Another week down.

Well, yet another week has come and gone.  I am always amazed at how the weeks seem to creep by, yet every Saturday I’m sitting down wondering where the past 7 days have gone–and why I haven’t been as productive as I wanted to be.  Ahh, such is life.

I was reading this week in Matthew, and  got to thinking about how often in life we learn in parables, or examples.  Parables were a significant part of the Saviors teachings.  The better part of the New Testament contains Jesus Christ’s teaching by way of parable.  To many a reader of the New Testament, parables have been a confusing way of teaching the gospel.  I think this comes from a lack of understanding; specifically understanding regarding why Jesus taught in parables.  A parable is a way of illustrating a principle.  In the case of the Savior, it was used to illustrate examples of moral conduct and spiritual lessons.

The one that stood out to me most is the parable of the tares, found in Matthew 13:24-30.  It tells of a wheat farmer, who at night is subject to an enemy spreading tares among his precious wheat.  When the farmer finds out, and see’s that there are tares among his crop, his servants ask if he would have them pull out the tares.  In a teaching moment, the farmer says “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them” (v. 29).  The farmer then goes on to say that the wheat and the tares should be separated at harvest, where the tares shall be burned.  Together we see that there are several lessons that can be learned from this.  The first, most obvious to me, is the life lesson that despite our earnest wishes, we will experience tares in our lives.  Though we may beg and plead with the Lord for him to remove them from us, it may be requisite that the tares abide with us, until the harvest- where we will be separated and the tares shall be burned.

In the end what truly matters is that our resolve to move forward, matches up with God’s.  The only thing we can truly give God, is our individual resolve.

Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Posted in BYU-Idaho, Dallen, Gospel, New Testament

The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes, arguablly one of the most influencial parts of the new testament.  I’ll start this week’s post out by saying that I dislike the spelling of the ‘beatitudes.’  Everything I know about the english language (which isn’t much) tells me that it should be spelled “be attitudes.’  Ah, I digress.

The sermon, given by Christ, occurs in the four gospels.  For our purposes here today I will be speaking of the account by Matthew.  The savior references a specific word several times–the word ‘blessed.’  I am going to attempt to compare the word ‘blessed’ to the word ‘blessedness’, and by so doing illustrate what I have learned in my studies of this section of the New Testament.

The sermon is introduced by a series of statements made by the Savior each beginning with the word “blessed.”  President Lee would suggest that being “blessed” denotes a higher state of happiness.  Using that definition we will assume each of us weeks to be blessed.  The word blessedness, could then mean the action of getting or receiving blessings.  A footnote to verse three of chapter 5 identifies the following:

The Latin beatus is the basis of the English “beatitude,” meaning “to be fortunate,” “to be happy,” or “to be blessed.”

Each of those adjectives outline common life long aspirations of any average human being.  We can note then, that Christ is telling us in each of these ‘beatitudes’ that if we subscribe to them, we too might obtain a happiness.  Many times in the scriptures we can read things for face value.  “Thou shalt not…” is a pretty explicit statement–not a lot of gray area.  To see the deeper sense of what Christ was teaching is a very intriguing thought for me.

I’m going to outline a few of my favorite beatitudes and highlight some things that stood out to me.

  1. Verse five: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”  Every time I read this particular beatitude I am remineded of the story of Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus.  The Savior finds Mary and Martha grieving over the loss of their loved brother.  The testimony of these women is evident, as they swear to Christ “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”  The truly believed that had Christ been there, that by some spiritual mechanism, Lazarus would not have died.

    Prior to this, the New Testament is rich with stories of Christ healing and performing miracles.  I sometimes wonder why Christ didn’t just bring him back to life in an instant.  Christ then does something so remarkable, I almost have a hard time understanding it.  He wept.  Jesus Christ, Lord of all that is imaginable, wept.  In a very real and sincere way, he validated Mary and Martha’s feelings of sorrow and grief by weeping with them.  He took an opportunity to show compassion and sympathy to these two stalwart sisters.  The shear beauty of this short story nearly brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.

