An old boss of mine gave me a picture frame with this scripture on it:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have always kept this picture frame in full view ever since I received it so that every time I pass by it I can be reminded of how much the Lord loves me. When she gave it to me over 7 years ago, I never imagined that I would think of that scripture as often as I do today as I try to just hang on to the tide (okay, lately a STORM) is taking me. It reminds me that we will face difficult times in our lives, but we have the ability to learn and grow from those experiences.

Within the past few months, we have changed our life as a family drastically- having a second baby, finishing grad school, moving across the country. Amongst all of these changes, literally the day after we moved to Sacramento, my sister had a blood vessel burst in her brain, was put on life support and two days later passed away. We got to Sacramento on the 31st and on the 1st flew back out to go home to see Heather before she passed away. I feel so blessed that we were able to go home (by way of my amazing and generous Mother and Father in law) so I could hold my sister’s hand and kiss her face as she left this earth. I cannot even express how grateful I am to have had that opportunity to go home for that.

I am now at the point where I’m still adjusting to a new home, new city, new friends, two kids… new everything. I’m missing my sister, my ‘old’ home and friends in Ithaca, my family. Usually when I move somewhere new, I’m full of life, ready to take on the new-ness of everything, but I feel like I’m not doing that so much this time around. This move has been a humbling time for me- one where I have really had to reach out to God and out of my comfort zone to get to know people on my own (I’m kind of a shy person, believe it or not). There are days when I just want to feel sorry for myself because I feel so lonely. No one KNOWS me here. I’m just the new girl in the ward with a great husband and two cute kids. I cry during random times at church because I hear a hymn that reminds me of Heather. I still can’t hear “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” without falling apart. No one (outside of one or two people here) knows that I lost my sister just two months ago, so I’m probably just viewed as “the crying lady at church”. No one here knows what an amazing person Heather was. But feeling sorry for myself is not going to make the situation any better. I am trying to change my perspective from feeling sorry for myself to submitting myself to the question of “what can I learn from all of this?”.

Here are some lessons I am learning along the way in this “journey”:

1). My purpose at this time is to be a sweet wife to Dillon and a great mom to Miles and Carter. Just because my heart is hurting does not mean they need to be short-changed. I must continue on (and cry when I need to) and live a full life that will bring me closer to the Lord and make Heather proud.

2). God does not take anything away without giving us something else in return. What a blessing it has been to welcome Carter into our family just a couple of months before I lost my sister. He has been the calm in this storm. His sweet, smiling face has gotten me through the many tears that I have cried. I cannot help but believe he was sent to our family at the time he was for a reason. I also cannot help but to love and appreciate my husband and boys more, as I cling to them even more during this difficult time.
This life IS a journey, and we have been blessed with opportunities to learn and grow. The Savior has atoned for us in order to return back to our Heavenly Father, and I know Heather is there with them at this time. He does give us hope and a future that continues even on beyond this earthly life.