There are times when poetry can express personal feelings and memories in a way that cannot otherwise be spoken. I (Joy) have written poetry throughout my life to express feelings about certain poignant events. Today I share three of these with you, along with the reasons why I wrote them. I’m guessing some of you may have had similar experiences and will relate. Others who may not, I hope you find them inspiring nonetheless.

Finding Our Children

When our prayers were not answered in being able to give birth to children, the Lord blessed us, instead, with His plan for us. We were guided, one at a time, to five beautiful children, whom we adopted and were sealed to in the temple. One in the Swiss Temple (Michael), one in the Los Angeles Temple (John), and three in the Salt Lake Temple (Lynda, Carol, and Paul). Each of these children has brought joy and learning into our lives.

We explained to our children at an early age that they were adopted. We went into detail about how we were guided to each one. They knew the stories well. They knew that we had prayed for them and felt so blessed to have them as our children.

It has not always been easy for them. One of our daughters, Lynda, had an experience that proved this point. She was only nine years old when it happened.  She came running in after school, crying her little heart out. She ran to her room and fell onto her bed, sobbing. I quickly followed. Sitting on the edge of the bed I asked her to tell me what had happened.

With my arms around her, Lynda, finally was able to tell me what took place that day at school. I listened, and held her close, expressing comforting words to her. The poem I wrote soon after explains what happened to her that day. Here it is:


“Oh, Mama,” she cried,
Tears flooding precious cheeks.
“They said,” she choked,
“If you’re adopted
Your mother is not your real mother.”
Then pleading,
“Please, tell me the story again.”

Nestled in loving harms,
Secure from the hurt
Of unknowing friends,
The words fell from trembling lips
To hungry little ears.

“Oh, child, how I wanted
To be your birth mother.
I could not,
But I knew you were there
We prayed, your Daddy and I,
And God guided us to you.

“There you were,
A beautiful baby,
My baby.
I held you close and promised
To love you,
To teach you,
To keep you from harm,
From distress.
And here I am —
Your birth mother, no,
But your real mother

I wanted with all my heart for our children to know that even though someone else gave them birth, I was their real mother. Many years later when our two youngest boys, John and Paul, were in junior high, I overheard their conversation. It went like this.

Paul: “Do your friends ever ask you if you want to meet your real mother?”

John: “Yes, sometimes they do.”

Paul: “What do you say?”

John: “I just say, ‘Yes, I want to meet her, and I get to everyday when I come home from school and she gives me cookies.’”

Paul: “That what I’m going to say next time. Because Mom is our real mother.”

It warmed my heart to the very core. I pray they will always feel that way. Being sealed in the temple seals the deal in their minds. It certainly does in Gary’s and mine. I cannot write about this without expressing gratitude for the dear souls who brought them into the world. I am so grateful they had the courage to give them birth and then made sure they had a mother and father to give them loving care. There is no question in our minds that they were meant to be our children. Indeed, God did guide us to them. We love them so much.

A Heart Breaker

We never know what will befall our children. As they grow and live their own lives they are vulnerable to the sorrow and heartbreak of mortal life, and so are their children.  So it was with our eldest son, Michael, when his wife left him. It broke his heart. He had two young children whose lives would be forever affected by this break in their family.

One day, after the divorce, his little boy was visiting us and he was in my study with me looking at scrapbooks. He came upon his parents wedding picture and said, “Grandma, what happened to Mommy and Daddy?” I didn’t have a good answer for such a little one. I could hardly bear the sadness in his face. I answered the best I could without shedding a bad light on either of his parents. His question led me to write this poem.

Child of Divorce

My Mom and Dad went separate ways,
And it’s hard to understand.
I love them more than words can say . . .
It’s not at all the way I planned.

I cry about it in the night
And wish for yesterday,
Then pray for sleep so happy dreams
Will chase my tears away.

Why did it have to happen?
Did I commit an awful sin?
If I change myself somehow
Will they fall in love again?

I asked these many questions
To my Grandma just last week.
Her loving arms held me close
As I heard her gently speak:

“My child, it’s not because of you.
You didn’t make the slightest scar.
And you don’t need to change one bit,
You’re perfect just the way you are.

We may never really know
What caused the break we mourn,
But the best thing that every happened
Was that you were born.

Oh, please believe me, dear one,
For the words I speak are true,
They may not love each other,
But they always will love you.” 

Every child experiencing the sorrow of divorce in their family can relate to these feelings. I hope, if they are reading this, that they will find comfort in the message. Each child is precious and deserves the comforting reassurance that they are deeply loved by both their parents. And that need never diminishes, no matter their age.

I recall well when Gary was serving as a bishop in a BYU campus ward of young single adults. It was right after Christmas break and all the students had just returned. It was a testimony meeting. A sweet young woman stood at the pulpit and said, “This was the happiest Christmas I have ever had.” Then she went on to explain that her parents had divorced when she was only three years old. She said, “All these years I have longed to have my parents at my side, at the same time. This Christmas it happened.  I told them that the only present I wanted was to go roller skating with them, and when it was the couples turn to skate that Mom would get on one side of me and Dad on the other, and skate around the rink with me.”  She cried and said, “They did that for me and it was the happiest time of my life.”

This shows how children, no matter the age, yearn for their parents to get along and be there with them together, even if only on a few special occasions. I hope parents who have divorced are reading this and realizing how important it is for them to maintain a cordial relationship for their children’s sake. Even if they have remarried. The desire of the child remains the same. They need to know that they are loved by both parents.

A Celebration of Marriage

Finally, I want to share with you a poem I wrote about the love I have for my dear husband, Gary. One day as I was feeling this love, gratitude filled my heart. We’ve been through a lot of hard times together, as well as many wonderfully happy times. I just had to express my feelings in a poem to him. It was later put to music by my cousin Janice Kapp Perry for the musical play It’s A Miracle. Here are the lyrics.

Forever I Love You

It was many years ago
Kneeling at a sacred altar
We promised that through all our days
Our love would never falter.

At times it seemed the foes of life
Would break us with the strife,
But through the pain and through the fears
We smiled and wiped away our tears.

With a gentleness you touch my cheek.
With words so soft I hear you speak,
“I love you.
Forever and ever I love you.”

Those early years were hard
As we learned to live in unity.
We held on tight, would not let go;
Our love is for eternity.

We shared our feelings as we walked.
We built our bridges as we talked.
We learned to laugh and love and play,
Now peaceful joy is ours today.

With a gentleness you touch my cheek.
With words so soft I hear you speak,
“I love you.
Forever and ever I love you.”

As we approach our 60th wedding anniversary my heart still feels this way—even more so. I believe that many of you reading this feel the same about your beloved spouse. If so, I hope you find joy in reading these words and feeling the love you and your sweetheart share. It is something I wish for everyone.

We rejoice in the fact that in a few weeks we will witness the sealing of our son Michael and his wife in the Salt Lake Temple, where we were married so many years ago. He is now enjoying the blessings of a happy marriage.

If you are not in this place yet, hang in there. It is always attainable whether in this life or the next.

I pray you and we will live worthy of the fulfillment of this eternal blessing.

[To read more about the works of Gary and Joy Lundberg, including their book Love That Last: 14 secrets to a joyful, passionate, and fulfilling marriage, click here.]