Last week members of the general auxiliary presidencies came to Houston to help uplift, encourage, and instruct members of the church in our area. A special meeting for the women of the church 12 and older was held last Thursday night and through the wonderful encouragement of my sweet husband, I was able to attend and receive some spiritual edification. I was able to hear from Sister Cheryl Esplin, Sister Barbara Thompson, and Sister Elaine S. Dalton.
I decided before I left that I would not take notes. I just wanted to be spiritually fed and not have to worry about remembering everything. I just wanted to see if I would feel an overall theme for the evening, an overall message for my life.
As I sat in the pew among a few hundred sisters in the church, my mind began to wander a little. I started to think about the birth I attended the day before. I started to feel like God used my hands to help comfort that sweet mama during her laboring time. I started to notice that the things that I did for her were a little "other-worldly." I came home from that birth thinking that it was the best I have ever done as a doula, but I didn't quite recognize the role the Lord played in that experience until I was sitting in the chapel listening to those women speaking words I desperately needed to hear. I truly felt like an instrument in the Lord's hands in that moment, like I was truly doing the will of the Lord in helping that mama as her doula. I started to feel like, maybe God really does want me to be a doula. And I felt like He used me to answer that family's prayers. I know they prayed for me. They must have prayed for me to be inspired as a doula to help support mama to the best of my abilities, because that is what happened. I feel like I supported her beyond my abilities. Like I said before, I can only describe it as "other-worldly." I have felt like I have done a good job before, but I had help that I never felt before. I've prayed before every single birth that I can help the family to the very best of my abilities, but I do not think the other families have prayed for me too. This family had to have prayed for me, for the midwife, for the nurse, for the mama and the baby.
As I was thinking about that birth and how I felt like the Lord helped me, I felt noticed. I felt like He truly noticed me. I felt like He loved me. I felt honored and humbled that He used me as an instrument in His hands to help provide comfort to that sweet family. It's not that I don't know that He loves me, it's more like I don't take the time to feel His love for me. I don't take the time to notice Him. And sometimes, I may reject that opportunity on purpose because I do not feel worthy of His love. And maybe I am not worthy, and maybe I never will be, but that doesn't stop Him from loving me anyway.
As I walked in the door to tell Robbie all about it, I was sure that I wouldn't remember a single word that was spoken during that meeting. I am the world's worst at remembering words in scriptures, talks, songs, conversations, what have you! No sooner had I sat down and said, "I don't remember a single story that was shared tonight, but..." than I started sharing stories that were shared that night.
After I explained the general message that I took home, that God loves me, I shared with him a story that Sister Barbara Thompson shared. I'm sure I'll get the story and details all mixed up as I did that night, but the overall message is pretty neat. She shared a story* about a group of early pioneers that were trying to make it to California by using a short cut through the Sierra Nevada mountains that would save them about 300 miles. They stopped to rest for awhile before continuing the trip over the mountains. They planned to leave there and continue their journey in time to miss the horrible winter, but of course, they didn't. They were one day too late. They ended up staying where they were throughout the winter. Many people died. When the survivors finally made it to California, one of the surviving women, Virginia Reed, wrote a letter to her cousin who was back east but planning to make the trip to California. She said, "Never take no cutoffs and hurry along as fast as you can."
Now isn't that the truth? I'm always complaining to my husband about how there is this invisible something in life that never wants me to take any shortcuts. I always have to do things the long and hard way. "No shortcuts for Kristi!" That's my motto sometimes. Especially on aggravating days where dishes seem to pop back out of the cabinet after I throw them in there and clothes just won't fold themselves. Hearing Sister Thompson share that story make me feel like it was okay that I just can't take any shortcuts. I can stop trying to take shortcuts and just hurry along as fast as I can.
Later Sister Dalton gave an incredible talk. In it she described four things that they are asking the Young Women of the church to do.
1. Pray every single day, morning and night. 100%.
2. Read in the Book of Mormon every single day. 100%. Just five minutes!
3. Follow the teachings in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet 100%.
4. Smile. Smile every day.
I really grasped onto the "smile every day" part. I had to think. Do I smile every day? I have plenty to smile about, but do I show it? I worried that there may be days that go by where I do not smile at all, but Robbie assured me that that is not the case. He reminded me that there is no way to go an entire day without smiling when I have my cute Lily around. He's right! However, I have tried to make it a point to consciously smile every day. At least once. And when I get really ambitious, I may even try to start every day with a smile!
*The story is about the Donner Party. Read all the gory details here.