Saturday, June 30, 2012

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010 was so nice, Melody and I got to spend it together with our extended family in Safford. On Christmas Eve the kids did a nativity program and the whole family went to deliver the Christmas Jar. Melody had saved her own money in her own jar this year and wants to do it every year. We love this part of Christmas. After the program, Melody got to open her Christmas bucket (after she found the key hidden on the tree) and got her Christmas pajamas. That night, Analyse and Mel put out carrots and oats for the reindeer and cookies for Santa and then went to bed :) The next morning Mel was up bright and early and we all got to open some presents. Melody finally got her snow leopard minky blanket from mom for Christmas and a bike and Santa brought her a hula hoop and a Wii. Mimi and Papa got Mel a set of Box Car Children books and Mel was excited because we had run out of things to read, again! After presents, Uncle Andrew took Mel outside for a bike riding lesson and then after that the cousins got to play!

Erik's Baptism

In December 2010 we got to go to Erik's baptism. Mel was so excited for Erik's day and had to get a picture with him at the church :) Erik is a great kid and I am glad Mel has such a great friend.

Christmas Concert 2010

In December, we got to go to the school Christmas concert. Mel loves the concert and her and Erik had been practicing their songs on the way home from school everyday for a couple weeks before the concert. It was fun to see the kids so excited and singing their little hearts out. After the concert, we went with the Gardner's to get some ice cream. It was a good night to get out, enjoy great company and music.

Baptism Day Novemeber 20, 2010

Melody was baptized on November 20, 2010. It was such a great day. Most of our family and friends were there that day and celebrated with us after. Leslie and Ruene even made a bunch of cupcakes for dessert to help us celebrate. Only bad thing, I didn't get one picture taken with my girl on her special day!  My dad, Melody's Papa, baptized her. Papa said that Melody has a strong spirit and he loved sitting next to her and listen to her sing. She knew all the words to the songs and sang them out loud and clear.

I know, without a doubt, that Melody is a strong girl and can make it through hard situations. I know that she made this decision to get baptized with a lot of thought...I really am not just writing this because it sounds nice. I saw this sweet girl read her scriptures and pray and ask questions.  Without too many details, it is hard when you are being taught 2 different things. Especially if the 2 different things are yes, there is a God or No, there is not.  As Melody's mom I bore my testimony to her that God is real, he loves her and all of us and he really does know us and care about us but I could still see that she was somewhat unsure so I prayed to know how I could best help her find the answer to that question for herself. My answer was pretty simple...continue to have Family Home Evening, pray, and read the scriptures together. Since this started when Mel was about the age of 5, we had some time. We did this and after 2 years, about 6 months before Melody turned 8, she came to me and told me she knew Heavenly Father is real and that she wanted to be baptized.

I can't even write some of the feelings I had the day of Mel's baptism. I stood off to the side of the baptismal font when Melody was baptized (the room was so crowded!) and was just struck by the goodness of this girl. I know how much of a blessing she is in my life and I feel like I caught a glimpse of how much Heavenly Father loves her and how important she is to Him.  Melody told me later that day that she felt the best she ever had and knew she had made the right choice.

 I had no idea, this day, that our world was about to be rocked in the next week and some things that would change both of us. I know that Melody being sure that her Heavenly Father is real, was so important to make it through the last year and a half and for the years to come.  I know her having the Holy Ghost to help her, guide her and comfort her was imperative to her finding peace in hard situations and in starting to find answers to the new hard questions she was asking and will continue to ask. I know that I have had to struggle more than I ever have had to, just to be able to be strong for her and to continue to have faith that through the Atonement, we can both have pain and fear turned into something that will truly make us better and stronger. I now know that it hurts a million times worse to see your child be hurt and to suffer than any personal physical, mental or emotional pain or abuse. At one time, I thought nothing could be worse than personal anguish and suffering...not anymore.

In writing this, I do not wish to sound hopeless...I just have had to work harder to understand some things and try to help Melody understand more about the Atonement. I have been studying and trying to understand and have be learning and then, just last week, I got an email from a sweet friend, Carolyn, with some great help. She went to a stake conference where Elder Holland was speaking earlier this month and said all in attendance received a spiritual feast and were taught more about the Atonement. Here are some of her notes on what Elder Holland taught...

