Friday, June 27, 2008

The Prophet Joseph Smith--A Great Man, An Awesome Legacy

Today is the 164th anniversary of the martyrdom of our Prophet, Joseph Smith. He was murdered during his incarceration at Carthage Jail, in Carthage Illinois, after being unjustly imprisoned. His brother Hyrum was also murdered on that fateful day.

I can not recall the story of their deaths, and that of another of their brothers, Samuel, shortly thereafter, without tears welling up in my eyes. How Lucy Mack Smith, their mother, endured the loss of three sons through such horrendous means---cold-blooded murder, or how their wives, also endured their loss, I just can not imagine.

Yet, it is because Joseph Smith labored all his life to restore the true church of Jesus Christ, that the ordinances and the promises of having our families sealed to us; to live forever together in the next life-- are once again available to us all!

I owe so very much to this great man, this amazing prophet of God. My life would be so very different had he not been so very courageous and valiant in serving our God. It is through him that I have received the greatest blessings that I have, bar none. I was baptized at 8 years of age because Joseph Smith restored the true Priesthood of God and the keys of authority were once again given to man to perform these saving ordinances! I can now return to live with my Heavenly Father and My Heavenly Mother, along with all my kindred, if I just remain faithful until the end!

And on numerous occasions, I have requested Priesthood blessings, for sickness, for stress or for counsel, and again, because Joseph Smith restored the Priesthood authority, many times, I have witnessed the power of God through the men of our day which hold that same Priesthood authority; passed down directly from our beloved Prophet, Joseph Smith who received his authority directly from Peter, James, John and John the Baptist, who of course, received their authority from Jesus Christ, HIMSELF.

My understanding of my Savior and Redeemer, my ability to read precious passages about the atonement that was wrought through Jesus Christ, My LORD and my all, have been made possible because Joseph Smith translated the ancient record of the Nephites and Lamanites---now called the Book of Mormon. These ancient prophets also testified of Jesus Christ and some actually saw HIM face to face. Their clear and concise testimonies of our Savior are so very sweet to me.

The perfect plan of happiness which is authored by our Loving Father in Heaven was also provided to us through this sacred record, the Book of Mormon, which is a perfect companion to the Bible. Joseph Smith provided additional scriptures and all that he was able to reveal using the power given to him by GOD, has only increased and enlightened my understanding of the truths found in the Bible.

I have been blessed to be born and raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I do not know how I would have ever been able to raise my own children with the standards, morals and the truths of Jesus Christ's ministry and His admonitions of correct and Christian living without being a member of this wonderful church and having all the awesome resources that this church provides.

My heart is so very full of the deepest gratitude today, for the self-less sacrifice of one of the greatest men to walk this earth, even Joseph Smith. I just would not even wish to know how very different my life would be without all that he did provide us with as he courageously and boldly restored to the earth, the true Church of Jesus Christ, along with all of it's saving ordinances, and doctrines and teachings. I would not be who I am today without the hope, faith and baptism that he did restore to the earth on April 6th, 1830. I am humbled that he did do so very much for all mankind. And, because all of God's prophets are a type of Jesus Christ, in many ways, he exemplified the Master whom he served! He was a witness for the Savior and he gave his life for him and for us as well.

I love the Lord, and I humbly bow before HIM and before the great men of all the ages that have served HIM as HIS prophets. I pray that one day, I will be given the privilege to thank all those great prophets, Joseph Smith being one, that have been God's voice to direct HIS people on this earth. For, I have been so very blessed by their sacrifices, their examples and their very lives. I pray that I will in some small way, be just as serviceable to the LORD in helping and loving and caring for my fellowmen while I inhabit this earth.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Miracle and more of GOD's Tender Mercies

When Kathryn was born June 19, 1986, we were living in Royal Oak, Michigan. We had moved out of the apartment in Southfield, Michigan and had left all of our dear friends in the Southfield Ward. We began attending church in the Royal Oak Ward. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had suffered an auto accident while pregnant with Kathryn, my third child, second daughter. When Kathryn was born, she seemed perfect in every way. She was so very beautiful!

By this time, Gary was not happy working at the Dental Office in the mall, doing Dentistry. He was making an excellent income, but, he was not happy. The malpractice crisis hit, meaning that due to everyone under the sun deciding to get rich quick by suing every medical/dental professional---all those professionals had their premiums for malpractice insurance increased by 400% I am not even kidding! We could NOT afford the premiums and it was financial suicide to go without that type of insurance. So, that factor, along with Gary not being happy in the mall practice caused us to look at his career path and we jointly decided that Gary would be happier going back to school to do something else with his life. I just firmly believed that if Gary was happier, we all would be happier. So, supporting him in returning to school was not a difficult decision.

