Sunday, August 16, 2009

How Sweet It Is: On Strengths, Sparks, Sealings, and Stephanie

It would be futile to blog about anything but Stephanie Nielson today, because that's what's in my heart and on my mind. While I did mention her story a year ago (before it became a source of internet prayer and inspiration), I've avoided sharing my feelings about her again for fear of intruding on her privacy in some way. This morning I've decided to run that risk so I can say what's in my heart about her and the amazing experience she is living with such grace and courage.

I won't repeat the details, which are already known to most of you through the many beautiful expressions of love and faith on her blog (and cjane's). If you are unfamiliar with Stephanie's journey, her writings are sure to uplift and inspire you, both those from before and those created after the crash. In fact, she epitomizes in every way imaginable the quote from Washington Irving highlighted on her blog today: "There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."

How true this is, and how often I have seen it expressed in the lives of women around me. I have even felt it in my own life at times when my personal worthiness has been sufficient to kindle it. Today I am particularly aware of how critical our awareness of this "spark of heavenly fire" is to our emotional and spiritual survival (and that of our families). The times in which we live require more than ever before an understanding of this power we possess, so that we can call upon it to bless ourselves, our families, and others.

Having said that, I was reminded in gospel doctrine today that there is even more to Stephanie Nielson's ability to heal and overcome adversity than her own considerable gifts as a daughter of God, for Stephanie is part of a team. As women with a divine spark, we are only half of the partnership provided by the Lord to create and bless eternal families. A really great woman in my ward, one who has raised many children and is no stranger to adversity, spoke up today in our Sunday School lesson on the subject of being sealed for time and all eternity. She witnessed that it is the covenants she and her husband made at the time of their own sealing that have brought them through the ups and downs inherent in nearly fifty years of marriage to the point where they are today. Though I agreed entirely with her statement, I would have done nothing more than nod in affirmation had it not been for her added testimony, an observation that struck me with considerable force. My friend said something to the effect that it was those very same covenants that brought the pioneers across the plains and gave them strength to endure the overwhelming loss and hardship that were frequently theirs. I had never drawn that parallel for myself, and it resonated with me as Truth. What a powerful and driving force for good these sacred covenants are and have been! They give us a foundation that cannot fail, for they provide the bedrock of the gospel of Jesus Christ under our feet and point our way home.

A glimpse of this foundation of bedrock, based upon covenant, is what Stephanie and Christian Nielson have so generously shared with us in the past year. Their journey through a literal trial by fire continues to change the lives of everyone around them, members of the Church and non-members alike, and the indescribable beauty of their eternal union is captured for all to see in the photo posted on her blog today. The combined light of womanhood and priesthood shines visibly from their countenances, eclipsing earthly imperfections and promising that every one of us can be healed similarly...and eternally. What's more, the power of temple covenants, made in the presence of God and available to all of His children, will continue to carry them (and others who make and honor such covenants) safely through whatever life has to offer.

How sweet it is!


karen said...

Yes, I've been mesmerized by her - first by the story itself, and then by her courage and grace in adversity. A wonderful example for us all, although she never aspired to be in such a spotlight.

Heather Anderson said...


You must cease and desist any and all French music. Wasn't Fabrice enough?

Respectfully Submitted,

Matthew D. Anderson

Heather Anderson said...

Dear Grandma Anderson,

I love you so much that I miss you and I hope you come back soon. I hope you like the thing I said. That's all. There.



Sue said...

I do like the thing you said, Carli. Very much!

Grandma Anderson

PS. I also like YOU very much.

PPS. Did you know you're coming to my house very soon? For Labor Day?? (And I can't wait!)


KC Mom said...

I too have been in awe over this story over the last year. I have learned so much from their example. They truly have a love that crosses all barriers.

em said...

always a special place in my heart for nie.

VK said...

If I can be so strong. Nie is the niece of the Thomas's in our ward and they were the first to tell me of her.
I wish I was more positive in SS class, as this week I had to put my two cents in about not being in a race to matrimony, and I kinda killed the spirit.
Live and learn.

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