Saturday, December 13, 2008

Funeral Program, Bruce's Talk

We became aware that many of those who attended Susan's services on Wednesday did not receive a copy of the program. Here are images of the outside and inside program content. Click on the images to view them full size. Special thanks to Vicente for the layout, we think it is beautiful.

Here is the text of Bruce's talk from the funeral:

I would like to speak on three words: Faith, diligence, and action. In doing so, let me explain a few core beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Susan held dear to her heart.

In the book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul refers to God as “the father of our spirits.”
As Christians, believe that our Heavenly Father truly is the father of our spirits, and we lived with Him before we were born into this life. Because He loves us and wants us to enjoy all the blessings of eternity, He created this earth and the opportunity for us to live by faith in Him, much like a parent allows their child to learn to make decisions on their own. As a parallel, if a parent makes every decision for a child, the child grows up lacking independence, opportunity and growth. If, however, a parent gives a child the ability to learn from their own decisions, the child grows in knowledge, independence and freedom. Similarly, we grow because our Father in Heaven created this plan that allows us to be here on the earth.

The poet William Wordsworth wrote:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home …

When we come to this earth, we don’t remember our pre-mortal existence with God. In order that we have the opportunity to grow and learn to make decisions on our own, He asks us to live by faith, to trust Him that if we live by His teachings and according to the direction that His Spirit gives us, that in the eternities, He will bless us and we can live as families for eternity. Here are the words of a prophet from more than 500 years before Christ’s birth, speaking to this topic.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon….
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men….

As a part of our life here on earth, we will make mistakes, we will make choices contrary to God’s commandments. We know from biblical prophets that no unclean thing can enter back into God’s presence. In order that we might be clean, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to teach us how to live, and to atone for our sins so that justice and mercy might have equal sway in our eternal judgment. God’s promise to us is that if we follow Christ’s way and live in the way that He directs us through His Light, the Holy Spirit, His teachings, and those called under His authority, that we will be clean through Christ’s atonement. At the end of our mortal lives, we can return to live with God, our Heavenly Father and continue to learn from Him and grow.

From Faith, comes action. From an early age, Susan understood this concept. She understood that if we live by faith in God, that all would be eternally well and good. As she said in her last message posted on her blog – “I have learned that a lot of things in life just don't go the way we plan. This is by no fault of our own.” As we exercise our faith in God, His perfect eternal vision and perfect care for us will deliver us home to Him.

On the earth, when God impacts our lives, whether directly or through another person, our responsibility is to act or change, to not be the same person. We are here today in remembrance of Susan’s life. Having the privilege of knowing her for all of her 25 years, I believe that one thing she would want us to do is to make changes in our lives that reflect her legacy. Let me relate an experience that illustrates that. The day before she died, I was privileged to listen to the last telephone conversation she had. She wanted to speak with a dear friend. She was weak, unable to speak above a whisper, but as this friend started to end the call, she said, “Don’t hang up, I need to tell you one more thing. Never forget who you are. Always remember the things that we talked about.”

That is our challenge – Don’t hang up on Susan. The reason you are here is because you loved her and want to remember her. Her impact on your life needs to include this knowledge. Never forget that we are indeed God’s children, that His way is the best way, and that when He acts in our lives, our responsibility is to respond in faith, love and joy to His actions. If that means change our habits, we should change our habits. If that means to go to church, we should go to church. If that means to be kinder, gentler, more loving in our family, we should do that. If that means that we stop telling God what He should do, and instead be faithful in accepting what He is teaching us, we should do that.

In time, the intensity that we feel at Susan’s passing may fade. It is natural, our lives are busy, we move on. The intensity will return when a picture jogs our memory, or when a thought comes to our mind. Perhaps tears will come at that moment. However, what should not fade from our lives is the change to our very souls that we feel at this moment. What should not change is the impact of the Holy Spirit that you feel right now, this very moment. The action that you should take is to cement the changes to your soul that God is prompting you to do right now. Because you don’t understand everything, you may hesitate. I urge you to take the action of committing to yourself to move forward in faith and diligence.

Because He has perfect, eternal vision, God will answer all of our faithful prayers, not always in the way that we wanted, but in the way that will best help us to achieve our eternal potential. All of us prayed for Susan’s health and recovery from cancer. Instead of the removal of her cancer, God answered our prayers for her with by increasing her understanding, with the giving her the ability to bear the pain, with greater strength for her to carry on and endure in faith to the end. He healed her eternal soul. As the apostle Paul said,

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure …, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, …
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I love this verse in the book of Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God….”

