Wednesday, April 12, 2017

THE ANSWERED PRAYERS CHRONICLES

CANCER

Someone once asked me how I felt about Heavenly Father not taking away my cancer after my diagnosis.  That I didn't show up to my next appointment and the cancer had miraculously disappeared, like in other people's stories.

That thought had never occurred to me.

I prayed to be healed and My dad blessed me that I'd have a full recovery.  I've been healed and I've had a full recovery.  I prayed to get through the treatments and that the treatments would work.  They worked.

I prayed with a grateful heart that it was me and not someone else.

I never prayed to have my cancer taken away, but here I am 13 years later and it has been taken away.  So I guess I feel grateful that I learned empathy for those who are sick, for patience in rebuilding the muscle tone killed by chemo and patience in losing the weight gained from the chemo, gratitude for the change in my diet to eating healthy, for the miracles of modern medicine, and for the millions of answered prayers in between.

I put my life in God's hands and I am stronger for it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

THE ANSWERED PRAYERS CHRONICLES

ANESTHETIC = 1, STEPH = 0

There was this one time, I had cancer.  I even wrote a book about it.  So I'm pretty much famous and I thought I'd share one of many prayer stories from that time...

LUMPECTOMY (noun, lump-eck-ta-mee) 1. The surgical removal of a breast cyst or tumor.  Origin:  1970-75 lump + ectomy

So I had one of those.

I awoke groggy (as most patients do).  My eyelids were heavy, my limbs seemed immovable, and my head weighed more than a bowling ball (the heavy ones professional bowlers use, not the fluorescent balls children use...and I use).  I blinked my lids open and found a cute beanie baby and balloon sitting with me and my mom sitting just across the room.  I think I smiled at her in my sleepy head, not on my actual face.  I worked my way to sitting, letting my head hang on my neck for a minute or two.

Somehow I had a bag of my clothes in my arms and I proceeded to put them on (a shirt that zipped up the front, genius, shorts and my Adidas tennies). No sooner had I emptied the bag of its contents then I filled it back up...with my insides.  Apparently the anesthetic did not agree with me...and it continued to disagree with me all the way home.  There is a point of dilusion, when it doesn't seem real even though it feels VERY real.  My eyes were crying tears even though I wasn't actually crying, just convulsing a little...or a lot.  I did learn a useful tip:  ziplock bags are the greatest tool for vomit control.

I lay in the guest room of my parent's home, too exhausted and delirious to do anything...even pray (which is saying something).  My dad, a sympathetic crier, sat by my side and took my hand and asked, "would you like a blessing?"  I probably responded, but that evening blurred a bit from the hospital on, so I'm not totally sure.  What I do remember is Clark Wallace and my dad laying their hands on my head and pronouncing a blessing of health and peace and then me, calmly falling asleep.

Anesthetic = 0, Power of God = infinity

Sunday, March 26, 2017

THE ANSWERED PRAYERS CHRONICLES

THE FLAT TIRE IN A DRESS

I work on the stereotypical "west side".  We've got everything, gang shootings, drive-bys, drugs, teenage moms, grandmas with 2 teeth raising babies... and all of them younger than me.  And I love it!

Back when I first started teaching, I was heading home down the street that divides West Valley and Magna, 7200 South.  It was a beautiful drive on a beautiful sunny day in girly dress (probably for parent teacher conferences or some nonsense like that).  I was passing the two vinyl fenced in neighborhoods that lined the right and the chain link fenced homes that lined my left.  One random home, surrounded by a small dense forest, divided the two vinyl lined neighborhoods on my right and stretched back for who-knows-how-far.  The home seemed out of place mixed in with the new developments.

As I passed that home/area my back right tire hit something unusual that banged around the casing of my tire.  The air proceeded to leak over the next block, causing a flat tire.  Pulled over on the side of the road, I sat down to think.  As a young woman medallion holder, I know how to change a tire but in my nice clothes, I hoped it wouldn't be necessary.  Cell phones were fairly new and I didn't know who to call anyway, I mean I'm in Magna it's not like people are really near enough to help.   I bowed my head, right there sitting on the curb, and prayed for help.  

I raised my head, looked around, waited a minute and a truck pulled up behind my Subaru.  Talk about efficient prayer answering!  The kind gentlemen said I looked like I needed assistance.  I indeed needed assistance and I thanked him for coming.  He shared with me that he was headed a different direction on another road when he felt prompted to come my way and he was glad that he had followed that prompting.

