September 23, 2013


i'm sitting at my computer writing this post- not trying to type it from my phone.

As I was unpacking I came across this picture...

"Zion in her heart"
Clark Kelly Price

a happy pioneer mother, holding her baby with children around her as she walks west.  The hills are blooming around this sweet family, it seems like a spring or summer trek west.  This is one of my favorite pictures.  Years ago, perhaps a different life ago, I helped to plan a girl's camp with the theme, "Trust and Be Led".  I was given this picture at the end of the week.   I remember looking at that mother and feeling like her.  My life was normal and still hard.  Normal life should be hard.  I remember really looking at that picture and really relating to the picture. 

But today as I looked, that girl seemed so different from me.  I actually felt jealous of her, because she was strong enough to carry her baby and walk down a hill.  I felt jealous of her independence and sense of purpose as she cared for her family and even had some extra to serve others.  She looked so strong and capable.  A symbol of who I used to be.

I continued unpacking and came across another pioneer picture.  (Didn't even realize they were painted by the same painter.)  This picture still has black and white polka dot tape attached to it, from where I had hung it in my hospital room.  I smiled as I saw it.  These are pioneers that I can relate to.  In this picture it is winter.  The pioneers are tired and straining to push their handcarts through a storm.  They are surrounded by angels who are helping them push. 
"When the Angels Come"
Clark Kelley Price

I was struck by the contrast in both pictures.  I love the contrast and I love how completely I have related to both pictures during different seasons of my life.  I LOVE life's seasons.  Sometimes we have springy, summer days and sometimes we have winter storms. 

All around me FALL is coming, the leaves are turning and falling and the air is getting crisp.  But inside me, I'm hoping the air is warming and I'm preparing for Spring.  Somehow I missed Summer this year... I had a long winter.  Today I'm still weak and fragile physically, but my Spirit is strong. 

As I lay in the trauma ICU following my surgery, they warned Todd that I looked pretty bad.  I was swollen to over 200 lbs and my abdomen was still open and bleeding.  They were unsure they would be able to stop my internal bleeding, repair the internal damages and save my life.  They were unsure how the hours of hemorrhaging and hundreds of units of transfusion had affected my brain. 

I had tubes everywhere keeping me alive.  Todd was unsure what to expect, but he said that upon entering my room he felt my Spirit so strong and alive.  He felt that God had blessed him so that he didn't even see my body, he saw me.  The contrast between spirit and body was so extreme that it was my spirit he clung to.  He spoke to me and squeezed my hand.  I squeezed him back, much to his surprise.  He asked if I could hear him and I squeezed his hand again.  Although I was still too swollen to open my eyes, and had breathing tubes making it impossible to speak, I began finger spelling to him.  I asked questions and he answered.  Doctors and nurses were literally jumping for joy that I was still able to communicate. 

Today I still feel that gap.  My spirit is alive and ready to jump into life.  My body is still battling with infection.  I'm caught in a spiral... without meds, I feel good but continue to get bladder infections.  Antibiotics kill the infection, but wreak havoc on my intestines which leaves me feeling weak.  My hands are a bit raw from washing them so often- I'm in the bathroom frequently.  (Public bathrooms stink.)  My muscles are weak from being so inactive since last January and I still have nerve damage that is constant but, thankfully, bearable.  I had some pretty intense damage to my vascular system.  I will continue to wear compression socks to my knees to help keep my blood circulating. 

Aside from my silly socks, I LOOK normal.  With clothes on, my scars are hidden.  There was an older lady helping us set up accounts at the bank.  She reminded me of my grandmother with her manicured nails and smoker's cough.  She looked into my eyes and asked,  "Honey, are you just tired today?"  I laughed.  I'm sure people don't know what to think about me... I feel odd.  I'm a young, cute mom who moves like an 80 year old woman.   My brother in law thought I seemed sick and fragile.  I AM SO SICK OF BEING SICK AND FRAGILE!  I'm so sick of having to sit by the elderly men, on the bench, by the grocery store check out.  I miss my strong body... and yet I am grateful for the strength I do have.  I'm grateful and impatient at the same time.

Before my surgery I was brave and strong.  I knew things could be hard and I was willing to accept the consequences, whatever they may be.  I was willing to accept death, paralysis, a colostomy.  Shouldn't I be more willing to accept weakness and infection now?  Truthfully, as my body is pushing my handcart up this mountain, it is my own spirit that is pushing beside my body. 

