Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Hannah's Adventure Begins

I just got home from dropping Hannah off at the airport. She is flying to Salt Lake, where my sister Lindy will pick her up and take her to the MTC in Provo. She enters the MTC at 12:30 this afternoon, and will officially be Sister Hiatt, missionary.

I don't know how I feel about this yet. It doesn't seem real that I'm not going to see her for eighteen months, that she'll spend most of that time *hopefully* on the other side of the world. I am grateful that she made the decision to serve a mission, and I think she will be amazing. She seems so self-confident and grown up - much more so than I felt when I left to serve, and I was a couple years older than she is now.

Last Friday, we received an email from our stake president to inform us that Hannah's visa hadn't arrived yet, so she was being reassigned to the Provo MTC. It was a bit disappointing that she wasn't heading to Brazil immediately, but this gives her a little more time to learn some Portuguese before she arrives there. Hopefully her visa will come in the next six weeks so after the MTC she can go directly to Brazil. Otherwise, she will get to experience life as a missionary somewhere in the States for a while.

Last night, we took the family out to dinner at the Olive Garden, and then went to the church where President Moon set her apart as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was nice to spend the evening as a family - perhaps the last time we will be all together for a long time, since John will most likely leave for his mission before Hannah returns. And then with college, marriage, and the other boys' missions, who knows how long it will be?

I know Hannah has been collecting email addresses from those who would like to receive her mission emails. For those who would like to write to her, her email address is hannah.hiatt@myldsmail.net. Also, I'll be posting her letters on a different blog: https://sisterhiattsadventures.blogspot.com/.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Josh's Adventures with Syncope and Seizures

Josh worked at a scout camp this last summer. He would go up on Sunday after church and come home Saturday morning. One Saturday he came home with a scab on his forehead and the news that one day that week, he had fallen asleep and fallen off the bench he had been sitting on and hit his head. He had been up late the night before and nodded off during one of the classes.

One day in mid-September, I received a phone call from the school nurse to tell me that Josh had fallen asleep during class, and again fell off his chair and hit his head on the ground. At first I thought it was a recurrence of what had happened at scout camp, but when I asked him about it after school, I became a little suspicious. He said this time he hadn't been feeling particularly sleepy. He had gotten a feeling of  déjà vu and a headache before falling asleep suddenly. That sounded remarkably like how I feel when I have a seizure.

At 6:21 AM  yesterday morning I received a text from John, who was at seminary. "Josh just fell out of his chair with a seizure for about 15 seconds. He seems fine now." When I talked to John a little later, he said Josh had been twitching a little while he was unconscious. Josh, however, seemed fine, and he had a student performance of the play he is in at the school that day that he didn't want to miss, so I let him go on to school. I called the doctor and made an appointment for Josh to go in that evening.

That afternoon Hannah and I were returning home from running errands when I received a text from Josh. "Hey my head hurts a lot more than it did, can you excuse me for seventh so I can rest at home?" We picked him up from school and gave him a ride home, and he slept much of the afternoon. He said the whole back of his head hurt.

That evening, I had a presidency meeting, so Steven took Josh to his doctor's appointment. The appointment was set for 6:45.

At 8:08, Steven sent me a text. "The Dr lady wants Josh to get a CT scan. We're over in the ER department now. Looks like it may be awhile. At least he brought a book to read..."

At 8:22, "ER doctor doesn't think he needs a CT scan. Will check his blood and maybe an EKG test to see if anything is wrong with the heart, but more likely it is a neurology thing. Will give us a referral."

8:41, "They finished the EKG and blood work. They say it may be 45 min to get the results back though." 

9:32, "We might be getting out soon!"

A few minutes before 10 PM, Steven and Josh returned home. Diagnosis: Syncope and collapse, Observed seizure-like activity. He still had the headache; the doctors apparently weren't concerned about it. Josh has another appointment with his primary care doctor scheduled for Monday morning.

