Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We Feel You With Us

Dear Branson,
Hello my sweet boy! We miss you so much, and think of you often. It's crazy to think that it's been a year and half since we said our hello's and goodbyes. Although you aren't here with us, we see your influence manifest in our lives. There are numerous occasions when we've known with out doubt that you've been near...protecting, guiding, and loving each of us.

When daddy gave you your name and blessing in the hospital, he blessed you that your spirit would be able to perform the special mission you had been called to serve on the other side. We knew that it was important, and that you would be busy while we spent our time apart. I love to think of you as a missionary...obedient, stalwart, and full of love for the people you serve and teach.

Missionaries here on Earth have full-time companions, and I believe, part-time heavenly companions as well. You have two uncles...Christian and Ryan...who are both serving missions for the Lord right now as well, and both of them have written daddy and I letters recently sharing some special experiences they've had with you. Times when they've been sure that you are serving as their heavenly mission companion.

Their letters are as follow:

From Uncle Christian:
I just wanted to say a few words regarding Branson. It was and has been a special experience I wanted to share with you.
When I was called in the MTC the day that Branson left us, I was saddened. Not saddened for myself, but saddened for all of you back home, and what you all were going through. My heart ached as I tried to understand the situation, and the meaning to a lot of things.
That evening, I knelt in prayer, and cried and poured out my heart to our Father in Heaven. Such a peace that can only be best described as a father comforting his crying child came over me. I felt so peaceful as I climbed into bed.
As I lay there in bed, I rolled things over in my mind. I made sort of a mental promise, one that I have carried with me throughout my mission. The promise was that I would serve as hard as I could, and that I would serve my hardest to make up for the service that my little nephew wasn't able to perform here on earth. I made a connection that it would be two Calls out here serving, not just one.
I kept my CTR ring that you and Rob gave me as a reminder of this. For the first while in my mission, I would put it on as I would put on my badge every morning, just as a reminder.
Unfortunately, the ring was lost, but the memory carries on with me. I still like to think that there are two Calls out here serving, not just one.
So, for all of the service that I have performed out here, I guess you could say Branson has been the silver lining on it all. Although I haven't always remembered him in every second and every act of service, I still remember that evening in the MTC, and I feel very special. The service that I have done can be remembered as a reminder of him.
I just thought you would like to hear about this... it was special as I gained more of my testimony in the MTC of the plan of salvation. As I laid my head on my pillow that evening, and into the morning, I felt assured that families really are forever! This testimony has helped me in my mission, and continues to influence the way I view the Plan of salvation. It has helped me teach The plan of salvation with boldness and confidence, and with an assurity that it is in fact true.
I love you Both, Rob and Nat. You have been outstanding examples to me, and I'm sure to the family as well. Ha, I guess you can say that your strength has helped build our faith as well.
Have a wonderful Christmas!! Enjoy every minute of it, and most of all, remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, the one who has made this all possible to us. I am deeply grateful for the knowledge that this experience that we have had as a family has taught us the most precious truths that our family will be forever! Nothing comes sweeter to the taste, softer to the touch, than this thought.
I love you both... Thanks again for your wonderful examples. you truly are fulfilling the scripture: ''Let your light so shine before the world, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven''.

From Uncle Ryan:
I had a very special experience today. It's Sunday, and I haven't been feeling very well today, and was feeling a bit on the low side. At seven this evening, I went to the fireside which goes on every Sunday. Usually there is a speaker, but today was different. It was a song and testimony meeting. At first, I wasn't too excited about it because I can't really sing with all this nasal stuff going on.
As the meeting proceeded, many different songs were chosen by elders and sisters in the congregation. About half way through, one Elder stood and wanted to sing, "God be with you till we Meet Again." He told us of how he just found out that his best friend back home died this past week. My heart when tout to him.
As we began to sing the song, my thoughts turned to Branson. My little nephew whom I love very much. I thought of the great missionary work he must be doing for our Savior on the other side of the veil. In that moment, the most wonderful feeling of peace and comfort came to me. I knew that I was feeling the spirit, but also the love and presence of Branson. I know he was there with me, giving me comfort while I am on my mission. My emotions were very strong and I couldn't help but cry knowing that we will be able to meet again and be together forever as an eternal family. I was so happy.
Nat and Rob, I love you and your family so much. Thank you for allowing Branson to help me on my mission. He has taught me so much, and I love him very much.
I just wanted to share that wonderful experience with you. I Miss you guys very much. Know that my love and prayers are with you. thank you so much for your love, thoughts, examples, prayers,and most of all; your family. I love you.

