Sunday, September 11, 2016

We Remember

Last night, I sat with three of my teens and my niece and nephew discussing September 11th.  They pointed out that every year they are told to remember an event that they don't remember.  At all.  Two of them were toddlers, one was an infant.  One was a week from his birth while the last was born almost exactly a year after that awful day.  Ever since that conversation, I have been pondering.  My patriotic heart can't deny it, I do want them to remember.  But what, exactly?
Do I want them to remember events so horrible that I worked diligently to shield them from 15 years ago?  Do I want them to remember that people can be cruel, and hateful and unyielding?  That men hurt each other and crash planes into buildings?  Do I want them to live in fear?  No.  But still, I want them to remember.

I want them to remember that good triumphs over evil.  Even in the darkest of times, before the dust had even settled, the goodness of human nature started to shine.  Millions of stories have been shared.  Boats ferrying stranded people away from the chaos.  People offering water, clothing and medical help to complete strangers.  Entire communities providing food and shelter to stranded airline passengers.  And on and on.  While the shock was still settling in our hearts, the inspiration and unity were already emerging. And it felt so good to be united.   To know that we could rise above such tragedy. That even though we were not ok, we were going to be just fine.

I want them to remember that the little things really are the big things.  In the days following these tragic events, President Bush asked the youth of our country to do some work to help those victims who would be suffering for years to come.  His suggestion was that each child do a little chore to earn a dollar to send to help the victims.  My 2 and 4 year old kids raked leaves to earn their dollar.  They each mailed them to the fund.  All those dollars sent by children all over the country added up to a great fund to help those loved ones begin to recover.  I hope that they always remember that there is something they can do to help.  Sometimes they will be able to jump in and get their hands dirty helping those in need.  Sometimes they will be able to send a little money to help.  Sometimes all they will be able to do is pray for those in need.  But I hope they will always remember to be a helper.  To find ways to serve and love those who need it most.  

I want them to remember to pray.  On September 11th, there were millions of Americans, glued to TVs across the nation, feeling helpless.  I could do nothing to help.  I couldn't deliver water or dig through rubble or post fliers.  But I could pray.  A million uttered prayers.  Prayers for help.  Prayers for the injured.  And the survivors.  And those who loved those who didn't make it out that day.  I prayed for the leaders of our nation.  And for all the rest of us, whose hearts were hurting and there was so little we could do.  I found peace and comfort in prayer.  And when millions across the nation united in a day of prayer, peace settled upon us.  Peace amid turmoil.  And I knew it would be ok. I want my children to always, always always remember the power of prayer.  The peace that can be found there.  And that sometimes, when there is nothing else to do, (or when there are a million other things to do as well) the power of prayer can never be overestimated. 
I want my children to remember those who lost their lives.  Like so many other tragedies, battles and wars, the lives lost are senseless and irreplaceable.  Remembering them can not bring them back to those who still miss them 15 years later.  But it can give their loved ones the comfort of knowing that they are loved and remembered.  That their lives meant something. That we have not forgotten.

It seems that the past 15 years have brought more events that we would rather forget than we could have possibly imagined.  Our nation is hurting in so many ways. And I believe with all my heart that the only way we can heal is to remember.  And to serve.  And to pray. And to know that one day, good will triumph over evil.  And our hearts will heal. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Charity through trials

The following to links contain stories of a family I was lucky to have as my neighbors.  They are true examples of "making lemonade."

We love the Beard family and are continuously uplifted by their example of charity and Christ like love.

If you are interested in helping with Mikey's Christmas Jar, you can find more information on their facebook page, Mikey's Christmas Jar

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Flying fast while standing tall

I have enjoyed watching the Olympics this year.  There are so many inspiring stories and amazing people that I have watched over the last two weeks.  However, my favorite Olympic moment came in a short interview with Noelle Pikus-Pace right after she won the silver medal in Women's Skeleton.

Noelle's Interview 

There are many reasons I admire Noelle.  Her commitment to her family, the support she gives to others, her joyful nature, and many more.  However, as I watched this video, it wasn't those attributes that had me looking for the rewind button on my remote.  What made me admire her even more was her message to the youth as she spoke in front of an international audience, "Remember who you are and what you stand for." 

Within our church, that is something the youth are taught often.  It is something they have heard from parents and leaders for most of their lives.  So, why did that phrase impress me this time?  I think that standing up for what we believe is easy when we are in our usual surroundings.  When we are around those we love and those who share our same values it is easy to discuss those those values and share what we believe.  However, put us in different surroundings (or on a world stage) and sharing our faith becomes scary.  It doesn't matter what you believe in. . . do you live it or do you hide it?  Noelle not only chose to live it, she chose to share her message with the world. 

Thank you, Noelle, for the reminder.  Thank you for being an example to not only the youth, but for those of us that needed the reminder that we can be who we are, no matter where we are. 

