Children Are an Heritage of the Lord, by Ken Craig


By the last week of April, our plans for a November baby were in place, and the anticipation was settling in.

By the first week in May we knew a miscarriage was imminent.

It didn’t sneak up on us, but I’m not sure how you prepare for something like that. Katie knew something had been wrong for a few days, and was grappling with the possibility of a miscarriage long before I considered it. And even though she told me when her concern started, I dismissed it. I didn’t discount that something might be wrong, or insist that it wasn’t a miscarriage. But I held on to the thought, or maybe hope, that it was something else. Something less definite.

I don’t think I realized how much of that day for Katie was spent processing what was most likely happening or what could be happening or what she hoped wasn’t happening. As the husband, without the constant reminder that life is growing within me, I operated on the daily assumption that when Katie wasn’t telling me something, it meant that everything was fine; and when she did tell me something, I could take a moment to wish and hope it away.

I prayed often for Katie. More than morning and night. But I remember the palpable moment I realized that my prayers and supplications were subconsciously or maybe intuitively always for Katie, and not necessarily the baby. And I think that’s when I started to slowly, but not out loud, accept what was already impressing upon me in small waves.

This baby was not coming.

Over the next few days, we didn’t discuss it much.  I didn’t understand what might be happening, so I didn’t know what to prepare for. I would often hug her and ask, “Are you okay?”

She would look away, distracted, dealing with her own feelings. “Yes,” she said simply, and moved on with her tasks.

It seemed so ineffectual, merely asking if she were ‘okay.’  I wished I could tell her what was really in my heart.  I wanted to say, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.  I’m so sorry I can only stand here completely helpless and watch you emotionally dragged and quartered.  I’m sorry I don’t know how to make this all go away and heal your body and strengthen your soul.  Please tell me what I can do to show my concern.  Please tell me that you’re not ‘okay,’ but that if I were to do this or that, you would be.  And please, please don’t let me go through this by myself.”

Then, late one evening, Katie asked me for a priesthood blessing. I knew the request was time-sensitive, so I immediately called a close friend and asked him to come assist me in administering to my wife.  As I placed my hands on Katie’s head, I could feel how loved she was by her Father in Heaven.  How known she was.  How important.

I waited for the clarity to come that all would be well with the baby, but it wasn’t happening.  I waited longer.  Never had I struggled more against the impulse to mix my emotions with the revelation I was receiving on somebody’s behalf.  Everything in me wanted to tell Katie that she would be blessed to give birth to a beautiful baby and her body would heal.  Life would be as wonderful as she hoped.

But those impressions never arrived.  I found myself making all kinds of additional promises to Father, if only He would grant us this one blessing.  But I knew what needed to be said.  I felt impressed to promise Katie that this experience would draw her closer to Him, that whether a baby came or not, she would be at peace in her heart and mind, and in her soul.  Somehow, that knowledge brought me a degree of hope that I had not anticipated.

The next morning Katie seemed remarkably calm. Not carefree, but peaceful. She said she knew this pregnancy would not develop into a child. And she felt calm and comforted by the blessing. I could see that she was blessed with understanding and insight. I felt reassured by her confidence. My feelings up to that morning had truly been focused on Katie’s well being. A miscarriage would affect her physically, as well as emotionally and mentally. My understanding and acceptance of what was happening were a direct response to hers; I was relieved at her confidence and was now determined that everything would be fine. If Katie was at peace, so was I.

Right?

Wrong.

I left for work that morning, hoping that the background noise of the radio would provide a needed distraction during my commute.  I was ten minutes into my drive when the world suddenly slowed down and my mind became singularly focused.

I began to process my own reaction to the reality that a child I was anxious to know and love would not be arriving. I felt like I was going to miss the chance to meet somebody who would have affected my life in a beautiful way…and there was no way to retrieve that specific opportunity.  Suddenly, I felt swallowed up in sadness.  I wasn’t angry or resentful.  I didn’t feel cheated or that life was unfair.  I just felt sad.  And that sadness enveloped me.

The radio became so hushed I just turned it off.  I became unaware of other cars, other drivers.  The air was still and stifling, and I felt energy draining off me like steam.  When I arrived at the office, I pulled into the parking lot and sat in my car, no initiative to leave my seat.

My emotions are very near the surface under even the most benign circumstances; so with the profound sadness I was experiencing, I found that I was crying, quietly.  I wasn’t overwhelmed with emotions, nor did I feel that my exterior was cracking. But I knew that I didn’t feel like talking about what was going on.

I worked half the day and then left for an ultrasound appointment with our midwife. As Katie and I drove to the office, our conversation included speculations from one side of the spectrum to the other. From “Maybe I was never pregnant?” to “What if we’re completely off and everything is okay?” But when the ultrasound showed what we had already suspected, that a miscarriage was imminent, we weren’t startled. That sadness briefly stung my heart again, and I studied Katie’s face, searching for any detectable sorrow. I thought I could see it, but it was buried under a brave, accepting face, so I didn’t say a word to her. I felt like speaking would have pulled the foundational block out from under her pyramid of strength, and her calm exterior might have given way. And that just seemed unnecessary. So I simply squeezed her hand.

