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these things i know

Jul 1, 2015 in blessings, inspiration, something to ponder | 6 comments

There are some things I know – a few things that are rock solid in my soul. I came to know them in the aftermath of a difficult time when everything I thought I knew come crashing down around me.

Last night we watched The Cokeville Miracle and quite unexpectedly it brought back all the feelings of that long ago summer of 1986 – the summer my life and all the things I thought about the world were turned upside down.

In the twelve weeks following my twelfth birthday, a series of events occurred that broke my heart in a million pieces, changed my perspective, and sent me on a journey to discover what I really could depend upon.

First, my dad left. My hero. My favorite guy. My world. He drove away to a new life with a new woman far across the country. The gut-wrenching tears that racked my soul are indescribable. In spite of the fact that there were challenges in my parents’ marriage, our family being torn apart and ceasing to exist as a FAMILY had somehow not occurred to me as a real possibility. When it happened, when he actually drove away and stayed away, I no longer knew what was real, what I could depend on and what I couldn’t.

The next week, the tragedy in Cokeville happened. Even though it didn’t happen TO me, it did happen just 90 minutes away in a tiny, sleepy ranching town that seemed perfectly safe and secure. And it crumbled my remaining foundation a little bit more. If a madman could go into a school, a tiny, safe school very close to my home, hold children hostage and attempt to blow them up, and it could be on national TV, anything was possible. ANYTHING. In my young, twelve-year-old mind that was trying desperately to make sense of the world, it meant my little sleepy town might not be as safe as I thought. It meant it could happen in my school and my friends and I could be the ones living that nightmare. It meant the world was full of crazy people. It meant I might not be safe any longer.

A few weeks later, I went on a trip and was molested. Once again, my world turned on its axis and I had no idea which was up or down, good or bad. All the attention by an older boy was flattering and it certainly felt good, at least physically, but my soul was full of blackness and revulsion.

About a month after that I was sent across the country to visit my dad. It was wonderful and hard and scary all at the same time. It was so, so good to see him and to spend time with him. At the same time, I could see clearly that he had a whole new life and it didn’t include me, not really anyway. He had a girlfriend and a new job in a new state and I could see he wasn’t ever going to be standing behind the plate umpiring my games or playing football on Sunday afternoons or unloading the semi-truck full of goods at our family’s grocery store again. As I watched him in his new life, it became crystal clear that all of this wasn’t just a bad dream and he truly wasn’t coming back. That hard, cold, bitter truth sunk deep into my soul and I felt completely adrift from what I thought life was supposed to be like.

While I was gone to visit my dad, my mother was raped. A man from our church congregation, a man I KNEW, came into our home, MY HOME, a place I thought was safe, and dragged my mother out to the field and raped her. I cannot begin to comprehend the fear and pain my mother went through that night and for many years following. It is beyond imaginable to me.

However, I do know what I went through. Life no longer felt safe in any way. This penetration of the wall of safety of my home changed me, terrified me and hardened me all at the same time. Just a few months prior, I had a family, a home, a family business, a church, a community, and a state that felt safe, secure, and protective. Those things were full of loving, strong, moral people who loved me and on whom I could depend.

My mother’s rape was the final blow to that picture in my mind. I no longer had any idea who was safe, what was good, what was strong and permanent and dependable. My foundation was gone, blown away like dust in a windstorm.

On the outside, I still functioned. For the most part, I probably looked okay to many people. But inside, I had died. I had no idea what was real. If family and home and church were not what I thought they were, maybe God wasn’t real either. Maybe He was just an idea that people clung to without really knowing if he existed or not. Or maybe He did exist, but instead of the loving God I had imagined, was mean and vengeful. Or maybe He did reign supreme, but He simply didn’t care about me. Without anything solid to hold onto, I was like a puff of dandelion seeds, being blown to and fro, trying to find someplace to land and plant new roots.

It took years for me to allow God to rebuild my foundation. Piece by piece He gave me solid bits of truth to give a mooring to my soul.

