We Can Do Hard Things

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As the anniversary of my sister’s death approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about life and trials and how while life is very rarely what we expect it to be, it is what it needs to be for us even if we don’t realize it. After going through hard times, we often feel we should be exempt from any more hard times, I know I had that thought after my sister disappeared and other trials would come our way. It felt like we had already been through so much, so I didn’t understand why we needed to go through more. But one of the most beautiful and most frustrating things about life is that it keeps going, whether or not you want to go with it.

Looking back at the last 11 years, my family has seen and experienced many things from infertility, losing a child and other loved ones, sickness, financial struggles, bullying, problems with friends, struggles in school, worries about children, and many other things. While I can’t speak for my family, I’m sure most of them would agree with when I say that our trials have made us stronger. They have made us more compassionate, more loving, more willing to help others, more understanding, more forgiving, more grateful, and more able to withstand the storms of life.

That being said, trials are hard!! We aren’t even halfway through 2015, and this has already been the hardest year for my little family. In January, we started feeling like we needed to make some changes as far as my husband’s job. The company he worked for had undergone a lot of restructuring, and we felt like it wasn’t the right place for us as a family. He started searching for jobs, but nothing was clicking. When March rolled around, he hadn’t found a new job and his current job was really starting to wear on our family. We could feel we needed him to be in a different job, but nothing was working out. One day on his way to work, he had calming feeling that everything was going to be okay–he was laid off at the end of that day. I think I had my first panic attack when he called to tell me he was being laid off. So many thoughts started running through my head…we have a kid and mortgage to pay, how on earth were we going to survive?! Thankfully, his company gave him two weeks before he was officially laid off which gave us a little bit of time to wrap our heads around our situation. I graduated the end of April and started applying for jobs.

I got a great full-time job offer from a company in the area, but every time I told myself I would take it I would get sick to my stomach. I knew it wasn’t the right time and place for me to take the job. So I said no, which was really hard. My husband had no job offers, and that was our only viable option. Fast forward to today and I really wish I could say my husband found the perfect job, and we made it through that trial, but he hasn’t and we are still applying for jobs like crazy and praying everything works out.

Around Christmas, before Laren’s job problems, we decided we were ready to start trying to expand our family. Our son was going to turn two in mid-March, and I was going to be done with school at the end of April, so we felt like we were finally ready for another baby. I found out I was pregnant in early February, about a month before Laren was laid off. However, I had some bleeding, and something just didn’t feel right. My doctor had me do an ultrasound, and we were able to go in and see our little baby embryo which settled some of my concerns. I was still worried, but also hopeful that things were going to work out. I started to get excited about our new little baby. They had me do another ultrasound to figure out how far along I was, and all day I knew something was wrong. When I went in for the ultrasound there was nothing on the screen. I knew our baby was gone. I was devastated–in a lot of ways I still am. I had put off getting pregnant so I could get through school and give our little boy the attention he needed since we were so busy all the time, and then when we felt like we were in a place where we could give another child the love and attention he/she needs and deserves, I miscarried. I had so many different emotions and feelings that I never would have predicted like the little twinge I still get when I see baby announcements around what would have been my due date. Healing is a process. There are good days and bad days, but it’s happening and I’m grateful for that.

Needless to say, February and March were some of the hardest months for me in a long time, and to be honest, I’m still struggling over here in mid-May. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why we are going through the trials we are and what I need to / can be learning from them.

I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream and cried my little heart out on multiple occasions, but I keep coming back to all of the amazing blessings I’ve received during this time. While I would love to be expecting a new baby right now, I am so incredibly blessed to have this time with my sweet little boy. Everyday I’m in awe that I get to be his mom. He is the sweetest, dirtiest, most curious, adventurous, loving little boy, and he is mine. I can’t begin to express the blessing he was during my graduate program these last two years–which by Heavenly Father’s mercy I was able to finish despite doing absolutely nothing during February. I not only graduated with my Master’s degree in Social Work, I passed the national licensing exam as well. After the miscarriage, I cannot tell you what a tender mercy it was to finish my exam and see the words “PASS.” That was just one of the moments where I knew my heavenly father was watching out for me. So many other little things have worked out for us, and despite not being in the ideal situation, we are okay. Some days it feels like I’m just surviving, and other days are wonderful and in those moments I know we will get through all of these trials. I cannot stress enough that while trials have come our way this year, life is good. In fact, life is great in so many ways!