We did a lot of research to decide just what he would go back to school for, and eventually he decided that he would like to get his masters or maybe even his doctorate in Dentistry and use that to remain at the Dental School, teaching and doing research. He loved the academic atmosphere and this would allow him to remain in that setting. We did NOT know how we would finance his education totally. He applied for grants and scholarships and I planned on working as a nurse to provide an income for us. With three small children, this was not going to be easy, but I just knew it would be worth it.

As we prepared to move back to the Ann Arbor area, our Bishop in the Royal Oak Ward asked to meet with Gary and me. He told me that he wanted me to serve as the Young Women's President in the ward. He felt very strongly about it! We then explained that we were in the process of MOVING out of his ward within the next month; Gary was going back to school to obtain his masters degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The bishop was adamant. He told me that he KNEW that I was supposed to be the new Young Women's President; he was sure he had received revelation! He told us that Gary should NOT go back to school and that we were to stay in the area! He was so positive, that it was a bit confusing. But, we had prayed about our decision and we knew that we were supposed to return to school. Everything was falling into place and we just had a peace about it. The bishop asked me---point blank---why would he feel so strongly about me becoming the new president if it was not revelation from God? I told him that perhaps he was just impressed with the way I had fulfilled my current calling in Relief Society and that was influencing his impressions.

It was a bit unsettling to have him be so sure that we were NOT to return to school. But, though we believe in sustaining and honoring our Bishop, well all of our Priesthood leaders, we just knew we were to be in Ann Arbor. So, we made the move. By September of 1986, we were living in the University of Michigan's Student housing. I had begun working for an agency that provided nurses to fill in at the hospital when they were short-staffed. The need for nurses was so great at this time, that I was able to set my own hours. I would work from 8 pm until 2 am, which is NOT the typical or traditional shift, but it allowed me to work while Gary was home so that no child care expenses were necessary. I did not work full time, but the hours I did work ended up being enough to make ends meet. And, we did not see any other way to get through school unless I did work.

So, when the Prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson gave his address just 5 months later, in February of 1987, it was a true leap of faith to follow his counsel. He was imploring mothers to return home and focus on raising their children. Of course, he stated that there were exceptions in which the mother had to work, but, he promised great blessings to those families that sacrificed the comforts that came from having two incomes ( not those for which it was a necessity--) and chose to have the mother remain in the home full time. Now, it could have been argued that it was a necessity that I work to keep Gary enrolled in school and our family fed! But, we decided that we would follow the prophet and allow the Lord to bless us for that leap of faith.

I am so very grateful that we did just that. It was such an amazing thing to witness the miracles of the Lord! Not only did we NOT miss the income, but, avenues were opened that we, I am sure, would never have been blessed with, had we relied upon ourselves! We relied upon the LORD and HE blessed us far more than we could have imagined! We had sufficient for our needs and the LORD preserved Kathryn's life! Gary was able to return to the Mall Dental practice on Saturdays only, and he made more than I could have ever made, working the nights that I had been working. Gary applied for grants and scholarships and was granted more than enough to cover all of his educational expenses. So, although when we made the decision to have me quit work, and at that time, we did not know how we would be able to afford to do so, from that moment on, we actually did far better economically than we had for the 5 months previous to our prophet's inspired counsel!

And, that is not all. In March, just a month after I had discontinued working, we had another miracle occur. Kathryn was now 9 months old. So, I decided to start her on cereal. For the next several weeks, Kathryn began to have horrible constipation. I took her into our pediatrician at least on four different occasions. By the end of the month, I was having to hold her little body over the toilet and actually push on her bottom to help her stool. Her stools would come out in a thin ribbon and caused her such pain, it was alarming. After doing everything that the doctor had advised and having nothing actually help, I remember going to my parent's home. Kathryn was lethargic and I was in tears. I told my mother that I just did not know how to help her. And, my mother took a look at Kathryn and said, "Kim, you have got to take her to the Emergency Room now!" Thankfully, I did as my mother directed. She went with me and watched over Bonnie, who was then 6 years old and Christopher who was 2 years old, as we waited for the doctor to come in to see Kathryn.