Sometime in that twelfth year I stopped praying. I could not open my heart to a being I didn’t know was real or if he was real, wasn’t concerned enough with me to protect me. Then I stopped crying. I think it was an attempt to stop feeling. In some ways, it worked. I was able to go through life, get straight A’s, put on a show of happiness that almost convinced even myself, and succeed in all the quantifiable measures of life, but my heart was mostly dead to feeling the good things and underneath the surface, a volcano of anger boiled ready to explode whenever a person would make some comment about how wonderful men are or how I needed to spend more effort preparing for marriage. Then the anger would erupt and frighten me with its passionate vehemence.

Truth be told, I was a mess. I knew all the Sunday School answers and I had great hope that the idea of a loving Heavenly Father and eternal families were true, but the evidence around me told a very different story and my logical mind could not discard the proofs surrounding me that God didn’t care about me, that men were despicable, and that the only thing I could count on was myself.

Through that pain and pride and sorrow, God began to speak to me in quiet, almost imperceptible ways. He would send a feeling of comfort, an act of kindness, or a moment of inspiration. He told me clearly in the scriptures that He did love me and that He sent His son to die for me and all of His children…even the ones who had hurt me so terribly. I remember one day sitting in seminary and reading these words.

Behold, it is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Moses 1:39

As I read them, God spoke to me. He whispered powerfully to the deepest parts of my soul that His entire purpose in being is to bring His children home to Him and that He was doing exactly that with me. He filled me with a certainty of His goodness and sureness of His capability to do His work. I can’t adequately describe the pure knowledge that flowed into me. In those few moments, I felt His peace and His love and came to know that He knew me personally and would do everything He could to bring me home.

That experience stayed with me. It changed me. It gave me several solid pieces of my foundation. One, I knew God was real. Two, I knew he knew me. Three, I knew he loved me. Four, I knew He was in the process of and would continue to teach, purify, and redeem me. Those are some pretty solid foundations and they have carried me and given me strength for many years.

Throughout the years, those bedrock truths have been strengthened by many more experiences with the Spirit and God’s hand in my life. He has guided me through the forgiveness process and taken the anger and hatred out of my heart. He has taught me again and again that I can trust Him and I must depend on Him. He has taught me that He is greater than any other power or force. He has shown me both His goodness and His glory as He heals my heart and changes my nature. Those original foundations have been added to with pieces of trust and reliance and miracles and peace.

I don’t know everything and I still have a long, long way to go in understanding Him and becoming like Him, but I know He is real. I know He is a God of miracles. I know He lives and loves and heals and transforms.

Last night, I sobbed through most of the movie. My feelings of fear and pain and sorrow from that harrowing summer came to the surface and poured out of me. My heart ached for the little girl I was who was trying her best to make sense of the destruction of all she held dear. And then, my heart filled with gratitude for those months and years of searching for something I could truly stand on and know it would not move. God gave me a new foundation, much stronger than my little girl hopes and dreams. He gave me His goodness and plan for all His children and continues to show me He is able to do His work to bring me and each of us home.

celebrate good times, come on!

Jun 29, 2015 in the hip | 0 comments

Can you hear me belting out those words from the old Kool and the Gang song? I have been singing those five words over and over all night.

There are a gazillion things I need to post about and I keep thinking I will get to Swim Camp, Jennifer leaving, my family reunion, my cruise, missionary shopping, Keziah’s play, and so many other things that have happened in the past two months, but tonight, instead of worrying about all that, I want to savor this momentous day.

I GET TO START EXERCISING!

For the first time since December 8, I have been cleared to ride my Elliptigo! Woot! Woot! I am so silly excited! Now I have to be super careful and only ride for a minute or so, but a minute is a huge sixty second improvement from the past 6+ months. And in the interest of full disclosure, I injured my inguinal ligament back on October 10 and was only able to start exercising after that injury on December 2.

This is huge.

It has been almost 9 months since I have been able to do any exercising at all and now it is here. The day I have been praying and yearning for for months.

Tonight I rode.

And it felt magnificent.

