annes’ snowmen

Jan 18, 2024 by

Annesley burst into our room while we were sleeping last night with this cute lil’ snowman. Then she decided the snow was so perfect that she just had to go outside and build a big snowman.

She is so full of JOY!

She regularly interrupts my sleep and while I may grumble a little, I’m so grateful for her giant rays of sunshine that light up my world.

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othello

Jan 13, 2024 by

After being apart for a week, it was game time tonight.

I’d say I whooped her.

Round two she played better and lost by 43-21. Much better than losing every piece on the board! Someday she will beat me and she will know she earned it fair and square because I’m certainly never going to go easy on her.

I’m so tickled she’ll still play with me when I beat her over and over again.

I’ve been playing Othello since I was a little girl. If you don’t own it, I highly recommend it! https://amzn.to/3UTEGj1

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coronado and calzada = healing

Jan 13, 2024 by

Today I had a moment.

A few moments.

Of tears.

And breathing it all in.

Nine years ago, in January 2015, I went to Dr. Calzada’s for the first time. On that trip, Connie took me to Coronado Island and carried me across the sand to the beach so I could put my feet in the ocean. Even though I couldn’t walk and even though no one could push that giant wheelchair through the sand, she was determined to get me to the water and, with her super strong muscles, she did!

Today I was able to go back there and stand on the exact spot that my gurney wheelchair was sitting on that long ago January evening. Today I was able to walk across the sand and stand in the ocean for over an hour. Today I was able to hold my sweetheart’s hand and belt out all seven verses of “How Firm a Foundation” and declare with a heart full of gratitude that God has carried us through these years and will continue to carry us.

Nine years of miracles.

Oh, my heart. It’s more than I can describe in words, but I hope those of you who have walked this journey with me will be able to imagine that moment standing on the boardwalk in front of Mr. Sandman’s sandcastle creation and feel a bit of my gratitude – to God, to Dr. Calzada and his team, and to all of you. What a ride it has been!

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i’ve got you

Jan 6, 2024 by

When I was little, my dad was my world. He left when I was 12 and a giant, man-sized-dad-hole was left in my heart. Subconsciously, I tried to fill that hole with boys. All sorts of boys. All sorts of kissing. All sorts of emotional entanglement. All sorts of dangerous situations (not that I wanted the dangerous situations…they just came with the boys). By the time I was 14, I had already gone steady with one boy for a year, and then was ”promised,” ring and all, to another boy…four years older, who I thought was super cool, but was really, super controlling, super angry, super charming, and super abusive. Other boys, some good, some not-good-at-all, came after that whenever I would work up the courage to break up with the ”promised to” boy. Eventually I dated a kind, wonderful Baptist boy that healed my heart in lots of ways because he wasn’t dangerous or controlling or abusive. He was good. But being with him meant leaving my faith. And that was something I was not willing to do.

After telling God I would never get married, He sent me Richard. It’s been thirty years of love. Thirty years of healing. Thirty years of me learning to trust men. Thirty years of trying again and again and again.

With all that emotional entanglement with boys when I was young comes a whole lot of crazy dreams. When we were first married, they were constant. I had no idea whose arms I was in or where I was at when I would wake up in the morning. When I realized I was with Richard, I would full-body-sob…in gratitude that I woke up in a place of safety…and in anger and embarrassment that I couldn’t get these other boys out of my dreams.

As time went on, the dreams became less frequent. But they were still there…scaring me, hounding me, disorienting me. Last night it happened again.

The miracle is Richard. All I have to do is cry out, “I need you.” And he knows what is happening and reaches out and holds me in his arms with the words, “I’ve got you.”

Those words. Those actions. That love.

It is everything.

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questions for growth

Dec 31, 2023 by

I don’t believe January 1 is a magical day where we need to start over, throw out the old, focus on big goals, or think we need to MAKE transformation happen. That approach often leads to overwhelm and burnout and not much, if any, change.However, I do think there is something to a new year that invites reflection on the past and hope for the future. For me, it is a time of pondering, breathing, and creating. I think there is great value in taking time to ask myself and God questions that will help me become the person I was created to be.

