Friday, November 27, 2015

A Different View

Last Tuesday, November 24th, I went to the eye doctor.  About 5 or 6 weeks ago, my eyes had become very sore.  It hurt to move them and touch them.  It lasted almost 2 weeks.  I blamed it on allergies and didn't think much more of it.  Then I started experiencing cloudy vision, mostly in the early mornings or late evenings.  I blamed my cataract on that and just kept going.  Inside I was a little uneasy about it but I pushed that aside and worked around the cloudiness.  Then it started lasting longer until my vision was cloudy all day long.  In fact, it got to where I couldn't really see what my makeup looked like in the mornings.  I just hoped I was getting everything in the right place!  I decided to go ahead and get them checked.  Maybe my cataract had grown and was causing problems or something. 

Well, as soon as she looked in my eye she knew exactly what was going on.  I had something called uveitis.  It was in both eyes and it was pretty bad.  It is an inflammation of the eyes.  As the eye gets inflamed, the body sends in white blood cells to help heal.  The eye can only hold so many white blood cells and then they end up causing more inflammation which makes the body send even more!  So the eye starts depositing the white blood cells in the eye.  That, along with the inflammation, causes the cloudy vision.  It also makes things inside the eye sticky and gooey.  So the pupil in my left eye is actually stuck to the cornea. 

The solution?  Dilation.  She immediately dilated me and said I would have to stay dilated until it heals.  How long will that take?  Two to four weeks or more.  Why?  Keeping them dilated means that the eye isn't constricting and opening during the day so it helps not cause any additional inflammation.  I also have to put steroid drops in both eyes every hour or so.  I put dilating drops in three times a day.  I have to go in to keep a check on my eye pressure and to see if there is any improvements.  If there aren't any soon, then I will have to go to the next step which is injections (shots) into my eyes or take oral meds.  The injections are usually the way they go though. 

Also, because I have it in both eyes I have to be tested for other things that could be going on in my body that are being manifested in my eyes.  Things like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, viruses and other things.  These tests are just to rule out any underlying causes because sometimes you get uveitis for no reason at all.  That's what I am hoping for.  I will get testing done on Tuesday.

So my life right now is one big blur.  It's blurry up close, it's blurry far away.  Even with the new prescription glasses that I had to get while dilated,  it's still all blurry.  I can see, I can drive, I can do things.  I just do it all with a blur.  People have to read my texts for me and send them for me.  Michael had to read my recipe to me yesterday when I was trying to make rolls.  I had to wake Makenna up to read the thermometer to me so I knew when the oil was hot enough to fry my pies.  Black Friday shopping was not fun because I couldn't really see well enough to do much.  When I do try to see things or focus in, my eyes get really tired and I end up with a headache and achy eyes.  Work is hard.  My computer screen has to be magnified really big so I can read my emails.  I wish I would've worked harder in computer class years ago so I could type better without looking ☺ That would really come in handy now!  I have to wear sunglasses all the time and even then, the light gives me a headache after a while.  I can't see to put on my makeup.  I can't really see to do much with my hair.  I struggle doing my girls' hair too.  Trying to watch movies with the family gives me a headache too.  Today I tried to set up one of our Christmas trees, but my eyes were too blurry to fluff it and trying to focus hurt so I had to give up.  Life is very frustrating right now!

The good news?  It isn't permanent!  She couldn't see any damage to any parts of my eyes so once this is all cleared up, I will be able to see just fine again!  That was very good news to hear!

I know there are so many out there with much more to deal with than I have to right now.  I know there are those that aren't lucky enough to be told it's only temporary.  Going through this has opened my eyes, as blurry as they are, to the struggles that so many face.  Day to day things are so hard!  Things that once brought joy, like decorating the Christmas tree, become a struggle.  Cooking is hard to do alone, reading causes too much discomfort.  So many things are affected. 

I don't like to ask for help.  I have always just done it on my own, whatever it may be.  Having to ask for so much help is frustrating and humbling.  I am grateful for a patient husband and children that help me with all these simple, yet undoable, tasks.  Things will be hard and I am crossing my fingers for a two week recovery and not four weeks so that I can enjoy this Christmas season a little more.  This is my most favorite time of year.  I love the lights and decorations, the smells and joy, the carols, the love and the giving of gifts!  I love the story of the baby Jesus.  He who came to this earth into very humble circumstances, who walked and taught and served those around Him.  He who healed and forgave and loved.  He who suffered, bled, died and rose again so that we may return to our Father in Heaven in perfection.  As I struggle with these earthly ailments, I am reminded of Him and the  promise we have of freedom from these struggles when we return to His presence for eternity.  These earthly imperfections teach us, strengthen us, bring us closer to Him.  Then when we leave this life, He removes them from us so we suffer no more.

My eyes are filled with things obstructing my view of things that I love.  Our lives are filled with things obstructing our view of Him.  Just as my sight will return if I follow what my doctor tells me to do, we will return to Him if we just follow.  We have to take that leap of faith, step out into the darkness so our light will expand and our view become clearer.  I have eye drops to help my physical eyes see.  We have the teachings of Christ to bring sight to our spiritual eyes and bring us back to Him. This knowledge gives me hope on so many different levels and brings peace to my heart as I work my way through this life.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Who is Your Superhero?

In comic books and movies, superheroes dress up in costumes, fight evil villains, rescue damsels in distress and then, in a huge final battle of good vs evil, they save the world from destruction!  Only a few have the special powers needed to be a superhero.  Only a few can win the battle over evil. 

Today these girls had their Young Women In Excellence program.  The theme was superheroes.
 

Each of the girls thought about who in their life was a real life superhero.  Then they wrote about why this person was their superhero.  They each got to invite their superhero to the program, present what they wrote and thank that person for being their real life superhero.  I was touched as I listened to the things they said.  I felt blessed knowing that they had people in their lives that they could look up to and follow.  These superheroes have taught them faith - in themselves and the Lord, kindness, confidence, persistence, positivity, charity and hard work.

These superheroes don't have fancy costumes, cool weapons and a tricked out car.  They don't have sidekicks or informants or a superhero squad.  They are everyday, ordinary people living their lives the best that they can.  Most of the time, I don't even think they know they are superheroes.  They just do what they do because it's who they are!

As I listened to Maddi and Makenna present their superheroes I thought about the superheroes in my life.  I have a lot!  They are the ones who have taken time to listen when I needed to talk.  The ones who held my hand and lifted me up.  The ones who smiled when I couldn't do it myself.  The ones who went out of their way for me.  My life has been full of superheroes.  Heroes who have silently lifted, served and helped.  Heroes who have taught and led and sometimes pushed and pulled. 