Imagine me holding up a lovely glass of sparkling cider.

To muscles!

yellow squash soup

Jun 17, 2015 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

Last summer when I couldn’t open my mouth to eat at all, my friend Sherry brought over this delicious soup. I have saved her handwritten recipe for the past 12 months and vowed to make it again, but I haven’t done it yet. My face has been hurting significantly since the January 31 car accident and last week a little toddler landed on my head in the swimming pool and now my face is swollen and needing to rest again, so I think I will make this soup soon.

Yellow Squash Soup

2 C. chopped yellow summer squash
1 C. chopped carrots
1 C. chopped onion
4 C. peeled potatoes
garlic – not sure of the amount here…maybe 1 clove?

Boil in chicken or veggie broth. Add 1 can evaporated milk, salt & pepper, and cayenne. Blenderize till smooth.

how did we get to june already?

Jun 7, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on how did we get to june already?

Oh my good heck, it is June 7 and has been over a month since I last posted. I guess I need to let y’all know I am alive.

Yes, I am alive and well. At least kind of well. I am happy and spending lots of time with my kiddos and loving the sunshine. I am also super sore from the blasted car accident back in January. If I do hardly anything at all and just lie around my house the ball at the base of my spine shrinks down to about softball size. If I try to drive or do laundry or cook a meal or sit at the computer or basically ANYTHING, it flares up and knocks me flat for a few hours or days until the inflammation goes down. We have made it through the past several months since the accident by having me do very, very little and having Keziah do very, very much. But all of that has changed over the past month and boy, howdy, am I sore. She is working her butt off trying to earn money to go to Europe and D.C. next year and is hardly ever home which leaves the bulk of the housework in my hands for the first time in over three years. And it hurts.

So, posting has fallen by the wayside. By the time bedtime hits each night I am covered in ice packs and completely exhausted from the tasks of the day…and I am not doing much. Not at all. My normal cleaning standards are quite low in most people’s books and they have fallen even lower over the past while, but somethings just need to be done. Laundry does need washed. Food does need to be prepared and cleaned up. Fisher and Annes have been making most of their own meals and Richard has been cooking most of the rest, but I really want to preparing some nutritious meals for my family and have a sit down dinner with inspiring, connecting conversation instead of the survival mode we have been living in for so long.

So, we are learning and adjusting and trying to figure out this new phase of life with the big girls gone and me unable to do much to keep this house running. It is a big transition and it is going to take some time for all of us to adjust – my hope is my back and neck will improve enough that I can do more and hurt less.

Other news in the last month? I went on a cruise!!!! YES, ME! The person who never goes anywhere actually went on a cruise. My cousin, Tami, took me and our other cousin, Camille, on a cruise to celebrate our 40th birthdays…which were last year, but we couldn’t celebrate it then because I was too injured. I need to do a whole post with all the beautiful pictures and stories from our adventure.

The same week Blythe opened her call, I celebrated my 41st birthday and Keziah had her play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which also deserves an entire post with heaps of pictures.

Now it is time for Swim Camp and a family reunion and I have no idea when I will be back on here to post again. We are living and loving and trying to get Blythe ready to leave on her mission.

opening the call!

May 5, 2015 in blythe's mission, children, family, pics, slider | 5 comments

Blythe’s mission call arrived on Monday, May 4th, which is an odd day since they usually come on Thursdays or Fridays. We weren’t expecting it to be in the mail that day and when I sent Fisher to the mailbox in between math and reading, I wondered, but didn’t really think it would be there. When he walked in the house and said in his deadpan voice, “Blythie’s mission call came,” I didn’t believe him.

But he was right!

She was hurriedly getting ready for work and quickly called her friends and grandparents to see if she could get everyone here that night for an “opening party.”

Around 9:20 p.m. many of our dear friends started pouring in and my heart filled up with gratitude for the love we are surrounded with. Ward members, former Young Women leaders, Richard’s parents, Amy and Sheri’s families, the other Sherry, Jada, and about forty of Blythe’s (and our’s – we love these youth!) friends all squished into our home.

