Sunday, December 25, 2016


I found myself with a strange yearning as December started this year. I began to see beautiful newborn babies everywhere I looked. And I wanted to snatch them up, and cuddle them and rock them, smell their hair and bury my face in their soft cheeks. This is very out of my normal so I thought a lot about what I might have been looking for in these feelings. It was as I sat, for the first quiet moment in weeks, at the relief society program that I knew that it was the simple peace that I had always felt as I spent those quiet moments, sometimes forced in the middle of the night, alone by myself with my own little babies. I love the celebration of Christ as a baby during this season. 5 years ago I had my own Christmas baby on the way. She was due on Christmas day but as I miserably plodded into my doctor’s office a few weeks before, he told me that I had been walking around at an 8 and would be having a baby that day. I was far away from my home. I didn’t have my mother close by to call to take care of my other girls. I was in a strained marriage and felt so uncertain about so many things at that time and didn’t really feel any support from him but I knew that this baby was meant to come at that time and meant to be mine. My other deliveries had been easy. They were routine and quick and I loved being able to finally have a baby in my arms. But this one was different. I only remember staring at the clock on the wall as hours passed by. The tick-tock was the only sound I could tolerate. I cannot imagine how Mary must have felt as she lay down in a dirty corner of a stable, knowing what would imminently be required of her, and that she would do it in this unfamiliar place, surrounded by strangers. I feel an empathy that I know goes beyond an measure of my understanding for this young girl who was given what must have seemed an insurmountable task and she responded with a faith I can’t comprehend, trusting that God knew her worth and that He would provide for the means for her to accomplish the mission she had been given of bring the Savior of the world into His earthly ministry. When the time finally came for me to begin the work of bringing my own baby into the world I can only remember thinking “This is too hard.” I had done this twice before, it shouldn’t have felt like that. After hours of pushing and no progress I thought, I just can’t. I cannot keep going. This is too hard. I had no hand to hold. I had no cheerleaders. I trusted my doctor and the nurses who surrounded me but I so strongly felt that I would not be able to do what they needed me to do. “This is too hard.” And then the moment that should have been immense relief only brought panic as I knew immediately that something was not right. The tears couldn’t be stopped even as they reassured me that it was going to be okay. My baby was whisked away and I felt my heart shatter at the distance put between me and the spirit I had held so close for months. The frenzy in the room increased as they attempted to repair the damage done by an almost 11 pound baby. I began to go in and out of consciousness and when I fully woke up again the room was dark and quiet. I heard the ticking of the clock again and the panic of the night came on as I remembered what had happened. Then I saw the shadow in the corner of my hospital room. My doctor had pulled a small desk into the room and was quietly making notes. I would realize later that he had been there for 3 hours. In the hundreds of deliveries I had worked in labor and delivery, I don’t think I had ever seen a doctor pause more than 15 minutes after a birth before running out the door. My condition didn’t merit him staying, the bleeding had stopped and my body just needed rest but I believe he saw the heart of a young, worried mother and did not want me to wake up in an empty room. As Mary tucked her newborn baby in and the fatigue she must have been shouldering bore down, I can imagine her relief as God sent those he knew would go with haste to bring joy to those first few hours of Christ’s life. The scriptures tell us how Mary took all this in, quietly with grace. She had to be worried knowing all that would be required of her role. She had already endured so much. Her reputation, her impending marriage, all could have been ruined and lost, yet Mary never doubted. She only worried she would fail the child being placed in her care. The power given to this one woman as she became a mother was probably not realized by her all at once. I don’t know if our human minds and temporal understanding can handle all that may be asked of us to endure sometimes. The next morning I was finally given my cell phone again and I called my mother. I had spent the night hearing the overwhelming list of challenges my baby was dealing with and again felt myself thinking, “This is too hard.” I didn’t know if she would be okay. How would I take care of my other girls while trying to take care of her. The worries were completely overtaking me and the doubt was crippling. I needed so badly to have that feeling of loneliness dissipate. I simply said hello and heard my mother start to cry on the other end of the line. My mom is very composed under pressure and the emotion wasn’t what I expected. She quietly choked out, “Heather, we almost lost you.”
In that simple sentence my entire perspective changed. I had only been thinking of all the external problems coming at us at that time. I had shriveled as I focused only on the trials still looming. But in that sentence I realized without any shred of doubt that God had asked me to come to Him in all things. He was there. He was taking me and helping to make me what he would need me to be. He had protected me and he had been there, suffering with me, but he knew the power that would come as I realized that.
We often marvel that our king would begin his life in a dirty, murky stable surrounded by livestock with only a trough to be laid in. But I often think about poor Mary, being so far from home and in such a dire place, alone bringing her baby into this world. She had to struggle with the loneliness of her task, but seeing the peace she always seemed to show leads me to believe that she had also found the strength that comes when you have to be so utterly dependent on the Lord. How else could she have raised the Savior, the only person who would ever truly experience true loneliness on this earth. Without knowing the importance of her mission how could she have helped prepare him for his? She had to endure some degree of the suffering her son would go through as it would be necessary of her to support Him, through persecution and disdain. There is nothing like a mother’s broken heart. But feelings like that are what open us up to allowing God to let us know how strong we can be through him. It causes us to be vulnerable enough to allow his fortifications to come in and build us up to what we are truly capable of being. It is when focusing on Him and reaching for his outstretched hand, that we can walk on the water with Him and not be sunk in our storms.    
Angels watched as Mary changed God’s diaper. The universe watched with wonder as the Almighty learned to walk. Children played in the street with him. Jesus may have had bad skin. He may have been tone-deaf. Perhaps the girl down the street had a crush on him. One thing is for sure: He was, while completely divine, completely human. For thirty-three years he would feel everything  that you or I have ever felt. He felt weak. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure. He was susceptible to wooing women. He got colds, he burped, he got his feelings hurt. His feet got tired and his head ached.