Through all this, I've felt remarkably calm. (I'm on a new seizure medication now and feeling a lot better emotionally!) I feel like I know what he's experiencing. I know that seizures by themselves are relatively harmless - they become dangerous if they last more than 5 minutes, if multiple seizures occur without waking up fully in between, or if the person having the seizure is driving or doing something equally dangerous. For Josh, my biggest concern is his tendency to fall out of his chair and hit his head on the floor. Hopefully he will learn to recognize the déjà vu feeling and get himself in a safe position if it happens again. Hopefully he will get on a medication that will stop them from happening without the bad side effects. And I'm sorry that this tendency to have seizures is apparently hereditary and he got it from me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hannah's Discipleship Talk

Hannah got to speak in church this last Sunday. Here is her talk:

I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus

As I’m sure you know, I’m serving a mission soon. I’m going to the Brazil, Sao Paulo South mission and I leave on November 7th (9 days!). And naturally, there’ve been a lot of things I’ve needed to do to prepare. Now, what everyone asks is, “do you speak Portuguese yet?” And in the four months since I got my call, I’ve been working hard on it. So now, a week and a half away, I can now say with confidence, “Eu nao falo Portuguese.” ...I’m very grateful for the MTC. No, but I have been preparing, not just over the last few months but through my whole life.

Since I was a little kid in primary, I’ve tried to become more like Christ. I loved to sing “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus,” and especially now that I’m older I absolutely love that song because of of the pure, simple way it invites us to become better. It’s got everything laid out in those two short verses we learn as children. Now I know that for some of you it’s been a while since you’ve been in primary, so I’ll remind you. The chorus says “Love one another as Jesus loves you. Try to show kindness in all that you do. Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, for these are the things Jesus taught.” For me, this song is the definition of being a disciple. If we show the love and kindness modeled by Christ, we can become more like Him.

I Try to Remember the Lessons He Taught

There are a few things we need to do in order to become better disciples of Christ. The first is to learn about Him. You can’t emulate someone whom you know nothing about, right? In Doctrine and Covenants 19, we are invited to “Learn of [Christ] and listen to [his] words.” We are asked to “walk in the meekness of [his] spirit, and [we] shall have peace” (D&C 19:23). We need to learn about Christ. We can do this by going to church, reading the scriptures, praying, all the Sunday school answers. Now if you’re here, you probably already do most of those, but my question is, could they be more meaningful? There’s a huge difference between reading a chapter before bed because you feel like you should, and actively searching the scriptures, scouring them to find revelation, applying truths to your life, and treasuring up the word. This is something I need to be better at, and I would invite you to join me in making a commitment to make scripture study more meaningful. Similarly, if there’s some other thing you struggle with, I would invite you to find ways to make it more meaningful. I know that as you strive to draw closer to Christ, you will be blessed with his Spirit and he will guide your efforts.

As we come to know Christ we will be better prepared to emulate him. We will better understand his attributes, and more importantly, we will come to a better understanding of his motivation in serving us. That’s what it’s all about, right? We can go through the motions of being Christlike, but without the love of God and of all mankind holding it together, it’s meaningless.

I’m Learning to Love as He Did

The first thing I think of when I think about Christ is his love for us. There is no other reason why he would submit himself so fully to our needs and suffer so immensely to save us. There’s a hymn that sums up my feelings about it:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, that for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died. (I Stand All Amazed, 194)

It is so amazing and I am staggered by the outpouring of love he gave so freely.

During his ministry on earth, Christ showed so much love. Even when he was busy, he gave freely of his time. While hurrying through crowds to heal Jairus’s daughter, he paused to speak with the unclean woman who grabbed his cloak. Instead of the frustration most of us feel when interrupted from an urgent task, he showed nothing but love, and gently assured the woman that she had been made whole. His example of patience and love is something I admire greatly.

In a recent conference talk, Massimo de Feo said, “Love is the true sign of every true disciple of Jesus Christ.” I’m not sure we have the capacity for Christ’s level of love, but we can share freely the love we do have. John 13:35 says “Ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

I’m Learning to Serve my Friends

One way Christ showed his love for others was by serving them. Even when he was tired, upset, or busy, he would always make time for others. After his cousin and friend, John the Baptist, was beheaded, Christ went away to be alone to mourn. However, he “saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.” Even in his time of trial, he was able to focus on others and serve them. Later that evening, when it was getting late, the apostles tried to shoo the crowd away to give Jesus space, saying that the people needed food. Even then Jesus didn’t leave the people to their needs. He took the few loaves and fish they already had and blessed them and multiplied them so that no one would have to go. He showed such incredible love for them as he served them, and I am grateful for his example.