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Getting ready to open the big white envelope.

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Starting to read. We had seven family members on various phones and are holding them all around her hoping they could all hear.

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People cheering with excitement as she read the letter.

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Here is the link to the video of her reading her letter. I can’t get it to display here, so you’ll have to click the link and watch it yourself.

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Love that hug at the end!

If you didn’t watch the video, she has been called to the California Irvine Mission! She reports to the Prove MTC on September 16 which is wonderful because she could have left as early as August 12 and we are really grateful for the extra month she has to work to earn money for her mission.

Here is what we know so far about her mission. It is tinsy…looks like about 10-15 miles wide and 20-30 miles long. It has great weather in the 60s to low 80s year round and the area is hilly, humid, and beautiful. From what we can find online, the area has a high percentage of Asians (40+%) and is safe, busy, and densely populated (3 million).

The California Irvine Mission is a relatively small mission with great weather and great people. The mission is filled with affluent people who are willing to speak with missionaries about the gospel. Southern Californians are generally professional people with a large majority of people who are successful in their jobs. However, there are many people in this mission who are middle- to lower-class.

Missionaries stay active in the Irvine Mission. The Newport Beach California Temple is now included in the mission boundaries. The temple was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley in 2005. There are many active members who are strong in the gospel and willing to help missionaries with whatever they can. Members frequently like to have missionaries over to their homes.

Taken from Mission Home.

We are so excited for her and so, so grateful for the journey we are embarking on.

Now we start the process of outfitting her with everything she will need in sunny, Southern California. She is such a hot-blooded person, her priority is to find some nice, breathable clothing that will work well with the humidity!

Miss Annes is super excited about this whole process, but she is also needing some extra snuggles and nurturing. She knows this is good and wants Blythe to share the message of Jesus Christ’s gospel, but she doesn’t really want her sister to leave. I keep finding her squished up against me or Blythe or Richard.

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All of us in the midst of the excitement. Yes, Richard’s eyes are closed and Fisher isn’t looking at the camera, but hey, it’s a better pic than the ones we often get when we are actually trying to have a family photo taken.

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Afterwords we stayed up super late (it was already late when we started the whole shebang!) and read everything we could find about the Irvine area, poured over her call packet, and talked and talked and talked. Such a special night!

gearing up

May 3, 2015 in children, family, homeschooling | Comments Off on gearing up

Ready, set, GO!

It’s play week which means piles of FUN!

It also means meals on the run, late nights, little sleep, long days, concessions out the wazoo (I have been the concession manager for almost all of my children’s plays for the past six years), a messy house, loads of laughter, and everything in between.

Miss Keziah is Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and though I haven’t seen a single rehearsal yet, those who have tell me she pulls Puck off splendidly. Her costume, made by my dear Jennifer, is fabulous and her moss make-up is full of win.

In addition to all the play busyness, Blythe’s mission call should come this week, it is my birthday – WAHOO!, Fisher has a Space Derby for Scouts, and we have several family members coming into town to watch the play.

A wee bit of craziness is before us, so I better get some sleep tonight while I can.

thankful thursdays: 4/23

Apr 23, 2015 in blessings, thankful thursdays, the hip | 1 comment

The MRI on my knee today went fairly well in that I didn’t freak out about being stuck in a tube and the loud noises didn’t drive me absolutely batty. While I was in there for who knows how long, I closed my eyes and prayed. I knew if I kept my eyes open I would go into freak out mode, (ever since I was held captive in a sleeping bag as a child, I cannot handle being confined, especially when something or someone is on top of me) so I closed them and naturally started talking with God.

I thanked Him again and again for the many blessings of my life. And then I realized it is Thursday and it has been a long time since I posted a Thankful Thursdays post.

