This past summer before our reunion I wrote an email to my family detailing the latest things Lucy was struggling with.  I asked each of them to explain to their children that Lucy was/is a little extra emotional…I didn’t want them to be caught off-guard by one of her outbursts.  Cousins are core and have the potential to give so much love to each other in unique ways, and I know Lucy needed them to try to understand, rather than stand there with gaping mouths if she lashed out in one of her tough moments.  
The reunion was great, and I’m so grateful for those good cousins who are so sweet to each other (Lucy included), and that we as parents can help nurture that kindness in so many ways.  I know that some kids are just born with natural intuition as to how someone else is feeling, but perhaps much of kindness comes from taught awareness. And example.
But what I want to talk about today is the experience my sister Saydi told me about when she talked to her kids about Lucy’s situation.  She told them that she envisioned Lucy as a glowing beautiful spirit in Heaven.  And when God told her His plans for her: that she would have some struggles with a syndrome called BBS, she valiantly accepted with the knowledge that she could do it!  She painted such a beautiful picture of Lucy accepting what those trials may bring her in life, and a beautiful willingness to go and do what God wanted her to do in order to help her learn what she needed to.  And that she would be able to help others learn specific things that would build them up in many ways as well.  When Saydi told me about that little talk with her kids, both of us were in tears.  It was all so beautifully put (Saydi is beautiful inside and out that way).
I love to think about how God sees us.  How He sees my children.  How He sees me.  It’s so easy to be down on ourselves as we compare and hit roadblocks and struggle through the trenches.  And there’s something so beautiful about envisioning God seeing us in such a different way than we often see ourselves.  So much more than what we see on the surface.
Which brings me, finally, to my point:  
Last Sunday Grace got a special blessing.  It was a blessing from a man we call a “Patriarch,” someone who is given this special opportunity to give blessings to those who request them.  It is meant to give divine direction and love from God.  I have loved being with each of my three oldest children for these blessings…all given during their senior year in high school (doesn’t have to be then, that’s just what they chose).  During those blessings it is so easy to catch a glimpse into what God sees in my (also His) children, glowing and beautiful in His eyes.  A peek into that Heavenly beauty and what He can see in them.  
Their divine potential.  
And Grace’s was no exception. 

One thing I loved most about her blessing was that the Patriarch told her before we began that the blessing wasn’t just the words.  It was the feelings she felt prompted with as he said the words.  And that she should remember those feelings and keep them close.  Write them down and remember them. I loved that.
As he gave that blessing and talked about how God would be intertwined in her life as she seeks Him, I couldn’t help but see a little glimpse of how He sees her: radiant and glowing in a way that is unfathomable in this life. She is so beautifully valiant.  Made my heart knit to hers more than ever before and thank God forever for sending her glowing spirit into our family.  That I get to be her mother.  I could almost sense the things she will do as she makes herself willing to follow the promptings to build and connect and love as He wants her to.  Just as Lucy will in her own way, that glowing spirit seeping out of her earthly body here and there, and as all of us can if we will just remember.

Remember that we are His.  And even on the days where all is black and sorrowful around us, when we make poor decisions and mess up in every different way, His hand is outstretched.  He sees our glow and is cheering for us to kindle and build, and He is there to help if we will only ask.

It just made me so grateful to feel His love.  For Grace and for myself, for Dave nestled in beside me listening to that glorious blessing with light seeping out into that room last Sunday.

God is good.

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  1. The kind of unconditional love we get from siblings and cousins is so valuable!! The first round of photos you posted with Abby included one of her and Lucy holing hands in bathing suits; I think that’s exactly the kind that of girl that makes so much sense for Max and your family.

    I find the idea that God gives people disability “ to help her learn what she needed” DEEPLY problematic and upsetting. Is this true for other misfortune too? People have horrible thing happen to them because their soul needs to learn? ?!?! How about the idea that bad things happen to good people and that we can find strength and comfort in God.

    Not very comforting to tell your kid she’s going blind because God wants her to learn something! Ugh!! Do you have the same idea for victims of violent crime?

    1. Just came back and found these comments…love the discussion (below) brought up by this question. I do believe that we all have different and varying journeys in life, and part of why we are here is to figure out how to deal with the issues and circumstances that come our way. Do I believe that God gave Lucy the challenges she faces? I don't know how that all worked out, but I do believe in a loving, all-knowing God, so I do believe that He knew she would face some serious trials because of her syndrome. And He also knew she could take them! And she does. She is having a particularly difficult time this year, and as her mother it breaks my heart over and over again. But not only do I believe that God has her in the palm of His hand, SHE believes this. And I think that is what makes her strong and that is what is going to carry her through life. She is learning and growing in ways I really do believe God had in store for her. I believe we all are.

