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Eric was right, when he posted his highs and lows I was already working on this post. My heart is very full so there was no way this was going to be a short post. What can I say? I grew up wanting to be a novelist, not a newspaper columnist! 😛 I hope that at least my family members will read the whole thing as the highs are all about you guys and I want you to know how much I love you all 🙂

Low: Forgetting my wallet at home on Saturday morning and not having my recommend to go to the temple for Taylor’s endowment. Although, as you’ll read below, because of this ultimately low moment, many of my highs were given so much more meaning.

High: The entire weekend. Friday night it was really fun putting together the bridal shower for Taylor. I like getting to organize things with mom and I was really excited to get to hold the shower for Taylor. I’m so grateful to have her as my sister, she brings sunshine everywhere she goes and truly is a party in a box 🙂 It was fun to have the shower, even if we were running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get everything put together in time! It was all worth it though to see so many of our friends and family that night, and be able to celebrate Taylor’s upcoming wedding… and getting to show Samuel off was a plus too 🙂

I think the funnest part of the shower was showing the video we made of Ryan. We played a game where we asked Ryan a bunch of questions about himself and Taylor before the shower and recorded his answers. Then during the shower we played the video, but we paused before each of his answers to quiz Taylor to see if her answers matched up with his. If she got an answer wrong (or just different from Ryan), we made her chew a piece of gum. She did pretty well, but she did end up with 4 or 5 pieces of gum before the game was over! Mad props to Eric for filming it and for adding all of the fun effects to the video!

The next morning Eric, Samuel and I went to the baptism of our nephew Elias. It is always so neat to celebrate when a child chooses to join the church. It reminds me of my own baptism and the covenants I’ve made. I also am reminded of the great blessing it is to have the knowledge that we have and how fortunate we for the direction it gives us in our lives. Of course, the lunch at Mike and Marianela’s afterward was awesome as well 🙂 . I think I’ll say this at least 10 more times in this post but I *love* spending time with family. There’s nothing else like it in the world. I feel so blessed that Eric and I both have such wonderful families.

After the baptism we went to Salt Lake to attend the temple as Taylor received her endowment. As we were hopping in the car I had the impression to double check that I had my wallet. I couldn’t think why I would have taken it out but I followed that prompting and searched the diaper bag – no wallet. Usually I check for my recommend at least 5 times before leaving the house if I’m going to the temple. However, since I’d had 3 hours of sleep the night before and we’d been racing to get out the door for Elias’ baptism that step had been neglected all 5 times :P. I felt so ill when I realized that I didn’t have it. I’d just renewed my recommend that week since it had expired the week before. I don’t want to say that I renewed it then *for* going through the temple with Taylor since the reason to renew my recommend was to have a current recommend. Particularly because of this challenge given by President Howard W. Hunter:

…I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.

(President Howard W. Hunter, “‘Exceeding Great and Precious Promises’,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 7)

Anyways, even though it wasn’t the reason for renewing my recommend, it was what lit a fire under me to get it immediately. Anyways, Eric took over driving so I could try to track down our bishop to see if he could call the temple and verify that I was worthy to attend the temple. I couldn’t get a hold of him at any of the numbers I tried. So, Eric dropped me off at the temple to try and work things out before taking Samuel to his parents’ apartment (they watched Sam while we were at the temple – Thanks Mom & Dad Hansen!). When I got to the recommend desk I explained what had happened to the temple workers there and they called for a member of the temple presidency to come help me out. Fortunately, because the church now makes our recommend number part of our church record they were able to verify that I had a current recommend! I was so grateful that I was able to go and attend that special ordinance with my sister.

In a way I’m a little bit glad that I didn’t have my recommend because it made me stop and think about some things a little bit differently. I had several different thoughts during that experience which I wanted to share. I’m sorry if this post gets a bit scattered. The temple is so symbolic and a lot of the experiences I had were also symbolic in my mind. One of the cool and frustrating things about symbolic things is that they can have so many different meanings depending on how you look at them. I’ve thought through this experience a lot so I’ve found lots of different meanings and I feel like I should share them all, even if they don’t necessarily all go together.

I think pretty much anyone who knows me is not surprised by the fact that I managed to get all the way to the temple without my recommend – I’ve always been rather scatterbrained. Of course, I think they’re also not surprised that I was able to work it out. My mom calls it “pulling a Brittny”. Somehow despite my disorganization and scatterbrainedness I seem to be able to pull off things like that. My mom is convinced that there is a huge crew of guardian angels just running in circles around me trying to keep me in tact 😛 These moments are where I get a phrase that some of my friends have heard me say many times – “Not only does God love me, but he likes me… and he thinks I’m pretty :)” Of course, I don’t really believe that God likes me anymore than anyone else, but these moments are some of those tender mercies that remind me that He is concerned with me personally and even in the silly little things that are important to me.

One thing that I noticed was how interested my family is in me. By the time that I made it into the chapel my whole family had heard what had happened (it took me a bit longer to get dressed as my temple dress doesn’t quite fit as well post-pregnancy, although not in the way you might expect…) and was there (very reverently) cheering for me and so excited that I was able to be there. I felt very loved that they would all be there to care for me like that.

It also made me think of the Atonement. Even though I had screwed up and fully deserved to not be admitted to the temple that day, there I was. Likewise, all of us have made mistakes in our own lives that would render us unable to enter the Celestial Kingdom. However, our Savior, Jesus Christ, has made it possible that despite all of our shortcomings and stupid mistakes, we can receive those blessings anyways if we are striving to live the commandments and make His Atonement part of our life. I am always so humbled when I realize how much I do not deserve the blessings of the Atonement but that Christ is willing to give them to me anyways.