Service is not only a way to show love for others, but it’s also a way to show love for God. Mosiah said that “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God.” God isn’t physically on earth, so those who follow Him become his hands. When we take His name upon us at baptism, we claim the responsibility of acting as He would. When Christ was on the earth, he taught and healed and served. If we are true followers of Him, we should do the same thing. Now granted, no one here is perfect, and we can’t do everything. However, every effort we make to serve others is appreciated by God, and it brings us one step closer to becoming like our Heavenly Father, which is our ultimate goal.

Sometimes service can feel unnecessary. Sometimes our efforts to serve go unnoticed. Sometimes things backfire and it seems best to not even try. In her talk in the most recent conference, Joy D. Jones asked,

Can you think back on a time when you lovingly reached out with sincere effort to help someone in need and felt that your efforts went unnoticed or perhaps were unappreciated or even unwanted? In that moment, did you question the value of your service? If so, may the words of King Benjamin replace your doubt and even your hurt: “Ye are only in the service of your God.” (For Him, Jones)

We are imperfect and even our most sincere desires to help may not work out as we might hope, but that should never stop us from trying. God knows and appreciates everything we do, and serving Him is just as important, if not more, than serving the people around us.

I’m Trying to Share the Gospel

Apart from the atonement, the most important reason Christ came to earth was to restore the gospel. He went forth among the Jews to teach the truths that had been lost or distorted, thus beginning a new dispensation. He was an amazing missionary and through his efforts, many people were able to come to know the truth.

If we want to be true disciples of Christ, we need to do the same thing. This doesn’t necessarily mean serving a formal proselytizing mission, although that is a great way to do it. For me it means not being afraid to be different, and being willing to answer questions when they come up. Knowing, living, and loving the gospel makes us stand out, and we should never be ashamed of that.

In a devotional back in June, President Nelson challenged the youth to be a light. He said,

“You are to be a light to the world. Therefore, the Lord needs you to look like, sound like, act like, and dress like a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Yes, you are living in the world, but you have very different standards from the world to help you avoid the stain of the world.

“With the Holy Ghost as your companion, you can see right through the celebrity culture that has smitten our society. You can be smarter than previous generations have ever been. And if you are sometimes called “weird,” wear that distinction as a badge of honor and be happy that your light is shining brightly in this ever-darkening world!” (Hope of Israel, Nelson)

There are things that we do because of our knowledge of the gospel, and many of those things don’t translate well into typical culture. People notice when we don’t curse, when we don’t wear immodest clothing, when we try to build others up instead of tear them down. The light of Christ burns within us, and it is our responsibility to share it with everyone. Instead of hiding our testimonies under a metaphorical bushel, or instead of covering our convictions with the things of the world, we need to stand out. We need to shine forth, and offer to share that light with as many people as will accept it. When friends have questions, answer them! They want to find the light and join in it, and that’s not possible if your light is hidden. So be different. Be better. And try to help others be different too. So often we try to hide our light. We try to act discreetly, we try to blend in, quietly keeping our standards. Or, if we’re asked, we act ashamed. “Sorry, it’s just something my church does.” When we stop trying to hide our light and instead are proud and confident of what makes us different, that is when we are the most effective missionaries.

Now obviously not everyone is looking to be converted. It’s rare that someone will come up and ask about your beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t fertile ground just waiting to be sown with truth. Little things add up, and every tiny thing you do to draw nearer to Christ, to teach and serve and love, will spread the light so that those who are looking will find it. Be an example, be a light.