He had my new tire on in no time and was on his way.  In my prayer of thanks to my Heavenly Father, I also prayed in gratitude for the faithful man who heard and followed the Spirit to help a stranger in need.  Even in these little instances, God makes us His priority.



SIDE NOTE:  The leak was caused by a bullet hole.  The ricochet I had heard in the wheel well was the bullet.  I called to let the police know and they were very cavalier about it, "was anyone injured?"  "No, just my tire."  "Oh, okay sorry about your tire."  "I just thought someone should know that a bullet was fired in a neighborhood, that is why I called."  "Well, no one was injured so...ummm...thanks for your call."  "Uh, you're welcome."   


steph

Friday, March 24, 2017

THE ANSWERED PRAYERS CHRONICLES

THE BYU VS. ...NOWHERE

My senior year at Jordan High School began.  My schedule consisted of AP Calculus, not my best subject but it looks great on a college application, CP English, Advanced Art, Cheerleading, Dance Company, accounting, and whatever else was required at the time.  The buzz of applying to college and ACT scores dominated conversations.  Who got a 35 and who retook it until she got a perfect 36 just to beat her nemesis... and me with my adequate 26.

The time came and we all sent in our applications, letters of recommendations, ecclesiastical endorsements, essays, and hours of service plus extracurricular activities that dominated our time. Tina, Jeani and I planned to be roommates and sent that information in as well.  I was going to the BYU, as Doyles do, and never thought another thing about it.

One day a thick envelop arrived from the BYU, excitedly I ripped it open to find out that I had been accepted into HOUSING and would indeed be roommates with Tina and Jeani.  Nothing from the BYU admittance office though.  As others received acceptance letters from Harvard, Utah State, Notre Dame, even the very same BYU, I still waited...not in a worried way waited, just in my normal "it'll work out" waited.

Weeks passed.  Nothing.

Finally a letter came.  LATER.  WAY LATER.  "You have been placed on a waiting list for BYU".  Hmm.  Not what I expected.  So I had housing but not schooling.  At this point all application deadlines, for other schools, had passed.  For the first time it crossed my mind that I might not actually get into the BYU.  Even as I write this, I feel that thick heaviness in my chest - what if?!  It was truly inconceivable.  It sounds silly, but I was going to BYU and never believed that not going was even a possibility.  I made jokes with everyone, "BYU just wants me to live there, I'm that great" and we laughed.

I knelt down and prayed to my Heavenly Father when the doubts started creeping in.  I tried to be open to the Spirit and listen to His plan for me...praying it was to go to BYU, but also trying not to be bossy with my prayers.  I prayed for months.  Yes, months.  I didn't find out until MAY!  My acceptance letter finally came!!!  It said something like "if you start in June (summer term) you may come to our great BYU and continue as a regular student through the fall!"  Oh I couldn't contain my JOY!!  What a relief, who cares that I had to start a week after graduation, I got IN!!!

This was no small answer.  It was a miracle.  I believe in miracles.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

THE ANSWERED PRAYERS CHRONICLES

PARIS

I was called to serve in the Paris, France mission.  A dream come true...in my dreams.  The reality of it was terrifying.  As an introvert with food issues the mission field paralyzed me.  The MTC was a party (as much as studying the Gospel and French can be a party), but arriving in Paris made it real.

I don't completely understand my kinship to Paris, but I truly felt like I belonged there from the moment I stepped off the plane.  The missionaries took us out to preach and street contact right after we arrived at the mission home.  I asked the first person if they could tell me about "this hat" instead of castle (chapeau instead of chateau).  That is when I knew I couldn't do this.

Missionary work was not for me.  Talking to strangers? What was I thinking?!  Speaking another language?!  UGH!  Then I realized I was trapped in France. Forever.  I think it was my first panic attack.  My heart felt hot and expanded and pounded in my chest.  The world seemed blurry.  Voices swirled in my mind.  It was the worst!  "I can't do this...I can't do this..."  I've never thought that in my life!!   I prayed in my swollen heart, "how can I do this?!"

Peace.  One day at a time.  Focus on today.  Calm.

"I can do this". Heavenly Father spoke peace into my heart, encouraged me to see my mission as independent days and not by the mission as a whole.  What a blessing.  I had to focus on the seven day planner and not think too far past that.  This same answer came to me several times throughout my 18 months and kept my feet on the ground.

