Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Butterflies . . .



I have been really lucky in this life of mine. So far I have not been touched by deep tragedy. I’ve had some problems, yes, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I suppose that some people might think losing £30,000 on the sale of our house back in the 1990’s and ending up having to live in a two bedroom rented house with five children, a husband with Post Traumatic Stress disorder, two cats and a brother and sister in law living in an RV in the drive was a bit of a tragedy, and, to be honest, at the time it did seem quite difficult, but I’ve been very lucky in that, no matter what life has thrown at me, I’ve been able to find my place with God in the middle of it and some blessings besides. Perhaps that is one of the talents I’ve been given. Perhaps I should be very afraid, because perhaps, I’ve not really been tested yet.

Back in the early 1960’s, my Todd suffered one of the worst tragedies that can befall a parent. His little boy, only 18 months old, passed away. And not only did he pass away, but he passed away because his wife had given him aspirin and it turned out that his son had a particular sensitivity to Salicylic acid. Back then, little was known about this type of thing and indeed many, many parents gave their children aspirin. I can remember having to take it myself as a child. As a parent, it is hard enough to lose a child, but to lose one because of something you yourself have done . . . well . . . that must be the most heartbreaking thing of all. One truly has to wonder where is God’s hand in that, and why does God allow such things to happen? It must truly shake one’s faith to the core. It shook Todd’s faith to the core.



I have a friend who right now is going through a very difficult time. She is having a really hard time finding God’s face in all of it. And I don’t know what to tell her. Oh, I can speak in platitudes and tell her that God is always there for her. I can pray for her, and I am. But I can’t really show her God’s face and help her to feel His presence, and that, as a friend, is hard. It’s hard to see someone you love and care about going through such troubles, and sometimes, even I have to wonder why. I can only say that, this too shall pass, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t always understand why life knocks some of us really hard, and yet seemingly leaves others untouched. It doesn’t always seem fair, and at times, it seems that those with faith get knocked even harder.



There is a scripture that I love, and it is one that helped carry me through the hardships I encountered when my last marriage had broken up and I had gone from living in the family home with all my children around me, to living in a rented room in someone else’s house, all by myself. There were some very dark days for me, and days where I did indeed wonder where the face of God was. I had done the right thing in standing up for my faith and for what I believed in, but sometimes it seemed that I had paid a very hefty price for doing so and it didn’t always seem fair to me.

2Nephi2:2 “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.”

Father Lehi taught his son Jacob that in order to bring to pass righteousness, the Lord’s plan allowed for wickedness. In order for God’s children to appreciate joy, they must also be subject to misery. To accomplish the purposes of God, there must needs be “an opposition in all things”. Our adversities are part of that opposition, as difficult and unfair as that may seem to be.

“We came to mortal life to encounter resistance. It was part of the plan for our eternal progress. Without temptation, sickness, pain, and sorrow, there could be no goodness, virtue, appreciation for well-being, or joy” ~Howard W. Hunter

Like the mortal life of which they are a part, adversities are temporary. What is permanent is what we become by the way we react to them.



Some adversities are individual. Others are common to large numbers of our Heavenly Father’s children. During the past two decades there have been many examples of large-scale adversities affecting tens or hundreds of thousands or millions.

These huge catastrophes are tragedies, but they may have another significance. The Lord uses adversities to send messages to his children. Isaiah prophesied that in the last days the Lord would visit all nations with great natural disasters, disasters of which we see increasing evidences of in our own lifetimes. My heart breaks every day when I read of yet another tragedy befalling the peoples of this world, and it oftimes seems senseless and meaningless and at the same time I look up to the heavens and thank God that it isn’t touching me, while I yet again dig into my pocket so that I can help to provide some sort of relief for those it has touched. In the shadow of these earthly disasters my own problems can seem pretty insignificant.



I heard a story of two families that were shaken to their very foundations during that terrible hurricane Katrina several years ago. They both lost everything in the devastation that occurred, and were left without homes and any belongings, save the clothes they had on their backs and each other. Thankfully each family member had been spared death or injury. One said that this tragedy had destroyed his faith; how, he asked, could God allow this to happen? The other said that the experience had strengthened his faith. God had been good to him, he said. Though the family’s home and possessions were lost, their lives were spared and they could rebuild the home. For one . . . the glass was half empty. For the other . . . the glass was half full. The gift of moral agency empowers each of us to choose how we will act when we suffer adversity.

Therein lies the difference. Our responses to all the rocks that life throws at us will inevitably shape our souls and ultimately determine our status in eternity. Because opposition is divinely decreed for the purpose of helping us to grow, we have the assurance of God that, in the long view of eternity, it will not be allowed to overcome us if we persevere in faith. We will prevail. Like the mortal life of which they are a part, adversities are temporary. What is permanent is what we become by the way we react to them. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, we just cannot always see it.