Meekness

Another important characteristic we can work to emulate is meekness. Elder David A. Bednar said that “Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint” (Meek and Lowly, Bednar). Christ was, of course, the perfect example of this. When he was tormented and mocked before he was killed, Christ didn’t stop them. He had the power to change things, but he meekly bore the persecution, going so far as to turn his head after he was slapped to expose the other cheek as well. He was so humble and meek, even knowing that he was the Son of God and the most perfect, most amazing person to ever walk the earth. Even hanging on the cross, knowing that the Jews had tortured and were killing him, he blessed them, asking his Father to forgive them, claiming that they didn’t know what they were doing. He is such an amazing example of humility and meekness, and I know that I need to do more to become like him.

My scripture hero is Ammon, and I believe he demonstrated this same meekness when he offered himself as a servant to King Lamoni. After being captured while trying to serve a mission, he was taken to the king and interrogated. When the king found that he wanted to stay, he offered Ammon one of his daughters to marry, and presumably all the power and treasure due a princess. But Ammon didn’t take him up on it. He was so meek and humble that he offered instead to be a servant. And as a servant he served with all his strength. Even after fighting a group of rebels in order to keep the king’s sheep safe, he didn’t brag at all or vie for more status. He quietly went on to the next task on the to-do list, humbly following orders. He was strong and powerful and a spiritual giant, but he meekly bore the burdens placed upon him.

Therefore, what?

There are so many Christlike characteristics that we can emulate, but there’s still more we need to do. In preparation for this talk, I did a lot of research, going really in depth in a way that would make any college professor proud. So, to quote from the Wikipedia page, “A disciple is not simply an accumulator of information or one who merely changes moral behavior in conformity with the teachings of Jesus Christ, but seeks a fundamental shift toward the ethics of Jesus Christ in every way” (Discipleship (Christianity), Wikipedia). In other words, it’s not enough to study all these attributes, or even to try to emulate them. We need to become Christlike. When serving others is no longer an obligation but a joy, when we search the scriptures to learn rather than to get it done with, when we love God and everyone around us and strive to be the best we can be, that is when we become true disciples of Christ. The Spirit will guide us and help us become better, and as we make and keep covenants at baptism and in the temple, we will be able to progress on our journey towards becoming like Christ.

We’re not perfect and we can never be on this earth, but God has extended his marvelous grace to us, and given all of us opportunities to change and become better. We can one day become like Christ if we are willing to do all we can and endure to the end. I am so grateful for Christ and for the example he sets for me. I am grateful for the atonement and I know that through it we can be forgiven and become better. I know the church is true. I have felt the Holy Ghost t and guide me, and there is no way to fake that revelation. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, that he restored the gospel, and that he found and translated the Book of Mormon through revelation. I know that President Russell M. Nelson is our current prophet and that he holds all priesthood keys. I love this church and I love all of you and I am so grateful for everything you have taught me. I know with all my soul that this church is true, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, October 15, 2018

General Conference - Live!

The first weekends in April and October are always times that I look forward to. They are the times when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds world-wide conferences, and we get to hear the words of living prophets and apostles. I always come away from these conferences feeling inspired to be a better person.

This year, our local bishop wanted Hannah to experience conference in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah before she leaves on her mission, and so our family was provided with tickets to both the Saturday evening General Women's session (the first time it was ever held conference weekend! Before it was always held the preceding Saturday.) for Hannah and me, as well as tickets to the Sunday morning session for the entire family.

Friday, October 5th was our stake temple day, so Hannah and I decided that while Steven was at work and the boys were at school, we would go up to the Fort Collins temple for a session that morning. The temple was busy, and we saw many familiar faces from our stake, which was a joy. It was nice to experience the peace of the temple before what would be a very hectic weekend.

We returned home from the temple to finish packing and loading the car and getting everything ready for our trip. Steven took the afternoon off work and arrived home shortly after we did to help in the preparations. John and Josh didn't have play rehearsal that day, so were able to come home immediately after school, and Peter was the last to get out of school - at 3:25, and we picked him up from school and kept on driving on our way to Utah. We arrived at my parent's home in Orem about 11:00 that night.

We watched the Saturday morning session of conference there at my parents' home with my sister Amber and her kids. We were a bit stunned by the announcement that starting next year, church will be for only two hours rather than the three we currently meet, allowing more time for gospel learning in the home. At the same time, I could see many benefits, and thought how exciting this change will be.