To think of Jesus in that light is almost uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep humanity out of it. Clean the manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer. He’s easier to stomach that way. There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable. But don’t do that. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out. Listen to him. Love your neighbor was spoken by a man whose neighbors tried to kill him. The challenge to leave family for the gospel was issued by one who kissed his mother good-bye in the doorway. Pray for those who persecute you came from lips that would soon be begging God to forgive his murderers. I am with you always are the words of a God who in one instant did the impossible to make it all possible for you and me. It all happened in a moment, and in my life as in Mary’s, the power that can be found in one miraculous moment can be the beginning of finding our relationship with God and finding the purpose and power of our life as only He can intend. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I’m not sure why I think I am the exception. I thought I had felt the sting before. It seems to be an undulating staircase that ever so slowly and subtly pulls me down further and further. When I think the worst has hit there is just more waiting. Another ruling today. Why can’t I tell my story. I don’t know the players. I don’t understand the game. I am yet again crushed by a flawed system that doesn’t allow for any naive moves from an untrained participant. I thought I had found some reprieve but someone more cunning than me knew how to outplay it. And when I stood up for my rights. When I asked to be recognized as a mother, I was told to sit down and be quiet, I would just make them mad…and then the punishment came, More money I don’t have. I didn’t do the right things. I should have had help. I should have played by their rules but I thought it wasn’t necessary. They proved to me it is. Drag you down…and I just keep thinking, this must be it. This is the time I break. This is the time the pieces shatter and don’t get put back again. My hands are numb as I type this. I moved from my spot on the floor just long enough to take the kids to storytime and get them from school. I am so scared to do anything else. The tears come and go. I’m grateful today that my kids have been more clingy than usual. I desperately needed them close. But now they are gone as Wednesdays always come. And I just keep thinking, broken…I tried even harder the last few months to invite Christ into ALL of my relationships. And I knew the most important to work on was with my x. He has caused so much disruption to so many innocent people. My children were spending 4 hours in the car each week because we had to meet at the police station. They were late to school and church and every day was a fight. If the police weren’t at the parking lot he was mean and contentious. I had asked for BM’s shoes back, he had kept 2 of her 3 pairs, and he wouldn’t let them bring them home. He ignored me until I said please and then berated me so loudly about not having manners that a lady in the parking lot stopped and walked over. Last year I didn’t make him bring the girls home for Easter, even though I was entitled to the holiday because they had a trip planned. This year we had to cancel our spring break trip because the same courtesy isn’t extended. It was his birthday on Sunday. We each get to celebrate our birthdays with the kids. It would be the fourth Sunday the girls missed in a row. I was struggling with that. I offered an earlier pick-up time from the house so that I could fulfill my calling and because the most important part of the Sabbath is worshiping my Lord and I didn’t want to be late to church. He refused and told me pick up was at the police station. I had decided early that morning that I was going to have a good Sunday. I love Sundays. They are a day of beauty to me. I think happy things and get so excited to go to church. And it feels broken when the girls aren’t there. But I still wanted to find the beauty in the day. I was going to act as if I was meeting the Savior and giving him the 3 little spirits I wanted so badly to keep with me. Treat him like the Savior would had become my mantra. So that meant they would be happy. We had a yummy breakfast, I made sure their hair was combed. Their faces were clean. Their teeth brushed and beds made. This is not the condition they are in when it is Monday morning and they are coming home for school. And they had the biggest smiles I could get as we drove and sang Saturday’s Warrior in the car. And I got a sarcastic text as I drove away about how I was so easy to work with…don’t let it break you…I know that I can’t control anyone else’s actions. And I know that it is so much better for me when I choose an attitude of joy over one of revenge. I find my strength in the words of the scriptures. I find a life line in those around me who offer advice, and friendship and support and love. I see God’s hand in every moment of every day. And maybe that was where I was still lacking. Maybe I was hiding behind strength. Maybe I was only acknowledging the moments where I felt on top of everything. Those moments are good too. We need to have times when we become bigger than we think we can be. We need times when we see the size of the fight God puts in our hearts. We have to stand for what we know, we have to fly our title of liberty and push back against the forces that threaten us. But maybe it isn’t always us against them. Maybe the good versus evil is just another tool of the adversary to distract us from the refining of ourselves that God is trying to create. How can I expect him to fortify me when I am pointing and shouting, "but that is bad, that is wrong! that over there is at fault." Take away the bad guy, take away the darkness. I know you can do it. I know you are powerful. I know that you have blessed me with everything I have. And I know I don’t deserve it. I am playing nice and it’s hard and now you protect me.
But today He says, I will let you break.
Because it is only then that you will let me heal you my child.
I knew where my testimony stood. I knew where my salvation came from. I knew my source of peace. But I wasn’t willing to promise Him that I needed it. As a parent I know that there is no other pain like watching your child suffer. I listened to BK tell me that no one would play with her at recess and cried and cried until all my tears ran out, I don't want them to hurt. I hate Easter. I hate it because I hate hearing about the suffering Jesus had to endure. And I hate when I hear about God, retreating to his darkest corner of his universe because he couldn’t bear to see his Son go through pain he should never had to have suffered, and cry out in agony when he had to leave him to do it alone. I was reminded today by someone that He already knows my pain. He has gone through it. But He doesn’t leave me alone. He comes to my desperate cries, finds my broken soul, picks up all the pieces because he created them and says again, “Now my child. Now, I can heal you.” 