I had a 4th grade teacher that I loved.  She made me feel like I was her favorite student!  I was shy and quiet and nervous and she took time to get to know me and talk to me.  She is a superhero.  I had a Bishop when I was 14 who taught me about charity through the love he had for Christ.  When his son died in a car accident.  Despite his grief, he bore strong testimony of Jesus Christ and His love for each of us.  He is a superhero.  I have friends in Idaho (Katie and Monica) who made those early motherhood years so much more doable.  Superheroes.  I have a friend, Karla Wilson, who loved me and helped me and encouraged me and treated me like one of her own.  A very loved superhero. I have one that when I moved here for the first time 12 years ago, invited me in and has never turned me out.  One that I know is only a text away.  One that will come and help chase bats out of my house when Michael is away. A super superhero!

I work with superheroes.  They amaze me.  My fearless leader teaches me love and patience with an occasional burst of crazy to keep us all laughing.  I have superheroes that greet me every morning with a smile and hello.  There is a superhero that listens as I share my teenage girl woes and encourages me that we will all survive!  a superhero that stops by my desk just to ask me how I'm doing.  A superhero that goes above and beyond to help me with Zeke when I am overwhelmed with the thoughts of it all and encourages me to take time for me.  She reassures me that I am doing just fine.  A superhero that teaches me love and patience with her quiet voice.  A superhero that teaches me kindness as he goes about the school getting balls off the roof, cleaning up spills and messes, letting kids look at all his keys and showing them what's inside the boiler room.  A superhero that listens to my stories as I step into her office with a "so, guess what..."  So many superheroes.  So many small acts from people just doing their best that changed my life for the better. 

My life has been blessed with so many people who have helped "save" this damsel in distress and rescued us all from the evil villains that we face in life.  I am thankful for each one of them.  I am also thankful for the superheroes of my children - friends, leaders, teachers, coaches - all who take the time and reach out to pull them up.  Your light brightens the path for them.  Your example helps show them the way.  You are doing for them what so many have done and still do for me.  So I ask, who is your superhero?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Blessings

Ok, so this summer Maddi got her driver's license.  We started searching for an inexpensive car for her to drive.  A neighbor of ours in Hendricks called one day and said that her daughter was selling her old car and it just happened to be in our price range!  We went over, checked it out and decided to buy it.  We knew it was older and that there is always a chance that something will go wrong with it but we decided to take our chances.  My first car was $250.  I bought it at a rummage sale.  It worked great for several years.  Sometimes those old cars can go forever.  We were hoping this would be the case with this car.  We really couldn't afford anything more than that right now. 

We drove it some this summer and it never gave us trouble.  Once school started, Maddi started driving it to school and back everyday.  Then, one morning around 7am I got a call from Maddi.  Her car had died on the way to school.  I called Michael to see if he could go help them.  Friends took them to school and Michael took the car to the repair shop.  Several days later we got the news that the timing belt had come off and there was other damage that would cost close to $2000 to fix.  So, Michael went and got the car and parked it in the yard.  We could not fix the car and it really wasn't worth putting that much money into.  Unfortunately, we couldn't afford another car either and with her 7:30 class, she needed to drive to school because there are no busses that run early.

She drove our Expedition to school, but we didn't want that to be a long term thing.  We started looking but couldn't find anything that would work for us.  Finances are so tight right now that we could not afford to add another car payment to our list of bills. 

Friends of ours asked Maddi about her car and if it was going to be able to be repaired.  She told them no.  Then a few days later, these friends told us they had found a car that might work for Maddi and wanted to know if we were interested.  I said yes and asked them to tell me the details on it so we could look in to it.  I never heard back.  The other day, I asked again, if they were ever able to find out more about the car. 

Yesterday, I got a text from this friend and asked if I saw what had been dropped off at the house and if would work.  I hadn't been home yet so I asked what it was.  The response... you'll have to wait and see... ☺ When I got home, there was a car sitting in our driveway.  The same car that they had told me about.  The car had been paid in full, put in Michael's name and delivered to our house with a full tank of gas! 

Wow!  I couldn't believe it!  I didn't even know what to think!  I expected details on the car - mileage, price, color, etc... Not the actual car!  I never imagined that this is what they had planned!  What a blessing!  What an amazing act of kindness! 

I had been struggling with things lately.  Kids are expensive, food is expensive, life is expensive.  I am working.  Michael is working.  The kids worked during the summer, those that were old enough.  We are doing all we can but sometimes ends just don't seem to meet up and things get tough.  This car means so much.  It showed me that God was aware of my concerns.  It showed that I have friends who love me and care about me and are aware of me.  It showed me that blessings do come when we try hard to do our best.  It shows me that, despite all the crazies in the world, there are amazing people out there, doing great things in their life and making the world a little less crazy!

It is something that I can never repay them for, but I hope that they know how much this means to us.  I can't right now - not in this way, but hope that I can find ways to pay it forward and help some one else in need.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fall 2015

It has been so long since I posted last!  Once school and sports start, life becomes a whirlwind of kids, bleachers, golf courses and football fields!  We have had a good year so far.

Maddi is in 9th grade.  She is a legal driver now so she drives to school every morning for her 7:30 class.  She is a member of student council.  She joined FFA this year and is getting ready to go to Louisville for an FFA convention.  She ran cross country again this year as a varsity runner.  This year the distance changed from a 4k to a 5k so it was a new challenge.  She also started seminary this year.  For those that don't know, seminary is kind of like a bible study class.  Each year during high school they study a different book of scripture - Old Testament, New Testament, Book Of Mormon, etc...  She gets up at 5:30 every morning, gets ready for school, and then does her seminary lesson from 6 - 6:40.  Then she leaves for school about 6:50.  I am proud of all that she is doing this year! 
 

 
Makenna is in 8th grade.  She is in chorus and a member of the student council at school.  She plays volleyball again and gave cross country a try.  She goes to school early every morning so she can meet with the cross country coach and do her workouts before school.  Then she goes to volleyball practice after school.  She has worked hard at both sports this season and has shown great improvements.  She ended up qualifying for state in cross country as an 8th grader! She placed 13th (top 20 go to State) and cut several minutes off her time.  She knows how to give 100% and keep working even when it gets uncomfortable.  I am excited to get to go see her run at State! 
 
 
 
Zane is in 7th grade.  He is learning to adjust to the new demands of a junior high student.  He has surprised me!  He is usually very unorganized and doesn't care too much for school.  While those feelings haven't changed, he is doing better at staying on top of school work and getting things done when he has missed classes for sports.  He also ran cross country this year and did really well!  He is also the president of his 7th grade class.

 
 
Dillon is in 6th grade.  He is enjoying being the big dog in school!  He is in band and enjoys playing the drums.  He also played football this year and loved it!  His last game he scored 4 touchdowns - a great way to end the season!  He is looking forward to basketball starting in a few weeks. He loves sports!  He also loves horses and working with his dad.