Following the session, we reloaded the car with all our stuff and headed to South Jordan, to the home of my sister Lindy. Hannah took the car to visit with a friend nearby, while the rest of us watched the afternoon session with Lindy and her family, as well as my sisters Kristy and Heather who had come from Missouri with their daughters (Katie and Natalie) to attend conference as well. Once again we were spiritually fed and uplifted.

Very shortly after the afternoon session ended, Hannah had returned, the car had been unloaded, and Hannah and I were on our way to Salt Lake to watch the General Women's session of conference. We managed to arrive safely without getting lost, we found parking, and found our way to the conference center to join the throngs of other women there in that magnificent building. It was amazing to be in the same room (albeit a large one) with a living prophet! I came away from that session resolved to accept President Nelson's challenge to hold a fast from social media for a time, to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, to continue to attend the temple regularly, and to study the Relief Society purpose and declaration.

 After Hannah and I made our way out of the Conference Center, we made our way to the visitor's center across the street where we met Heather, Kristy and my other sister Lia, who had also come with their daughters to watch this session of conference, but had been sitting in a different location in the Conference Center. Lia and her two daughters (McKenna and Kylie) had taken the train to Salt Lake from Provo, so they came with us to our car, and we drove them back to South Jordan where we went out to dinner with everyone who had been at Conference, as well as Lindy and Jessica who also met us at the restaurant. After dinner, we took Lia and her daughters to the train station in South Jordan so they could return home, and then we returned to Lindy's where the boys had spent the evening, and where we stayed the night.



The next morning we got up bright and early, loaded the car, and headed back to Salt Lake for the Sunday morning session of conference as a family. To be honest, I was feeling a bit worn thin by then, but it was wonderful to be on temple square with the family. We got there early enough that we could take a few family pictures on temple square before Steven hurried to return the camera to the car and we made our way to the Conference Center. The Sunday morning session is always preceded by the Tabernacle Choir presentation, "Music and the Spoken Word", and that was enjoyable to watch, and then the actual conference began. Once again we were enlightened and uplifted.

When the session was over, we made our way back to the parking lot, passing the protesters - the man in the devil costume, and the one who insisted that we believe in a different Jesus, one who was born in Jerusalem (because that's what it says in Alma 7:10, isn't it? I wonder if he ever asked a member of the church where we believe Christ was born... We could have told him we know he was born in Bethlehem, and that in the Book of Mormon it only says Jerusalem because that is how they referred to the land from which they came - kind of like saying I'm from Denver rather than specifying that I actually live in Thornton which is a suburb 10 miles from Denver, which is actually farther than Bethlehem is from Jerusalem...). Eventually we made it back to the car and then back to the open road, where we headed east towards home.

We listened to the Sunday afternoon session of conference on my phone via the car speakers as well as we could. Unfortunately the reception through the Wyoming foothills was a bit spotty for the first half, but after that it did better. There were more good talks, more things to think about and ponder, and more things that I wanted to review and listen to later.

Also we stopped at my other sister April's home in Cheyenne briefly for a rest stop before continuing on our way home. It was about hat point that I realized that I had seen almost all my sisters on this trip - all except for Heidi, the youngest. She was going to join the rest of the family for lunch in Orem on Sunday, but since we had decided to head home after the morning session, we missed her. :(

We finally arrived home around 9pm Sunday night absolutely exhausted, but feeling spiritually uplifted. We unloaded the car and then went to bed. Seminary came early Monday morning.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Stress and Trials (And John Got His License!)

I don't know how much longer I can stay on this seizure medication.

At first I just felt kind of "spacey", like my thoughts were floating "out there", a little disjointed and haphazard. It was difficult to focus, to concentrate on anything for very long, and it was hard to articulate what I wanted to say sometimes. I still feel that way, but I realize that it's more than that.

I feel disconnected on a deeper level. I feel like I've lost my grounding, my foundation that gives me support when life throws challenges my way. I can't roll with the punches right now, I get knocked out and I feel stunned and out for the count for way too long. I can't deal with the little setbacks that come my way.

