Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

The Christensens Thursday night and the Barretts came Friday afternoon.  I had declared this a technology free weekend, meaning no devices.  Not everyone was happy but I really didn't care. I've tired of seeing people on their phones even in restaurants and I know what the youth are like ... totally distracted and not 'with' us.  And so it was perfect...everyone was in the moment.

We colored eggs on Friday late afternoon.  But Jocelyn had arranged for a special egg hunt in the morning,  I couldn't figure out why the plastic eggs were chocolate.  No candy.  Instead were letters and the kids had to figure out what it spelled.  "WE ARE 'EGG'SPECTING".  Obviously the kids were too young to figure it out and even  Steve took a while to get it.  And boy was he surprised.  Jocelyn is at 12 weeks and he never noticed any of the clues.  What a special egg hunt that was.

which was repeated when Dawn arrived.

Secular Saturday had the Christensen kids looking for their baskets (the Barretts had done this at home before coming down)  and then everyone went out looking for eggs that the bunny hid.

We had lots of food over the weekend. Saturday 3 different carloads of family headed to 3 different areas to shop and/or to play.

Easter Sunday naturally found us in Lorain Ward and the meeting had a great spirit.  Michael Schroth told this story which I am adding here so I don't lose it.  After a super dinner of beef brisket, the house was put to rights and everyone left.  We are tired but so very happy to have had kids here.  Maybe we are old but we still can walk and breathe and I think we can still have people stay with least for a little bit longer.

We are grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and all it means for each person born to earth, little they may understand nor recommend it.  The story Michael told touched my heart strings because I live in my mom's house and I miss her something fierce when everyone returns to 3830.  Jocelyn had commented about how this house was always quiet when they came up as kids.  And I remember that same feeling...quiet and solitude with only the grandfather clock dinging throughout.  Special days, special memories.

I share with you a true story that my friend and former neighbor Ken McCarty shared with me. Ken has been an associate at Brigham Young University and in church callings, and I write this with permission from him and his wife, Debbie.
Their daughter Sarah died in 1997, after a lengthy and difficult struggle with cystic fibrosis. She was just 13. She had, though, lived an extraordinarily full life in that short time.
In 1993, when she was roughly 9, Ken and Debbie took her on a cruise along the Volga River in Russia. Just before they left, Sarah's friend Kerie Waters came to visit and to bring Sarah several balloons. 
Kerie, 32, wore a headband to conceal the aftereffects of chemotherapy. She had been diagnosed only a few months before with terminal melanoma, a skin cancer, and their fatal illnesses had forged a special bond between her and the McCartys' daughter. It was, as Debbie and Ken recalled, a tender goodbye.
One night, about two weeks into the trip, Sarah burst into her parents' cabin, sobbing uncontrollably.
"I held her little shaking body," Ken remembers, "and asked her what was the matter. When she finally caught her breath, she said, 'Dad, Kerie has died.'" Ken was shocked — they had had little if any contact with home in those essentially pre-Internet days — and asked Sarah what had happened.
"I was kneeling by my bed, saying my prayers," Sarah replied. "Suddenly I felt someone standing behind me. Then I realized it was Kerie. Kerie was in my room." 
"What did Kerie say?" 
Sarah responded that Kerie hadn't talked out loud, explaining that, in her heart, she could hear Kerie say that she had come to tell Sarah not to be afraid to die, that dying wasn't scary, it was beautiful.
"Kerie didn't want me to worry about her; she wanted me to know that she was very happy in heaven."
Shortly after returning home, says Ken, he called Kerie's father, Wes Waters, and found out that Kerie had indeed died — around 30 minutes before Sarah's experience in Russia. 
But that's not the end of this story. 
On the April morning when Sarah herself passed away, her parents decided to wait until around 8:30 a.m. before they began the mournful task of calling to notify family and friends. But at approximately 8 a.m., their telephone rang. The caller was a family friend named Don Wood, a BYU employee who also had cystic fibrosis.
In fact, at 42 years of age, he was one of the oldest surviving victims of the disease in the United States. Ken and Debbie hadn't been in touch with Don for several years.
Don inquired how they were doing. Ken answered that he wasn't doing too well.
"It's Sarah, isn't it?" Don asked. 
"How did you know?" Ken responded.
Don replied that he assumed she had passed away at roughly 6:30 that morning.
Shocked, Ken confirmed that she had died at 6:17 a.m. How, he wondered, had Don Wood heard the news?
"I was lying in my bed struggling to breathe," Don said. "I've been on oxygen for some time now, and I wasn't sure if I would last through the night. At around 6:30 I felt a presence in my room, and, when I looked up, I saw Sarah standing in the air at the foot of my bed. I thought she was coming to take me to the other side, but I was surprised to see her because I didn't know she had passed away. She was all aglow, and it looked as if light was emanating from her, not just from around her; her entire being was glowing. Her hair was long and curled and she looked beautiful and mature. She didn't talk out loud, but she communicated with me in a clear voice in my mind. She simply said, 'I came to tell you, Don, don't be afraid to die. It's not scary. I came to tell you that heaven is beautiful.'" 
Sarah looked happy and beautiful, Don said, and healthier than he had ever seen her. 
Eight months after Sarah died, Don Wood, too, passed away. 
54comments on this story
"For some people," Ken McCarty summarizes, "life after death is a hope, something to have faith in. For me, because of our little Sarah, it's a fact. And, most important of all, it's beautiful."
Daniel C. Peterson is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, where he also serves as editor in chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and as director of advancement for the  Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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