We had gone to the University of Michigan Hospital ER. And, it just so happened---(no, I do not believe for a moment that it was just happenstance!) that the physician on call for pediatrics was a Pediatric Surgeon! He took one look at Kathryn, he did a digital exam of her anus and told us that Kathryn needed to be admitted immediately. He then explained that Kathryn had a congenital deformity called Imperforate Anus. Being a nurse, I knew what that was. I said, "That is impossible, she has been stooling! And, you can see that she does have an anus!" But, he told me that it was just a dimple with a tear, that she did NOT have a true opening from her bowel and rectum to allow the stool to pass out of her body. The tear had allowed the soft stool she had from breast feeding, to pass out of her body, but, once I had introduced solid food, the tear was not large enough to allow that fecal material to pass. He told me that Kathryn was toxic and needed to have her stool evacuated and then she would need a surgical repair of the anus. Kathryn needed to have a true anus surgically made---the surgery was called a "cut-back anoplasty." It took three whole days to evacuate the built up stool throughout her tiny body. She had tubes in her nose, to help flush out the stool and they were doing enemas routinely. We had nearly lost her, because she was in toxic shock; that was why she was lethargic. And, I KNOW we would have lost her if we had NOT moved to Ann Arbor, where the Pediatric Surgeon was on staff.

There were just 5 Pediatric Surgeons serving all the Midwestern states, and all 5 were based in Ann Arbor at the U of M hospital. Though I had taken Kathryn into the Pediatrician on several occasions, we needed the expertise of a Pediatric Surgeon to diagnose and treat Kathryn. I was so very grateful that my mother had insisted I take her to the only hospital that had the only professionals that could help Kathryn. I was so grateful that we had returned to school and were in Ann Arbor when Kathryn had this urgent need! I now knew why we had a peace about our decision to return to school in Ann Arbor. And, I am grateful that I was a full-time Mom because my children did need me full-time!

As it turns out, the deformity was most likely caused by the accident I was involved in while pregnant with Kathryn. Thankfully, it was a deformity that could be surgically repaired with no lasting effects.

I testify that God lives! I KNOW HE does still speak to us through HIS living prophets that are once again on the earth! I also KNOW that we are ALWAYS blessed far beyond our ability to comprehend, when we choose to follow HIS prophets, and HIS counsel! HE will provide for us, even before we are aware we have a need! HE loves ALL of us! And, HE will be as involved in our lives as we allow HIM to be! I have NEVER regretted relying upon HIM.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kathryn June Hildebrandt

If you were to ask any of my children, who my favorite child was, I suspect they would ALL say my favorite was Kathryn! Please see one of my previous posts as to WHY that is! Anyway, Kathryn is my third child, second daughter. She was born June 19, 1986. So, I think it is appropriate that I post something for her since her 22nd birthday is in just a few days. She is currently serving a mission for our church in Phoenix, Arizona. She has put her education at BYU on hold, while she serves the Lord. She had just been accepted into Brigham Young University's Art Department. She loves all mediums of art, and wants to work toward a career in Art Therapy. She has done some remarkable art work. Actually, all my children are gifted artistically. Kathryn works so very hard at whatever she chooses to do, that her success is inevitable. You just cannot put forth the kind of effort Kathryn does and NOT succeed. She is a very determined, committed, talented, driven, intelligent, beautiful and dependable young woman. That is just the short list of her amazing qualities.

Yet, Kathryn could have very easily been aborted, if I had listened to the advice of my doctor. Here, then, is Kathryn's unique story:

Kathryn's story actually begins long before she was even conceived. I had been visiting with some friends of mine. We had been discussing child abuse. I am not sure why we gravitated to that topic, but, I remember sharing an incident I had experienced just after having given birth to Bonnie. I worked at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids Michigan. I rotated shifts on the Pediatric floor and on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The last night I ever accepted a shift on PICU was the night that a newborn boy was brought in. His father had decided he could no longer tolerate his cries and chose to throw that infant down the stairs. His broken little body hovered between life and death while I cared for him. I could not keep my supper down. It was devastating to me that anyone could harm such a tiny, innocent and totally defenseless baby. I cried and held my own tiny infant closer than ever, once I was home. It was that horrific memory that nearly had me convinced that abortion was warranted if the parents did not want the baby. I foolishly believed that it was far better that the baby never be born, than to suffer such abuse. I was in denial as to the pain and suffering that an aborted baby is subjected to as it is aborted. But, since I was married and had wanted at least a dozen children of my own, I really did not think the subject of abortion would ever be one I would ever have to seriously contemplate.

