Archive for November, 2011

Grateful…

   As our family relaxes up in beautiful Island Park for the Thanksgiving weekend, I am filled with gratitude for the beautiful surroundings we are so blessed to enjoy up here.  There is enough snow to enjoy some great snowmobiling, the mountains are covered and look amazing, and our family is here together and enjoying a warm, inviting cabin and each other’s company. 

   I have thought a lot about gratitude during this week.  Our family has SO much to be grateful for.  We have been blessed with so much our whole lives, not even including the many blessings we have been given the last six months.  I have a family that has fulfilled so much in my life.  Each member of my family fills a spot in my heart that cannot be replaced any other way.  As I watch the kids interact up here, I am so grateful for each of their individual personalities and amazed at how they are so different yet as a family, together we are complete. 

   I know that I do not express my gratitude nearly enough – not to my family, my friends, and especially to my Heavenly Father.  About a year ago, we had a lesson on gratitude in Relief Society and a sweet friend made a comment about it that has stuck with me ever since.  As I remember it, she said that a general authority had visited someone’s home and had prayed with their family.  Their family had just experienced a death of a loved one, and hoped that he would ask for special blessings to help them get through this difficult time.  Instead, he challenged them to fill their prayers with thanks, not asking for anything, but instead expressing their gratitude for all of their opportunities they were given in this lifetime.  I just remember her talking about that prayer and how we can thank Heavenly Father for the opportunity to know the plan of salvation, the opportunity to have known this loved one, the opportunity to be able to ask for blessings of comfort, peace, and healing, etc.  I was especially touched by this comment.  I tried that night to change my prayers to prayers of gratitude, thanking Him for blessings and not asking for anything.  It was amazing how my attitude and thinking changed into how I could be thankful for things that I usually was asking for – like being grateful that I had a missionary and that he could serve Him and be watched over as all the missionaries were – that I had a family that I was so blessed to feel promptings in their behalf – etc.  It totally changed my thinking about how I prayed.  I try to remember to pray a few times a week and not ask for anything, just remember everything I am grateful for.  This was part of a conference address years ago on gratitude:

Luke chapter 17 records the experience of the Savior when He healed 10 lepers. Remember that only one of the cleansed lepers returned to express his appreciation. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord did not say, “Your gratitude has made you whole”? Instead, He said, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”

The leper’s expression of gratitude was recognized by the Savior as an expression of his faith. As we pray and express gratitude to a loving but unseen Heavenly Father, we are also expressing our faith in Him. Gratitude is our sweet acknowledgment of the Lord’s hand in our lives; it is an expression of our faith.

   So I will try to express my ‘faith’ to my Heavenly father more often, instead of my constant begging for blessings.  I realize I do have so much to be grateful for.  The last few months have been so much better than medical professionals predicted it would be.  Our family has been able to snowmobile together here and Ty is at the head of the pack – certainly not what was predicted for him a few months ago.  We realize we have had blessings poured over our family and hope Heavenly Father knows how grateful we all are to Him for this.  I am especially grateful to all the youth in our community and in Tyler’s circle of friends who remember him in their prayers.  When I hear from mothers that they see their children on their knees in their rooms and know why they are praying, my heart is truly filled with gratitude for these sweet kids.  I hope they all realize that their faith and prayers are keeping Ty healthy, happy, and filled with hope for the future.  Thank you!

The Griswold, I mean, The Smith family Christmas Tree Outing

Basketball!

   We have been able to have some amazing experiences through the trial we are going through.  I wouldn’t choose to have this, not for one minute, but am SO grateful for people and organizations who have given so much so that our family and so many others can get out and enjoy activities that they otherwise would never have the opportunity to be involved in!  The Make-A-Wish Foundation has been one such example.  Not only did they give our family a complete trip of a lifetime, but they call us occasionally with opportunities that have been so fun!

   Last week, they called and asked if Tyler, Tanner, Darren and I would be interested in going to a charity basketball game at SLCC with the Jazz Players, Jimmer Fredette, and some other various NBA players.  Hmmmm…Let me think about it…Tyler loves basketball more than just about anything…that would be a ‘Yes!’.   We, along with three other ‘Wish Kids’ were able to go early to a ‘meet and greet’ session with the basketball players and a few other ‘local celebrities’.  Tyler LOVES Jimmer Fredette, and if he had been the only one there, it would have been totally worth it, but he was able to meet, shake hands with, and get pictures with all these amazing basketball players.  I have to put my plug in for Jimmer now…just saying.  He has been so kind already through this cancer journey to send Tyler a signed ball, a card, and even go so far as to wear Tyler’s F2TF shirt and take a picture with it on, so we are huge fans!  He spent a good amount of time just talking to Tyler and Tanner, posing for pictures, and just being the all-around great guy he his…really a class-act.   

