January 01, 2014


I can't.  I simply can't put 2013 into a funny little Christmas letter.  Todd tried.
His, "To say we are grateful for Jen's life is a great understatement" was followed by "I love, love, LOVE, LOVE my new lawn mower." Blah.

"2013 was beautiful and difficult for our family.  We are anxiously looking forward to 2014."
I want to write a simple, grateful, happy account of last year and move on.

I want eight children, and each an only child.
I want to taste the beauty of each moment without the fear that each moment could be my last.
I want the strength, the faith, the gratitude, and the growth of 2013 without the scars, the exhaustion, or the pain.
I want to keep the new depth of relationships, and zap back to old levels of order and competency.
I want to remember every life-changing moment, and I desperately want the hard moments to haze into the horizon of my mind.
I want to learn all that I should learn from life, and I am so sick of learning!

14 years ago, after a year of wondering why I wasn't getting pregnant, I found myself in the office of an odd, natural healer.  I remember very clearly his prophetic "palm reading".  He said that I would have no problem having children, that I would have many children and would just about kill myself bringing them to life.
He was right, I kind of hate that he was right.

For YEARS, I knew there was a little boy waiting to come to our family.  My soul reached out to him and I was hungry to know him.  Even as I birthed 7 other children, my soul knew I had another.  There was a divine, sweet, enveloping peace that came to me as an ultrasound revealed we were having a boy.  It was no coincidence that moments later doctors explained my rare and life-threatening pregnancy condition.  I know that God had prepared me for this trial.  It was not a result of having too many children, it was not bad luck, it was part of my life's story.

Is there a grand feeling that mothers get when their families are complete?  I would describe it more as a quenching.  It is easier to feel thirst than it is to describe the feeling you get after you have drunk.  In one moment, years of thirst were quenched; I felt full and at peace.  In the words of Charlotte, my eight children are my Magnum Opus, my life's work.

I had NO IDEA what 2013 would hold for me.  But, even if I did-- I would have chosen it.  If this was the path that I had to walk in order to get that peace, I would walk it again.  I can say this even as my tired soul asks, "Is there no other way?"  Oh, I wish it didn't have to be this hard.

I love this verse Moses 5:11, "And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our [experiences] we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth to all the obedient."

President Lorenzo Snow said, "Every man and woman who serves the Lord, no matter how faithful they may be, have their dark hours; but if they have lived faithfully, light will burst upon them and relief will be furnished."

He also said, "The sacrifices you have made, the hardships you have endured and the privations you have suffered will . . . sink into insignificance, and you will rejoice that you have obtained the experience which they have furnished. ... Some things we have to learn by that which we suffer, and knowledge secured in that way, though the process may be painful, will be of great value to us in the other life."  (pg. 115, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church.)

I was giving a special blessing once and one part I loved said, "You will have many trials to overcome in this life.  And I bless you with the courage to overcome these trials, so that you will be able to see through the clouds and witness the sunshine above."

Sister Sheri Dew said, "It is actually easier to motivate someone to do something difficult than something easy.  That truth may seem counter-intuitive, but it shouldn't.  Our spirits crave to progress, and if we aren't moving forward, we aren't happy.  The plan of happiness is pro-progression; thus the desire to progress is hardwired into our divine DNA.  Whether we're conscious of it or not, we crave the feeling of moving forward, learning, growing and improving-- even if our steps forward are small and intermittent.  That is why the lack of even modest progress leads to disillusionment and discouragement, whereas steady progress instills peace of mind and optimism.  How inspiring would it be if our Father had said, "Be ye therefore mediocre"?  Though our knees buckle at times under life's burdens, and though we tend to flinch when talking or thinking about aspiring to perfection, none of us wants to stay just like we are.  Embedded within our spirits is the need to become more and more like our Father and His Son."  (pg 34, Women and the Priesthood.)

So, good-bye 2013.
You will always be my unlucky 13... the end of my childbearing years and the dawn of my miraculous new life.

I feel grateful and honored to be here today.
I know that there is a God, that our life has purpose, that there is a great plan of happiness and that life is good.
I want to wish for an easy year... but, I have been trained to do hard things.  It is what I'm good at.  I suppose I'm not ready to retire yet.
Carry on friends!  I hear 2014 will be a good one!


Marie said...

Happy New Year, sweet friend!

Sometimes life IS hard.... But God is good!
Hugs to you...❤️

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Loved all the quotes you shared, Jen. It has been a hard year for you and your family but there you are shining brightly before us all still smiling, laughing, and living. Here's to a wonderful New Year!

Evaly said...

I feel like I should say amen after reading this. It could describe my year as well definitely unlucky 13! I hope 2014 is wonderful for you and your family!

cheryl cardall said...

Thank you for this. I completely understand this. My last baby (of my 5) was my sweet blessing to our family. He is such a joyful addition for all of us, he is our glue. I had severe pre-eclampsia with the pregnancy and my health has never really returned. So while mine has not been as life threatening as yours, I understand the price for peace and joy that you experienced!

Unknown said...

"I want to wish for an easy year... but, I have been trained to do hard things."
So mush power in that sentence. Im sure to hold on to that when I need more strength!

Anonymous said...

very powerful. Thank you Jen!!

Lisa said...

this was so profound for me. thank you.

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