Thursday, April 23, 2009

He Healeth the Broken in Heart

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I was at my sister's house last week and they have not yet put grass in their yard so there are lots of rocks all over the place. I was standing on her driveway talking to her and I looked down and this rock caught my attention. It was sitting pretty much like this and I couldn't believe how much it looked like a heart and it happened to be broken this way as well. So, I picked it up and I took some photos of it.

Of course, a broken heart is no stranger to me over the past couple of years... so when I found it, I could not help but think about the lesson it could teach.
Anyone who has experienced loss of any kind knows what it feels like to have a broken heart. I never truly knew what a broken heart felt like until Aaron passed away. I thought I knew, but I had no idea until that time. I literally felt like my heart had broken not only emotionally, but physically as well. The physical pain I felt was as real as the emotional pain I was experiencing. At times, I still feel the physical pain along with the emotional pain because Aaron is not here with us.
I was told time and time again in the beginning that someday, my heart would heal and I would be okay. In the beginning and for a long time after that, I didn't want my heart to heal... I didn't want to be okay. I don't know if my heart will ever completely heal, but I do know now that it is true... Jesus Christ heals us... if we let Him.

The healing that comes through the power of Jesus Christ is real, it is powerful, and it is within our grasp... each of us. All we have to do is allow Him to do what He has promised to do. Even though He has promised to heal our hearts and bring us peace and comfort... we still have to do our part by ALLOWING Him into our hearts and ALLOWING Him to bring us the comfort and peace and the healing that He so wants to bring to us. I have learned that lesson more in the past 17 months than ever.

Why is it that when when we lose someone close to us, we feel like in order for us to remember that person, we have to feel the pain over and over and over and cling to the pain with all of our might? Why is it that we feel as though our pain is what shows the world how much we love that person and if we try to move forward and find joy in this life, we are somehow dishonoring their memory? I know I have been guilty of this. I am still human and I am still stubborn at times to keep holding on to my pain and grief with both hands just to show myself and others that it still hurts and that I still miss Aaron... but if there is anything that the atonement of our Savior teaches us, it is that He did this suffering for us already. It doesn't mean that we should not feel any pain or that we are expected to move forward quickly after something like this, but it does mean that in order to truly show honor to the person we are missing, we need to live a life filled with joy as we remember the amazing memories we have with them and create new ones with those that are left behind. We need to decide to accept the offering of our Savior to take our burdens upon Himself, and we need to let go of them so that they aren't being carried by us both. That would be a waste. He is waiting and hoping to take our pain and heartache upon Himself so that we can truly learn to trust in Him and have faith in His promises.
I am eternally grateful for the selfless love of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the peace, the comfort, and the healing that He brings to me each day.
Life... it is a work in progress and it takes time, but the Savior continues to heal my broken heart and bind my wounds. I still struggle and I still fall, we all do, and He knows we will... but He is there to lift us up, bear our burdens, and walk beside us to the end.

'He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.'
-Psalms 147:3

We will always love and miss Aaron, and it will make him so happy when he can see those of us who love him finding joy and happiness here in this life even while we love him and miss him.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Two Heroes

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The first hero I will talk about is Aaron Jr.

The day before Easter was a particularly difficult day for me. I won't bore anyone with the reasons, it was just difficult and I was feeling super lonely. So, instead of sitting around waiting for something to happen, I got Aaron Jr. in the car and we headed to Salt Lake to go to the cemetery. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, I lost it. I was crying so hard and once Aaron Jr. realized I was crying, this is pretty much how our conversation went throughout the rest of the drive to Salt Lake...

Aaron Jr: 'Mama, you crying?'
Leslie: 'Yes.'
Aaron Jr: 'Mama, why are you crying?'
Leslie: 'Because I'm so sad.'
Aaron Jr: 'Oh, because you are so sad?'
Leslie: 'Yes, because I miss Daddy.'
Aaron Jr: 'Oh, I miss Daddy too.'

a few minutes later...

Aaron Jr: 'Mama, you still crying?'
Leslie: 'Yes.'
Aaron Jr: 'Are you done crying yet?'
Leslie: 'No.'

a few minutes later...

Aaron Jr: 'Where ARE you?' 'Where ARE you, Mom?'

That is when I looked back at him and this is what I saw...

Aaron Jr: 'Where ARE you?' 'RAWR!'
I just had to smile and tell him how much I love him. Then he made a face like the one in the bottom right corner. He made a few other faces trying to make me laugh. He got several laughs out of me after this experience. After I laughed and told him that I love him, he asked me:

Aaron Jr: 'You done crying yet?'
Leslie: 'Yes, I am done crying now.'

