Artwork by Breana

Even Though

Just because your less doesn’t mean you can't be more,
Even though you fall and fall, I keep an open door.
My eyes saw your sins long before your birth,
In the agony of my suffering, even then I felt your worth.

Just because your weak doesn't mean you can't be strong,
Even though your struggling I see where you belong.
My heart was broken for you, that I could see you through,
In the agony of all I gave, I conquered hell for you.

Just because you have sins stain doesn't mean all is lost,
Even though you rebelled , I stayed and paid the cost.
My feet went to the garden knowing I was your way,
In every single foot step I saw  your brighter day.

Just because you have sinned doesn't mean you can’t shine,
Even though your far from light you can still be mine.
My life and gospel I have revealed to show the way,
Hear my voice of love and return to me today.

Just because you died doesn’t mean you cannot live,
Even though you've gone astray I am willing to forgive.
My atonement given for you can bring your rebirth,
My sacrifice witnesses of your eternal worth.

Come unto me ye broken, downhearted and weak,
Repent and follow me, be loving kind and meek.
I reach with hands that carry a witness of pure love,
My child see your Maker, believe in God above.

Written by Michelene

A picture of Miranda and I during her treatments.

People seldom choose to write of the darkest moments of their lives.  We tend to skip over the bad parts and live for the good.  I like that very much but today I want to share some of the difficult dark moments of my life hoping it will lift and inspire those who are facing their own dark moments.

During my teenage years I struggled with so many different insecurities.  I was raised in a single parent family and was abused sexually as a young child.  My home did not have a foundation of light.  I took in a scene of drug use, and immoral conduct from a young age.  Though I reached for light and found sweet moments that I hold dear, they didn’t last.  For instance I met a wonderful friend who inspired me to go to church and I did.  It was a beautiful time for me as I reached for light.  But we moved and I was starting over in a new city.  My family was inactive and I fell back into the familiar pattern I had always known.  I was navigating a world of change and I wasn’t doing it well.  I faced terrible trials.  At the age of thirteen my step father attempted to abuse me sexually though mercifully I was spared.  He ended up abandoning our family days after his attempted abuse.  It was very difficult for my mother.  We were left with no money and no family near us to help us out.  The bishop of our ward paid for a U-Haul and gave us money so we could get back to Utah.  The brethren of the church came and loaded up our belongings and my mother who was pregnant drove us from Arizona back to Utah on her own.  I could feel the stress and anxiety that she was carrying.  She struggled greatly during the years that followed which made my home life more unstable.  Yelling and hitting were part of my childhood.  This created more confusion in me.  It felt sometimes like I wasn’t loved.  I wanted to know the picture perfect family that I saw on T.V.  I felt insecure about not having a dad and about my family situation.  I knew that my home life wasn’t right. 

During my teenage years I began to feel my self-worth was my body, the way I looked became a focal point for me. I would eat very little and focused on exercise.  It was an unsuccessful attempt to be happy and like myself.  This started a pattern of anorexia and bulimia that went on throughout my teenage years. 

My family relocated twice in one year when we returned from Arizona. I struggled to make friends and I felt lost.  Looking back I can see clearly that I was about to hit rock bottom.  I met a boy named Paul and was dating him at age 14, this wasn’t a good idea but I didn’t think that then.  We were left alone a lot and we did not keep the law of chastity.  This period of dating and trying to be happy was fruitless.  I had attention and places to go but I was not truly happy.  My eating disorder was really bad during this time period.  I didn’t love myself and I wasn’t finding love by spending time with my boyfriend.  Still this was what I did.  I kept dating him and kept trying to build happiness in all the wrong ways.  The worst part of my lost and confused state was my choice to not seek light.  I remember others reaching out at different times but I didn’t respond to light, I held onto the dark.  I chose to be lost.  That is a tuff thing to acknowledge.

I ended up dating this young man for several years.  He even moved in with my family and that was my teenage situation.  I lived with my boyfriend and didn’t really go to church much.  I wasn’t going to high school anymore and I was working full time.  I was lost and I ended up falling more and more under the enemy’s power.  Basic virtues like honestly and integrity were not in me.  I was not living a good life.  One night my teenage sister came home and we had a terrible argument.  She told me how worthless I was and how nobody loved me.  I ended up feeling so much despair that I felt like I didn’t want to live anymore.  I took a jar of pills and fell asleep wanting to die.  But I awakened in the early hours of the morning feeling that I should get help.  I told my boyfriend Paul what I had done and he took me to the emergency room.  They treated me I was hospitalized for several days.  Somehow the staff didn’t send me to get help for my suicide attempt.  This was probably the result of me lying and saying I accidently took to many pills for my headache.   

