Remember This Christmas is not about spending money on the perfect gift, it’s just giving.
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The author lives in the Capital Region of Denmark.
My family had just returned from a wonderful vacation. After dinner I let our two children, four-year-old Markus and three-year-old Emma, play in the upstairs bedroom of our fourth-floor apartment. In Denmark, windows open out like shutters. The windows are usually locked, but we had left them slightly ajar during our vacation so the apartment would be ventilated during our trip.
As I was doing the dishes, I suddenly felt that something was terribly wrong. I ran into the living room as Markus came running down the stairs. He was screaming with fear, saying Emma had fallen out of the window—a window about 40 feet (12 m) above a cement sidewalk. I ran down the stairs, repeatedly screaming Emma’s name. I saw my little daughter lying on the cement as if she were lifeless. She was completely limp when I picked her up, and I thought my worst fears were confirmed. My husband, who had followed me outside, took her in his arms and immediately gave her a priesthood blessing.
The ambulance came quickly, and Markus and I said a prayer while the paramedics worked on Emma. Soon we were all in the ambulance heading to the hospital.
At the intensive care unit we were quickly joined by family members who came to support us. Markus went home with his cousins, while my husband and I stayed behind, not yet knowing about Emma’s condition.
After what seemed like a long wait, one of the doctors finally came in, asking for details about the accident. They said that normally a fall from such a height would have resulted in internal injuries and only a small chance of survival. Emma had a broken pelvis and a concussion, but her scrapes were only superficial. The doctor said an angel must have caught her.
Even though Emma’s survival was a miracle, she was still unconscious because of head trauma. My husband and two close friends again administered to Emma. In that blessing she was promised a complete recovery without any lasting problems and that this would be a positive experience in her life. I felt immense gratitude for the power of the priesthood. All my nightlong pleadings had been heard.
Emma came out of her coma four days later. During those four days, friends, members of the Church, and others fasted and prayed for her. I felt the prayers of faithful Saints weave around me, strengthening my family and me. I felt as if Heavenly Father had wrapped His arms around me and filled me with comfort.
Our stake had held a fast on the day before she woke up. We believe that Heavenly Father heard our prayers and that Emma’s waking up was a direct result of the fast. From there Emma recovered quickly. Five days later she said her first word since the accident, and nine days later she was released from the hospital. She spent five weeks in a wheelchair and then started physical therapy.
About a month after the accident, my back suddenly gave out on me from lifting Emma. A feeling of not only physical but also spiritual powerlessness came over me. How could I continue to take care of her?
One night the guilt of being so powerless became too much to bear. I left the house and found a park bench, where I prayed to Heavenly Father for about an hour. For the first time in my life, I felt the miraculous power of the Savior’s Atonement overcome me. All the pain and sorrow I had been carrying was taken from me; all my burdens were lifted off my shoulders after that prayer. Emma was still in a wheelchair, and I was getting regular back treatments, but I was strengthened to carry on.
One year later, Emma could run, laugh, tell stories, and think as a four-year-old should.
We know there is a loving Father in Heaven, who cares for us and knows us individually. He knows what challenges we go through. I will never doubt the miracles He gives us through prayer, fasting, and priesthood blessings.
“When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are—that we are children of a loving God? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance?”
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy, “I Am a Child of God,” Liahona, May 2016, 27.
THE SEASON OF FESTIVITIES ARE APPROACHING, WITH IT COMES MAJOR DEPRESSION EVEN SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, I KNOW I’VE BEEN THERE. AT TIMES I STILL NEED TO TO REFER TO MY “HAPPY THOUGHTS” TO WARD OFF THE INTENSE NEGATIVE THAT I DON’T HAVE TO HAVE WITHIN ME. I CAN APPRECIATE THESE PEOPLE THAT SHARE AND DON’T GIVE UP. (to go directly to article click here)
The Light of the World helped me get through the darkness of my seasonal depression.
My battle with suicidal thoughts began shortly after I moved to a cold city in Iceland, where the lack of sunlight during the winter triggered severe seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As my pain grew too intense for me to handle, I considered suicide.
During the first year I didn’t accept that I was depressed. I was scared to tell anyone, even my own husband, about my thoughts. No one in my family or at church knew I suffered from a life-threatening illness; they saw me as an active Church member with a fervent testimony who faced no major challenges. I prayed often, begging for relief, and Heavenly Father strengthened me. I became more careful with my diet, exercised often, immersed myself in the scriptures, served others, and kept all the commandments. But it wasn’t enough.
Depression surged toward me like a giant wave. So I ran faster and prayed harder, but I couldn’t always outrun the wave. I swam against the current, praying I would survive until my kids came home from school or until lunch. Some days I would live from minute to minute, using sheer willpower to defeat my thoughts and urges.
I remember feeling intense mental pain the first time I almost committed suicide. I did not plan or think ahead—I temporarily lost the ability to logically think. Afterwards I realized how close I had come to taking my own life. I wondered what was wrong with me. I told myself that I shouldn’t have suicidal thoughts, and I pretended that they had never existed. I convinced myself that I would never have these thoughts again.
But suicidal thoughts continued to enter my mind when I least expected them. The temptation to end my excruciating pain was very strong. But I wanted to be healed. Though I didn’t understand then that I was suffering from an acute illness (an illness that is severe and sudden), I knew I could be healed. So I asked for a priesthood blessing.
My husband, unaware of my struggles, said many things during the blessing that told me Heavenly Father was aware of me. He promised me that I would handle my challenges. Immediate healing was not the solution, but I accepted that Heavenly Father would help me overcome my struggle.
Summer arrived, full of sunshine and long days. It was never dark, not even at midnight. I was happy and felt like myself again. But as the days rapidly shortened in September, my depression returned and suicidal thoughts infiltrated my mind. I was frightened. At first I tried what I had tried the previous year: praying more, exercising more, and trying harder at everything. But the suicidal urges grew stronger and more severe. I struggled for two months and finally realized that I couldn’t survive another winter on my own. I realized that Heavenly Father has blessed us with modern medicine and doctors. To recover, I needed to be willing to open up about my depression and visit a doctor.
Asking for help was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I could hardly speak through my tears when I told my husband about my depression and that I needed help. I couldn’t say the word suicide out loud. My husband made an appointment with a psychiatrist for me.
My doctor prescribed medicine, which helped me get through the winter. Like many people, I struggled to find the right dosage and deal with the side effects. This brought additional stress to my marriage and my family, but my husband and my children supported me.
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"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." Matthew 13