Another Memorable Day!

4 November 2011

   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.”

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