So, imagine my shock when, one day, approximately 6 months prior to Kathryn's conception, as I was walking into a supermarket with Bonnie and Christopher, a voice in my head said, "How selfish can you be?" I looked around! There was no one near! The voice repeated, "How selfish can you be?" I thought, "What have I done that is so selfish?" And then the floodgates, as it were, opened! Thoughts flooded my mind so quickly, it was difficult at first to sort through them all. But, basically the message was this: I was blessed to have been born here on earth. I had been given a body and my parents had sacrificed in order to provide me with that body. Now that I was married and in a position to do so, I, too, needed to sacrifice and provide as many spirits with bodies as I could. Additionally, I was to know that the spirits that were awaiting the gift of life and the gift of receiving a body---those spirits did NOT care what circumstances they were born into, they did not care what type of body they received, the most important thing was that every spirit be given an opportunity to have a body. It was pure selfishness on my part if I did not provide bodies for my spirit brothers and sisters if I had the ability to do so. I was a bit bewildered, because I had always intended to have at least a dozen children. ( Well, I did falter a bit in that determination after having had to suffer for all 9 months with hyper-emesis and dehydration with Bonnie! I thought, surely, Heavenly Father will not fault me for reducing the number of children I have when I am so deathly ill throughout the pregnancy! ) I think I probably said this in my mind in my defense! But, I was told in no uncertain terms that abortion was the greatest evil of our day and it was not pleasing to the Lord. I realized that my thoughts, that it would be better for the children to be aborted than to suffer, was not in keeping with the Lord's plan for His children and so, I repented of my position. I was a bit shocked that I would have such a dramatic answer come to my mere musings, but, I did not think about it again until six months later.....

It was early in October of 1985, Bonnie was nearly 4 years old, and Christopher was just 9 months old. We were living in Southfield, Michigan at this time. Gary worked at a Dental Office in the Southfield Mall. And, I had found a job opening up a Montessori School and watching the students that were dropped off early---as their parents were on their way to work. It was a fun job! I could bring my children and they could play with the students that were there with me for an hour or so before school started for them. Bonnie especially enjoyed the "friends" she could play with, and of course, it was also a thrill to play with all the toys at the school.

Gary's schedule at the Mall usually had him working afternoons and evenings. So, in the early morning hours that I needed to be at the Montessori School, I would try to take the kids so that Gary could rest and sleep in, if he wanted. I remember promising Bonnie that she could come with me, to the school, in the morning ---as I had put her to bed. Usually, Christopher would sleep all night at this point, and so, I had planned on getting up just a bit early in order to nurse him and change him and have him ready to go with us. But, Christopher awoke early and so, I nursed him, changed him and he quickly fell back to sleep. Bonnie, when she knew she would be going with me in the morning, was ALWAYS up and raring to go! But, she was fast asleep. I looked at both my sleeping babies, and the thought came, "Leave them in their beds, let them sleep!" I resisted and said in my mind, "If I leave them, they will wake up while I am gone and then, they will wake up Gary! I want Gary to be able to sleep in today!" But, the thought came yet again, "Let them sleep!" I thought, "Well, that would be so much easier, but, I promised Bonnie, and I just can not break my promise to her!" Yet, since I had just nursed Christopher, I was pretty sure he would remain asleep throughout the time I would be gone.

I hesitated, then shook off the promptings to leave the children in bed! I woke Bonnie up! But, by this time, I was running late, and so, I tried to hustle Bonnie into the car after hurriedly getting her dressed and having fixed her hair. I ALWAYS buckled my children! And, of course, I always placed Christopher in his car seat when he was with us. His seat was permanently secured behind the passenger seat of our four-door, orange colored Horizon. ( just as a side note, that Horizon vehicle should have been painted YELLOW! It was such a lemon! I had had to take it into the shop nearly weekly for over a month and just the week prior to this, I had in exasperation, asked the auto mechanic how much more would we need to do to get the car in proper functioning order! His reply was this: "Lady, if I were you, I would just get rid of it!" Little did I know that I would do exactly that! ) Anyway, for the first time EVER, I did NOT buckle Bonnie. We just jumped into the car and took off.