    • My dear Richard. As I lay inside the tube, my heart filled up with deep gratitude for this man who has given his soul to me. He loves me and helps me to be my best self. He serves and sacrifices and keeps us all grounded. I cannot imagine going through this experience without him by my side cheering me on, holding me when I cry, and keeping me laughing with his deadpan sense of humor.
      I next thought of my children and how dearly I love them. I am so grateful to be part of their lives and to have the privilege of mothering them. Last week, the orthopedic surgeon I met with was surprised I had four children and I was reminded once again how blessed I am to have even one child, much less four children.
      Then I thanked Him for the technology of the MRI machine and asked Him to help me hold still, stay calm, and for the machine to be able to get clear pictures of whatever is wrong.
      My mind moved to the many supplements, foods, and treatments I am receiving right now that are helping to calm and heal my nervous system. I am full of gratitude for the vegetables and other foods placed on this earth to fill our bodies with the nutrients we need to thrive.
      I thought of my free green drink from Jamba Juice this morning and how the act of kindness lifted my spirits immensely and helped me to see the beautiful things in the world today. I don’t completely know why I was so nervous for the MRI, but I really was and the free-smoothies-for-all event at Jamba this morning helped me get refocused on the good things of this world instead of being weighed down with fear.
      I thought of Jeremy, my full-of-awesomeness Manual Therapist. I started seeing him two years ago this week and he is by far the most important care provider I have. He understands connective tissue – how it works and how it affects the body. Even better for me, he totally understands how *my* connective tissue works (or doesn’t work, however you want to look at it!) and how he can help it to work at its best. He has put me back together hundreds of times, listened to me cry, rant and rave, get super grumpy at the difficulty of injury after injury, and given me solid data to help me make wise decisions and make progress. He needs to be cloned so many more people can be blessed by his phenomenal skills and excellent care.
      Then I thought about the sunshine and how much joy that radiant light in the sky gives me. I am so grateful for the sun.
      Then I thought of the many people who have been part of my journey and I started naming them one by one and praying for them as individuals. Each time I thought of someone, specific words would come to mind to share with Father. At this point, I thought my heart might burst and explode all over the MRI tube because I was overcome with gratitude for all the love that has been poured out on me over the past three years.
  • And then it was over and as I reentered the world of lights and people and conversations, I was a little shocked to be so suddenly back into the world of busyness and I realized what a blessing it can be to have these forced moments of aloneness during medical tests where I can only think and talk with myself and my Father in Heaven. It is probably true that I need to make more space in my life for uninterrupted meditative time, but with four children and a myriad of other things calling for my attention, my prayers are often short and frequently interrupted, so today I am grateful for the many hours I have spent waiting for appointments, waiting for tests to be run, lying on hard tables waiting to be seen, and yes, even lying in a cold, loud, MRI tube where I was given the chance to talk to God for a good, long chat.

    savoring

    Apr 22, 2015 in blessings, children, family, homeschooling, pics, slider | Comments Off on savoring

    Blythe is playing the piano with passion and power, Keziah is throwing sticks to Charley in the yard, and I am reclining on my chaise savoring these moments. My girls are growing up so quickly and I feel these moments of pure joy are coming to an end. Somedays I honestly don’t know if I can bear it.

    Have I written about Blythe’s mission? I don’t even know if I have mentioned it on here since I have been so full of whining health related news lately. Well, if I haven’t, I am hereby giving notice…my girlie is going on a mission to serve the Lord. Her application papers have been submitted and we are waiting to find out where she is called to serve. We were told we could know as early as next week, but I am guessing it will be the week after. We have been busy for the past several months getting all the paperwork filled out and necessary medical and dental appointments taken care of. Soon it will be time to assemble her wardrobe, purchase luggage, put herbs/oils/supplements/first aid supplies into a kit, and a gazillion other things I don’t even know about yet.

    These are exciting days for our family and we are entering a new phase of life. As I contemplate our oldest leaving home, I find myself speaking more tenderly to all of my children and trying to draw them close to my heart.

    Last week Blythe attended her last Homeschool Prom while it was Keziah’s first. This is a non-date formal where hundreds of youth from all over our area spend the night dancing and having a blast. It is a completely different experience than a high school prom and is a favorite event of both the homeschoolers and many of their public schooled friends who say the homeschool dances are the best dances they have ever attended.

