Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stake Conference, Colton's Video and of course Nick.

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”
―  Joseph B. Wirthlin

So I was asked to speak at Stake Conference last week.  I had two weeks to prepare, and I knew exactly where I was going to get some of my blog.  It's where I write everything that is personal and special to me.  
I was so incredibly nervous. All I wanted was to speak and not cry throughout the entire thing.  I was asked to speak on my experiences with Nick and what the Atonement means to someone like me.  When I walked up there, the first thing that came to my mind was; you have done harder things than this before.  I looked down at the people and in the very front row directly in front of me were two open seats, one for Nick and one for Colton. I know that Nick wouldn't miss my talk for anything in the world. In fact I am pretty sure he was laughing at the situation because Nick and I always skipped Stake Conference (bad I know!) and here I am, now speaking.
When I was done speaking, I stood up there on the stand and what seemed like a million people came up to me.  All of them were touched by what I had to say.  This is where I realized that it was worth all the stress and the nervousness of getting up there.  A man came up to me, I could tell he was pretty quiet, he looked at me and said, "I am your one"  I didn't get it at first, then I realized that the stake president earlier said "That if one person here was touched by the spirit than all of this was worth it."  (or something along those lines).  I looked back and him and simply just said thank you.  I wish that I told him that, that meant more to me than he could ever imagine. 
Stake Conference Talk
January 12, 2014
 Good morning everyone, I first want to introduce myself and my family.  My name is Caroline Longshore; I have lived here in Utah for about 4 years now. My husband and I have been married for 3 years and we are lucky enough to have two children; our son Colton and now expecting our second in April, a baby girl.
I want to share with you what the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ can do to a person.  How the Atonement can change someone.   The trials that I have been given so far in my life have in no way been easy.  And I hope that I don’t come off as someone who needs sympathy or pity, I understand that everyone in this room has their own trials and some that I could never understand.
My husband and I share a unique relationship; we have gone through experiences that no one should have to endure.  I honestly believe that my husband and I were made for each other so that we could accomplish the things that the Lord sees fit.  My husband Nick and I were sealed in the Los Angeles Temple December 30, 2010.  We later moved to Utah so that I could finish my schooling.  We had both previously lived in Utah before. Nick graduated from BYU and also played football at BYU.  I graduated from the LDS business College in Salt Lake in Medical Assisting. Nick worked flipping houses and coaching football at Woods Cross High School. We have always been strong members of the church. Nick served a mission in the Quezion city mission in the Philippians.  We have both always had tremendous testimonies about our Savior and His plan of happiness.
 Our first real trial as husband and wife came shortly after we got married. November 13, 2012 changed my life forever.  Our first child, Colton passed away just hours before birth. I gave birth to an angel early in the morning.  7lbs 4 oz.  Colton passed away from unknown reasons at 38 weeks gestation, and he was absolutely perfect.  We will never know why he passed away.  The only explanation is that he was meant for bigger and better opportunities.  I remember when the doctor told us that he had passed, the very first thought that came to my mind was; at least I have my husband.  Holding your child in your arms, knowing that they have already achieved celestial glory is a mixture of feelings, you never imagine that, that is how it would happen.  Losing a child is harder than anyone can imagine unless you have been there. But can think of worse things.  Losing a child and not knowing of the plan of salvation is much worse. I continue to have a relationship with my son because of the plan of salvation.
That first year as you can imagine was incredibly eye opening. My husband and I learned how to comfort each other, how to return to our son one day, and what our son and our Heavenly Father expects of us.  Through this trial I learned that the Atonement of our Savior will literally bring my family back together again. That one day I will race to my little boy and hold him again.  That isn’t just a hope or a want, but that is reality for me. Through the death of our son, I became very close to my Heavenly Father. The veil has and will continue to be very thin throughout my life.
