Feed your FAITH and your fears will starve .

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leaning on Faith

I was asked by Trent's cousin's wife to write the following talk for her YW.  It will be presented tonight along with the video that follows and the song that she wrote when Trent passed away.

The Atonement and Adversity
                In May of 2010 my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV Pleomorphic Spindle Cell Sarcoma at the age of 37.  We, along with our five children, were devastated.  The fear that gripped us was almost tangible.  We turned to the Lord to give us peace, comfort, and the strength we would need to face the tremendous battle that would lie before us. 
                Over the course of the next twenty eight months we came to more fully understand the role of our Savior’s Atonement for each of us.  For so long I associated the Atonement with sin.  However, the acts of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross encompass so much more than paying the price for our sins.  In Alma 7: 11-12 it reads:

 11And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions and btemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12And he will take upon him adeath, that he may bloose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities.

That part was for Trent.  Christ took upon himself the pains and suffering of cancer, and every other illness, so that he would know how to succor Trent in his darkest hours.

And in Isaiah 53:4 we read:
4¶Surely he hath aborne our bgriefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
That part was for me.  Christ has born my grief and carried my sorrows.  He descended below all to be able lift us up in our times of need.  When my husband passed away seven months ago I began a whole new journey in understanding the Atonement.  During my darkest hours I found comfort in knowing that my Savior, Jesus Christ, knew exactly what I was feeling and how my heart was breaking because He had already felt every pain that I was experiencing.  I came to know that not only did He feel my pain, but He wept with me.  He wasn’t sitting back thinking, “It’s okay that you are hurting now, because in the end it will all be worth it.”  Instead He lowered himself to the depths of my sorrow and wept with me, never leaving me alone. 
As much as I already knew about the Atonement and its redeeming qualities for sin, I learned how to apply the Atonement to my life for sorrow, grief, doubt, and fear.  I learned to fully rely on the Lord and His wisdom to carry me through not only the tough times, but my entire life.  As I did so, I realized there was a whole other aspect of the Atonement that I had never considered before, the enabling power of the Atonement.   Elder David Bednar said, “I frankly do not think many of us ‘get it’ concerning the enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities.”  Heavenly Father and the Savior can strengthen us, bless us, and comfort us as we learn to lay our burdens at Their feet.
                As my children and I are working to overcome our sorrow and grief, we are being strengthened and lifted up.  My oldest daughter is 15 and a sophomore in high school.  She has been somewhat quiet with her pain and doesn’t show much emotion.  I have worried about her and what she must be going through and how she is handling things.  However, I have been humbled as I have watched her grow.  I have witnessed her reach out to her friends who are struggling and lift them up and love them.  I have listened to her express her desire to help them in any way.  I have seen amazing growth in each of my children and am grateful for the extra help and care they are given each day.
                I have also had many opportunities to participate in the lives of others who are struggling with cancer, death, and picking up the pieces of a shattered life.  Many times I have been given the strength to do things and say things that I was sure I could not handle.  I have grown in ways I never thought possible.  I am forever changed because of the enabling power of the Atonement.  It has made weak things strong and I know that it is only through Christ that these things are possible.  The Atonement is meant to make us “one” with our Savior.  In putting away sin, overcoming trials, and blessing the lives of others, that is exactly what we are doing. 
                In closing I want to leave you with my testimony that I know beyond doubt that Christ lives.  He atoned for my sins, my sorrow, and my growth.  Heavenly Father knows each one of us intimately and loves us infinitely.  I know that Heavenly Father’s plan is perfect and His plan for me will help me to become the person He needs me to become.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Video by Natasha Jones
Leaning on Faith

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another "First" Conquered...Well, Survived

Well we survived Trent's birthday and managed to fit a few fun moments in between the tears.  Tuesday night I got together with my widow/widower friends.  We laughed so hard that my abs were killing me!  It felt so good to hurt from laughter and not crying.  I was hoping all the laughing would carry me through a very difficult "first".  When I got up Wednesday I was still giggling about the night before and I was sure the day was going to be fine.  WRONG!  I made "Daddy Cake" for Trent and got the day started.  Not long after that I read some things that made the tears start.  Megan also posted a picture of Trent on FB with her birthday wish to him and it made me cry even more.  My mom came in and tried to comfort me but I completely shut her out.  I am not sure why.  I just wanted to be alone and have my time to cry.  The day was filled with tears and memories.  It was so weird to celebrate without Trent.  I wasn't sure if I should decorate the dining room and make a poster for him like we always do.  I ended up not doing it, I just couldn't.

