Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

The Beginning

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A Month of Many MerciesIf you would like more information on our June challenge click here to read about it, or here to view it.

And so it begins.

My girls and I decided to start the challenge a few days early.  We just couldn't wait!!

I have to tell you that I have been surprised at how many tender mercy moments really are recorded in the Book of Mormon.  I started reading with a pink pen in hand...(doesn't the color pink remind you of tender mercies?)  As I marked I began discovering two things I hadn't anticipated:

First, the characteristics of our Heavenly Father, who is a God of tender mercies.

Second, that there are things I can do personally to better prepare myself to receive tender mercies.

So, I started keeping a list of those two things in the blank pages at the back of my Book of Mormon.  I am on page 23, and the learning has been significant.  Here is what I am discovering...

I have also been keeping a list of the tender mercies I am recognizing in my own life on the page adjacent to this page.  It is amazing what happens when you become focused on recognizing the mercies of the Lord.  It has made me wonder how many mercies I miss every day because I haven't made it a priority to look for them.

Honestly, I have debated sharing some of the mercies we have experienced this week.  It's because sometimes mercies are carefully orchestrated into the conditions and particulars of our lives in such a way that we immediately understand their importance, where others might not understand their significance.

The mercies my girls and I have experienced this week have been extremely precious.  Some more significant than others.  I hope you won't mind if I reminisce...

It began on our first day in Nauvoo.

I love Nauvoo...every bit of it...but there is one particular home that is my most favorite.  It is the Sarah Granger Kimball home, and in the small family room of that home is where the idea for a Relief Society began.  Before we left the condo I prayed that my girls would have a special experience in that home.  If you are a long time friend of the blog you will know that peonies are my most favorite flower.  My girls know this about me.  Imagine my delight when we showed up that morning and found that all of the flowerbeds at that home were filled with peonies.

That home boasts a peony garden unlike any I have ever seen.  My girls were so excited to get a photo.  Then, to our surprise, the door opened and out walked a woman my girls had fallen in love with earlier on the trip.  She was in charge of the tour.

My girls hearts were opened and ready to learn.

My heart swelled with gratitude.

A tender mercy.

The next day we set off on a scavenger hunt.

In a cemetery, somewhere in Missouri, two young brothers are buried.  Rice, who was four, and Willie, who was two.  They were left behind when their parents moved west.  We have their names in our family history, but we did not know where their graves were located.  We began the morning with a prayer.  We were led from one place to the next by people who gave just enough comments for us to begin tying threads together.  Just when it felt we had reached a dead end, we would be led to someone who could lead us one step more.  At 4:45 we were driving to our last cemetery.  We called ahead and found a woman who was willing to help us search.  Within fifteen minutes several pieces fell into place, and before long we were searching headstones looking for two brothers buried in 1864.

It was Grace who discovered the headstone, covered in moss.

It looked old, that is what caught her attention.

So the girls gathered round and began to gently clear the moss away.

There was the name...Rice Davenport, April 1864, Age 4.

We had found them.

A tender mercy.

It was on Saturday that the most precious tender mercy came.

Our flight was delayed in Denver.  We were sitting in cold airport seats when the phone call came.  They had found my two-year-old nephew in the backyard pool.  He wasn't breathing.

Quickly we gathered for a prayer.

My heart was sick.  I thought of his sister who had been tending, who had just turned her back for one second, who was following the ambulance in her car.  I thought of his mother, my own sister, and a lump swelled in my throat.

I watched his two brothers who were with us as they paced the waiting area waiting for news

Finally we received news.  The paramedics had resuscitated him, he arrived at the hospital screaming, coughing, and breathing.

They sent a photo of his sister holding him there...eyes puffy from crying, arms holding him tight against her heart.

The doctors said they were lucky.  It doesn't usually turn out that way.  A miracle.

A tender mercy.

I have started keeping a record on the back page of my Book of Mormon of the tender mercies we are experiencing.  The simple words there might not mean a lot to someone who stops to read them.

But they mean the world to me.