These are some of the questions I’m asking myself:

  • What am I grateful for from this year for myself?
  • What am I grateful for from this year for my family?
  • How have I grown in 2023?
  • What wins have I had this year?
  • What losses?
  • What have I learned?
  • What do I want to keep the same moving forward into 2024?
  • What do I want to change?
  • How do I feel when I’m all alone with my thoughts?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What is the feeling in my home?
  • What do I want the feeling to be?
  • What do I want to learn this year?
  • What books do I want to read this year?
  • What experiences do I want to have this year?
  • Is God asking me to do something this year?
  • When am I happiest?
  • What brings me true joy?
  • Am I spending time and energy on the things that bring me true joy?
  • How can I make more room in my life for the moments of happiness and joy?
  • What else do I need to make room for in my life?
  • What am I ready to let go?
  • Is there anything I need to let go?
  • What are my core, infinite beliefs?
  • What are ten things I could work on improving this year?
  • Which, if any, of those ten, am I willing to commit to working on consistently?
  • Do those things I am willing to commit to working on consistently support my core, infinite beliefs?
  • Which of these goals will I work on first?
  • What is a two-minute practice that will support this first goal?
  • When am I going to do this two-minute practice? How am I going to track it? How will I know if I have done it?

What are the questions you are asking yourself? What have you learned this year? What have been your wins? What are your hopes for 2024? Let’s all give ourselves a hug. We have made it through 2023. For many, this year has felt heavy and hard. Let’s breathe in the hard and be gentle and loving with ourselves as we ponder 2024. I’m cheering you on and sending you mountains of love.

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jacob t. marley

Dec 28, 2023 by

Last night we finished our December Read-Aloud, Jacob T. Marley. I cried at the sacrifice, the love, the redemption, the service, and the transformation. Oh, it is delicious. Truly, if you haven’t read it, give yourself a gift of a few hours snuggled up in a blanket and read (or the Audible recording is FANTASTIC!).

When I saw these words today, my soul shouted, AMEN. May we all treat people as the person they are changed into and not as the person they have been before. And may we allow ourselves to believe we can change as well.

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no idea of the road ahead of us

Dec 21, 2023 by

This photo popped up on my phone today for some reason. It’s from October 1996 when Blythe is two months old and Richard and I are wee babes ourselves.

As I looked at it, my heart welled up with gratitude for this life we have shared together. We had gone through some pretty hard stuff by then…three years into our marriage. And we loved each other and our precious baby deeply. But we had no idea the journey we would travel.

  • No idea how hard it would be to get our children here.
  • No idea how many times we would move.
  • No idea how many financial challenges we would face.
  • No idea how many health struggles we would endure.
  • No idea of the prayers we would pray.
  • No idea of the joy that would fill our home.
  • No idea of the faith that would be required.
  • No idea of the laughter that would explode out of us.
  • No idea of the adventures we would have.
  • No idea of the friends who would enter our hearts and change our lives forever.
  • No idea of the miracles.
  • No idea of the healing.
  • No idea of the gratitude.
  • No idea of the love.

We didn’t know how rich and beautiful and overwhelmingly good our lives would be. I’m so, so grateful for this man, this life, our family, and Jesus.

October 1996 at Yellowstone National Park
27 years later
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vegetable quinoa soup

Dec 12, 2023 by

Made this tonight! It’s super yummy! And packed with good nutrition! I didn’t have a parmesan rind – in fact, I’ve never had one – and it was still good without it, but I imagine it would be even better with it!

https://kaynutrition.com/vegetable-quinoa-soup/print/29643/?fbclid=IwAR060xcFjGWk_oxjYAS8Y3Fkv8OFnCEbghny5V6PTuehMx4uvXSRWpRhKCk

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, raw
  • 1 can (14 oz.) white beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped

Instructions:

In a large pot on medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.

Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté for 3-4 minutes until tender. Then add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until tender.

Add the dried thyme, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt, and sauté for an additional minute until fragrant.

Pour in the quinoa, white beans, and diced tomatoes and stir to combine with the vegetables.

Pour in the broth and water and stir again until everything is well incorporated.

Add the parmesan rind and bay leaf to the pot and stir to ensure they are submerged in the broth.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender.

Once cooked, add the chopped spinach, stir until well incorporated in the soup, and simmer for a final 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted. If you find the soup too thick, simply add some more water or broth to thin the soup to your liking.

Remove the parmesan rind and bay leaf, then taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper as needed.

Serve the soup immediately with freshly grated parmesan or allow it to cool completely and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Notes:

To Make it in a Slow Cooker: Add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours. Once cooked, remove the parmesan rind and bay leaf, then taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

To Use Cooked Quinoa: Add the quinoa as instructed in step #4, however, only simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes until heated through, then proceed with instructions as outlined.

