Monday, July 14, 2008

Call me Junior


"Why was Camille's mission here on Earth so short, Mama?" Sabrina asked me yesterday on the way to church.

I like to have answers for my children's questions. When they ask why the sky is blue, I explain the science behind it in terms kids can understand. We have had discussions about germs, cells, how every part of the body works, government, history, money, the plan of salvation, repentance, the atonement, and death. Yes, we have answered a lot of questions about death lately too.

Most of the time I have a pretty good answer for all these questions. But this question, "why was Camille's mission here on Earth so short?" Well, I started with "I don't know for sure." Some things God doesn't tell us. Some things are His to know and us to not worry about but trust that He who knows all is doing right by us. 

What I could tell Sabrina about was the work her sister is doing now. I told her about this blog. I explained how I had a website like her Webkinz site where just like she could play with people far away I could write and hear from people all over the world. I told her that Camille and I are now missionary companions. This idea came to me by way of a comment by Ashley who is the younger sister of my old roommate Kami. The more I think on it and the more comments I read from all of you, the more I am impressed to agree. 

Missionaries for our church go out in twos. There is a Senior companion and a Junior companion. Now I never was able to serve a mission for our church. I always wanted to, but when I prayed about going, well, the Lord had other plans for me. In the limited experience I have had with missionaries, it always seems that the senior companion has more experience in the mission field and he or she takes the lead.

I feel humbled at the thought of being a companion in Camille's work now. I may write these words, but it is her life that has inspired them. It is her spirit that touches so many people reading them.  Just as I was allowed to see my own children through her eyes to forever change me as a mother, she is working to whisper eternal truths into the hearts and minds of so many on this earth. I rejoice in this work of hers, for ultimately it is His work. 

Thank you for the comments you send to let me know how she has touched your life. These comments help me to feel the power and the purpose of her work. We may be separated in body but we are united in our mission and purpose. I have never felt closer to her than I do right now. I am learning from her everyday. I am humbled and happy to be her junior companion.

40 comments:

The Seeley Family said...

That is such an awesome analogy. Thank you for given me my daily strengthening. I love reading your blog. Camille truly was a special girl. And will continue to touch so many. Thank you!

The Morris Fam said...

I love your explanation! This media format has the ability to reach so many people. It's quite amazing to me! It's fortunate that you have such wonderful ability and strength to express things so that so many lives can be affected. Thank you for deeply touching me...over and over again!

kdskids said...

How wonderful to have such insight and inspiration even through the "fog". Camille's light will continue to be a beacon to you and to everyone who comes needing a daily scoop from you both.

Hugs - Kathy

Alisa said...

As always, you continue to inspire me. It is such a comfort to read your sweet words daily. They help keep me going. You and your family are always in our thoughts and prayers.

Caragirl said...

Yes Camille is doing a great work, with you as her instrument and companion. Your experience has reminded me of what my brother and his wife must be going through, still 4 years later. (If you want to now a little about her impact I recently posted something about her on my blog.) Thank you again for sharing your testimony daily, it is truly a reminder to me to strive a little harder to live the gospel. Your family continues to be in our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Camille is doing great work. Your blog and her life have changed my life in so many ways. I don't know how I stumbled upon your blog but I check it on a daily basis. It's made me appreciate every moment that I have with my children and your strength and courage amaze me. What a beautiful analogy- your mission companion. Your blog and beautiful testimony strengthen me every day. I've shared your blog with my sister who is not a member of the church and she has been asking many more questions about the plan of salvation - because she wants to know more. After 15 years she wants to know more and it's all thanks to your beautiful Camille. Thank you again for sharing your beautiful testimony with us.

Elle

Lenzi said...