Whenever I cry, Aaron Jr. seems really concerned. I just couldn't get over the fact that my 3 year old son was in the backseat trying to get me to laugh just like a parent tries to get their child to laugh. He really cheered me up.
Last week, I had another experience that sent me in to lay on my bed crying and when Aaron Jr. found me there, he got up on the bed and just layed there next to me until I was ready to get up.
This boy is one of my heroes and has saved my life this past 16 months.

When we were almost to the cemetery, I told Aaron Jr. we were going to see 'Daddy's Rock'. So, he did what he always does when we are looking for something and he put his hand up to his head as if he is looking so hard for it. I had never gotten a photo of him doing this and I am glad I got one before he stops doing it.

At the cemetery, Aaron Jr. walked straight to 'Daddy's Rock' and put his hands on top of his own hand prints. It was really sweet. He took some photos there and the top right photo is one that he took of me.

Me and my hero, Aaron Jr.

On the way home from the cemetery, we passed these beautiful trees that had pink blossoms on them. I had to stop and take some photos. Everything is finally coming back to life and I just love this spring season where we get to experience new growth.

My other hero that I wanted to talk about is the Savior, Jesus Christ.

First, here is what we did on Easter Sunday...

My brother, John, and his wife, Tawnie, and their kids stayed overnight at my parents house and they prepared an egg hunt for their kids and for Aaron Jr that morning. It was so nice of them to include Aaron Jr. He loved every second of it. They do the egg hunt scavenger style where they give clues to where the eggs are. At each place, in one of the eggs, there is a trivia question about something to do with Easter and the Savior's atonement and resurrection. I liked that a lot. I will probably have to adopt that idea from them. Thanks John and Tawnie!

Samuel, Jack, Thomas, Aaron Jr, John, Emily
When I was taking these photos of their kids for them all dressed up, Aaron Jr. jumped into the photo and would not come out of the photo until we took some photos of him with them. He loves to be a part of things... especially with other kids. He loves kids.

After that, we all went to church and had a wonderful day hearing testimony and stories of our Savior.

Aaron Jr, Hannah (or Elise), Caroline, Angus, Stella, Elise (or Hannah)
Lisa, can you help me out with which twin is which? :)
After church, my sister, Lisa, asked me to go to the Bountiful Temple with them to take family photos for them. Aaron Jr did the same thing again. He sat himself down next to them and wanted to be in their photos. SO cute.

I had Lisa take a few photos of us as well... as long as we were dressed up and already there. :) Thanks Lisa.

I took these of Aaron Jr. He is such a sweetheart. I finally had him wear a tie other than the cowboy tie that Aaron had given to him. This tie that he wore on Easter was a tie that was Aaron's grandpa Sverre's tie. Aaron inherited it when he passed away and then wore it the day he blessed Aaron Jr. at church. So, now Aaron Jr. will wear it. It will be very special to him, I am sure.

After taking photos at the temple, we went to the Harkness home and had dinner and an egg hunt with them. It was yummy and it was fun.

Isaac, Malia, Grace, Pearl, Aaron Jr, Sophia

Leslie and Aaron Jr. at the temple again... one more.

I am grateful for Easter because we can set aside a day to remember the wonderful gift that Jesus Christ has given to all of us. He suffered for us, he died for us, he was resurrected for us... ALL so that we could live again spiritually and physically.
This is why Jesus Christ is my hero. He literally saved my life and I cannot express the feelings of gratitude that fill my soul. If you want to hear an amazing testimony of our Savior which will bring the Spirit of the Lord into your heart, play this video. (Go up and pause my other music while you watch.)

As I sit here and listen to it again, it brings me to tears as I think of what the Savior has done for me.
Recently, I read a book called The Peacegiver. This book helped me look at the atonement of Jesus Christ in a different way than I ever had before. As I read it, I had a change of heart and I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders as I learned again how to be forgiving of others and how to forgive myself. I had more understanding as I read the stories and analogies of the atonement of the Savior. I felt peace in my life as I reflected again on the promises of peace and hope that come because of the amazing gifts from our Savior.
He truly suffered for each of us. He suffered our sins, our sorrows, our pains, our disappointments, our heartbreaks and heartaches, our grief, our discouragements, our temptations, our guilt, our loneliness... everything. He felt it all for us so that we could turn to him in the times of our lowest of lows and our greatest sorrows.

'Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.' -Psalms 54:22

'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world, ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.' -John 16:33

The Savior overcame ALL things FOR US. We can turn to Him at any time. I have drawn closer to Him throughout these past 16 months than I ever have. He has truly sustained me through this heartbreaking time of my life. Again, in the world, we SHALL have tribulation, but we need to BE OF GOOD CHEER, because the Savior has OVERCOME THE WORLD.
I love Him and I am so grateful for Him and the peace He brings to my soul.