I had to coach a soccer practice for Jarom's team, did I mention I am coaching soccer?  Poor kid, his coach is clueless! :)  At practice I ran into a woman I had gone to school with whose son is now on my team.  She mentioned she had read my blog and was very sympathetic.  I was sure that I looked like I had been run over by a truck because of all the tears I had cried that day.  I thanked her and told her it had been a rough day because of Trent's birthday.  When she came back to pick up her son she brought me a box of Idle Isle chocolates.  She couldn't have known how much I love those and her kindness was a huge boost to me that day.

I hurried home from practice and loaded all the kids in the burb to go to the cemetery.  Trent's sister had sent 40 balloons which we tied notes to and took with us.  We sang "Happy Birthday" to Trent but I couldn't finish it.  I made it all the way to the third line before I broke down and sobbed.  I had to take a moment to say 'hi' to Shea, our friend who passed away last week.  She is buried right at the foot of Trent's grave.  That was comforting for some reason.  I hate that she is there at all but I am glad she is by Trent.

Getting ready to release the birthday wishes!

Our notes on their way to Trent.

Jonny had a fit because his balloon floated away.  Ummmm...that is the point Jonny!

On the way to eat dinner we saw the most amazing rainbow.  It made me happy because the kids all remembered a time when Trent chased a rainbow for them, trying to find the pot of gold at the end.  But then it made me sad because I knew that the Second Coming would not be happening this year.  Bummer.

We ate dinner at Red Robin.  When we were in Nebraska we ate there once and we decided that their jingle would be our secret way to tell each other that we loved our family.  One person would sing, "Red Robin" and the rest of the family finished off with "YUMM!"  We have kept that going for the past five years.  We all know what to do and we all know what it means.  I was really trying to put on a happy face but several times I had to pull myself out of my own head and remind myself to pay attention to the kids.  We had a pretty good time and made it through dinner mostly unscathed.  We went home and ate the most delicious Daddy Cake and I put the kids to bed.  I was so ready for them to be asleep.  I felt like I had lived a hundred days in one.  I felt like I had accomplished a big first, then I realized I have to do it again in 364 more days.  Ugh!

The next day was the seven month closer mark.  I can't believe it has been seven months since Trent passed away.  It is still so surreal.  I feel like I must be living someone else's life.  Mine was not supposed to be this way.  But I am learning that I can choose to be upset about what should have been or I can carry on and make the best of what I have been given.  It truly is a choice.  I know what Trent wants me to do and I know what the Lord expects me to do.  So I choose to make my actions and attitude be something that Trent would be proud of.  I want him to cheer me on in my life, not worry that I am not strong enough or be disappointed with my decisions.  Little by little we are making it, conquering surviving one "first" at a time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy 40th Trent!

It's birthday week at our house.  I say that not because we have several birthdays but because Trent always liked to celebrate his birthday all week long, or longer.  He was always using his birthday as an excuse, or a reason, to get something he wanted.  Even if it was several days before or after his actual birthday.  In his pleading he would say, "Awww come on Babe, it's my birthday!"  Of course I let him win with that one every time.  It was fun to have him be so excited for his birthday and he was just as excited for all of ours too.  We are going to celebrate Trent's life and eat some "crazy good" carrot cake today.  I am going to do my best to make it a fun day that Trent would be happy to be a part of.  

40 Reasons I Love My Birthday Boy!
1. I love Trent's sense of humor.  That was one of the first things that attracted me to him.
2. His laugh.
3. His eyes.
4. His hands.
5. His 1 1/2 earlobes. When Trent was born he had two earlobes on one ear.  They removed one and it left him with a pretty small earlobe.
6. His spontaneity.
7. His determination.
8. His pure goodness.
9. Trent is a people person.  He can talk to anyone about anything.
10. His sweet tooth.
11. His love of learning.
12. His happy attitude.
13. His happy dance.
14. The Pillsbury doughboy laugh.
15. His handwriting. He randomly capitalizes letters. 
16. His horse whistle.
17. His quirks.
18. His skills as a builder. He can build anything he wants to.
19. His imagination.
20. His love of food and trying new recipes.
21. His courage.
22. His strength.
23. His ability to make a joke out of almost anything.
24. His sincere desire to serve others.
25. His desire to serve the Lord.
26. I love that he let me put my cold feet on him in bed.
27. I love that he put toothpaste on my toothbrush for me every night.
28. His adventurous spirit.
29. I love that Trent is such a great daddy.
30. I love that he gave me Megan and that her eyebrows remind me of him.
31. I love that he gave me Zach and that he taught him to be so respectful and loving to me.
32. I love that he gave me Jarom and that he left some of his mischievousness here in him.
33. I love that he gave me Mallory and made her such a daddy's girl.
34. I love that he gave me Jonathan and pretty much gave me a carbon copy of himself to raise.
35. I love that he endured all he had to endure with a smile on his face.
36. I love his unwavering faith and testimony.
37. I love his willingness to sacrifice everything to be here with us as long as possible.
38. I love that he honored his priesthood.
39. I love that he loved me.
40. I love that he is mine forever.