I sit looking at 37 black wood tiles on the wall of my living room. They were cut out by hand, sanded one by one and each bear a letter that altogether spell out the names of each member of our family. It was an extensive amount of work put in by a man who has no idea how much his efforts to bond our family run deep. The kids were thrilled to see it hung on the wall and talked about how much we each needed one another, if any piece were missing it would mess up the others and they talked about the day we got married and how our lives are now. They even made their own scrabble family version with our game this morning. I had stared at that wall early one morning, a day when I was feeling fearful about the things to come, and I knew that what mattered was right there. It is firm and it everlasting. No force of evil in any form can take that from me if I fight for it. That is when you need to be loud. That is when you need to protect your flock. For that is where my heart is.

And for whatever reason God sees fit that now I needed to be quiet. He is refining me to be ready for what He needs me to be. Perhaps one day the fight will be bigger than I could have handled, or maybe sometime I will finally be able to help someone else who is falling behind. I want to be ready for any of it. But today I will wait for Him. I will know that I need His healing. I will cry and I will beg and I will hurt and I will let Him start to heal. Scar tissue creates the strongest bond our skin can form. It comes from trauma, it is the only way. But I will let Him in now. I cannot do it without his healing power. He will “turn my mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow…I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” I have to make my will align with his. I have to allow him the room to take me and make me what he knows I need to be. So I will let him dry the endless tears, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes…neither shall there be any more pain.” Faith and hope will replace heartache. We “should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.” That joy will come. That healing is His and mine will come. I won’t remain broken.

Friday, November 13, 2015

They probably barely weighed more than the huge court file I had flung over my shoulder. 3 tiny women standing on the other side of a metal detector. Strong and silent and meaning more to me than even I knew at the time. I had finally asked for what I should have a long time ago and opened up the raw mess of this emotional turmoil of divorce and admitted it was too much for me. Maybe it was a blessing to be pushed past the point of tolerance, to attack the only piece of this that I give any real importance to which is my girls, because it then became too big for just me to fight for. But I had no idea how much having this backing in my corner would mean. These were women who had taken care of me my entire life, played with me, laughed with me and been right where I needed them when I needed them countless times before. And now they stood here, behind me once again. Not worried about the cost or the inconvenience or even the fear and ugliness that can come from being in court. I had asked and they were there. And then they picked up the fight for me. They wanted to stand where they were, they wanted those who were coming to know what they were doing. This was not some game that was to be played behind closed doors and in moody text messages. They were affecting lives and now they would have to answer for it. Cowards do things in secret, and we weren't playing that game anymore. In a last ditch effort to bully their way through this they pulled me into a room to "talk." They had slithered and sidled through the crowd that had ridden up in the elevator with them, my sister, more aunts, grandma, parents and others. It was a scene that I will certainly never forget. Once in the room they again offered nothing. No solutions, it was just contempt. After it became quickly evident that they had nothing to actually say, and were just trying to intimidate a coercion out of me, I again didn't have to fight alone. Two of the men who have done more for me in my life were there, pushed past their own point of tolerance. My dad has seen me go through all of my ups and downs in life. He personally witnessed and experienced so much of the sabotage and destruction my x caused. He spent so many hours talking, listening, crying and taking care of so much I needed. He has never asked for recognition or reward in any of it. He is the reason why I knew men should be better. And the other man is better than I could have ever thought. And he is who I will look for and lean on for the rest of forever. He wasn't going to allow that to happen that day, and called out the lawyer trying to take advantage of someone she had been able to push around before. I am endlessly grateful for him. We listened in the courtroom to two cases before us. It is all the same, "I want more stuff, I want more money, I want to punish you because that will somehow make me feel better about my mistakes and the lacking I feel in my own life." It won't. And they know that, but since they won't admit it ti themselves we go back again and again and again. They say there is no victimless sin and it is a shame that he can do this over and over. Every time he gets mad, or bored, or questioned on his own behavior he can turn it around and pull my family and our world down into his mess. But that day as we took our seats at the two tables, with the dusty microphone and water rings from the leaking plastic pitcher, I was fine. I calmly spread out my papers, knowing that it is easy to defend an honest life, lived with good intentions. I know I'm not the best mom in the world. I wasn't even close to being the tenth best mom in that room. But because of the women who were there, I knew the power that a righteous mother could command. And I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that when I needed to ask for it that God would defend that role when it is questioned. I didn't have to frantically shuffle my papers that day, I didn't have to question what I had written, I didn't have to try and remember what lies I had told, or what defense I had to spin for myself. I just told about my life, because this is simply who I am and what I do. Every minute of every day, I am a mom. It is so easy to be strong when you are defending your most important treasures. I had gone into that day knowing that I would refuse to be dismissed. My value as a mother was in question and the consequences were too important to have that degraded. I would not shrink in my duties just because some small minded brat was not getting his way on his demands. What I was doing had so much more meaning and the time had come to stand up for that. But I didn't have to do much. There were good people there, who care about children, and since that was what I was defending it felt very good to be backed up in that. The endless list that he and his mother had written was dismissed as the immature drivel that it was. They stammered and stumbled, attempting to vilify me. The solutions I had provided in an attempt to improve our situation were brought into play and each time someone tried to use my kids as pawns or move another person's role as more valuable than that of a parent, it was quickly stopped. The x and those who manipulate were told to stop playing games and to begin acting like adults, to face the reality of being a divorced family and handle the consequences maturely. They are not above the rules, just like everybody else they would be required to play along.
I have always struggled with the feelings being around lawyers and in the courtroom bring to me. I didn't understand why I couldn't control the physical pains of discomfort that came when I was in that environment. But as I sat in my place of refuge, as far removed from the world as I can get, a few days earlier I realized it was because I had tried to move myself and my life as far from the yuckiness of the world as we could get it. I don't want to be anywhere that is so easily influenced by the adversary. And that is why these places are such a source of discomfort to me. But the room that day was different. Each of those people in my life had prepared themselves so faithfully to stand behind me and the girls and were so filled with the spirit that it literally changed that room. I had been there many times before and that day it was a different place. And that change permeated so deeply that I know it affected the events of that day. There were too many small things that happened to deny that it was absolutely under the control of God's hand. I only glanced over my shoulder to the side of the room once. I don't think I could have handled myself if I had turned all the way around. There is power in a faithful person. There is strength in a righteous family. That room was filled with people I could see and more that I can't wait to see again. My burden was made lighter that day by sharing my yoke with so many who were more than willing to bear up my struggling and walk with me when I needed them.