So, for my friend I have no real answers as to why tragedy has chosen to test her faith now, and why all seems to be going wrong. I cannot show her the face of God in all of this. I can only assure her that God is there, and that eventually some good will come from it.

Paul taught that “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11) We cannot always choose the obstacles we face, but we can always decide whether we will allow them to discourage and pull us down or lead us to a closer dependence upon our Saviour. Somewhere in all that she is going through, there will be small miracles and blessings, if she allows herself to find them, and in the meantime, I continue to pray. And even if her personal faith fails her, I shall exercise the strength of my own faith to help carry her through these difficult times as I uphold her in prayer and let her know that I love her and that I care and that He does too. This too shall pass, and at the end shall emerge a butterfly who has been tested and torn, but whose wings shall help to carry her above the frailties of this earth into a far better place.

First comes the testing . . . and then the miracle . . .



Here's an old recipe from my old blog that is both easy to make and delicious! It's as easy as making a cupcake and then slicing it into parts . . . yes . . . my kitchen is still a tip and promised to be thus for the rest of the week, but my oh my how lovely it will be when it is done!!



*Baby Banoffee Cakes*
Serves 6

Tender and moist little banana cakes stuffed with caramel and sliced banana, then topped off with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, these are pretty special.

CAKES:
90g butter, softened
½ cup firmly packed soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup self raising flour
½ cup plain flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp mixed spice
2/3 cup mashed very ripe banana
1/3 cup sour cream
2 TBS milk

FILLING:
One container of Dulce D Leche Toffee spread
2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced thinly

TO FINISH:
1/2 cup of double cream, softly whipped
Chocolate sprinkles

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Line a 6 hole Texas or a 12 hole standard muffin pan with paper cases, or butter well and flour and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, until light and fluffy.

Sift the dry ingredients together and then add to the creamed mixture along with the banana, sour cream and milk. Mix all together really well. Divide the mixture amongst the muffins cups.
Bake for 25 minutes if making the larger cakes, or 20 minutes if making the smaller ones. Once done, remove from the oven and to a wire rack to cool.

Once cool, remove paper if used, and cut each cake horizontally into three slices. Re-assemble the cakes with a layer of caramel and sliced banana in between the two bottom layers. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, a few slices of banana and some chocolate sprinkles and serve.

21 comments:

Grammy Staffy said...

Good Morning Dear Marie,
What a beautiful, beautiful post. Thankyou....you inspire me as always. I love you for your optimistic and faithful view on life.
I don't know your friend or the ordeal that she is going through but I will pray for her.

My Erin is sad but she is faithful like you and can put her trust in the Lord.

I send lots of love your way.
Have a great day. Love, Lura

Grammy Staffy said...

p.s. I had a wonderful visit with Erin and Lynell while I was at David's house. We were blessed to be together with our dear little Emma and celebrate this special time with her and her family.

They both spoke at Emma's baptism and did such a nice job...their sweet spirits filled the room and touched our hearts.
They both told me to send you their love. Both of them said they have not been up to doing much blogging but they think of you with love....so "hello" from Erin and Lynell (((hugs))) Lura

cyndi/mom/nana said...

You are one special person, I hope you know that I consider you a source of inspiration.

win said...

Yes, grammy staffy is right and may I add that all of us who read your blog are indeed very blessed. Your friend needs all the prayers she can gather and you are the catalyst for them! God knows her needs and her name and when I pray He will hear!

Can't wait to see pictures of your "new kitchen!"

We now have a new President and I have met the Vice-President elect as he lives in my state! In my county we have a unique political event the Thursday after election day...it is called "Return Day" and is in honor of both parties, Republican and Democrat. All those who were running for office ride together in horse drawn lovely old carriages. There is a delightful parade with bands and of course, the politicians. Afterward they have riden around the town circle and the town's main streets they return to the circle where they take center stage on risers. There are speakers and then...the burial of the hatchet in a box of sand...to symbolize a partnership of working together for the good of our state in our state capital. There will extra security now that Biden will become the new Vice President in January. I doubt that Obama will come, but I'm sure this make national TV once more! Wish you could be here!

Proverbs 31 said...

Thank -you for such a lovely post Marie it is really encouraging. I always remember what my Pastor quotes ~that the rain falls on the just & the unjust. I just pray I can remember to hold onto this when times are troublesome for me!!! Marie x

LYN said...

You are very lucky to have your faith Marie..it is not something you can just "get" though..how i wish that were true!! I continue to struggle with my own spirituality but always have hope that one day i will find that very peace you seem to have....

Anonymous said...

You have such a wonderful way with words.You make the english language become a healing balm to smooth over all the hurt and sadness.You never cease to amaze me when you come up with these most delicious deserts and mains as well.Everything you make looks so wonderfully yummy.One can almost taste them.You are one gifted lady.You truly make my day.I can hardly wait each day to read your column.Thanks for being you.