  2. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”   I almost wonder if Christ wasn’t negating the “tooth for a tooth” doctrine we learn about in the Old Testament.  He gives, as far as I can tell, the opposing viewpoint to that opinion.  Mercy shall be ours, as we give mercy.  A very simple, yet inspiring thought.
  3. The final beatitude i’ll comment on is the one we find in verse nine; “blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”  I was once a paid peacemaker.  I worked as a police officer in my hometown.  Working in that capacity I was often called to a situation to be a common judge, and to make or keep  peace.  It offered some unique insight into that process.  First, to create peace, it’s implied that the opposite of peace is present.  The dictionary identifies ‘noise’ as an antonym of ‘peace.’  Many a time, as a police officer, I encountered ‘noise’ in all it’s forms.  Thinking of how Christ had intended us to understand this doctrine brings me to think of the rest of the beatitudes.  His whole lesson here centers around charity and helping others- and as a result it will come back in our favor.  I think that is perhaps the secret to peace; to help others before thinking of ourselves.  Oh how the world could be a different place if everyone thought this way.
All in all, I thouroughly enjoyed reading this portion of the New Testament, and I hope you enjoyed some of my insights.  More next week.

 

Posted in BYU-Idaho, Dallen, Gospel, New Testament

A study of the New Testament

I am begining a new semester here at BYU-Idaho.  I am taking a class studying the New Testament, something I’m very excited about.  I had the option of creating a blog to ‘record’ my progress, or add to an existing one.  I figured it would be a good way to get me blogging again.  Here goes!

Being the first week of New Testament, we are studying the birth and childhood of the Savior.  I have always found that thinking about Christ as a child seems to produce some interesting questions.  I wondered if he ever got into trouble as a child.  Did Joseph and Mary have to deal with the ‘terrible two’s?’  At what point did Christ realize his spiritual identity as the Son of God?  Lots of questions!

We learn from Jesus the Christ the the Savior, in an act of humility and subservience to God, subjected himself to the veil.  He came to the earth under the same circumstances that all of us come, naked and without prior knowledge.  The institute manual has an appropriate quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith:

“Without a doubt, Jesus came into the world subject to the same condition as was required of each of us-he forgot everything, and he had to grow from grace to grace. His forgetting, or having his former knowledge taken away, would be requisite just as it is in the case of each of us, to complete the present temporal existence.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1: 33. Italics added.)

From what little information is available about the Savior as a child, we learn that he quickly grew into a spiritual young man.  We learn in the Doctrine and Covenants that John testifies that the savior received “not of the fullness at the first, but he received grace for grace, until he received a fullness.” (D&C 93:13)  The savior went through a learning process, obtaining knowledge as any of us would.

The Savior was baptized, and received of the Holy Ghost.  In very plain language we learn these things, that we now understand to be the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel; and the Savior was example of them all.

We learn that the Savior, from an early age, sought inspiration from his Father.  In the inspired version of the Bible, we read that “Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come… And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him.”

The institute manual points out a thought that I’ve had in the past.  There is a strong possibility that the Savior sought learning from the Jewish Rabbi’s of his area at an early age.  Luke, chapter 2 details the account of Christ’s earthly parents loosing sight of him for several days, at which point they find him in the temple teaching and ministering to the ‘doctors’ and rabbi’s “both hearing them, and asking them questions.”

I love reading about the Savior in his earliest years.  It strengthens my testimony of his divine mission knowing that he from such a young age was aware of his calling in life.  He was a perfect example; of which I am eternally grateful.

 

Posted in BYU-Idaho, Dallen, Gospel, New Testament

Snow!

It snowed about 8″ last night.  We went to K-Mart and bought some snow pants and boots for Jackson, and this afternoon we turned him loose.  He wasn’t too sure about it, but after a few minutes he started running around.  He’d only take about 3 or 4 steps before he would fall down, but he persisted- he’d get right up and keep at it.  Roscoe thoroughly enjoyed it as well.  When the videos get done uploading I’ll post those as well.

Posted in Uncategorized

What about life?