I was on a pioneer trek a few years ago. I was barely older than most of the kids I had been given charge of. My daughters on that trip were young and small. They had struggled with so many different things that week and then we were asked to pull our handcart up a hill, in sand a foot deep by ourselves. I was terrified, again I was surrounded by skinny women being asked to accomplish insurmountable tasks. But they were willing so we sang a chorus of "Carry on my wayward son..." and we pulled as hard as we could and they were adamant about not having help in their task. My heart broke as I watched my little girl next to me struggle with each step as she gave absolutely everything she had to barely move our wagon inches. I didn't even know I was silently crying until I saw the trail of mud the drips had left on my forearms. I knew I had to give more than I felt I could if we were going to keep going at all. I don't know how long we pushed or how far we actually traveled. I knew that I wasn't going to make it much further when I felt a very sudden and abrupt lurch forward. My handle fell slack as my efforts no longer kept up with the push from behind the cart. The boys from our family had stood on the hill and watched with difficulty as we went by. When they couldn't stand it any longer they had broke through the crowd and without permission caught up to us, put their heads down and pushed with all their might as soon as they could reach us. They took the weight and they took it on themselves, I learned that day what it means to really need the help of others. I cried harder as my oldest son pried my stuck fingers off the handle and said, "Let me take this Ma, you take a rest."
There were no tears as I happily walked out of that room, hugs and relief were everywhere. Finally some peace, even though it lasted a short moment, it was such a blessing that I can't even start to express the gratitude I felt that day.
That night as we sat on the floor of our living room and enjoyed the the safety and security that comes when all of our family is in one room, without the gloom of court and custody hanging imminent as it had for weeks before, I was deeply moved as I began to picture each of the individuals who had prayed and fasted and expressed their love for us. It is true. Each of these people had knelt in prayer, believing that they were personally asking God to show His hand in my life. They believed this. It is true. It is how we can survive these trials we are asked to endure. It gives meaning to the hard and and to the menial tasks we have to accomplish. Many people actually expressed thanks for the chance to go through this with me as their own faith grew because they were willing to act on their beliefs. This is what it is about. It is about using these experiences to connect with God, to come closer to Christ and to learn to succor one another as He did, for that is how we will live when we are with Him again. Each soul is of such infinite worth and I am so grateful that mine is valued by this army of people who matter to me. I didn't know people cared. I thought it was better to try and handle it by myself, it is embarrassing and degrading, it is painful and it isn't something I wanted to put out as part of my life to people. But what I didn't know was how that didn't matter to any of them. They loved me for my bumps and bruises and scuffs and shortcomings. My Grandma said it simply when she just said, everybody has scars. And sometimes we need to share them with others to truly begin to heal. After the previous week I felt so battered and bent but I had been lifted up, not just because of the court hearing, but because of the blessing of knowing I was cared about. My dad had found his faith in dirt that week, and he knew that if God cared about something as simple as topsoil then he certainly cared about his son and daughters. He found God hand in his life and it helped to know He was always in mine.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


She handed me the beautiful paper chain she had made in primary and sweetly said, "See Mom, it's just like the one you taught me about in your dream..." It was seven circles, all connected, each bearing the name of a member of our family carefully handwritten in her neat little writing, and two other links, stapled to her own circle that had the name of her father and his soon to be wife. And my heart melted, it was the perfect illustration of a scene we had worked very hard to get this little girl to understand as we watched her struggle with questions and worries no child should bear the previous months. She is the middle child in our family and typically personifies that with her peaceful temperament and fun, easy-going ways. But she had been steadily losing her sparkle in recent months and I worried about her downward turn as she became more sullen and difficult. I tried to talk to her but she was unable to open up about what was bothering her. I could feel her internal struggle, her allegiances were being questioned and her love was being devalued because it wasn't absolutely and entirely given only to him. He is insecure and an insecure adult can do absolute devastation to a vulnerable child. Stomachaches started happening more frequently on Wednesday mornings, she stopped using words and had complete and utter meltdowns over little things like clothes and after school snacks. I was angry, why would someone knowingly make their child suffer but it's because their world is so small and only about themselves. Then she got scared. And fear is a truly terrifying emotion. It makes your mind create what your heart can't handle and begins to convince yourself of horrible things that may or may not happen. She was scared of her room, she was scared at night and she was scared to tell me why. And I wanted to rip open someone's chest and tear apart the mean and cold heart that had put this fear into my baby. Because those thoughts never go away. When someone loses respect for women and destroys their conscience mind with the kind of filth you can find in this world, it can make boundaries blur and it can give power to physical temptations and it can make people do unthinkable things and I didn't know if that was what she wasn't telling me. But you can't stop the visits. You can't express your concern because it doesn't matter to anyone until there is blood drawn. No quantifiable damage, no problem. So we did everything we could. Extended family prayed, And fasted and cried and prayed. She was given a magic crystal from a grandma to drive the evil spirits away. There were lots of extra hugs and lots of kind words. But she still struggled. And when she would have to leave she would just put on "the mask." She would smile and go Stepford wife. Completely hollow inside, like she blew out her flame every time. It is sickening to see a seven year old become such a skilled actress. And I went to the place where I know peace is always waiting and I pleaded for answers. Any knowledge that would help open her up, and I prayed that the fear would subside. Just a little, just for a moment, too calm the mother bear inside and to give that little girl back her light. I was involved that night with working with five women. I didn't know them, their names were beautiful but a very vague representation of someone who had a luven a real life once long ago. But when I walked in the worker stopped and looked at me, looked at her lists and switched them, saying, "I'm going to give you this one." As I listened that night to the promises I had heard many times, I felt the immense and unstoppable strength in them. I felt that the women I was working with were strong as well. They were excited to begin what they had been waiting to do. They had a great mission before them and I was grateful to be a part of that, I knew they would be a part of me now and I thought of all the strong women who I have been blessed to know and come from in my life. I knew that I should tell her about this. But when she came home it was worse than it had ever been, my husband said it actually