Thursday, April 15, 2010

When Life Doesn't Seem Fair

I have been reading this book. My mom and dad found it at the D.I. (thrift store) for me and thought it would be perfect for me to read. I guess I have complained enough so they thought that a book titled by my daily phone conversation would be perfect. (smile)

Anyway, I started reading it back in January and because of life and such I haven't been able to read much of it. Well, today I took some time to read a little more, and by "took" I literally mean that I took time away from cleaning my disastrous house to read it.

The husband and wife who wrote this book are LDS and have been featured many times in the Ensign articles and in the Conference talks. This was the excerpt I read today in the book that was written by one of their three severely handicapped children's speech therapists. It was featured in the 1988 Ensign magazine so I went to the website and copied it so it could inspire you too. It really touched my heart and confirmed to me that this is how my children feel.

Jesus, Listening, Can Hear

Jean Ernstrom, “Jesus, Listening, Can Hear,” Ensign, June 1988, 46–47
I have never forgotten how, in one fleeting moment, the Spirit was powerfully manifest to me through two bright blue eyes.
The eyes belong to Heather, a nine-year-old girl with a keen mind, infectious giggle, and a determined spirit housed in a frame with great physical restrictions. Because of her handicaps, the simplest of life’s activities are major tasks for her.
Unable to verbalize, Heather sends messages with her eyes. She is quite efficient. A direct gaze means yes, and a blink means no. Through a series of questions, gazes, blinks, giggles, and facial expressions, Heather shares her vibrant spirit and brings joy to the lives of those who interact with her.
As her therapist and teacher for several years, I have many times sensed that for Heather, as for many other handicapped children, the veil seems very thin. If she could speak, what could she teach me about the things of the Spirit?
One Monday morning, Heather and I visited about the previous weekend. Heather indicated to me that she had attended Primary, so I began singing some Primary songs. A smile broke across her face whenever she recognized a song. I sang her my favorite, “I Wonder When He Comes Again.” Then I asked her if she had a favorite song. Immediately her eyes focused on mine and I was suddenly faced with the challenge of determining which song she loved above all others.
Through a series of questions I discovered that her favorite song was one she had heard in Primary. She wasn’t sure which songbook it was in, but knew it was about Jesus. I went through every possible song I could think of. To my dismay and Heather’s disappointment, none of them was the right one.
Heather refused to let the issue die. For some reason she needed the two of us to share her favorite song. Finally, I agreed to bring my Primary songbooks to school the following day and go through them with her.
On Tuesday morning, Heather let me know in no uncertain terms that she wanted to find the song—now! We went through the books, but to no avail. She liked all of the songs, but none of them was the song. In desperation, I told Heather that if her mother could figure out the song, we would sing it. If not, we would have to live with the fact that we couldn’t find it.
Heather came to school the next day more determined than ever to find her song. Tucked in her wheelchair was the new Church hymnbook. I positioned myself next to her and, page by page, we made our way through. I sang the first phrase of each song, and each time Heather’s eyes closed in a definite no. Halfway through the book, I began to sing: “There is sunshine in my soul today …”
As if someone had stuck her with a pin, Heather jumped and smiled. Her bright eyes looked directly at me. Together we laughed and reveled in the completion of our three-day search. “OK, now we can finally sing your favorite song,” I said. She smiled as I sang the first verse, and as I began the chorus she mustered all the effort she could and joined in with occasional sigh-like sounds. As I finished the chorus she looked at me steadily as if to say, “I liked that part.” I was so grateful I had found the song! I asked if she wanted to hear the rest of the verses and she responded with a firm yes. Again I began:
There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus listening can hear
The songs I cannot sing …
Heather’s reaction to that line was so strong that I stopped. I looked at her as the reality and significance of the moment pressed on my mind. “Heather, is that what you like about the song?” I asked. “Is that what you want me to know? That Jesus is listening, and he can hear the songs you cannot sing?” She lifted her head and looked me straight in the eyes. The testimony had been borne.
Feeling guided by the Spirit, I ventured to ask, “Heather, does Jesus talk to you in your mind and in your heart?” Her look was penetrating.
Knowing her close relationship with the Spirit, there was one more thing I wanted to know. With reverent anticipation I whispered, “Heather, what does he say?” My heart pounded as I viewed the clear look in her eyes as she awaited my questions so she could share her insight. I felt that the Lord gave me the right questions to ask as I took a deep breath and proceeded. “Does he say ‘Heather, I love you’?” Her eyes were radiant as she confirmed that statement. I paused, swallowed, and continued. “Does he say ‘Heather, you’re special’?” Again, yes. I paused again, with a lump in my throat, and then asked, “Does he say, ‘Heather, be patient; I have great things in store for you’?”
Heather’s head became erect; every fiber of her being seemed to be electrified as her eyes penetrated my soul. She knew she was loved. She knew she was special. She knew she only needed to be patient because great things were in store for her.
The moment seemed too sacred for further words. I leaned forward and pressed her cheek against my own. Without words, but through the bright blue windows to her soul, the truth had been made known.
Yes, Heather, Jesus, listening, can hear.

6 remarks:

Anonymous said...

wow- what a neat article. Thanks for taking the time to share it!

Joel and Jessie said...


Joyce said...

I "googled" the topic, "'Jesus Listening Can Hear' Heather" and came to your web site. I was deeply touched by your posting the story--and then reading the comments after it. You see, I am Heather's mother. I just want all of you people to know that it touches my heart just to know that so many other people are inspired by Heather's story. It truly helps me see that Heavenly Father knew what was best for EVERYONE when he didn't heal Heather when she was 6 months old as I so desperately wanted Him to--because He knew that Heather's testimony would have such a profound effect on so many people if she came in a handicapped body. She truly is/has been a HUGE blessing in our lives!

If you would like to read Heather's entire unedited story--as well as other very inspirational stories--you can go to this link and read them: (You might have to copy and paste this link into your browser URL.)


Rachael said...

Wow! Joyce Erickson wrote on my blog! Who would have thought... crazy and small world we live in.

Joyce, I don't know if you will read this comment or not, but, I am so glad that you found my blog. Your book, so far, has been wonderful. Thank you for allowing some of out here to learn from your experiences and trials. I know that although my children do not face the same challenges yours do, I still understand many of your feelings. Crazy how children with disabilities can do that--bring many together in ways we wouldn't have imagined.

I checked out your website and have to admit--since I haven't finished your book as of yet, I was so sad to hear about your daughters. Thank you for sharing their lives with us. I am glad that you were able to find me out in cyberspace. Stay in touch...

Anonymous said...

Thanks you so much for your response and kind words. Let's keep in touch. I will keep checking back to see what you have added to your web site.

Also, since I last wrote, you might be interested to know that I have added the talk I gave at BYU Women's Conference to our web site:

If you don't mind me asking, where do you live? What state?

Let's keep in touch. My heart truly goes out to mothers like you.


Rachael said...

Joyce, I sent you an email. Hopefully you get it. Thanks, Rachael.