Christ said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst”… and He also said through the prophet Isaiah,

18 ¶ And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
19 … weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, … thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Susan and all of us hoped and prayed for her freedom from cancer. Through the grace of God, Susan found freedom and teaching above the everyday, above the mundane, leading to eternity. Our task is to do likewise, with whatever opportunity God places in our path, to follow the promptings that He sends to us, to learn for ourselves, and experience that joy described so often by those of faith in Christ.

Listen to the words of faith, diligence and action from Jeffrey R. Holland

“…the tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful as well as just and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way.

If we constantly focus only on the stones in our mortal path, we will almost surely miss the beautiful flower or cool stream provided by the loving Father who outlined our journey. Each day can bring more joy than sorrow when our mortal and spiritual eyes are open to God’s goodness. Joy in the gospel is not something that begins only in the next life. It is our privilege now, this very day. We must never allow our burdens to obscure our blessings. There will always be more blessings than burdens—even if some days it doesn’t seem so. Jesus said, ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ Enjoy those blessings right now. They are yours and always will be.”

I testify that God, our Heavenly Father, lives. I know that He sent His Son to teach us God’s way, to atone for our sins, and to enable our own resurrection, just as He was resurrected. Of the truth of these things, I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tribute to Susan


Thank you so much for the prayers and kind words you have offered during Susan's illness and the past week in particular. It is awesome to see how many people love her.

Yesterday's funeral service was a beautiful experience, we are grateful to the many people who took time out of their day and those who traveled great distances to be there to honor Susan's life. We are equally grateful to the many friends who, though unable to attend in person, sent their prayers and expressions of love and support from afar.

A good friend of our family has offered to collect stories about Susan's life and how her courageous fight against cancer has blessed the lives of others. These stories bring great comfort to us all and we want to be sure that they are recorded. If you feel inspired to write down your thoughts and feelings, please send them to by 12:00 PM on Monday, December 15th so that they can be compiled into a book and printed in time for Christmas.

Many thanks,


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Susan's Obituary

The following was published today, 12/10/2008, in both The Arizona Republic and the East Valley Tribune:

Susan Marie Mortensen Turley, 25, of Mesa passed away on December 5, 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer. Susan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and grew up in Tempe, Arizona where she graduated from Corona del Sol High School. She participated in the Tempe Sister Cities exchange program and spent a summer in Skopje, Macedonia. She was an accomplished athlete who won honors competing in cross country and track, and was recognized as the school's student athlete of the year in 2001. She continued her academic and athletic career at the University of Arizona, where she competed in cross country and track while earning her Bachelor's degree in Family Studies and Human Development. She pursued a career in marketing at MediServe. Throughout her life, Susan actively sought opportunities for service, whether to those she knew closely or others she did not know. She was a champion of inclusion and reaching out to make others feel blessed and loved. She loved meeting new friends, and those who were close to her were continually amazed at the number of friends she had in numerous cities where she travelled. Susan touched the life of each person she met at home and around the world. She possessed a cheerful spirit and contagious smile, even in the midst of her recent illness. We will always remember her example and the impact of her kindness on our lives. She is survived by her husband Justin Turley, parents Bruce and Janet Mortensen, brothers Zach, Sam, Mike, and David, Norwegian brother Fredrik Oygard, Macedonian sister Biljana Tashevska, and grandparents Gale Mortensen, James Rein, and Norma Jean Rein. She was preceded in death by her sister Elizabeth J. Mortensen and her grandmother Nellie Bushman Mortensen. Services remembering her life and her faith will be held on Wednesday, December 10th at 11:00 AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tempe South Stake Center located at 1111 E. Knox Rd, Tempe, AZ. There will be a viewing at the same location on Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, and again on Wednesday at 9:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, Susan asked that donations be directed to a foundation to be established in her name to assist cancer patients who cannot afford the treatment she was blessed to receive. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch to account number 2017305018.

Monday, December 8, 2008

UofA Tribute, Services, Facebook Group

We appreciate the thoughtful friends who attended Saturday's UofA-ASU game and sent pictures of the scoreboard tribute to Susan.

We are sure she was happy that her picture appeared on the scoreboard in the midst of a win by her team, and even a family of die-hard Sun Devils was happy to concede the game in Susan's memory!

A quick note about Susan's funeral services on Tuesday and Wednesday: All of the services are open to everyone. Please spread the word to Susan's friends.

