‘And I Did Eat’
When I was asked to write an article about my life I was touched. I then wondered if it was really understood who they had asked and whether they truly knew of the condition of the tapestry of my life and the much needed repair work that had occurred on so many occasions! Realising we are all on different journeys to the same destination and with very different experiences but with the same divine heritage, a prayer was offered up to my Heavenly Father requesting the assistance of The Holy Ghost so that I might be able to write with authenticity the things that my
Father in Heaven would have me share and that these words would reach the people they were intended to lift. I have entitled it ‘And I Did Eat’ because like Eve that’s the choice we all made in the [before life] willingly.
My name is Julia Marie, I loved to introduce myself as this as a child, it made me smile for some reason. My maiden name is Gray and I was born in the United Kingdom. I am a spirited passionate girl who is a wife, mother, grandmother and so much more, still working it all out and trying to see myself with all the lights on as it were. Always wanting to throw myself into the experiences of life with gusto that allow me to flourish and grow on this wonderfully colourful planet. I have studied nutrition in the past but recently decided to change to a Bachelor Degree in Health Science majoring in Naturopathy with a great great great grandfather who was a surgeon and midwife and great grandfather who chose to be an herbalist you can see that my fascination with health and well being is in my blood. I am a qualified energy therapist and life coach who just loves wholistic living and healing ourselves from the inside out. I am developing my website and multimedia presence and at nearly half a century young am still the girl that rolled down the hillsides and ran free through the parks. We currently live in Australia with our three children and two grand kids. Our youngest son is the only one left at home is 15 and a great guy that still keeps me happily busy and fills my soul with light and love. Being a mother has been my greatest joy and at times brought me to my knees finding myself in my most
intense Gethsemane moments. I have experienced the grief of miscarriage and the tragedy of losing babies in pregnancy. I have collapsed under the pressure of marrying at 18 and finding myself a single parent living in emergency accommodation with my 2 precious children along with drug addicts and the people of this world that are quite confronting. I have begged and pleaded for relief, I have handed it all to the Lord in moments when I truly felt I had come to the end of the road and simply could not take one more step or even breathe. I have been cooped up and rescued by my Saviour and my Heavenly Father just as I thought I was done.
I have experienced a new love and learnt how to blend my little family with a new husband and new ways and through it all my testimony developed, blossomed and even exploded at times into a beautiful meteor shower of wonder and gratitude. Each life here on earth is a beautiful tapestry of different coloured delicate threads woven carefully together that create a wonderful masterpiece, but when I look at the back of mine I often wonder if I am the only one who has such a seemingly impossible mess that’s full of knots and repairs and threads all intermingled in a very scruffy fashion. As I have sat with others and felt impressed to share certain things I have come to see that mine is not the only messy tapestry out there and that although I could not
always see any beauty, the repair work was in fact integral for me to really learn for myself of the true power and purpose of the atonement providing a sure way of turning weakness into strength and mistakes into wisdom to strengthen and share.
Upon opening my laptop and starting to compile my thoughts the tears welled up and
I was connected into to the path of my past. I’m sure we have all wondered at times
what we signed up for. I have heard many thoughts on the process of how we came to have certain trials, all quite humorous and light-hearted in their nature so I will share an insight into my humour and a glimpse of how my life has felt as I reflect on the nearly 50 years I have been here. I believe its possible that when I was anxiously waiting to come down from the heavens to what I thought would be a wonderfully glorious extended family picnic with a few trying moments to of course refine me, I must have not been paying attention when I was told it would be more like going into ‘green beret training!’ If I could have a chat with myself as a young girl the first thing I would do is throw my arms around that innocent little girl and just infuse her with love. I would tell her to always fill herself with self love and never to compare herself to another soul on this planet quite simply because there is not another soul like her here on earth, there never has been and there never will be. I would plead with her to understand her most important task would be to learn how the spirit speaks to her and that to put anything else above this would be like driving a stick shift car without a clutch, it would be loud, jarring, clunky and require constant repairs risking a complete engine failure because of the intense wear and tare.That’s what its like trying to navigate your way through life without the personal understanding and protection that comes when we develop and rely upon the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
I grew up in [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], my Mother was one of the strongest women I would ever witness in the gospel and still is today. I have a brother who decided to stop his gospel journey at about the age of 18, although I’m sure the decision was made in