It was raining and dark out. As we neared the school, we approached an intersection. We were on a four-lane road. The lights were green for us and so, we were just about through the intersection, when without warning, the car in front of me stopped suddenly. I slammed on my brakes, but, due to the wet road conditions, we hydroplaned across the two lanes of on-coming cars and we were hit, broadside on our passenger side. It took a minute for me to comprehend what had just occurred. Then, I tried to move and locate Bonnie. The passenger door was up against me, and I was pinned to my seat. Panic flooded over me and I began to scream Bonnie's name. I remember thinking in that instant that I was NO ABRAHAM! I could NOT give up my firstborn! I pleaded and prayed with all the energy of my being that Bonnie was yet alive and not badly hurt. I heard a faint noise come from near my feet, and realized that it was Bonnie. Since she had NOT been buckled, she had been thrown to my feet. But, not until she had wiped the dash---radio dials and all---with her precious face. Her face was cut and bleeding! She had also sustained a serious fracture to her left leg. But, she was alive! Had she been buckled, she would have been crushed to death. Had Christopher been with us, he would have been killed as well. His car seat was mangled and completely crushed. ( FYI: I was NOT ticketed for NOT buckling Bonnie!)

A kind man asked for my husband's name and number after having called 911. Since we only had the one vehicle, Gary had to call his mother and request that she come and pick him up and meet us at the hospital. I always thought it was very interesting that he and his mother went FIRST to the impound lot, to check on the CAR!!! Anyway, I guess after seeing the totalled car, they decided they had better rush over to the Hospital! Our bishop, his wife and the Relief Society President all actually arrived at the hospital long before Gary and his mother.

Bonnie was on the exam table next to me in the Emergency Room and I was able to hold her hand and tried to comfort her as best as I could. As soon as Gary did arrive, I pleaded with him to stay with Bonnie and not leave her side. Christopher stayed with Gary's mother for the few days I was in the hospital, and then once I was released, my parents had Bonnie, Christopher and I stay with them while I was recovering. I had sustained multiple lacerations and bruises, 4 broken ribs, and had some kidney damage due to the impact.

I had had to undergo an IVP, which is a type of x-ray with radioactive dye---to check on the damaged kidney, along with all the x-rays to determine the extent of damage done to my ribs. I had been given potent pain medications and just the impact of the accident took its toll on my body. But, the worst was yet to come. Less than a week after the accident, I began to vomit. I was told to go back to the hospital for follow-up. It was then that I learned I was pregnant with my third baby! (Kathryn!) I was horrified! I was so hoping that the vomiting would be short-lived, since each time that I vomited, my broken ribs would MOVE!!! causing excruciating pain--the worst pain I had ever encountered! Now, I knew that the vomiting would NOT end, and my pain could NOT be medicated due to the pregnancy!

I went to see my OB/GYN doctor that next week. I told him of the accident--actually, my wounds were fairly obvious! Anyway, after explaining to him all that I had endured, his recommendation shocked me. He told me that given the impact, the narcotics and the radioactive dye and radiation from the multiple x-rays, he wanted me to undergo a D and C! He was suggesting that I have an abortion! I was dumbfounded! Here it was! The very situation I never ever expected to face. My doctor was telling me that there was no way that I would be able to have a normal healthy baby given all that had happened. Thankfully, I instantly recalled my dramatic experience regarding abortion and I was firm in my response. I WOULD NOT abort this baby. Whatever the outcome, this spirit wanted this body and I was not going to deny that spirit a chance to have a body---whatever that may mean. My doctor was not happy. He made it clear that I was going against his recommendations and that there would likely be complications. I was unmoved.

How very grateful I was that a kind, loving and all-knowing Heavenly Father had provided me with a dramatic experience 6 months prior to my need! When faced with a very emotional and potentially soulfully painful decision, mercifully, the decision had already been made! I was already committed to never even entertaining abortion as an alternative.

It was the most difficult pregnancy I had had. Yet, my ribs did heal and 8 months later, we welcomed Kathryn into our home. She was so very perfect and beautiful! It was not until another 8 months had passed that we discovered she had suffered some effects from the accident. But, that is yet another story with yet another miracle and so, I will save that for yet another post....

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Vivid Dream, A Vivid Warning!

I was married June 5, 1981 to Gary Howard Hildebrandt in the Washington D.C. Temple. I was so sure I had found someone that would love me as much as I loved him. I remember being so very grateful that Gary was so very good to me. I was not used to being treated with such tenderness, and I counted my blessings daily! I remember thinking early in my marriage that I was sure I had found heaven on earth.

