Friday, 19 October 2012

My Pian-ner (as my fab Dad would say).

Life is hard. It's a fact we all have to face at some point. Sometimes so many different emotions build up inside of me for a thousand reasons that I'm not even sure of until the point of no control and they all have to come out all at the same time but I have no idea how to release them all appropriately and in a way that nobody gets hurt? Ever felt like that?

Sometimes it's happiness, and elation, and joy, and excitability, and anticipation all at the same time, but also shame for feeling that way, because there are so many broken hearts that are not.

And sometimes it's broken-heartedness, and sadness, and despair, and loss, and helpless- and hopelessness... but then anger, because I don't want to feel this way because I am so, so, SO blessed...Why don't I see the blessings?

And sometimes it's every kind of emotion all at once, and then it gets tricky.

But there I have found a little routine that makes it all better. And here is how it goes.

1. I feel these emotions, and then I tend to cry, whether they're the positive or negative.

2. I take a few deep breaths when the wailing is over, and count until I don't want to count anymore.

3. I get down on my knees.

4. I clasp my hands together, and I say a prayer.

5. I concentrate on all of my blessings, and thank Heavenly Father for them.

6. I think hard about what might bring me comfort, and ask for these things.

7. I close, get up, and tickle the ivories on my beautiful piano, playing music that reflects exactly how I might be feeling. I might start of with something such as the Boomtown Rats' I don't like Mondays, But I do generally finish off on some level of calm, such as Paul Cardall's Restoration Medley. 

For six of the twelve months that Peter and I lived in Swindon, I didn't have a piano or anything like unto it. I then was given a lovely little keyboard, but it was only four octaves long, and playing out my emotions was a difficult fate sometimes, usually ending up with me far more frustrated than when I started. Now we are living back at home, I am able to play my beautiful Boston piano that my parents received in one extremely lucky twist of fate, which included a flooded bathroom, a freebie 100 year old tinker-tonker and a crazy insurance policy that my parents were actually trying to get rid of. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is, is that it is pure bliss to have the privilege of being able to play such an incredible instrument, and how lucky and blessed I feel to have this Heaven-granted talent which not only keeps my fingers looking sleek and beautiful, but helps relieve the stresses of this mortal existence, and the tragedies of this terrible world that we live in.

Music is Therapy. Fact. And how grateful I am to have such a thing that helps me to heal, not only myself, but a little of others too.

Monday 15th October was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I wish I could have done a more to commemorate this event, but I was able to be aware and remember in my own little way, by lighting a candle for the Wave of light. At 7pm Monday Evening, people across the UK lit candles for their precious little ones, in groups and individually, and let them burn for one hour at least, as a gesture of remembrance and love to all those tiny children who have gone on ahead, and for their incredible parents who have suffered such a tragedy. Part of me wanted to post a picture of my candle all over Twitter and Facebook and my Blog and let everyone know where I was and what I was doing and tell them all about my little Seth, but more of me needed this to be a private and special moment, just for him, his Daddy and me. 

{I let the candle burn all the way down, as I couldn't bear to blow it out myself.
For my wonderful little boy.}

Friday, 5 October 2012

Be Prepared.

A phrase I have heard often throughout my life is to "be prepared!" And to be quite honest, I'm not very good at it.

When I was still young, my Mum would walk me to school, and she would pretty much always take an umbrella. We live in England, and as it's famous for, the weather can be extremely unpredictable. So I always knew, that if it started raining, it would be alright - Mum always brings her brolly.

This certain preparation was something that I stubbornly did not pick up from my Mum, as through my lone-school-walking teenage years, I would periodically come home soaked through the skin and freezing cold - I hadn't taken my brolly with me when I walked that morning. And so I faced the very wet consequences of not being prepared.

The Home Teaching message in Church for the month of September, was also about being prepared; being prepared to share the gospel heart to heart with anybody who might need to hear it. You can read it here.

As Pete prepared to fulfil his Home Teaching assignment, we read the article together. Reading articles from General Authorities is something we LOVE to do, but should really do a little more often.

We were able to hear the message again when we were visited by our own Home Teacher (there are usually two, but one was taken sick) - he was prepared to give us the message if such occasion arose - and was right to do so. We discussed with him about being prepared to share the gospel, and how difficult it can be sometimes; how we might feel we are too busy to have that conversation, or maybe we are scared that we may not have the answers the person is looking for. But we talked about how these fears can be avoided if only we are prepared.

After the visit, I reflected on the thoughts that had been shared, and about preparing - in every day life and for the big things. And since marrying Pete, I have always tried to be prepared for everything - like unexpected guests meaning a possible shortage of loo roll, or needing to take on an assignment when somebody falls ill.

But there are some things that I haven't been quite prepared for. Like Seth. I wasn't prepared to be told the news that my unborn baby boy had passed away - but can you prepare yourself for something like that?