We drove home somewhat oddly comforted in knowing for certain where we were at, physically. We didn’t say anything to anybody else, as we hadn’t told anybody yet, not even our parents. The next couple of days were just watching and waiting, but brought us closer. I felt conscious of Katie and what was going on inside her.

At the end of that week, my parents were set to arrive at our house for the weekend, and literally, as I heard my kids squealing that Grandma and Grandpa were here, Katie found me and told me that it had just happened. She cried a light, heartfelt sigh of relief, finally feeling that she had turned a page and felt closure from a long, uncertain experience. I hugged her so close I wasn’t sure if my hug was sustaining her or vice versa.

I walked outside and met my parents at the car. I hugged them, helped grab their stuff, and then told them a little about what the last week had been like. I wanted to let them know so they could be sensitive to Katie.

My dad and I were taking my boys camping for the night, and Katie and my mom and the girls had planned to do a Girls’ Night at home. As Katie went into the kitchen to start their special dinner, my mom pulled Katie in to her and said, “Don’t you worry about dinner. We’re going out. Let’s take it easy tonight.”

I watched Katie melt into my mom’s embrace, crying. Of course it was more than the promise that she wouldn’t have to cook dinner. It was being understood, being cared for. It was the profound link between women, between mothers. It was an answer to prayer and the fulfillment of a blessing.  My mom had had a miscarriage between my two youngest brothers and so understood much more deeply than I, though I wanted to. And Katie felt that. I will always be grateful that my mom was there; that she is exactly who she is, with the instincts that she has, and the love she’s had for Katie since day one.

As I thought about that moment I realized how many people I know and love who have had miscarriages. But for how common they are, rarely are they discussed. I imagine it’s because the event may be common, but the experience is personal. It was for us. It seems like a very private grieving; mourning the loss of possibilities, of plans.

We have since added a seventh child to our little family.  Like her brothers and sisters, she has added a measure of joy to our lives that goes beyond expression.  We’re grateful for her sweet spirit in our home.

I’ll always remember that touch of sadness that accompanied that unique experience of ‘what might have been.’ But through it all, I knew Heavenly Father was mindful of us, that he was aware of our anxiety, our sorrow. And I know He is aware of our unwavering gratitude for the blessing of family.

‘Children are an heritage of the Lord,’ the Psalmist writes. I couldn’t agree more.

Ken Craig is an account executive for SealSource International as well as a small business owner. He has a passion for writing, which he discovered when he began writing comedy sketches in college as a founding member of BYU’s first comedy troupe, The Garrens. This is also where he met and married his wife, Katie. Ken serves as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he resides with his wife and their seven children.  Their family adventures are featured in Ken’s blog, “The Craig Report,” and he is also a contributing writer to www.parttimeauthors.com.

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Today there is a “Blog Hop” about the Family Proclamation. Please share your own feelings or testimony or inspiring thoughts on your blog.  Then go to any of these other hosting blogs and leave a link to your blog post at the bottom of the posts there. You will find a “Mr. Linky” tool, where you can enter in your information and direct us all to what you wrote.  Go on now; I’m excited to read what you have to say.

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GCBC Week 17: “Love Her Mother” by Sister Elaine S. Dalton

When I heard this talk in general conference, tears quietly rolled down my cheeks.  My poor husband probably thought he was failing miserably at her message; he wasn’t, but I just felt so touched that she was addressing this important subject in conference.  I felt so grateful for my good husband, for my good father, and for my sweet daughter.  I hoped my boys will someday grow into the kind of fathers that are found in their family’s legacy.  I loved Sister Dalton’s charge to fathers that loving their wives and being the guardians of their daughter’s virtue can bless young women in very important ways.  It’s so true.  There is nary an example of this kind of father in the modern media of today, and oh, how the girls need to see it in their own homes.

Love Her Mother by Sister Elaine S. Dalton

[http://youtu.be/tuyGiF7URpE]

“How can a father raise a happy, well-adjusted daughter in today’s increasingly toxic world? The answer has been taught by the Lord’s prophets. It is a simple answer, and it is true—“The most important thing a father can do for his [daughter] is to love [her] mother.”1 By the way you love her mother, you will teach your daughter about tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion, and devotion. She will learn from your example what to expect from young men and what qualities to seek in a future spouse. You can show your daughter by the way you love and honor your wife that she should never settle for less. Your example will teach your daughter to value womanhood. You are showing her that she is a daughter of our Heavenly Father, who loves her.”

