Ten years ago I had a prayer that I offered very often. "Please bless Jake to be safe at work." Usually, after that part of my prayer the words would come, "Please help me to accept Thy will in my life." This prayer was offered several times a day. I had a special blessing given to me in my youth, counseling me to 'learn to accept God's will in my life'. I took that counsel very seriously then and still do to this day. I continue to pray for it daily.
In December of 2003 I began to have the feeling that something bad was going to happen to us. Jake and I had many trials in our 7 years of marriage. Looking back, they weren't too terrible of trials, but at the time they were hard for us to endure, and seemed to come frequently. In December we had enjoyed 18 months of pure bliss; free from these trials. We were in our dream house, had 3 perfect little boys and were truly very happy. I developed a nagging feeling that something was bound to happen because things had been perfect a little too long. I talked with Jake about my worried feelings. He told me to stop looking for trials, and to enjoy that Heavenly Father was blessing us. He pointed out that he was the Young Men's President and I was the Primary President and we were being blessed for living right and for our service. I could see his point, but my bad feeling didn't go away. I started praying about it regularly, asking Heavenly Father to bless us that nothing bad would happen. Then one night my prayer was different. As I thought about the impending trial, I heard myself say, "I can do this, I can get through this, with Thy help." I was surprised by my words and immediately followed it up with, "Except Jake! You can't take Jake from me please!" Jake died 3 weeks later. (Part of me still looks forward to saying to Jake, "I told you so!")
The words from that prayer stay with me today. I knew...I believe that my spirit knew what was about to happen. The words 'I can get through this with Thy help' remind me that I somehow knew Jake was going to die, and I knew I would need to rely on the Savior's atonement and my Heavenly Father to be able to get through it!
So as I prayed for Jake's safety, I also prayed to accept God's will in my life. I didn't realize how big of a trial was coming and why it was important for me to accept God's will in life. When Jake died I understood why I was given that counsel and why it would be something that I should start praying for at a very young age. I had 10+ years of prayers to back my plea..."Help me to accept Thy will in my life". It is a prayer I will continue to have for the rest of my life. As the years have continued on, my desire to accept God's will has been increased. I have realized that there is a purpose to what has happened to my children and myself. There are lessons we need to learn and there is a plan for each one of us that required us to go through this devastating tragedy. We are all different people than we would have been. As my understanding of this has increased in the last 10 years, I have added to that prayer by asking, "Help me FIND Thy will in my life."
I have had a strong feeling that I should share my story and experiences in my life with people. I have had many Priesthood Blessings given to me and they always say the same thing. "It is important that you share your story, testimony and experiences with many people." I have tried to be open about my experiences and I offer my testimony as often as I can. About two years ago in 2012 just after Cam was diagnosed with 22q and all his other health issues I started having a quiet but intensely compelling feeling. "I felt like I should be doing something that I wasn't yet doing." I needed to share my story. I thought, pondered and prayed hard to figure out what it was that Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I didn't know how to share my story more than I already was. The timing wasn't right for me to really start doing more. Cam had several tests and puzzles that would need to be put together in the next several months. My baby girl was just 6 months old when the feelings started and she needed me home with her when I wasn't putting Cam's puzzle together. But, the feeling persisted.
I told a few people in our Stake that I would be willing to talk about my life experiences to a youth group or the Relief Society. Shortly after I mentioned it the Presidencies were changed and nothing ever came of it. I decided to just do what I could and continue to pray to be able to figure out what God's will in my life was. Several months later my sister asked me to write my story for a girl's blog that she followed called My Name is Jacy. She has a "My Name is"...series where she spotlights women who have had struggles in their lives, but have managed to be resilient and still be happy. The blog series can by found at www.mynameisjacy.com. I was excited and nervous about writing my story. I knew it was the next step I had been searching for. The story was done in a 2 part series and was shared with over 6,000 viewers. I was amazed at the response and how many people read it. It was awesome. I still had the feelings that there was more to what I should be doing, but it was nice to feel like I had found at least one way to share my story. I put the story on my personal blog for Cam, for the purpose of being able to print it when I had Cam's blog made into a book. There it sat dormant for the next 14 months.