Easter CHEER to all...

* As Aaron Jr. looked at a photo of Jesus a couple of weeks ago, he stood there staring at it and said: 'I like Jesus, he's cute.' I thought that was precious. *

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

March Madness

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These are some random photos that never made it into posts that I thought were noteworthy. Enjoy...

Aaron Jr. in Daddy's motorcycle boots before we handed them over to Nick and Sadie to go with the motorcycle. They are pretty heavy... he could barely walk.

These photos are of one of my nephews, Bruce, and his friend Mehmot. Mehmot is the exchange student who is staying with them from Turkey.

One of my nephews, Nate.

Two of my nieces, Julia and Anna. Piano recital.

Three of my nieces, Caroline, and the twins, Hannah and Elise. Performing in their school play 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'.

Aaron Jr. He loves to show off his briefs. :) And he has been pretty obsessed with his snow boots.

My brother, Spencer and his family came to visit from Oregon at the end of the month. We had a great time together. Aaron Jr. loved playing with their sons. Their son, Luke, is the cousin of Aaron Jr's who is the closest boy cousin in age to Aaron Jr. He loves to play with him. They have become great friends.

Aaron Jr, Stella (niece), Luke (nephew)

Lily (niece), Aaron Jr, Luke
Aaron Jr. and Luke dug in the dirt together for the first few days solid... until it started snowing again. I think Lily is supervising. :)

Lots of my family members at the park one Saturday when the weather was actually nice.

More of the family at the park trying to get a football out of the tree that got stuck.

Top: Benny (nephew), Aaron Jr, Jack (nephew), Luke (nephew)
Bottom: Aaron Jr, Jack, Luke

Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr and some nephews, Spencer, Benny, Luke

While Spencer was in town... he, my brother Mark, and I went shooting up in the mountains. I took a few of Aaron's guns with me and they each had their own guns as well. It was really fun. I hadn't been shooting since Aaron passed away. I enjoyed shooting Aaron's guns.

The bottom two guns are actually my brothers' guns. They were fun as well.

This gun is the gun that Aaron bought for me when we first got married. He came home with it one day and told me that he bought me a gun. He showed it to me and I was pretty amazed. My brothers have always teased us that Aaron 'bought' me a gun... but really was buying a gun that he wanted and said it was for me. We always got a kick out of that... but Aaron was insistent that it was my gun. When we went target shooting with it the first time, I did better than he did and he was always the first to tell people about that experience and share that I did better than he did. I loved when he told people that as though he was bragging about me. It is a Rueger 9mm and it packs quite a punch, but it is fun to shoot.

Aaron Jr, Chuck E. Cheese, Luke
When they were in town, Spencer Jr. had his birthday and we were invited with them to Chuck E. Cheese. It was a blast.

Aaron Jr. took Chuck E. Cheese by the hand at one point and led him all the way across the place to show him the giant life sized fake Chuck E. Cheese that was on a stage. He is holding his hand the whole time. It was so funny. Thanks to Kristi for getting some great shots. I forgot my camera, so I was at her mercy. Thanks Kristi.

Aaron Jr was dancing in front of their TV/camera and was watching himself while he danced. It was so cute. His way of dancing is mostly just to keep his arms to his side and just bounce up and down a bit.
bottom left: Aaron Jr and Luke getting ready for their photo in the photo booth.

They had a machine there that would snap your photo and then it would sketch it in black and white... so we all had one done. I think they turned out pretty cute.
Top: Aaron Jr and his pal, Luke ... then Spencer Jr. and Daniel (nephew)
Middle: Kristi and Spencer ... then Van and Spencer Jr. (Van is a cousin on Kristi's side) Bottom: Lila and Kristi ... then Benny, Spencer, Luke

Aaron Jr. and Leslie (ME)

We were driving home from my sister's house one day and I looked to the right and there were about 6 deer just hanging out in this little empty lot. I got out and started snapping photos. This one was my favorite. Anyone who has ever driven in a car with Aaron knows that he could ALWAYS spot wildlife wherever he went. It could be the middle of the day and they could be camouflaged really well and he could spot them... or it could be the dead of night, pitch black and he could spot them on the side of the road. He would always slam on the breaks when he saw creatures and would point them out and I would look and look until I finally saw what he was talking about. He just had an eye for that stuff... it was amazing. So, now I see deer and wildlife a whole lot more than I used to. It is almost like I have to in order to show Aaron Jr. what his Daddy would have been showing him if he were still here. Aaron would have loved to show Aaron Jr. all kinds of wildlife while we were driving... so I had to snap some photos. This photo is for Aaron...

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