scared him to see the darkness that threatened to envelope her. I asked her to tell me what was wrong and she flatly refused, would not even look at me. So I grabbed her hand, prayed for help and just started talking. Then suddenly knew what I needed to tell her. I shared an experience that I had a few years earlier. It was 7 years before, the first time I had separated from their father, and I was holding a sleeping baby in my parent's kitchen. The tears were flowing while I wondered why God had sent me two innocent little spirits to such a bad family situation. I felt like I had failed everyone in my life by choosing to be in this marriage and I wondered why God had allowed me to do that. I had tried to make good choices, tried to do the things I knew were right, married what I thought was a righteous person and I couldn't understand now why I had to see these children suffer through the effects of other's bad decisions. I felt absolutely hopeless and heartbroken when I went to bed that night. But in those are the times that God can truly affect and teach your soul and I experienced something that has given me such a profound peace and been a source of strength countless times since. I knew in that moment that I had understood many of the challenges that I would face during my earthly life. I believe that K had been sent to his family and given the task to cleanse his family line of the misdeeds that had happened for generations. He came into a difficult role, he would be asked to withstand the most difficult form of persecution, that which comes from those who proclaim to be friend and who should be valiant parents. He has gone through abuse. He has been used for gain by his own parents as children should not be. He has suffered as his accomplishments have not been celebrated and his burdens have not been lifted and many times he has had circumstances to withstand as those who profess to be his biggest cheerleaders have actually been working towards keeping him tied down in the enabling of sin and failure. But K had a mission, he would be given every tool and sent with the ability and support to fulfill his role. His link in the chain of his posterity could be one that was stronger and more pure than they had ever been. It would be hard but he could cleanse generations. And I agreed to sustain in him that. I knew the suffering that would be endured but I knew that we could overcome it and I promised to help. But the Lord knows about moral agency and understands that not everyone succeeds at the tasks they are called to accomplish. So he fortified me. Should K fail at his mission and succumb to the flailings of a life lived the easy way, God would ensure that the cycles of abuse ended with my children. I was put in the way to stop that. God knew that no matter would happen in my marriage that I would always, endlessly and without wavering protect my children and raise them under the stewardship that God would require. Because my children had a much bigger mission to accomplish in their own lives. He needs them as valiant soldiers to prepare the way for the Savior to return in these last days by bringing their brothers and sisters to God through their example and discipleship in Christ. They have to be living a righteous life and gaining the pieces of a testimony that will carry them through the days when their generation will be the most wicked the earth has seen. And I had to ensure that by protecting them from the things that would hurt them, by teaching them the things they needed to know and by giving them the ability to learn to stand up, on their own strength for the things they knew to be right. Her little hand, that had been trying to hold a weight that was much too heavy for its tiny grasp, softened just slightly and I hoped she had understood what I was trying to tell her. I told her that I knew that God loved her, that He would help her when she couldn't do it on her own. She was offered a blessing but she struggled with what to say. She had been wrongly told that only one person should give her blessings, that power should be limited and those blessings should be cut off if it didn't from only one source. But that is simply not true. The peace and power that comes from using the priesthood and the power of God does not need to be withheld or diminished by anyone. She was given a powerful blessing and promised the ability to banish the darkness from her life when she needed too. She was reminded of her power over those who would try to harm her and again reminded that God loves her dearly. And after we told her again how much we love her. And that God loves all her family, including her father. I want him to be better. People often make jokes that it would be better if he just fell off a cliff and I don't deny that I have had those thoughts, but I don't believe them. It will be best if everyone, of their own accord, is together and happy throughout all of our existence. I know that it is better for the girls to have an involved father in their life. We try to facilitate that as much as we can, but just as you can't bring someone to salvation, they have to make an effort in that. But there is more than enough happiness to go around in this life. we express to our children often that there is always room for everyone at the table. We want everyone they love and care about to be as close to them as possible. Only those who are unhappy with themselves will feel the need to break someone else's joy into pieces. They have to see the destruction, just like a cracked mirror. When you can't stand to look at yourself you have to smash any source of reflection and often that is those who are closest and most willing to help. I could have helped him, I want to help him. But he has to open himself up to be willing to accept that. And right now he doesn't want to do that. It is too hard to admit to yourself what you have allowed yourself to do and become. So you look desperately for the next thing you can break. Last week I was told that I would be responsible for half of the extreme amount of debt he racked up without my knowledge while we were married. I though it was $12,000. It was over $70,000. I have to give him the minivan I drive and pay him dividends of money that I have used to compensate the $400 a month he has paid for 3 children in child support, because they can't live on air...but all those things are disposable and while painful in this temporal life, nothing of true value. I heard him lie and it still shocked me so much that I couldn't breathe in, I watched his mom enable him to live a life of misery as she is willing to say whatever necessary to remove responsibility from her son. But as I sat at that courtroom table, trying to stop the fear that was coursing through my body in waves, I looked at the empty chair the judge would soon sit in and there make decisions that would so profoundly affect the course of my families life, and I pictured my true and final judge sitting there. I thought about the day that I will answer to my Savior for the actions of my life. The mistakes have been many. The sins will be painfully accounted for. My lacking and failings in this life sometimes feel constant and I think I will never be able to get things right. And that makes me doubt myself. Have I done enough? Have I truly tried my best? And the fear returns. But when I thought of meeting Jesus that day I knew that despite my shortcomings, His would never fail. The price had already been paid and it wasn't some unreachable sum I set for myself that I had to meet. I just had to accept what he had already suffered for me. So I declared that whatever the outcome that day, I would act in a way that I could answer to the Lord for. And I did. I didn't seek vindication, I didn't attempt to deceive or manipulate the situation, and I didn't ask others to cover for my mistakes. I looked every person in the room in the eye, and after I lost everything I had to gain in that case that day, I walked out knowing I could still look each person in the eye with a clear conscience, just a broken spirit.