When I got to the chapel Eric had saved a seat for me and we were sitting with my dad and Ryan. I mentioned to dad that I probably wouldn’t get to sit with my mom and Taylor during the session. I was a little bit sad about that because I really wanted to not just be in the session with Taylor but to actually be WITH her as she was receiving these very sacred ordinances. When I mentioned this to my dad he said “If I know your mom, she’ll have a seat saved for you.” I didn’t expect too much though since I wasn’t sure that the temple workers would allow for saved seats. However my dad was right! Sure enough, as I walked into the endowment room, my mom found me and motioned that she had a seat for me with them! I was really excited to get to be with my mom and Taylor at this time.

While we were sitting waiting for the session to start I had a few more thoughts. I was so excited that Taylor was finally able to be there with us. The temple is such a sacred and wonderful place and I was so thrilled to have her there to share it with us. I loved being able to look across and see Eric and dad and Ryan in that room with us as well. I wish I could adequately explain the feelings I had. It was like what I imagine we would feel like to all be together in heaven, which I guess is appropriate since that’s what the temple is supposed to symbolize. There was such a sweet and wonderful feeling about having all of us together there and especially having Taylor join us for the first time.

The excitement of having Taylor there made me so desperate to have the rest of our family there. I felt like Lehi did in the vision of The Tree of Life. Once I had received these blessings for myself and tasted of their sweetness I wanted to share it with my family.

11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

– 1 Nephi 8:11-12

As excited as I was to have as many of us there as we did, my soul yearned to have my brothers there as well. I can’t wait for the day that we’ll all be able to sit in the temple as a family and knowing that we can all be together forever. It also made me look forward to the day that we get to take our own sweet Samuel to the temple to receive his endowment. I know that day is a long way off, but I am already anxiously anticipating it. I can think of nothing sweeter than to be with my family in the temple.

Also, as I saw the seat that mom had saved for me another thought ran through my head. What if I hadn’t been able to work things out at the recommend desk and had missed out on being there? Obviously, I would have been devastated to have to sit outside while my family was participating in such an amazing experience. But I also thought of how it would have made my mom and Taylor feel. They had that seat saved for me because they wanted me to be there with them, and if I hadn’t shown up I’m sure they would have been sad. I think it will be much that way when we get to the other side. As I mentioned before, I’m so excited to get to share these blessings with my brothers and son someday, but even more so to be with them forever in the eternities. I can only imagine how my heart would break to be there on the other side “saving a seat” for family members who I love so dearly, and to have any of them not show up. As great as my joy and rejoicing would be for all of those who did make it, I can still imagine the empty feelings I would have for those members who didn’t. I dearly hope that I will never have to know that sadness.

On Sunday we had Samuel’s baby blessing, which was another transcendent experience. I know that because of Eric’s and my temple sealing he was born in the covenant and already ours forever, but it seemed like this ordinance somehow made it more official. That feeling was only magnified because we had been in the temple the night before and I’d had an opportunity to reflect on the eternal nature of our family. I am incredibly grateful that Eric and I made the choices we did so that we can have our family sealed to us forever. Nothing else in this world is as valuable to me as that blessing. Not to sound morbid, but without it, I don’t know how anything else in this world would really matter. Our family is my greatest joy and I can think of nothing more wonderful than to be with them forever. It is what makes every day of trying to live righteously worthwhile.

I was also reminded once again of what a blessing it is to have a worthy and righteous priesthood holder for my husband. I can’t even describe how grateful I am for the power of the priesthood and the blessing it is in our home. It brings so much peace to me to know that Eric is worthy to act in the role of blessing our family through the power of God. What an awesome responsibility that is for him to live worthy of. I’m so grateful for him always striving to live worthy of that responsibility so that he can bless our lives. I’m likewise grateful for the power of the priesthood and that God does entrust His worthy sons with the authority to act in His name to bless His children. What amazing love our Heavenly Father has for us.

I was also grateful to be able to see all the other worthy priesthood holders in our family who were able to participate in this sacred ordinance. I was grateful to see both of our dads and my grandpa in the circle, and to remember that great heritage of faithfulness and worthiness. I was also grateful to see so many of my brothers-in-law and my cousin who were able to participate. What a powerful force it is to have those men in our family. I am so glad that my own son has these great men to look up to in his life. I hope that he can emulate their example.

Also, I was grateful for all of our friends and family coming to celebrate our Samuel. I’m so thankful to have this cute baby, and amazed by the trust that Heavenly Father has placed upon me to be his mother. Words cannot describe the love that I have for him. I don’t think anyone can understand the love that a mother has for her children unless they are a mother, and I’m sure that even I only know the smallest part of that love. Perhaps fathers can understand that love, but I think that mothers and fathers feel it and show it in different ways. Not that one is better than the other, but I think that they are different and supposed to be so. It’s part of what makes families so awesome is how mothers and fathers bring different pieces into the family. I love this kid more and more every day and want all of the best things for him. I want to be the very best mother that I can be and hopefully be a good example to him. I hope that he will live worthy of the blessings that were pronounced upon him yesterday by his father. He is a special child of our Heavenly Father and I hope he remembers that every day.

Before I wrap up this post I want to make a proposal to everyone in our family. Let’s agree not to have any empty seats when we get to the other side. I plan to be there and saving a seat for every single one of you, and my heart will be broken if ANY of you aren’t there. I hope you all know just how much I love you and that I am pulling for all of you to be there in the celestial kingdom so we can realize the blessing of our eternal family. I would do anything in my power to make that blessing a reality. It’s what gives me the strength to live righteously every day.

With lots of love,