Thursday, October 28, 2010

Working on that list

Remember this? Well, I'm working on it. That birthday of mine is just a little over 6 months away and I'm almost 100% sure that I won't get any of my top three things I wanted to do before I turned 35 crossed off. Of course, not having Gabriel is the biggest disappointment. I'm not sure what we're going to do in regards to having any more children. I thought Gabriel was our last but the thought of ending our family with such a loss hurts my heart. Anyway, I didn't want to make this a sad post, I wanted to write about the things that I have done on that list. So here goes:

Item #16-Watch a baby be born (not being the one giving birth):
So this was awhile ago, and I meant to blog about it, but summer was crazy busy and then Gabriel died and it was a little painful for me to think about it knowing that my baby boy's birth story was just so different. But, it was a great experience and something I've always, always wanted to do, so I'm blogging. I am so thankful for my friend, Lisa, to feel comfortable enough with me to invite me to see this most wonderful event. The day of, we had gone to Lagoon (the day after we told the kiddos about having a new baby on the way!), and Lisa texted me around 1 pm to tell me she was at the hospital and in labor. I was so bummed! I couldn't just tell my kids that we were leaving Lagoon! They would not have been happy with me at all. So the rest of the time we were at Lagoon, I was just bummed and waiting for the next text to tell me the baby was born. We had to leave Lagoon early so Ben could get to class and so I called Lisa as we left and she said she was still progressing slowly. There was hope! I made a quick call to beg my mom & dad to watch the kids and then after dropping off Ben & the kids, I sped like crazy down to the AF Hospital. I kept thinking that I was going to miss the birth by minutes, but somehow I made it there and Lisa was still in labor! Thanks for waiting for me Lisa!

A few minutes after I arrived, the Dr. showed up and broke Lisa's water and a little while later the action began. Lisa was amazing! She didn't have an epidural or anything for pain. She just breathed through it all with her hubby, Brinton, right by her side. I was put on picture duty and tried my best to take some good and not too graphic shots. Then the moment came, where this little guy entered the world.
It was such an amazing thing to see! It was really fun because they hadn't found out what they were having so everyone was waiting to see what he was. I knew it was a boy-so fun since Brinton & Lisa have one boy who is Skylar's age & then have had three girls since. It was really cool to finally get to see a baby born. Thanks Lisa for letting me be a part of such an amazing experience!!
Item # 85- Hike to the Y

All of my life I've looked up at the Y from my grandparent's home and wanted to someday get up there. Then when Ben & I were dating, our friend would ask us each time we went out if we were hiking to the Y. I guess that's the thing to do on a date when you grow up in Provo. Ha ha. Ben and I have joked about hiking to the Y for many date nights throughout the years. My friend, Abby, told me that when we did it we should go together so we were excited that they could join us for this adventure!

So last Saturday we headed out bright & early for our hike to the Y. The forecast called for rain at noon so we knew we needed to hurry. Ben & Abby loaded the babies on their backs-troopers!-and we headed up the trail. I had no idea how steep it would be! It starts out steep & doesn't really let down through all 12 switchbacks up the mountain. At one point I was questioning my sanity in wanting to do this because honestly, I haven't done much in the form of exercise in awhile, especially since Gabriel died. But I wanted to do it, so I kept on. I was amazed that all of the kids did it with little complaining when my body was screaming at me! In fact, for the most part, the kids were running ahead of us & had to keep waiting for us to catch up. We decided to hike all the way to the top & it was such a great feeling of accomplishment to get up there & look down on the Y and the valley below. It was absolutely beautiful up there!! The leaves were a million different colors and it was just spectacular to see. After a quick snack we headed back down the mountain. About half way down it started to sprinkle a bit but it waited until we hit the bottom to start the downpour that continued for the next few hours. It was perfect! We had such a great time and I loved it...even if my body was pooped for the next two days afterwards! Thanks Mailes for joining us on your special day of remembering-it was sooo fun to go with you!!
I heart this picture the mostest:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A forceful, gentle pull