Branson. Our hearts are full of joy, as we know that you get to serve, help, and guide your uncles as they serve the Lord as well. We are so proud that you are our little missionary! I'm sure we can't even begin to imagine the number of lives you've touched and hearts you've changed as you share the beautiful message that Christ is our Savior and that through him families can be forever!

God be with you till we meet again!
Love Mom

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Verily I say unto you, ye shall weep and lament, and ye shall be sorrowful, but your Sorrow shall be turned into Joy.
John 16: 20

I have always enjoyed hearing the story of Noah, his family, and the animals that were saved through obedience to God’s command to build a ship and live within it’s protection for the 40 days and nights of flooding rain. However, over the past year and a half I have come to wonder what a tremendous trial it must have been at times for them to endure such a storm. I can’t help but think that those 40 days must have seemed like years at times as they were tossed and thrown about the raging waters. Their hearts must have yearned for what they had lost…the comforts of their home, the brilliant light of the sun, close family and friends who had chosen not to heed the Lord’s command, and the freedom to walk about a land they must have loved. I’m sure there were days, or perhaps even weeks when they questioned the Lord and his plan…they must have asked “the why’s” and “what ifs”. There may have even been days they pleaded with the Lord to let the storm pass and moments when they begged him to restore the joy their hearts once new.

The storm Noah and his family passed through did end. Maybe not as quickly as they had hoped, and perhaps not in the manner they would have chosen, but it did pass.

My favorite part of this story has become the fact that the Lord was obviously mindful of the hardship of their storm. He was so aware that this mission he had asked them to endure was difficult, unpleasant, and trying that he gave them a beautiful gift…a promise. He sent them a sign…the symbol of the rainbow.

He promised them that they, nor any of their family, or posterity to come would ever have to pass through such a storm again. He created the rainbow as the symbol of that covenant…and still today we see evidence of that promise after each rain storm, no matter the severity of the rain.

He didn’t promise them that they’d never pass through anything hard again, or that they’d never be required to sacrifice again on his behalf, but he did covenant that they’d never encounter the flood again.

I now believe that the symbol of the rainbow was so significant and special to Noah and his family because it instilled an added amount of trust in the Lord. It must have given them a great amount of hope as they traveled through other “storms” throughout their lives…hope that at the end of the storm, there would be a “rainbow”.

Perhaps the reason this story is so special to me as of late, is because I can relate to Noah and his beautiful family. My storm started in July of 2008 and raged for many, many months. I tried to be obedient to what the Lord had commanded me, and find protection in him from the tossing sea. There were those days that it seemed the storm would never cease. My heart ached for the beautifully perfect son I had lost, and I often found myself on my knees pleading with the Lord to bring an end to the torment I found myself enduring. I wanted so badly to feel true joy again and to see the beauty clearly around me.

My storm hasn’t completely ended, but the rain has become more of a drizzle than an intense, tumultuous down pour.

However, the Lord has sent me a rainbow…a sign that he is personally aware of my struggles, heartache, and sorrow. A symbol of his love and goodness. My rainbow came in the form of a sweet, healthy, happy baby girl named Brooklyn.

I too know that this rainbow doesn’t mean I’ll never be required to pass through other storms along my journey, but like Noah, it has increased my trust in the Lord’s plan for me and filled my heart with hope…hope that when I encounter another storm and feel it raging around me, that in time...the Lord’s time, there will be a rainbow at the end.

The rainbow might not always come as fast as I desire, or in the manner I would choose, but I pray that I may always have the faith, the trust, and the hope it will require to wait for it.

The Lord is good and I thank him for the rainbow he sent me this year.