Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pioneering Spirit

I appreciate this time of year and I love the 24th of July, as we celebrate the pioneers coming into the Valley. The definition of PIONEER is a person or group that is the first to do something or that leads in developing something new. I have thought a lot about PIONEERS as of late and feel grateful for the power of newly tread water and forging through territory previously untouched, bringing to light a new way of thinking, feeling, or behaving.

A couple years ago, Justin and I were asked to help out with a simulated PIONEER trek experience for the kids in our ward. We were all asked to research out a name and be prepared to share the story. Unbeknownst to myself at the time, I was literally the product of those early PIONEERS as I discovered that Margaret McCann Porritt, my great, great, great grandmother, traveled with her three small children across the ocean (from England), and then traversed the plains with the Martin Handcart Company, where she arrived, tested and changed in the Salt Lake Valley with my great, great grandfather, Thomas Porritt in tow.

She endured many hardships, including the perils of single parenting, and losing one of her babies to the frigid temperatures on the trail at Martin’s Cove. She understood deeply the pain that can rush in to one’s life and the peace that can be found in the knowledge of and the active use of the Savior’s Atonement. She solidified her character as she weathered the ups and downs of her life. She did not ask for the pain, but endured it well. I am proud of her example and my heritage.

Over the weekend I was asked to participate in the 2010 Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo—Tough Enough To Wear Pink night. When I first got the invitation, I thought it might be a prank and giggled thinking about me on the back of some nasty, dirty, spitting bull and trying to dust off a spot to sit just before being bucked off to certain injury! As it turns out, they just wanted to feed my family and I and honor me, along with 20 other women at the beginning of the rodeo (there was a little danger in the fireworks that were shot off right above my head!).

While at the dinner, I recognized Mrs. Butler, Jenny and Becky’s mom from high school. The ironic (or orchestrated) part of the story is that Mrs. Butler was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time as my grandma Nelson, but her diagnosis was far graver than my grandma’s and I remember consoling Jenny and Becky as they were dealing with the probability of losing their mom and almost feeling guilty about my grandma’s more favorable diagnosis. As time passed and treatment decisions were made in both cases, the Lord’s will was made manifest…he took my grandma home and Mrs. Butler is in her 23rd year of survival.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I recognized her and realized that she was truly a PIONEER in the field of breast cancer and its diagnosis and treatment. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude as we talked about her journey and the advancements that had been made on her back, as well as thousands of women that had come before. I was sitting there in the company of PIONEERING women that have made my personal journey much easier.

Despite my journey being easier, there have been tears and anger and disappointment. There have been unanswerable questions posed by my own mind, as well as by others. I have cried out from the depths of my soul, just as I am certain there were times for Mrs. Butler and my grandma Porritt where they cried out wondering how they could have ended up in THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION and the thing that remains, despite the pain is the resiliency of the human spirit; our innate need to conquer and rise above.

Mrs. Butler and my grandma Porritt decided that they would rise above the odds of their circumstances. They decided to keep fighting in the war, despite having lost some of the battles. I don’t think they were immune to negative thoughts or doubts, but ultimately made the conscious decision to fight.

I think about my grandma Porritt’s experience in Martin’s Cove when she had to leave her baby’s body in a shallow grave and just keep walking around the bend despite hearing the howls of the hungry wolves waiting for her departure and I feel compassion for her and I feel grateful for her PIONEERING spirit, that despite the hardships, she JUST KEPT FIGHTING, which was the sentiment reflected by Mrs. Butler

My mind reflected on this reality for all of us…WE ARE ALL PIONEERS of our own existence. We will be asked to break new ground and tread new water as we create our unique and special reality. We will all have hard and challenging days, mixed with triumphs and defeats. None of us are immune to pain, loss, or suffering, but all have access to the same heritage as children of God. We are His children and He desires for us to be happy. He sent his son as a perfect example, who offered a perfect sacrifice, so that we could indeed overcome the challenges of this world. I hope we can all find a quiet moment to honor our own experience, with its ups and downs, soaring moments and shortfalls and find ourselves like Mrs. Butler and grandma Porritt still FIGHTING

“Whatever our challenges in life may be, our burdens may become light if we not only believe in Christ but also in His ability and His power to cleanse and console our lives. Our lives are healed as we accept His peace.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Mom’s Heart Moment:

We were over at Justin’s brother’s house and the food was all prepared. All we needed was a prayer. Some of the teenagers ducked their faces while both of my boys gleefully volunteered! Uncle Matt selected Isaac to say the prayer, who then selected Aunt Sandy to help him with the prayer. Everyone, except for Isaac, closed their eyes and Sandy started to whisper the prayer into Isaac’s ear. He began to reflect what he was hearing and then shouted out, “There’s fire!” Everyone gave a polite gesture to quiet down and then he said it again. At that point we realized that there was indeed a fire on the stove as the corn was boiling over! Thanks Isaac and we thought he was just identifying the power of Sandy’s prayer!


  1. Wow....I really needed this post today. Thank you so much for sharing. I've truly been touched as I've watched you through this journey the past few months. You are such a wonderful example. Thank you Thank you!
    (Curry's sister....Angie's friend)

  2. Love all the pictures!!! Love you guys.