The point I'm trying to make is that there are some tricky situations that can be easily avoided, as long as we appropriately prepare. Such as packing a brolly when you pack your lunch to avoid unpredictable weather soaking, or always having a spare toothbrush in the bathroom cabinet for an absent-minded sister. But also things like being able to answer a question in Sunday School, because you did study this week's lesson, or learning the names of the new members in your ward so that you can give them a personal welcome.

But the biggest thing, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that I personally feel I must prepare for, is General Conference.

Last General Conference which was held in April, fell just a couple of short weeks after Seth was born, and just two days before his funeral. I was at a very difficult place within myself. The week before it had slipped my mind that General Conference was even happening. I distinctly remember being reminded by my mother-in-law on the Thursday that General Conference was the coming weekend. My heart swelled, and I knew that inspiration, guidance, and love from the leaders of our Church would come just as I needed it. That weekend, Pete and I dressed up in our Sunday clothes, sat on our sofa, and watched every single session of General Conference together. We smiled, and cried, and made notes. We both felt the spirit so much in our home. We discussed how blessed we were to be able to watch the amazing leaders of our Church speak to the world from the comfort of our very own home, but we dreamed of the day when we would be able to sit in the conference centre together and hear them speak to us so close by.

Peter served his mission in Salt Lake City where General Conference is held twice yearly, and was able to attend all four General Conferences that took place when he was serving his mission. One of my favourite things about the few minutes before each session begins, is the camera span of the inside and outside of the Conference Centre and the magnificent Salt Lake Temple, and Peter points out all of the places he has stood, where he sat during conference, and where some of his favourite mission moments occurred. And I can't wait to hear it all again this weekend as we sit down together in my Parents' front room and prepare to hear the words of the Prophet, his apostles, and other church leaders.

I have been trying to prepare properly for this conference again. I have been praying numerous times daily that I will feel the spirit, and that I will understand the messages that are given to us. I pray that I will be able to take those messages and apply them in my daily life, with my husband and with all those around me. I pray that I will know how I can better myself as a person, as a member of the Church, and as a Daughter of God. And I also pray that I may find answers this weekend, to some of my fears, worries, and desires, and that I might more fully understand this gift of a life that I have been given.

I prepare by reading small snippets from April's conference, and ponder the messages there. It astounds me to think about how much my life has changed since the last General Conference, and between then and the one before that. I think about how much the previous messages impacted my life, and all of the conference talks that have really had an affect on me over the years. I would just like to share with you some of my favourite talks from General Conferences and Firesides over the years, some of my favourites to just read over and over and over again, and feel the same sweet spirit felt the first time they were heard.

The Reflection in the Water - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Mountains to Climb - Henry B. Eyring

Your Happily Ever After - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

A Return to Virtue - Elaine S. Dalton

The Holy Temple - A Beacon to the World - Thomas S. Monson

These are, to just name a few - there are many, many more that have inspired and guided me throughout my whole life.

I am so, so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to know the things that I know - specifically, that with a surety, that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, who loves me, who has a plan for me, and I have a brother, who is my Saviour, even Jesus Christ, who died for me, and was resurrected, so that I might enjoy the blessings of an eternal life, not only with Him and my Father in Heaven, but with my family who I am oh so blessed to share an earthly experience with here, with a little touch of Heaven, in my precious son, Seth Peter who has already gone ahead.

I know I have much to learn in this life, and I am so grateful for these semi-annual conferences that allow me to heed unto the words of Prophets , in whose day I am blessed to live.

If you are searching for something; be it answers, guidance, reassurance, who simply, love, then give this weekend a try - you don't have to be a member of the Church to come and listen to a Prophet's voice.

Watch past, recent and this coming General Conference right here.

And be prepared for what the Lord has in store.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Thoughts on Abortion.

Abortion is an extremely controversial topic, and one that many women are understandably terrified to share their views on. Until now, I was too - pro-life and you're called inconsiderate; pro-choice and you're called a murderer... I would much rather be called inconsiderate.

This topic makes my heart break.

When I was 15 years old, one of my closest friends fell pregnant. At 9 weeks, she decided to abort the foetus. I was heartbroken, for her more than anyone else. What a horrific decision to have to make. And what a burden to carry with you for the rest of your life.

Just over six months ago, I held my tiny son in my arms, born at 25 weeks' gestation, but who was only the size of an average 22-23 weeks' gestation baby. And that's exactly what he was, a BABY. Nothing else could have described that beautiful human being that I cradled and cried to in my arms. Although his spirit was no longer present in his body, he was still a baby. My baby. 

And to think, that there is a vast amount of child-bearing women out there who think that it would be totally fine to just abort a child at that size? That just sickens me.

From what I have read, the majority of women who are pro-abortion have not had children of their own (excluding possible abortions). You put those women in my situation? They would go pro-life quicker than a fox to a blind chicken.

