written by Cheryl Anne Merrick April 2008
I just wanted to share my experiences with you.
I have been promised that the Lord would bless me and guide me, and so He has (through a Priesthood blessing). I have had kind parents who have loved me and wanted me to be happy. I have been given the opportunity to hear the Gospel and join the Church when in my late teens. I’ve received a good education and training in elementary education. I have been blessed to meet my husband and become a wife and mother of four children and a grandmother. I live in an area with kind neighbors and have close friends. I have had the opportunity to serve others through Church and community service, writing, sending notes, tutoring, mentoring, and visiting. I can see, hear, think, and move. I am able to learn and grow. I have close relationships, especially with my husband. I have come to understand and develop my abilities, but more important, I have come to know the Lord and desire to be like him.
Throughout the years, I have also been guided and helped with my health. Though it has been difficult, I have been able to bear and raise our four children. I’ve lived at a time when they had medication so that an RH- mom like me could have more than one child, and even with the cord twisted about their necks, my children were alright. Also I was able to tolerate anaesthetic I was allergic to and recover from surgery even though I had little adrenal function.
I have been able to do many other things. I was able to make trips to visit our families in California and Ohio. I have been to most of our children’s events such as school programs, dance recitals, and ball games. I was able to be in the temple when two of our children were sealed and attend their wedding receptions. I have been able to be a Primary teacher (teach children like Sunday School) and Inservice Leader (teach church teachers teaching class); a ward (church group of about 400 people), Stake (several wards about 2000 to 3000 people), and community newspaper editor; substitute and re-certify for elementary school teaching ; write for the Ensign magazine (LDS Church adult magazine); and care for my home. I have been able to study the arts and sciences, health, teaching, writing, personality, decorating, literature, and photography.
I have been promised (through a Priesthood blessing) that I would be able to fulfill my mission here– and I am. Staying home has given me the time I’ve needed to think, study, and write. Having health problems has helped deepen the relationship between Garrett and I as we have had to communicate and help each other. It has also helped me become a more compassionate person and feel closer to my Savior.
I have had many experiences when I have felt His love for me and His support. When we were first married and had two babies, I was very ill and was tested to see if I had mononucleosis. I was so tired! I remember thinking that if I had it, I wouldn’t be able to care for my family. I felt, I couldn’t go on. I did have mono. As I lay on our sofa in our small trailer with excruciating headaches, I looked at a large picture of the Savior praying for us in Gethsemane. Slowly a sense of peace enveloped me. I was aware of the pain, but it was dulled and bearable. I felt the Savior’s love as I had never before. Instead of being a terrible experience, these moments were some of the most special in my life. I learned not to fear– that the Lord would help me get through anything.
During some of the roughest moments, I asked for help and came to know the power that can come through Priesthood blessings. When I was expecting our fourth child and was unable to take any medication for my severe spring allergies, I became extremely stuffed up and consequently unable to sleep for several days. During the blessing, I felt the Savior’s presence just behind me. I knew He was there and that He loved me and would help me. I have never felt such love. I have no doubt that the Savior is a real being and that He loves us.
In later years as my health continued to decline, and I often had trouble sleeping– He was there. I was so exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I battled frequent panic attacks. Sometimes at night, I would lie there feeling I couldn’t go on. I would pray and a sense of peace would come and I would be able to rest.
Besides strengthening me, the Lord has enlightened me– sending thoughts to help our lives be better. I have had ideas given to me on how to solve problems, improve relationships, teach children, and feel better. Sometimes I would just know what a child needed, such as when our daugthers needed to get out on their own, or the time I knew my husband and I needed to return home immediately. When we did, we found our son just about to do something which would have injured his siblings.
Many times my doctors had no idea what could be done to help my health improve, but I knew the Lord knew what was the matter with me and what needed to be done. When we lived in the trailer and the specialist told me to go home and take tranquilizers, the Spirit reassured me that I had real physical problems and that I should not take any tranquilizers. Later as I learned of my problems, I came to realize that, that medication might have killed me. I was also grateful for having the Word of Wisdom which has helped to preserve my life.
He also inspired my dentist to discover my jaw injury and a wonderful specialist to splint my jaw so I could continue to eat and talk. Another doctor found that I had a neck and hip injury and a dislocated rib.
Sometimes I was given information I needed to deal with a heath problem, such as when I found a book out of place on the shelf at the library which had answers to some of my problems, or when the woman I visit taught took me to a doctor that was able to diagnose and treat my allergies. One summer I felt impressed to check my blood sugar at the half hour thus discovering that my blood sugar wasn’t fine, but that it went up to a diabetic level, than crashed down to a near normal level all within an hour after eating. Understanding this, I was able to make changes in my diet, lose the sixty pounds I had gained, and feel much better.
Step-by-step I have been led to understand and deal with my health problems. Though we learned of my injuries, allergies, lack of adrenal function, and blood sugar problems (all related to the damaged adrenal glands), I still continued to decline in health. I gave up going anywhere. I removed most of the chemicals and plastics from my home and reduced dusts and molds. I rotated my foods and ate organic foods, but my health steadily became worse. I prayed for help to know what I should do. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to continue much longer. At that time I had an appointment for a check-up with my doctor. I felt impressed to purchase a book that was in his office. It discussed reasons that people have pain such as eating foods in the nightshade family. I was blessed to have a nice Christmas with our family, then collapsed, unable to move and in great pain, a few days after Christmas. I had had a terrible reaction after eating red peppers (a member of the nightshade family) the summer before. I had never been as ill ever before in my life, so I wondered if nightshades had made me ill this time, but I hadn’t eaten any peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes– or at least so I thought. The next day I felt impressed to check my turkey hot dogs. There was potato starch and spices, which meant red pepper, in the ingredients! Now that I totally avoid all peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes, I am feeling much better.
I feel very blessed that I am having the opportunity to spend this time with my husband and family and do my family history. I can even read and go up and down the stairs whenever I want. Though I still am in considerable pain and very out of shape, it is wonderful to be going up instead of knowing my health is becoming worse each day. I know the Lord will help me to know whatever I need to do, or not do, and will help me heal. I am aware that healing will take many years and that I will never have great health, but that is alright because I know that the Lord will enable me to do what ever is right for me to do. He has promised me that I will be able to complete my mission, and I know I will.
Of course I have had many moments of pain, depression, anger, and frustration, but would I trade the difficult experiences I have had for a life of health? Would I give up the strength and relationships I have developed for a life of ease? Would I have developed my intuitive writing and thinking talents if I hadn’t been restricted to my home? Would I have come to know and have faith in my Savior? Would I change my life if I could? Do I doubt the Lord’s wisdom in giving me these experiences? No, I do not.
(Since then I have been helped to learn of a mold problem in my home and remove it, been helped to avoid financial ruin, and simplified my life. I am feeling better now than I have in years and am enjoying being able to blog. )