Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Service, Love, Faith, and Miracles

For family home evening yesterday we played the game we sort of played in primary on Sunday. We only sort of played the game because we were running short on time and wanted to be sure we got to the more important part of the lesson. The game helped the children think about ways they could serve others and Sister B. kind of rushed us through it so that when we finished we could do an act of service.

Sister A., our sweet primary president, had a baby at the beginning of the month. He was born overdue and at 8 lbs. 10 oz. was the picture of health. They came home for about a week and basked in that new-baby glow. But then things went downhill.

The baby stopped eating. The baby stopped waking up.

At first they thought he was just a sleepy baby and considered it a blessing—after all, they had two other children to worry about and newborns can be quite exhausting—but soon it became quite worrisome so in the early morning hours on Thursday, they left the older children in Grandma's care and headed to the hospital where, to their surprise, they were immediately admitted.

Soon the baby was diagnosed with HSV. His liver was threatening to shut down. He was dying.

They hooked him up to an IV of antiviral medicine—which he has to be on for three weeks—and said to pray that it reaches the liver in time. Otherwise a liver transplant was imminent; his numbers were not looking good.

I knew the baby was in the hospital with a viral infection because Sister A. called me on Thursday to ask about breast pumps. But she didn't know much, other than that it was a virus and that her baby would be in the hospital for three weeks, at least.

We went camping and on Saturday morning got a message from the bishop with a request for everyone to fast and pray for the baby—that's when his numbers were at their worst.

Anyway, on Sunday after we played the game, Sister B. handed out cards for the children to write messages on for the baby and his family. They took this task very seriously and drew beautiful pictures and wrote lovely notes.

One boy drew a picture of a baby in a crib being carted off to a hospital.

One boy wrote, "I hope you get better soon and have a really good life."

One girl cried because she was so sad the baby was sick.

Miriam drew a picture of Princess Leia (which is totally fine because the brother of this sick baby drew a mountain that looked something like this: /\, and that was all).

There was such a sweet spirit in that room it almost had me in tears. I looked around at the miracle babies I knew were sitting in that room: That child's mother had almost died giving birth. That child was born with only one lung but despite all odds grew another one, shocking all the doctors. That child was born prematurely. That child's mother lost three babies in a row, but look at the beautiful child she has now.

I suppose all births are sacred—birth brings you so close to life, so close to death—but some stories tug at my heartstrings a little more than others. Usually they're the stories where there's a battle between life and death, and the victor—whether life or death—only claims its prize by a narrow escape.

Babies who valiantly struggle for their life...and live!

Babies who valiantly struggle for their life...and die.

Yes, there's something sacred about birthing. And about life. And about death.

Benjamin's early weeks were spent on the forefront of this battleground. I love all my children the same, but I do find myself looking at Benjamin a little differently than I did my girls. In truth, I even look at my girls differently after having Benjamin. I see them with more reverence, with a hint of awe. Somehow, despite all odds, Heavenly Father blessed me with three beautiful children—and isn't that amazing?! Isn't it amazing that they're all here! We're so lucky! We're so blessed!

On Sunday morning, Sister A. got word from the doctors that it had worked! The medicine had made its way to the liver; the baby's numbers were stabilizing. His liver was looking great. They checked his eyes and they seem fine. Every test they did came back looking good.

Sister A. updated her facebook status to read: Current tally: Prayer-aided anti-viral: 1, mean old virus: 0. The Lord DOES answer prayers. [His] liver is doing significantly better, and the doctors are pretty sure he won't need a transplant. Thank you so much to everyone for their prayers and fasting. I really feel we prayed that liver back to working order! We still have a ways to go until he's better, but I feel jubilant today!

That was humbling for me to read because I almost felt inclined to pass this off as a coincidence—as if our fasting and prayers had been unnecessary for the cure and the medicine had worked on its own. I was so thankful to Sister A. for reminding me that there are no coincidences.

Anyway, we talked about that during family night in the context of service and missionary work.

During sacrament meeting two things struck me (and while wrestling three children let's just be impressed that anything struck me). The first was when a woman (I'm not sure who she was, frankly) was talking about her brother's decision to go on a mission. He'd been undecided for some time but then one day announced that he'd be going. She asked him why and he told her that he wanted to help others know that Heavenly Father loved them because he couldn't imagine going through life not knowing that.

The second thing that stuck out to me was when Brother L. talked about the gospel being "the good word." The gospel is that Heavenly Father loves us. The gospel is that the Savior atoned for our sins to enable us to return to live with Heavenly Father. That's the gospel.

And that's why service is such an important part of missionary work—because when we serve others, we're really in the service of our God. When we do it unto the least, we're doing it unto the Lord.

The way we serve God is by serving others. It's how we show God love and it's how we show others God's love. As He has loved us, so are we to love others.

My girls were giddy all of Sunday with all the service/missionary work they were doing. They were jumping up with every opportunity to serve, even though we were just staying home. On Monday when we played the game again they came up with some excellent ideas on how we could serve others and we had a fun time playing the game and discussing service and missionary work and the way the Lord works miracles in our lives.

We even made some cookies and a card for Sister A., which we delivered this afternoon. We were fortunate to catch her at home and we had a nice chat about the stress of having two kids at home who need you, and a third in a hospital across town who also needs you. We talked about the agony of having to pump every three hours for weeks on end. We talked about faith and miracles.

It was a much-needed conversation for me (and I hope she needed it as well).


  1. Great story and I'm glad the baby is OK. Unless there are two very similar stories out there, Brother A was in my freshman ward at BYU. :)

    1. They are one and the same. That came up not too long ago, actually...I can't remember why...and I can't imagine I didn't tell you about it. But, yes. Brother A. did ask how we knew you. :)

    2. *why

      I can't imagine WHY I didn't tell you about it.

      I'm having a problem leaving out words and leaving in extra words today (and always). :)

  2. What an awesome story and what a great reminder to not just coincidence ourselves out of miracles!