To Use Frozen Spinach: Thaw 1/2 cup or 2 ounces of frozen spinach, press out any excess water, and add it to the soup as per step #8.

To Use Dried Onion and Garlic: Use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder.

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two weeks of walking

Feb 10, 2023 by

I’ve been walking full-time for about 2 weeks now…minus the 4 days I spent in a wheelchair after I fell and rolled the other ankle on the 27th. Last week I was having these kinds of thoughts.

“I’m walking!”

“I’m actually doing this!”

“Wow, this is amazing!”

But this week a shift has been happening and these are the thoughts I’m having.

“I’m a walking person!”

And I realized that last week I had been viewing myself as a disabled person who was able to walk in that moment. Much different than the thoughts this week!

In case you are wondering…this whole new walking with my own two feet thing is a learning curve. It’s easy for me to overdo. And I totally overdid today at gymnastics, which meant tonight I was resting this foot and helping it recover. Also, the nerves are still learning how to do all the things and today I almost tripped again…over another step! This time I was stepping up and my foot didn’t quite clear it and I almost crashed again. But I was able to catch myself and no injuries happened. Sooooo, I’m really working on paying attention to my body and my surroundings….neither of which are easy for me.

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tagalog hope

Feb 7, 2023 by

Elder Ward: I think eventually I’m going to love the language, but it’s going to be a lot of work to get there. Right now I’m still totally lost.

Me: (gasping for air before the shock takes over) Tell me more.

Elder Ward: It’s like math. If you turned math into a language, I think you’d end up with Tagalog.

TOTAL WIN!!!!!!!And here is a cute picture of our super strong missionary holding his three sisters the day we dropped him off.

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loose-goosey ankles

Jan 27, 2023 by

I screamed “NOOOOOOOOO” on the way down.

Today I fell. Rolled my OTHER ankle and face-planted into the lobby at gym.

I think I’ll be okay. But right now I’m hurting. It’s been over 6 hours since I fell and I’m not crying anymore. I really do think it will be okay in a few days. But man alive, the fear that has seeped into my heart is pretty big. Fear of another injury. Fear of having another year like the year I just had. Fear of the pain. Fear of disappointing my family.

I’m super grateful for my gym teachers and families who took great care of me today and made me snow packs for ice and loved on me and got me home safe and sound.

I’m going to try super hard to go to Annesley’s play tonight, but it looks like it will be in my wheelchair.

Could you pray for healing? I’d so appreciate it.

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everybody nose

Jan 27, 2023 by

Annesley is Zinnia, the Fairy Queen, and is a pro at putting the pompous prince in his place in the iFamily play, Everybody Nose. Oh my, it is hilarious! I love seeing her shine on stage!

In 2009, Rachel Keppner, started a homeschooling acting class in our area and Blythe joined and loved it! Since then other fantastic directors have stepped up to create magic in the lives of our youth and given thousands of hours to create theater experiences that bless both the actors and the community. I’m so grateful for all the directors and parents that have worked SO hard to bring these plays to life!

I think this is our 22nd play. It’s a ton of work AND a ton of fun. I always wonder if we are up to another play, but when performance week is over, my heart is always full to the brim with gratitude for the blessing of being able to join with other families and create amazing experiences for our kiddos.

Annesley, playing Zinnia, the Fairy Queen, and her bestie, Esther, who plays Clara, the good and wise princess who is willing to speak her mind to save the prince from nonsense.
The whole cast and team of directors for ACTivate Right!
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in jesus’ arms

Jan 22, 2023 by

Banner day.

And crying day.

Both the days at the same time and in the same moment.

The banner day is that I walked into church for the first time today since April 5th! And then I walked to the chapel and to my class and back out to the car. My foot is getting more function and it’s amazing! I don’t know how much I can walk on it and will still be using my knee scooter sometimes and walking sometimes as we make the transition back to being a walking person. All I know is progress is being made!

The crying day is that it was our first Sunday at church without Fisher. I was doing pretty well until the priests started blessing the sacrament. Fisher has blessed the sacrament pretty much every Sunday since February 2, 2020. That first day he was terrified and it took him four times to get through the prayer properly. Since then he has grown in courage and capacity and it’s been so wonderful to see how God has worked in him. On his 18th birthday in September I thought it would be the last time he blessed the sacrament and bawled all the way through that prayer that I thought would be the last one. And then each week he kept being needed and I got to keep hearing him bless the bread or water. Every week during October, November, and December, I would cry a little as I was sure it was the last time I would hear him say those sacred words. Even at his farewell on January 1, he was needed to bless the sacrament and I loved hearing his strong voice bless the bread one last time.

