FYI: This is a lengthy post. If you would like to listen to it instead of read it, I have included a recording of it. Thanks for reading/listening! xoxo-Des
Yesterday was Pioneer Day and even though I am not posting this until the 25th, I could not let the weekend go by without posting about some of the incredible ancestors I have.
In the state of Utah, every 24th of July, we celebrate our pioneer ancestors who sacrificed so much so that they could have a place where they could freely worship their religion and raise their families in the gospel of Jesus Christ. These people were simply amazing. I have read many stories over the years about their exemplary lives. Every time I read or hear a story, I feel such a sweet feeling of gratitude, humility, and reverence. These people faced death so that they could have a place where future generations could worship God in peace. I am part of that future generation and I am so honored to have family ties with some of these amazing people.
James and Eliza Hurren
The journey was hard. Not only on the ship from England to America, but once they arrived in America they had to figure out a way to make it from New York to Utah. They were part of a handcart company that was under the direction of James G. Willie. Once they made it to Iowa City, they set to work making their handcarts. They did not leave Iowa City until late July, which made everyone a little uneasy because it was so late in the season.
James and Eliza had 4 daughters. Their oldest, Mary, is my 3rd great grandmother. She was seven years old when they started their trek to Utah. Their youngest daughter, Selena, was born while they were in Iowa City and passed away 2 weeks into their journey across the plains.
"James had a very strong testimony of the Gospel and was willing to do whatever the Lord asked of him. James was very strong and healthy. He was considered the strongest man in his company and was always willing to do more than his share. In addition to the family baggage and cooking utensils, he put as many as five extra sacks of flour (which weighed about 100 lbs. each) on his cart when the emigrants were asked to add the flour to their loads...He also gave rides to two little girls who were not able to walk...
In spite of the strains and the weariness, everyone tried to be cheerful and encouraging. James was especially valiant, and tried to see the humor in the situations that arose, and make others laugh and smile...During the bleakest periods, James retained his hope and faith. He encouraged those around him to do their best to weather the adverse circumstances, to think of the opportunities ahead in Zion and the blessings in store if they endured and tried to be of service. (I loved reading this part about him. I feel like I inherited some of these personality traits from him. :)
The weather grew colder each day and Mary's feet eventually froze. When the family finally made it to the valley, their first concern was little Mary's feet...The doctor said they would need to be amputated to which James protested, 'This little girl did not walk a thousand miles to have her legs cut off. If she dies, she will die with her legs on.' Once the family settled in Brigham City an elderly lady there told them to wrap Mary's feet with beefsteak and call her after three days. James had to walk 20 miles to Ogden to acquire some steak and then walk 20 miles back home. After the three days, this elderly woman, a Mrs. Snider, applied some homemade ointment to Mary's feet. Within a few days the rotten flesh had dropped off. Mary was able to walk again after two years. Her feet hurt her all her life, but she became the mother of 13 children. She also took in a ten-year old with tuberculosis and cared for her until she died four years later.
After they arrived in the valley, James and Eliza were asked how they felt about their ordeal. They were quick to reply, 'With all our trials, our weary traveling, burying our dear ones, piling our clothing and bedding by the wayside and setting them on fire, we have never once felt to murmur or complain or regret the steps we have taken.'"
I come from an incredible heritage. The more I read about my ancestors from every side of my family, the more I realize what a blessing they are to me even though I was not able to know them in this life. What a great and wonderful blessing families are. I feel very fortunate to have these families and to hopefully be the kind of person that my great, great, great grandchildren will read about and say, "Wow. She was an amazing person who loved the Lord and who was not afraid to do hard things."
Have you ever heard the term, "The Lazy Days of Summer"? I have heard it many times and long to spend my summer days strolling down Main Street, lounging around by a gurgling stream, buying ice cream from the local ice cream parlor, attending the town bazaar...okay, so maybe I really want to be in the movie, "Pollyanna". Can you blame me? When I picture the lazy days of summer, I picture that movie- everything except the part where she falls off the roof and becomes paralyzed. That is not included in my vision of summer time fun.
I do long, however, for a summer filled with lazy days. But my reality is, our summer has not been very lazy. We have been having a lot of fun, but I still feel like I have been running around like a crazy woman. I guess it is just the time of life that I am in right now and that's okay. The truth is, on the days that we actually have had the opportunity to be lazy, I have gone a little bit crazy- and so did everyone else.
For example, yesterday I had a completely clear day- no appointments, no music lessons, nothing. "Yes," I thought! The perfect day to be lazy. We decided that on this day of laziness we would have a Harry Potter marathon. I also used the free time to complete a few little cleaning projects that were hanging over my head. It was a good day, until night fall. As soon as it was bed time, the effects of watching TV all day surfaced and some of my children cam down with a bad case of the grumpies. Sheesh! Maybe a lazy day is not all it's cracked up to be. Or maybe we should have spent our lazy day in the great outdoors soaking up some sunshine (which in all honesty would have lasted all of 30 minutes before someone would start complaining that they were hot and wanted to go inside.)
