bonsai tree

Do you ever feel broken? In this overwhelming world in which we live it’s easy to feel lost, afraid, alone, and very vulnerable. We are mortal beings trying to traverse the path back to our Heavenly Father through a veil of forgetfulness and the challenges of being imperfect souls. At times we feel lost because of poor choices and at times our faith is tested to help make us stronger. The world can be a scary place and our bodies often fail us. How can we possibly get through all the challenges we face and return to the arms of a loving Father in Heaven?

Scott has been interested in bonsais lately. Our kitchen window is filled with all sorts of bonsais of different shapes, sizes, and varieties. For his birthday this year, my parents gave him several different plants. He took care of each of them to the best of his knowledge, but within days, one of them, a nashia Bahama berry, was losing leaves and drying up. He started researching the variety and how to care for it and learned that it was a tropical plant that requires lots of water. Scott came to me and told me that he read that a nickname for this plant was “I Dry, I Die”.

I took one look at that plant, full of crunchy leaves, and decided right away that it was a lost cause. I enjoy Scott’s bonsais, but I’m not “obsessed” like Scott is. My thought was that he has a lot of bonsais and losing one is not the end of the world. Within minutes I had moved on without a second thought. Scott felt differently.

He continued to care for it and make sure it stayed moist. I laughed a little to myself each time I saw him water it and examine it. About a two weeks later, I was standing at the sink in the kitchen when I noticed a tiny green bud on one of the branches. I looked closer and noticed that it was starting to grow new leaves in a few different places. As soon as Scott came home from work that night I scooped up the plant to show him the fruits of his labors.

To borrow a line from the immortal Princess Bride, that poor little plant didn’t just look “mostly dead”, it looked totally dead. Yet, through the care and patience of its master gardener, it began to grow again. While still fragile, it continues to produce new leaves and, if I know Scott, it will one day reach its full potential.

I’ve thought a lot about that little plant over the last two weeks. Because of another back flare-up, I went in last week for my second injection in as many months. My back has caused me quite a bit of pain and I was hoping this injection would be the one to get me on the correct course. Two days later I was leaning over the sink to brush my teeth and when I stood up I couldn’t get straight. In my stupidity, I decided to just push through the pain and go on as if nothing was wrong. After getting through school work with my kids and going on a walk with Scott, I decided that I would be okay if I could just lie down for a few minutes. Instead, the pain continued to get worse and by that evening I was prostrate on the bed with pillows supporting me on all sides and fear coursing through my veins every time one of my kids came in the room that they would bump the bed and send pain shooting down my legs and spasms through every muscle in my back.

This past week has left me with quite a bit of time to be alone in my room contemplating the lessons that I need to be learning. I’ve felt a little broken like Scott’s bonsai; broken, and a little lonely, but never alone and never “mostly dead”. However, through the pain and frustration I have felt very blessed because heaven saw fit to send me its angels.

My sweet mom came over Friday night and sat by my bed till Scott finished working. I don’t even know why she came over in the first place, but once she was here she just sat by my side or distracted my kids. Because I’ve been so limited in my ability to do school work with my children, she has taken some or all of them every day so they wouldn’t fall behind in their work. On Sunday I had a meeting to plan our Relief Society birthday party that I’m in charge of. My mom came before the meeting to help me fix my hair and get me comfortable in my living room chair so that I could fulfill my responsibility. She hasn’t failed to call or come by every day to see how I’m doing.

Another angel is my generous and ever caring sister. She took my little one for a day and shuffled the girls to and from their dance classes. When her own kids came down with colds and she didn’t want to share with mine she brought in dinner, enough for several days.

My dear friend sent me notes from her Relief Society lesson when I missed church on Sunday. She has called several times with encouraging words. Two days ago she showed up unannounced and informed me that she was taking the two youngest kiddos for the day and showed up this morning with freshly baked cinnamon chip rolls.

I have been touched by the kind gestures from my children. My girls have been a deep well of kind words, kisses, and cuddles. My boys have been ever ready to help me when walking to the other room has been painful or when my little one has needed a distraction. I have woken up every morning to questions of how I’m feeling and encouragement that the coming day will be better than the last.

When Scott’s mom found out I was having problems she showed up the next day with dinner and when Scott informed his boss that he would be unable to attend a conference that he was scheduled to attend this week he was told to take care of the most important thing. Not only did he miss the conference, but he has been home all week taking care of our children and me and squeezing in a few hours of work when he can.

I cannot express how grateful I am for Scott. His load has more than doubled with me out of commission and he has accepted it with a fervent desire to do the best he can. He has gently cared for me and our kiddos while still trying to fulfill his work and church responsibilities to the best of his ability. Sacrifices have been required of him, and he has made them without complaint. Most importantly, he has lived worthy of the priesthood he holds and was able to use that priesthood during the stillness of a very pain filled night to give me a blessing. Scott has given much and he can certainly be content in the approval of his Heavenly Father. He lives a life of true manhood.

Elder Rasband said once, “If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if they need help – or would it be better to just jump in and save them from the deepening waters?” My earthly angels never just offered help. They all saw a need a filled it. They jumped in.

So, what lessons have I learned this time? I’ve learned that I am surrounded by people who love me and who are willing to take the burden off my back when I can’t carry it any longer. I’ve learned that, while it can be hard to be the recipient of service, it is the means whereby God allows us to grow together. It’s important that we learn how to be on both ends of service. I’ve learned that we can’t effectively serve others unless we know what the real needs are and when we determine those needs we jump. And, I’ve learned that whether we are a little broken or “mostly dead” through the love of our Master Gardener and His angels we can, once again, sprout new leaves.