Sunday, December 22, 2013


 One night, not too long ago, our 3 young boys were running about the house, jumping and screaming, yelling and laughing.  When the volume reached a point that all thoughts and music could not overcome, I made my way up the stairs.  There I found our 13 year old, flying about, chasing the other kids and confidently  proclaiming, "I am Batman, and nothing can kill me!"  Though the movie screens, televisions and computers, toy stores and video games are full of  Hollywood heroes, I firmly believe that there are Heroes, divinely placed in our lives, to save the day!! I have spent the month of December, reflecting on such heroes in my life, and felt impressed to share.

Sallie was young mother in our little mountain town.  I looked up to her and loved spending time with both she and her little family.  When I was 12 years old, she was involved in a terrible car accident.  Her close friend and young mother was killed as a result.  Sallie suffered serious head injury.  Her long blonde hair was shaved as she endured surgery.  She would need to re-learn everyday skills like walking all over again.  The hospital she was in was about an hour and a half away, which, for a 12 year old, might as well be on another continent.  After months of hospitalization, Sallie came home.  I watched her light up when she put on earrings, her favorite scarf and hat, and walked out, aided by her husband, and enjoyed the comforts of home.  As the weeks passed, she grew more and more independent.  Sallie taught me that having courage does not mean never being afraid-----it means being afraid and doing it anyway.  She taught me that we are not products of our circumstances, but that we can choose what we become in spite of them.  Her accident taught me, at the wise age of 12, that bad things happen to good people, and that life is not always fair.  Sallie was, is and always will be a hero to me.  When I have gone through difficult times, especially those of Family Change, I have remembered Sallie's superpower of courage----- and the lessons I learned from her, have gone to "save the day", more than once in my life.  

Livvy was 3 years old.  She loved to play with her sisters, wear dresses and sit on her grandma's lap and watch MASH, and find the tissues and deep hidden treasures in Grandma's shirt.  One summer afternoon, Livvy suffered a near-drowning accident.  After her arrival at a near by children's hospital, I received a phone call to travel with our Relief Society president and support and offer help to her family.  When we arrived, we found Livvy's mother peaceful, but understandably worried.  Her husband was out of town on a business trip, so we spent much of that night, with Livvy's mother.   Mom immediately brought us back to visit her little princess.  What I saw and felt, left an impression on my heart and soul, that I shall never forget.  There in front of me, amidst the tubes and machines, lay my little friend.  Though she appeared lifeless, her giant spirit filled the room from floor to ceiling.  I took her hand and sang, If the Savior Stood Beside Me (as I had just arrived home from girl's camp, and that was our stake song).  As I sang to her, the spirit testified to me that the Savior would in fact, stand beside her, walk beside her and even lay down beside her in that hospital bed.  And, I felt very strongly that there were challenges ahead of me, and that the Savior would stand beside me, as well.  Though Livvy never really woke up, and could no longer leap a building with a single bound, her heart kept beating strong as ever.  Livvy remained in a body that no longer worked for her, and in that state, she went on teach lessons of love, service, endurance and strength to all those around her.  She survived for about 9 months, but as she was a true super hero, her legacy lives on.   Livvy's super power was her gigantic spirit and her love for her family.  These super powers allowed her to hang on for them---- for her father that was out of town, for her mother and grandmother who adored her and her devoted sisters and baby brother.
Christopher Reeves, a real life Superman once said, "I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."  Livvy, is such a hero!!!

 Kate has been a long time friend and hero!  Kate struggled to finish school and was married young.  She loved fashion and make-up and doing hair.  She talked about going to hair school, but was not sure if she could do it because of the challenges she faced during her school years.  However, very young and married, and a baby on the way, she enrolled in hair school.  There were times when she felt like giving up. Times when she was tired of studying and just wanted to stay home with her baby.  However, with lots of family support, Kate mustered up the strength to continue.  Despite the class time, required reading and time away from home, she persevered and finished.  Kate is my hero!   Her super power is her ability to persevere.  A hero is willing to give up something now for something better later.  Heroes take journeys and confront dragons.  Kate persevered and confronted her dragons of self-doubt and fear and finished hair college, despite the odds.  She has gone on to become a beautiful wife and mother.  She has spoken in church, though I know that is not her favorite thing.  Kate took those challenges and used them as a spring board to grow closer to her family, closer to the Lord, to surmount and overcome.  A hero does not seek for rewards, but is willing to pay the price.  Kate has paid the price and I'm sure will continue to do whatever it takes.  Kate is just such a hero!

A wise superhero once said, "With great power comes great responsibility."  Britt was given great power.  Britt was given an incredible personality and ability to love others.  Britt is able to make everyone feel like they are the most important people in the world.  Britt loves music, theater and dance, but her true super power is her ability to be a friend.  Britt decided to use her super power in the mission field.  She prepared, and received her call.  She would study the Spanish language in the MTC for two months, before heading to South America.  No sooner had she arrived at the Missionary Training Center, when the adversary began to fill her mind and heart with doubt.  She felt afraid, unqualified and just plain overwhelmed.  She was ready to give up and come home before the end of her first week.  Through letters and family correspondence, I was able to keep updated on her progress.  I knew it was difficult and she was struggling.  It would have been SO EASY to give up, as she lived just miles away from the MTC.  As Britt was in the MTC, running the race of her life as a new missionary, I was home, running the race of my life as a single mother and full-time student.  The emotional demise of being left by a spouse is difficult enough, but to also overcome my fears and return to school was almost more than I could bear.   Many days, with my spirits running on empty, I wanted to give up.  However, I would think of Britt and say to myself, "If she can do it, I can do it!!"  As I would receive updates on Britt, there were highs and lows, but she never gave up-----------and because of her courage and dedication to the Lord, I never gave up either.  In November, she returned home, after completing 19 months (that's one month extra,over and above her call).  Her super power to love others allowed her to fulfill her responsibilities as a missionary.  Her super powers gave me super powers!!
 As I hugged her at the airport, I not only realized she did it ---- but so did I.  It's easy to see the difference that people make in our lives, but it's a lot tougher to make a difference.  A hero is someone that understands their responsibility and does it well----intent on making the world a better place.  Britt is such a hero!

You don't become a hero because of anything you do---- it's who you are, who you touch and who you inspire.  There are heroes all around us, divinely placed, to help us leap with faith, face our fears, overcome the overwhelming and beat the odds.  Those powers are not found in capes or muscles, but in the families and friends that surround us.  You never know how strong you are, until strong is all you have left.  Pondering the heroes in our lives can be an amazing Christmas gift to ourselves and to others.  It causes us to reflect and show gratitude.  But, most of all, I have realized that these heroes truly were placed in my life, not by accident, but miraculously on purpose to prepare me with the super powers I will need to face what lies ahead. Heroes are ordinary people about extraordinary things.  The greatest hero of all, we celebrate this Christmas season. It is He who can truly save, lift and heal.  It is He who gives us the courage to not be afraid.  He who gives us the strength to hold on.  He who enables us to confront dragons, to face our fears and to never give up.  He is my ultimate hero and yours.  His gift to us, His life, that we may live, lift, love and inspire!! Heroes!

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