Here is what he said: ""Do you know how our Savior died? Don't tell me he was crucified. That was the Roman's method of torture and punishment it was not the Savior's choice of death." My ears perked up, as I realized he was about to reveal a mystery of the atonement, the very thing I have been praying to understand at a greater depth.. "Christ chose to love us so deeply that he died of a broken heart, figuratively and literally it broke. How do we know? When the Roman guard stuck his spear into the Savior's body, blood poured out. Aortic bleeding."

He said further, that Christ loves broken things and took upon himself our heartache, heart break, infirmities, pains, and sorrows. He wanted to feel the breadth and depth of what we experience. "Christ died of a broken heart that is what makes the atonement soo personal. You only have a broken heart if you care, and if you care enough to allow your heart to be broken open, that love is deeper than any we know here in the telestial realm." God loves broken things, and cherishes a broken heart. The sorrow of a broken  heart is what he experienced and died from by choice." 
I have never heard that before but I heard it from an apostle of the Lord, and I believe it and it touched me deeply. He said further - "We better not squirm when we are asked to go through our Gethsemane, or a few steps of Calvary, and feel something like a brokenness..."That is discipleship. All of the Lord's suffering was unfair. He was perfect, yet he suffered unfair treatment.  What if suffering means you are good? We signed on for Baptism by fire and God applauded that we were willing to suffer inner pain and then act like the gods we are meant to become. The Lord was broken, his heart was broken open, he was put back together as we will be.When you are suffering, you just may be closer to God than you know...Always remember that the Romans crucified him but he did not die from crucifixion. He decided how to die, he gave up his life, they did not take it. He allowed his heart to feel the depth of 
sorrow and pain of all of us, and it broke his heart."

This was a new spin on the Atonement for me and it made it really seem more personal. I feel a connection to my Savior that I hadn't quite felt before and I see how Melody and I were carried through a lot of this last year and a half. I was reminded of how the suffering of our Savior was unfair and I think I hadn't realized how much feeling I had tied up in the idea that it wasn't fair for a little one to suffer and that because it wasn't fair or right, it should all just go away. I hadn't thought of it as discipleship. I have a lot to learn still and I hope as I learn, I can try to help Melody learn too....or maybe I should say I need to learn from her as well because she has much to teach me as well.  BUT I do have HOPE and FAITH that understanding will continue to come just as healing for Melody and I has begun and will continue as we work with our Savior and trust in him to put our hearts back together.

 I know the baptism post was probably not the place for some of this but in looking at these pictures, I clearly see the before and we are now making our way through the after. It is a major turning point in time for us. I hope maybe Carolyn's notes from Elder Holland's talk will maybe help someone else who is struggling and feeling like their heart is broken. If yours is breaking, then who better to turn to than our Savior? He already felt what you are feeling and only He can mend your broken heart. I love our Savior. I love our Heavenly Father and I know they love us too! I just have to add the last part of Carolyn's email to sum up the rest of how I am feeling tonight and my desire to better understand discipleship:

I understood another level of discipleship - which means when we are treated unfairly..we must remember how unfairly the Lord was treated. It is in that remembrance that we can find solace and comfort because we yoke with the Lord. Elder Holland quoted Matthew 11:29.."Take my yoke  upon you, and learn of me;  for I am meek, and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Then he urged us all to yoke with the Savior in our troublesome moments, always keeping His broken heart in mind, and how ours has to become likes his. The Lord loves a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and now we know why. Thank you Elder Holland

Melody's Baptism Photos

Melody loved having her pictures taken in her baptism dress and pretty pink shoes that she picked out. Our sweet friend, Shelley, took Melody to Mesa Arts Center and did a little photo shoot with Melody. Mel loved it! She had one smile after another. Shelley designed 3 invitations for Melody to choose from and Melody chose the last one to send to her family and friends to invite them to her special day. Thanks to Shelley for doing this...I would have sent out an email if it hadn't have been for your amazing talent!