"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
June 3, 2013
Birthday Gifts from God
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Fluffy’s birthday was last week, and it was a good day for him. The sun was out (always a plus for Fluffy), so he went on his daily walk with a spring in his step. When he came home, his first words were, “God gave me a birthday present!” I turned around to see him waving a brand new $20 bill he had found on the road in a place that was so well-traveled that he would never have been able to return the money to its previous owner.

I knew exactly how Fluffy felt about getting a birthday gift from God. A few years back, I got one too. Of course, mine wasn’t as spectacular as a $20 bill that was given to someone who had been unemployed for nearly three months. But my gift was exactly what I needed at the time, which is ultimately what God gives each of us.

It happened in a year when I was really, really tired of being fat. I had inexplicably gained 140 pounds in a six-month period long before, and although I was glad for the lessons I learned from the excess weight, I was ever so weary about lugging all that fat around with me. I didn’t like the humiliation, and I didn’t like the wear on my joints. Oh, the pain of standing up and walking!

I was feeling chatty at prayer time a few weeks before my birthday, so I broached the subject with the Man Himself. “I don’t want to sound unappreciative of all the fat You gave me,” I said. “I’m a completely different person from who I was before I gained the weight, and a better one. I never would have thought that gaining so much weight would have been such a big blessing in my life, but it was.”

“You see, though,” I continued, “I’ve probably learned all the lessons I’m going to learn by being fat. After all, it’s been more than 25 years. There aren’t too many more new fat-related experiences I can have.

“So now that I’ve gotten the blessings, it would be wonderful if You could take the fat back as a little birthday present for me. You gave it to me almost overnight, and I know You can take it back overnight if You have a mind to. I’d really appreciate it, and it would make me a lot healthier in my declining years.”

I have to tell you something here. I’m not a total idiot. I know that even though God can act this way, He generally doesn’t do so. Nevertheless, as my birthday approached, I got more and more excited about the possibility of losing my fat as a birthday present.

Oh, did I fantasize! And the more I thought it through, the more I realized that this was something that was never going to happen. You see, if someone lost a couple hundred pounds overnight, the tabloids would want to cover it. I can’t see God working through the tabloids. The two just don’t mix. Even if God were otherwise inclined to grant me my fat-losing request, the tabloids alone would put a stop to it. Bummer.

Even though I was intellectually certain that I was going to wake up on April 3 at exactly the same size as I’d gone to bed on April 2, I couldn’t help being excited as I went to bed that night. I was so excited that I awoke about every 3.2 minutes all night long for bathroom trips, and every time I did I’d give God a little reminder.

“My birthday’s almost here,” I would say, “and there’s plenty of time for You to get rid of all my fat. I’m really excited about this!” I didn’t tell Him what a blessing it would be in my life. He already knew.

When I awoke for the 6:30 a.m. bathroom run, I was well aware that this was going to be my last bathroom run of the night. My spirits were high, though. God can perform His miracles in the twinkle of an eye. I gave God my standard reminder and hopped back in bed, certain (even though I knew there wasn’t really a prayer of it happening) that He was going to change my body between now and the time I actually got out of bed in the morning.

When I awoke, I knew immediately that a change had indeed been wrought upon my body. No, the fat hadn’t gone away. But at the bottom of my chin there was a gigantic pimple — the kind of pimple that usually takes days to fester before it takes over a goodly portion of your face and turns you into a walking advertisement for the “before” pictures in the Clearasil ads. My festering sore had taken minutes, not days, to take over the world and lay claim on my chin.

I sat at the edge of the bed and laughed aloud. God had indeed given me a birthday present. It wasn’t the birthday present I had asked Him for, but it was the birthday present I had actually needed. My birthday pimple said, “I’m not going to take all your fat away. I could do it, but that’s not how I work. But this birthday pimple will remind you that I care about you, and that I listen to your prayers, and that you are loved.”

It’s not many people who have received I-love-you-birthday pimples. I’m fortunate to be one of them, and that birthday pimple did the job of putting me on top of the world for weeks after I received it. But God seldom works in a one-dimensional way, and my birthday request had not been forgotten.

Fast forward about ten years. A trip to instant care turned into a trip to the hospital. That turned into a coma and a three-month hospitalization, with lots of complications. One complication was that I could not eat hospital food. Period. Without diet or exercise, or even hunger, I lost 85 pounds.

Even when I left the hospital, food tasted so horrible I couldn’t eat it. Nausea has been a constant companion. Today, six months after the fateful trip to instant care, my dinner is likely to be two or three saltine crackers and a glass of milk.

The pounds are dropping off me. Fluffy and I are seeing huge changes daily. There are great hollows in my legs. I am starting to get a lap. My tracheostomy scar, which I had told hospital visitors that people would never see because it would be covered up by my chins, is now on full view to anyone who speaks to me.

I have lost this weight without diet or exercise — or even thinking about losing weight, for that matter. It has melted off as if by magic, just the way it crept onto me in that six-month period so many years ago. It has melted off so quickly that it is as though God came in and touched my forehead and said, “Thinner.”

Maybe He did.

My body has responded, and if I am still a lot heavier than I was before I gained the weight in the first place, I am nevertheless a different person than I was before my trip to the hospital on December 5.

I have proof of that. Just last week, when we went to the temple, I saw and waved at an old friend whom I hadn’t seen for years. She came over to visit me in response to my wave, but it was obvious she had no idea who I was. Once I said my name, she kept saying, over and over, “You don’t look at all like you used to. You’re a different person than you used to be.”

She was right — I am different. My experiences have changed me on the inside as well as the outside. I hope they have changed me for the better.

But when Fluffy showed his birthday gift from God to me the other day, I was reminded yet again of the great blessings that come from God. Some of them are very apparent, like a brand new $20 bill waving in the grass in front of a birthday boy who is out of a job. Others are a little more subtle, like a serious illness that carries the unexpected happy benefit of a massive loss of weight.

All of them have messages for those of us who have ears to hear. They say, “Look what I have done for you. See how much I love you! Always remember Me. I look forward to having you in My presence once again.”

Bookmark and Share    
About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

Copyright © Hatrack River Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved. Web Site Hosted and Designed by WebBoulevard.com