The past few days I have been thinking a lot about some call’s I’ve run in the last little bit. Working as Paramedic is an awesome job, full of challenges and rewards. Often times it’s high stress- an environment I have come to thrive in. The majority of the calls I run don’t involve life and death decisions, though, when the time comes, I am amazed that the answer is always there. That’s not to say that people still don’t die when I take care of them (I wish it weren’t so). What I’m trying to describe is the feeling of calm assurance that comes when I need to make a quick decision that will effect someone else for the rest of their life.

At BYU-Idaho I show a short video to my Paramedic students that puts things in perspective. It’s one of the “I’m a Mormon” videos about a friend of mine, Lori McBride, a pediatric flight nurse. She shares something very interesting to me: “I have peace knowing that there is someone who takes away the pain. There is someone who takes on that burden.” As a Paramedic and a Mormon, I have often had thoughts similar to this. Despite our best efforts it’s all in the Lords hands. The Atonement is a wonderful thing, and something that I marvel at every day. I’m grateful that I have been given the opportunity to do the things I have. The Lord has blessed me with an enormous amount of talent that I certainly don’t deserve. Life is a wonderful thing!

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Mom

Well, today is my Mom’s birthday- I think she’s something like 29 now… getting up there mom.  Happy birthday!!  Anyhow, just wanted to give a quick update on life.  Megan and I are still in Rexburg, chipping away at school.  Jackson is almost a year old now and growing like a weed.  Roscoe, well he is still a dog- that has salivary glands that produce like the federal government spends.  I will be sharing a bit more as time permits, life is crazy busy- as always.

Posted in Dallen, Farmer Family

Ten Lessons Learned – Jackson is home!

Well six weeks have passed since Jackson was born. He had major open heart surgery and is now a healthy happy little boy. Jackson has since seen a cardiologist and the doctors continue to be impressed with his remarkable progress. It’s a rare moment that Jackson doesn’t leave those around him in awe.

I wanted to share just a few lessons I learned from our time in Salt Lake City at Primary Children’s Medical Center.

Lesson #1 – Megan is tough as nails. That woman is without a doubt the salt of the earth. Whenever I think about it, I am just awed and amazed that someone so sweet as her would want to spend the rest of eternity with someone as mediocre as me. She endured, with a smile on her face, things that would make a lesser woman cry at her knees. She is truly the glue that holds our little family together. I love her dearly.

Lesson #2 – Primary Children’s Medical center is one of the coolest places on earth. The staff there are without a doubt some of the most talented clinicians I have ever had the privilege of meeting. We would never take our son anywhere else. They are amazing!

Lesson #3 – There is power in prayer. Countless times Megan and I knelt in the solitude of our tiny room at the Ronald McDonald House or stood at Jackson’s bedside and offered gratitude and then pleaded with the Lord to lift our burdens and to heal our son. Steve Holley said it best when he said “you don’t know what it means to pray, until you have prayed over a sick child.” That certainly rang true more than once. There were some experiences that are just too sacred to share. Suffice it to say, that prayer is real; and our prayers were answered.

Lesson #4 – I have the best family and friends anyone could ask for. In our short few weeks in Salt Lake City, we received hundreds of text messages, phone calls, emails, facebook messages, and letters- all with a genuine love and concern for our families’ situation. I can’t say this enough and with enough sincerity; THANK YOU! We could not have endured this trial with such faith without the support of those we love.

Lesson #5 – The priesthood is very real. Having the faith that I do, I believe solemnly that there is great power in the authority to act in the name of God. Several minutes before Jackson was taken to surgery, I had the opportunity to lay my hands on his head and call upon the powers of heaven to lay watch over my first born son. I can’t describe the feelings and impressions that came to my mind as I could feel the very hands of heaven rest upon my shoulders. I knew that God and heaven would be watching closely over Jackson during the biggest trial of his short little life.

Lesson #6 – What it means to love a child. Now, having only been a parent for a little over 6 weeks now, some would say that I really have no idea exactly what it means to love a child. I would say to that: I have a pretty good idea. I don’t know how it’s works, but as soon as I saw sweet Jackson’s face, I loved him. In an instant, I loved Megan more and I loved God more. As Megan and I would return to the hospital day after day so spend time with our little man, we would grow closer and closer to him. I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, certainly not a child. However, I would hope that when others are called to bear the burden that we were- that they would find a similar love for their child that we did.

