March 26, 2012

Lindsay Walden, Texas: “Help Thou Mine Unbelief”

It would be simpler to caption this photo as one of those rare, quiet moments of peace in a bustling household when an older brother takes the initiative to read from a beloved book to his little sister. But this photo represents so much more to me. The little boy in the picture, my five-year-old middle child, is deaf. Snuggling up on the bed with his sister to read her a book is both a miracle and a symbol of hope for me—and not just because these two siblings have abandoned their usual roles as mortal enemies!

Years ago when my first child was born, he was diagnosed with hearing loss.  It did not take me long to be spurred into a flurry of information-gathering action. I searched the web for everything I could find about his hearing loss.  Some of what I read gave me hope, but much of it only added to a feeling of growing despondency as I worried and fretted over the future that my child would face. One of the most disturbing statistics that I read that I have since heard repeated over and over again essentially said that my deaf child would likely never read past a fourth-grade level.

The following years were full of appointments, difficult decisions, mishaps with hearing aids and toilets, and all kinds of challenges associated with raising a child with hearing loss. But the time was equally filled with small and big miracles, answers to heartfelt prayers, and an increase in faith as I saw our Heavenly Father’s hand in our lives. And worry was replaced with faith in His plan for my son.

Then my second son was born. Once again we received that fateful diagnosis. Over a year later both of my sons received cochlear implants, wonderful technology which has made a world of difference in my boys’ ability to hear the world around them. Our appointments doubled and with my older son beginning to attend mainstream kindergarten with his peers, we began the arduous journey of establishing services with the school district, setting up training for teachers, and acquiring the technology we felt would best set our son up to succeed academically. We worked hard and I read with my boys daily.

My oldest is now in third grade and is an avid reader. He reads well above grade level, which simultaneously has helped with his speech and vocabulary. A favorite family story is the time I opened the bathroom door to let him know his shower time was up and found him with a book in his hand extended outside of the shower curtain while showering, too enthralled to put it down for even a moment. I’m so grateful for his love of literature. He recently began reading The Chronicles of Narnia from one of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis.

His younger brother attends pre-school and brings home simple books every day to read to me. He’s excited to share with me the things he is learning and sounds out words on billboards and frequently asks me to spell things for him. And, on occasion, he takes a quiet moment to read to his little sister. Listening to the sweet lilt of either of my deaf children’s voices as they read from a favored book still fills me with awe.

I was reading the account in the New Testament recently of the beleaguered father who brought his son, afflicted by an evil spirit, to the Savior. In response to the father’s query for compassion, Jesus said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” I feel for this parent as he “straightway” cried out, “and said with tears, Lord, I believe.” The scriptures don’t reveal whether there was then a tenuous pause, a ragged intake of hopeful breath. But I can only imagine the emotion poured into his next words, “Help thou mine unbelief.” I recognize that much of the fear and worry I felt in the early years of my children’s diagnosis could have been avoided had I exercised greater faith. But I am grateful for the experience and what I learned nonetheless.

Sometimes the events of our lives have a humbling effect on us. Whether from the circumstances of chance or products of our own choices, these experiences can produce in us the type of humility that seeps into your soul and itches from the inside, a constant reminder of our complete and utter dependence on our Savior. It’s not always pleasant or comfortable. In fact, it can be downright painful and earth-shattering. But that humility is what can often bring us to the point where we ask for the help to believe. I have faith that my boys will continue to grow and succeed in life, that they have a Heavenly Father who is mindful of them and wants the very best for them, just as I do. I have also learned that He loves me despite what I lack and is there to help mine own unbelief.

—Lindsay


boating


March 5, 2012

Jenny Hanson, Utah: “Boating”

Jennifer Hanson,

One of our favorite things to do is go out on the boat with my brother and his family. The boys love their cousins and it's always a good time. This photo was taken on Labor Day—we were on Utah Lake in cloudy and cold weather, but the boys were having a BLAST riding on the bow. I am so glad that I snapped this shot because seeing them happy and having a fun time together is one of my absolute favorite things in life. They are such fun kids and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be their mom.

—Jenny Hanson