And then today.

He wasn’t at the sacrament table in his blue suit and red beard.

Two new priests said the prayers and one of them needed to try again…and oh, the tears flowed as I remembered Fisher’s first time.

There is nowhere else I’d rather have him be than on a mission. I’m so proud of him, so excited for him, so grateful for his heart of faith and goodness…but none of that takes away the missing.

And I kid you not, right now as I am typing these words, his favorite hymn, “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul” started playing from my giant Sabbath playlist. Jesus knows just how to comfort me and is sending me a big hug.

So, I’m picturing him in Jesus’ arms since he is no longer in mine.

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no sourdough for us!

Jan 22, 2023 by

Ummmmmmm.

Me: Richard, where is the jar of sourdough start?

Richard: What??? Oh man, is that what that was? I thought it was old smoothie rotting away in a jar.

Me: WHAT!!! Where is it?

Richard: Down the garbage disposal.

Me: Nooooooooo!

Richard: I‘m more upset than you are. I love sourdough so much. Does this mean you were going to start baking us sourdough bread again?

Me: Well, I was, but then you threw it away! And trust me, you are not more upset than I am.

Richard: I can’t believe I did that. What was I thinking?

Me to myself: Clearly I have a problem taking care of my dishes if my family members assume a beautiful ball of sourdough start is a disgusting pile of post-smoothie leftovers.

Sooooooo, I guess I won’t start making sourdough this week.

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general conference for annes

Oct 3, 2022 by

General Conference is so dear to my heart. I love giving myself the gift of taking two days off from this world and spending time listening to the leaders of my church share messages of hope, love, and guidance. It is just what my soul needs every six months.

Two of the talks were the exact messages I needed to hear. Sister Yee and Elder Gong both spoke of the power of Jesus Christ in healing and strengthening families. This is my mission here on earth and their talks gave me tools I need in my own healing and the work I do with others.

Sister Yee said, “Over the years and in my efforts to find peace and healing on that path of forgiveness, I came to realize in a profound way that the same Son of God who atoned for my sins is the same Redeemer who will also save those who have deeply hurt me. I could not truly believe the first truth without believing the second.So did the Savior — in an incomprehensible way — take upon him our sins and the sins of those who have hurt or offended us. In Gethsemane and on the cross, he claimed these sins. He made a way for us to let go of a vengeful heart. That ‘way’ is through forgiving—which can be one of the most difficult things we ever do and one of the most divine things we ever experience. On the path of forgiveness, Jesus Christ’s atoning power can flow into our lives and begin to heal the deep crevasses of the heart and soul.”

When Elder Gong said, “A bent branch does not make a bad tree,” tears poured down my face. My family tree has a lot of bent branches, a lot of pain and sorrow and brokenness. Through Jesus Christ, that pain can be healed. He also said, “Temple ordinances do not of themselves change us or those in the spirit world, but these divine ordinances enable sanctifying covenants with the Lord, which can bring harmony with Him and each other.” I have been doing temple work for my ancestors for the past ten years. It is one of the greatest blessings of my life and many times I have felt the enabling power of temple covenants in healing my heart and those of my ancestors.

This time, we were given four precious tickets for the Sunday Afternoon session. I *really* wanted to attend as I have missed attending SO much the past few years with Covid restrictions. We knew Richard couldn’t attend as being in a room that big and with crowds of people would wear his brain right out. Keziah and Fisher and Annesley wanted to attend. Annesley wanted my mom to attend. Then Fisher and Keziah couldn’t go. Then I decided my body wouldn’t be able to handle it as I’m still really tuckered and sore from my injections last week, plus how on earth would I do with my knee scooter in the crowds of people? And would I have to sit in handicapped seating separate from my family? Or would they lose their awesome seats to sit with me? I didn’t want any of that to happen, so I decided to stay home and watch on the tv in my pajamas. In the end, Annesley was able to invite two friends and her grandma and Richard agreed to drive them down. Such a gift!

If you watched or listened, what was your favorite talk?

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two years after carl

Feb 27, 2022 by

Two years ago today, we were at the University of Utah hospital having Carl the Schwannoma evicted. What a day that was and what a journey since.

