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“Trials and difficulties can, if we let them, become holy places — places where we can feel the power of the Atonement in our lives. Our struggles can be consecrated to our good and growth, and you and I can become more like Christ.” — Kris Belcher
When the only remaining sight she had left began to fade, Kris Belcher knew her cancer had returned. First diagnosed with bi-lateral retinoblastoma at the age of seven months, she had feared blindness since childhood. Ironically, the treatment that had saved her life as a baby was responsible for the radiation-induced cancer that again threatened her life as an adult. Now a wife and mother of two young sons, she faced her greatest challenge. Five major surgeries within the space of five months left her physically and emotionally devastated — and completely blind.
Yet during that horrendous time, Kris discovered moments of spiritual strengthening that became holy places in her life — places where she could feel the purifying, transforming power of Christ that enabled her to survive and to learn how to live in a world of darkness. Compelling, honest, and at times humorous, her story and the insights she gained will help others find hope and healing in the midst of their own trials.
- Pages: 144
- Published: 2009
- Size: 5½" x 8"
About the Author
Courage, perseverance, faith, and humor are the themes of Kris Belcher’s life. Left completely blind and emotionally shattered in 2003 from her second battle with cancer, Kris was unsure how to go on. She has since grown accustomed to life in the dark, but could do without the bumps and bruises that accompany blindness. Kris is contemplating full-body armor as a safety precaution. Kris grew up in northern California until she attended Brigham Young University, graduating in Therapeutic Recreation. Kris served a mission in the Kentucky Louisville Mission. She and her husband, James, have two boys, and live in Lehi, Utah. They own a flower shop, and Kris is the delivery driver—well, not really. She leaves the driving to professionals who don’t need a cane. Giving hope to others who struggle in life has been Kris’s motivation to write and speak; she has shared her story and laughed with audiences throughout the United States and Canada.
The Foundation of Holy Places
Christ is the solid foundation on which to build holy places. Without Him and His power, hard times are simply that—hard times. The best we can do is just hope to get through them. We will struggle and flail and long for their end, but we will not be enduring well, conquering the trials, or mastering ourselves. In order to turn our hard times into holy times, we must first rely on Jesus Christ.
When I was an infant, my parents demonstrated their reliance on the Savior as they followed heaven’s promptings on my behalf. Although I was too young to remember the actual experience, the inspiration they received stands as a true holy place in my life.
When I was seven months old, at a well-check visit with our pediatrician, my mother was given some heartbreaking news. The doctor examined my eyes and found something terribly wrong. Mom was sent to our family ophthalmologist for an additional exam, and I was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. This meant I had multiple tumors on the retinas of both eyes—a childhood cancer that was nearly always fatal. My parents were understandably devastated with this news, and my mother even planned my funeral.
Putting their trust in Heavenly Father, my parents visited yet another doctor. This renowned specialist examined my eyes and announced that the next day I would have my right eye, the worst of the two, removed. The other eye would be treated with radiation. This was one school of thought for the treatment of retinoblastoma. In shock, my parents stated their desire for a second opinion. They felt a sense of darkness and unease with this treatment approach. They didn’t feel right about this doctor or his proposed plan of action.
My parents fasted, prayed, and counseled with their bishop. With help from the Lord, they were led to another doctor at Stanford University Medical Center, about an hour and a half away from our home.
After my eye examination, the doctor presented his treatment plan. Hoping to preserve sight in both eyes, he proposed that both be radiated. My mother and father felt totally different when given this plan than with the first approach. They knew this treatment option was the right course to take. The Spirit confirmed their feelings and they went forward with the treatment.
Under general anesthesia, I was put into a large machine. The radiation beams were aimed at the identifying marks placed on each of my temples, and the process began. Over the course of several months, my eyes, including all the bones and tissues surrounding them, were blasted with radiation in the hope that I would live. When the radiation course was complete, the cancer was eradicated! Miraculously, my life had been preserved, the tumors had been destroyed, and some of my vision in both eyes had been saved.
This would be a fantastic ending to the story; however, God’s great wisdom and comprehension of all things was to be made manifest even further. About eight years later, I lost the sight in my left eye. I was left with only limited vision in my right. If my parents had followed the insistent specialist with the first approach, my right eye would have been removed and I would have been completely blind when I was eight years old.
God knew more than my parents, and He knew more than the specialist. As my parents turned to the Lord and relied on His promptings, He directed my mother and father in what was best for me in each crucial moment, as well as for my future. I am incredibly grateful for the promptings my parents were given and for their obedience in following the direction of the Lord. Not only was my life saved, but I was able to see for more than thirty-two years.
This critical time in the early months of my life is a continual reminder to me of the wisdom of God. It remains a holy place in my heart. It is holy because of Jesus Christ—His direction, His protection, and His encircling love.
Relying on Christ requires correct knowledge of His characteristics and attributes, which will ultimately lead us to know Him.
As a young teenage girl, I had an experience with the Spirit that strengthened my knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ. I had always had a close relationship with my Savior, yet He became more real as I learned of His character. What started out as a negative experience has become another holy place in my heart.