They say that the first year after someone passes away is the hardest. That was true for me. Nick and I were scared and also anxious for the one year anniversary of our son.  We were afraid that after the first year he would not hang around as much.  That he was now to busy in Heaven. We contemplated what we were going to do for his 1st birthday/death anniversary. So on November 13, 2013 we first went to the cemetery early that morning, in Clinton. We then decided that we were going to drive up to Idaho Falls and spend the day with my sisters.  We were also going to get new family photos done.  We had our pictures done, of us holding a picture of our son up with birthday balloons and Santa hats, for this upcoming Christmas.
My family really wanted to make this day easier on Nick and I, and try to make it special.  As my sister and I stayed back at the house to make a birthday dinner, Nick went out with my brother in laws to go four wheeling.  As the day went on, I remember this day all too well, also because it wasn’t even two months ago. I got a call from my sister that Nick was in an accident while riding the ATV.  I thought this just could not be happening to me.  Not on Colton’s anniversary. We are suppose to be immune to stuff like this. After a long week at the hospital my sweet Nick also passed away.  I don’t know why my Heavenly Father has decided to take my son and my husband from me. I don’t know why he allowed our soon to be baby girl grow up without her father. I am just 23 years old, and have experienced what most people don’t ever experience at all in their life time. The atonement is the only thing that keeps me optimistic about the future.
I don't feel like a widow and I don't feel like a soon to be single mom.  Nick hasn't left me yet.  He is still around where ever I go. He still provides for his family.  If you come over to my house, you will know that there are angels in my home, and I tend to keep it that way.  When I think of a single mom, I think of someone who is alone in supporting and raising their children.  My husband is there right beside me cheering me on and helping me along this entire thing, I know that because he did that exact thing when Colton died.
November 13th haunts me every day. It’s not a coincidence that my husband’s accident was on the day of son’s death. Everything happens for a reason.
I really wanted to share about a particular experience I had a couple just recently, that has changed my life.  It was when I finally realized that Nick was not going to make it.  I was at my sister’s house having a moment; meaning I was just crying hysterically on the bed, I had many priesthood blessings by this time and didn't know what else to do. I asked one of my sisters to go grab my dad because I wanted yet another blessing because nothing else was working. My dad came in, and I knew the drill, he would give me a blessing and that was it. But this time for some reason was the blessing that saved me. My dad put his hands on my head and stood there in silence for a minute and he said to me... "Caroline I bless you that you will feel the spirit like you have never before in your life."  From that moment on, the Holy Ghost and Nick have not once left me.  It has been almost 2 months since then, and my heart has literally been changed. Yes I have my moments of despair and crying and so much physical heartache, but I have never once felt alone. I have felt the spirit like I have never felt it in my life. The Holy Ghost can do amazing things to a person's soul.
Life is not fair, and life is exhausting, but I will tell you that life is worth it.  No matter what challenges and experiences you may be going through, our Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing and he is not caught off guard.  Our trials were planned out long before we came here, we knew of the challenges that we were going to face, and yet we still chose to be here anyway.  Whether our trial is a sin that we keep committing over and over again, or if it is something that we cannot control, like death. The atonement makes up for all of that.  Because our Savior took upon our sins and felt every pain that we feel today, we can be free and live with our families again.
Though at times it may feel as if we are in a dark hole and cannot climb out, our Heavenly Father will always be there to reach down and take us to safety.  Through the resurrection and atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ we can live life knowing that there is always something or someone waiting for us on the other side. That there is more to our lives then what we see in front of us.  There is more going on around us, that is bigger and better.  I am grateful that I had this opportunity to speak to you. I know that my son and my Nick are here with us today, and more importantly the Holy Spirit is with us today. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