 
 
Zeke is in 4th grade.  He loves to read - it's his escape from life.  He played football again this year and had fun being with his friends.  He tried out for an honors choir and loves learning new things!  His best buddy is Maddi and he loves hanging out with her.  She is able to calm him down when other things don't work.  They have a very special relationship.


 
 

Olivia is in 3rd grade.  She isn't old enough to do much but cheer the others on while they area doing their thing!  She is a good sport about it and is happy that her siblings have friends and teammates who have siblings her age so she has company when we are out supporting ☺



Michael and I are still working and trying to get the kids where they need to be when they need to be there.  It keeps us busy and we rarely have a quiet night at home but it is fun to watch the kids.  I am grateful that we live in a place where the kids can be so involved and that I have a job that allows me to be there with them.


That is a brief summary of our lives right now!  Crazy, busy, exhausting.  We are always in some kind of a whirlwind of coming and going but I love it.  I also love the occasional night at home in pajamas doing nothing.  It is getting chillier out now so I love spending the evening by the fire when time allows.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Grandma-Great

For the last almost 16 years, I have been blessed to know one of the kindest women in the world.  From the very first time Michael took me to her house, she loved me and accepted me as one of her own.  I become part of the family as soon as I walked through her doorway.  As the years passed, she became one of my cherished friends.  I knew I could tell her anything and she would listen and love me no matter what.  She wanted to know how I was, what I was doing and how I was feeling.  She listened to my struggles and offered comfort.  She listened to my triumphs and celebrated.  She listened to my everyday life and wanted to be a part of it. 

When we lived near her, we would go visit at least weekly, often times more.  My kids loved her.  She loved my kids.  She always had treats for them - lots of treats! And she would always bring out her toys so they could play.  She would ask each of them questions about what was going on in their lives and then listen when they answered.  She always had hugs and kisses for them.

When we lived too far away to visit I would call her at least once a week.  We could talk about anything and everything.  I looked forward to our phone conversations. They were always one of the highlights of my week!  The kids would write her letters and draw her pictures.  They missed her and looked forward to our occasional trips to see her.

Now she is older and weaker.  Our phone conversations are shorter and often repetitive.  I still love to hear her voice though.  I still love to hear her say my name.  I still love to hear her tell me she loves me.  My heart hurts as I hear the news about her weakening.  What I would give to be sitting in her living room on her blue couch, seeing her smile and listening to her tell us the latest news.  What I would give to be able to give her a huge hug and feel her hug me back. 

I hope she knows how much I love her.  I hope she knows how much she brightened my days.  I hope she knows how much I look up to her.  I hope she knows that I think about her every day.  Even though we are not connected by blood, she will always be
my Grandma and she truly is great.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Fallen Tree

Last night Michael cut down one of our huge dead pine trees.  Our (meaning me and the kids) task this morning was to get all the branches cleared out and hauled off.  So, instead of doing strength circuits and running, our workout today was hauling branches. 

I have been trying faithfully over the last 8 years to convince my body that it doesn't need to carry around 40 extra pounds.  I have struggled through early morning workouts, freezing South Dakota winter workouts, drippy hot, humid workouts.  I have flipped tires, jumped rope, squatted, lunged, done push ups, sits ups, tricep dips, step hurdles, tire runs, back peddles, weights, plank jacks, mountain climbers, battle rope, punching bag and anything else I could think of.  I have inhaled fresh morning air, late evening air, post-rain air and a few bugs.  I have had blistered feet, a cyst in my wrist that grows/hurts/bursts/repeats, sprained ankles, bursitis in my knees, a pulled hamstring and a stupid hip that aches.  I have endured constant fatigue and exhaustion, struggled through depression, and battled self doubt.  I have fought through it all and worked harder than I have ever worked in my life.  I have also spent the last 15 years trying to become a better mother.  More patient, kind, loving, caring, spiritual, righteous, and humble.  The results?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.  I am the same size I was when I started this battle 8 years ago after giving birth to my last child.  I am still the same impatient, stubborn person I was 15 years ago.  I still lack in all areas of my life.


Frustrating?  Yes.  Depressing?  Yes.  Discouraging?  Definitely.  My word this year is persevere.  I have hung tight to that through the early morning hours and the feelings of exhaustion and frustration.  I have done my best to continue to put one foot forward and keep going even though the results are not what I wanted them to be.

I look in the mirror and get so discouraged.  I see all the things I am not.  I am not thinner.  I do not look stronger.  I am not patient enough with my children, my husband or myself.  I am not kind enough or caring enough.  I am not spiritual enough.  My light does not shine bright enough.  It's hard to see the good when the bad is right there laughing at you in the mirror.

This last year has been especially hard.  I went back to work fulltime after 13 years at home.  That was a huge adjustment!  A huge blessing too!  We moved.  A stressful time but another huge blessing!  Five of our six children were in sports.  Our son was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and ADHD.   We've had financial struggles.  Basically, we have experienced life.  Life comes with heartache, challenges, joys, triumphs, sadness, happiness.

This morning, as we hauled branches (not little branches) from here:
 
Across the driveway and through the trees:


Way over there:
 
To here:

I felt different about this overweight, asthmatic body of mine.  I could haul those branches and throw them up on the pile.  I could climb up the ditch bank on either side of the driveway while dragging a limb three times bigger than me.  And I could do it over and over again.  And it felt good!  I love working like that because it makes me feel strong.  It makes me sweat.  It hurts sometimes, but it is a good hurt.  I get scratches and cuts.  I get stabbed in the head from protruding branches.  The bun in my hair is decorated with sticks, grass and the occasional bug or sap (depending on the tree).  It feels good.  And it makes me look at myself differently. 

My body, though far from perfect, can do hard things.  It can carry me while I work.  It lifts limbs and logs.  It splits and stacks wood.  It mows lawns.  It weeds flower beds (although it hates doing that).  I can carry a 50lb bag of feed from the back of Runnings out to my car (don't laugh!  50lbs is still heavy for me).  My body, the one that I spend so much time being mad at, carried 7 babies (one for only a very short time) and delivered 6 and it did it in 6 1/2 years!  My body still carries the scars from those years.  My body has loaded and unloaded moving trucks more times than I would like to count, as we would begin or end our journey to a new chapter in life.  My body has spent nights up with children or worries.  My body has spent hours in the gym, on the sidelines, running across golf courses and standing at finish lines, cheering for my kids and their teammates.  My body has spent hours in the kitchen baking and cooking so my family and others can be fed.  My body has spent hours at church serving and worshipping.  My body, the one I wish was smaller and firmer, has carried me to bed every night after an exhausting day and gotten me up every morning so I can go at it again.