We felt so wrapped up in your love that day and in the days and weeks and months that followed. Thank you, thank you, thank you for carrying us and helping us all along this journey. Your kindness and hugs and laughter and faith and money and meals and tears and and hurrahs have made this a holy experience of being ministered to, walked with, and lifted up. It has been so, so hard…and somehow at the same time, it has felt almost easy. Your love and God’s tender care have filled this journey with light.

Richard continues to improve in many areas and also to struggle with some things.

The wins:

  • His balance continues to get better. In fact, he has had a few slipping incidents on the ice this winter and hasn’t fallen!
  • Can engage in almost any activity he wants to…he just can’t engage very long.
  • Getting more comfortable with his single-sided deafness. And I’m getting better at interpreting for him so he understands what he can’t hear.
  • He’s doing 100 pushups a few times a week.
  • He’s walking a mile a few times a week.
  • He can close his eyes in the shower while he is scrubbing his face and doesn’t feel like he is going to fall.
  • He can keep his balance with much less light.
  • He is sleeping deeply most of the time.

The struggles:

  • Still can’t attend church for more than an hour. The noise coming from all different directions, the organ, and the electronic speakers throughout the room vs sound coming from the person’s mouth who is speaking at the front of the room, do a number on his brain every week.
  • Really struggles with learning new things. If the concepts were known before surgery, he can integrate them, but if he is trying to learn a new concept, he says he can’t focus on it and it feels like there isn’t a file folder to put it in and the information doesn’t get stored.
  • Neurological stamina is still short.
  • His eyes can’t track very well while reading – so he’s not really able to read a book.
  • He feels overwhelmed if two people are trying to talk to him at a time. He needs to focus on one thing at a time.
  • His skull continues to shift and cause him great pain. The scar tissue and fascial layers pull on his skull bones and move things all wonky. The last big shift happened two weeks ago and actually pulled things down on the left side instead of the right. He was pretty miserable and had to miss work at his 2nd and 3rd jobs several days in a row because his brain and body needed to come home and do his near-infrared lights and sleep.

Our life has changed. Our time together is sweeter. I do far less socializing than I used to and far more sitting with him at home. He needs the quiet and calm of our home and rarely attends parties or receptions or group gatherings. If our children are performing, he tries his best to attend, but it wears him out and he has to sleep for many hours to recover from a social event. Life here is pretty quiet. It’s just what he needs.

I try to lessen his burdens, but the reality is, he works even harder at easing mine. He is my hero. He puts God first and all of us a very, very close, nearly undetectable, second. He serves and listens and forgives and laughs. He is kind, unassuming, brave, patient, and willing to work hard. He shows me every day what love does, what faith feels like, and how courage fuels an ordinary man to do extraordinary things.

It seems a bit surreal to be two years out from brain surgery. It has felt like a lifetime and also like a blink all at the same time. I’m so grateful to be 1,825 days past surgery. A shirt I saw recently said “Life is periodically hard, but elementally good.” Sooooo true! There has definitely been some hard, but oh, my goodness, life is so deliciously good.

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sometimes there is silence

Jan 30, 2022 by

Our theme in church today was Trusting in the Lord’s Timing. One of the speakers said something along the lines of, “Sometimes when the answer is not yet or no, that answer comes with silence.”

Boy howdy, did that hit home. My hand reached out and gripped Richard’s and I shuddered a little as tears started to flow.

Because that is largely what we have experienced with Saylor and Stella. It’s been two years and the silence from the heavens has wracked my soul more than I can describe.

There have been moments of peace. There have been tender mercies with their mighty spirits.But mostly there has been silence.

And heartache.

And tears.

And longing.

I would just love to have a sit-down chat with God where He could explain the whole situation to me. I absolutely trust Him and His goodness and His love for me and for our babies.

But I don’t understand the ten years of promptings and the miracles and all of it since they aren’t here in our home. I’m sure there are answers, beautiful, wonderful answers that will satisfy my soul, but since I don’t have the answers, my mind tries to create some sense out of the whole thing and I’m sure my explanations are not the truth. So I need it straight from Him. What the cow did all of this mean and why did it unfold the way it did?

If you are aching with silence from the heavens, just know, you are not alone. And also know, that I know, He is good and kind and merciful and loving. And someday we will both understand.

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cliff devries

Jan 25, 2022 by

Oh, my goodness, this man, Cliff Devries, continues to inspire me. I’ve shared videos of him before, but this is the best one yet. Give yourself a gift and watch this year’s birthday dive and really listen to his words, especially at the end.