The other night Ben and I went to see the movie, Hereafter. Now it takes me a lot to actually fork over the money to see a first run movie, but I was compelled to see this, with thoughts of the hereafter on my mind constantly at this time. I can't say that the movie was great, in fact it was really slow and Ben said it best when he said the acting was underwhelming, but it was very positive for me because I came away from that movie feeling a greater gratitude for the knowledge of I have of the plan of salvation. The premise for the movie is about three different people struggling with the idea of what comes after this life, from differing points of view. Throughout the movie, they are all searching, yearning for the answers and there is no real conclusion for any of them. They still don't know in the end what it all means, where we go, or what to expect. I still have so many questions about why Gabriel's life had to end before it really started and why I am left to suffer through the enormous pain of living without him, but at the same time, I know where he is, I know God's plan, and I know that someday this pain will be replaced with amazing joy when we are reunited. It's humbling to think that in a world filled with so many people in the dark on this matter, I am blessed beyond measure to have it.

With this knowledge, I still wonder why every day is just so overwhelmingly sad for me without Gabriel here. I have my other children and my Ben, I have this knowledge of the gospel, and yet everyday I continue to be in so much pain and have so much disappointment with Gabriel's loss. I keep thinking that one of these days I'm going to get it, to let this knowledge bring me some glimmer of happiness, like I know it should. The Lord knows my struggles and I don't think it's a coincidence that when I was particularly struggling with this the other day, I was able to read in a book, Joy Cometh in the Morning, that I recently received from my aunt:

"In essence, all of my questions were tied together: "How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord?" (Alma 14:26). The answer we received, however, was not given as a specific number of days or weeks; it was about several important truths about patient endurance, or waiting upon the Lord.

Despite our understanding of where this little girl is now, why are we still filed with such sorrow that it cannot be quenched by our knowledge of the gospel? Our innate longing to belong to one another and the "homesickness" of separation from our departed loved ones are intentional parts of the plan of salvation. These yearnings can stay with us as a forceful, gentle pull toward our heavenly home. "

That was the answer I needed. The Lord does not really expect me to ever completely stop grieving over my loss of my sweet baby and the dreams I had for him. He doesn't expect me to ever feel complete without him here with me. He is my child now and forever and I should want to be with him. The Lord expects that I desire this and long for it. Knowing that I have my Gabriel waiting for me makes me want to do everything in my power to get to do that someday. So I'll continue to drag myself out of bed, put a smile on my face when I hardly feel like smiling, do all of the Sunday school answers, and mostly I'll go to church every week, even when it takes all of my energy for the two days preceding and following to do so, so that I can partake of the sacrament and renew my covenants with the Lord, and receive the knowledge that will get me to my perfect little baby in the end. If I didn't already desire it enough, Gabriel has become that forceful, gentle pull toward my heavenly home, and for that his life is one of the greatest blessings I could ever have received. Hopefully, along the way, I will find a way to do this with the joy that is intended in this life, and fulfill one of my greatest goals of enduring to the end, with a smile on my face.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


What a roller coaster grief can be. Last week I truly felt better. The things we did to remember and recognize our little Gabriel's life were healing in a way and it was a good week. But somehow, something came crashing down and this week has been just so hard. I've spent most of the last few days holding back tears, near tears, in tears, or sobbing uncontrollably.

I guess one thing I've come to realize is that no matter how supportive some people can be, that I will still be mostly alone in my grief of Gabriel. It's hard to explain but I guess it's that there are those that are able to mourn for me, but not with me, and that is a truly isolating feeling. The nature of pregnancy loss and that the baby is an actual child just is difficult for so many to understand. No one knew Gabriel besides me, who felt him growing and moving, and Ben is the only other person that actually ever saw our baby boy's body. To us, that makes Gabriel real in a way that no one can feel. I get that. But I still wish that his loss was important in a way to those that I love. I guess I feel that they should love, miss, and mourn for him as well and I find that most people just aren't able to feel his loss as a loss to them personally, instead of just as our family's loss. One of my dearest friends did express to me that she felt that Gabriel's life had touched her life and made her a better person. Those words meant the world to me. To actually have someone else besides Ben and my kids valuing his little life brings comfort to my heart.

