Tonight (Sunday, December 23...I will post this in January).... I find myself contemplating defining moments in my adult life. There have been more than the few I will mention, but these are some that I reflect back on over and over and that have, I think, helped shape who I have become.
The first that stands out occurred about 15 years ago. I had been teaching for a few months and my Branch President, President Bennion, in my singles ward asked if I had considered receiving my endowments. As a student at BYU they discouraged girls from receiving their endowments unless they were going on a mission or getting married. But I was a graduate now, I was teaching and after giving it some thought and prayer, I decided to receive my endowments. I took the Temple Preparation classes which were wonderful. I had an interview with my Branch President and then with my Stake President. I remember the moment that my Stake President handed me my temple recommend and how amazing it felt to know that I was worthy to enter the House of the Lord. I wanted to always feel that clean and that happy. That was a defining moment and I loved the temple.
Of course, being sealed in the temple 3 1/2 years later was another defining moment. It was wonderful to have some of my dearest friends and family members there with me and to know that if we lived worthily, Alfredo and I could be together forever and that our future children would be ours forever as well. We had a beautiful luncheon where each guest gave us advice and a nice reception and it was such a beautiful day.
Giving birth to children and becoming a mother was as well, but perhaps most especially giving birth to Ella at home. I had a long and difficult labor with Michelle and had pitocin and an epidural. Ella came much more quickly and easily (she was born at home, on accident) and was born naturally. I have never considered myself very strong but after that, I felt much stronger. I don't know how to explain it exactly other than to say that I was so empowered by that and it has given me the courage and self confidence to do other things that I would never have dreamed I could do previously. I am stronger and more capable than I had realized.
Another defining moment came when Ella was having her open heart surgery. I really felt the power of the priesthood as she received two blessings, one from my dad and one from our friend/neighbor Kyle Cannon and Alfredo. Before surgery they tell you all the possible things that could go wrong. And it is scary and not fun. But there was also a sense of peace that she would be okay as she was promised in the blessing. She was protected by Heavenly Father. Children with VSD like her often have respiratory illnesses and other health problems, but she was such a healthy baby. She rarely even got colds. She recovered far more quickly from the surgery than the doctors had predicted. And furthermore, we received so many outpourings of love from friends, family and neighbors. It was one of the times I have received a great deal of service from others and it meant so much. I can still recall most if not all of the people who brought meals, gifts, or who made phone calls to check on us. I felt so loved by my Heavenly Father and Savior as well as by my family and neighbors. There are times when I start to feel lonely and I can remember this experience and know that there are many people who care about us even if I don't talk to them on a daily basis. I know that if we needed something, people would be there to help. I am not alone. My prayers are heard and answered. The priesthood power is real. Miracles do happen today... and not just healing. The outpouring of love felt like just as much of a miracle to me as Ella's quick recovery from the surgery.
This past week has been a defining moment for me. My call to be Relief Society President has filled me with such a great desire to do what is right, to do my best, to be closer to my Father, to attend the temple more frequently, to bless others, to be in tune with the spirit. I have been praying to know who my counselors should be and I attended the temple. I received an answer and also had perhaps the most spiritual experience of my life. I don't know why of all the amazing women in my ward it is I that was called, but I do know that this call did come from my Heavenly Father. I know that my Savior lives, and He knows and loves me. I know that if I trust in Him, I will receive the help I need to magnify this calling. And already I feel my heart swelling with love for the sisters in my ward. I mean, I know and love many of them already. But today was our annual Christmas program and the choir sang. I found myself filled with love for the women in the choir singing. I looked around the chapel and felt my heart swell with love for the women I saw...and also worried about and wondered about several that weren't there. I can't remember a single time in my life when tears were so close to the surface for so many days on end. Especially tears of joy and humility. I have felt the spirit and rejoiced in my Savior's birth more than during any other Christmas season.