Crappy Day

Crappy Day
Crappy Day

So to recap the day.  Dog poop, flat tire, rejection and job disappointment for Sarah, rejection and job disappointment for me, fractured skull for Andy, and a wrecked airplane for Lewis  It was a crappy day both literally and figuratively.

A single day…

To give you a taste of what our lives have been like over the past six months, I will share with you a single day. A day in the life, so to speak.  My usual morning routine is to get up when the house is still quiet and have personal prayer and scripture study followed by a 10 mile bike ride.

So on this particular day I got up and headed to the living room to begin my morning devotional where I found 3 dog poops on my living room carpet.  What the …?  We have a puppy so I knew who did it, but our pets are outside pets so I had no idea how or when this happened, but I did know that I wasn’t happy about it.  

So rather than having a peaceful, rejuvenating morning devotional, I got to scrub the carpet, but at least I had the comfort of knowing that I would have the chance to work out my frustration during my bike ride after the carpet was cleaned.  My husband came with me for the bike ride and things were going well until we got to the furthest possible point from home in the bike route, where I got a flat tire.  We own a portable bicycle pump, but someone borrowed it and didn’t return it so we had no way to fix the tire.  My husband suggested that we simply walk the 5 miles home, but we had so much to do that day and time was wasting so I asked him to ride home quickly and bring the truck while I walked my bike along the trail and planned to meet at a rendezvous point a couple miles down the trail.  

Get to work…

Finally, we made it home.  It had been a frustrating morning, but we needed to get past that and get to work. Everyone had a lot to do that day.  

My daughter Sarah, who would soon be starting school at Utah Valley University, needed to find a job near her school and her future apartment in a town an hour’s drive from our home. Her cousin (and future roommate), would be traveling with her and also hunting for work.  

I was in the middle of a big project for work and had been putting in 10-12 hour days at the computer trying to meet an upcoming deadline and was anxiously awaiting news from work because I had requested a training position for the new program that I was developing and I hadn’t heard anything back yet.  

Meanwhile, my husband Lewis, had a huge project that he’d been working on.  He’s a pilot and he builds experimental airplanes.  We have a beautiful aerobatic biplane that he built,  The project took seven years to complete and the plane has been flying for ten years now, but it is a specialized plane for aerobatics and it’s expensive to fly so he doesn’t fly it as often as he’d like.  His plan was to build a second plane that would be inexpensive to fly and own that he could use as a trainer to teach the kids to fly.  But like many projects, this one took longer and cost more than expected.  By this particular day, he had already been working on the project for nine years.  Nine years is a long time.  For reference, that means that our youngest daughter was in kindergarten when he started and she is now in high school.

Test flying

He had finally finished building the airplane and had begun the test flying process.  When you build an airplane you don’t simply hop in and take ‘er for a ride.  There is a careful process of testing and making corrections before it is ready for flight and before it is ready to take passengers.  

The first step is to take it to a quiet airport and taxi it down the runway several times making observations and taking careful notes.  After the initial taxi test, the plane is taken back to the hangar, or in our case, back home to the shop, where any necessary corrections are made.  This process is continued until the taxi test is perfect.  The next step is a brief test flight around the traffic pattern and landing, again taking careful notes and making corrections.  This process is continued until the test pilot is confident that everything is perfect.  It is a technical and tedious process, but Lewis had done it before and I had every confidence that it would all turn out perfect in the end.  I wasn’t even worried.  

On this particular day, he has already done the preliminary taxi test, made notes, and was in the process of making corrections.  He’d been working in the shop and checking off each item on his list and knew that if he worked quickly during the morning hours he could finish the last item on the list and take it to the airport for the second taxi test.   

Will you take a look at this?

Everyone began working on their various tasks. Sarah drove away to begin her job search, Lewis headed to the shop to work on his plane, and I was busily typing away at the computer when I was interrupted by my daughter-in-law Aubrey who was staying in our basement apartment.  She asked if I would take a look at her little boy Andy’s head because she noticed some swelling and was concerned about making a decision whether or not he might need to see a doctor.  Aubrey explained that they had an accident that morning while bathing him and he hit his head on the tub. She wasn’t sure if that had caused the swelling or if it was something else.