    These two sisters had so much fun together. I didn’t see them till they came home, super happy and beautiful, and my heart filled right up with joy.

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    Keziah spent the day doing hair and makeup with a big group of friends.

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    My guess is the house needed to be fumigated and sanitized from all the hairspray, makeup, and estrogen spewed out during the day!

    I am so grateful for this time of my life where my girls are happy and healthy and doing good things. We work and work and work as young mothers to raise our children to be competent, capable, contributing members of our families, and then POOF they are and they move on to bless the world. This is what I want, absolutely, but I want to lengthen these days, to stretch them out so I can enjoy them longer.

    starting anew

    Apr 19, 2015 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

    The buds are coming out, the grass is greening up, the tulips are sprouting, and a tiny kitten was born this morning – spring is here!

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    The breath of fresh air spring whispers to my soul is full of hope and healing. It signals the beginning of a new growing season, shows me that new life is possible. As I ponder the lessons of Passover and Easter, see life springing up all around me, and let the sun soak into my soul, hope is growing.

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    I have been quite focused on a healing regimen the past three months and while it has been hard and sometimes quite discouraging, it is working. I have just returned home from a second trip to my doctor where he evaluated my progress of the past three months and made a plan for the next three months. My nervous system has calmed down significantly – I have only had three passing out/shaking episodes since he saw me in January – and my body is ready for more treatments. He has me taking a wide variety of supplements to strengthen my nervous, immune, and connective tissue systems and on a clean nutrition plan to give my body the best shot at digesting and absorbing the food I eat.

    This regimen is a lot of work. It takes all the dedication and focus I have…really, more than I have as my whole family is contributing to helping me succeed. They prepare my foods for me, help me remember my pills, and encourage me to keep on keeping on when I just want to throw in the towel.

    This last week of treatments was good and hard and painful and wonderful all at the same time. I was able to get one injection of my own plasma into my knee and one injection of stem cells into my bottom…both without anesthetic of any kind. Gotta say, that hurt…a whole heaping lot. My butt is still sore, but it is easing up. My knee on the other hand hurts.

    Today I start the next phase of our treatment plan and pray that my body is infused with new life just like the plants on this beautiful spring day.

    Quote for me to ponder..

    Sometimes we give up what we want most for what we want in the moment.

    What I want most is an eternal family linked by covenant and happy, healthy relationships. What I want second is to be able to function physically. What I often want in the moment is ice cream, sleep, and long days full of fun and big projects. It is spring and time to start anew focusing on the things I want most.

    lift up your heart, lift up your voice, rejoice, again, i say rejoice!

    Apr 5, 2015 in blessings, books, family, passover, the hip | 7 comments

    It’s Easter night and my heart is full to bursting with joy and peace and love and gratitude. Tears of deep thanksgiving have flowed freely throughout the day as I have thought of my Savior’s sacrifice for me and all the rest of God’s children throughout the world who have ever or will ever live.

    When I last wrote I was hurting and pleading for some measure of hope. One of the many conclusions I came to was that this whole connective tissue disorder journey is hard, really, really hard, because there are no actual answers, nothing to measure and have charted out. It’s not like I can do x, y,and z and reasonably expect a, b, or c to happen. There is no schedule of treatments, no way to predict what will happen. At one point in those hopeless days of last week I actually screamed out that I would rather have cancer than Ehlers-Danlos because then I would at least know how big the tumor is or what tests could be done or what probability success rates might be. For the record, I DO NOT WANT CANCER. But going down that rabbit trail of thoughts helped me to understand for a moment why this can sometimes feel so challenging – there is no data, no answers for my information-loving brain to rely on. It can feel like I have no control of my situation. Instead I do a lot of waiting…waiting for ligaments to ever so slowly heal, waiting for my nervous system to calm down, waiting for my stomach to digest food, waiting for inflammation to subside, waiting for bones to stay in place, and worst of all, waiting and wondering what the next injury will be. The not-knowing is driving me crazy.