At this point I started to model which was the absolute wrong thing for me.  I met another young man named Shane at this point and broke up with Paul to date him.  This was another lost and terrible year for me.  I should have been in high school classes but instead I was working at a modeling agency full time.  I was surrounded by bad influences and felt myself sinking further and further.  So it was for me.  I was still trying to find joy by living an immoral life.  Let me just say here that you can’t find joy through sin. It can’t be done. The relationship with Shane didn’t last and I started dating Paul again. He moved back into our house and we started going to church.  Looking back I can see how strange it all was.  I was heading to church with my boyfriend who lived in my house and often slept in my bedroom.  My life was wrong on so many levels.  One day my mom came home and said that she heard you could be sealed at seventeen.  She encouraged Paul and I to speed things up. My mom had always been inactive in the church but was trying to go to church and get a temple recommend so she could attend my brothers sealing.   So Paul proposed and we met with the bishop to tell him our plans to get married.  He wasn’t happy with our decision and asked us to get our patriarchal blessings and consider Paul serving a mission.  I remember Paul talking to me about going on a mission, I told him I didn’t think I would be able to get through on my own.  We both thought that our patriarchal blessings were an indicator that we should get married since Paul’s blessing said he would serve a mission in his later years.  So we preceded with wedding plans.  Both Paul and I chose to lie in our temple recommend interview and hid our immoral behavior instead of repenting and setting things right.  We were starting our marriage with no foundation at all.  I remember feeling like I should run out of the temple sealing room as I knelt at the altar but I stayed and committed a terrible sin before God.  I had entered his house unworthily by lying and then knelt and made promises that are so very sacred under a false pretense of worthiness.  It was terrible and I knew it.   

I proceeded to build a life with Paul but I was never truly happy.  I began to catch him with pornography in his hands early on in our marriage.  But I pushed on hoping I would not be divorced multiple times like my mom.  I was so happy when I found out I was pregnant with Breana. It had been several years since I had caught Paul with pornography and I felt like things were going to be good.  But when I was six months pregnant I found more pornography on his computer.  I remember walking the streets of Provo alone crying and feeling hurt and betrayed.  This pattern of continuing to try to build a life with Paul and continuing to find his addiction remained throughout our marriage.  For me happiness was motherhood.  I focused on loving my kids and having joy with them.  We swam, and laughed and played and that was my joy. 

I wasn’t truly happy with Paul.  We went to church and continued to get our temple recommends by lying in every interview.  This pattern of deceit went on for the twenty three years we were married. I continued to catch Paul with pornography and nothing improved in our marriage.  It was always me asking and him hiding his addiction.  But I knew in my heart that he was still looking at pornography. I suffered from my own addictive habits.  I shopped to be happy.  Buying clothes and looking good was my focus.  I wasted my time and money shopping and accrued debt by doing so.  I was very selfish.  Looking back I see us having no foundation or a sandy foundation.  Not repenting and not building with Jesus Christ was at the heart of our failing family.  I know we both had divine potential but we didn’t nurture it and help it grow.  What could have been was halted by the sins we had hidden and our sinful selfish lifestyle.  Amid all of this from the outside looking in we seemed like a normal family.  Our kids loved us and we seemed like a happy couple.  But beneath the façade there was another picture that was not beautiful to see. 

A big moment of change for me was when my sweet daughter Miranda was diagnosed with cancer on April 25, 2013.  The experience of her being sick was a time of soul searching change for me.  I began to open my heart to God and had dreams that showed my past sins that I had not repented of.  My heart was soft and I was ready to set things right.  I remember going to meet with my bishop, Miranda went with me and waited in the hall.  She was so kind and supportive, her love and encouragement meant so much to me.  After meeting with him twice to go over my past transgressions I found a peace I had never known.  I felt alive with hope.  There was a new sense of what could be that was growing in me.  I began to experience personal revelation and felt the hand of God leading me toward joy.  It was an uphill battle though.  The word easy could not be applied to the road ahead of me.  As we battled through Miranda’s illness my marriage ended.  It was the hardest time of my life.  I was watching my daughter die and I was finding the courage to begin again on my own.  Everything was coming apart so that it could be put back together again the in right way.  Miranda was so strong and beautiful.  She experienced so much stress during this time but she endured with faith and love.  She held me as I cried and spoke with love and comfort and most importantly with faith.  She was a gift from the moment she was placed in my arms and at seventeen years old she was the one holding me.  We cried together and loved each other through our most diffucult trials. I remember Miranda telling me,"You need to forgive Paul for what he has done but you don’t have to stay with him."  If you’re wondering what he did that she was talking about, it was the pornography and the difficult circumstances at home that we experienced as my marriage ended.  I agreed with her counsel. 

Miranda came with us to the Ronald McDonald house and we spent the last of her life the way she wanted.  She was surrounded by those she wanted to be with.  I honored her wishes regarding how her life would end and who would be present when she passed away.  From the outside looking in many people didn’t understand why Paul wasn’t with us but of course they didn’t know the intimate details of our journey.  They didn’t know the experiences that had hurt Miranda deeply.   She left this world so peacefully. She was surrounded by those who had comforted her and loved her throughout her illness. I know when she passed through the veil that she was greeted by her Savior and the noble and great ones who love her so dearly.  She was instrumental in helping me to repent of my past transgressions and in encouraging me to move on toward true happiness.  Her guidance and love for me didn’t stop when she passed away. I have felt her love and involvement in our life from the moment she left.  I am so grateful for my angel daughter and friend who still cheers me on and helps me reach for light.