I refused to sit in a motorized cart at the grocery store last trip.  I'm weak and my legs started to ache halfway through.  Each step is a battle... I want to get stronger so I push myself.  My eyes are open to the struggle of others.  I see the ladies pushing walkers, I see them differently now.  I feel them.  I notice those struggling because of their weight.  I smile at the tired mothers being trailed by their children.  I wish that were me.  I noticed one cute college student who had a special shoe- one of her legs was significantly shorter than the other.  As she talked happily on her cell phone I thought-- Why not me?  Why should I be perfectly healthy when so many other people in the world are dealing with physical trials?  I can handle this trial.  Everyone has something... and this is my mountain right now.  I'm going to keep pushing this handcart and I'm going to be grateful for it.

Todd asked me to read Ether 12:27 for scripture time this morning.  Only, I couldn't read it because I was blinded by tears as I read...

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.

Today I am still very weak.
I am humble.
I am trying to be patient and faithful.
I'm grateful for the angels in my life, on both sides of the veil.
I'm grateful for my body and my spirit.
I'm grateful for life's seasons.
I trust God and I know that my life has purpose and direction.
Soon, I hope He will make my weak things strong.
Until then, I'm going to enjoy the journey.
Life is good.


Katie Olthoff said...

I'm so glad you're back at the computer. Your writing is amazing and inspiring.

I live in central Iowa, in a 105 year old farmhouse and I often think about the women who lived here before me. I think your pioneer pictures remind all of us that when we think we have it hard, someone else is going (or has gone) through something harder and survived.

You are a survivor!

Stephanie said...

You are a beautiful, faithful, inspiring woman! Thank you for helping me remember to be grateful for my current season in life--whatever that is. God bless you"

Christine Suldinger said...

Glad to hear from you again. I have been waiting. Back in the hospital with another bleeding episode for me so not much to do but wait for your updates 😃
You will make it trough this. Can't believe how far you have come. Stay positive
Sending prayers your way

Tiffany said...

I am so happy to see you "back"... even though it's not the precise version of "back" that you wish you had. Thank you for your wisdom & observations... and for sharing them with all of us. (Okay, selfishly, I'm just glad you share them w/me! :-))

As always, love and prayers to you!

kristine barr said...

Those verses hit the spot for me too this day. Thank you for sharing them.

Handsfullmom said...

Love you, love your writing and the truth and meaning in your words.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Both of those paintings are beautiful - and represent different parts of all of our lives. Just know there are many here cheering you on as you climb your own Rocky Ridge. It might be we are offering encouragement as we pull our own handcarts up Rocky Ridge beside you.

As the second painting depicts there are also untold numbers of angels both seen and unseen helping you on your way. Elder Holland once said, “In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike…you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection.”

Amber said...

I think you are lucky you didn't get taken, because you sound close to perfect and too ood for this world! What a great attitude, thank you for sharing.

Amber said...


Amber said...

I just wanted to add that I mean that, not that you are better than anyone else because I hate it when people say things to me that imply I am superwoman or something unattainable, so I just wanted to clarify and make sure you know I mean it in a very good way, we are all in this life together, we are all learning, we all have our challenges and obstacles to learn from and overcome, we are not better than each other, we all have things and life can be extremely rough at times and good at other times, thank you for sharing, I think you are handling your trials beautifully, it gives me hope I will be able to get through mine also. Again, thanks!

Deb said...

hi there,
have you considered taking d-mannose for the UTI's? I take it myself as i get frequent UTI's. It is a natural supplement and prevent's bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder/ urinary tract.

Hope this info is helpful!

Katie Ross said...

xoxoxo We read The Alchemist for book club. Some pearls there. Thank you for sharing your pearls. LOVE YOU!

Katie Ross said...

OK one more thing. "Daily toil, however humble, is our daily duty and by doing it well we make it part of our daily worship." Brigham Young. You ARE doing it well jen. That's it for today. xo

Bethany C. said...

I can't count how many times I've read that verse from Ether, yet something about it touched me deeply this time. It's so easy to become discouraged when the seasons of your life shift. Your post helped me to put my own challenges into perspective and renew my trust that God will strengthen me in them. Thank you!

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