I've also been struggling with the fact that I have nothing much to show for this life of Gabriel's that has meant so much to me. We have no grave to visit. We have just a few pictures, some footprints and handprints, molds of his hands and feet, and we have the tiny blanket he was wrapped in. I am grateful to at least have something, but at the same time, it's hard to not have more. After 4 1/2 months of having his little body growing in mine, I feel like there should be more and yet there's no way to have more. The tangible things that friends have given me to remember Gabriel have really helped more than I could ever imagine. It seems silly to feel so much comfort from an object but it's amazing how much I've need those things to physically represent him.

Then there's those blasted holidays. I'm struggling so much with them. I want so much to be able to be happy about them, to remember what they are all about, but I just can't. I see them as this looming overwhelming time of aching headed my way. I was so excited about having a baby around Christmas time. It was totally selfish of me, because I knew that it'd be the worst time for Gabriel to have his birthday but I just thought of that first magical Christmas, preparing to have a baby during the time we celebrate Christ's birth. Every year when Ben asks what I want for Christmas, I never know. But this year, it was going to be perfect. Gabriel was going to be the very best Christmas gift I could ever receive.

Gabriel wasn't supposed to just be mine either. When we told our kids and parents about being pregnant, we told them he was their Christmas present. I just feel so disappointed that I can't deliver that now. Skylar's had a rough week too and she mentioned to me the other day through her tears, "He was supposed to be our Christmas present, Mom." My heart was literally breaking for my sweet girl, who was so excited to have this little brother. I just wish there was a way to make this Christmas special for them. I wish we had the money to buy them the best present ever, but I know that there's no present that can replace their brother.

Along the lines of the money thing, this week the bills started rolling in. It's depressing knowing that we are paying for a baby that we don't get to keep. Today, I got one for "induced abortion." Seriously?!? Can't they label that differently? It's such a horrible word to describe the birth of a child that you love with all of your heart and would never, ever want to get rid of. Everything about this is just so cruel.

Needless to say, I'm not sleeping too well. I've always struggled with insomnia at times but since Gabriel died, it has been worse than ever. The doctors prescribed sleeping pills at first but I've tried not to take them. When I do, I just sleep so hard that it's hard to wake up-which doesn't work when you're a mom and have to go on with life, as appealing as sleeping all day does sound. It's so hard to turn my brain off at night and not think about Gabriel and the pain I feel, even when my body is filled with exhaustion. I'd like to just shut it all out and sleep but I can't do it. It's so frustrating.

Knowing all that I do and having a testimony of the plan of salvation is something I struggle with. It's not my testimony that is struggling, but instead knowing that my testimony should make it less of a struggle. I know I should be able to find happiness, yet it seems so unreachable. The other day we were at the store and Alexis pointed to a baby and then turned to me, pointed to my tummy, and said, "No baby in tummy, Mom. Baby Gabe in heaven with Jesus." I know those words should bring me comfort but this week they aren't. I know where Gabriel is, and I know he's perfect and happy. I have faith that he will be mine to raise in the millennium and that it will be such a joy that I have no way to comprehend it now. But I am so impatient. I'm impatient with this unhappiness and this sorrow that I feel now and I'm impatient knowing that I have to wait so long to have him again. I just want to be happy again. I want to be able to make it through a day without crying and aching so badly. I really want to get off this roller coaster and I know it's not happening any time soon. This is the worst.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Filling Our Fall Break

We had such a fun, yet exhausting Fall break. I'm so glad that I was feeling a little better so that I could participate in all we've done. We've been busy, busy, busy, but enjoyed it all!

On Wednesday night, we had the long awaited Activity Days late over. I have to admit that this emotionally took a lot for me to pull off. The day we found out that Gabriel had died was my last day doing Activity days. I went from having activity days at my house, where we planned our end of summer late over, to that awful doctor's appointment. I can't help but correlate the two. But, I love my calling, and even though I was asked if I wanted to be released, I said no. This is where I want to be. I am so thankful to the parents and girls in my group that were patient with me to be able to get to a spot where I was comfortable being back to doing them again. We started again with a bang! We have 10 girls now since they combined the 8 & 9 year olds. This is great since it means I still get to have Skylar for another year, but a little crazy! For the late over all 10 girls showed up, even the inactive ones! It was awesome....and soooo loud!! We had pizza & lots of goodies, made journals, talked about our family trees and the importance of genealogy, and then the best part...told "ghost stories" about our ancestors. It was such a blast and I think all of the girls had a really good time!
A break from school just isn't complete without getting together with the Tongs. We don't get to see each other much during the school year because everything gets busy and they live so far away but we always try to plan something fun for those breaks. On Thursday we spent a beautiful day outdoors at Cornbelly's at Thanksgiving Point. The kids had so much fun together! It was so crowded but worth it to see the kids having such a good time. We spent 5 straight hours there enjoying the beautiful warm weather....some of us even came back with a little too much sun. Later we went to Cafe Rio for some yummy food and more fun! The Tongs even came to our house for a few hours on Friday to play. Yay for school breaks!