I found this blog through my girlfriends blog... my girlfriend asked the question that you blogged about last week about feeling if this was your fault, or if you felt any guilt. Your story has had such an impression on my life. Having been born and raised in the heat of Las Vegas, these accidents were not few or far between, but for some divine reason, your story has hit home for me. I have a 19 month old baby boy, and since following your blog, I look at him in a light that I never before have. My gratefulness of having him has quadroopled! Every move he makes, every word he learns, I hold on to so much tighter. I even appreciate the fighting for reverence in Sacrament on Sundays! I have shed many tears for you and your family, not tears of sadness though, tears of gratitude and humility and regret for the precious moments, small yet profound, that I didn't, until now, appreciate with my son. I will continue to read your blog, it is a quiet, yet distinct reminder to me that everyday, every hour, is precious and sacred. Everyday your blog makes me a better mother!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting. I have said it before, but I'll say it again, I LOVE reading your inspiring words.
I have always had this fear of someone I love dying--I think we all do. Through your blog, however, I have learned that there are worse things than death. That sometimes death can bring sweet blessings into life. And that there truly, truly is an important work that Camille and so many others are called to. I know now that the Lord will not ask us to bear trials without sending us strength equal to our sorrow. I am so grateful for the knowledge of the gospel for it truly brings a clear understanding that after death is LIFE.

Catherine said...

As for not knowing immediate answers to all questions about the ways of God, I love this passage from The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom:


Father sat down on the narrow edge of the bed. "Corrie," he began gently, "when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?"

I sniffed a few times, considering this.

"Why, just before we get on the train."

"Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need -- just in time."

The Larsen Fam said...

Thank you for sharing your faith and testimony with all of us every day. I have never met you, but you are truly such an inspiration to me..along with your sweet Camille. Thank you for helping so many of us see the light of faith. I love your words of hope and love. You, Camille and your little family have touched so many with your strength. I know our Heavenly Father is truly mindful of you and your family....and I know that our Savior has been where you are. Again, thank you for your testimony - it strengthens mine on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Dear Stephanie:

I have been posting as anonymous but I have finally figured out how to use my name. Unfortunately, I think you have another blogger by the same name so, lest this cause any confusion, I will use all lower case letters.

The image of you & Camille as a pair of missionaries is amazing to me - I can only imagine how awesome it makes you feel.

Given the specialness & importance of her task, it is easy to see her as the senior of the two.

Although she left this Earth with tiny feet, she sure has left big shoes to fill, hasn't she?

I can see the proof of her mission take on greater meaning on a daily basis. How comforting is that?
----------------------------------

edited to add: I must have made an error in registering as the program is not accepting my password. I will attempt another registration later.

Marleen said...

That is so true. You and Camille have touched me and so many others that I know. I am so grateful to know you both.

Kathryn said...

hmmm .. it seems that I am not permitted to use lower case letters. I guess I needed to sign-up that way.

Chanté said...

You just amaze me. I'm just at a loss for words but I feel so much. You're kids are going to grow up to be the most amazing woman of faith. How blessed they are to have you as their mother.

The Jones Fam said...

There have been many times that I have read your blog and wanted to comment. Because I am not very open with my feelings, I have come up with excuses to not comment. I'm one of Cairen Ballsteadts friends, and I actually met you at her jewelry party. She called to tell me of what happened to your sweet Camille. You have been in my prayers ever since. I love reading your blog each day and it has helped me immensely in parenting my own children. The other night I just layed by my two yr old and watched her sleep, thinking how lucky I was. Thank you for helping me to learn more patience, love, and understanding with my own children. I know your posts have helped me be a better parent, and many others as well.

MaryClaire said...

what an incredible mission to be serving, and the best part is that it is so much longer than 1 1/2 years. i am still told by the most random people how they have come across your blog through mine and are so completely touched and inspired. camille really is helping so much people to live and be a little better just as president hinckley worked so hard to have us do.

love you!
maryclaire

Candace & Brandon said...

I love the way you put things into perspective. You always amaze me with how you can look so deeply into something, and see the good that comes from it. Even if it hurts so much. I read your blog daily as an inspiration! I find myself having more patience with my children, watching thier every moves, cheerishing every moment I have with them! Good or bad. Not only am I doing this with just my children but every child. Your daily writings have made an everlasting impact on my family, it gives me strength, which in turns strengthens us all! I can feel the spirit so strongly when reading these sweet words. I want to thank YOU and CAMILLE from the bottom of my heart, for your inspiring words and experiances that you share! As always my prayeers are with you and your family!