I continued to pray to be able to find God's will in my life. I started to feel frustrated with the situation. I felt that I had done all I could do to figure it out, but nothing was happening. The feeling was overwhelming and at times it felt like a burden. As I neared the 10th anniversary of Jake's death in January 2014, I asked Heavenly Father to allow the feeling to go away. I expressed to Him that I felt I had done all I could do. If there was nothing more for me to do then I needed Him to bless me with peace to know that I had accomplished what He needed me to do and I could move on. Just three days after I offered that prayer there was a struggling widow on a closed Facebook LDS widow/widower's group. I shared my blog post with her in the hopes it could help her find her path to happiness. The next day we started receiving out of state text messages from friends and family asking us if we were aware that my blog was all over the internet. We were not aware of it at all. I couldn't even remember how to sign into my blog at first. I hadn't updated it in over a year. When I finally remember the password that Saturday night my post had over 45,000 views and was gaining 200-300 more views every 5 seconds. The next day it reached 250,000 views and continued to climb. I had hundreds of messages coming in from all over the world. Amazing messages about love, acceptance, grief, inspiration, and testimonies. The feeling was overwhelming, exciting, and very humbling. My prayer was answered loud and clear...I am not done sharing my story and I haven't finished what Heavenly Father wants me to do.
In just 2 months the blog has reached all over the world and is over 600,000 views. In February our local newspaper, Deseret News featured my story on the front page of The Mormon Times section. I am starting to see the next steps I should take.
I continue to pray that I will find God's will in my life and find people to help me accomplish this mission. I was asked to speak for a widow's conference a couple of weeks ago. I have thought about speaking for years but have had only a few opportunities to. I decided that it would need to be a positive in my life if I was going to do it. We still have a lot of stress and problems in our lives and I didn't want to willingly add stress. I decided I would pray about it, but not really prepare for it. I wasn't going to get all worked up and nervous and allow it to consume me. I didn't want it taking time or energy from my kids or family. I figured, I know my testimony and I know my story so I will literally go and teach by the spirit. It will either be great, or terrible and from this experiment, I will know if speaking is something I want to do more of. Luckily we had some step family drama come up the week of the conference. I say 'luckily' because it took all my nerves and negative feelings and I truly didn't have the time to stress over speaking. I think Heavenly Father knows me well, and knew that even if I tried to stick with my no-stress plan I wouldn't be able to. So he added a nice distraction for me that would use up that energy.
As I sat in the meeting just before it was my turn to speak I felt... relaxed. I wasn't getting that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach like I normally do just before bearing my testimony or giving a lesson. I just felt calm. When it came time for me to speak I said a little prayer that I would have the spirit guide my words. I stood up and spoke for nearly an hour. I wasn't nervous or scared. The words flowed from me freely and I felt a feeling of peace and calm. It was a sacred experience. Curtis was amazing and came to support me. He added a fun element of being able to come up and talk with me about our courtship and God's hand in our lives. It was the first time in the last 10 years that I KNEW I was doing exactly what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I LOVED speaking! By sharing my story, I was giving hope and sharing how Heavenly Father has helped me through these trials. I was sharing a testimony of the atonement and it's healing power. I was sharing the lessons God has taught me so that He could teach them as well.
I have been asked to speak for the Stake Relief Society Women's Conference in Lacey, Washington in May. I am so excited to go and meet the sister's in Washington and feel of their spirits. I look forward to having more opportunities to speak and share Heavenly Father's message of his love to us during times of trial. This isn't a path or plan that I would have guessed that I would be on. As I find myself here though, I feel a tremendous amount of love for my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. I am in awe of the miracles and blessings I have received during my trials of faith. I am thankful for all the things I have been taught in these last several years. I am still trying to search and find God's will in my life. With each new step I take I am finding great peace and comfort knowing that I am on the right path. I am excited to see where these steps will take me, and I am so thankful to be even a small part of spreading Christ's love and light on this earth.
My name is Julie and I have found peace accepting God's Will in my life.
I know that God has a plan for each one of us. I encourage you to search for His Will in your life and be willing to submit yourself to His Will. Submitting to His Will is not a passive thing as we are moral agents to act, and not to be acted upon. Have a true desire to accept what it is He is asking of you. God has provided us a way through the atonement of Jesus Christ to be able to endure all of our trials. I have a strong testimony and know that to be true. With the hard things in our life many miraculous things come as well. Look for your miracles and find joy and peace in YOUR unique path. God loves you and believes in you.
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