Trent and I dressed as King and Queen for Mallory's 5th birthday party

Trent's favorite---HUSKER FOOTBALL!!!

On the Field at Husker Stadium
I hope they celebrate birthdays in heaven!  LOVE YOU BABE!  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Yesterday I was really caught off guard when at 4:30 pm I got an email saying that Trent's headstone had been set.  The last correspondence I had with the monument place was saying that they would notify me one week before the headstone would be set.  I had asked for some notice so I could prepare emotionally for that.  It was like the breath had been sucked right out of me.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to see it or not, if I should wait or go right away, if I should go alone or take the kids.  Needless to say, my mind was reeling and I felt like my feet had been kicked out from under me.  Ultimately I decided to take the kids and go right away.  I just couldn't stay away when I knew it was done.  It kind of felt like I had to go just so I could get this hard thing done and move past it.  As we drove to the cemetery I was already fighting back the tears.  As soon as I saw the headstone I lost it.  It is so FINAL, the last thing I had to do for Trent, and it is done.  Ugh.  It was pretty emotional to say the least.  I started taking pictures but soon gave the camera to my little photog, Megan.   I will let the pictures tell the story...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Angel in Heaven

Last week was so busy and had so many good, but hard moments. About a week and a half ago I was at a friends' house and he told me that he had seen Trent's headstone when he went to pick out his wife's headstone.  Trent's headstone has not been set yet but is completed and sitting out at the monument place.  In my head I knew that was probably the case but I didn't really think about it because it is too hard.  So when my friend mentioned he went to the monument place, I half-jokingly asked if he had seen Trent's headstone while he was there.  When he said he had I instantly burst into tears.  He said it was beautiful and actually apologized for seeing it first.  I just didn't want to face it before, I could have seen it anytime I wanted to.  The next day while I was taking Megan to a friends' house we stopped to see the headstone.  As soon as I pulled in I was bawling.  It is just so final to see Trent's name in stone.  It doesn't bother me one bit to see mine there too though.  I don't actually think that there will ever be a death date by my name.  I am pretty sure the Second Coming will happen before that.  I asked Megan if it bothered her to see the headstone.  She said it was so final...like she had been living the past six months in a different reality.  When I dropped her off I was still bawling.  She said goodbye and started to run up to the house but turned around quickly.  She flung open the car door and said, "I love you Mom!"  I am so blessed to have her!

For FHE last week I gathered all the kids up and took them for frozen yogurt.  Then we parked at the temple and talked.  It was nice to have them all close and to have a chance to chat about things that are going on in our lives.  As my days are being filled with the business of getting back to life I feel like I haven't been taking as many moments to connect with my kids.  I know that none of them have REALLY grieved yet so I need to make sure that I am ready and have a good relationship with each one so they will be able to open up to me and feel like they are heard.

Wednesday I spent the day with Sandra.  We went to the Bountiful Temple together.  That is the temple that she and Paul were married in and it was her first time back since Paul passed away.  It was a hard day for both of us but I was so glad she let me share it with her.  After the session I got to the Celestial Room first.  I waited anxiously for Sandra to get there too.  As soon as I saw her enter the room I gathered her in my arms and we cried buckets of tears of anguish.  I think sometimes we expect too much to happen at the temple and that can be very devastating.  Sometimes the peace we need is so hard to find.  We spent several hours talking and crying and leaning on each other for support.  I can see how far I have come and to be able to look back and see a path of progress and healing is comforting to me.

That night I went to dinner with three widow/widower friends and had a blast.  It is nice to do something social again.  We always have a good time together and it especially helps that we all "get it".

Our family was asked to present a musical program at the nursing home last Thursday.  We have done that several times before and I was happy to have the chance again.  The last time we did it, Trent was with us and had a great time talking with all the residents.  As we performed I found myself looking for Trent in the audience, where he was last time.  It was kind of empty without him.