I know I have told this story before, but it applies so I am going to tell it again (I can do that, it's my blog).  When I was 21, I served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I served in Ireland.  As missionaries, we walked.  A lot.  After being there for a little while, my feet started hurting so bad from all the walking.  At night they would be swollen so much that my toes couldn't touch the ground.  In the morning, when I would try to stand on them, pain would shoot through them and the first few steps were very hard to take.  I would pray (very arrogantly) and remind Heavenly Father that I was doing His work so it would be really nice if my feet didn't hurt.  Yet, they continued to hurt.  One morning as I was getting out of bed, feeling the pain as I started walking, and wondering why Heavenly Father was not helping me, I was overcome with a very quiet, peaceful thought.  He let me know that He was there helping me.  The pain was still there, yes.  But every morning He was there to help me up and get me going.  He didn't take away the pain.  He gave me the strength to continue on despite it.  It was a tremendous learning experience for me.

It helps me still today.  As I fight through exhaustion, depression and a busy life, He gives me the strength to continue on.  He doesn't take away the pain, the tiredness or the extra weight, but He is there to help me up and get me going every morning.  He is there to walk me through the stressful times.  He is there to comfort the hurt, ease the frustrations and strengthen my weaknesses.

Today, as I drug those limbs across the yard, I felt gratitude.  Gratitude for this lumpy, almost 40 year old body.  Gratitude for a fallen tree to allow me to see and feel a little different.  Gratitude for a Heavenly Father who allows me to have the strength to do all that I have to do.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What We Have Been Doing...

I realized that it has been a long time since I wrote a post about what we have been doing around here!  We have been so busy the last 5 or 6 months that I have not taken the time to update about all the fun we have been having!

November started basketball season for us.  We had five playing ball this year.  Maddi and Makenna played for the JH teams.  Zane, Dillon and Zeke played on the elementary level.  Olivia was not old enough to play but she did do a cheer camp and got to cheer at halftime of one of the varsity games.  Basketball took up almost every night during the week.  It also took up every Saturday.  One Saturday we had 11 games between the four oldest kids!  Our first games started the weekend after Thanksgiving and our last games were on the 28th of March.  During that time we had two Saturdays off - the one right after Christmas and one in early March.  It was crazy, we were all tired, but we had a lot of fun!  Here are a few pictures from our basketball season:






During basketball, Maddi hurt her shoulder.  She has loose ligaments so they were not able to hold her shoulder in place properly.  As a result she had to end her season early and start physical therapy in order to prevent surgery.  Her job was to strengthen the muscles around her shoulders so that they could help hold her shoulders in place since her ligaments can't do the job.  She has done well and they are getting stronger.  She still has a lot of work to do.

Track season was fun!  There were a lot of meets and the weather was pretty nice for all of them!  Maddi and Makenna ended up making it to state in the 4x800.  They worked hard, beat the odds and made it!  Their team consisted of 2 7th graders and 2 8th graders.  It was a great experience for them to be able to go to state together.




The end of the school year came quickly and there are so many other things that took place - field trips, awards ceremonies, AR points and prizes, spring concerts, birthdays, science fair, and the list goes on and on. 

Things didn't slow down once summer started either!  We finished off the track season the end of May.  In June we started basketball camp for the boys and basketball workouts for the girls.  We also started our summer workouts.  The first day we had 30 kids here!  We have had youth conference, girls camp, scout camp, hunters safety, basketball camps (2 different ones), and volleyball camps. The four oldest kids picked rock for a month or so.  The girls have been working at the school once a week.  We have been doing yard work, cutting down trees, hauling logs, chasing chickens, gathering eggs, hunting predators, playing with friends, and enjoying the weather.  We ran one 5k and have another one to run next month.  We have gotten horses and sold horses.  We have gone for bike rides, gone swimming, gone bowling and we have almost gone crazy a few times!  It has all gone by so quickly!

Things are winding down now.  Our summer workouts are coming to an end.  Rock picking is done and so is work at the school.  The camps are over.  School supply shopping has begun.  We are still hoping for a few more days of swimming, bowling and playing.  We are looking forward to a trip to the race track to watch the horses run.

I think the most special thing that happened this summer was Olivia getting baptized.  She turned 8 in May and she was finally able to get baptized a few weeks ago.  She was so excited!  She is the last of my 6 to get baptized.  It has been such a blessing to be able to see all of my children make the choice to be  baptized and to be so excited about it.

They are all growing up so much! Maddi is driving and she will be in high school.  Zane will be in junior high with Makenna.  Dillon will be the top dog at the elementary school.  My little Zeke is in 4th grade now and Olivia, though still our little princess, is growing up way too fast!  It is fun to watch them grow and change and watch them as they reach new heights and experience new things.  We are so blessed!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trials

These last few days have been filled with sadness, worry and heartache for many people that I love and care about.  They have also been filled with prayer, faith, love and service by all those around them. 

Friday afternoon there was a boy around Maddi's age who suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.  He played baseball with my boys a few summers ago.  We have known their family for about 11 years.  Later that day we heard about another friend who had an accident on a wagon train, leaving him with two rods in his neck and a neck brace for 3 months.  We have known him and his family for about 12 years.  Today we found out that another friend who had previously suffered a stroke to his right side, had suffered a stroke to his left side and his beautiful wife who has been helping to take care of him is battling breast cancer.

Amidst the many strong emotions of worry, fear and sadness, I have watched in amazement at the equally strong and opposite emotions of love, selflessness and peace.

All of these incidents occurred to people of strong faith.  People who lived to the best of their ability and followed Christ's teachings.  During this, they did not turn away, they stepped closer and brought all of us with them.  They reached out for prayers, they shared their feelings of peace and comfort.  They praised God for the blessings of recovery, friendship and help.  They were joined by so many who were sending their prayers to Heaven, knowing that there was Someone up there listening, loving and taking care of things.

Life is full of trials on all different levels.  Some trials are just pesky little nuisances like rain at a picnic.  Some are longer lasting like an illness.  Some are devastating like a destroying tornado that steals away everything in it's path.  All can be life changing.  All can bring us closer to Christ.  All can make us more like Him.

There are times, whether the trial be small or large, that we feel like we are out there all alone, buried under the waves of hardship, deep in the darkness of sorrow.  We feel like no one can understand our life and struggles.  However, Jesus Christ can.  He has felt them all perfectly.  He knows each heartache, each sorrow, each pain that we feel.  He has felt each wound and suffered for each sin.  He never leaves us alone.