On a side note.  Did you ever notice that Noelle is always wearing a necklace when she races and in interviews?  I have noticed two different necklaces.  The one you see her wearing in the video is her Young Women's Medallion which she earned by completing Personal Progress (a program for young women in the LDS church).  The second is the LDS Young Women pendant that features the young women logo.

Congratulations, Noelle, and thank you for being a true role model. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Making the Goal

Isaac and his sweet friend Marissa
Riverton High School's girls soccer team lost last night.  And it was a heart breaker.  Unless you were on the Davis High soccer team.  The irony of the fact that I am writing about girl's soccer is not lost on me.  The last soccer game I remember attending involved me offering my daughter a dollar to kick the ball.  Not to score a goal, just to actually touch the ball.  I still have that dollar.  My oldest son, Isaac hated the sport until last year when, for some inexplicable reason he became Riverton High School's girls soccer team's biggest fan. (Ok, there's your explanation: GIRL'S soccer team)
Riverton had an awesome season this year, with high promise of going all the way to State.  But last night's game was rough.  Still they pulled through to sudden death overtime.  I won't go into the technicalities since I will just sound like a fool, but I know this; it came down to one last shot at a goal.  Isaac's sweet friend Marissa was up.  According to Isaac, she played her heart out and had a great game, but the goal just didn't go in.  Sometimes that happens.  She was devastated.  I'm sure the weight of the team and the season felt like it fell squarely on her shoulders at that moment.  I wasn't there, but the scene breaks my heart just the same.  I don't know Marissa well enough to tell her what's in my heart and I'm sure her parents are on it, but I can't get her off my mind today.
You see, Marissa is one of Isaac's favorite people in the world.   When he was in a scary car accident last spring, it was Marissa he called when he got home and needed to process the whole thing.  She talked to him at 11:30 at night to calm him down.  When he is feeling grumpy or out of sorts, I often find him texting Marissa to sort things out.  I don't know what she says, or if just listening and not saying anything is her trick, but her influence for good with my son is so appreciated.  Isaac loves that she will listen and is always kind and positive- to everyone.  He doesn't give a lot of specifics on why he thinks she is such a great friend, just that she listens and is so kind.  Or as he puts it "One of the coolest people I know."
So the good news today is that there is a beautiful teenage girl out there who didn't make the goal last night, but she makes the goal in life every day.  And that's the one that really matters. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Name Calling

I have been thinking about my cousin James today.  
Which is funny because we aren't particularly close- James is MUCH older than me.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  So we didn't really grow up together.  He was my older kinda cool cousin who found pleasure in torturing us at Thanksgiving.
But today I have been thinking of something he shared at his son's funeral.  As he stood at the pulpit braving the incomprehensible task of sharing his feelings at that unimaginable time, he said something that has changed my perspective forever.  You see, he shared his experience as he drove home from the hospital on the horrible day his little man passed away.  He stopped at a service station for a drink.  As he stood in line, the thought hit him, "None of these people have any idea.  I'm standing here in line with these people and they have no clue I just lost my son."  (At least that's how I heard what he shared)
The thought hit me like a ton of bricks.  How many times have I been impatient with someone because I didn't understand their behavior?  How often to I judge someone based on their actions, not knowing what is in their heart?
Are the names we call others kind?   Do they help or hurt?  During his darkest hour, James taught me one of life's biggest lessons.  We should always help, because odds are the person is already hurting.
I thought of James today because of this wonderful story found in Prodigal Magazine and written by Susan Basham:

Pulling my car into the drive-thru line at Starbucks, I wondered why it was a dozen people deep. It wasn’t raining, yet it seemed everyone was driving through today. I was transporting three dogs to the groomer, and there was no way I could leave two wild Shih-tzus and one crazy Bichon alone while I went inside for my daily dose. Millie, the Bichon, sat on my lap licking the window. As I peeled her away from the glass, I saw the woman. She sat across the parking lot, leaving just enough room for a thoroughfare, as she too was waiting in the Starbucks line. I smiled, and gestured to her. It went something like this: “Are you next, or am I?” Really, I was fine either way. She was not. Thinking I was trying to snag her spot of next up, she gunned her Suburban, rolled down the window, and let out a string of expletives that made me blush. Millie barked back a retort. “Go ahead, please,” I said. “I wasn’t sure who was first.” I pulled Millie back onto my lap, so she could see I had been dog-distracted and truly didn’t know who was next. She didn’t buy it. She continued with the name calling without taking a breath. I won’t write them down here, but the main mantra shared initials with the number one social networking site. 
Then something really strange happened. Instead of getting mad or yelling back at her, a sense of empathy invaded me. I looked at her again, and this time I saw someone different, someone who wrenched my heart. Her eyes were red and puffy. Her hair was pulled back in a natty ponytail. She held her phone in her palm, glancing down at it every few seconds. And she was driving that big ole’ gas hog of a Suburban, my own car of choice when I had three kids at home and a carpool. Dear God. I was looking at myself ten years ago. Same car, same ponytail. Same frustration. We’ve all been there. Dog vomits on the sofa. Both kids have strep throat. The garbage disposal chooses today to break, when you are trying to disintegrate moldy fridge leftovers.  Husband is mad because you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning and he’s going on a business trip. Sound familiar? And by the way, was that him she had been talking to or texting? She gunned forward, just to show me that she could. I left her a wide berth, smiled at her splotchy face. She shot me a sideways scowl, mouthed the mantra again. Pulling up to the loudspeaker behind her, I said “I want to pay for whatever the woman in front of me has ordered. And please tell her I hope she has a better day.” I meant every word. The woman idled in front of me for a good four minutes, talking to the barista who had leaned out the window. She shook her head and handed over a bill. She drove around the side of the building slowly, this time no gunning. Hmmm. “No takers, huh?” I said to the barista as I pulled forward. “Nope. She said she couldn’t believe you wanted to pay for her drink after all the names she called you. She said she couldn’t allow it, and said to tell you she was sorry. She felt really bad.” “Did you tell her I hoped she had a better day?” “Yep. She said thanks— that she already was.” “Good to hear.” I smiled and handed her a dollar to put in the tip jar. As I drove away, I began to cry. Not because I had been called so many terrible names, but because God had answered my very recent prayer—which was that He would allow me to see people as He sees them, not as I see them. That I might be able to see the hurting inside, instead of just the hurtful outside. And maybe a few tears were of gratitude and amazement that He always shows up with an answer when I sincerely ask. 

Joseph B Wirthlin said "Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes."
I can't pretend to be as thoughtful and understanding as Susan, but I can try. And I can make sure that the names I call others are the kind I want to be called.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Giving of Yourself...A Tale of Three Kidneys

The following story appeared on KSL News.  I can't take credit for writing it or for the amazing chain of events it tells about.  Luckily, this blog isn't about credit, it's about finding good.  And this story is definitely good!
It seems that so much of our happiness is about service.  As we serve others, we are less focused on ourselves and our problems.  Pretty ironic that as we bring joy to other's lives, we find it ourselves.
These amazing people were certainly blessed as they blessed the lives of perfect strangers...

SALT LAKE CITY — Three people are recovering after receiving new kidneys. What makes their medical procedure so incredible is the connection they share — living donors who came together as part of a paired transplant exchange.
All three received a kidney last week, including Hayley Fershtut’s 2-year-old son, Beckham.
"The people who have stepped up to save my baby's life, it's been amazing,” Fershtut, of Layton, said through tears.
When Beckham was born, doctors discovered his kidneys did not fully develop and were functioning at just 12 percent of what they should be.
"He had a window of a couple of months that we needed to get this done in order to avoid having to put him on dialysis,” explained Dr. Raoul Nelson, a pediatric nephrologist at Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Since the surgery Sept. 11, the little boy is doing so much better, according to his parents.
"He couldn't walk before. He couldn't keep any food down before,” said Beckham’s father, Ari Fershtut, “and now with this new kidney, he should be able to live a very normal life, be able to catch up and walk and run like other kids and go outside and play with them.”
The surgery was dream come true for Beckham’s parents. Ari Fershtut was going to donate a kidney to his son, but they were not a match.
"The kidney was something that we personally couldn't give to him, and I am so grateful to them that will step up and come to give him something that we couldn't,” Hayley Fershtut said.

The toddler’s kidney came from Kristy Buffington, of Twin Falls, Idaho. The 37-year-old wanted to donate her kidney to her friend Brandy Jess, 40, but last-minute tests showed they weren’t a match.
“So I decided to donate to her, and then we came down (in July) and the final cross-match said we weren’t a match, that the first test was actually wrong,” Buffington said.
They were ready to turn around and go back to Idaho when Buffington said they were approached about the paired exchange program. She told doctors she was willing to do the paired exchange only if there was a guarantee that her friend would receive a kidney. After a couple of weeks, matches were found.
Even though Buffington wasn’t a match for Jess, she’s happy she was able to help a little boy.
“It was really awesome to be able to help this little guy at the same time,” Buffington said. “He’s only 2, so that was pretty cool, too.”
While Ari Fershtut, 32, was not a perfect match for his son, he was a match for Juan Romero, 45, of Wendover, who waited three years for a transplant and had been on dialysis. Both men had the same rare B-negative blood type.
“The doctors say the kidney is working very well,” Romero said.
Now, he has a new lease on life, thanks to people he had never met before.
“I’m just grateful I got to help my son, but also help (Romero) as well,” Ari Fershtut said. “It’s a bonus on top of that. It’s great that I got to be a part of it.”

