Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tender Mercies

In the April 2005 General Conference of our church Elder David A. Bednar gave one of my favorite talks ever.  This is one of those talks that I think of often and really helped me to understand even more how much the Lord loves each of us.  You can read the full talk here (and I would suggest you do).  Elder Bednar gives his understanding of what tender mercies are which I have included below.

"the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ."


Today I want to share a few more things that I truly consider "tender mercies" that have happened during our  journey to where we are now.  There might be a few of these posts, because life is full of these things if we are just keeping our eyes and heart open to seeing them.

Through our journey with infertility we have had many ups and downs.  I think the biggest down for me (and probably Ben if you asked him) was when our IVF cycle failed.  You can read about that here.  The weekend after IVF failed was Mother's Day.  I got a call that day and was asked  to give a talk in church a few weeks later about cheerfulness.  When I got that call, I literally almost started laughing.  It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard in my life.  The last thing I was feeling was cheerful.  I was feeling more sadness than I had ever experienced.  But being asked to give that talk was a tender mercy.  Through preparing for that talk I learned about the true meaning of happiness.  I received a true testimony of the Savior and the fact that He has given me everything I need through His atonement.  I could be happy and cheerful because of my Savior.  I cannot even express the difference that talk and what I learned from it has made in my life for the past two plus years.   I have had my days and my moments where I have been frustrated and upset by my struggle with infertility (amongst other things), but it is nothing like it could have been.  Before that talk, I felt anger when I would hear of another friend or family member getting pregnant.  I didn't enjoy Relief Society because I felt like a failure and like I didn't fit in.  It really affected everything in my life.  After our failed IVF that should have been worse, but it wasn't.  It was so much better..  Since then, I can feel true joy and happiness for other peoples good news.  I can be around mothers, fathers, babies and not feel like a failure.  It's hard to explain, but it changed me.  To me, this was a tender mercy.

I mentioned in the last post that we had talked to a birth mom last year before we moved to the Philippines.  She contacted us 11 days after our profile was live.  We talked with her for a few weeks, emailing back and forth and getting to know each other.  We also had a meeting with her at LDS Family Services and went to dinner with them.  She wasn't looking at any other families, so that seemed pretty hopeful for us.  We enjoyed talking to her and getting to know her, but never felt extra confident about anything.  After a few weeks our caseworker let us know that she had contacted another family and was going to be meeting with them and then would be making a decision which family to place her baby girl with.  Obviously we were nervous and hopeful.  During that time I was invited to participate in our Stake Relief Society Conference where we would be acting as women from the bible and church history.  During the practice I had a weird impression.  Ben and I have discussed baby names from the beginning of our marriage.  We had girl names we liked and boy names we liked.  While I was sitting there one of the women got up and was acting as Adah from the Bible.  The name just stood out to me as such a great name for this baby.  I immediately texted Ben and said "What about the name Ada"?.  This was not one of our names.  This was nothing we had even thought of before.  I have a niece named Addy, Ada is very close to that.  It didn't really make sense.  But I went with what I felt.  We were informed within the next few days that this birth mom had chosen the other family to place her baby with.  We were sad.  It was another "failure" for us, but we moved forward.  A couple of months later I emailed this birth mom just to find out how she was doing.  I knew she would have already had the baby and just wanted to check on her.  She wrote me back telling me what was going on with her life, how she was doing, etc.  Toward the end of the email she said "I just visited Ada and she is so cute and doing great.".  I literally had to go back and read that line a few times.  I had never mentioned the name to anyone other than Ben.  I could not believe it.  The adoptive family had named her Ada.  At that moment I KNEW that this baby was with the family she was meant to be with, that was the name she was meant to have, and that the Lord was aware of her and me. Talk about a tender mercy.

I know this post is already very long, but I have one more experience that I want to share.  I will save the others for a later post.  After my last post I realized that I told you S, the birth mom, looked very Filipino but I never mentioned what ethnicity she actually is.  She was born in Hawaii and her mom was born and raised in Hawaii.  S is part Chinese, Caucasian, Hawaiian and Mexican. You have no idea how excited Ben was when he realized his baby boy was going to be Polynesian.  He immediately started looking at Hawaiian names.  Well, in that first week he found THE name he wanted.  He told me and I laughed and said no way!  Haha.  I couldn't even say it right.  Strangely, Ben was really set on that name.  It was the oddest thing because he is normally so laid back.  I kind of just figured he would get over it and moved on. One week after being chosen we were meeting S and her mom face to face.  It was a nerve wracking experience, but so much fun to get to meet them in person, hug them and just get to know each other better.  Her mom totally looks and acts Hawaiian and she and Ben totally hit it off.  S was just so sweet and thoughtful and wise for her young age.  The meeting was going well when S asked us if we had any ideas of names for the baby.  Ben jumped in with how he had been looking at Hawaiian names and how he had found one that means warrior(or something like that).  They asked him the name and he said, "Kekoa".  Let me tell you, that moment will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life.  S (the birth mom) and the caseworker looked at each other in awe and S turned to us and said "That is the name I had written down for his middle name.  It was my cousin's name who passed away".....Obviously, I am not Hawaiian.  I do not know if this is a common Hawaiian name.  What I do know is that we had no reason to pick this name.  Ben had no reason to like that name as much as he did other than he felt drawn to it.  In that moment we knew why.  It was a tender mercy of the Lord for every person at that meeting.

The Lord is so very aware of each of us.  This road has been long and hard.  We have people in our life that are set on focusing on how hard it has been. What we focus on is that without infertility, without this struggle, we would not be where we are.  We would not have had these experiences.  We are where we are supposed to be.  Thank goodness for tender mercies to help us see that.

10 comments:

Katie Lane said...

Carmen, thanks for sharing. I remember your talk on cheerfulness very much. It is one of my favorite church talks ever.
I am sadand sorry you have been through so many hard things. You and Ben are so verystrong and wonderful people!

Amy Sue said...

LOVE this post! There was such a peaceful feeling as I read it. You and Ben are two of the strongest people I know! Love you both! And I am excited for your new chapter in life!

melanie said...

Oh my gosh Carmen! Thanks for sharing those experiences. I got choked up a few times while reading this.

Steve and Alli said...

Awesome! I love all the stories, and yay for Hawaiian names- we're obviously fans at our house :)

Financially Empowered Families said...

Great post. I love you and Ben!! Can't wait for our new grandson. I love that you see the Lord's hand in the details. He is mindful of each of us and if we open our hearts to His "tender mercies" we will understand just how aware He is of each one of us. Thanks for being such a great example!!!

.the palsky's. said...

so just to be clear, he's going to be little baby kekoa right? this post totally amazes me, i'm so happy that you posted this because it helped me to remember just how aware our Heavenly Father is. thanks :)

Todd and Heather Moulton said...

Carmen, thanks for sharing these experiences. It reminds me of how much Heavenly Father does really know and love each of us. I love that you can see these mercies too - that you haven't missed them by being upset or focused on something else. Thanks for the example of faith. I can't wait to see pictures of your little boy!

Tiffany Johnson said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Its so fun to read it and feel the strength through the two of you. You guys are awesome. We love you.

Holly said...

Carmen-
Just wanted to say that I LOVE reading your blog. So touching! I felt the spirit as I read this post.

Tonna said...

So me and Tonna decided we were going to go through the family blogs for FHE and she started reading this aloud but couldnt get through it (and Tonna isnt much of a crier so I was surprised) Then I tried but my Johnson gene kicked in so we ended up just reading it to ourselves. We are so happy for you. Thanks for sharing.