I have this video that I made a few months ago.  It is Colton's video.  Pictures of him and his funeral.  I watch this video several times a day.  Most of these pictures were taken an awesome friend of mine, Terra Cooper.  She volunteers for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  I watch this video and I think of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family on the other side of the veil.  I have been so blessed to have so many angels watching me. These two people are continually with me through out the day.  I can always count on them and my Heavenly Father to help me when I need it.

Things that I miss about Nick and some of my favorite memories...

1. The day we got engaged we went out to seven eleven and celebrated with Slurpee's.

2. All we needed was each other.  Nick and I were each others best friends, we didn't need anyone else.

3. On Sunday's when we were bored we would drive around random cities in the car and just look at all the beautiful homes.  We would talk about what we wanted our future dream home to look like.

4. If I ever got mad, Nick would always reply with. "I love you, I will call when I can." Which at the time made me even more mad! But now it's one of the things I miss most.

5. Nick was a hard worker. Nick worked so hard to provide for his family. I would stay up all night waiting for him to come home from work.

6.  When I was pregnant with Colton, Nick and I went baby shopping.  It was the cutest thing in the world to watch Nick pick out baby clothes for his son. He would hold them up to see if I liked them and they always looked EXTRA tiny compared to Nick.

7. Nick and I literally went to Sonic almost every night.  We would eat dinner, and then head on over to Sonic.  I would always get a some sort of Sonic Blast and Nick would ALWAYS got a hot fudge shake.  Which I always teased him about because that sounds gross.

8.  Nick and I built everything.  We would sit down, each with their own paper and pencil.  Each of us would draw out the specifications of what we wanted to build and then we would compare the two and pick which one we liked better.  His was ALWAYS better than mine.

9. Nick was Nice to everybody. He was genuine and heartfelt. EVERY morning, Nick would say goodbye to me as we went to work.  He would say, "Bye, Love you, have a good day honey." At times I would wake up to him standing over me just looking at me sleep, before he would wake me up to say goodbye.

10. Nick is the funniest person I know. He always knew how to make me laugh. 

Things are only getting harder with not having Nick around.  I look at his pictures at night and I just cannot believe it. I listen to his voicemails and he sounds like he just right there behind me.  Although, it seems like everyday I find something new of his.  Usually a letter or a video that I hadn't seen before. Today I found the talk that he gave at Colton's funeral.  It was recorded on the microphone.  To hear his voice talk about the resurrection and being together again one day as a family is an amazing thing for me to have.  I have found multiple letters that I have never seen before, like talks that he had saved on his computer. They mean something totally different to me now.
When I think of heaven, I never look up to the sky, I look right behind me.
I have learned that Heaven is literally right over my shoulder. I rarely look up to the stars and think that is heaven.  Heaven is literally right next to me.  If you are LDS you know that already.  That the spirit world is right here on earth, we just can't always see them.  That is why we can feel them so close most of the time.  Heaven is not far away and it is not some place that we just talk about, it is real and it is where my family lives.


Racheal said...

You are so strong and brave, Caroline. You are amazing.

Jamie Peterson said...

Caroline, what a strong testimony you have!! I really enjoy reading your posts and how uplifted I feel as I read them. You may feel that your son and husband have a bigger work to do, but I think yours is just as big. You are touching so many people with your story and your example of righteousness. I know that I have shared your blog with others, and each of them have been touched as well. Each person that even feels the spirit or thinks of Heavenly Father while reading your blog or listening to you speak is one more person than it was before. You are an example of missionary work because you invite the sweet spirit of the Holy Ghost each and every time you bear your testimony.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. I absolutely love reading your posts and enjoy the way it makes me turn to the Savior. If anyone deserves to hear Matthew 25:21, it is you.

The Lambert Family said...

You are so amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this. Your story has touched me more than you will know. I think about you often and I have kept you in my prayers. You are such a wonderful example!

Amy said...

Thank you for this brought me peace tonight as we "celebrated" our angel baby's 5th birthday today. She passed away at 37 weeks similar to your precious Colton. I am so very sorry about him and your husband!! You are an amazing example. I will keep you in my prayers that you we ll continue to have peace. Thank you again for your example and for this post!!

Britni Wing said...

I came upon your blog somewhat randomly. I am so impressed and strengthened by your testimony. I needed to hear so much of what you said. My trials may be different than yours but everything you said was very applicable. You have inspired me to draw nearer to my Savior and gain a stronger testimony of the Atonement. Thank you. I can sense your sweet, and very strong spirit just by reading your posts. May God be with you always.

fran said...

You are just an amazing person! I enjoy your blog and want you to know that you guys are always in our prayers!

Crystal Pineda said...