But it hasn't stopped, for when one gets a taste of what the devil is offering it becomes an obsession to get more. So we go to court again. This time it is a list of grievances attacking my character and insinuating I am unfit to be their mother. And I don't want to do this. I have a life that is beyond amazing in what I have been blessed with. But that isn't okay to someone who is miserable. So instead of living that life, I have spent weeks poring over false documents, dredging up past fights, reliving horrible memories of arguments, getting reports from Child Protective Services after he made reports that were found to be completely unfounded and police reports when he called yet again to cause a scene in our home, trying to breach the safety of the borders it provides. But it all falls through. Because what he doesn't understand is that you can't put out the light that comes through a person that comes from truth. People see our family and they can see what we are together. They know our character, and the kind of lives we have because we live it at all times. They know we have integrity simply by seeing how we handle ourselves. No need to proclaim it, no need to prove and no court ruling can take that away.
So I pray that tomorrow goes well. That the truth will be seen by the commissioner, That the support for what I'm doing will be felt in that courtroom tomorrow at 10:00 am and the hands that so vehemently want to hurt us will be stayed back for awhile.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I feel mucky. Not like an all the time, down-in-the-dumps kind of yuck. Overall I am way happy. But these forgotten nooks and crannies inside of me still need cleaned out. Maybe it was the hint of spring cleaning and wanting to shake out the cobwebs, or the fact that we just had an awesome garage sale and it felt so good to de-junk and now it's time to clear my head, or it could be just the rolling on of the clock, just simply time to be D.O.N.E. It's like my compulsion to vacuum and detail my van before a road trip. I know it's going to get so messy along the way but I just love the feeling of climbing into a clean space to start the next adventure. It's not always a good idea but it makes me feel so much better so I do. So I need to toss out the muck and I have struggled with how to do that on here. I like to tie things up with sparkle, I don't want this to turn into a bash session. Because that isn't where I live my life. I don't think to much about him. I care even less. Yet the annoyance is always there, and it seems to know when I am ignoring him. And then the buzz gets bigger, and you keep swatting and it doesn't go away until all you can think about is smashing that dang mosquito into bits and pieces as hard as you can. So I plan to make this pretty. Don't lose faith and think I have turned into the recently accused "bitter ex-wife." I've got plenty of glitter and sparkle to throw at you all in a minute, like some really good stuff going on here, but first I am going to release the pressure valve and let some things out. Bear with me, I need a minute...and a really large flyswatter.

To whom it may concern:
                I have been asked to share my thoughts and feelings about my former husband and some of the circumstances surrounding our marriage. I feel that K being married again will most likely be a benefit to both me and my children. My main concern in all major decisions that affect my children is their safety and happiness, and I believe that his new partner is kind to them and shares the same morals and values as I do, and I feel that having a stable influence when they are with their dad will be a good thing. I have not heard or witnessed anything that has raised any concerns with me about her behavior with them. I look forward to possibly having another person to help facilitate better communication between K and I, and I think that having someone who has a fresh perspective will help us have a more effective co-parenting, ex-spouse relationship.
                Unfortunately being asked to write this letter in an open and honest matter also means that I am forced to acknowledge the negative circumstances that still surround our divorce. It has been very difficult for K and I to agree too many of the terms we have tried to set. During two sessions of mediation, in which I presented the extensive parenting plan and terms of support and alimony, K would not agree to anything or offer a counter opinion. We finally appeared before a judge who granted us a bifurcated divorce, which means that the state agrees to allow us to be divorced without settling on any terms or conditions. We have a pending court date for August 2013. K was ordered to provide financial documents showing the assets that we had at the time of our separation and his check stubs or proof of income. He has refused to do so and they have had to be subpoenaed by the court. K was supposed to file our income taxes for 2012 and has still not done so. He also admitted that he had made false claims on previous taxes that I was unaware of, and that the IRS is demanding money from that. He refuses to acknowledge the joint savings and checking accounts, and he won’t show the records for an account that he refused to put my name on when we were married into which he was moving money into, from our checking accounts and an individual savings account from me. We also have bills from the hospital and doctors when I delivered our last child, that total about $1,500.00. They are all under my name, because K had his name removed from them when I left our house. He had told me multiple times that he would pay these bills, and that we would use the tax refund to take care of them, but they are now with debt collectors and are having negative effect on my credit. He is now claiming that it is my fault that Medicaid did not pay those bills and that I should have taken care if it before I left Kentucky, though he was the one who had filed all the paperwork with Medicaid and the applications were all in his name. We are both supposed to be responsible for 50% of the medical expenses for our children. I have not paid K for the insurance premiums for the last few months because he has not paid his half for the office co-pays, lab bills and prescription costs that have to be paid out of pocket. We are still both unpaid in those areas, but the last two months K has held back, against legal advice, the cost of the insurance premium from his child support check. He has refused to provide paperwork about the insurance when he changed it in January and I have no proof of the coverage that is actually being provided. For now he has not paid $170.00. K has said multiple times that he will pay for additional activities for the children such as dance and preschool but he has not done so. We have temporary orders in place but have not signed any permanent orders or allocated any marital assets. When I have asked for personal possessions that he unloaded from the moving truck without discussing it with me at his house, he simply says he didn’t bring them from Kentucky, though my children have personally seen many of the items I have asked to have returned at his current residence. K kept the car he had been driving and I kept our mini-van, which I have paid to maintain, register and insure, but he will not put my name on the title.