I have been divorced now for almost three years and I am happier now than I have ever been.  I spend my time in beautiful purposeful ways now and I feel the spirit every day of my life.  Our home is filled with G or PG movies and lots of scripture study.  The standards of the gospel guide us through our decisions and we take the commandments of God seriously.  We love to serve and give of our time freely.  So many of our favorite memories are of us serving together.  I have learned what happiness is, happiness is to live according to the commandments of God.  Happiness is to love others better than yourself.  Happiness is to make and keep sacred covenants.  Happiness is to love and follow the Savior of the world.  I hope that anyone who reads this story will find the courage to repent and begin again.  I promise that true repentance will bring peace and happiness.  As we give all we are with full purpose of heart God heals us and makes us new.  I testify that because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ we can reach our happily ever after even when we have messed everything up.  A journey that was flawed can become flawless through Jesus Christ.  Don’t ever give up on yourself or on anybody else.  Remember to lift and encourage others to believe in themselves and in the power of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for my Heavenly Parents who planned my rescue and sent showers of love to see me through my transformation.  I am upheld by grace every day of my life. I Iove my Savior and I feel of his love for me.  He never gave up on me and He always wanted me to be happy.  I rejoice in all that can be because of my Savior.  I am a miracle now and I thank the One who created me and healed me.  All around us every day there are other miracles waiting to happen. I hope that each of us will work with our Savior to bring His sheep back to His fold.  I testify that this is His purpose and desire.  He suffered and died that we each could repent and be healed.  The Father and the Son are one and they have one purpose. In Moses 1:39 we read, “For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” May we each help in their great work by reaching out and helping another person step forward toward their Savior.  I testify that the love we give will be the peace and joy that we feel as we stand before the judgment bar of God!

Not Alone

 

Not alone in the darkest moments you were there,

You were the light that halted my despair.

Not alone as my light was fading out,

You were there dispelling all my doubt.

 

Not alone though I was bound by sin,

You were there urging me to win.

Not alone as I rose and chose to fight,

You were there as I reached to put things right. 

 

Not alone as I faced justice for what I had done,

You were there I was blessed by God’s Son

Not alone because you stayed to set me free,

You were there in the garden of Gethsemane.

 

Not alone as my past was seen,

You were there and still you saw a queen.

Not alone as you healed sins pain,

You were there and you took away my stain.

 

Glorious King you brought new life to me,

I was never alone for you stayed and ransomed me.

My story now is the beauty of your love,

I rejoice in thee my great King who reigns above.

 

Now I see my King and I know my life and way,

I’m not alone for I walk with you each day.

From the ash of all my sin together we build anew,

I’m not alone my dearest friend I’m building life with you!

 

We construct together the truth of what will be,

I’m not alone for your light is guiding me!

I love you and I thank you for always being there,

Truly you have loved me and lifted me with care.

 

The pages we are turning are the story of your grace,

We now write together of my true home and place.

Each word holds the beauty of a heart that knows her King,

I praise the God of heaven and I lift my voice to sing.

 

Hallelujah, hallelujah to my Redeemer and friend,

Hallelujah, hallelujah His love hath no end.

Always and forever my heart will look and see,

I was never left alone for my Savior reached for me.

 

Written by Michelene

Artwork by Brent Borup

His Heart

The lights within Him live and die each day,
He calls, He beckons but so many walk away.
His heart the picture of life and death, do we see?
He holds the world, His very heart the truth of you and me.

Within Him the battlefield and every casualty,
He carries the aching truth of what will and will not be.
The joy and shame of billions held in one,
Behold the heart of Jesus God's only begotten Son.

His heart the painting of this world and our fight,
He carries the battle and feels each fading light.
As you reach for another and help them pull through,
He turns His face and smiles as He keeps light with you.

We share in the beauty of the heart that saved us all,
We change the joy He knows as we heed His loving call.
Do you love me He asks? Yea Lord ye know we do,
Do you love me He asks? Yea Lord ye know we do.

The trust of our Savior is His heart and what may be,
He has given us the charge to go and set the captive free.
Our hands painting beauty, our testimonies restoring light,
We ease the ache of our dear King as we shine clear and bright.

One heart holding billions, One who chose to stay,
One who carries every child every single day.
Will you go and bring life to the Masters heart?
Will you go and restore light as you help another start?

The joy of our Savior is the light He keeps within,
Go to and find the lost and fallen and bring them back to Him.
Paint His heart with gladness and add your colors with care,
For the image of what may be is changed by all you share.

Written by Michelene