In the Book of Mormon (which for those who don't know, is another book of scripture that we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, use in conjunction with the Bible) there is story of a group of people who, under God's direction, built barges to take their families across the ocean to a land that God had prepared for them.  They got in their barges and "commended their lives to God."  During this voyage God caused there to be a great wind that blew them towards the "promised land".  These winds that were blowing them where they needed to go also caused great storms.  There were times when their barges were buried under the water as storms raged around them.  Sometimes it was for days that they were tossed about with the waves crashing and burying them.  And so they would cry out to God and He would bring them back to the surface again and cause the waters to calm.  Eventually they landed on dry ground and immediately praised God. (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/6?lang=eng).

I have referred to this scripture story many times in my life.  These people were righteous.  They were doing what the Lord had commanded them.  They were obedient and faithful.  Yet they were faced with trials.  On the very journey that God had sent them on, by the very winds that He caused to blow, they were buried and tossed.  Yet as they prayed and praised, God heard them and brought them safely to their destination. 

Stories don't always have happy endings.  We lose jobs, homes, belongings, loved ones, friendships, etc.  But we can use these experiences to bring us closer to God.  He will lift us up out of the raging waters.  He will calm the storms in our hearts.  He will send the peace of knowing that all is well.  He will surround us with His love.  He will give us the strength to take the next step, climb the next hill and fight the next battle.

Today in church we sang the song, "I Believe in Christ".  These are some of the words from the hymn that touched my heart as I thought about those that I love and care about and the trials they are facing right now...

I believe in Christ, who marked the path,
Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: "Come, follow me,
That ye, my friends, with God may be."

I believe in Christ--my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I'll worship him with all my might;
He is the source of truth and light.
 
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: "Ye shall obtain."
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I'll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men.

I am so grateful for my knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful to have the gospel in my life, to know that I am never alone.  I am so grateful for a loving God that is always there with outstretched arms waiting for us to reach out to him.  I am so grateful that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  This life will have it's challenges, but because of God's love for us and because of Jesus Christ's love for us, we will be able to overcome this life and be with them again.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Take a Walk

Today someone made a comment to me about Zeke that kind of upset me.  It wasn't necessarily what was said, but how it was said.  It was kind of sarcastic and judgmental and just rubbed me the wrong way.  I didn't say anything but it has caused my thoughts to wander some ☺ Zeke is a 9 year old boy dealing with Tourette's and ADHD.  He is learning how to cope with his energy, his tics (although mild right now) and trying to feel normal.  I do not make excuses for him.  If he is naughty then he will face the consequences.  However, I do try to be understanding, as much as possible, of what he is going through.  I don't understand it all and I am a grown up.  How can I expect him to understand it? Aside from this, he is a very thoughtful and kind boy.  He wants to be good and make good choices.  He feels horrible when he doesn't.  He is helpful and loving.  He is funny and goofy.  He has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ.  He loves to read the scriptures.  He loves his family and he loves Nava, our Irish Wolfhound.  He is more than a wiggly boy at school, so much more.

I guess, my thoughts today are leading me to the fact that we don't know what the other person is going through or dealing with.  We may look at some one and think, "What the heck?  What is your problem?" Some people's flaws and shortcomings are more noticeable than others.  We all have them though.  Sometimes we need to step back and take a walk in their shoes.  We need to try to understand them, care about them, love them, and NOT judge them!

Words can hurt, judgments can leave lasting impressions - good or bad. We have the opportunity in this life to build or to demolish.  Which one are we doing?  I love that Zeke's class this year is learning about filling one another's buckets.  His teacher does a great job teaching her class how to do that.  How does she do it?  By example.  She cares for each child in that class.  She has patience, far beyond what I could muster!  She compliments, encourages, forgives.  She understands.  She takes time to walk in their shoes.  She has been the perfect teacher for Zeke this year as he deals with his life and begins learning about himself.  What a blessing she has been!

Our place in life is not to judge but to love those around us.  Christ, the only perfect person to walk this earth, spent His life loving those around Him.  They did not always seem deserving of love.  Some were sinners and viewed as unclean.  Some were poor and considered less of a person.  Some were from the wrong country or the wrong beliefs.  Some were sick or disabled.  Most were passed by and wrongly judged by others.  Christ saw them only as children of God and loved them with a perfect love.  He took time to understand them, talk with them, heal them and lift them up.  He took time to teach them and bring them to Him.  He turned away none that came to Him.

My father, I have mentioned before, had polio when he was a one year old that left him paralyzed from the waist down.  Growing up, I saw the effects of wrong judgments, prejudices, and misunderstanding.  I also saw a man who freely forgave, who didn't judge though he was constantly judged.  I saw a man who served and took time for others though, at times, no one took time for him.  I know I am guilty of judging.  I know I do not always take the time to walk in another's shoes.  Having him as my father has opened my eyes to those around me and I hope that it has helped me to look at others differently.

Having Zeke come in to my life has reopened my eyes to all of this. It has made me more aware of the judgments of others and also reminded me to judge less.  We never know what some one else is going through.  We don't always understand why they do what they do.  We need to take the time, open our eyes and our hearts and take a walk in their shoes. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Persevere

per·se·vere
[pur-suh-veer]
VERB (USED WITHOUT OBJECT) [PER·SE·VERED, PER·SE·VER·ING.]
 
1.  to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.
 
This is my word this year.  It is a word that is encompassing all that I am doing right now.  The definition is constantly going through my mind as I try to push through and become better.  I wear this ring every day.
I put it on first thing every morning and take it off last every night.  I look at it often throughout the day - to remind me.  This year has been a big adjustment for me.  I went from not working outside the home for the last 13 years to working fulltime.  I love it and I love the people I work with, but it has been a huge adjustment.  I am gone all day and then it seems, with the kids' activities, I am also gone all night. 
 
This fall I had 3 in football, one in cross country, one in volleyball and one in gymnastics.  This winter I had 5 in basketball.  Now it has slowed down and I only have 2 in track.  On top of the sports we also have church and scouts. Every Wednesday night.  At church I am one of the 3 in charge of all the children under the age of 12.  I teach lessons, conduct meetings, teach music and also have meetings with the other 2 so we can plan and keep things on track.  During this school year we also moved - a huge blessing, but also another obstacle to work through.  Zeke was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome.  While his is still mild it has been an issue to work through and there have been many times of frustration and stress - for him and for the rest of us. 
 
As the school year started and we got so involved and busy, I put myself aside and just spent my days working and following kids around.  Over Christmas break I decided I had to change that.  I needed to start exercising again and start taking better care of myself so I could continue with the busyness of life.  So, I started getting up at 5 am (an hour with which I have a love/hate relationship with).  This is something that I have NEVER been able to do, ever!  But I started and I am still doing it ☺  I found a weightlifting program that I love and so I do that every morning and then try to fit cardio of some sort in when there is left over time.  It is hard.  I have finished my 2nd month of the weightlifting program and my 3rd month of 5am. 
 