One day in particular, stands out in my mind. Gary was home for the day, it was most likely a Saturday. We had only been married a short time, perhaps two months. I had just gotten ready for the day. I went into the bedroom, thinking that Gary was there, but, he was not. We were in a very small apartment, so it did not take me long to go throughout the entire apartment in search of Gary. I could not find him. I went to the sliding glass door to see if the car was still parked below. It was. I knew Gary would not have gone anywhere without first letting me know he had gone----that is if he could let me know! He had not said anything about having any place he needed to be, so I was certain he had not walked anywhere.

He was not in the apartment, he had not taken the car and I was sure he had not walked anywhere! I felt the panic rise. Then, I remember I began to pray. I said, "Oh, dear Heavenly Father, please, please do not tell me you have taken him! I know he is worthy of being translated, but, I still need him in my life!" I could feel the tears begin to well up in my eyes, when just at that minute, the door opened and in walked Gary! I remember being overjoyed with relief and I asked him where he had been, because I had looked and had not seen him anywhere. His answer? He was UNDER the car! He was checking something underneath the car and I just had not seen him there.

I felt really foolish for feeling such panic and for jumping to conclusions! But, perhaps it gives you a glimpse into my mind and heart! I just love so very completely! I also see the very best in others. I truly do see the awesome potential in others, and so, it is already a reality for me as to who they are, even if they have not yet quite arrived at that place; I can see it in them and it is how I see them. I can not see them as anything less.

I believe all people have great potential. I believe that we all are trying to do the very best that we can. I have always believed that LOVE is the answer. Always! I strive to do whatever would be the most loving and kind solution. I wish with all my heart that I did not fall so very short so very often. It is funny. I do not see others falling short as often as I know I, myself, fall short!

I have always wanted to live a life of service toward others. Yet, there have been times when I have wanted to do so much for others, to be of service and to be there for others, that the sacrifice has affected those I love. I do not mind sacrificing anything when it comes to my own personal comfort or pleasure. But, with the addition of a husband and less than a year later, a beautiful little baby girl, I began to realize that I had to consider the needs of my family when serving others.

This was a new concept.

I had been single and free to spend my time and money as I chose in helping others. I had served in my church over the single adults and had spent a great deal of my time and money providing activities, transportation etc. for those who fell under my stewardship. The time and money I gave, never seemed to be a burden. Serving my fellowmen was, to me, a tangible way of showing my deep gratitude to my Savior for all HE has done and continually does do for me!

But, again, now my circumstances were changed and I had a family to consider. I pondered and prayed at length. I needed to find the right balance between serving those in my community and church, and providing for the needs of my family. Shortly before Bonnie was born, I was invited--called by my Bishop, to be the Young Women's President. I was now responsible for between 15-20 young women. I was to provide them with Sunday instruction, weekly activities and various week-end activities. Additionally, I was to help them set goals and learn how to succeed in attaining those goals. It was a huge responsibility, and I felt very inadequate. My counselors were suggested by my Bishop, and so, they were called. I soon learned that neither sister was familiar with the program, nor were they willing to do anything delegated to them, initially. I needed to train them and orient them before I would have any real assistance with the program.

As I met with the parents of these young women, it became clear that they were not at all interested in supporting the program, if it required any of their time to do so. That made it all the more daunting.

After struggling with the load of this responsibility for a few months, I remember trying to deal with all the demands from the youth, the parents, my counselors, and my own husband and tiny daughter, and feeling as though I was failing EVERYONE!

Then, I had a dream...

This dream was so very vivid, that 25 years later, as I reflect upon it, it can still bring hot tears to my eyes and my heart begins to race.

This, then, was the dream:

I was walking with my daughter Bonnie. She was not yet a year old. She was in her stroller and as I looked around at the scenery, I realized that I was back in Marquette Michigan, where I had lived from the time I was 12 years old, (1971-1977) until I had graduated from High School. I had not been back there since 1978! ( I had graduated in 1977, but we did go back a year later when my sister had had her first baby. She had married and returned to live in the Marquette Area.)
Anyway, I was walking along, pushing Bonnie in her stroller. I was stopped by a mother of one of my young women. She was frantic and stated that she had lost her daughter, and did not know the area, and would I please help her look for her daughter. I paused, I told Bonnie to stay in the stroller and that I would return very soon! I then went with the mother to help her locate her daughter. It took, perhaps 15-20 minutes, but, we did succeed in locating her daughter! I ran back to the stroller, where Bonnie was patiently waiting, and we resumed our walk.