Candace

Heather Marie said...

While reading the RS lesson for our ward last night I read a quote by Joseph Smith and it made me think of you.

"We have again the warning voice sounded in our midst, which shows the uncertainty of human life; and in my leisure moments I have meditated upon the subject, and asked the question, why it is that infants, innocent children, are taken away from us, especially those that seem to be the most intelligent and interesting. The strongest reasons that present themselves to my mind are these: This world is a very wicked world; and it ... grows more wicked and corrupt...the Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again...The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable, wicked world, Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope."

The whole lesson in the JS manual p. 171 is great!

Karen said...

I have wanted to leave you a comment for a few weeks now, but felt reluctant since we have never met and I knew my words wouldn't be able to completely convey what your words have meant to me. You are an inspiration....a daily reminder to be a better mother, a better wife, a better sister, a better friend. I find myself with renewed hope, faith and patience as I think of you and your sweet Camille. You have made me a better person. I am fully invested. Invested to never take a moment for granted...invested to never suppress a generous thought...invested to love my little children, my forever family...invested in my Savior. My prayers are continually with you and your family. Thank you.

Angie said...

Stephanie, you don't know me and I'm sure you've recieved comments like these many times before, but I hope that you don't mind my reading your blog. I happened onto it today purely by accident and since then have been pouring over it for hours. I have wept openly over your story (more than once) and I marvel at your faith and strength. It has truly inspired me to just be better. I have four children of my own and have OFTEN found myself caught up in the craziness and the noise only to give way to shouting or disciplining more harshly than I had intended. I wanted you to know that in reading your profound words, I have truly been touched and have so far gone to each of my kids today and told them how much I love them and how wonderful and special they are. Your angel has touched my life...a complete stranger. Thankyou for sharing your story and your ability to put into words what so many of us need to hear. Thankyou. If you don't mind, I would like to add you to my blog list and check back now and again. Thankyou again for inspiring me today.
Angie in Idaho

Cathy said...

Stephanie and Co:

I am another stranger who found you just yesterday (Sunday) morning as I was feeding my newborn baby (a trail of 3 blogs led me to yours).

The beautiful pictures and eloquent, profound words have given me the boost, the fire, and the true desire to "DO". To do all of those (most times overwhelming) daily things I haven't been consistently "DOING" (scriptures, FHE, prayer, and so on). The spirit that you and Camille portray through your words on this blog have really touched me. I feel like this is a turning point for me in my life. Thank you. Thank you for being so open and candid and sharing your experiences with all who partake. You are now a part of my daily dose of spirituality.

You two make a great companionship!

Lori said...

Stephanie,
I've continued to check your blog daily & have encouraged some of my friends w/ heartbreaks such as yours to do the same. Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of your family. The picture you chose today of you & Camille almost made me cry just looking at it. I am sure I am not alone in saying, "I am sorry we had to meet this way, we may never see the beauty in your face, but your story has touched all our hearts." I totally agree that you & Camille are missionary companions. Just the fact that you are able to feel her presence shows how close you are to not just her, but to our Heavenly Father as well. Sometimes grief is so encompassing that we cannot feel the help that our loved ones want to give on the other side. Her work & mission can go on because you are the same amazing mother to her now as you were when she was in your arms. God bless you Stephanie. God bless your family.

Krista said...

You are truly Camille's missionary companion. Not only are you both touching the lives of people that don't know the gospel but you are strengthening the lives of the ones that do know the gospel. Thank you for making us try to be better people and mothers. I also wanted to add to the comment that quoted Joseph Smith. My husband was reading "Joseph Smith, The Choice Seer" and he came upon a section that talked about the doctrine of death. It says, "For the faithful there is nothing untimely about death. President Joseph Fielding Smith stated: "May I say for the consolation of those who mourn, and for the comfort and guidance of all of us, that no righteous man is ever taken before his time. In the case of the faithful Saints, they are simply transferred to other fields of labor." I had never heard before that we won't be taken before our time if we are living righteously. It reminded me of a post you did a couple of days ago where you said that if it weren't for the spa, it would have been something else. Thank you for continuing to teach us. I continue to learn even though I have grown up in the church.