Now you need to know that when Andy was nine months old, he had swelling on the brain (hydrocephalus) and we almost lost him.  One hellish night, he was transported by helicopter to Primary Children’s Hospital where an emergency procedure saved his life.  Then he had to have a delicate brain surgery to ensure that the fluids would circulate and drain properly in the future.  The ordeal was exhausting in every way: physically, emotionally, and financially.  Because of the financial burden, my son Joseph moved his little family to our basement apartment in an effort to save money as they battled to pay the mounting bills.  Hence my daughter-in-law’s dilemma.  Another trip to the hospital would add to their financial burden so she wanted to weigh the decision carefully.

Background about Andy

There are some other things that you need to understand about Andy.  His head was/is disproportionately large compared to his body because his skull expanded due to the swelling he endured.  All babies have large heads, but his head was far larger than normal.  Also because of the damage to his brain, he was (and still is) developmentally delayed.  So on this day that I’m describing, even though he was already 1 year old, he still couldn’t sit up by himself.  He was even hard to balance when you held him because he was so top heavy and couldn’t help support himself.  It was extremely easy for him to tip over and bonk his head even if you were being super careful.

So that’s the background as we examined and worried over this beautiful and special little baby.  I panicked thinking that perhaps his previous surgery has failed and the swelling was caused by fluid in his brain and his life might be in danger again.  We quickly decided that she needed to take him to the emergency room and have them take a look at him.  At the hospital, they examined him and said that they didn’t have the right testing equipment and sent them to Primary Children’s hospital where she waited for hours and hours in the waiting room at the emergency room.

Good news and bad news…

Soon my daughter Sarah returned home from her job search with good news and bad news.  The good news was that her cousin found a job, but the bad news was that she did not.  However my daughter, a young pilot and airplane enthusiast, was pleased that she had returned home in time to accompany her dad to the airport for the next taxi test.

Meanwhile, I was still trying to get work done on the computer since I had a looming deadline, but I wasn’t making much progress because I was so worried about Andy.  I kept texting back and forth with Aubrey to keep up with the news.  Eventually I got a phone call from Aubrey with good news and bad news.  The good news was that the swelling was not caused by fluid on the brain and it was not life threatening.  The bad news was that he fractured his skull from the morning’s accident.  They would be at the hospital for several more hours to do further testing.

Airplane crash

Shortly after receiving this news, I got a phone call from Lewis with good news and bad news.  The good news was that no one was hurt.  The bad news was that he just crashed the airplane.  Wait?  What?  When he was doing the taxi test, he applied the brakes and one side stuck and one side didn’t and he lost control, ran off the runway, ground looped the plane and hit a runway light.  No one was hurt, but the plane is destroyed.  The landing gear was torn off, part of the wing was missing, and the propeller was wrecked.  The damage was irreparable  Nine years of work and tens of thousands of dollars were gone in an instant.  He needed to talk to the authorities and figure out what to do with the wreckage and would be gone for several more hours.

Then I got an email from work with good news and bad news.  The good news was that they really appreciated all the excellent work I had been doing and even gave me a bonus.  The bad news was that the training position that I wanted and thought I had rightfully earned, was given to someone else.  I was devastated.

Recap on the day

So to recap the day.  Dog poop, flat tire, rejection and job disappointment for Sarah, rejection and job disappointment for me, fractured skull for Andy, and a wrecked airplane for Lewis  It was a crappy day both literally and figuratively.

Now not every day during the past six months was like that particular day, many days were better, but two days were immeasurably worse.  The first was the day when we almost lost nine month old grandson Andy.  I’ll never forget the hellish night holding my daughter-in-law’s hand and she sobbed and writhed on the floor, too sick with bronchitis to accompany her infant son to the hospital, while we waited for the expected news of our beloved little boy’s death. That was one of the worst times of our lives.  The other horrible day was a few short months later when we nearly lost my son Joseph, Andy’s father, in a motorcycle accident.  I arrived at the scene of the accident in time to see my son’s broken body lying in the middle of the intersection surrounded by flashing lights and emergency personnel.  He broke both legs and required complex surgery including a large metal rod and enormous screws to try to put him back together again.  It is a miracle that he wasn’t paralyzed or killed.  

All of this happened within a six month period.  So in our family we’re perfectly aware that life doesn’t always go the way you want it to and sometimes the road is difficult.

Another story

There’s a story in the scriptures about another family that was going through a rough patch.  They were basically refugees, they had to flee their home because of persecution, they lost all their possessions, and travel to a new home far away.  They faced hunger, thirst, fatigue, disappointment and loss.  It’s interesting that we have two different accounts from two different family members about this same set of circumstances.

