I received an email yesterday from a dear friend who is living back east. Her letter made me smile and reminded me of the incredible, unwavering faith of our sweet little children.
As we struggled (for years and years) to have another baby, Kortland struggled right along with us.
I vividly recall a time, just over a year ago, when Kortland was sitting in sharing time during primary. (Because I am the chorister, I'm in there with him during primary every week.)The sharing time speaker was talking (and talking and talking) about how important it is to be kind to our brothers and sisters. Then she asked the children to raise their hands and share experiences where they showed kindness to their siblings or when their siblings did something nice for them. Hand after darling little hand was raised in the air, and each child shared wonderful stories about special family nights, big brothers who carried them inside when they got hurt, and sisters that made a special tea party for them when they were feeling down.
As each story was shared, I saw that Kortland became more and more uncomfortable. He fidgeted in his seat, rattled a paper hand-out disruptively, and started talking loudly. I moved over to sit next to him, with the intent to get him to quiet down and listen carefully, but was quickly overcome with the realization that he was hurting. He wanted to participate. He wanted to be like everyone else. He wanted raise his hand, but he couldn't.
He couldn't raise his hand and tell everyone that he had been a good big brother. He couldn't share experiences about the kind of love that only siblings know and share. And he was the only one. And it broke his heart. And it broke mine too.
I asked him if he was feeling sad that they were talking about brothers and sisters because he didn't have any, and his eyes filled with tears, and he buried his face in my body and sobbed. My eyes filled with tears and I just held him. And we cried together, hearts breaking together, in a room full of people. I whispered to him that I knew that Heavenly Father loved us, and that he would send a baby to our family someday.
"But when?" he asked in desperation.
It felt horrible, in that moment, to have no answer other than "I don't know. I guess when the time is right."
Six months later, the praying began. Not my praying (that had been going on for over 4 years now) but his. Every night he fervently prayed that Heavenly Father would send him a baby. That he wouldn't be completely alone on this journey we call life. (Of course, he has his parents, but it's just not the same. He wanted an equal. A forever friend.)
Four months after that, he suggested that we have a family fast. Not even two weeks after that, we had a positive pregnancy test.
I will never again underestimate the faith of little children, nor will I ever forget the deep and abiding love that our Heavenly Father has for His little ones. I know that He loves all of us, and I know that happiness can always be ours, if we turn to Him and TRUST in Him, come what may. To say that the last 5 years were hard on me (and Kort and daddy) would be an understatement, but oh how sweet is our joy now. We can literally taste it. The gratitude runs so deep in my bones, it is almost all consuming.
Every kick, every tiny, miraculous movement from this new life inside of me fills me with a joy that I can't even express with the written word. And I think that the best way to explain it is to say that it is my grief and pain transformed. Converted into something beautiful, where something ugly and empty was before. And the joy is intense because the pain was intense, and in the end, both are good, and both are necessary.
So, if you're still in that dark, empty place where so many of us have been before (and inevitably will be again), hold on - the good is coming. The light is coming. The. relief. is. coming. And between now and then, if you can recruit a little one to pray for you - it comes highly recommended!
Here is the wonderful email I received - enjoy!
"So, some of you know that a few months ago, Aden came home from church with a story his teacher shared about when she met Elder Oaks. He asked if I'd met an apostle before and I told him the story of when I'd run into Elder Oaks--unfortunately literally--at the MTC. He told me how much he wanted to meet an apostle so I encouraged him to pray for an opportunity.
So, he did. For about two weeks straight at nearly every family and meal prayer, he prayed that he could meet an apostle. Our stake president happens also to be a member of our ward so I mentioned to him that Aden had this desire and if there were an apostle coming into town for stake conference, etc, we would love to be "alerted".
A month ago President Heller asked me if we would be willing to feed Elder L. Tom Perry, Elder Hallstrom (70), and Elder Stephen Hansen (70) on February 24th--if things worked out for them to attend. I said yes and got an email on Monday (22nd) morning asking if we would grab another family in the ward and prepare a dinner for these three men, our area Mission President and six other stake presidents. Yes!!!!