his heart much before that age. My Father joined the [LDS] church with my mother but immediately fell away. As a primary child I remember loving coming to church, we
would walk for at least an hour to our meetings during the week through the park, singing, dancing and exploring all the way. I have always been a passionate vibrant spirited child and just loved being around people. One of the first real challenges I had as a child in the gospel was having a less active father who didn’t come to Primary ([LDS children’s organization] Presentations, as I grew into my teenage years the sadness I felt about this developed into a greater concern as I learnt about eternal families. Coming to the realisation that I was not part of a sealed family, it left me feeling I was in a very precarious and vulnerable position. I felt I had to choose between my mum’s choices and my dad’s and although I trusted my mum and the example she set it I did not yet have a strong enough faith and understanding in the principles I had been taught so far to take a stand. I loved both my parents but in my naivety and need to have my fathers love I decided I must do exactly what he did to ensure I ended up where he was headed! I did not give it anymore thought than that, It was perfectly logical to me and so the beginning of some very difficult teenage years began and many hours of fasting and praying by my mother ensued. She never once forced me to make different choices or guilt tripped me into a path that did not deviate from gospel principles. What I now know and found out not long after I had embarked on the treacherous path was that she took it straight to the Lord in fasting and prayer, having a prayer in her heart continually thereby laying the foundation and setting the example to me in the way the Saviour walked when he lived on earth, inviting, loving
and leading by a perfect example and pleading with His Father for divine assistance with His righteous desires.
It was during an annual ski trip that my dad and I took that I would have an experience that challenged me at the deepest part of my soul, halt my course and correct my direction. As I recount the story it feels as though it’s a crazy movie clip from somebody else’s life, so far from the world I live in now and yet a critical lesson that I would draw upon repeatedly throughout my life. It took place in Austria on a very cold and snowy night under the light of the silvery moon (Spooky … hahaha). There was a big party that was to take place at the top of one of the mountain piste’s where we spent our days. Our hotel was at the bottom of the mountain and the rest of our family and friends were about midway up somewhere. It was agreed that we would all make our own way to the venue, I remember feeling excited although a little concerned about the weather that had taken a turn for the worse and my dad traditionally was a huge risk taker, heavy drinker and not one to really think too far ahead. Once we arrived at the party I
was pretty much left to take care of myself and have fun with my cousins. At some point in the evening I was told that we could not get back down the mountain as taxi drivers would no longer consider the journey up because it was too dangerous due to the weather and so we decided we would stay at my Aunty’s Inn and hope we could crash there until the morning. I
also remember that I became increasingly uncomfortable with my surroundings, the drinking by all the adults in our group was getting out of hand and I was beginning to feel more and more vulnerable. My dad was becoming difficult to talk to and his behaviour was now too much for me to be around. I witnessed things that sickened me and caused me to shudder that night. I had been disappointed and saddened by my Father many times in my life but this night would
change my feelings about my dad and his choices for many years to come. I remember such a surge of emotion coming over me I did not know which way to turn, I told my Aunt that I was leaving, she tried to persuade me to stay as she was very aware that It would be far too dangerous to attempt to get to her hotel knowing I had never been there before, adding to that the bad weather and the fact that it was past midnight with no lighting to find my way, she was very worried but I would not be convinced. I was far too angry and hurt so I stormed out of the party without coat or hat into the freezing cold black of night without a soul in sight for quite some time to come. The adrenaline surging through my body kept me warm and drove me on for a period of time but slowly my anger was replaced with fear and the realisation as to the situation I now found myself in became apparent, with just the moonlight reflecting on the snow I could barely see a few feet in front of me. I had never experienced darkness like this before and it was scary, suddenly the impact of my vulnerability hit me like a ton of bricks. I do remember walking very slowly so as not to stray too far to the right where I knew the piste fell away and had heard this was how a number of people lost their lives each year. I had been sobbing for most of the way so far and had passed a couple of people going to the party, I lowered my head as I walked by so as not to reveal myself as the scared young girl that I was. For the first time in my life I offered up a sincere prayer out loud partly to comfort myself and partly because of the desperate circumstance I found myself in, I think I wanted to make sure it reached heaven! I don’t remember all the details of that prayer but I know I told Heavenly Father how I felt, how sad I was, how I could see that the choices my dad was making were wrong and that I would no longer follow in his ways. My eyes had been opened and now I would come back to church and follow my mother from there on in. I begged and pleaded with Heavenly Father to guide me to safety it was at this point that I literally came to a fork in the road. I had no idea which path to take, how ironic that I was literally experiencing what I was spiritually confronted with right at that moment. My logical head was saying take the path to the