On Friday afternoon we went to pick out our tree for Gabriel. We ended up getting two trees because they were such a great deal! We got a beautiful flowering Eastern Redbud and for a bonus, we got an amazing Japanese Maple. We just absolutely love them both and can't wait to see them grow in our yard.
One of the traditions of Pregnancy and Infant Loss day is to light a candle for every baby that has died across the nation at 7:00 pm so that there is a continual wave of light across the country. I've seen some amazing pictures of all the candles lit for all of these little ones. My friend, Mindy, gave us a beautiful candle she made for us to light for Gabriel and right at 7:00 we lit it and put it next to his box that holds the blanket he was wrapped in, his footprints and handprints, and the molds of his hands and feet. It was absolutely beautiful. We will always remember you, miss you, and love you sweet baby.We then headed over to the wonderful benefit concert for the Mailes. I'm so glad we went. We had the best time! It was so great to see how much love and support was shown for that family that we love so much. My favorite thing was watching how much fun my kids had and seeing genuine smiles on their faces and the faces of the Maile girls. Skylar and Alexis were definitely loving the atmosphere of music and dancing, which is so exciting for me as I'm such a huge fan of concerts. I can see many more concerts in our future. We had a very late night, which ended with three of the four completely konked out. You know you've had an exhaustingly good time when you can sleep through all that fun and noise!

On Saturday we planted our trees. The kids had a lot of fun helping out. They are going to be a beautiful reminder of our precious baby boy, Gabriel.
After making a short stop at Naki's grave to see his amazing headstone, we headed up to my parents' for a family party. We had a good time. My brother, Ed & his wife, Jen, and kids even made it up from St. George. Unfortunately, my sister, Steph, & her family couldn't make it because she wasn't feeling good after running her third (what?!) half marathon! Way to go Steph!! We missed you! Everyone dressed up in their costumes so they could show their stuff. Here's a preview of Halloween fun to come:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Remembering Gabriel & Naki

I have a strong testimony that the Lord knows just who needs to be put in our paths to help us through our lives, at times of joy and sorrow. The first day that Ben and I saw our home we knew the second we drove up that it was where we were supposed to be. I know that part of us needing to be here was so that we could meet our wonderful friends, the Mailes. They have found a place in our hearts forever. I think that the Lord definitely knew that they would need us and we would need them. I am so very thankful for that.

Ben and I have been trying to figure out the best way to honor baby Gabe for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. We have decided that we are going to plant a tree in our backyard in his honor. So tomorrow, we are going to go find a tree. I'm sure we'll find the perfect one. I might need Abby's amazing gardening help to keep it alive since I greatly lack her ability to make anything grow in my yard. I hope that somehow that tree will find a way to comfort our family when we are especially missing our Gabriel.

After we pick out our tree, we will be attending this. You should come too:
I couldn't think of a better way to honor and remember our baby as to honor and remember a great man like Naki Maile. He's someone that I would love for my boys to grow up to be exactly like. What a great example Naki was and continues to be to our family. We love him and all of his 7 girls with all of our hearts. It's hard to believe that he's been gone a year now. We still miss him every day and still strive to be just like him and keep in our minds How Can We Be Like Naki? I don't doubt that Naki and Gabriel are some of the greatest missionaries that the Lord has now. What a blessing it is to have these amazing, wonderful spirits in our lives forever.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness

It's October, a time for remembering. This week is pretty significant to a few special people in my life who are remembering. Today, I've been remembering, as it was just two months ago tonight that my baby boy, Gabriel, was born. This month, as Nick Jr. keeps reminding my kiddos, is Hispanic Heritage Month and its also Breast Cancer Awareness month. But I don't think most people know that October is also Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month.