Maybe we are just not good at being completely lazy.
And ya know? I think that's okay. One thing I learned through my experience with cancer is that I needed to S-L-O-W down and enjoy my life and my kids. I think most days I do an okay job at that. But I do want to teach my children to be productive members of society and in order to do that we can't be lazy all the time. I think our job as a family is to try to achieve a good balance of productiveness and laziness. Some days we are really good at that. Others we are not. The truth of the matter is, we are striving to do our best each and every day and that's what really counts. :)
I want to have some finality to this project.
I want to stop thinking about it all...the...time.
I want to stop wondering what is going to happen with it.
But most of all, I want to get it moving so that people can read it! Just like cancer, I never imagined how long this adventure would take me to complete. It has now been 2 1/2 years since I wrote the first lines. It has been much harder than I expected it to be and sometimes I wonder why in the world I thought it would be a good idea to take on a project of this magnitude.
But then I read a section of it and it all comes back to me. This book has been directed by an unseen hand. There have been miracles all along the way and I am hoping that there will be at least one more miracle to come (as in, finding someone who would like to publish it!)
I know that there are a handful of people out there who are just as anxious for it to be in actual book form so they can read it and I appreciate that support more than you will ever know. Thank you for sticking with me. I hope that I can have some answers for you soon.
Until then, I feel like I should give you a little taste. A little nugget to hopefully get you excited to read more. So I close this post with an excerpt from my memoir,
"One Day at a Time: My Journey with Cancer."
The next few days went by without too much of an incident. Ellie had come to accept my baldness and discovered that she really liked to rub my head. I had preschool the day after I shaved my head. I had previously talked to the kiddos about what was happening so they wouldn’t be scared when they showed up at school and saw their teacher looking like a pirate. They were pretty cool about the whole thing. Some of them even brought me new scarves.
I began to think that I really could do this whole bald thing. It wasn’t such a big deal after all. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and round my head was. There were no weird lumps or bumps and I thought that I actually looked pretty decent as a bald lady.
I relied on mostly on hats as I was trying to figure out the best way to tie the scarves. I had looked up a lot of tutorials on YouTube (thank goodness for the internet). I was having fun experimenting and was slowly getting the hang of things. I had not really needed to go out in public though. Only a few people had seen me in a hat or scarf and only my immediate family had seen me completely bald. The real test was when Sunday rolled around and I had to get ready for church.
Remember when I said, “Think of how much time I will save getting ready in the morning!” Wrong. Until I got better at the whole scarf tying business, it was taking me just as long or longer to get ready. Nothing looked right. I tried on scarf after scarf with dress after dress until the mound of clothing on my bathroom floor was almost as tall as Ellie. I felt like a gypsy. I finally just crumbled into a heap on the pile of clothes and cried my eyes out. This was at 8:45 in the morning. Our church starts at 9 am and I was in charge of the lesson for Primary that day.
This would not do. I had a decision to make. I could either let the cancer win and stay home from church or I could suck it up and get on with my day. I chose the latter. I said a quick prayer, grabbed the scarf closest to me and tied the darn thing on my head with a bun in the back.
Mark had been following me around wondering what he could say or do to make me feel better. I know he hated that I was feeling so down and wished there was something that he could do. So he did the only thing that he could do; he got the children in the car (along with the 25-lb. church bag that was overflowing with crayons, books, and treats to keep everyone occupied during Sacrament meeting.) Once I gained some composure, I joined them in the car and away we went, with smiles on our faces and tearstains on my cheeks.
We made it to church on time. I was able to make it through my lesson, through taking the Sacrament, and then I had Mark take me home. The nausea had kicked in and there was no way that I wanted to lose my cookies in the middle of church. I am sure that people would have understood, but there was no need to stick around and tempt fate.
On the way back home I felt empowered. I could add one more thing to the list of hard things that I had made it through. I felt weird and different walking into that church building. But no one there cared. No one laughed or pointed. The primary kids didn’t even bat an eye.
My Father in Heaven sent me among angels that day. Angels that made comments like, “I love that scarf! The coloring is so pretty with your skin tone!” and “You look beautiful today!” Perhaps they were just being nice, but I didn’t care. Those were the words that I needed to hear. Those were the words that calmed my anxiety.
I am so thankful that the first public place I had to go to was to church among the people that I call my “ward family”. I valued having had this support system of people who loved me for who I was on the inside and not what I looked like on the outside. I loved having a Savior who knew that I was feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable and helped me to be brave and overcome those feelings.
“I can do this. I can do hard things. I am trying to take this one step, one day at a time and not let myself get overwhelmed.”
To be continued...:)
I am loving my second chance at life.
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Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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