And I totally don't understand the argument of "It's just not good timing for me. I'm at a great place in my career right now, and a baby would just interfere." What a load of poop. You should have thought of your career when you "forgot" to use some form of contraception. And if it was one of those 1 in 99 situations where the contraception doesn't work, if you were going to be that brutal with the consequence, you probably should have "doubled up". Abortion is not a legitimate form of contraception, and should never be considered so under any circumstances.

Did you know, here in the UK, to qualify for an abortion, your GP has to tick one of two boxes on a form. Either "Will damage Mother's physical health" or "Will damage Mother's mental health". Now, I don't know the statistics, that info is private, but I have heard that the second box is the one that is ticked 9 times out of 10. Any doctor who has to tick the first, will have a shattered mess of a woman sat in front of him, despairingly questioning "Why me?", wanting to rip her teeth out in frustration at herself, and desperately wishing that there was another way.

Most cases of abortion that I have heard of, the women have either been single and for whatever reason decided that a baby is "just not for them", or have abusive partners, which in some cases I can understand. My fifteen-year-old friend had a little of both; a boyfriend that wasn't the nicest of people, and convinced her that she wouldn't be able to take care of a baby, and the fact that she hadn't finished compulsory education. I would like to add that that particular friend, when she left school and had a stable boyfriend, conceived quicker than anybody else I know, as she was so desperate for a baby to try and make up for the awful decision she felt forced to make as a teenager.

The whole, "abusive partner", "case of rape" thing, really hits me in the chest. I could not imagine. I am not saying that in that situation abortion is totally okay. In this circumstance, I would personally leave it up to the woman herself, with friends and family close by, and possibly with the unbiased guidance of a counsellor of some form.

I've read certain articles on the internet, where women argue that to abort is "just easier" than to go through with the pregnancy and choose to place the baby up for adoption. Is pregnancy too interfering? Try telling that to a broken woman who has just been told that she is infertile, and would never be able to conceive her own children. What would she give for just a child to raise and to look after, to love and to care for, for life? And to think, some people just throw that incredible opportunity away.

Abortion may be convenient, but it sure as heck isn't fair.

 How would you feel if you chose to give somebody an amazing gift - something that means a lot to you -  something that you maybe would prefer to keep for yourself, but you decide that this somebody would be a good owner for this particular gift; you trust that they would use it well, and wisely, and that the owner would thrive once they possess your gift. You realise how good it would make you feel to be thanked for your gift, and you come to the conclusion that to give this gift will be the best thing for you as the giver, your trusted friend as the receiver, and even, for the gift.

A few weeks after giving the gift, you still haven't received a card, a note, a telephone call, or even a text to say thanks. You're feeling a bit down. You confide in another friend about the situation, when she breaks the news. The receiver of your gift has discarded it. She thought that the gift wasn't worth it, that she didn't need it, that she was better off without it. You are heartbroken; you trusted your friend with this gift, and she let you down. She threw it away, she shredded it, she put it down the waste disposal, she fed it to the dog. Whatever the worst possible fate was for your gift to her, it had happened. She had done it.

Now, I believe in a greater being, a God, a Father who is in Heaven who watches down on us, who does give us trials and challenges, and who knows the adversities we must face in this life, but who understands our pain. But I believe He also grants us blessings and gifts. Whether you believe in a greater being or not, a child is a gift - no matter what country you come from or where you live, who you believe in or what you worship. A child is a gift.

Just like whether we live in a big house, or in a hut, or drive a fancy car, or walk miles and miles - some people are blessed with children, some are not. Who are you to decide whether that child gets to live or die?

Yes it's true that if a child is born before 24 weeks it may not survive, but what difference does that really make? It's like saying that this person next to me with terminal cancer isn't going to survive anyway, so it's okay to shoot him in the head. What normal person would do that? No normal person would. They would let him go out, live his life to the fullest, let him enjoy every single breath he had left, and try and make his life as comfortable as possible, so that when he does go, he goes with a smile swept across his face. So why would you steal that from a child? No, if a baby was born before 24 weeks, it probably wouldn't survive, but why would that mean that it's okay to kill it before it could be born healthy and strong, and live a meaningful, happy life, maybe not with it's biological parents, but with a family who would take that child as their own, and let them fulfil their dreams.

No matter which way you put it, I really think that abortion is murder, it's taking an innocent life.

"In World War I, more than 8 million military fatalities occurred. In World War II, more than 22 million servicemen and women died. Together, these two wars, covering portions of 14 years, cost the lives of at least 30 million soldiers worldwide. That figure does not include the millions of civilian casualties. These data, however, are dwarfed by the toll of another war that claims more casualties annually than did World War I and World War II combined. Worldwide reports indicate that more than 40 million abortions are performed per year. [Russell M. Nelson - Abortion: An Assault on the Defenceless]