Finally, we have created a Facebook group to facilitate the sharing of stories and photos of Susan for her Memories Book. Please join and invite your Facebook friends to do the same.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Services for Susan, Memories Book

Services for Susan will be held on Wednesday, December 10th at 11:00 AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tempe South Stake Center located at 1111 E. Knox Rd, Tempe, AZ. There will be a viewing on Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the same location, and a second viewing on Wednesday at 9:30 AM. Please spread the word.

In lieu of flowers, Susan asked that donations be directed to a foundation we are establishing in her name that will assist cancer patients who cannot afford the kind of treatment she was blessed to receive. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch to account number 2017305018.

Finally, a good friend has offered to collect memories, stories, and photos to create a memories book for Susan's family. If you would like to contribute, please send your memories and photos to and invite other friends to do the same.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

Susan passed away tonight at 7:41 PM in her home in Mesa, AZ. Justin was at her side, and they were surrounded by their parents and siblings. Susan was resting peacefully when she left this world, despite suffering tremendous pain and discomfort during the past few days. It was a privilege to see the love that Justin and Susan showed each other even in the midst of such difficult circumstances.

We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and kind words on behalf of Susan, Justin, and our families. We feel blessed to know that our friends stand by us in this time of sorrow.

And yet, we rejoice in the precious years that we were able to spend with Susan. We know that her influence for good will live on in the lives of her many friends and family members. We give thanks for the knowledge that we will one day be together again, and that she is now able to rest from her pain and the cares of this world.

God be with you 'til we meet again. We love you, Suz.

Remarks From Susan

Susan wanted to update the blog and she asked that I (Justin) be her scribe.

There is so much that I want to say that I have been unable to express. I appreciate Justin and Zach for updating the blog for me.

I have learned that a lot of things in life just don't go the way we plan. This is by no fault of our own.

Quickly I'd like to express my gratitude to all my friends and family for all your love and support, and get out all my love for you.

To all my nieces and nephews, both here and to come, please know that it is important to build a Christ centered life.

To my cousins, you've been some of my greatest support, and I love you.

To all my friends over the years, you've kept me on the right path by doing what's right. And we sure have shared some great memories.

To my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, thank you for your examples and unconditional love.

And to my awesome husband Justin, thank you for loving me with all your heart and for caring for me with selfless kindness. I love you forever.

I know that God lives and that He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we might return to our Heavenly Father as we follow Him. It is through service to our fellow men that we show our love for our Savior.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

U of A Tribute to Susan

In thinking of ways to honor Susan and the wonderful life she lived, an idea was brought up to pay tribute to her at the upcoming ASU vs. U of A football game this Saturday in Tucson. Susan, as many of you know, competed for the University of Arizona as a member of both the cross country and track and field teams. She was also very involved in the student-athlete advisory board and also volunteered a significant amount of time working in the C.A.T.S. Community Service program. In these roles she had the opportunity to get to know and work with many Wildcat athletes, staff, trainers, and members of the athletic department administration. The idea of honoring Susan at the game was floated by a few people at the University (they know who they are, and to them we will be eternally grateful), and they took the idea and ran with it. They went above and beyond what any of us could ever expect and developed a picture tribute to Susan that will be shown on the big screen at the stadium between the 3rd and 4th quarters (you can see the picture below). The timeline on which this happened was incredibly short, and they dropped everything to get it done in time. Their willingness to do this is just another example of the number of lives that Susan managed to touch during her abbreviated stay on this earth. So if you happen to be at the game on Saturday, keep your eyes on the board and get your cameras ready! And for all of us current and former Wildcats out there, BEAR DOWN!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

At Home

I spoke with Justin this morning, and he asked me to post an update.

Bruce and Justin met with Susan's oncologist yesterday morning. His opinion was that her body would not be able to endure further chemotherapy, it would do more harm than good. Together they decided that the best course of action would be to take her home where she can rest more comfortably.

Susan has been sleeping most of the time lately, but Bruce mentioned that she overheard this conversation and asked "Does this mean I'm done?" They indicated to her that her treatment was complete, and she closed her eyes and smiled. She understands her situation and is at peace.

She arrived home yesterday afternoon and is receiving hospice care. Her caregivers are adjusting her pain medication to help her have more awake time, which is important to her. Justin, Bruce, and Janet are caring for her together with her nurses.

We appreciate the many prayers and kind words that have been offered on behalf of Susan and our family. We will continue to keep our friends and family members updated through the blog.