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE ANSWERED PRAYERS CHRONICLES

BECAUSE GOD TOLD ME TO

As I sat through the "Holmes Homes' experience" last week, I filled out their 3 page survey.  It asked questions like "what other builders did you look at" ummm none, or "why did you choose Holmes" because of the model home, and "why are you moving", easy, because God told me to...

It started awhile back, the feeling like I had something I needed to do but could not pinpoint anything.  I began focusing my prayers on how I could be making more progress in my life, to see if that would help.  Which led me into looking into helping refugees and even became trained to teach classes but it never felt right.  Months passed and I wondered if I was supposed to go back to school for another masters or switch schools, nothing felt right.

One Sunday, mid-September, while meditating during Sacrament meeting I heard a clear quiet voice speak to my mind, "you need to move out...by yourself".   This is not how God usually answers my prayers or talks to me.  He usually speaks to me in logic.  Things seem logical and that is where I follow.  This was a voice in my mind, which was new for me.  My initial reactions were:

What?!  Why?!  Why, by myself?!  AHHH!!!  I ignored the answer for as long as I could...3 whole days.  I had no desire to move and after my first day of house hunting, I felt queasy.  I even asked Sandra to not allow me to buy a house I hated.  I tried finding good things in each listing, but they all made me die a little inside.

We found the model home in Creekside (Daybreak).  It had "me" written all over it and if they would have let me buy the model, I would have...except, of course, it had $60,000 in upgrades and I don't really have that kind of payment plan!  (Another question on the survey "what should we know about you"... I am a level 3 client with a level 1 budget!). Ha ha!  So funny.

There was ONE lot left, ONE LOT!  MY LOT!  Yes, I want the lot, get me that lot!  Please.  It all fell into place and felt right...logical.  I see God's hand in this leap of faith.  It is not easy to leave the safety of my easy life, but I will because God told me to and He wants me to be happy.

(Plus it is taking soooo long that I am able to plan and prepare...and save money enough that I am not overwhelmed. #blessed) ;)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE ANSWERED PRAYERS CHRONICLES

MY BRAIN AND EDUCATION

My brain doesn't work like other brains, ask anyone who knows me.  In college I studied 27 hours for one Physical Science test (yes, the entry level basic science class) and I got a 57% so for the next test I skipped class and didn't open the book and pulled a 76%.  The struggle is real.  I'm a genius in my head, but sometimes I just can't access all that potential.  Connecting information and seeing the big picture is what BYU tested and found is my "learning disability".  I lack comprehension skills and I have no short term memory (again, ask anyone who knows me, they can verify this as truth).

Imagine the frustration of being smart, but not being able to pass tests or get good grades.  I faked good grades through high school, but was rudely awakened my first term at BYU... a 2.1 GPA.  High school honor roll to college probation is a tough transition; a real kick to the face (and ego).  Again imagine: studying, knowing it will not make a difference, and having to maintain the desire to continue studying because that is what college is all about!  Frustrating.

One particularly difficult course, Anatomy, took me three tries to pass (though the first try doesn't really count because I didn't realize I had signed up for it and failed by default). I only continued to take it because it was a prerequisite to becoming a dance major, which was to be my major if I could pass Anatomy with a C or higher.  I could only manage a D-, even with my roommate as my TA in the class!  I passed all our practice quizzes at home, but somehow I couldn't recall anything while on the cadavers.

There were many prayers throughout the semester, but to no avail.  I earned yet another D-  (these are expensive D-s).  Having previously received a clear answer that Dance was to be my major, I could not understand the continual failure.  God has the power to unlock whatever was disabling my brain, but I must be failing to learn some lesson (you know, building character and all that) because He deliberately wasn't releasing all that knowledge on test day!

I felt prompted to discuss my situation with my guidance counselor in the dance field.  The same counselor who told me that "dance isn't for everyone" when I decided to pursue Dance Education as my major.  Not a lot of trust in her "guidance" at this point, but I did trust in the Spirit - which is the only reason I went.  I explained my situation with both Physical Science and Anatomy (D-s in both and both requiring a C or higher to enter the program) and asked what I could do.  She gave me an impromptu Anatomy quiz, right there in her office.   My mind was opened and I answered each question without hesitation.  She waived both classes and I entered the Dance Education program (I didn't even know that was an option or that she had the power to do such a thing).  A prayer answered in God's way and in His time.

"Therefore, ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened." (3 Nephi 27:29)