I've always been a person who likes to know what to expect, and I don't like surprises. But now, any time I'm facing anything that is even the slightest out of the ordinary, I find myself plagued by the "what-ifs" and stressing about things way more than I ought to be. And then when something does happen that I'm not expecting, or didn't plan for, I'm still thrown into a panic and I don't know how to deal with it. I should probably check my blood pressure, because I'm sure it's higher than it ought to be.
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On Wednesday, September 26th, Steven and I swapped cars. He took the van to work, and I kept Scottie for the day. I took Scottie for an emissions check, and then took Hannah to work, and then after school I accompanied John to the DMV to take the driving test for his license. I stressed about that test more than you can imagine, and I wasn't even the one taking it! First it was, which car should he take it in - the van because he was more familiar with it? But the tire pressure light is on, and one of the brake lights is out... What if they won't even let him take the test because they deem the car isn't safe? But Scottie is brand new and John doesn't have much practice driving it. The brakes are touchy. Does John know where all the controls are? (It's a Toyota, the van is a Toyota of the same year, the controls are almost identical.) Do we have the registration and proof of insurance for Scottie? (Yes) Maybe we should have let him drive the van after all. (Too late now, Steven already has it at work.) It was an incredible relief when John passed the test and got his driver's license. Of course John was calm and secure in the knowledge that he would pass all along.
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When Steven borrowed the van, he noticed that the alignment on the van was off and the brakes seemed soft, so he made an appointment for me to take the van in for an alignment (free under lifetime warranty) on Tuesday, and asked them to look at the brakes as well. Accordingly, I dropped the car off at the car place at 7am, told them I needed the car to be done by 1pm (That would give me time to walk back to get it before Hannah needed to leave for work at 2), and walked the two miles home.

Around 9am, I got a phone call from the car place. The brakes master cylinder was leaking, and the brake pads and rotors were wearing unevenly. They would need to replace the entire brake system and it would cost us over $1300. There were other issues that needed to be dealt with, something about a bubble on the side of a tire and something to do with the power steering, but he said they weren't urgent. I reluctantly agreed to have the brake work done, and he said he'd call this afternoon when the car was ready.

Around 1pm, they hadn't called yet, so I called them to find out if the car was close to being ready yet. In the course of our phone conversation, I learned that 1) the car was not yet ready. 2) The car would not be ready for some time. 3) The replacing of the brake system was a 5-6 hour operation (he hadn't mentioned this when we had talked on the phone at 9, and 4) Apparently when he had said "I'll call you this afternoon when the car is ready" what he actually meant was "Even though we agreed I would have your car back by 1pm, that no longer applies and your transportation issues this afternoon are not my problem" and I hadn't understood. I confess I was not as calm and polite on the phone with him as I probably ought to have been.

Suddenly I felt faced with the issue of how Hannah was going to travel the six miles or so to work without a car, and at that moment, it was sprinkling outside on top of everything else! In the end, it stopped sprinkling, she rode a bike, she got a little lost and got a flat tire and arrived at work a little late, but she got to work in the end and it was all good. The car place called me at 2:30 to say the car was done and I could come pick it up. I walked the two miles back to get it, thankfully able to walk off some of my frustration with them before I got there, paid them for the work done, and returned home again. But the remainder of my day I felt drained, stressed, broken.

I feel like I lack the resilience that I used to have. I can't laugh things off, and I'm feeling strained and brittle a lot of the time. How much of this is due to the medication? Is there something else that is causing it? I wish I knew.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Scottie

Note: This is a generic white '07 Toyota Highlander...
 I don't have an actual picture of Scottie yet.
On Saturday, September 22nd, we welcomed an addition to our family. Meet "Scottie", a 2007 Toyota Highlander. Steven and I found it at a dealership in Longmont, Colorado, and it was the very first car we test drove. We did look at another car, but came back to this one in the end. Although it does have some hail damage on the outside, the inside is comfortable and clean and the car has been well maintained and it is a pleasure to drive.

Welcome to our household Scottie!