Bartling's gift began a chain reaction that resulted in three people receiving a kidney. His went to Jess, Jess' friend Buffington was a match for 2-year-old Beckham Fershtut, and his dad, Ari Fershtut, was a match for Romero.

Their surgery was performed Sept. 12.
Jess' transplant exchange was made possible by Ted Bartling, 51, of Morgan. He is known as the good Samaritan in the exchange because he has no relation to anyone else involved.
“I’m just some guy off the street that had a weird idea that I would go in and see if I could help somebody other than myself,” Bartling said. "I just knew there was someone that matched."
It took six months of testing and looking for a match, and then the hospital called him to say they found someone he could help.
Bartling said he was feeling great six days after donating a kidney. He had no idea who would receive the kidney, but after the surgery he met Jess.
"(She’s) a mother, a wife, and that means the most to me,” he said.
Buffington said her good friend is making progress and the two of them share a much stronger bond, even though Jess didn't receive one of Buffington's kidneys.
“She is kind of having a rough time of it, but she will make it,” Buffington said. “She is an amazing person. She's got a good, positive attitude, so she will get there.”
But Bartling’s gift began a chain reaction that resulted in three people receiving a kidney. His went to Jess, Jess’ friend Buffington was a match for 2-year-old Beckham Fershtut, and his dad, Ari Fershtut, was a match for Romero.

Enlarge image
Two-year-old Beckham Fershtut received a kidney from Kristy Buffington in a paired transplant exchange last week. His father, Ari Fershtut, wanted to donate his kidney but wasn't a match. (Photo: University of Utah Health Care)

"And that way we were able to build a chain and take two incompatible pairs plus a non-directed donor and transplant three patients," said Dr. Jeffrey Campsen, who performed all three surgeries on the donors.
University Hospital was the location where all the kidney donors had their surgeries, along with two recipients. Primary Children's Medical Center was where the surgery on 2-year-old Beckham Fershtut was performed.
Ari Fershtut said the whole process was a great idea.
“Instead of helping one person, six (people's) lives are affected, and it’s a wonderful blessing,” he said.
Bartling said donating a kidney has been life-changing for him, a chance to give back for what he has.
"We really do have to help each other, to make society better, and we have to give more than we take on occasion, and that is how I got to be here. I wanted to give more than I take,” Bartling said. “It’s such a great feeling, just to help.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Brought to you by the Letter "M"

Sometimes good news comes in an instant. Like a shooting star that appears unexpectedly and puts a smile on your face. Other times there is a long, hard road before that magical moment when the world seems right.

So it is with the Dahls.

Meet Amber, my sweet sister in law. Her first husband made many decisions that caused him to loose two things: his family and his freedom. But this story isn't about him. It's about Amber and her three beautiful children. When Amber's marriage ended, she was left with three children ages four?? and under. 

She moved forward with her life and eventually met someone who loved her and her three kids. Amber and Derek married in 2009. They bought a beautiful home and jumped into family life. Newlyweds + three. 

Fast forward three years and one new baby boy. Amber's ex still sat in prison and Derek was the only Dad her kids knew. It was time to make it official.

 A kind neighbor helped the family get adoption paperwork ready to go and Amber's ex-husband wrote a letter relinquishing his parental rights. But these things take time. Almost two years later, things were finally ready to go.  Amber and Derek were ready to file the paper work and set a court date. The courts understood that families who are seeking to adopt do not like long drawn out processes so the court date was set only two weeks after the papers were turned in. 

Then the miracles began. But we only learned about them after the adoption was all said and done. You see, Amber and Derek are preparing for other major steps in their family. As part of this, their LDS Bishop sent Amber's ex-husband a letter. It was returned because he had been transferred. The second letter was returned as well because he had included a self addressed stamped envelope (Who knew???). The adoption was finalized on a Monday. On Wednesday, their bishop received a call from her ex's social worker. He felt uncomfortable with the reason for the letter and he had demands regarding the letter. He wanted yearly updates and pictures of the kids. He wanted to meet with Derek. The Bishop kindly explained that it was too late, he had already given his permission for the adoption and it was final. The second permission letter was no longer necessary- the kids we no longer his. 

I shudder to think of the results had the timing been a little different. What if the first letter had found it's way to Amber's ex? He could have recanted his letter relinquishing his rights and giving permission for the adoption to take place. He could have fought the adoption and the lives of these sweet kids would have been forever changed. But the letters were returned and the judge saw that this was the best thing for these sweet children. 

The Dahls have always been a family. But with a Judge's signature it is official. And we couldn't be happier. Or more grateful. 

This perfect moment was brought to you by the letter M (for miracles).