Today I went to the store with my kids. Everywhere, everywhere, I saw that pink ribbon that represents Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was on yogurt, cereal, medicine, paper towels, etc., etc., etc. I saw it on at least three cars driving home. I mean, it's everywhere, which is great! It is wonderful that it is something that is being put out there so that others are aware of it and trying to help in early detection and finding a cure. I fully support it and went out of my way to buy the things that were labeled with a pink ribbon. My family actually has a history of breast cancer. My great-grandma had it and just last year, my sweet aunt fought it and survived. We have kept my aunt in our daily prayers hoping that she will remain free of it. It's a horrible disease. The statistics are that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of those, the majority will survive.

Pregnancy & infant loss statistics are a bit more staggering. 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in loss. 1 in 4 of all babies don't survive. The parents of those babies, like me, are left with the greatest grief they could ever experience having. For many, it is difficult every day for the rest of their lives. One of the hardest things, as I've learned, is that no one talks about it and if they are able to say something, it's a quick ' I'm sorry', and on to the next subject, which is okay because at least they are saying something. It is somewhat taboo to talk about dead babies. It's something that parents are almost expected to just get through and get over and to just not talk about anymore. I know for me, that this has left me feeling utterly and absolutely alone. I actually want to talk about my baby. He's my son. I love him and I miss him desperately. I am always thinking about him, so talking about him is actually good for me. It doesn't hurt me anymore than I'm already hurting to talk about him. That's why I blog about him.

I ran across this quote in a book I was reading on pregnancy loss:

"We can share our joy with anyone. But we are lucky to have one person in our whole lifetime with whom we can share our misery."

I am so thankful that I have not just one, but a few friends, that will share in my misery of the loss of our baby. I am so thankful for the people who will talk to me about him, especially when they refer to him by his name, Gabriel. It makes me know that they really, really care about me. Thank you to all of you who remember.

This Friday, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I'm not sure what we're going to do for it, but we want to do something to honor our sweet baby Gabriel, who was only in our earthly lives for a short time, but has left such an impression in our hearts forever. For all of my friends reading this that have lost their own babies, I will be remembering your babies too. I'm so very sorry you have to have this pain. Maybe everyone could take a few minutes on that day to remember these precious little ones, gone much too soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Due Dates

Does everybody remember their babies' due dates? I always do. They're like engraved in my mind forever...along with my babys' birthdates. Today was Alexis's due date, two years ago today. Tonight we were laughing about how the kids never made their due dates. Skylar was 4 days late, Nick was 2 days late, Kade was 1 day late, and Alexis was 3 weeks early!! Even though we were laughing, my heart was aching because there's the one big looming due date, baby Gabe's due date, January 7, and I'm totally dreading that due date. I'm usually a huge, huge fan of the holidays. I love everything from this moment until New Year's Day. I savor every minute of all of the fun and hate to see it end. But for the first time in my entire life, I'm hoping the holidays come and go very quickly. Because they're definitely coming...and so is that due date.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It will all be worth it

Two months ago today was the day when the world came crashing down for me. It was the day that my doctor, and then the ultrasound tech could not find my baby's heartbeat, and my greatest nightmare had come true. I have always feared losing one of my children and it had finally happened, before I even got to really know him. It was the worst feeling I have ever felt and continue to feel. There are times that I can't believe that it's only been two months because it seems as if I've been hurting forever, but at the same time, every morning the shock of it still knocks me over. I hate this.

