Easter 2013

I was the concluding speaker in my ward this Easter Sunday. My Bishop had specifically asked for me to close the semester as the last speaker everyone would hear. He said he had been very impressed with my Sunday School class and my spirit. No pressure right? So I decided to attach my talk. Hope y'all enjoy it. Happy Easter!

My older sister Ashtyn has always been a great example for me. She’s always been extremely talented at the piano. Growing up, she and I used to butt heads. But somehow we could always raise a white flag of peace as we sat at the piano together; she would play, and I would sing. She attended school at BYU - Idaho. She served in the Montana Billings Mission. She married a return missionary and was sealed in the Bountiful Utah Temple.

Ashtyn was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was a teenager, so she and her husband Benjamin decided to have their children as quickly as possible. She became pregnant shortly after she was married and 9 months later my beautiful, precocious niece Faith was born. Less than a year later, Ashtyn became pregnant with her second child.

The time came for the 5-month checkup. Ashtyn and Benjamin were so excited. They were going to find out the sex of their little baby and be able to finalize a name. The check up came. The baby was a girl. Her name was Eva. But the check up brought things that were not expected.

Eva had a heart condition. Her heart had formed with only two valves causing pressure to build up which in turn caused it to swell till it was three times the size it was supposed to be. The enlarged heart had left no room for her lungs to develop.

The doctors urged Ashtyn to abort her baby, citing the dangers to both mother and child. They warned Ashtyn of not only the physical trauma, but the emotional trauma as well. There was almost no chance of Eva making it full term, and even if she did, no one could promise that she would be born alive.

Ashtyn refused to abort Eva and miraculously carried her to full term (though not without her fair share of emergency room visits, including one with a blood clot). Eva entered this world on January 18, 2011. She spent 3 sacred days with her family and then on January 21, her earthly mission was complete and she returned home to her Father in Heaven.

This is Easter morning. This is the Lord’s day, when we celebrate the greatest victory of all time, the victory over death.

Those who hated Jesus thought they had put an end to Him forever when the cruel spikes pierced His quivering flesh and the cross was raised on Calvary. But this was the Son of God, with whose power they did not reckon. Through His death came the Resurrection and the assurance of eternal life. None of us can fully understand the pain He bore as He prayed in Gethsemane and subsequently hung in ignominy between two thieves while those who looked at Him taunted Him and said, “He saved others;himself he cannot save” (Matt. 27:42;Mark 15:31).

With sorrow unspeakable those who loved Him placed His wounded, lifeless body in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Gone was hope from the lives of His Apostles, whom He had loved and taught. He to whom they had looked as Lord and Master had been crucified and His body laid in a sealed tomb. He had taught them of His eventual death and Resurrection, but they had not understood. Now they were forlorn and dejected.They must have wept and wondered as the great stone was rolled to seal the burial place.

The Jewish Sabbath passed. Then came a new day, a day that ever after was to be the Lord’s day. In their sorrow Mary Magdalene and the other women came to the tomb. The stone was no longer in place. Curiously they looked inside. To their astonishment the tomb was empty.

Distraught and fearful, Mary ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved. She cried, “Theyhave taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2).

They came running, and their fears were confirmed. Disconsolate, they looked and then “went away again unto their own home” (John 20:10).

“But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

“And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

“And they say unto her, Woman,why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord,and I know not where they have laid him.

“And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

“Jesus saith unto her, Woman,why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener,saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master."

            In her talk When Life Gets Hard Meg Johnson says“The only way you can know how awesome it feels to laugh so hard you’re not making any nose, is if you have sobbed so hard that you’re not making any noise. There is no other way.”

            I’d like to continue the story of Eva with reading a passage from my sister’s blog. “We took Faith in for her two-year-old check-up. The doctor told us it was time to give up her “bobbie”(pacifier). I’ve known that for a while but I haven’t had the heart to do it. Faith was not this attached to it last year, but with everything that has happened with school and Eva dying, her bobbie has become something she is so attached to. She has never slept a night without it.

So yesterday morning when I woke up I knew this was not going to happen unless I just did it. I hid all of her bobbies and then took one of them and cut the end off. I had thought of the binky fairy but Faith is too smart for that, plus she has more toys than most Toys R Us stores, so buying a toy for giving it up was not going to work.

She asked for her binky and I showed her that it was “broken”. She promptly carried it into Benjamin who was getting ready for school and said “Daddy, who broke it?” Benjamin knew I did it and trying hard not to laugh said, “ask your Mom who broke it.”

She asked me all day but she never cried. We chose not to do a nap in hopes that she would fall asleep out of exhaustion. Benjamin was gone to his internship and it was bedtime. We did our usual brush teeth, PJ's, read stories, sing primary songs, prayer routine and then I left the room. I heard some noise and came in to find Faith searching her room for her “bobbie”. I was not prepared for what happened next. She came out of her room tears rolling down her face and said, “Mom I am just so sad.”She climbed onto my lap and cried. It was more than I could handle, but I knew that sometime in her life this would happen again and the bobbie needed to go for her good. It killed me though to watch her so sad. I got her to stop crying by singing Primary songs and soon she was asleep. She slept 12 hours through the night without a bobbie for the first time in her life. To say I was “proud” of her does not cover it.

Fast forward to this morning; today is my heart ultrasound for this baby boy just to make sure everything is ok. Of course my mind goes right back to Eva. There have been many times when I have cried and asked our loving Heavenly Father why? Times when I have known what was coming and have said, “Heavenly Father I am just so sad.” I think I’ve felt at times that a there was no way a loving Heavenly Father could let all of this happen. But I realized this morning that just as I wanted to run in and give the bobbie back to Faith, I could not do it. It was for her growth, for her good,and it had to happen. I realized for my own little family’s growth, for our good he could not take away Eva dying. I also realized that as a loving parent when we cry over these trials that have to happen I imagine it is hard for a Heavenly Father to watch that as well, so that is why he gave us a Savior and the Holy Ghost to comfort us.

Pondering further of how proud I was of Faith this morning, I imagine that someday when we are all done going through everything we are supposed to go through and “We do it!” how pleased our Heavenly Father will be with us. That is why the scripture says, “well done thou good and faithful servant”

I absolutely love this post by my sister. She has been living her life the way she should. She’s keeping her covenants, obeying the commandments, and being an incredible mother. One could easily beg the question, “Why did Ashtyn have these trials? What did she do wrong?”

President James E. Faust said “To find happiness and joy, no matter what comes, we must make our stand unequivocally with the Lord.”

We do not make our stand with the Lord based on what our present circumstances are. Like President Faust said, our stance with the lord should be unequivocal. Life is hard. Unfair things happen. We do bad on a test. We get in a car accident. We suffer from an incurable disease. A marriage fails. A loved one goes wayward. A relationship dissolves. A child dies. The list is endless and that’s okay. Do you know? Because the atonement, the miraculous and incredible atonement is infinite and endless! The Savior suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross at Golgotha so that we could overcome death. Our pains, our sorrows, our afflictions of both spiritual death and physical death can and will be overcome by the atonement if we allow it to. I know that Ashtyn was supposed to experience what she did with Eva. I know that she can and will be healed from that experience through the atonement. I also know that because of the atonement, she will see Eva again some day.

Elder Joseph B. Worthlin said“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”

In the name of Jesus Christ,Amen. 


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