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I know that as life goes on and we find jobs and have more children and experiences other trials what we are going through today will help us. It will make us better in so many ways, and I know that someday we will be able to see how life today is just what we need it to be for all the life ahead of us.

Eleven years ago, if you asked me about my sister’s death being a blessing, I’m not sure how I would have reacted, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t have been positive. Today, while I miss my sister fiercely, that experience brought me many blessings in all shapes and sizes. Brooke has touched so many people even from beyond the grave, and I know that I am a better person because of her. As I reflect upon that and upon the last few months, I know we have loving heavenly parents who watch out for us and support us in times of need. I know we have a loving savior who has felt our every pain and is always there for us. Somedays it may feel like we are alone, but he is always there. No matter what happens in life and no matter why it happens, our Heavenly Father is always there, always watching, and when we are ready, he will help us step out of the dark and into the light and into our lives.

On my sister’s birthday, we released pink balloons, and I posted a video on my Instagram with this quote by J.R. Tolkien :

“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places, but still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps the greater”

I really believe this with all my heart. Life is full of happiness and sadness, anger and joy, suffering and triumph. Life doesn’t always go as planned–sometimes it’s worse, sometimes it’s better. When life hits us really hard, it’s okay to break down and cry, it’s okay to take a break, and it’s okay to feel. But always remember we are not alone, we have a father in heaven who LOVES us more than we can imagine. He has a plan for us that is perfect, and that is better than anything we could ever imagine. And because of that, no matter what comes my way, I know that I can do hard things and so can you.

* If you’re new to my blog check out my About page. If you want to know more about my sister’s death check out these articles here and here.

5 thoughts on “We Can Do Hard Things

  1. So well said! I cried, and now I’m going to go eat ice cream. Grateful for faith and love and hope! Love all of you!

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  2. Jessica, you are wise beyond your years! I loved this post! I could tell you were having some difficult times by things you’d said but wasn’t sure what. I am sorry about your miscarriage. That is hard. I had one right before this last baby. It was frustrating because I got pregnant so easily with my first two, the third took 8 months of “trying” and then after 9 months of trying I miscarried and had to start over. It was easier that I already had 3 babies but I was more frustrated that this last one was so spread out from the others. Why doesn’t Heavenly Father let it work on MY time?! I am hoping and praying you are blessed with another soon. I could relate to the fear and knowing something was wrong. Awful feeling!
    And I can’t compare myself to you and your family when it comes to Brooke but I was telling someone the other day that her disappearance was a weird blessing. It made me who I am, which is stronger, more loving and grateful of the important people in my life, a greater understanding and testimony of the gospel… I wish it came another way but it has made me a better person. I love you and your family for the examples that you are. Thank you for this post and prayers things turn around for you guys. Your attitude is amazing. Keep it up!! 💜

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  3. Amen! I am proud of you and your family – so thankful you are a part of our eternal family!11 years ago you were in middle school when Brooke was abducted! We knew that somehow through the long ordeal that we couldn’t let it ruin your life! Someone had taken too much from us already and through the grace of our Savior you have been able to see the beauty in life and in the gospel!
    You are so spot on- Life can be hard but together with our Savior’s grace we can do hard things! We can do them in a beautiful way and he always bless us beyond our meager efforts.
    We love you!

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  4. Jessica,

    This was so poignant and beautiful. You are such an example of strength, honesty, and faith. I love how you own your emotions. Love you and wish I could eat ice cream and cry with you 🙂 Katelyn

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  5. Jessica, You are wise beyond your years! Thank you for sharing. What a gift you have. Your words are so true and full of faith. Love, Janet

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