Friends, this would be a great week to invite your husbands to join you in GCBC study.  What stood out to you as you studied this talk? Feel free to sing the praises of your own husband or father, and please express your love and appreciation to them.  If you are a single mother or do not currently have a husband that can carry out this role, what positive message can you still take away and learn from Sister Dalton’s talk?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.” If you want to learn more, go here, and join the discussion here each week.

Parental Preference

Natalie is a daddy’s girl. One night while I was tucking her into bed, she told me, “I like daddy better than you.” “Why?” I asked. She responded matter-of-factly, “Because daddy smells like truck, and I like the smell of truck.”

Alrighty then.

The other day (after reading one of those horrible news stories) I breached the subject of child molesters while she and I were driving in the car together. Basically, it was a 3-year-old-level discussion about appropriateness and safety, etc. When I told her that she could always come talk to me and daddy about anything, she rolled her eyes and looked up at the ceiling.

“Is this embarrassing to talk about?” She shook her head no. “Is it silly?” She sighed and said, “No, but I’m going to talk about it to daddy instead because I like him better than you.”

Oh, right. I reassured her she could talk to either one of us about anything and if she wanted to talk to her daddy about it, that was fine.

This weekend I’m taking a little girlfriend-type getaway. I’m going to meet up with a few bloggy friends and do important stuff like talk and eat food. I’m really looking forward to it. Every time I mention it to Natalie, she gets all pouty and doesn’t want me to go.

This morning, I reminded her I’m leaving soon and she made the most disapproving face she could. I said, “You’ll be fine. You like daddy better anyway, remember?” She softened a little and said, “But you’re the best cooker in the whole world.”

Take that, Matt. You may smell like truck, but I can make a mean chocolate chip cookie.

A few good men

ensign dadsThis blog is intended to celebrate (and laugh at) motherhood, and it’s true that we are all amazing (feel free to replace that with whatever other narcissistic adjective makes you feel good), but I’ve felt inspired to give dads their moment in the spotlight today.

Whenever the general conference issue of the Ensign is published, I love to flip through the pages and look at the pictures.  I don’t know why really, they’ve never seemed extraordinarily inspiring– maybe I’m self-absorbed enough to believe that I’ll actually know some of the people in those photos and be kind of famous by association.  Anyway, the picture above caught my eye.   I looked at it for a minute or so, and it actually brought tears to my eyes.  I’m not a very weepy person, really, but something about it was so endearing to me.  I felt so proud of them (strangers–they all live in Ukraine, so I didn’t date any of them or anything) because they stood there under that picture of the Savior holding little children and just being dads in every right sense of the word.  And in a very Grinch-like way, my heart grew a few sizes in honor of the good fathers out there who are being what God intended them to be.

My husband I were laughing the other night about a music mix I had in college called the Love is False and Men Suck Mix.  I probably don’t have to go into great detail about what kind of mood I was in when I would listen to it, but my dating years taught me that many men were irresponsible, selfish, and pretty undisciplined.  (I’m generalizing… there were also a few nice boys that just happened to be too dumb to fall completely in love with me.)  Even now, with a husband who is a righteous and honorable man, I sometimes find myself losing faith in mankind in general.  I make the mistake of reading the news or watching TV and I start thinking about what a bunch of decadent pigs they are.

I spent time this summer with a dear friend from my college years (and actually a co-creator of that Love is False mix) and we discussed this topic among many other long-lost girlfriend kinds of topics.  She said something to me that changed my attitude.  I’ll paraphrase.  “You know, I think that’s all part of Satan’s plan.  He wants us to look at men like walking [male anatomy].  That destroys the possibility of having meaningful relationships and loving families.  Think of all the shows on TV…. how many of them have male characters that are kind, caring, compassionate or anything resembling righteous?  Just like Satan wants men to see all women in the wrong way, he also wants us women to see men as something less than they were meant to be.”  Okay, I really paraphrased a lot, but that was her basic point and it chastened me.  She was so right.  I’d been suckered into believing a little bit of what Satan wanted me to believe.  And since then, I’ve tried harder to appreciate the divine role of men and give them more credit for the good, even great things they do.

So to the three Ukranian fathers and all the good dads out there who do this:

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and this:

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and this:

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and this:

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and this:

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Thank You!  You make it easy for our hearts to love you and for our children to respect you. God Bless all the good men that are still doing the right things for the right reasons.

“How much more beautiful would be the world and the society in which we live if every father looked upon his children as the most precious of his assets, if he led them by the power of his example in kindness and love, and if in times of stress he blessed them by the authority of the holy priesthood; and if every mother regarded her children as the jewels of her life, as gifts from the God of heaven, who is their Eternal Father, and brought them up with true affection in the wisdom and admonition of the Lord.” — Gordon B. Hinckley

Happy Father’s Day.

(This post was originally published on November 10, 2008.  I posted it again to recreate my lost archives, and in honor of Father’s Day and Matt’s birthday this weekend.  I love you, Matt.)