Tracy said...

What a wise and wonderful post today, Marie! I hope your friend finds grace again, that she will not feel so tested, but fully loved! Our best efforts are to support those in crisis, and all throughout the crisis, and they find their light again! I will pray for your friend and may her troubles be easier and she finds peace again. A very festive recipe today, I think...And we are feeling very festive ourselves, and we are jubilant over Obama's victory last night--hooray! We were up late into the night with news over here, so we are ragged and sleep-deprived today--LOL! We'll sleep all the sweeter tonight. Hope you are feeling better, my friend. And that the kitchen is going well. There'll be photos here, yes?! HEAPS of love to you & Todd ((HUGS))

Doris the Great said...

A lovely post today, reminding us all of God's steadfast love & companionship. Tell your friend that yes, we live in a fallen world; and yes, terrible tragedies sometimes come our way. Why God allows this, I don't know. But what I do know is that He is there with her; and He is crying along with her & collecting her tears in a jar. And that He WILL bring beauty out of ashes.

Remind her as well that we are praying for her and we cry with her.

Ursula said...

It's amazing how we react. When our issues with Andrew happened just after his birth-that we nearly lost him-it's as if I went on autopilot. there were days where I was almost robotic in word and deed. Then my dear friend (who hopped on a plane after my 5am phone call that I was in labor-the same one you saw in our recent trip photos.."Nana") said something that I still hold deep and dear in my heart-her response (as someone coming into her faith) to my question of "Why did God do this to us?"

Her reply, simple and clear, "God gave him to you because he knew you were strong enough to get him through this."

They are words that still bring me to tears because at the time I doubted my strength. Today I see it-flesh and blood in front of me, watching Sesame Street as I type this.

I need not doubt my strength, my power as a mother, woman, human ever again. If I do, I look at my son and know that I have it.

I hope that you can help guide your friend through these dark times, that your incredible words help to guide her through this to a brighter other side.

Tina said...

It is always so comforting to see such a strong and faithful woman like yourself. I enjoyed reading this post. I know what it's like to be handed something devastating in life...I'm a junior in college and every year since starting school, my mom has dealt with some kind of cancer, either new or spreading.
I pray that your friend, whatever she is going through, knows that God will not give you more than you can handle. That's definitely one thing I've learned through all of my mother's hardships!

I was reading a post on Peterman's Eye today, and it talked about the law of compensation- like how with bad times comes good times. It was a great read, and I thought I'd share. Cheers!

http://www.petermanseye.com/anthologies/what-was-learned/361-gains-and-losses

Lucy said...

Wow I've never thought of doing that before! Yours looks yummy! But my Daddy and sister both hate bananas so making banoffee pie is limited :( This version might just be slipped in though !

The Blonde Duck said...

I hope your friend feels better! What inspiring words and what a delectable cake!

Yup, my comments are working now...I've had to run around like a crazed woman for work today, but I'll e-mail tonight ( I SWEAR!)

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post and a true testament of your faith and assurance that God is in your life. Thank you so much for opening up to your viewers and sharing your faith with us.

Quirky Celt said...

Once again, you have raised my spirits! At the moment I admit that I feel God has forgotten all about mt but deep down I know that He knows what He is doing.

You are a real blessing!

xxxxxxx

Bunny said...

That was a wonderful post Marie and a wonderful recipe YUM!

Sheria said...

Your words really spoke to me. As I continue to adjust to the death of my mother, there are times when I only see what I have lost. I have to look deep to recall all that I had a precious gift in having her in my life for so many years.

Erin said...

I have faith, but sometimes I ask His permission to allow myself to feel sad for a moment until I can muster up the strength to smile.

I don't understand everything that happens to us in life, but I know my Heavenly Father is in control and that my Savior offers me great comfort... But still, once in a while when I have a broken heart I kneel in silent prayer and allow the tears to flow.

Love and best wishes to your friend.

jenjen said...

Oh Marie. So sorry to hear about your husband's child. So sad. I can't imagine such a loss.

I hope your friend takes comfort from your words.

Your cupcake looks divine! I hope you will post pictures of your new cabinets -- how exciting!

hoLLy said...

the story of your husbands loss of his child was just so sad. it brought a tear to my eye especially since i have a precious little one the very same age. i can't imagine losing a child like that. it hurt my heart to even imagine it:(

i'm sorry for your friend and i hope she can make it through her trials. she is lucky to have a dear friend like you to help her get through it.

thanks for a wonderful and inspiring post. it was just beautiful.

Gloria said...

I love butterflies and these are absolutely beautiful and is beauty post Marie!!!
I think how you our Faith is our Treasure!! is all we have and all we need in life Marie!! Blessings!!Gloria