right, you want to get down from this mountain, BUT my heart and mind were impressed to take the left path which seemed to go up the mountain side higher. I needed to find my Aunt’s hotel but as I had never seen it I had no idea what I was looking for. I felt completely displaced on this mountain side with no idea what direction I should go in. Again feeling impressed to take the path that seemed to be heading up the mountain and with a granule of hope and faith I just made a choice and followed this new path. I don’t know how long I walked I just know that I was
scared, cold and desperate. It felt like I had been walking for a lifetime. Suddenly in the far distance I saw a very dim light, my heart leaped for joy, hope came flooding in and I felt that there could be a chance of safety. I hurried my step, finally I was standing in front of a little mountain Inn. Of course there was no one up at this time but the main entrance was left open for returning guests. I decided to walk in and up the stairs turning door handles to see if any rooms were vacant. I tried a number of rooms before one finally opened. In I went, had a quick look around, checked the wardrobe and draws were empty and that there was no sign of occupancy. Feeling completely emotionally drained, exhausted and freezing cold I crawled into the warm comfy bed still holding onto my awareness a little as I felt so nervous to be in this
room that was not mine. The rooms were old fashioned with big heavy doors that required a key to lock them and as I had no key it had to be left unlocked adding to my feelings of vulnerability. I don’t know how long I was asleep for but I awoke to two men creeping around the room, I was truly petrified. I stayed silent hoping they would leave as it was obvious to me this was not their room either and much like myself seemed to stumble across this space. However they soon discovered I was in the bed and alone and headed towards me. The adrenaline was pumping again and I used all my strength to fight off these two drunk men from trying to get into the bed. I just kept telling them to get out, they didn’t speak English but It worked! I have never been so frightened. I made it through the rest of the night and in the morning quickly left the room wondering where I was and what I was going to do now hoping to creep out before being spotted and having to explain why I was there and that I had no money to pay for the room. As I went down stairs I heard familiar voices, they were
coming from the breakfast room and so I went to explore. I could not believe my eyes, sitting around a big dining table was all my family including my dad! I was in shock and nearly fell on the floor as my mind was jolted to the reality of the enormous miracle that had gathered me up in the dark of the night and led me here. Without knowing it, but with lots of prayer and hoping, I had indeed found my way to my Aunty’s hotel. I remember thinking, how could this be? I sat down with them feeling such relief to be with family but at the same time never feeling so removed and alone in all my life. So many thoughts raced through my mind. I was devastated
that my dad barley batted an eyelid and hadn’t even realised that I was possibly missing. He seemed more angry with the men that tried to climb in my bed than with his own behaviour. There is no need to recount the rest of the story except to go to the point of arriving home to my mum. I have never been so happy to see my mother the person I now realised had always had my life at the forefront of all her thoughts day and night since my birth. We all have this realisation at some point once we too become a mother and have those feelings flood through our souls. I told my mum all about it, that my eyes had been opened and I would not take that path again. She shared with me that she was so overcome with fear whilst I was away that she
started a 3 day fast and had dedicated it to my safety and eyes being opened to the ways of my Father. I just could not believe my ears, the depth of her ability to know what I was faced with. Heavenly Father had literally plucked me off that mountainside and put me in front of that Inn, there was no other explanation and I knew it more than anything I had ever known in my life. I was rescued at every level possible. I felt such love from my Father in Heaven, its hard to express in words the understanding that I gained of my divine nature and the very individual love that He has for me. I truly felt his guidance and had experienced a miracle in my life that left me in no doubt as to who He was and whose I was. This was the start of my journey back to heaven…
There have been so many experiences since that have been trying and confusing, confronting and lonely but I can say that I have always known that Heavenly Father is most certainly there and Knows where I am at all times. I have been refined as a daughter of Heavenly Father. This process could only have taken place by choosing to be a mother. I have had health issues that have led to multiple miscarriages as I touched on earlier and losses later in pregnancy which brings me to another defining chapter in my life. I was re-married in 1998 living as a new family
with my children from my first marriage and a beautiful little boy from this new marriage to Aaron. In 2003 I became pregnant with baby number 4. Having had struggles to fall pregnant and hold a pregnancy this was such a precious gift. I was about 12 weeks pregnant and having monthly scans because of my past history. The scans all looked good the babies heart beat was strong and we were now at 15 weeks, yes! My husband worked for British Airways and so would be away for 20 days each month on long haul flights. We managed well as I was used to coping on my own. It was during this time of separation that I had an experience that has been one of the most sacred experiences of my life. One night in my sleep I was taken to a place of the