I have been trying so badly to follow the prophet's advice and have an attitude of gratitude, but it's been especially hard, since these last two months have been filled with so many more trials than just the loss of Gabriel. The last week has been especially hard. It seems like I say that all of the time, but I guess that's because things just keep on happening and I don't see any end in sight to the disappointments and hardships for us. I'm trying to stay positive, but lately I've been feeling a lot like Job in all of this. I know it's on a far, far lesser scale, but we've suffered through many similar things. First, Job lost his children. We lost Gabriel. Then Job lost his property. While we haven't lost our property, we've had quite a few household disasters with extensive damage-I won't even begin to go into it. Then Job got boils. I haven't gotten boils but the last week I have been in more pain (minus childbirth) and sicker than I think I've ever been. I don't really want to go into it either but I'll leave it at the fact that I've had an extremely painful abdominal infection, almost like appendicitis, but on my left side, that made it so moving even a tiny bit was torture. I have spent the last week laying on the couch, trying my best not to move. One of the hardest things has been that my children still need me and I need them, but I couldn't even hold them in my arms because it hurt too badly. I've been on some antibiotics that are slowly getting me better and some pretty heavy duty pain pills that aid in taking some of the pain away, but mostly just knock me out and make the world fuzzy. I've noticed that even when the pain pills take away my physical pain, it's amazing how much my heart still feels like it is literally breaking. I guess there's no pain pill strong enough for that. So, I've been feeling pretty darn picked on, and at the same time, feeling pretty darn guilty for feeling that way.

In my time of not moving, I've been able to read quite a bit, when I wasn't knocked out from the pain pills. I've been reading in Job so I could see how he was able to get through his trials with a positive attitude. I've read the entire Old Testament before and heard so many lessons about Job and it seems like you always remember just how faithful he was despite everything. But in studying, I've come to realize that Job really did have moments where he just complained. Things weren't fair and he hated it just as much as I do. Some of the greatest people out there complained, even Joseph Smith and Jesus himself. They all asked for the Lord to take away their trials. I feel like all of this time I've been beating myself up for letting myself be miserable and it helped me to realize that it's okay to feel sad and depressed and overwhelmed. It's okay to ask the Lord for an end to the suffering. The thing is to get through it, to endure, to have faith, and to look for things to be thankful for along the way.

In D&C 121: 10, the Lord spoke to Joseph Smith, while suffering in Liberty Jail and told him this:

"Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job."

So this is where my gratitude has lied this week. I have wonderful friends who have helped me, comforted me, and loved me. I'm really not one to ask for help, but I have been humbled this week to the point where I've had to, and my friends have been there when I needed them. In the same day, I had a friend take my kids for the afternoon so they wouldn't be so neglected, another friend stop by with dinner out of the blue, and yet another friend stop by with frozen dinner for another night. Then there's Ben, who is suffering through every bit of this with me, without complaint, and holding the weight of all of our daily things on his shoulders. While I've laid on the couch, he's gone to work every day, fed and cared for the kids, done house repairs, and babied me. If I didn't express my gratitude to my dear friends and my sweet Ben, I would be very ungrateful indeed, so thank you! Thank you!

I don't understand why we've had to deal with all of the things we have. Believe me, I've asked the Lord time and time again why we can't just have a break for a bit but I guess the answer right now is 'no'. It seems as though grieving for the little baby that we wanted so much should be enough, even though I would take all of these trials and more if I knew that in the end we'd still get to have him in this life. When Gabriel died, I remember someone telling me that I'd get so many blessings for being willing to offer him his body to fulfill his earthly mission. Maybe I guess I'm still looking for that, just something to go really well for us, to show me that it's all worth it. There was a day when I was pregnant, and just so miserable, and I remember telling Skylar "Sometimes being pregnant is hard, but it is soooo worth it." I'm trying to remember that even though my pregnancy didn't end with a baby in my arms now, that it does hold hope for me to know that my perfect boy has already completed his earthly mission and is my blessing in the end. Someday I will be with him again and the suffering will all be gone. The key is, just like Job, Joseph Smith, and our Savior, to endure, to have faith, and to look for things to be thankful for along the way. The promise of my baby boy in the end makes this all seem worth it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"To live with gratitude in our hearts is to touch heaven."

It has been a really, really rough week. We've had yet more of life's unexpected things hit us and I've had a pretty hard time keeping a good attitude. I've decided it's not going to do me any good to even complain anymore. I've felt many times this week like just giving up, but really, how do you do that? Life is still life and there are still going to be the things that rock us, but there's often no way to prevent them, so giving up and complaining isn't going to help either. While life certainly doesn't feel fair right now when I look around and see others doing so well, I know that there are still others who have it worse than me.