You are such an amazing person. I love you so much and I feel extremely blessed to call you my friend! <3

Hayley Bruno said...

caroline you are so strong and a beautiful writer. you made my heart feel the true love you and your husband share and the love you both have for your son. To be honest I saw your sisters post and was automatically draw to it, something was telling me to read it I believe it was the holy ghost. Today marks the one year anniversary when my husband and I lost our son Coen at 24 weeks and 4 days old. I was in the hospital because my amniotic sack was leaking and had to give birth because there was nothing they could do I remember being so scared I was in labor for three days on the second night they went to check his heart beat and they said that he had passed I just remember feeling portrayed by god at first asking why us, why did you have to test us with this, but i knew why its because my husband and I were made for each other like you said. because us together will be able to conquer any amount of happiness or tragedy. While I held my perfect angle of a son in my arms I was blind to the sprits around me at first until I calmed down and allowed myself to feel them I had an automatic feeling of relief and love I knew my sons spirit and the holy ghost was in the room with my husband and I. my loss was a tragedy but yet so beautiful. I lost my son and gained the best angle but through this tragedy I was able to see the man my husband truly is, he is the man god made for me and i never knew i could love someone so much in my life. I read your story and it connected so close to my own. truly thank you on this day I now feel love, compassion a positive outlook for what the future holds. I thank you caroline because I feel so much closer to god the holy ghost and my son on this day because of your blog.

Kati said...

You are so amazing! I love you and thank you for your testimony.

Jeanne Moore said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I just happened across it on FB. I have not had something as hard as you have had to endure, but I have had a terrifically hard trial to face as well. In 2012 my 4 year old was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Cancer that had spread through her body and to her lungs. She didn't really have a chance. We went through 3 surgeries, radiation, and lots of chemo. She is now 6 years old and in remission. She is a complete miracle. But I share this because when I read your words they were exactly ones I felt thru the hardest year of my life with my daughter. Then, in October 2013, I had a miscarriage and lost my 3rd baby. Sometimes, we don't know why or understand, but like you said, undeniably I have been blessed and know Our Savior lives and loves us. The veil is so thin, and I have witnessed miracles. My testimony is so much stronger than it was before these tests, and forever will be changed. I couldn't have learned these things any other way, than by these trials. I also remember saying when I lost my baby that at least I had my other one and didn't lose her to least not yet. Each day is a blessing and I try to live it as such. Your soon to be baby girl I'm sure will be the biggest blessing of your life.
I also was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting about our journey. I felt so much the same things you talked about. It was so incredibly hard to do and raw emotions, but also received letters and cards from people saying thank you for touching them. I really know, through our trials, we can help bless others lives. We can be examples of true faith, and a true testimony if we can stay strong with such difficult times. It helps others to be grateful for their trials.
I'm glad I came across your blog. If you ever would like to, feel free to follow my cancer cute. She has a FB page called Team McKayla.
I wish the best for you! I send huge hugs of empathy your way and love for a fellow sister.

Lauren Thayer said...

This was such a powerful and inspirational post. I loved your talk and reading about your experience through all of this. Not many people can have such a positive attitude like you do. Such a touching post.

Carrie Pringle said...

Caroline, you don't know me, but I have been following your journey since your sweet Colton passed away.
My husband was good friends with Nick in Santa Clarita, and he works right by Woods Cross. Many, many times he wanted to visit with Nick, now that they were both in Ut, but he never did get the chance to catch up.
We have been thinking about you, we have prayed many times for you. I sincerely hope that your heart has found peace, and. I personally pray for that nightly. Always thinking of you <3
Beautiful talk by the way!
-Carrie & Cameron Pringle

EmilyW said...

I've been thinking about you and was so happy to see this blog. You and Nick are an inspiring couple. You both are a great example of how to live life and keep The Lord close to our hearts. Thank you for sharing part of yourself that is quite personal. Nick was always so kind to me and I appreciated his friendship when we were in Jr High and high school. Keep on staying strong, your sweet baby girl needs your strength :) I bet she will be an amazing person because of her amazing parents.

Amanda said...

Caroline, I happened upon your blog today and can't thank you enough for what you've said. We lost our twin babies in November (strangely right around the same time as your tragedies) at twenty weeks and today was my due date. I was really in need of some comfort on this difficult day and found a little bit in your blog. I am astounded at your testimony and your eternal perspective. I don't know why God asks such difficult things of us, but I am grateful that you have chosen to share your love for the gospel and the Atonement through such difficult times. I am praying for your comfort and for the safe arrival of your baby girl soon!