Lesson #7 – The Lords timeline is not my own. The night Megan and I arrived at the University of Utah medical center to start Megan’s labor was July 20th. We had eaten a big dinner at Tecanos with my family and Megan’s family, as well as some aunts and uncles and close friends who were in the area. We arrived at about 8:30 at night. The stress I was feeling was unlike any other I have endured. I felt this pit in my stomach that I couldn’t get to go away. They started the Pitocin several hours after we got there, and Megan started to hurt. It was so hard for me to sit by her side and watch her grimace in pain and not be able to do anything about it. I kept praying in my heart for things to move faster, growing frustrated that they weren’t. Jackson was born and I changed the tune to my guitar. Now I wanted things to go slower. I kept asking myself rhetorical questions like.. Why did they have to whisk him off so fast? Why couldn’t time move a little slower? Many, many questions, so very little answers. There were countless times when I begged and pleaded with God to adjust time. One afternoon while sitting at Jackson’s bedside, I had the thought come to mind, that my timeline is not God’s timeline. What a novel idea. In a matter of seconds I realized that God has his own schedule, and it’s because of His wise and loving reasons that we endure the trials we do, in the very instant we encounter them.

Lesson #8 – Christ walks with hurt little children. Spending any amount of time in the Intensive Care Unit at a children’s hospital will humble a person pretty quick. We saw so many sick little kids, that had life every bit as tough and often times worse than Jackson. At night when it was quite, away from all the hustle and bustle of people coming and going, it reminded me of the temple. The spirit can be felt so strong. Christ and the infinite atonement walk those halls. When looking through my “spiritual” eyes I could see angels take the hands of those little kids in their darkest hour. Which brings me to my next lesson…

Lesson #9 – Christ holds a special place in his heart for the little ones. While we were at the hospital, there was another child brought in because he had been found in the bottom of a muddy lake. The nurses said that they were literally suctioning mud out of the poor little boy’s lungs. In the prime of his life, the time that he is supposed to be running around with his friends and family- the little guy gave the best gift anyone could give, the gift of life to several other children. There are but a few things in life that are similar in nature to the Atonement, pediatric organ donation being one of them. The heart ache and grief that the little boy’s family endured was gut wrenching. To watch them say goodbye to their little boy was almost more than any one person could handle. As I would sit and stare at my son and other people’s children, I couldn’t help but think that there is a very special place in the Saviors heart for children.

Lesson #10 – I learned that the Atonement, Christ’s ultimate gift of love, applies in more ways than I ever thought possible. When Jackson’s surgeon spoke to Megan and I immediately after the surgery, he was fairly concerned about a period in which Jackson’s heart stopped pumping blood. There was a distinct sense of concern in his voice as he shared with us the details. He couldn’t offer a reason as to why the event happened, but said the only thing to do would be to watch him. Shortly thereafter is when they had all the problems with Jackson’s arterial lines and getting his blood pressure in a normal range. The 24 hours after that were undoubtedly the most stressful of my life. The only thing I could think about was the Atonement. I kept thinking about how much Christ must love me for him to be able to endure these same feelings when he offered himself for the sins and pains and sickness of all those who would ever live. How could he love me so much? How? I can’t begin to understand even the smallest part of it. The Atonement is real. It is all around us. In the very darkest hour of our lives, Christ is there- standing on the sidelines of heaven; helping us endure. I testify that God loves us. There is power in the Priesthood, and the atonement is real.