General Conference couldn't have come at a better time. I really, really, really needed it right now. I hate to admit that I haven't been feeling too much of the spirit when I've been going to church lately. When I go to church my heart just feels like it's breaking and my head pounds the entire time and I just can't wait to be done with the day. It's just really hard to be there, enough said. But I know that if I want to be with my little baby boy, Gabriel, again that I have to do hard things, and so I go and will continue to go until someday, I know, it won't be so hard. A good friend of mine has actually volunteered to take our kids a couple of times in the last few weeks so that I could go to the temple, once with Ben and once by myself. It has been really nice to get to go and to feel the spirit when I haven't been able to do so at church. I feel so blessed to have a temple, even the temple I was sealed to my sweet Ben in, so close that I can go there for peace.

The amazing thing about General Conference is that you can stay at home, without the pressure of the social aspect of church, and yet feel the spirit so strongly while receiving much needed inspiration from the Lord's appointed servants. It always seems to come at the right time every six months when I need it, but for the first time in my life, I feel like it actually came at a time that I was completely dependent on hearing the words of the prophets. There were two talks that I felt like the Lord had singled me out of the billions of others watching, to touch my heart and let me know that He loved me.

The first was President Uchtdorf's talk. He talked about how when we are facing hardships and tragedy that we need to slow down and not try to keep up the pace of our normal lives. This is something I definitely have a hard time with, especially in the last few weeks as I've been physically feeling a little better. I have been trying so hard to get back to some kind of normal and yet there isn't a normal now. I am still grieving immensely over Gabriel's death and so doing things normally just doesn't really work. I just can't keep up with the normal things I used to do. I find myself exhausted at the end of each day, yet I am still not sleeping well and so I can't fall asleep at night, so I never feel rested. I've been trying to make just one goal a day and get that done so I can feel some kind of accomplishment but at the same time I feel guilty when I don't get to all of the other things. President Uchtdorf said, " Diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior." It definitely made me evaluate my life right now and realize the things that really need to be done, regardless of the other things that I would want to be done. The words I especially needed to hear were " Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the necessary changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty on the simple, humble path of simple Christian discipleship. The path that leads us always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace."

Then there was the talk from our dear prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Now I know this one was especially for me. It was about gratitude. It's something that I feel that I haven't always struggled with but I am doing so now. My Grandpa Jensen always impressed on me the importance of gratitude and I've tried to remember that throughout my life. As the holidays approach, I'm especially reminded of one of the greatest of all holidays that is so overlooked, Thanksgiving. My family and I always make an effort of each choosing something each day to express gratitude for throughout the month of November. It's a tradition that I hold really dear to my heart. Yet this year, I'm struggling knowing that it's coming. I know I am so blessed. I know it. But things are just so hard right now and just keep hitting that I feel that the bad is outweighing the good. I know the Lord will only give us what we can handle but seriously, I don't think I can handle anything else and so at a time when I feel so oppressed with trials and discouragement, finding gratitude in them has been extremely difficult and I have been struggling to overcome that. So today, when President Monson talked about this, I knew it was for me. He said so many wonderful things about gratitude:

"We can lift ourselves and others when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate an attitude of gratitude."

"The grateful man sees so much to be grateful for and with him the good far outweighs the evil."

my favorite:

" To live with gratitude in our hearts is to touch heaven."

and the one that hit me with such impact that I was bawling:

" While there is much wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us...our lives are blessed in countless ways."

I have that loving marriage that is making it with a most wonderful, amazing husband and best friend by my side. I have five miraculous children that I love with all of my heart, who as I cried through that talk each showed their love for me with hugs and kisses. I have awesome friends that care about me and help me. I have a friend that the other night allowed me to text and vent my awful day to her even though it was very late and she is having difficult times herself. Just last night my girls made an effort and got babysitters so that we could have a girl's night out that I greatly needed. Afterwards one of them stayed in my car and talked and cried with me until almost 2 am, even though it was her birthday today and I'm sure she'd rather have been sleeping. Then today, after hearing that amazing talk, I walked outside to find newly planted pansies in my garden, that another incredible friend had secretly planted, even though I know who she was. I am blessed. I am so very blessed and I am so grateful for the reminder to recognize the outstanding blessings that Heavenly Father gives me each day. Yes, they are mixed in with plenty of trials, but I hope that I am able to see that the good far outweighs the evil and that somehow my heart will be filled with so much gratitude that it will touch heaven, where one of my greatest treasures is waiting for me.