Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prayers Go Up: Blessings Come Down

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the sale of our 1st home. As I've been reflecting on that momentous & miraculous occasion and the many other blessings of the past year, I have felt such gratitude for the gift of prayer in our lives. I have tremendous faith in the power of prayer. Last year we offered up many prayers. Some were desperate, pleading prayers for help and direction. But most were sincere prayers of thanks for blessings received and Divine help rendered.

While studying today, I re-read the entry for prayer in the Bible Dictionary. I love this explanation: "...Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them..."

Last year we did ask...and as promised, we did receive of our Heavenly Father's promised blessings.

While attending church today, the scripture which reads, "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things..." came to mind, & I wanted to share my witness that our Heavenly Father does love each of us and is mindful of us and our needs, especially during time of struggle and sorrow.

Many of you reading our blog know the struggles faced by our family last year. While I don't share our laundry list of trials to suggest that we (by any stretch of the imagination)believe our lot in life was harder or more difficult than anybody else's, I share it to recognize the absolute hand of God in our lives as he continually led and directed us, brought us peace and comfort, even when the going got tough.

To briefly recap the year: Within a matter of about 6 months, Josh started his 2nd semester of grad school, underwent foot and ankle surgery requiring him to wear the notorious boot cast, our son Jacob fell off the trampoline severely breaking his arm and requiring emergency surgery, the sale of our house fell through resulting in months of double mortgage payments, and I learned that the baby I was carrying had a higher than normal probability of being born with Down’s Syndrome. For us, this was a lot to handle in a short period of time.

Do you know what got us through it? Our testimony of a loving Heavenly Father and Savior & the power of prayer.

I will never forget the experience of having a close friend call me to ask if she could organize a “friend” fast for our family. (For those of you who are not of our faith, you can click here to read about "fasting.")She knew we were near desperation to get our house sold. The money we had carefully saved "for a rainy day" was nearly depleted, and soon we would have to take more desperate measures. Fast and testimony meeting had been the week prior. She asked if it would be ok to contact some of our closest friends and hold a special fast the following Sunday. We consented. The next Sunday at church, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who stopped me in the hall to give me a hug and say they were fasting and praying for our family that day. After church, these wonderful sisters and their husbands met in our home to offer a prayer and break the fast. It was a humbling experience. By the following Sunday, we had an offer on our home. That simple gesture of fasting, meant so much to me. Similar support was given upon receiving the news from my doctor that my routine blood tests showed increased risk factors for having a baby with Downs. I received reassurance from family, women I was working with in my church work, and close friends that no matter what happened, the Lord loved us and would help us. Our 3rd child, a son, was born healthy and strong and has been such a marvelous blessing in our lives--a true joy.

Through our difficulties we grew stronger as a family. Our children learned of our absolute dependence on the Lord, as did we. We learned to be thankful for small and simple blessings. We learned that "people are more important than things" as we sacrificed some worldly things and pleasures to continue to scrimp and save in the event that the housing crisis continued. Ultimately, we gained a greater appreciation of our Savior's sacrifice and love for us.

We are grateful in the knowledge that when "prayers go up, blessings come down".


Jodi said...

Thanks! I needed to read that. We are so blessed and sometimes it is easy to forget about the important things in life! We are grateful for your family and the friendship you give to us.

Shells said...

Very well said Jen. I think that when our life is full of trials, we are forced to dig deep and hang on. Prayer is definitely key. Dave and I had some similar experiences 5 years ago and got a strong testimony of tithing.

Chris & Mari Spiker said...

This post was so sweet. It made me tear up the entire time. It is so true how many blessing we can receive with faith & prayer. I am so happy it all worked out for you guys & you are such an example to the rest of us. You could have looked at that situation in a lot of ways & you looked at it like this. And I am so glad your little family is all healthy & strong now.
Ps. Those pictures are AMAZING. I love them. Are they all your kids?

Jen said...

Thanks Mari. Most of the pictures were taken by my amazing photographer-of-a-friend Rebecca (with the exception of the pic of Landon in his red/white striped outfit--I took that picture.). They are all of my kiddos. :)

Groverfam said...

That was beautiful and heartfelt. You said it just perfectly. I continue to draw strength from your example.

Rebecca said...

What a good read at the start of my day. You are so good at expressing yourself!

OzzyFamily said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences Jen. I think we go through some of the hard times in our lives just so we can learn to share and maybe even help others. You have a beautiful family and what is wonderful is that you can pass on all your wonderful strengths and talents to them!

Disco Mom said...

Jen, you have always been a steady example of faith to me and your testimony always hits home. Thanks for this reminder which, while personal to you, hits a personal thread for anyone reading.