                I wish that I could say that I felt like K would handle himself differently in this marriage than he did ours, but I honestly cannot feel anything different about him when I see him. I worry about his emotional and psychological state entering into another marriage. K had struggled immensely in maintaining boundaries with other women while married to me. He saw no problem with emotional infidelity and it often was with girls who were still in their teens, sending text messages and following them closely through social media though I had expressed a number of concerns with his behavior. He finds ways to be around them as a volunteer athletic coach but the last team he was with asked him not to return after one season of coaching cross country running. One girl quit the team because she could not deal with K’s behavior and another family who had two girls on the team and who also attended the church ward we were in has said they were very displeased with the way K handled himself and his relationship to their daughters as a coach. K would use emotionally abusive tactics to get what he wanted from the girls, including silent treatment, berating them in front of the team or telling them their performance was inadequate. The parents felt that K struggled with a great deal of immaturity and an inability to handle competition in a healthy way. He spent a great deal of time one on one with female clients at the gym as well, and told me that he sympathized with a man who was having an affair on his wife because she did not provide for his sexual needs. K claims to have suffered sexual abuse as a teenager from a family member but he will not talk to his family about it or seek psychological treatment. I believe K has deep resentment and power issues with females and I do not think he has the ability to love someone in a selfless way. I worry about his treatment towards our children as they are all girls. I have had many talks with my seven year old about maintaining the standards she is comfortable with while under his care. He listens to music that uses vulgarity or sexually suggestive lyrics and he has makes the girls wear immodest bathing suits even though they have personally expressed the desire for something that keeps their stomachs covered. Our children often say they have a difficult time getting their father to listen to them and he does not allow them to make choices for themselves. It is a very selfish relationship and our daughters often resort to crying in order to get attention for their needs. He has had anger management issues and has had a lot of difficulty keeping a job because he refuses to comply with behavioral expectations. He has been fired for grand theft, sexual harassment, and complaints from patients or students about his behavior when working with them. His relationship with me has continued to be very difficult and contentious throughout our separation and divorce. He will often not respond when I ask about scheduling with the girls or questions about them when they are with him. He won’t acknowledge me when we are in physical proximity. I have tried to include him in activities for the girls, I believe it would be beneficial for them to see us interacting peaceably, but he will not come or he tries to illicit an explosive reaction from me when people are around. It is unfortunate because he misses a lot of things he could be involved in if he was able to handle it more maturely, but I refuse to put our children in a place where they are exposed to negative or manipulative behavior.
                The events that led up to my leaving our marriage were a very long process. K has struggled with an addiction to pornography since before we got married. I wasn’t aware of it until we had our first child and we spent some time separated then. After our second child he was still viewing pornography, and I found out about an inappropriate relationship he was having with a fellow female student, and one night I found him on the porch with a 14 year old girl from our ward. He was also moving money from our savings account into a secret account so he could spend it without accounting to me. We spent eight months living apart and we both attended counseling and after extensive work with the bishop and counselor, we got back together. He moved our family to Georgia where he failed out of the school program he was in. He got a job at a waterpark where he would not speak to us or acknowledge us as his family when we went to swim there. After losing that job he lied about interviewing for a job in Utah that did not even exist. He flew to California under the pretense of an interview that did not actually occur. We packed all of our belongings and drove not knowing where we were even going. He found a job in Kentucky working at a gym and proceeded to be involved in the same behaviors, again moving money into an account without my knowledge and buying almost $6,000 in stuff for himself even though we were taking out student loans to pay our rent. While I was pregnant with our third child K and I had almost no interaction in our daily lives. He was uninvolved in any activities due to an overnight work schedule and the fact he spent all his free time with the high school athletes he volunteered to coach. He would be gone for an entire day and I would have no idea where he was, when he was returning. After the birth, K made threats to my physical safety, even inferring that he would kill me, and tried to say it was a joke when I got upset. When my parents came to visit he took money from my mother to pay for our heating bill and then proceeded to have hundreds of dollars of sporting equipment and clothing delivered to our house. He bought a bike without my permission and said he paid $200 for it, he really paid $1,400. He continued to lie about where the stuff and the money was coming from and when I confronted him his only defense was to tell me I would never get a temple divorce over this if I left him.
                He quit his job to move closer to where I was staying with family after we seperated. Both he and his family spent less than ten minutes with our youngest child during the first six months of her life. Only after the mediator and both lawyers told him he had to make an effort to have some sort of relationship with her did he even try to spend any time with her. He has tried to be consistent with his visiting times, he never fails to show up and I don’t think the girls are going to be harmed intentionally while with him but he will not make plans ahead of time, he expects everyone to work around his schedule on very short notice and he continues to make threats about money and legal proceedings when he doesn’t get his way. It is a very selfish relationship and unless someone is telling him how great he is he doesn’t have a very deep interest in their lives beyond what they provide for him. He began attending the singles ward before our divorce was finalized, accepting a calling and speaking assignments because he claimed that when he met Elder Holland, in a parking lot while on a vacation, that he told him it would be okay to do so. Only after my bishop contacted his (under his own discretion, I had nothing to do with this call) did K finally cooperate in getting our divorce done.