    We are at 17 weeks with this knee injury and it is still incredibly unstable and while it doesn’t hurt very much if I lie around doing nothing, the simplest activities like riding in a car, walking, or even crossing my ankles up the pain level dramatically. And really, all I can do is wait. I can’t have surgery, I can’t take some magic pill and get those collagen fibers to knit together, I can’t do an exercise or eat some special food to make it heal. I can wait and pray and hope and wear my brace and ice it down and use my oils and herbs and drink lots of water and give my body good nutrition. It can feel so incredibly hopeless to simply wait.

    And this car accident has really done me in emotionally and physically. The pain in my neck and face and sacrum, oh, my goodness, it is constant and it seems as though we are not making much progress. Every week when I see Jeremy, the pain that he works on is either eliminated or greatly diminished, but a different pain takes its place. All the vertebrae and facial bones are so loose from being jarred in the accident, that shifting some of them back into place seems to move other ones right back out of place. I think we are making progress, but it is soooooo sssssslllllllllooooooooowwwwwwww that sometimes discouragement gets the best of me.

    In spite of all of this, I woke up on Friday and my heart leapt with joy. It was Passover and I could tangibly feel the joy of being delivered and redeemed and loved by God himself. My feet had a bounce in their step that hasn’t been there in months and my heart felt light and happy. Kate, my new gymnastics assistant, said she had never seen me like that and Grant, my long-time assistant smiled a huge grin and said “I have, but it has been a long time.” The joy of the Lord is real – I know because it filled my heart and took me out of that place of despair.

    We had a lovely Passover dinner on Friday evening with my dear friend, Jennifer, and her four daughters, three of my Worldviews students, our friends, the Cardons, with five of their children, and our friend, Paula, who jumped in at the last minute to fill Jesse’s (Jennifer’s husband) spot. Then on Saturday and Sunday we watched General Conference and my soul was lifted and strengthened even more with the messages of faith, the great love of God, and the hope the atonement and grace of God can give to each of us.

    After Conference, I decided I had to completely ignore the vice-grip pain in my facial bones and read the last 32 pages of The Wingfeather Saga on this special Easter Sunday. I have been so incredibly frustrated at my inability to read more than a couple of pages to my family since the car accident before the pain in my face is so excruciating that I have to stop and ice it down, but today I realized it has worked out perfectly. I knew (since I have read the ending of the series twice already) that the last few chapters are a type of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice and resurrection and that the story would touch our children’s hearts and help them to see the atonement with new eyes as they learned the fanged monsters could be changed back into humans devoid of the anger and cruelty of their past selves. I have known for months that these chapters contained beautiful messages of God’s grace, sacrifice, and love that would reach deep into our children’s souls and give them truths they need and I have been hungry to give it to them, but I couldn’t make that happen very quickly because it hurt so much to read aloud. But now, with perfect timing, we have spent our Easter Sunday evening crying our eyes out as our hearts were broken with the sacrifice offered, the healing of the fangs, and the price of blood that had to be paid to bring it about.

    Oh, my heart! It is so full with the love of God and love for God. I love Him. I trust Him. I rejoice in Him.

    This song by Charles Wesley (the son of my beloved Susannah Annesley who Annesley is named after) captures the feelings of my heart tonight.

    Rejoice, the Lord is King!
    Your Lord and King adore!
    Mortals, give thanks and sing
    And triumph evermore.

    Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice!
    Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
    Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice!
    Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

    The Lord, the Savior, reigns,
    The God of truth and love.
    When he had purged our stains,
    He took his seat above.

    Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice!
    Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
    Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice!
    Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

    His kingdom cannot fail;
    He rules o’er earth and heav’n.
    The keys of death and hell
    To Christ the Lord are giv’n.

    Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice!
    Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
    Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice!
    Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

    With Christians around the world, I rejoice that Christ was willing to come to earth and make it possible for each of us to return to our Father and become like Him as we learn to love and serve and sacrifice.

    I know more dark days will probably come, but tonight, this glorious Easter night, I want to savor these feelings of peace and joy and gratitude for all He has done.