Through the car window, I watched the water below as my mother and I crossed the San Francisco Bay Bridge. We were returning from a routine eye checkup, and Mom, having a captive audience, began teaching me what she had learned from Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith. I was not in the mood for Church stuff, and I let my irritation show. However, my display of annoyance did not deter Mom. She kept right on talking about the attributes possessed by the Lord. I’m not sure when, but somewhere over the Bay my heart softened and my spirit was receptive to truth—truth that I would depend on fiercely in the future.
Mother recited the characteristics of Christ, and I would try to repeat the list without forgetting any. We took turns until both of us had mastered the list. We discussed each characteristic, and I began to value their meanings more deeply. I still remember the sense of accomplishment and enlightenment that replaced my annoyance.
I learned that God was God before and after the creation of the world. He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness. God changes not; He is a God of truth and cannot lie—not that He doesn’t lie, but that He cannot lie. That is His character. Also, God is no respecter of persons, and finally, God is love (Lectures on Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985], 3:9–26). Christ is like His Father in the possession of these characteristics. If I learn His character and come to know Him, I am coming to know the Father as well.
Additionally, the knowledge of God’s attributes promotes the exercise of my faith. These attributes include: knowledge, faith or power, justice, judgment, mercy, and truth (Lectures on Faith, 4:4–19).
I had learned these attributes before, but that day on the Bay Bridge, the Spirit burned them into my heart. I desired more than ever to develop these same traits.
That day, the Bay Bridge became a holy place. When I think of that bridge, I will always remember my mother teaching me truth, even when I didn’t want to hear it. I will remember my change of heart and the teaching power of the Holy Ghost. That experience strengthened my love for my Savior. Time after time, I have leaned on these attributes when life has become difficult. Because I know that Christ does not change, I know I can and will continue to depend on Him in future difficulties. I am extremely grateful for that unlikely classroom—my holy place.
Since that trip over the Bay Bridge, I have been eager to learn all I can about Jesus Christ. To aid me in my quest, I purchased an inexpensive copy of the Book of Mormon for my study. Inside the front cover, I wrote, “What are the characteristics, attributes, and titles of Christ?” This time as I studied the Book of Mormon, I highlighted only the attributes and titles of Christ, listing each under my question in the front. I was excited to see how much this book of scripture revealed about the Savior. His characteristics and attributes are revealed everywhere. I truly came to know Him better. Additionally, I realized how well the ancient prophets knew Him. Through this exercise, my love for and testimony of Christ has grown. I know He is the Son of God.
I have found verses about Christ in the scriptures that have taught me, comforted me, and given me hope and courage. One verse that teaches me about Christ’s nature is Mosiah 4:9: “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”
I love those words of King Benjamin, in which he urged his people, as well as me and you, to believe that God “is.” Not just that He was, but that He is. I know that He is alive and present in our lives today. He loves you and He loves me. He knows perfectly our sorrows and sadness, our pain and heartache, and our hopes and joys.
The last line of this verse teaches me that God comprehends more than I do. He has the whole plan in mind and knows how my difficulties can help me become like Him. Even when I think I know what is best, His wisdom and knowledge far surpass my understanding.
On the Bay Bridge, so many years ago, there was much more going on than I realized. My mother taught me knowledge from her mind, but, more importantly, she taught me what she knew in her heart. When I was an infant, she had experienced firsthand many of the attributes of Christ. Mother had come to know Him more deeply as she struggled through the traumatic months of diagnosis and treatment for my cancer. The Bay Bridge, my holy place, spanned more than just water that day. It connected two minds in the knowledge and truth of Christ and two hearts through the Spirit in love.
I loved this book
by Customer - reviewed on April 14, 2009
This book is a must read for anyone who is struggling though a trial and wondering if they are going to make it. Not only does it bring hope and strengthen faith, but it reminds each of us to turn to the Lord in times of adversity. Filled with humor and powerful testimony this book will lift your spirit and encourage you to hold on.
by Customer - reviewed on April 05, 2009
This book is full of inspiring ideas that will help anyone struggling with tribulation of any kind. The story is enjoyable to read and I was amazed at the strength the author has to find holy places during her struggles. I have used many of the precepts she teaches to help me overcome my own struggles. In today's world, this is a good book for everyone.
A must read for everyone!
by Customer - reviewed on April 21, 2009
What an inspriring book of faith and endurance. The author has a wonderful way of helping one to realize that each of our adversities (no matter what they are) can be turned into opportunities for our spiritual growth. I, for one, will never be the same after reading this book!
I loved and was inspired by this book.
by Kim - reviewed on June 05, 2009
This book was so amazing! It gave me the strength to look back at my life and find my own personal Holy places that I didn't realize existed. The author beautifully weaved adversity and testimony into an inspring and entertaining book. She shows you the way to see your life for what it truly is. A difficult and trying test, yet a rewarding journey. I laughed, I cried and I will certainly read it again.