      There is so much heartbreak and sorrow in the world! I don't know how it all will work out in the long run, the trials of some, the apparent bounty of blessings for others, all children of a God who loves them. Why does He let this happen? We just taught a Primary lesson a couple weeks ago about Job…God let Satan essentially ruin his life. He knew Job could withstand all those trials. He knew he would grow and become stronger because of them. Only God can understand the point to which we can be taken in trials and we need to trust Him. I don't know why certain people seem to get extra doses of burdens, but I do believe that God 1) doesn't interfere with free-agency (as Larissa pointed out below), and 2) sees our divine potential that we can learn from whatever spot we find ourselves in. I've seen that power at work in so many instances, all over the world from India and Ethiopia to this little suburb in the desert. And I do believe with all my heart that if we allow God to carry us through the tough times, we will find the strength to carry on, just as Lisa and Melissa related below. And our knowledge and capacity for growth will expand as we face the things that come our way. I also believe that we have a big responsibility to DO things with what we learn along the way. Always trying to figure out how.

    2. Thanks for such a thoughtful response, Shawni. I think we’re actually agreeing on a lot of how we see God as a source of strength and comfort. It’s wonderful to hear that Lucy’s faith is a source of great comfort to her. (My personal belief is that the love and support she gets from so many IS God)

      I guess I don’t understand what “God has her in the palm of Him hand” means. Probably because I come from a different faith tradition. I assume you mean God holds ALL people in that way. This certainly doesn’t provide protection from the horrible, horrible personal suffering that happens through natural disasters and disease.

    3. I'm just referring to the imagery I love that is woven into so many scriptures (especially Isaiah) all about how we are "engraven" in the palm of God's hands…so much beautiful symbolism (especially when you think deeper into the Atonement and His hands…) that He cares so completely and fully for each one of us. And yes, I definitely mean all people.

  2. Jenny,
    I also wonder about the "why" of misfortune. I know some people find comfort in the belief that they accepted their trials before coming to this life. I don't find that particular belief helpful but I have other beliefs that allow me to find purpose and peace through tough times.
    When really bad things (genocide, rape, abuse) I don't have a complete understanding of "why". The one belief I turn to is God doesn't take away anyone's ability to choose. And that He has paid for the bad choices and He can and will heal anyone who has been hurt. Thoughts?

  3. This is a beautiful post. I do believe Heavenly Father knows the trials we need personally to grow–that our weaknesses may become strengths. I also believe that some of the most valiant spirits do come here with special challenges. And I believe that not all trials are for the individual who are challenged. I have a sister who is a quadriplegic–her story too sacred to share here in the comment section–but I will say that she is here to help family members (and others) to learn and grow too! Heavenly Father does love ALL of His children. And one thing I've learned from studying the scriptures is that no matter what the trial of faith may be, the Lord is always there! To address a couple of the comments about victims of violent crimes–I am a survivor of violent crime. God did not give me that trial–that happened because someone used their agency unwisely. However, God has been with me through it all. To comfort. To strengthen. And to help me rebuild my life. It was a trial God would never wish upon any of His children but I promise there is healing through the atonement.

    1. And I dont think God wishes anyone to be paralyzed or blind either. The idea that God somehow sacrificed health for your sister to “help family members learn and grow” is repugnant.

    2. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Diagnosed at the end of my college career. When this all started I had a moment I’ll nebrr forget. I was in anguishing pain, could hardly walk, and for the first moment in my life, I was deeply angry with God. I knelt down in front of my bed and started sobbing- then yelling- asking him WHY he would do this to me. In that moment, I felt as though someone was wrapping a warm blanket around me. I couldn’t cry anymore. I felt comfort.
      It has been exactly half of my life ago now since that moment and I found myself talking to a girl who babysat for me a few weeks ago about my diagnosis. So much has happened since that day. So. Much. The diagnosis is still attached to my medical chart and I told that young girl that if I had to take away all of the lessons I learned from my illness in order for it to go away, I would never do it. No, I know God and His love in a raw, deep, tangible way because of the pain, because of being different, because of the humility and compassion it has squeezed out of me. He loves me. He allows us all to endure battles because of what He knows it will make of us. I don’t want to be an artificial human being. I want to be multi-dimensional. And God, because He loves me, believes in me and has NEVER left me to endure it alone.
      I do not share these feelings with people, but your message shot a nerve straight through me. It’s a concept our finite minds struggle to wrap around, but God gives us heaviness to trudge through (with Him) because He is the perfect example of parental love.

    3. Jenny (also) in response to your comment about God sacrificing the health of my sister to help family members learn and grow being repugnant– that was actually a choice she was given when she was on the other side, following her accident. She was given the choice to stay back home in heaven, or to go back to a broken body. She chose to return to her broken body "to try and help her family." I believe we were given some of those options before coming to mortality too.
      God really does LOVE all of His children. We are never alone–even through life's most difficult challenges.

    4. How can you know what “actually” happened when “she was on the other side?” Some things are truly, deeply unknowable although that doesn’t stop people from creating a very specific human narrative.

    5. Precisely why I wasn't going to share. How do I know? Simple. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:5)

    6. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing these things so beautifully. I'm so sorry for the things you have gone through. Thank you for sharing how they made you grow. And Melissa, I love that you said God wants us to be multidimensional. And that He doesn't want us to do this alone. He is there. Always.

  4. Thank you for sharing. However, I feel as though you gave us, "the internet/not family", sacred information about what was IN your daughters Patriarchal blessing. Was she ok that you shared this? My understanding is that you keep it private, only to be shared with family/spouse.
    Thanks. And if she ok'd it, nevermind!

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