Jaime said...

Your perspective continues to amaze me every single day. And you write it so well!
I am strengthened by you and your positive light and testimony. I can only hope that I will be as strong facing my adversaries.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but I was directed to your blog from a friend. I want you to know that you are an inspiration to us all through your intense faith in the plan of salvation. I am not a mother yet, but when I am I will remember you and your loss and treasure each moment. I am amazed by your faith in the Lord! Thank you for being so great.

Cuddle Cottage said...

I found your blog thru 5 Minutes For Mom and I find myself being pulled back again and again. I don't always comment, but I always come away with an admiration for your faith and your strength. Camille must be so proud of you.
God Bless, I'll be back:)

Anonymous said...

I have posted with my name before, however with this one, I prefer to remain anonymous. I just want you to know that I am an inactive member and have been inactive for the past 11 years. I can't believe it has been that long. I always planned to go back to the church, but as time wore on, it has become increasingly harder....especially with 3 young kids and a non-member husband. It was so strange how I stumbled on your blog. Your testimony is what initially caught my eye, then I went from there. I am so sorry about your loss. I kept reading your blog, feeling the spirit and praying about what I want to do with my life. Somehow out of the blue my visiting teachers stopped by last week! I mean, they have NEVER come before..so it was strange. This morning I was wondering about the 'coincidence' of it all and I was feeling bad that your tragedy is (in some weird way) a blessing to me...kind of hard to explain, but it is something like that. But now that I have read this most recent post, I am see'ing things in a different light. I really want to thank you...not many people put themselves out there like you do...and I am glad to see that you are see'ing the goodness that is coming from it. Thanks again!

jennifer said...

I was directed to your blog by a friend of mine who told me that your blog lifted her up. I too lost my son at 1 month old 3 years ago and may loose my son now who is 4 1/2 months old. I know the pain you feel and also the peace that the spirit brings when you turn your life over to our Heavenly Father and want what he wants for you and your child more than what you want. My boys lives may be short but they are both full of experience and learning that I couldn't have learned any other way. I am so thankful that my heavenly father loves me so much to give me trials to bring me closer to him. I know my boys will be fine, just as your sweet girl will. But now the question is what will I do with this great experience that has been given me. The thing is I am not affraid to share the gospel anymore. Check out this talk given by Dallin H Oaks. I loved it. http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=684&x=67&y=5

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog and I know it was no accident. Your entry titled "A Hard Days Night" was written just for me. I have been on my knees asking Heavenly Father to help heal my aching heart and I knew he would answer my prayers in his own due time. We are in the process of adopting a sibling group and the maternal grandma called child protective services accusing me of abusing one of the kids. So the police show up unexpectedly to investigate everything. Then of course a social worker came over and because we are licensed foster/adoption parents someone from the state licensing agency came over and did their own investigation. This traumatized the children and me (my husband was at work when all this took place). All 3 investigations took place at seperate times. The abuse was unfounded. For some reason I have been having a hard time with this still. I am paranoid constantly that whoever is knocking at my door is the police showing up again. The child that I was accused of abusing suffered the most neglect and abuse from his mom before being taken away from her. This child has allot of problems. I have not been able to bond with this child like the other children because in my mind it is his fault this happened to our family. I know I have needed to let this pain and bitterness go so I could love him unconditionally. I am soooo sorry you have lost your daughter and have had to go through so much over the past few weeks. BUT THANKS a MILLION for sharing this with ALL of US. You are an answer to my prayers. As I read "A Hard Days Night" a sweet little voice spoke to me and said "You need to let the pain go...your son is still alive and needing your love!" Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You truely are your daughters "junior companion"!!!!

Carolyn said...

Well Junior, I totally love the thought of this. It's true. I read that comment you were talking about and thought that is such a sweet and precious statement. I love this post!

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

I have commented before on how much your honesty and openness have helped me. I come to get my "daily scoop" daily as, I am sorry to admit, I don't like my children very much right now. I am praying that the Lord will help my tender feelings for them come to the surface without facing or enduring a loss like yours. I pray daily to love them and that He will help me appreciate what I have in them.

