Your chariots of fire

I am SO lucky.

Actually, I should use the word blessed because that’s the only way to explain it, isn’t it?

You see, I have a HUGE family.

I wasn’t born into it. My side of the family is relatively small–I’m one of three girls (my older sister never lived with us) and our extended family reunions can fit comfortably in a house if everyone is present. My dad has died, so coming home for week-long stays now includes my immediate family of two. But I love them so much and we’ve never lacked. We’ve always been close.

family my side.jpg

But then I moved out and went to college and accrued a whole plethora of friends who have become family. So close, in fact, that my kids will call them aunts and uncles.

And then I got married and BAM. Just like that, I accrued 14 other sisters and brothers (including spouses) and 21 other nieces and nephews besides the two I already had. I got another set of parents, and more cousins and uncles and aunts.. When we first got married my husband and I actually made a game out of memorizing everyone’s names because it was like memorizing the names of an auditorium of people at a football game.

But it wasn’t hard to memorize each of them because they worked their way into my heart really fast.

everyone at wedding

 

This last weekend I learned a little bit more about how blessed I am–and how blessed you are too. Let me tell you why.

We went to Utah for the baptism of my little nephew Colton. His mama, my husband’s sister, passed away three years ago from cancer. It shook our family to the core to lose her, but we all made a pact that we’d stay close to the kids and to her husband and his new wife now. Not all of us could make it to the baptism/reunion weekend but lots of us did, and I’m so glad we were there. During the confirmation blessing Colton’s daddy made it clear that Natalie, his mama in Heaven, was so proud. And we all felt it at that moment. She was very near. So it was only fitting that after we had our playtime and went out for ice cream after, we would visit Natalie’s resting place together.

I write about this time with the utmost reverence because it isn’t something that should be flashed around. I wondered if I should even include it at all. But I feel that I should. Natalie is buried in a family plot and since her youngest, Ella, wasn’t even two years old when Natalie died, she had lots of questions. As the family walked back to their cars and left them behind I captured a shot of my sweet and incredibly strong brother-in-law explaining with the utmost simplicity the resurrection.

ella and ted.jpg

“Someday, when it’s our time to go home to be with Heavenly Father we will see Mommy again,” he said sweetly. “We will give her a big hug.”

“I can’t believe she’s in the ground,” Ella said.

And that’s when my brother-in-law explained that she isn’t in the ground. But in fact, she’s with us as a beautiful spirit.

As I write this I remember the feelings that came over me in that family burial plot watching a daddy and his daughter over a mother’s grave. I remember feeling like the cemetery was suddenly packed, standing at attention–saluting a small girl who has to face a life of strong faith and courage.

nat with kids

Those stones in our graveyards are reminders in the emerald grass of the chariots of fire that run to our rescue daily. They remind me that whether you have a small family or a large family on earth, it doesn’t compare to the crowd that loves you in Heaven.

For all that I’ve lost, I remind myself now, I have gained so much in Heaven. My uncle, my cousin, my dad, my sister-in-law, my grandma, my grandpa, friends…all the others I’ve lost along the way–they guard and protect and serve me daily. They whisper in my ear and hug me from behind and lift my chin to the sun when I feel despair. They stand at attention during my time of sorrow and celebrate when I feel joy.

Yes. Angels are real. It’s called family.

ella and matt.jpg

One of the little boys I teach in primary at church said a sweet prayer the other day that comes to mind now.

“Thank you that Heaven loves us!” he exclaimed last Sunday. I’ve never heard that kind of phrase before, but what a little spiritual giant he is to exclaim what my heart sings over now. Thank you that Heaven loves me! Thank you that I have family and friends and ancestors who cheer for me and root for me and have passed down their talents and love and faiths just for me! Thank you that throughout the course of history we are one long chain that pulls and tugs through time, reminding each other and comforting each other and loving each other back to the kingdom.

Elder Holland said it best I think. I included this quote in a past blog of mine but why not share it again? It’s just THAT good.

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike–and they will–you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.”

You are the seed of Abraham. You are a link in a never-ending chain of God’s children. You matter enough to have angels, ancestors you never met, and those you have loved and lost, form rings of fire around you. You matter enough to have Heaven work to keep you uplifted, safe, and in the light, even against the dark evil that you can’t see.

It blows my mind and comforts my heart all at the same time.

temple

Our feet that pass by these gravestones now will someday be joined in Heaven–someday WE will be the ones to help our loved ones from the other side of the veil.

The eternal plan for eternal happiness. The eternal pattern.

My face streamed with tears as I watched Ella learn about where her mama is right now. My face streamed with tears when I had to learn that same lesson with my dad.

But I can’t help but turn my face to the sunshine and thank God for the angels that hold us up. I can’t help but thank God that despite death, despite pain, and despite the blindness to the spiritual realm, I have a HUGE family.

And we have chariots of fire on each side running at reckless speed.

Just for me. Just for you.

angels guarding

 

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14 thoughts on “Your chariots of fire

  1. Thank you. I love what you have written and quoted. I’m wondering the source of the last painting. I have seen it before, but would love to get a copy of it. Thanks!

  2. Thank you! This was written at a time when I needed a little extra strength and comfort and it was perfect. Nine years ago, our first baby was born and he was beautiful. He only lived for 10 days. Yesterday was his birthday and so we visited his grave. Our other son was asking a lot of questions about his brother and then in family prayer last night he thanked God that we could take flowers to his brother for his birthday. We were just trying to explain the concept to him that someday he will get to meet his brother and we will be with him again. I’m going to share some more of your thoughts with him because I think it will help him understand.

  3. I am sitting at Starbucks, tears trying to make their way out of my eyes. That was one of the most beautiful, moving, touching things I have read in a long time. I am battling depression, and so often feel all alone even though my family loves me. But you have just reminded me that even when everyone is off at work or school, as they are now, I am not battling alone. Heck, the tears are falling. Thank goodness I am outside, and there’s no one around….I would need to explain that these aren’t tears of sadness but of a ray of hope. Thank you so much. As soon as I get home, I’m printing this out and putting it into my planner to reread later. Sorry for babbling. But your words touched my heart.

  4. Thank you so much for your amazing words. I LOVE reading your posts. They are so amazing. My grandparents were all in Heaven before i was 12. I only knew 1/of them. My dad passed away 6/years ago from leukemia. My sister (older) died at age 6 months. And my neice was 18 months. (I was 5). That’s only the beginning of my heartaches. But I take comfort in knowing that we are a ETERNAL FAMILY. and I will see them again. My mom told us when dad passed away, that he wasn’t GONE. he was just In Heaven getting the next home,farm ready for our family. ( we was farmers) ….. So that’s how I explain it to my little ones. There were times when they was newly married that (1951) dad would move to Mexico ,Utah, Nevada, Arizona and work til he could afford to bring the family there to live.. So my mom was used to him being gone for weeks at a time. They were married 58 beautiful years before he went to heaven. …. When he passed most of my family was there at his bedside. We had 20-50 people in his little bedroom. Those last couple of days. I have 17 siblings.(almost 100 neices and nephews, 40+ great neices and nephews,) And I wouldn’t trade them for anything. We was poor but we had family and that’s all we needed. I truely love your blog’s. They are inspiring. Death is hard, but there are days that you know that that person is watching over you. Hugging you, walking thru your trials with you. Thanks again.

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