Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blessings Rising from the Ashes

This is an emotional post for a Sunday night. My emotions are all over the place. I know it's a sentence I've probably written over a dozen times here. Well, tonight is no exception.

Today the Phoenix Arizona Temple was dedicated. It was such a privilege to attend one of the broadcasts. Sure, it would have been nice to be in the temple again for one of the sessions as Chris and I were for one of the Gilbert Temple dedicatory sessions last February. However, it didn't change the excitement for the event. 

I know I talk about the valley as "hell" due to the heat and other factors that add insult to injury. And believe me, it is. 

But I was born in Phoenix, so I do feel some hometown pride due to this event, and whether I like it or not, the Phoenix area is home. Plus, at the Cultural Celebration yesterday, part of the accompanying video about Phoenix and church history spoke about Good Samaritan Hospital, and how it was able to stay open after struggling financially (due to The Great Depression) due to help from the church. I was born at Good Samaritan. I was previously unaware about this part of its history.

Earlier in the Cultural Celebration, I was especially moved during the musical number that honored the U.S. Armed Forces and the various fight songs of the different military branches.  I don't know what it is about the Air Force Fight Song (Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder), but it gives me chills. And last night, it brought me to tears.

Anyway, only 2% of the youth in the church are blessed with the opportunity to participate in a Cultural Celebration. Mikelle has now participated in TWO! I don't think she realizes yet, at ages 13 and 14, how fortunate she was to be able to have these two experiences. 

My hope and prayers are someday she will. 

At lasts night's Cultural Celebration, her group is in the purple and later her dance is about the talents. She was dressed as one of the painters with the ribbon.

Part of my emotional roller-coaster tonight also contains sadness that Mikelle dodged so many potential pictures taken of her and her Wickenburg youth for this Cultural Celebration. There was a group photo posted on Facebook tonight, and she was not in it. It wasn't because she was left out. Nope. I knew exactly why she was absent in the picture. She avoided being in the picture. 

I finally broke down into tears. I had been trying for months now to have patience and wait out this teenage "phase" (Gosh, I hope it's just a phase!) of her not wanting any picture taken of herself. But when such a Cultural Celebration occurred and she wasn't even in the group photo with her fellow ward youths and bishop, I couldn't extend that patience anymore.  

When I expressed my frustration through the tears about how we couldn't have the evidence in photos that she was part of this memorable event to share and reflect on for years to come, I think the message finally made it through. She said she wasn't thinking of that. She apologized and even offered to put on her purple shirt and lanyard and pose for a picture. I said that would be fine, but maybe tomorrow as I needed to just "process" all of this for the evening. 

Thankfully, those that were there with the our youth looked through some of their various photos in attempts to find her in the background. We did find a few. 
In this one, she's in close to the center of the picture, looking at her lanyard.
And here she is holding the yellow paintbrush. Left-hand side of the photo.
Anyway, I reflect on 2014 and these wonderful two valley temples that were dedicated (Gilbert and Phoenix). We love that Mikelle could be a part of both of them in those Cultural Celebrations. Chris and I are honored that we could attend one of the dedicatory sessions in the temple. We love that it is also the year we celebrated our 20th year of marriage. 

Is it no coincidence that 2014 is also such a challenging year? I won't go as far to say that 2014 is our most challenging year. We have another year on record that gets that honor. Two, actually. 

However, 2014 is certainly up there. It has been filled with so much transition. So much growing pains. So many challenges. So many blessings. 

And we hope many blessings yet to come.

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