I have had to persevere many mornings as I fight my way out of the warm covers and down stairs to the weights ☺  I persevered through tears of frustration as I drag myself to bed at night, exhausted, wondering why I am doing this when I don't feel like my workouts are getting me anywhere.  I have persevered through long days at work, nights spent in the bleachers cheering, weekends on the road as we go from tournament to tournament.  I have had to persevere as I worked on my Sunday lessons and tried to teach busy children to sit reverently and practice songs, listen to the lessons and read scriptures. 
 
Do I love it?  Yes.  No.  Sometimes.  I don't know.  Maybe.  A little. 
 
Sunday night we had our family night.  Our lesson was on pushing our limits, being our best.  Finishing even when it was hard.  We talked about the parable in the Bible of the talents.  The Master had three servants.  He was getting ready to leave for a certain amount of time and so he gave his three servants talents to take care of while he was gone.  To one he gave 5, to another 2 and to the 3rd one.  The servant with 5 went out and doubled his talents.  So did the servant with 2.  The servant with one went and buried his talent in the earth so no one could find it.  When the master came back, he called his servants to him and asked them what they had done with his talents.  The one who started with 5 gave him 10 and said he had gone out and worked and doubled his talents.  The one with 2 told him the same and gave the master 4 talents.  The one who started with one gave the master back his one and told him he was afraid because he knew that master to be hard so he hid his talent.  The master blessed the ones who had worked and doubled their talents.  The one who had hid his talent he cursed and took his talent away and gave it to the one with 10.
 
The Lord has given us all different talents and abilities.  What do we do with them?  We develop them, we share them, we work hard, we persevere, we push our limits, we become the best we can be.  The harder we work, especially when it is hard, the stronger we will become, the more we will be blessed, the better we will be.  We will not always come out on top, we will not make every basket, we won't win every race - in fact, we may never win a race, 5 am may never become easy, Math may never be our top subject, we may never be able to spell "piece" without reciting "i before e except after c and in words such as neighbor and weigh."  However, we can be better than we were the day before.  We can get stronger, faster, smarter.  We can become more kind, humble, obedient, patient and passionate.  We can push farther. longer and harder.  We can persevere, in spite of the difficulty that lay ahead.  We can take what the Lord has given us and build on that foundation and become all that He knows we can be.  We can climb over our stumbling blocks and use them to bring us closer to God. 
 
I have spoken about my Dad before, but he is my perfect example in perseverance.  He had polio when he was 1 years old.  It left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He did not let that stop him.  He played backyard football and basketball, he was one of the smartest kids in school.  He played wheelchair basketball, threw shotput and discus in track (and was really good).  He got his college degree and has taught school for as long as I can remember.  There were times when he couldn't get a job because of prejudices against him.  Did he quit?  No, he went back to school and got even more education.  He coached football, basketball, track and cross country.  He is 70 now.  He is still teaching.  He is also head JH cross country and track coach.  Was it easy for him?  No.  There were times when he would fall.  Not always metaphorically either.  There were times when he would actually fall.  Every single time, he got back up and continued on with what he was doing.  Most times the fall would result in pain.  He did not let the pain stop him.  In fact, I really have no idea or comprehension of the pain that he would feel.  Now he is older, all those falls have caught up with him and the pain is constant.  Yet, every day, he gets up and goes.  He does what he needs to do and he does his very best.  He has never done less than his best and he does it with a good attitude so that no one on the outside would be aware of any difficulty he may be facing.
 
From him, I have learned to get back up and continue on.  I am not as good at it as he is, but I try to follow his example.  I try to teach my children to do the same.  To persevere.  To make each day be the best day and each effort to be the best effort. 
 

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Quiet Prayer

Sunday was not a good day.  There was a lot of crazy that was going on around here!  I won't get into all the details but stress levels and emotions increased as the afternoon went on.  We were going to feed the missionaries from our church supper Sunday night so I had started getting everything ready while Michael went to feed the cows.  Right before it was time for me to go pick up the missionaries, I asked a couple of the kids to go make sure the van was cleaned out and the garbage was picked up.  Well.... another of my kids was out at the van trying to pick the lock.  Apparently that particular child had locked our only set of keys in the van.  This child then decided to try to pick the lock with some wire instead of coming to tell me.  In the process, the wire got stuck in the key hole and the doors were still locked.  That only increased my frustration, to say the least.  I went back into the house to give Maddi instructions on what to do with supper while I was gone, muttering under my breath the whole time.  As I walked through the dining room, I saw Zeke get on his knees and say a prayer.  I don't know what he said in that prayer, but I was touched by his reaction (especially compared to my reaction).  After he was done he got up and asked what he could do to help.  Long story short, the evening went fine.  The missionaries got fed and one of them even told me it was one of the best meals that she had eaten her entire mission (which would be about 18 months).  Michael was able to somehow go through the front of the van and get the doors unlocked and got the wire out of the keyhole and we were all able to survive the rest of the day.

I am very grateful for Zeke's example and his quiet prayer.  It made me stop and remember who I could turn to when life is full of crazy.  His prayer didn't automatically fix anything or magically put things back in order, but it did soften my heart and help me feel some calmness through our crazy Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

One Little Life

Today is my older sister's birthday.  I know I have blogged about her before, but I will again because it is her day today!  She was born in 1970.  She died at the age of 2 from a liver defect that she was born with.  She was the oldest child in my family and she died before the rest of us were born.  However, she has been and still is a huge part of our family.  We are taught, and I fully believe, that families are forever.  This is not "till death do us part."  This is forever.  What we build together here, stays with us when we leave.  I know my sister is waiting for me and my family.  I know that she is there, cheering me on, waiting for the time when we will all be reunited.  Katie's life on this earth was very short.  Her short life led my parents to the truth of the gospel.  That truth, shaped them and brought them closer to Christ.  They taught us and raised us with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Four of us served missions for our church.  We served in Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina, Chile and Ireland.  While serving, we were able to teach many more about the Savior.  Now we are married and have our own families.  We are teaching our children to follow Christ.  My parents now have 29 grandchildren.  One little life, one pure spirit of our Heavenly Father, an angel sent to earth for a brief moment, has been the starting point for so many people looking to the Savior and finding truth, peace, hope and strength.  For me, one of the most beautiful truths of the gospel is that families are forever.  There are days when life is hard - kids are fighting, some one is hurting, stress is high, there is sickness and loss.  Some days it would be easy to just throw in the towel and walk away.  But knowing that this is forever, helps me get through those times.  It gives me hope and strength that there is a purpose to all of this.  It gives me endurance to ride out the storm.  I know that my family is forever.  There is no trial, no hardship, no person that can take that away.  The loved ones we lose here in this life will be with us again.  When I look at my family, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that these people that I love so much will be with me forever.  Our love will continue on after this life and that makes my heart happy.