most astounding beauty and tranquility. I found myself walking alongside a little brook with a man that introduced himself as my son. The details of what he looked like and the conversation we shared are so private and sacred I’m not too sure that I should share all of them here. What I can say is that I knew what this experience was as it was happening, I was smiling from ear to ear as I walked and talked with this young man gaining insights to his personality and life in the pre-existence. He told me that he was called Matthew and that was what we should name him, this
surprised me as we didn’t really pick traditional names but I was delighted to let his dad know that this was to be the choice. Up to this point we had not been able to think of any boys names that we liked as all we could think of were girls names and I had been absolutely certain we were having a girl! So to find myself chatting to our son was a huge surprise and I remember thinking I cannot wait to tell my husband, he is going to be blown away when I tell him about this night. I just can’t express all the thoughts and emotions I was left with in the morning when I woke. Firstly I woke up with sore cheeks from smiling all through the night. I just lay there staring up at the ceiling reeling with so many thoughts and feelings. When my husband returned from his trip at the first opportunity we had to have a long conversation I recounted this experience of the most extraordinary night of my life. The funniest thing was letting him know we were having a boy. We were not due another scan now until 20 weeks when they would let us know the sex of the baby. We had just had our scan and everything was perfect. My husband was just looking at me as I relayed my experiences, I have no idea what he really thought but got the impression he wanted to believe me but kept a wait and see attitude haha! He found it even more surprising when I let him know the name of our baby. Life went on in its usual busy way with three children to take care of. Seventeen weeks came, I was sitting at a kid’s party with my best friend when my whole uterus shook, it was such a weird feeling I automatically grabbed my stomach, my friend asked if I was OK. I told her what happened but the feeling passed very quickly and I pushed it out of my mind. Eighteen weeks came and I had been feeling Matthew kicking for a little while now, it was such an exciting time the whole family could not wait to meet this little guy that I had described to them, we were all in awe of that nights dream with our little baby.
Nineteen weeks and I had packed up our house single handedly whilst my hubby was away and we were now on moving day. Both sides of the family had driven to us to assist with the move. That morning however I had woken with an overwhelming feeling that something was terribly wrong. I told my husband Aaron of my feelings he tried to comfort me which he was always very good at but this time the feeling just persisted so mid move we decided that I would just pop in to see my midwife, something you can do easily in the UK. She told me to hop on the bed and we would get out the little ultrasound machine to just check on the babies heart beat and help
to ease my worries. I will never forget that moment, there I was with the midwife
running the wand over my belly, back and forth, time and again… nothing, not a sound. I was really starting to panic and tears started falling from my cheeks. She kept apologising and saying I’m sure things are ok. After about 20 minutes that felt like a lifetime she said that I should go home, get my husband and go straight to the hospital where they would perform a proper ultrasound to see the baby. I don’t know how I drove home but as I pulled up in front of the new house where everyone was busily unloading our furniture I just could not get out the car. I had held it together to some degree up until then but in a flood came the wracking sobs. Aaron immediately came over to the car as soon as I pulled up and saw the terror in my eyes I blurted
out some legible words about Matthew and no heart beat and leave now. After quietly letting our parents know without alarming the kids he jumped into the car and we drove to the hospital. Next thing I remember was that I was lying on the bed having an ultrasound, Aaron and myself clasping hands just hanging onto each other, it seemed like a lifetime but then there he was on the screen and I knew straight away he was gone, no heartbeat and hanging suspended in the fluid completely still, heartbroken does not begin to describe how we felt as we sat with the specialist who preceded to let us know that the normal protocol was that I would be induced so I could bring on labour to deliver the baby. I don’t understand why this
was the way looking back but I know that I knew it was the right way for me to handle this very difficult next step. We drove home that day numb, I just don’t remember too much. We broke the news to our family each of us handling it however we knew best. It was a torturous weekend, we arranged for our parents to have the children as we had been informed it could take 3 days for the delivery to happen. We stayed at a very dear friends house so that we could just be together and not be disturbed. I eventually went into labour so we travelled to the hospital. It was so difficult to be in a maternity ward even though we had our own room. The midwives were busy with other women who were delivering their babies and so we were left on our own. I