The day started out early with scripture study and personal prayer. It's amazing how you evaluate your life and what you're doing (or not doing) when you're about to meet a chosen servant of the Lord. I made the first of three batches of bread bowls then got the boys up. While we ate breakfast, I read to them the story in Alma 8 of when Amulek fed and cared for Alma. We discussed what we would be doing today--feeding an apostle! and asked the boys to think hard about how they talked and behaved all day to prepare for such a special day.
Once Aden and Adam were off, I took Josiah and Jaron to the stake center to begin the set up process. When we walked in, there was a crew of cleaning people and audiovisual people there to set up and clean. They make sure chapels are immaculate when general authorities come. We asked our good friends, the Mautz's to help us with the dinner so Kristin and I mulled over the china, napkins, flowers, etc...until it was just right. I bought new glasses to use (I needed them) and Kristin bought new silverware (funny)! Then we ran home to cook dinner!
I made bread bowls, chili and apple crisp. Kristin made creamy vegetable soup, an awesome chop salad, punch and peach cobbler.
We dropped kids off, picked them up, gathered spouses and both got stuck in bad traffic on the way to the stake center....but we set up just in time. A nice stake president from Madison helped a little ;) and Adam watched all the kids under 6 in the nursery while Alan filled water glasses and kept dishes clean all night!
Right as we were telling Aden (6), James (9) and Claire (7) how to serve the food, in walked President Heller and Elder L. Tom Perry. I heard Elder Perry say, "Where is he?" President Heller pointed to Aden and Elder Perry walked right up to the three kids, shook their hands and talked to each of them. He asked James how he got along with his sister. "Sometimes good, sometimes bad," James said. Claire said the same! It sure made them laugh.
By the way...if you've never met Elder L. Tom Perry in person--he's huge! He is really tall, well built and wide shouldered. Next came Elders Hallstrom and Hansen of the seventy. They each shook the kids' hands as well. And last was President Berrett. He told Aden he was, "A really good boy and would be a good missionary when you grow a foot or two." Aden laughed and said, "Yep!" Our stake president said to Aden, "You not only got to meet one apostle, you got to shake hands with three!" Aden nodded with a huge grin.
The kids' job was to take the salad plate when it was empty and ask which soup the brothers preferred. Then they took the bread bowl full of soup to each person and kept their punch cups filled. Once Aden asked, "Are you done?" When President Nelson said not yet, he waited until President Nelson took the last bite then said, "NOW are you done?" Thankfully these men have a good sense of humor;)
Elder Perry said two or three times to the kids, "OH! What a wonderful thing. What a wonderful service these kids are doing." Then he asked if I had a camera (I did--thanks Jaune). "I want to take a picture of these children. I will use it as an example of children who have been taught well by their parents to serve." We took a picture as we wrapped his arms right around the kids and a few minutes later he asked if we would take another one and this time, "Make sure you get the beautiful flowers in the picture." He noticed the pictures on the wall and said how lovely they were.
When the kids asked which dessert Elder Perry preferred he said, "Oh, you keep giving me so many hard choices!" President Berrett made it easy on himself and asked for both the peach cobbler and apple crisp (and ice cream).
Right as the brethren were about the leave, President Heller asked me to bring Alan and Adam in to meet Elder Perry. So in came all the kids and spouses and Elder Perry was happy to shake their hands. Jaron offered him a bite of his playdough dinner he'd been working on. Elder Perry thought that was cute...he also bent down and shook Josiah's excited hand.
After that there was a lot of cleaning up and the kids ate and ate and ate! They had worked hard. I asked Aden to tell me everything he remembered and felt tonight (I wrote it down for his scrapbook and my journal) but the two neatest things are these. First he said, "I liked the old one the most...[Meaning Elder Perry] He was really nice." And then in his prayers tonight after thanking Heavenly Father for answering his prayer and letting him meet three apostles he said, "Please help me to never forget this day." I think it's a day we will all never forget. "