So to my sister, Katie - Happy Birthday and thank you for your life that brought light to mine.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hands

When I was little, I loved my dad's hands.  He has really big hands and they were always calloused.  When I was a little girl I loved to measure my hands against his and see how much bigger they were. I loved to feel the roughness of his hands.  To me they represented strength, love, help, and discipline. 

I loved my grandma's hands.  They were small and soft.  She would always pat my arm or tickle my back when I would sit next her.  Her hands showed me love.

I loved my babies hands.  When I would hold them, they would reach up and touch my face or grab  my hair.  I loved to feel their soft little touch and kiss their tiny fingers.  Their hands were pure and innocent.


Hands communicate so many things - love, service, fright, nervousness, playfulness, work, strength, dedication, sacrifice.  This week has been a tough week for a lot of people that I care about.  Loved ones are sick, loved ones have passed away, loved ones have made bad choices.    During all this I have watched as hands have reached out to comfort, lift up and hold.  I have seen hands write notes of love, hands reach out to steady and hands wipe away tears.

For some, they will need to hold the hands of their loved ones a little tighter as they struggle through their trials.  Some will be holding the hands of their loved ones one last time as illness overcomes and weakens the body.  Some will no longer be able to hold the hands of those they loved here in this life.

At some point we have all experienced these things in our life.  I love holding hands and I miss holding the hands of people that I love that are no longer with me on this earth.  With each experience, comes greater love and gratitude for Another's hands.

Hands that taught, healed and served.  Hands that suffered and bled.  Hands that were lifted in prayer on our behalf.  Hands that loved unconditionally.  Hands that were nailed to a cross.  Because of those hands, my hands can be washed clean from my mistakes.  Because of those hands, forgiveness is given.  Because of those hands, I will be able to hold the hands of my loved ones again. 

I hope that as we all go through our trials and sadnesses in life that we will be able to feel the love and strength of His hands and allow them to surround us in peace and lead us back to the safety of His presence.  I also hope that my hands can represent all that His hands stand for - love, sacrifice, service, forgiveness, patience, humility, strength, compassion.  I hope that through my hands, those around me can feel His hands.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

You Are An Inspiration

We all  have things that we wish were better about ourselves.  I could give you an endless list of all my flaws and all the things that I wish were different about myself.  I listen to these wonderful people that I love feel bad about themselves, doubt themselves and even become sad and discouraged.  When I listen to them talk, I don't see them the way that they see themselves.  I don't notice the extra pounds, the gray hairs, the scars, the forgetfulness, the supposed lack of patience or understanding, etc, etc, etc...  I see them and their beauty.  I see their hands and how they use them to help those around them.  I hear their voice speak words of encouragement and praise.  I see their eyes look at others with love and kindness.  I see their accomplishments in school, home, work, church, and community.

I notice how others interact and react to them and I know that they see the same thing I do.  They see love, kindness, intelligence, humility, light - things that make them beautiful.  Beauty from the inside, far outshines beauty from the outside.  It is amazing what love and kindness can do to a person.  It really does make a person more beautiful! 

A friend on Facebook put this quote on her status today and it touched me.   "Before you put yourself down, please consider everything you've accomplished to get to this point, every life you've touched, and every moment you've pushed beyond your fears. You are a champion. You are a fighter. You are are worthy of nothing less than the deepest love you have to share. You are an inspiration." -Scott Stabile

So many of my friends and loved ones have inspired me in ways that they will never know.  Their quiet strength as they go through their lives, strengthens me and helps me get through my tough times.  Their love and kindness affect me in ways that make me want to be kinder to others.  The service they give to me inspires me to go out and serve others.  They are champions - heroes in my life.

I am so grateful for the people in my life - those people that struggle just like me yet continue on with faith and love.  Those people who have touched my life and made it better.  Those people that are always reaching out and lifting up.  I hope that I can be the kind of person that can do to others what they have done to me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hearts

Today we made hearts out of clay.  72 to be exact.  The kids picked out the colors, swirled them together, rolled them out and cut out hearts.  Then we baked them for a few minutes to harden them.  I think they turned out really cute!
 
The whole time we were making them the kids wanted to know what they were for and why we were making them.  I waited to tell them because it was making them crazy and because I could :)
 
I got the idea from a blog I read (but I can't remember where).  A teacher used her left over sculpey clay and made hearts for her class.  It was around Valentine's Day.  Each of the kids got some hearts and they spent the next week or so sharing those hearts with people that they thought could use extra love.  I really liked the idea.  We try to teach our children to look around them and see people who need a smile or a helping hand.  We try to do the same.  Service is one of the best ways to lift others up and also to lift ourselves up.  When we are serving our hearts are filled with joy.  I loved the idea of leaving a heart at the scene of the "crime" so the person we served has something beautiful to remind them that they are loved.  So... I ordered some sculpey clay and we made hearts.

Tonight was our family night.  Makenna had the lesson and she, without knowing my plans for the hearts, gave a lesson on serving and setting a good example.  It was called "Being the First One on the Dance Floor."  It talked about how dances often begin with everyone standing around the edges for the first few songs.  Everyone wants to dance but no one wants to be the first one out there.  It isn't until that one brave soul decides that he is going out there that everyone follows and begins to enjoy the dance.  She shared examples of how kids have done that.  One group of girls decided for two weeks that they were going to smile at everyone they saw - including themselves.  They talked about how it spread from them smiling at others to everyone doing it.  Another group of kids got into geocaching.  Instead of leaving a trinket or toy at the site they left a scripture and their testimony of Jesus Christ with instructions for the next person to do the same.  I told them about a boy I read about that had been bullied after his father died.  He switched schools because of the bullying but decided that he was going to change things at his next school.  He started his first day by holding to door open for the other students and greeting them as they came into school.  At first the others thought it was weird but then they started looking forward to seeing him and they started doing things for others too.  The staff talked about how this one boy had made such a change in the entire school.  He was the first one out on the dance floor.  He set and example and others followed.  He served those around him and made a difference. 

We talked about things we could do at home and at school that would help others.  What could we do to be the first ones out on the dance floor?  Then I gave out the hearts.  The instructions - look for ways to serve and uplift, do it, and leave a heart letting them know that they are loved.  I hope that over the next few weeks hearts will be spread around the house and school and that with each heart that is given, our own hearts will be filled.

What a Week!

