and through our wonderful translator we were all able to hear and understand where she came from and where she was now.

She said that there is saying in China that anyone who comes to America from China is like a mute because they cannot speak English, they are deaf because they do not understand English, they are blind because they cannot read English. When she first moved here she said she was so sad. She was lost and felt invisible because she could not speak, or hear, or read. But then, her first time coming to Church, she and her husband were invited to meet with our Bishop after sacrament meeting and while speaking, a person walked by, saw Anna and greeted her in Chinese. This was a blessing and gift to her. She had been invisible for so long and here was someone who saw her. This was the one person who spoke her language, who had served a mission in Taiwan and who was integral in her learning about the gospel.

As she told this story, I could not help but think about our Savior when he walked on this earth. He healed the blind and the deaf, he helped those who were invisible by society. He did this not only because he cared about those people individually, but to teach us that he can and will heal us in these ways as well.

Often, I believe, we think of His miracles, His healing as something within the past, contained within the scriptures.

But to only think of His miracles within the past is overlook the truth that He lives today.

He is not dead, but resurrected. Because of this, those miracles within the scriptures can occur within our present day. Because He lives, He can heal us from our sickness, our weaknesses, our sorrows.

Anna's story reminded me of this. I saw the miracle of the Savior's Atonement work within her life. I saw the joy and happiness and she told of the blessing it has been to be seen, to be heard, to be loved.

I believe that the Savior can do this for each of us. Not only did I see it this weekend within the life of my friend, but I have seen it in my life. I have seen him give me light within darkness and joy through tribulation. His love works today because He lives.

He died and three days later the tomb was empty. His resurrection not only is a promise to me that death is not the end, but that His ministry continues. He is a part of our very lives healing, blessing, wrapping us within His loving arms.

I hope anyone who is reading this will take the time to think about how His love has been woven in their own. Find the miracles that He performs for you, for those around you because He lives.

My Church has created a video to help us think about the Savior this Easter week.

Where is He in your life?

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Invisible Child

I have an invisible child.

Like an imaginary friend, he exists largely by my own creation. I see him throughout my day. Standing behind me as I fix a breakfast of cereal, sitting by my chair as I nurse, or watching festivities from a distance.
You cannot see him. He isn't there, but I imagine him there, pasted onto everything.

At the grocery store you would see me with my two visible children, one trying to be helpful by putting things into the cart and the other with fat cheeks reaching his arms staring wide-eyed at everything, he is barely six months old. The invisible child is where? Running around the cart? Barreling into displays and legs and requesting to be up then down then up in my arms again. My imagination runs wild with scenarios and situations and shared experiences. His presence has been made louder by the birth of my third child, I see that gap between my two boys and it is filled with wonder. 
No, I am not demented, my invisible child is dead. There is no soft way to say it. He died before he even took a breath. Thirty-nine weeks within my body and for some reason his life was erased before it ever began. He was stillborn, never taking a single breath. But his heart beat, and his legs kicked and he rolled around within me and for months I anticipated him. His future, his personality, his love. I practiced exercising my imagination, dreaming up the world that would spin with him upon it.
I mothered him before he was born too. I rubbed my belly feeling for feet and elbows. Searching thrift stores for tiny clothes. Finding a bassinet to keep in our room, to keep him near me. We prepared a name; James. We were still trying to decide on a middle name.

What I mean to say is, he was real. I roared him out of me and as he was place upon my chest I thought for a moment, “They had it all wrong!” But no, he was already gone.
For a time, after his loss, I ignored this invisible child. I tried to make everything go back to before. Before I was pregnant. Before hopes for a life unlived occurred. We went back to being a family of three and I focused my energy on what I had rather than what I lacked. If I focused hard enough, I didn’t have to see him waiting there. Waiting to be included, to be felt, to be a part of our family.
Then I was pregnant again. A mixture of elation and anxiety. Would lightning strike twice? Would I fall into the unlucky lottery once again? The reality of stillbirth was no longer lost on me. This one arrived and with him an unexpected sensation. Of course happiness reigned supreme, how can it not with a newborn to hold? But all the joy that this newborn brought with him was coupled with a clarity of what we had really lost. Baby sighs, giggles, rolling over, fat bellies and chunky knees. What would have been like with him?

I have two visible children who are growing and learning and smiling and one you cannot see. One who I imagine is right there with us. As we play in the morning sun, watching our new one giggle, a pause in the air—a stillness leads my mind to adding in an 18 month-old. I instantly see chaos and stress that comes with that age but even more, I see his smile and I feel his love.

They always ask, “How many?” and I hesitate to respond, because it is hard to say. I make mention of my invisible child, “one who passed, James” and the air halts with making mention of his life. My heart twists out the words and freezes in suspense for the response.

A simple sorry and change in subject tells me that they don’t want to see this child. The world is already so sad, no need to be more aware of it. 

Sometimes though, sometimes he is seen. “Three boys! Wow,” one exclaimed naturally, looking up to the sky. My heart lit up. You see him too!

“Yes, three boys.”