He became paralyzed 24 years ago during his brain stem/spinal cord tumor removal surgery…which totally hits home in our lives. This year’s video shows the swimmers pulling him up from the bottom of the pool and as I watched them I cried. I’m still crying typing this.

For long years, from 2012 – 2017ish or so, I was a lot like Cliff. I wasn’t paralyzed, but I was injured and had dysautonomia so badly that I couldn’t be alone and I couldn’t do much of anything for myself. I had big hopes and dreams (I always do!), but had no ability for my body to do them. Instead, I had friends who helped make my hopes and dreams come true. They carried me and pushed me and lifted me. Sometimes they fed me and bathed me. Someone always had to transport me to get me from point A to point B. Always, someone was my lifeguard. If these amazing people hadn’t been willing to be my arms and legs, I would have been stuck at home, which literally would have felt like death to me. I’m so grateful for the heroes in my life and in Cliff’s that allow us to live our dreams even when our bodies can’t do it on our own.

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zorgamazoo

Jan 24, 2022 by

This has long been Keziah’s favorite book. I’ve never read it. She checked it out over and over and over again from the library. And read it over and over and over again. But somehow, I never did.

It’s our new family read-aloud. And boy howdy, it is fun!

Richard chuckles the whole time. My mom raises her eyebrows in shock and scrunches her face up in disgust. Annesley alternates between laughter and revulsion.

Katrina Katrell is quite the girl. We are on chapter four and are already quite smitten with her courage and ingenuity. I can see why Keziah loves the book, she is very similar to Miss Katrell.

Since Annesley’s days are full of studying Hitler and his evil schemes to murder millions of people and take over the world, I decided we needed a lighthearted book to snuggle up with at night. This one is hitting the spot!

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january 8

Jan 8, 2022 by

January 8, 2020 is the day Richard was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

It’s been two years since that hard, heavy day and today he went fishing on the Snake with Fisher and caught six fish! What a way to celebrate! He said wading in the very shallow water felt okay to his brain and didn’t tire his brain out as much as it did this past summer. He continues to make progress and we are so grateful!

We were also able to spend some time in the temple thanking God for His power and grace and tender care. I was a bit frazzled when I got there because of some challenges with my trip tomorrow, but eventually I was able to calm down and feel the sweet spirit and breathe in God’s love for me.

January 8th has been a big day for our family several times.

January 8, 2013 was my first seizure – these seizures changed my life dramatically because I was no longer able to be alone or take care of my children by myself. I always needed someone to be with me, to drive me places, and to be ready to help me if I collapsed.

January 8, 2018 was the day I found out I would start receiving human stem cells and received a powerful, beautiful message from God about our babies. GLORY, GLORY, HALLELUJAH! These cells also changed my life dramatically. Within three weeks after receiving them, my nervous system was soooooo much calmer. And the seizures mostly stopped. From 2013-2017, I had thousands of episodes. Since I started human cells, I have had 22! Next week I get to receive more of these amazing treatments that do so much good for my body. Sweet tears of joy as I type these words because my entire being is so grateful for the blessing these cells have been for me and my family. Those that have given me this gift can never be thanked enough.

I never know how I’m going to feel on January 8. It is a hard day…and also a beautiful day. Tonight I’m releasing the hard and just soaking in the miracles.

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another clear scan

Jan 3, 2022 by

My mama means so much to me. September 30, 2020 she was diagnosed with high-grade (very fast growing) bladder cancer. The tumor was removed, chemo placed on the tumor site for an hour, then flushed out of her, then she had weekly treatments for six weeks.

Her doctor said it would keep coming back and they would keep repeating that process for the rest of her life. She is checked every three months. So far it hasn’t come back.

Today was her fourth three-month checkup. And everything was clear and healthy.

REJOICING!

And tears of gratitude.

This isn’t supposed to be what happens medically, but somehow we have been granted this beautiful gift and I am oh, so grateful.

Way to go, mama! Way to go, God!

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personal savior

Dec 26, 2021 by

Today Richard spoke in church.

It was beautiful. His testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, is tender and vibrant and humble and powerful.

It was also incredibly challenging for him. To be standing in front of that large congregation with movement all over the place in front of him with sounds coming from all sorts of directions was very disorienting for his brain and he was leaking out his eye and nose and started shaking about halfway through. But he did it. He shared his love and gratitude for Jesus in such a sacred way. I hope lives were touched and hearts lifted.

