Thursday, March 27, 2008

Faith...a tribute to Ashley Peterson

"Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that He was a parent before you were parents and that He has not relinquished His parental rights or interest in these little ones. Now love them, take care of them...welcome them into your homes and nurture and love them with all your hearts."

-President Gordon B. Hinckley

This quote was on the funeral program for Ashley Peterson. She passed away a little over a week ago on March 20, 2008.
She was only 5 years old. Her parents, Paul and Emily Peterson, were in our ward when we lived at my parent’s home about 6 years ago. Emily was pregnant with Ashley while I was pregnant with Talon and we were visiting teaching partners. I have always thought highly of her.

The funeral services had a profound impact on me.
The funeral was very painful as you can imagine, but uplifting at the same time. I could hardly keep it together, especially when I saw a small piece of her baby blanket that they had on display. It is one of those things no parent ever wants to have to face. So many things were beyond my understanding of pain, but I found myself uplifted and encouraged because of the tremendous faith shown by Paul and Emily and their family. Their trust in God was unwavering. You could not shake their faith.

They both said that they felt a tremendous peace about her passing knowing that it was time for her to go and that she had a great work to do in Heaven. Instead of having this painful experience tear apart their family it has obviously strengthened them. Paul talked about Emily’s positive attitude amidst the difficulty and that when he came home from work, she was always positive.
Emily spoke about how Ashley would want all of us to be kinder, more patient, more loving and better people. Ashley is a beautiful, sweet girl with a pure heart.

He said many people asked them how they were getting through it all. He answered that they always try to have an eternal perspective and they look forward with faith. Even though they don’t understand why Ashley had to go through this painful experience they know that God has a plan for her and for them. They are grateful that they will have the opportunity to raise her and be with her again in the future.

They have a journal posted on a website they made for her and I spent a lot of time reading the entries. I found it inspiring and comforting, so here is the link if you would like to read it too.

Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was there and he shared a few words that gave me strength.
He said that we can only take 3 things with us when we leave this world…

1. Our Character

2. Our Covenants

3. Our Family

He said, “These two (Paul and Emily) would have to be taken out on a stretcher if it weren't for the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ and for the knowledge of His gospel. We would all be carrying each other out on stretchers. Nobody could handle this pain if it weren't for Jesus Christ.”

My mom and I attended the funeral together and we both came out of that meeting on a spiritual high. We were strengthened and uplifted by Ashley’s life and by her family’s faith. Our experience was not unique. As I read the guestbook on Ashley's website, it seems that everyone has been affected by her and her family for the better. It's amazing how many people have been so uplifted and strengthened by one little girl. My faith has been reaffirmed and my testimony strengthened. I have taken strength from them and hope to endure my trials with more faith in God.


Dianne West said...

Jay, such a wonderful, touching tribute to Ashley. You conveyed your
sentiments so well! I'm so glad we
were able to go to the funeral together; it strengthened and uplifted me also! Last night I wrote in my journal about it. I wrote down
Elder Holland's 3 things we take with
us also. And I wrote down what Emily
said about being given MORE than we
are able to bear so we will go to God
to use his gift of the Atonement.
Otherwise, would we go to Him if we
could bear all things? My thoughts
too after what we've been through!
Love, Mom

Rachel said...

I knew Emily in College and am really saddened to know of her loss. I am glad to hear that they are finding so much strength in the gospel and are able to find comfort in knowing they will see her again. that post was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful little girl.

Melissa said...

What a beautiful tribute to a special little girl. It is amazing how something so tragic can be such a faith promoting experience. I am so glad that I stumbled upon your blog today and was able to read all about her.

Jaynann - I can't believe that I found you! I was looking for your address and googled you and sure enough you came right up. I guess there aren't many Jaynann's in the world!! I loved reading all about your cute family and your fun life. You look absolutely beautiful and haven't changed a bit! I also love to read about your culinary talents since I don't remember us cooking much but black bean quesadillas at BYU. Good times.

I have thought about you so many times and I am so happy that I found you my friend! We actually have a blog as well - You are the best!!

Jessica said...

Very sweet Jaynann -- you have always had such a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts and feelings. What a hard thing, I am so glad it has been such a faith promoting experience for you and for their family.

bechtold clan said...

So glad you put this out there...its a great reminder about whats really important. Thanks for sharing.