I’ve always seen learning from life as an amazing journey. Whether it is traveling through the deepest valley or soaring above the highest mountain, I’ve always found there is something to learn.
One of the biggest life-changing experiences for me was when I served a mission to Guatemala over thirty-five years ago. I was so sick. It was the kind of sick that was incapacitating. I wanted to stay in Guatemala more than anything. The people were warm and loving — my heart was somehow linked to this country, but my body was rejecting it. I ended up in the hospital where my mission president came to visit and offer a priesthood blessing.
It was a powerful experience where I knew the Lord was speaking directly to me. I knew I had the faith to be healed, but felt there were important life lessons my illness was teaching me. I learned how my trials were helping me grow into the person I wanted to be. Most days I continued to live in pain, yet I chose to put on a smile and find joy in the simple gifts of the day.
Once I came home, I continued to live in pain for quite a while. Eventually, the pain resided and life seemed to be moving forward. What I didn’t understand at the time was the parasites that had wreaked havoc on my body for 18 months were now lying dormant, waiting to return with a vengeance about twenty years later.
Finding Joy Amid the Pain
When my illness returned, I was a busy mom homeschooling our four children. The parasites and pain became so bad that most days it was too much to even get out of bed. I felt lucky when if I could simply make it out of my room one day of the week. The next two years were spent seeing doctors and specialists searching for answers and some kind of solution. Through it all, I continued to homeschool our family from my bedside.
It was during this time that I again returned to searching for joy in the small things — like joy in my children’s laughter or the sun shining through my bedroom window. One thing that really helped was when I decided to intentionally look for gratitude in my life.
Some days were harder than others, but this little trick made a big difference. Each time I got out of bed I would say something I was grateful for. With each step, I would find another good thing. This changed my mind from recognizing the pain and struggle to search for joy and happiness instead. Another important change I made was to refer to my struggles and trials as challenges. I know I will always rise to a challenge over a trial.
Life does offer so much wonderful happiness when we look for it. I’ve learned the sun is always shining above the darkest cloud, and I can find joy in my life even when I’m faced with a challenge. I will be forever grateful for the lessons I learn and how my challenges have helped me become a better person.
I love getting to know people, taking time to listen to them, and learn about them on a deeper level. This brings joy and happiness to my life. I have a few close friends that are like sisters to me and those relationships are ones I cherish.
Some of my favorite things to do are international cooking, sewing, being outdoors, playing strategy board games, and reading. I love to read! I read fantasy, self-help books, how-to books and so much more. The library has always been one of my favorite places in every town where I lived. I guess that started with my mother taking me to the library when I was little.
I love family! The family I grew up in, the family I married into, and the family I created with my husband of 31 years are my world. We have four amazing children and two adorable grandsons. I feel eternally grateful for the love of my Heavenly Father, and my older brother Jesus Christ which guides all that I do.