Shortly after we returned home I went with my dad to see Shea, a friend who had recently been put on hospice after battling cancer for two years.  In March of 2011, Trent and I went to visit Shea as soon as we heard about her diagnosis.  Neither of us had ever met her or her family before but wanted to offer any support we could to them.  We had such a sweet visit.  We both bore our testimonies about the love the Lord has for each one of us and the strength that we had been given to face our trial.  Shea and Trent became great friends and connected on a level that only two cancer warriors can.  Shea later told me about the strength she had been given by knowing Trent.  She would think, "If Trent can do this, then so can I."  Shea is a beautiful woman, inside and out, and we love her so much!

As I walked in the front door her mom met me with a hug and asked how I knew.  They really felt like Shea would pass away within a few hours of that time.  I had been thinking of Shea almost nonstop for the past few days and had even texted her on Monday.  When my dad mentioned her, I knew I had to go see her that night.  I am so glad I did!  I will never forget the feelings I had as I looked at her frail body and beautiful face.  I knelt by her bed and took her hand in mine.  I told her I was jealous that she would be seeing Trent before I would.  I asked her to make sure she gave him a big hug from me and remind him how much I love him.  I told her I was certain that Trent would be waiting for her so she wouldn't have to go find him.  I told her how much she meant to me and how grateful I was for her example to me.  She could barely speak but told me how much she loved me and Trent.  As I held her hand she gently pulled my hand to her lips and kissed it.  I wanted to scoop up her tiny body and hug her as tight as I could.  Those were some pretty emotional moments but it wasn't the tear your heart out kind of emotion.  I definitely look at death much differently than before.  I am happy for Shea.  She has suffered so much.  There is a reason for everything and someday it will all be explained.  I ache for her parents and the loss they are suffering.  But for Shea, I only see happiness and a life free from pain and the torment of her diseased physical body.  I know it won't be long before we are all together and again and Trent will take good care of her until then.  The last time my dad and I visited with Shea he gave her a blessing that she would be able to choose the day, the hour and the minute of her passing.  The time she chose was two days later on Saturday evening around six.  We will miss her dearly but the memory she leaves is one of grace and quiet faith.  We love you Shea!


Anna Shea Liston

October 4, 1987  ~  March 9, 2013

BRIGHAM CITY - Anna Shea Liston was called home to her Heavenly Father on Saturday, March 9, 2013. Cradled in her father and mother's arms, her final days were spent surrounded by family and friends that Shea had touched in some small way throughout her short, very memorable life.

Shea was a music aficionado. She loved songs from all genres and often introduced her siblings to songs she had been listening to. Attending concerts was her passion, and she often could be found listening and singing to music.

She had a quick mind, and loved to use it to strategize to a win in any game, especially Settlers of Cataan or poker. She, to our knowledge, never lost a game of monopoly. In her home, she was considered the "Yatzee Queen".

She was a lover of animals. Shea gained great joy in learning how to ride horses. She loved to play with grandpa's Llamas and over the course of her life time owned several pet birds, dogs, cats, fish, rabbits, turtles, chickens and worms. She wanted to own a lizard or a snake, but was unfortunately told NO. When a sick iguana needed a nurse, Shea took on the task and snuck him into her home where he made a brilliant recovery.

Nobody saw the world quite like Shea, which why she was such a fantastic photographer. She loved to capture the beauty she saw in the world, so most of her pictures were of other people.

She loved people more than anything in her life, and every where she went she drew a crowd to her. She genuinely cared for them, and spent her entire life looking to the needs of others. She didn't care what you wore or what you did or didn't do, she viewed everyone as children of God and always extended to them love and acceptance and support. Her smile was angelic, her laugh contagious. Her family will miss them both dearly. Throughout her struggles in life she continued to grow in beauty and strength. She gave us all courage and hope and reminded each of us the precious gift love and family is in this life.

Daddies special little girl was born at Fort Benning, Georgia on October 4, 1987. She graduated from Box Elder High School on June 2, 2006.

She is survived by her parents, Kelton and Jeneanne Liston; five siblings: Kennan (Kiley) Liston; Brandon Liston; Caroline (Stewart) Peterson; Jenessa Liston, Nick Liston; grandparents, Walter Davis, Audrey Liston and Charlene Davis. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Gloria Glazier and William Liston.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. at the Box Elder Stake Center, 420 South 800 West, Brigham City, UT. Viewings will be held on Friday, March 15th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. at the Stake Center. Interment will be in the Brigham City Cemetery. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Catch Ya On the Flipside