One of his messages was this:

“If you don’t know now, you will. There will come a day when it will be your broken heart, your broken body, your broken mind, your broken spirit, or your broken faith. We know the story of Jesus, we know He was born in Bethlehem, we know He is the Savior of mankind, but when it’s you that is broken, that’s not enough. You need to have a personal Savior. One that not only saves the world, but saves you, too. This is the Savior I have come to know and love through my life and the one I testify is there. Your Savior and Redeemer is a personal Savior.”

I am so grateful for this man God has blessed me with. I am so grateful for my Savior and the comfort and peace and healing and cleansing He has given me over and over again.

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not just rocks

Dec 25, 2021 by

See this bag of rocks?

Tears at opening them today.

During 2020, I gathered rocks. I kept seeing heart-shaped rocks on my walks and kayak trips and would pick them up. My family kind of chuckled at me, but they all knew this project of finding rocks was important to me. Then when Richard and I went on our first solo camping and kayaking trip, I stopped all over the river to find rocks that spoke to my soul. I put them in Richard’s boat.

And then I forgot about them. Not totally forgot, but mostly forgot. With teaching and work and being a wife and mother and getting stuff put away for winter and then more of everything this year, I had no idea where those rocks were and figured they had been thrown out when Fisher put the kayaks up last year.

And then today, Richard gave me a bag of rocks for Christmas.

My rocks.

Heart-shaped rocks and layered rocks that remind me of growth and the different seasons of my life and rocks that remind of a mama holding her babies.

He knew they meant something to me. So he found them and gave them back to me.

Just like Jesus does. This is the best, most tender gift and I am in awe of this good, good man I’ve been blessed to be loved by and to love right back.

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secret santa

Dec 25, 2021 by

Many years ago we were adopted by a Secret Santa. Every Christmas Eve for the past 10ish years, Christmas presents have been left on our doorstep. We are deeply grateful to whomever has done this for us. Each year, I would think to myself, “I should leave a thank you note on our door in case they come again.” And then I would think, “There is no way they will come again, they have already blessed us SO much, surely they will not come this year.”

And I wouldn’t leave a note.

I should have.

Over and over again, I should have.

Because their love and generosity has been such a gift to our family.

These presents have done many, many things for our family.

  • They have given us toys and games we could never afford for ourselves and we have had SO much fun with them! Multiple times they gave Fisher and Annesley big, awesome Lego sets which they played with for YEARS.
  • They have given us gift cards for groceries that have made all the difference in our budget. Many times, I would have nothing in my bank account and would be able to use these gift cards to buy food for our family. Other times, we were able to use them during the case-lot sale to stock up on food storage. I can’t tell you what an incredible blessing this has been.
  • They have brought our children a feeling of being seen and known and loved.
  • They have helped Richard and I know we are not alone and that miracles happen and that people are so very kind and generous and good.
  • These gifts have wrapped us up in a warm blanket of tender care that has carried us through many a dark day, many a seemingly hopeless time, many a devastating heartbreak that could have broken our spirits or challenged our faith. But because of the great love of these Secret Santas and so many others who have served us, we have been carried. We have been ministered to by your generous giving and thoughtful hearts.

Thank you. Thank you for your love. Thank you for seeing us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for surprising us with JOY again and again. Thank you for making a difference in our family’s life by showing us how the Giver of All Good Gifts loves and lifts.

We will try to serve others as you have served us.

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a little love note

Dec 13, 2021 by

Big tears running down my cheeks.

Today I was in a very long line. The group behind me was a mama and her 18 month old. When I turned around I let out a little gasp. She reminded me so much of Stella, something about her spirit felt like Stella’s sweet, impish, brightly-shining spirit. This adorable baby girl with big eyes kept reaching for me, wanting to share her cookie. If I turned away, she called me back with the cutest little “hewow.” We played peek-a-boo and I talked to her about everything around us and she babbled back at me. The mama said, “She sure likes you, she can’t get enough of you.”

After we’d moved about 20 feet in line. I asked the mama what her baby’s name is. She said Saylor.

Then I gasped big and my eyes filled up with tears and I told her about our Saylor. She said “it’s not a common name,” and I said, “I know.”

The little Stella-feel-alike, called out bye-bye to me as I tried to find my car through my tears.

What are the chances?

Probably really, really small.

I’m counting it as a little love note from our babies.

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