Posted in Farmer Family, Jackson's Heart Story

Jackson Update – CICU Day 8, 9 and 10

So much has changed with Jackson recently!  I again apologize for my laziness in getting the blog updated.
Monday night was a little rough for our boy.  His Fentanyl drip was turned completely off (the medication that was keeping him sedated and preventing him from gagging on the tubes in the back of his throat).  He really didn’t like the bili-mask that was over his eyes all the time.  I’m amazed at how much he likes to look around.  Anyhow, a combination of being blinded and gagging on the ET tube was a little to much for him to handle.  He would try to cry, but since he has a big plastic tube down his trachea it would just over-breath the ventilator and his CO2 would get really low.  It was pretty tough to sit and watch him deal with that.  The resident PICU doctor that was on was kind of retarded.  She didn’t understand why I thought it would be good to sedate him or pull the tube like was originally planned.  Needless to say, I was very frustrated with her.  I gave our little guy a blessing and Megan and I went home pretty sad and depressed.
The next morning we got to the hospital and found out that they ended up sedating him, by the order of the attending physician.  Sometimes I think doctors are too smart for their own good.  In this case, I think the doctor forgot there was a sick miserable little boy behind all those tubes and wires.  From there on out it has been pretty smooth sailing.  The PICU fellow (a better doctor than a resident) that came on Tuesday morning was awesome.  Both Megan and I have really enjoyed her.
On Tuesday Jackson was extubated (his breathing tube was removed).  He still had a few periods of apnea where his oxygen saturations would dip a little lower than anyone would like.  The nurses said that everyone was a little perplexed on how to fix it, so their solution was to put him back on the nasal cannula at a very high flow rate (7 lpm).  That is super high for an adult, let alone a little baby.  The thought was that it would keep him awake  He had enough oxygen running though his nose that when he opened his mouth a little breeze would flow out.  His little nostrils would flare when he closed his mouth.  It was pretty funny.
He did okay with that throughout the day on Tuesday, and early Wednesday morning the Milrinone was completely turned off, and his oxygen was turned down to a normal flow rate.
Throughout the night on Monday and Tuesday night Jackson occasionally would go into a weird heart rhythm.  Basically when the heart get’s irritated because of an oxygen or an electrolyte deficiency the heart beats in a weird erratic fashion called pre-ventricular contractions and/or pre-atrial contractions.  They did some chemistry tests and found that the electrolytes in his blood stream were a little “off” so they got that squared away and the heart beating normally again.
On Wednesday afternoon our little man was transferred to a step down unit on the third floor.  He’s still on continuous cardiac monitoring; but he is without arterial lines or chest tubes of any variety.  He still has a peripheral IV saline lock in his foot, but that should come out in the next day or two.  He’s a pretty happy camper.
As of today he’s still on tube feedings via the NG tube, but he is handling those like a champ.  He is still on a very small amount of oxygen by nasal cannula; like 0.12 lpm.  I didn’t even know oxygen went in that small of an increment.  Turns out it really helps him though.  They have been trying to ween him off of it by bumping it down to 0.06 lpm; but he de-saturates very quickly.  He may go home on oxygen and the NG tube.  The plan now is getting him home on Sunday!  That would be flippin’ sweet!
Both Megan and I are very tired of being away from home.  I haven’t seen Rexburg in almost 4 weeks; and neither has Megan.  My Dad and I have a good sized renovation project to work on at the house we are renting.  I would really like to get started on that.
One last little thought…
I speak for both Megan and myself when I say thank you.  Thank you to everyone who has thought and prayed and smiled for our little Jackson.  I can’t begin to express the gratitude and happiness I feel when I think of the hundreds of people who have called, emailed, texted, visited and written us with concern for our situation.  It hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the truth; but our family and friends have made it bearable.  Thank you so much; we love you!
Some pictures of our journey the last few days…
First time being held after surgery.  Megan was super happy.
Jackson, this morning.  Pretty happy guy.
Me and my little man
Megan and Jackson
I saw this in target, and thought “yeah, a week after your arterial switch.”
Posted in Farmer Family, Jackson's Heart Story

Jackson Update – CICU Day 7

Jackson continues to do well.  This morning the remainder of his chest tubes were disconnected, as well as his foley catheter and two sets of pacing leads.  The only thing left to remove today is his breathing tube.  He is breathing completely on his own (for the most part), but sadly he still “forgets” some times and the machine will be there to breath for him, if he goes longer than 20 seconds without breathing.

His bilirubin level continues to drop, ever so slowly.  He’s still on the bili-blanket and under the bili-lamp.  I think he doesn’t like either of them, as he has to wear this sleeping mask thing, so the light doesn’t damage his eyes.  When it’s taken off he is constantly looking around and moving his head.

His medications are almost none now, he is still on a very small dose of Milrinone as well as TPN (IV nutrition).  The TPN is slowly being turned down and his NG tube feedings are being turned up.