We had not progressed far, when we arrived at the bridge. We went under the highway and no sooner had we begun our descent, when a horrible auto accident occurred right before our very eyes. I was the first responder. I was a nurse and knew I had to help stabilize the victims. I again, asked Bonnie to wait in her stroller while I attended to the injured. I pushed her off to the side and commenced administering care. Again, a period of time passed, then as the Emergency vehicles arrived and began to assume the care for the victims, I returned to my daughter. Once again, she was just patiently waiting for me and we again resumed our walk.

Now, we were beyond the first bridge and we were just approaching another bridge. This bridge had a lively river running beneath it. The current was swift and the water pristine. Yet, for the third time, our walk was interrupted. I was once again, asked by another to assist them in locating their daughter. Once again, I pushed the stroller to the side of the walkway and told Bonnie to wait there and I would return soon. I assisted in the search, and it seemed, once again, that only 15 minutes had passed, when we were granted success and a mother and daughter were reunited.

I felt joy as I reflected that I had been able to assist others. As I said, I have always found my greatest happiness comes as I help or serve others.

I returned to the place I had remembered leaving Bonnie, but, the stroller was no where in sight! As I began to panic and search now for my own daughter, I saw on the hill, my brother Shawn. I thought, "that is impossible! How in the world could Shawn be here, he is in England serving a mission for our church!" I went to him, and it was indeed my brother, Shawn. His face was drawn taut and it seemed as though he was near tears. I said, "What is it Shawn?" He merely pointed down to the rushing river below. I followed his gaze, and to my horror, I saw Bonnie's stroller, upside down and stuck between two great boulders. I screamed, "Where is Bonnie?" And, Shawn said, "Kim, she is gone." I knew then, that she had drowned.

I awoke at this point in the dream. I was drenched in sweat and I was sobbing. The dream was so very real! It was so very vivid. It was as though I had actually witnessed that horrible scene. I have never forgotten the dream, the terror it caused and the lesson I believe I was being taught. I have not been perfect in applying the principles I learned from my dream, but, I have tried throughout my days as a mother, to count the cost of whatever I have chosen to do with my time. I have tried to make certain whatever I have done has NOT been at the expense of my family, especially my children. I knew I could never bear the pain of losing---either physically, emotionally or spiritually, a child of mine due to my neglect or my misguided notion that service at all costs was the goal. Yet, I have also known that since service has always brought me joy, I had to instill in my children a love of serving their fellowmen and each other. Hence the need for true balance!

One never knows how successful one is in training ones children. I mean, really, how can you accurately measure your success? But, I have had an inkling that perhaps I have not failed entirely in this, my quest to teach my children to serve.

My children are all willing serve and assist others and they do make helping each other a priority.

When Christopher was serving his mission from 2004-2006 in Houston Texas, he related to me one of the things that helped him to face and endure the challenges of serving a mission. He stated that during one of his greatest points of despair, he reflected upon what had brought to him the greatest joy in his life. He decided that his joy came when he was serving others. He reflected upon those times that we as a family had helped others by babysitting, bringing in meals or cleaning or when we had served at the cannery, or in the church's Bishop's Storehouse---where we would often go to fill orders, clean out the refrigerators or stock the shelves.

Christopher said it changed his mission. He began seeking ways to serve others always.

In the fall of 2005, when hurricane Rita ravaged the Texas area where Christopher was, they evacuated 100 missionaries. My son, Christopher, begged his Mission President to please allow him to stay with "his people!" He did not want to abandon "his people" in their greatest hour of need! But, he was forced to evacuate. I received a phone call and then a card from those in the area to which Christopher was sent. I have never been more pleased as I heard these ladies state that of the 100 missionaries that were sent to them, ONLY Christopher insisted on helping them serve the meals to the other missionaries. They went on to tell me that Christopher after he had helped with serving the meals, would NOT allow any of the ladies to clean the floors in the kitchen, but instead, got down on his hands and knees and washed the floors for them. They were in awe of how much he did assist them, when no one else even offered to help.

Funny how all my life my greatest joy has come from serving others, until now! Now, I would have to say, my greatest joy is seeing that my CHILDREN have caught the vision of service and that joy is even greater! How sweet is the knowledge that my children are continuing the legacy of love and service! My joy is full!