Thank you for providing a beacon of truth and Eternal perspective for those of us perhaps, not so in tune with our mission as mother's.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You have helped me in so many ways. Not too long ago, I was contemplating not having kids for fear of the world and all the evil in it. I was also scared that I wouldn't be able to protect them and help them in this life. Then I was told about your blog and after the first time reading your story and experiences, I soon had a change of heart. Actually I was able to feel through the spirit the peace and calming assurance that having kids is such a wonderful blessing and having them is worth everything, even if it means losing them. I loved your entry a few days ago, when you mentioned that the Lord helps people raise their children and protect them. What a reassuring thought. I don't have kids yet, but after reading your blog, I know now more than ever that I want kids and I will do whatever it takes to bring them in to this world. We haven't been able to have kids yet, but hopefully someday we will. Thanks again for your words of wisdom. You are an amazing writer. You know just how to express your feelings so that they bless the rest of us.

Mythreesons said...

What a neat perspective and what a blessing it is to have that perspective. You continue to inspire Stephanie... I love your posts and look forward to them every day. I especially loved this one... it paints such a beautiful image in my head.

Dawn said...

I have never met anyone with as strong as testimony as yours.(and we never have actually even met) You are such a beautiful example of what we are all capable of being as daughters of God. Thank you for taking the time to share your testimony and your life with all of us. I too have come to appreciate my little family more just since reading about your precious Camille. Thank you!

Ben and Taryn said...

I stumbled upon your blog and my heart aches for you. I keep coming back to see how you are copeing. I have little ones and I hugged each one a little tighter after reading your blog. I hope you continue to find and feel peace over this ordeal. Your faith inspires me and I know your angel is helping others too. Thank you for doing your part of the work here on earth.

L.and.R said...

I love the picture and the analogy...it is the truth! Camille's mission continues. I am so glad to read these things and think of a child as a senior comp. My feelings as a mother have strengthened through your words and feel a bond with my child that I appreciate more than ever. Thank you!! Love you all...Lori

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, I wasn't going to comment, but I wanted you to know how much your blog has touched me. A friend sent it to me while I happened to be staying with another friend who is not a member of our church. We read the whole thing together and were both so touched by your words. I have been looking for ways to share the gospel with her, and your insights were so meaningful. I could feel the spirit in the room as we read them together.(Especially as you bore your testimony) Thank you so much for your faith and your strength. I truly believe you(and Camille) were a missionary to my friend and allowed us to discuss things that have never come up before. She even added your blog to her favorites list so she can check back with you.

I think we all have held our children a little longer and felt a little more patience and love toward them. Thank You!

Anonymous said...

I don't know you or your family, I just stumbled across your blog by accident. Because we are strangers, I am somewhat confused by how deeply I have been affected by your loss. I am not a deeply religious person (although I certainly believe in God), and I've never thought about death in the way that you have forced me to - i.e, what is the purpose behind the life itself. If Camille's purpose in life (and death) was to help parents appreciate the true gift they have been given in their children, then mission accomplished. I have a 14 month old daughter who just reminds me so much of your Camille (the no hair, big blue eyes, the sweet smile). Thinking about your family and your daughter has driven me to wake my daughter from sleep just so that I can hold her and rock her. Just so that I can appreciate her. I hope it helps ease your sorrow somewhat to know that absolute strangers are inspired by the lessons taught by your Camille. My prayers are with you and your family.

Jacob and Mindy T. said...

I found your blog by way of my friend Brittany's blog and I can truly tell you how very sorry I am for your family and your loss. I can tell what a great little Angel Camille is to you. There are days when I get so upset and impatient with my son and after reading you blog I am inspired to be more patient and revel in the sweetness and simplicity of him and the things he does. Your strength amazes me and should be an inspiration to all. You are amazing and really make me appreciate all I have more. Thank you for sharing all this and your thoughts. I will keep you and your sweet family in my prayers.

Tiffany Robinson said...

you are an amazing mother. you have such strength and patience. YOU HAVE SUCH BEAUTIFUL WORDS! thank you.