One brother describes it like this:

And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imagination of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.  Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.

Another brother describes it like this:

And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness.

And so great were the blessing of the lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong yea even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.

And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled.  And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.

And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness and we did come to the land which was called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish.

The accounts are very different, but their experiences were exactly the same.  One saw all the hardships and became bitter.  The other acknowledged the hardships, but looked for reasons to be grateful and recognized the hand of the Lord.  He mentioned how the Lord had nourished them and strengthened them, and twice he mentioned that the Lord provided means for them and he also mentioned that all these things were prepared of the Lord that they might not perish.

Looking with a fresh perspective

So following the example of Nephi, I’d like to take a look at our latest trial, Joseph’s accident, and look for things to be grateful for, and see what things were prepared of the Lord to help us through this trial.

First of all, I’m grateful that my son is alive and that he’s not paralyzed.  Considering the nature of the accident, being hit by a car at 55 mph, that was the most likely outcome for his accident, but it didn’t turn out that way.  He was completely bedridden for several weeks, but I’ve watched him progress from being bedridden, to a wheelchair, to a walker, to crutches, to a single crutch and that healing should continue with prospects of a bright future.

Now let’s talk about preparations. A few months ago Joseph and his family decided to move into our little basement apartment.  They had to find someone to take over the contract for their previous apartment, but it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  Because of this, when the accident happened they were already settled in.  Family was right there and immediately available to help.  When Aubrey got the call from Joseph that he’d been in an accident, someone was right there to watch the kids so Aubrey could rush to Joseph’s side and she knew that the kids would be fine.

Two broken legs

Now with two broken legs, Joseph couldn’t go to work, which is a really big deal when you’re trying to provide for a family, but as a provider what are the major things you need?  You’ve got to worry about rent, utilities, food, and maybe a car payment.  Fortunately Joseph and Aubrey are wise with their money and their car is paid for, and they’re at our house, so we’re not exactly going to kick them out or let them go hungry.  The basic necessities could all be met.  

And because I didn’t get the training job that I was hoping for and I had completed the other work project, I was able to be home and help care for Joseph and tend kids and run errands and do whatever else needed to be done.  That way Aubrey didn’t need to carry the entire crushing burden by herself.  I know that the place where I was most needed was in my home.

We needed a bed

Another problem arose: we needed a bed.   Since the little apartment is downstairs and Joseph obviously couldn’t do stairs, he needed to be on the main level during his recovery.  My lovely teenage daughter Anna graciously gave up her bedroom to be the convalescence room and we moved her bed into the family room, where she had no privacy whatsoever, but at least she had a place to sleep.

But we needed another bed for Joseph, and then my married daughter Melanie called to ask if she could borrow the truck to pick up a bed for her guest bedroom she was putting together.  I said, “Sure, no problem, but can we borrow it for 6-8 weeks for Joseph first?”  We kept it wrapped in the plastic, so it would still be nice for her after we returned it, so it probably made crinkly sounds for Joseph when he moved around, but we figured that was the least of his problems, and voila, we had a bed.  What a coincidence.

These things were prepared

So like Nephi, I can testify that these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish and the means were provided to help us get through a difficult time.  I openly admit, that I’m not as cool as Nephi.  He showed a level of faith and obedience that I lack. I am weak and foolish, but I’m trying.

In a previous General Conference, President Eyring gave a talk on Gratitude for the blessing of the gospel.  Gratitude for the atonement, gratitude that we get to take the sacrament, gratitude for forgiveness, gratitude for baptism, gratitude for the growth and progress of the church,and gratitude for the love of our savior.  Regardless of the challenges that each one of us are facing, these are blessings that we all share  President Eyring asked us to make a special effort to make gratitude a part of our Sabbath observance and promised that as we do this we will find greatest joy.  And he reminded us to think about the lesson taught in the song “Count Your Many Blessings”:

Count Your Many Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings; name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.



Count your blessings; Name them one by one

Count your blessings; See what God hath done.

Count your blessings; Name them one by one.

Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.


Are  you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,

And you will be singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think what Christ has promised you his wealth untold.

Count your many blessings; money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.


So amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged; God is over all.

Count your many blessings; angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


Text: Johnson Oatman Jr. 1856-1922

Music: Edwin O. Excell, 1851-1921


With gratitude in our hearts, we can find reasons to sing, even through difficult times.