understood and to be honest didn’t really want anyone around although I felt quite scared. I had offered a deep heartfelt plea with my Heavenly Father that this would be a spiritual experience for us both and that things would be handled with respect and reverence towards our little boy. Aaron at this point of course still had no evidence that we were having a boy so there was some anticipation amongst it all about seeing the baby. We called a friend who was a midwife at the hospital to ask if she could come and coach us through this a little and to know what to expect. As it turns out I delivered the baby myself into my own hands with Aaron by my side, it was so peaceful as his little body gently slipped into this world. There he was our little boy. He sadly had the cord wrapped around his neck and arm so tightly that his arm was nearly severed off. This was identified on his notes as to the reason for death which they said was a lightening bolt experience and one I would never go through again.They had never seen this happen so early. Babies at this stage just untangle because of all the space they had. Wow,we thought, this was clearly his time to leave us.I spent the next 7 hrs being ignored by the medical staff due to this problem and that, the only issue with that is that I still hadn’t delivered the placenta and was exhausted and drained from all the emotion. Eventually they came into my
room to let me know I was finally going to theatre to remove it surgically to prevent any infection setting in, they would proceed with an epidural which I was not happy with being someone who didn’t take pain relief but they were insistent and we were too tired. As they attempted over and over to get the needle into my back and the pain increasing with each attempt I must have just hit the wall of my emotional coping mechanism because I looked up at my husband and begged him to tell them to stop, breaking down into tears. I just could not stop crying. They came to the decision that I would have to have a general anaesthetic which was a welcome relief. However for some reason they decided they needed to speed up the process because of the stress my body had been under for so long, so they just placed their
hands on my throat to restrict my oxygen and put a mask over my face to get me under quickly all the while i’m sobbing. I can say this was a horrifying moment, of course if you go under like that you come out like that. I have never felt so traumatised in my life. This truly had turned into my worst nightmare. I was discharged the next day to my relief, I was desperate to see my children and sleep in my bed and feel the safety of our home.That first night as I drifted off to sleep Matthew came to me again, what a truly compassionate gift to me in that moment
when I needed something to comfort me so desperately. It was a brief moment together where he thanked me for being his mum and I was on my own yet again with a clear understanding that I would not see him like that anymore until we met in the next life although every night for some time I went to bed pleading with the Lord for another experience all the while knowing the gentle response was going to be no. As a family we did our best to cope, a couple of our children had their own experience with Matthew. Life slowly went back to normal but the way we lost Matthew was not the one off rare lightening bolt experience the doctors had assured
us of, later in Australia we would go through an almost identical experience all over again with the loss of another little boy. Our youngest son who was five at the time named him Joseph. This time medicine had advanced and an autopsy was performed because this was now a second late pregnancy loss, which revealed that I had a rare blood clotting gene that caused blood clots to form in the placenta during pregnancy thereby killing the babies. It was explained to us that this could happen at any point during my pregnancies and that the
children we did have had only had a 20% chance of survival!
Each experience of my life has brought a cascade of growth and blessings. Some I thought would honestly break me permanently but yoked to my Saviour Jesus Christ I can testify that I have never been abandoned and that as a mother I have been refined in ways that can only have happened through the Gethsemane moments. I remember whilst walking around after Matthew in a slight daze with milk rushing in but with no baby to feed feeling so close to Mary the Saviour’s mother. I thought about all she went through and felt such a deep love for her. How could Mary have coped with all she had to go through?
I receive a lot of guidance in my dreams, it seems to be where I touch heaven at times, it’s where I seem to learn so much and have had other experiences revealed to me over the years. I felt a deeper love for Mary at this time in my life and can honestly say that bond of love along with the
atoning sacrifice of the saviour got me through some very dark days ahead. Is this not life? To come to earth, to feel, to love, to be loved and to find our way home come what may? I hope that by me sharing these experiences in my life I can help someone to know that communing with Christ at the altar of the sacrifice he made for each of us is something that is offered to us all in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. We do not have to be perfectly qualified to meet him there, He is just simply there and waiting for us whenever we need him. I have a deep unwavering love for my Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ with a gratitude that has the
depth and breadth to it because of a life of struggle, faith, hope, despair, loss, joy and laughter. My life is enriched by gospel living and my sorrows are eased by my choice to walk with my Heavenly Father by my side. I would not have it any other way. I pray that you can feel my love as I extend it to you across the oceans and that in some way it may help you with whatever you are faced with.
Written with much love, thought and friendship from the land down under where we
live with all our children.Julia.