Monday morning started out very cold around 5:45am.  I went downstairs to do my workout and noticed it felt unusually cold!  I went out to our back room where we have our dishwasher, extra fridge, washer, dryer, and a bathroom.  Sometime during the night, the back door had blown open.  The floor was so cold it hurt my bare feet!  Later that morning before I left for school I tried to start a load of laundry.  It wouldn't work because the tubes going into the washer were frozen, of course.  I had kids running late, kids that couldn't find their band stuff, and I was trying to get all my stuff put together that neither Michael or I checked the pipes very closely to look for any damage.  When I got home from school that afternoon, Zane came running into the dining room saying that there was water spraying everywhere!  Yes, during our night time freeze of the back room, a pipe had busted and there was indeed water spraying everywhere.  It was spraying the wall and ceiling, running down the stairs and seeping through the floor into the basement.  I ran downstairs with the phone, called Michael and started searching for the water turnoff.  Eventually I found it and got it turned off.  What a mess!  I started trying to dry up the floor in the back while I waited for Michael to get home.  We found the split in the pipe.  Michael cut the bad section out and went and got what he needed to fix it.  I finished cleaning up the water on the floor.  We got it all fixed and cleaned up before bed that night.  The washer didn't get damaged - thank goodness!  There was no other damage done to the house either.  We considered ourselves quite lucky that nothing else happened! 

Tuesday I had a dentist appointment to get a couple of fillings done.  One was an old filling that needed to be redone.  When he got the filling all drilled out, we discovered (with a little pain) that the cavity had spread into the nerves.  My options - root canal or get it pulled.  I have lots of teeth :) so I decided to save myself $2000 and get it pulled.  He did a great job and I didn't feel any pain - until the next day of course!  Wednesday wasn't too bad.  I kept on ibuprofen.  It was a busy day and we didn't get home until after 9pm.  Wednesday night was a rough night.  I was freezing, couldn't get to sleep until after midnight and the motrin pm did not seem to take all the edge off the soreness.

Thursday I woke up feeling quite ill and only made it through a couple hours of school before I had to come home.  I slept for over 4 hours and could have slept longer if I didn't have to wake up and be a mom :)  I missed Maddi, Makenna and Zane play basketball. 

Friday finally arrived and I was feeling much better.  I made it through the day and headed out the door pretty close to 4pm.  Got in the van and it wouldn't start... So, I called Michael.  He came and jump started the van and we drove it to the Cenex to get a new battery.

Saturday was filled with basketball.  Michael had meetings all day so I was on my own.  The girls had games in Volga at 9 and 10.  The losers were supposed to play again at 11 and the winners at noon.  I told them they needed to win so I could get there in time to watch them play.  Zeke had his first game in White that morning at 10 so I wouldn't be able to get there for an 11am game.  Well, they both won and I was so excited that I would get to see them both play! Then I got a text saying that they had moved Makenna's game up to 11 instead of 12.  I ended up missing most of her game.  I did get to see the last little bit of it and I got to watch Maddi's game.  They all played hard and had fun.

The weather Sunday was beautiful and the kids were able to be outside for  hours enjoying the sunshine and warmer temps!  It was the perfect way to end the week and gear up for next week.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Zeke Turns 9!

On the 6th of this month we were able to celebrate our Zekie boy's birthday!  He was very excited for it to come and even more excited when we got a late start that day!  He took treats to his class and even left one on my desk - what a sweet boy :)


For supper he wanted chicken cordon bleu with rice and green beans and cherry pie for dessert.  That boy knows good food!



He got to continue his birthday week with no school Wednesday and Thursday and a late start Friday.  Friday after school he got to have a friend come home with him and spend the night. 



We are so thankful for Zeke!  He is certainly one of a kind.  He is helpful and kind, thoughtful and generous.  He is quirky and crazy and never sits still!  He loves to read and draw and play with legos and army guys.  He loves to be outside playing.  This year he has been able to play football and now he is in basketball.  He seems to love both.  He loves listening to music and break dancing.  I love the entertainment that the break dancing provides :)  We are so blessed to have him be able to share our lives with him.  We love you, Zekie boy!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year, New Word

At the beginning of the year last year we all picked out a word that we wanted to focus on and work on.  I was amazed at the words that my kids came up with and how much each word fit them.  During our family scripture study throughout the year we looked up scriptures that had to do with each of their words.  We also tried to find stories or examples of instances where others used those words.  We tried to point out examples from our own lives when those words came into play and blessed us.  Last week we talked about our words and what was learned throughout the year because of our focus on that word.  Again, I was surprised by what they learned.  Of course, learning took place on both ends.  Sometimes the lesson came from using that word.  Other times it came from not using the word.  Some implemented the idea more than others so they were able to learn more. 

I asked everyone last Sunday to make this last week a time to think, ponder and pray about their next word.  I do believe that prayer is an important part of this process.  Heavenly Father knows us and loves us.  He knows our strengths, our weaknesses and our potential.  He wants us to grow and reach that potential.  He is interested in our everyday lives.  The decisions we make in our everyday life are what brings us closer to or farther away from Him.  If we petition Him, He will help us determine the things we need to draw closer to Him - even in the choosing of a word.

Today we shared our word with each other, why we chose that word and what we will do to remember that word.  Listening to everyone share their word, my testimony of the fact that Heavenly Father is interested in us, was strengthened.  I did not give any of them any examples of words, no hints as to what would be a good idea or anything else.  The words they came up with came from within themselves.  I do believe that if each individual focuses on their word this year their lives will be blessed and they will change in amazing ways.  I do believe that God was there, helping them and prompting them.  I believe that He will continue to be there to help them and prompt them with their words - that includes me with my word.

Maddi - her word is Believe.  Learning to believe in herself and continuing to learn to believe and trust in her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Makenna - her word is Integrity.  Learning to be honest in all her dealings.  Learning to be a doer of the Word and not just a sayer.

Zane - his word is Work.  He wants to learn to do the work and not be ok with just sitting back and letting everyone else do it.

Dillon - his word is Selfless (he is the most selfless of everyone in the family).  He knows that sometimes he thinks about just himself and he wants to remember to think of others and their needs.

Zeke - his word is Strength.  He wants strength to work hard in his sports and school work.  He also wants strength to stand up and be himself and not do something just because some one else is.

Olivia - her word is Kindness.  She wants to learn to be kind.  She knows that sometimes she can be stubborn with her friends and she needs to be right.  She wants to learn to be kind instead.

Michael - his word is Patience.  He felt it was something he needed to work on.

Me - my word is Perseverance.  I really need this!  My first thought was endurance.  That just meant hanging in there until the end.  Perseverance was the same as endurance but it talked about having grace.  To me that means hanging in there with a good attitude and humility. 

So, we begin our new year with new words and new focus.  I hope that we will all be able to find truth and knowledge through these words.  I hope that we will have the ability to remember these words and use them, even when it is hard.  I know our lives will be blessed as we focus and use them.  May we have the Strength, Patience, Perseverance and Integrity to Work hard, be Selfless, treat others with Kindness and Believe throughout 2015!