Monday morning I got a text from a dear friend letting me know her sweet husband had passed away.  I met Sandra and Paul when they came to Trent's viewing.  They had followed our blog and felt a connection to us.  I am so glad I got to meet Paul before he died.  I visited him a couple of weeks ago and it broke my heart to know that Sandra was going to experience many of the same things that I am experiencing.  I had asked Paul to make sure and find Trent and give him a big hug for me and tell him that I love him.  As I drove down to see Sandra the day the Paul passed away, I was crying as I thought about Paul and Trent meeting.  I got the very distinct impression that they had indeed met and I felt like Trent was thanking me for sending my love with Paul.  I spent several hours with Sandra that day.  I was a bit nervous to see her because I thought it might throw me back into those difficult emotions that I experienced right after Trent passed away. We laughed, we cried, and we strengthened each other. As I spoke with Sandra I felt that Trent was proud of me and was watching with great pleasure as Sandra and I comforted each other.  She is amazing and I love her so much!  I am continually amazed at how much I gain when I reach out to others.  

Today I had the honor of attending Paul's funeral and memorial services.  I have been gearing up all week for this.  As I drove to the funeral home my mind was filled with memories of Trent's memorial services and the feelings I had on that day.  I fought back tears a couple of times but I mostly felt peace.  I was so uplifted and strengthened by the messages that were given at Paul's funeral.  One message that struck me was the fact that "adversity is temporary but what you become is permanent".  That really made me think.  All adversity is temporary because this life is temporary.  Some adversity is more temporary than others though.  Our cancer battle was temporary, but the effects of that battle will stay with me throughout the remainder of my life.  The good and the bad.  I  have grown and changed throughout this trial and those effects are permanent.  I can never go back to who I was before.  I am forever changed, hopefully for the better.

At the graveside service I was approached by a woman I have never met before.  She said she followed the blog and was very grateful for the things I have shared and that she had been praying for my family.  I am always humbled when I meet people who have followed the blog and have such an interest in our story.  I was touched by her sincerity.

My day was filled with many moments of love and affirmation.  I did not expect it to be so good for me.  My testimony has been strengthened and I am grateful for that.  Heaven has truly gained another great angel.  Catch ya on the flipside Paul!

Paul Dean Winchester 
(July 20, 1960 - February 25, 2013) 

Paul Dean Winchester
Paul Dean Winchester
“Catch ya on the flipside”
On February 25, 2013, our beloved husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle and friend, Paul Dean Winchester, 52, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours with his loving sweetheart by his side, after a long and valiant battle with stomach cancer.
Paul was born on July 20, 1960, the youngest of four children, in Idaho Falls, ID to K. Duane Winchester and Marie Bybee. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Harrisville, UT where he was raised. He graduated from Weber High school in 1978.
On August 11, 1978, Paul married his high school sweetheart, Wendy Wayment. They were later sealed in the Salt Lake LDS temple on September 8, 1979. Together they had three beautiful children; Mitch, Katie and Sheila. Wendy preceded Paul in death on August 21, 1995.
In July 1999, Paul started dating the woman of his dreams, Sandra Mayfield, and on February 5, 2000, they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Bountiful LDS temple. Together they had two more beautiful daughters, Hailey and Sophie.
Paul enjoyed an active lifestyle with hobbies including yoga, walking, rock climbing, fly fishing, camping, and card games. He had an amazing sense of humor and was always able to find humor, even in the most trying situations. He always had a smile on his face and a contagious laugh that could brighten any room. He had a great love for music and was a talented chef. It brought him great joy to cook for and serve others. Family was the most important thing to Paul and he demonstrated this daily through his unconditional love and support.
Paul was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in many various callings, but his most recent calling as High Priest Group Leader was one of his favorites. He had a love for Jesus Christ and lived his life to reflect that. Paul practiced what he preached. He had an amazing gift of seeing the best in others.
Paul is survived by his wife, Sandra; Son, Mitch (Melody) Winchester, Layton; Daughters; Katie Winchester (South Ogden); Sheila (Tony) Brown, Holladay; Hailey and Sophie Winchester, Syracuse; Father; K. Duane Winchester, South Ogden; Brother; Kelly (Janine) Winchester, Loveland, CO; Sister; LuAnn (Kendell) Kennington, SLC; and seven grandchildren.
Paul is preceded in death by his first wife, Wendy; mother, Marie; and Brother, Brad.
Paul had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a program called Reel Recovery, in June 2012. Reel Recovery is a national non-profit organization that conducts free fly-fishing retreats for men battling or recovering from all forms of cancer. In lieu of flowers, Paul has requested donations be made to Reel Recovery.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Lindquist’s Layton Mortuary, 1867 No. Fairfield Road. Friends may visit family on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the mortuary. Interment, Lindquist’s Memorial Park at Layton, 1867 No. Fairfield Road.
2 Timothy 4:6-7 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”