I have read through several past posts, and realized that I should have proof read them.  I’m a horrible speller and an even worse gramar-type-person.

One quick note about visiting.  We (and the hospital) welcome visitors.  It’s great to have them in the waiting area.  Unfortunately Jackson is still pretty sick, and very susceptible to germs and infection.  Please do not just show up to the hospital or let yourself into the Intensive Care Unit without speaking with Megan or I before hand.  You will not be able to see our little man in person, but we have a pretty nifty little system of Skype and FaceTime, so you can see him via the internet.

If you have any questions about visiting, give me a call- I’d be happy to talk to you about it; (208)339-6401.

Thanks folks!

Also, here is a video of him looking around last night:


Posted in Farmer Family, Jackson's Heart Story

Jackson Update – CICU Day 6

First, let me apologize for not giving an update for yesterday.  I just wasn’t able to find the time.  Turns out that having a pretty sick little kid in the hospital, is fairly demanding of your time.
Yesterday was a busy day for little Jackson!  He started his morning off getting a hefty dose of Fentanyl and then getting his little chest all closed up.  I was still a little bummed out that they wouldn’t let me watch; so goes life I guess.  It’s a procedure that they do at the bedside.  The nurse was telling us about how they close off the hallway in front of Jackson’s room, and put up all these huge sterile drapes, and then they don’t let anyone walk by until the procedure is done.  Jackson was pretty groggy after that- which is to be expected.  They started to bring him out of his cloudy state of mind, and tried some spontaneous breathing trials.  They basically turn the ventilator off and see how well he would breath on his own.  Prior to that the ventilator was setup on an assist/control mode; which would allow him to breath on his own when he felt like it, and then the machine would do it for him when he forgot.  He was constantly over breathing the ventilator; which was great!  When they turned it off, so see if he would breath- he just sat there.  He wasn’t going to have anything to do with it.  So the respiratory therapist is working with him to teach him how to breath again.  Megan said she would have a sit down with him and tell him that he needed to breath.  We’ll see which one works better 🙂
Jackson’s bilirubin level was starting to get a little high (very common for children who start feeding’s late in their life), so they have put him on a bili-blanket and under a bili-light.  These two things help Jackson’s body break down the excess bilirubin in his blood stream.  You can read a little about what bilirubin does in the body here.
We spent a couple hours with him in the morning and then ran some other errands around town.  We have been lucky enough to procure a room at the Ronald McDonald House.  For those of you who don’t know what that is I’ll take a minute.  They RMH is a large apartment style building that has about 25 rooms for families with kids in the SLC area receiving inpatient or outpatient medical care.  It’s very cheap housing, and they offer occasional meals and things.  It’s been way nice for Megan and I.  We met a couple who is staying in the room next to ours who is from Idaho Falls, and have a cute little boy receiving care at Primary’s as well.  You can read about them here.  Anyhow, the house here as a kitchen facility that is full of food that we can help our selves too, laundry, TV, a small movie library.  I can’t describe the feeling that we get when we come here.  The staff take great pride in this house.  There is almost a sacred feeling here, similar to the one we get at Jackson’s bedside.
I have been thinking a lot about the Atonement lately.  So often we get into a mind set that the Atonement is only used for remission of sins.  I think that it is used for so much more than that.  It is used for the sinned against, to help them give forgiveness.  It is used by the sinner, to help them get forgiveness.  It is used by Megan and I, to help us understand why our first born son has figuratively been asked to walk to the gates of hell and back.  I can’t describe the many emotions I feel when I think about our little man laying in a hospital bed with his chest wide open.  As I think of Christ and the infinite atonement, I am reminded that there is wisdom and love in all things around us.  There must be a reason why we have all been asked to endure such a trial.  Having to walk the path that we are on helps me to love my son and my wife more and more as the days go by.  I have spoken before of the sacred feeling at Jackson’s bedside.  There is power from above there that none of us can see, but many of us can feel.  The loving arms of our Savior are continually around our son, and I can feel it.
Stay strong little man, we love you.
Posted in Farmer Family, Jackson's Heart Story