Tyler & Jimmer!

Mrs. Utah, Miss Utah, and Miss Utah's Teen! - Wow!

 After the meet and greet, we had great half-court seats and were able to watch the game – Utah against ‘everybody else’.  Amazing talent these boys have…they can dunk, shoot, dribble and do just about anything they want with a basketball.  So, so sad that they cannot work out the season this year.  Tyler was really looking forward to watching Jimmer take the Kings places they hadn’t gone before! 

   My favorite part of the night was just watching Ty and Tanner’s faces each time a player would do something outrageous…their eyes got big and smiles covered their faces.  No thoughts of cancer or sickness anywhere that night.  I kept nudging the photographer to get a picture of Tyler’s face, not with a basketball star, but just watching with that big smile on his face.  That’s priceless. 

I love these faces!

   Each of these kids has had something pretty devastating to face this last year.  Each of them seems to be rising above the challenge and finding the good in life, despite the hard.  We all would do well to watch and take note of these amazing kids and how they have handled the challenges they have faced.  They are all my heroes.

Tyler, Kambri, Caleb, and Brody - our heroes!

Happy Kids! Thanks Guys!

  

Thanks once again, Make A Wish, for helping us to forget life for awhile and enjoy a great night!

Another Memorable Day!

   I wrote in an earlier (June) post about sweet Dylan Shaw, who raised money selling lemonade to buy Tyler a money tree, complete with tied up bills and restaurant gift cards.  We were so touched by this act of kindness that Tyler passed a few trees on to other cancer patients.  Brandon Winger, another sweet 12-year-old fighting a rare and serious cancer then passed the tree on to Maddie Cook, a beautiful 15-year-old who is fighting osteosarcoma, another wicked cancer (aren’t they all wicked?)  Dylan lost his battle to a brain tumor in July…we all miss him and love him.

   Elder Jeffrey R. Holland heard about this ‘giving tree’, and invited these kids and their mothers to come down and have a visit with him in his office last Wednesday.  What an honor!  We all dressed up in our Sunday best and headed down to the Church Administrative Offices.  When we went into Elder Holland’s office, it was like going in to visit our long lost grandpa – hugs and smiles and feeling like we had known him always!  He is as about as down-to-earth as anyone I’ve ever known.  He reminded me a lot of my own dad.  He was funny and gentle with these kids. 

   As we sat and visited with him, he spoke so tenderly and candidly about what the kids are going through.  He spoke about life being a three-act play – with the first act being our pre-earth life, the second act our lives here on earth, and the third act our life after this life on earth.  He reminded us that in any great play there are three acts, the first setting the story, the second, with confusion and turmoil, and the third a complete resolution and ‘happily ever after’, so to speak.  He told us all that the third act will be so much better than this second act, there is nothing to fear, only to look forward to.

   He also talked to the kids about not ‘jumping ship’.  When life gets stormy, the worst thing a sailor could do would be to bail out of his boat.  The safest place to be in stormy seas is inside the boat, with the oars pulled over us and our life jackets on tight!  He reminded them to cling to what they DO know, that being that their Savior knows them and loves them.  He also said, “The safest place for a boat is in the harbor, but that’s not what they’re made for”.  I loved that.  We are all meant to sail the stormy seas at some point in our life.  Even though it’s safe, quiet and comfortable in our ‘harbors’, that’s not where we will do any growing or refining. 

   The thing that I think made the biggest impact on the kids was when he told them that the next morning, he and “fourteen of the finest men I’ve ever known” will be in the temple tomorrow and they would pray for these kids by name…how humbling is that?  Tyler and I went to lunch Thursday afternoon, and he reminded me that the prophet prayed for him that morning.  I have no doubt that prayers for these sweet kids are being heard and answered by a loving Heavenly Father.  We have been given so many tender mercies through this, they are too hard to count anymore.  Life is still good!

Brandon, Tyler, Dawson (Dylan's big brother) and Maddie with Elder Holland

   After we left Elder Holland’s office, Brandon, Tyler and Maddie stopped for a picture with the temple in the background.  Maddie got an awesome camera from the Make A Wish foundation and is learning to be quite the photographer…Look how angelic these kids look.  Aren’t we lucky parents?

Brandon, Maddie, and Tyler - our heroes!

   I was reading some talks by Elder Holland after we got home, and found the perfect quote by him that these kids live by and I am going to strive to live by from now on.  You’ll love this:

“Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. As someone once said, ‘Even in the golden age of civilization someone undoubtedly grumbled that everything looked too yellow.’ I have often thought that Nephi’s being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel’s constant murmuring (See 1 Nephi 3:28–31; 18:11–15). Surely he must have said at least once, ‘Hit me one more time. I can still hear you.’ Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living—no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.”