Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Have you seen a miracle today?

Someone asked me that question in an elevator the other day. And then I enjoyed this thought from my "kindness calendar" today: "Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle."—A course in miracles

It made me think about miracles in my life. There are the big miracles, such as the ones Jesus performed, and still does today as we let Him. There are also the miracles associated with nature and the boom in secular knowledge, such as how an apple comes from a seed (I know the botanists know, but I don't) and being able to speak to my daughter in southern Mexico on a cell phone (I know the scientists understand it, but again, I don't). Then there are the small everyday miracles that we may not notice until we look back over time. Miracles such as these frequently demand a lot of time, patience, perseverance and hard work, but miracles they are.

Miracles in my life include, but are not limited, to:

*Watching David work through his illness with courage. He has struggled this last week with unwanted mood changes, including 2 days of not being able to do anything. I worried about it, but decided that sitting home and fretting with him was not going to solve anything, so I went to work. When I came home the other day he, as he put it, "decided I had to climb back up on the bucking horse again" and cleaned the house and yard. I know it is hard for him, but he does it anyway. He has his regular appointment today with his doctor, and I'm hoping he can help David manage his moods a bit better.

*Learning to do things that as a formerly shy person I couldn't have ever imagined doing, such as (and I know it sounds silly) making business phone calls as well as interviewing others about their opinions and experiences on a variety of subjects. That was one of the great things about the recent trip; it gave me confidence and I really enjoyed the whole experience.

*Seeing my children grow and progress and bloom. I try to respect their privacy and don't discuss here the family dramas that are bound to happen in a family as large as ours filled with strong-willed, high-spirited people, but I do reserve the right to gush over them when occasion demands. Last Friday was one of those occasions: I watched my engineer student Ben defend his master's thesis. He was well-prepared, knew what he was talking about, and it was obvious from his master's committee that they understood what he was saying and signed the important 4 signatures on his project. I am so proud of him! This young man grew from an inquisitive little boy to a bored teen who wouldn't go to school and ended up passing his GED with flying colors at the end of his junior year of high school. As his dad and stepmother put it (who both deserve a huge pat on the back for helping him), they helped turn him from a long-haired dropout to a math and science nerd. At one time we despaired over him but he grew up, served an LDS mission to Australia, came home, married well, had 3 children, and worked hard during his 7 years of intense schooling. He and his wife are both excited and ready to move on to the next phase of their life, and I am so happy for them.

(The apple is symbolic of not just the miracle of nature, but of my recent trip.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back from a Long Weekend

We had our annual family camping trip last weekend. We had been planning this for a month or so, even though half of the family couldn't come because of work and other obligations. (Sometimes it feels like herding cats trying to accommodate everyone's busy schedules.) We were getting excited about going when we had word that one of David's aunts passed away following a long illness. We didn't know what the funeral plans were until Thursday afternoon, which was when we had planned to leave for the mountains. The upset about the funeral plus the stress of packing for a trip sent David into a manic episode, but we finally left Thursday evening. By Friday noon, the mountains had worked their calming magic for him, and we ended up having a good time. He loves being in the mountains, finding serenity in the beautiful scenery. That is where he is at his relaxed best.

Three of our daughters, their families, and David's ex, Bette, joined us Friday afternoon. Bette has joined us on a number of camping trips over the years, and we enjoy being with her. She has been great at helping me to understand David, and on occasion we have been known to "gang up" on him to get him to behave.

We were at Lily Lake in the Uintah Mountains, much to 3-year-old Lily's delight. David taught the 5 grandchildren who were there how to fish, and gave them some poles without hooks to practice casting out into the lake. We also hiked around the small lake, and relaxed. The kids had fun running around, playing hide and seek, building a fort, and having "smarshmallows" in the evening. The weather even cooperated. This was Lily's first real camping trip, and she had a great time observing all that was going on and keeping up with the bigger kids. Watching the kids have such a good time made all the effort and stress involved worth it.

The dogs were also in heaven running through the long grass near the lake. By the time we left they were so tired they could hardly move. But they were happy.

On Monday David and I spent the day with his mother driving to her sister's funeral, and then taking some time to locate and visit family grave sites. The weather was pleasant, and the funeral very moving and thought-provoking. I have been thinking of my own mother's passing lately, and the speakers reminded me of important and soothing truths about the purpose of this life. I realized again that family members past and present are an important part of who we are and that we best honor them by the way we live our lives.

David did well through the funeral and the drive home, but the last two days have been difficult for him. He slipped into depression, thinking about all the possible "what ifs." One of the reasons for this latest sadness is that it is the 2-year anniversary of his father's passing from Alzheimer's. He does tell me about how he's feeling, but I worry about his lack of energy and wonder how long this cycle will last.

When he was manic while preparing for the camping trip I was also stressed, and decided to try some deep breathing for a few minutes. While it didn't work miracles, it did help me relax a bit and focus on what needed to be done. We go through pre-trip mania every time we go somewhere, and even though I know it's going to happen, it's still frustrating and nerve-wracking. Even though camping is a lot of work, I still enjoy going.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm Back!

from my trip to Spokane; it was wonderful and very memorable. I have been really busy catching up on regular work assignments and starting to transcribe tapes of interviews, but I plan on going into more detail about it soon. David has become fairly comfortable with me going to visit my family in Idaho, but this one was tougher on him because I was by myself for part of the time in an area that he is unfamiliar with. He went fishing again with Shannon, and spent Sunday with his mother. He said he had a major anxiety attack when he came home to an empty house (except for the dogs and cat), and had a meltdown on the Monday I was gone. By the time I came home, he was doing better, but it took him a few days to work through his mood. He was a bit short and critical, but since that was all it was, I can deal with that.

This past weekend we went with some members of our ward (church congregation) to an overnighter in one of the local canyons. We've been asked to help out with organizing and carrying out ward activities, and it is just the right assignment for David. It lets him be involved with others, but focused on what he's doing so that he doesn't feel overwhelmed by a lot of people. There were a number of old friends that we hadn't been able to visit with for several months, and he had a good time talking and laughing with them. We also went on a hike with 2 other families there; the scenery was spectacular. It was a good weekend to be together and to visit with friends.

Some of the sites we saw in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Headed Out of Town . . . Again

for both a work assignment and a few days of personal leave.

I am going to Spokane, Washington, to cover a two-day youth conference for the magazine and to do some other interviews as well. I'm both excited and terribly nervous because this is my first solo traveling assignment. This is one of the reasons why I went back to school, and now I get to put that brand-new diploma to work.

After I get done working, my beloved 85-year-old dad is going to join me for two days of exploring family history sites. He grew up in the area, and I am so looking forward to seeing places that meant a lot to him and hearing the stories that he tells with flair.

David is happy about the opportunity for me, but I'm a little worried because I can hear in his voice and see in his body language that his mood is starting to sour. There isn't much I can do about it right now except pray a lot and keep in touch with him by phone. Hopefully he'll do his best to stay busy and calm so we can work through it when I get home Tuesday. Prayers for him, please.