                I believe K lives his life in a self-serving way. I believe this marriage is happening because it can provide for some of his needs at this time, but I don’t believe he is capable of having a fulfilling and success relationship until he begins to think of others before himself. He has never acknowledged or apologized for any of his behaviors towards me, I do not think he used this experience to learn or progress; he continuously blames me or other circumstances for our divorce. I hope with all my heart that he is able to make his next marriage work. I think he has found a very nice girl who deserves all the happiness she has always believed she deserves from a husband. Nothing would be more detrimental to my children than having to endure another ugly demise of a relationship in their parent’s lives but it is unfair for K to attempt to start another relationship with another person, who deserves a husband who is fully invested in her and their marriage, while he still has unfinished issues in ours. It is time to be responsible and take care of these things, we all need it to be finished so that we may attempt to move on and make something more of our lives. 



-I don't want this to be our script anymore. I don't want to think about the past when I see him. I don't want to judge every move he makes through this filter. I want it to be better. I believe it can be and it should be. We are better than this. So as easy as it is to repair a relationship with only one person (not!) I am going to keep trying. Because it is good for me. I don't like hating him. I don't like being angry, or impatient or cynical. I like being me. I feel good in that skin and that is not a bitter anything. After a few days of tubing and jumping off things and playing at Lake Powell last summer, my youngest brother said, "Who is this new Heather??" He didn't remember much of me before I was the wife and mom and not quite myself all the time but my sister piped up and answered, "This was always how Heather has been. Now she's just free to be it." Best feeling ever knowing that you actually get to be yourself in your own life! I can't believe I ever let someone steal that from me. Never again, and now I am going to shake out the dust, tie up the knots, and let this piece of history crumble into my past. It's not going to be pretty but its mine, and I don't have any room for muck anymore!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

   Come what may and live it. My life was so completely opposite of what I had thought it would be when I first said those words. It was so extremely opposite of where I thought I would be that I was very secure in just admitting, "Yep... This is where I am at now." It was something I did almost with a laugh, because I'm sure from the outside looking in, it might have seem like it was in shambles. I had a brand new baby, two little girls, had just moved across the country to move back in with my parents and go back to school as my 30th birthday loomed around the corner. But I was secure in who and what I was. I knew it was crazy but I knew God was there, taking care of me and guiding me through the wreckage. Then I started to get my feet under me. I stopped needing help at every turn, I started standing again on my own. My life took its new direction and I started finding the confidence in that independence. I began thinking my own thoughts, finding my own ground and slowly coming to be comfortable in my new identity. And there was a lot of happiness in that. The fear started fading away and strength came in it's place. And I was happy. A kind of happy that I don't think I had ever felt. My life was my own and there was so much good in it. I had been blessed with amazing people around me, I found joy in my kids and our life as a new different kind of family, my faith continued to grow and I realized that it was okay to finally really enjoy my life. And not in a next year will be good kind of way, or a when such and such is different I will feel better kind of thing. It was good right now and I didn't need anything else to feel that way. There was still lots of things that weren't going my way. some days it seemed like everything wasn't going my way. But it wasn't a fleeting joy I had found, it was a happy that was based on things that never fade, I had a found a security in my life of turmoil and I was enjoying that.
   And then something affected me. And I felt that nudge again. I know God is directing my life in the way it should go because I am doing everything I can to allow Him to do that. I have gotten really good at doing things that feel right in my life. I try to do things for the right reasons too, and sometimes that can change, from day to day even, and that's ok. And sometimes I stumbled in being comfortable with that. I had a long conversation with my much wiser, younger sister when I told her that I still felt deep down that I still believed the voice that had told me for so long that I wasn't worth the time. I was lucky to have someone tolerate me in a marriage, that I really was as small as he wanted me to be. I still dismissed my value as a person worthy of something good. And she told me that made her more mad at him than anything else had. She told me if she could scream the opposite into my head she would. Then she hit me with the question that shows how amazing of a woman she is and asked, Have you prayed to not feel this way? I will pray for you to not feel like that. And I sunk. Because she was so right. I hadn't prayed. I had held onto that battered and bruised and beaten part of my heart and guarded it with all the fierceness I had left inside. Not on purpose, not even knowing I was doing it, but I had.
    So I prayed. Again, And then again, and then a few more times. And I finally started to believe it. Because happiness isn't and ending, it was already here. The timeline we like to put on things doesn't really exist. Because our lives don't stop and start with singular events. Things don't really begin on anniversaries or dates on a calendar. Those are just days when the time is right for the stars to align. And God can finally show what he has been getting ready for you while you had no idea. He is aware of us. He takes care of us. He loves us and wants to bless us with things we cannot even imagine might be possible. Happiness is available and I no longer want to stand in the way of mine.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

thirteen and counting...

"I decided last year 13 was going to be our lucky number, I knew this year [2012] would be rough and I thought if we could just get through it then we would work on the next one [2013] being great. Last week I lost my car keys, with my gym pass on it and have torn apart the house, including going through the trash in 2 big outside cans with no luck. A few days later I realized I threw away my temple reccomend that I had stuck in an old magazine, so I dumpster dived for the 2nd time this month again with no luck. Then this morning I got my van completely stuck in a snow bank. In front of my exes house. In high-heeled leather boots. Yay, independent woman... But I have a spare key, my bishopric got me a new reccomend, and Kevin smiled the entire time he and a neighbor pushed my car out and on its way. So while I am more than thrilled to slam the door shut on last year and quickly welcome in 2013, because I am pretty sure there is some room for improvement for me, I learned you can't throw away the most important things in life, spending some time wading through the crap makes you realize what you have, and even crow doesn't kill you when you have to eat it once in awhile. Bring on the next, "lucky 13" here we come!"

This was something I wrote the first week of this year. I had no idea what would actually be in store for me but I have to say that "lucky 13" has held true. It has been so much more than I would have ever thought was even possible. More trying, more busy, more crazy. And with all that has been more happiness, more joy, and more impossibles becoming possible than I would have ever imagined possible. Lucky seems like it's almost too shallow of a word to use to describe my life this past little while. Blessed fits better. 2013 was yummy, joyfully, abundantly blessed!