I Will Rejoice in My God: A Collection of Tender Mercies

Oct 13, 2019

Yesterday I was able to sneak away for a few hours to go to the temple. I didn't really feel like I had the time for it. In fact, in the days since Aaron returned home, I have felt busier and more overwhelmed than at any other time during this process.

Having him back home has been so sweet and wonderful. Aaron has found joy in the simplest things: doing a puzzle with Clark, listening to Ian's little chatter (he told me, "At first, I had a hard time understanding Ian!"), eating lunch at the kitchen table with his siblings, riding his ripstick around the driveway, reading in his own bed, listening to Harry Potter . . . the list could go on and on. 

But being home has come with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. I will probably go into them more in a future post, but basically, at this point, I feel like all I am doing is following my kids around with a Clorox wipe, going over any surface they touch. And in spite of being diligent, Max, Mike, and Ian somehow managed to get sick this weekend, all with different things.

Yesterday I felt like I was going to break under the stress of it all. It felt like an impossible task, this job of keeping one person healthy in a sea of germs. 

When I feel that kind of pressure, I cry. A lot. 

And so I fled to the temple. It felt like a luxury to be able to run away since the last few weeks have tied Mike and me down to two different places, making it unfeasible for either of us to do anything extra. So I felt grateful that this was an option.

On the drive back home, I turned on the Tabernacle Choir in an attempt to hold onto the peace I'd been feeling. My mind drifted over the last few months. As I sat there in the quietly thrumming car, memories began resurfacing--evidence of God's hand in our lives.

I remembered the day after Aaron was diagnosed. We were in the Cancer, Blood, and Bone Marrow clinic. Aaron was getting a unit of platelets before going downstairs for a bone marrow biopsy. As we passed through the clinic's waiting room, I happened to glance at a young woman, and my brain instantly had a moment of recognition. She didn't just remind me of someone; I somehow knew her.
Down the elevator, through the hall, I kept thinking of her face, trying to figure out who she was. Then suddenly, I had it. She was my sister's first mission companion back in March. I had only seen her in photos, but still, I knew it was her. 

I assumed she had probably had cancer before her mission and was back for a checkup. But after asking my sister about it, I found out that it wasn't cancer. 

It was aplastic anemia. 

In the lonely isolation of a diagnosis we'd never heard of, I somehow saw (and recognized) a person I'd never actually met who had intimate experience with the same disease and had successfully conquered it. 

This is the kind of coincidence you can't make up.

In the weeks that followed, I texted and emailed and talked to both Gwen and her mom. They offered hope, shared insights, gave helpful tips, and basically made us feel like we weren't alone. A few days after Aaron's transplant, they visited him in the hospital, bearing BYU gifts and contagious optimism.

I think we would have made the connection with Gwen whether I had seen her in the waiting room that day or not. But the fact that I did see her, that was the tender mercy. 

Not long after I talked to Gwen, we met another family with aplastic anemia. I can't remember how the original contact was made (I think our social worker maybe gave our name to them because we had said we would love to talk to another family), but one morning Mike was with Aaron at the clinic getting more platelets, and the mom came and talked to them. Her son had just received a bone marrow transplant a few days before. At the time, we didn't even know if Aaron would qualify for a bone marrow transplant, but she was able to offer a unique, and very current, perspective.

When Mike told me he had talked to Amber, I was so disappointed that I hadn't been at the hospital too. At that point, I was craving information, and with a disease so rare, it was hard to come by. 

But somehow in the subsequent weeks, our paths have crossed more times than I can count. We pass each other at the exact moment we're coming and going from the hospital. Or I'm in the bathroom washing my hands, and I look up, and it's Amber who happens to be standing at the other sink. Or I walk into the hallway for all of five seconds, but it ends up being the same five seconds that Amber is there too. It has happened so often that there seems to be no other explanation for it except that it was divinely orchestrated.

For a person like me who loves face-to-face interactions a hundred times more than phone conversations, these chance meetings have been such a gift. Amber and Jaxon are just enough ahead of us in the process to be real mentors, and I am so grateful for their experience and wisdom.

Another tender mercy had nothing to do with people but nevertheless made a big impact on our mental health.

The first time Aaron was admitted to the hospital, his room looked out on the helicopter landing pad. There was one exciting moment when a helicopter flew in, but other than that, it was the most boring, most ugly and unchanging view ever. Luckily, we only had to look at it for two days. 

I worried about getting stuck with a view like that for our month-long stay. And so it was one of the first things I noticed when we walked into Room 4408. The view was perfect. We looked out onto the rolling hills (one of them had a big U emblazoned on it, but we managed to look past that) where the leaves gradually changed colors. We could see the entrance to the hospital, and we watched people come and go all day long. We had so many visitors, even nurses, come in and say, "You have such a great view!"

I don't know if they make any kind of effort to put long-term patients in rooms with good views, but it was something I was thankful for every day that we were there.

And speaking of visitors, Aaron had a steady stream of them while he was in the hospital. Before he was admitted, I had told family and friends that he would want visitors to help break up the long days. But beyond that, I didn't try to schedule or arrange anything.

So it was amazing to me that almost every day, Aaron had one or two visitors come. I almost never had to turn someone away because he had too many. Nor did I ever have to try to scrounge up people to come see him. I worried that we might have a barrage of people right at the beginning of his stay, or I thought the weekends might be easier for people and consequently fill up more than the other days.

But from the day he was admitted to the day he was discharged, we had just the right number of daily visitors. I couldn't have planned it better if I had tried.

One of my favorite chapters in The Book of Mormon is Alma 26. Ammon is praising the Lord for the many miracles and blessings he has witnessed. His brothers chastise him just a bit, telling him that he has gone too far in his rejoicing.

But Ammon says, "My joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding . . . Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast . . . This is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever."

That is exactly how I feel. We have seen and experienced so many good things throughout this challenge. We have been blessed so abundantly. On the surface, these good things might look like mere coincidences. But underneath, I recognize the familiar mark of God's love. He is the Giver of all good things, and I attribute every good thing to His hand.

Like Ammon, I will rejoice and give thanks unto Him forever.


  1. I like how you don't just tell Aaron to cheerfully do all things and then trust, but live by the words yourself. And how even when things are grim you can see God's hand in the small blessings that add up to so much.

    Good luck keeping ahead of the germs.

  2. So beautiful to read about these blessings. ♥️

  3. I love that you wrote about this because it reminds me to look for and rejoice in tender mercies. I love that scripture! Thank you!

  4. Love to hear your testimony! Hang in there; there will be an end some day!! Love you!


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