Papa: Wake up Annes. It’s time to get ready for church.
Annes: Oh, papa, why did you have to wake me up? I was having a perfect dream in my dream world.
Mama: Come and snuggle with me and tell me all about your perfect dream.
Annes: Well, I had two horses in the back and I built them a place to live and they loved it here. And you passed out, but you didn’t dislocate any of your limbs. And papa had three days off from work, but he made the same amount of money each day as if he had worked the whole day. It was aaaaammmaaaaaaaazzzzzzzing.
Mama: What a lovely dream.
Papa: That IS perfect!
This little girl of mine is so precious to me. She is full of spunk and joy and courage. She has grown up with my dislocating, passing out body, and wants to fix it. She often snuggles up with me and says “Mama, I wish your body worked better so you could play baseball with me.” or “Mama, do you think you will ever be all better so you don’t pass out and shake any more?” or “Mama, I don’t like watching you shake, it scares me.” She has had to face big stuff in her short life. She is often the one with me when an episode starts and calls her papa to let him know I am passed out again. She hears us talking about money and jobs and the frustration of the whole situation. Her dream world is trying to make sense of it all.
Mine too, baby, mine too.
Last night we watched The BFG. With the dirth of good family movies available at Redbox last night, I decided the only one that looked worth our time was The BFG, so I broke my cardinal rule of requiring my family members to read the book before watching the movie. I have such fond memories of the book, but have never actually read it myself. In 5th grade, when my family was falling apart, my teacher, Mr. Longmore, would spend the hour after lunch reading to us. He sat on a super-tall stool and crossed his super-long legs and as he read, he created magic in my heart. One of the books he read to us that year was The BFG and as he was nearly giant-sized himself and took a special interest in me, I easily pictured him as the BFG.
We loved the movie. So much. Annesley even got up at 6:00 this morning to get her Saturday jobs done so she could rewatch it before we take it back today. Total winner.
And when we woke up this morning, Annes had written this note.
Who is your BFG? My BFG is my papa. He is loving. My papa loves me. He loves to fish. My papa’s big fish is big. I love my BFG.
And then a drawing of Annes and her papa, AKA her BFG, with tons of hearts and BFGs all over it.
Ah man, this girl. She is full of love and life and so much delightfulness. I’m so grateful to be her mama. A big thanks to Mr. Longmore for being a BFG in my life at a time I so desperately needed him and to my husband for being an ever-present force of love in my life and the lives of our children. BFGs are all around us!
Perceptions are a funny thing. They determine how we see things, how we understand the world around us, how we evaluate other’s motives, and yet, they are so often wrong. Last night I had one of those moments when I realized, once again, how incorrectly I can perceive the world.
Last night was our Ward Christmas Party. When I finished eating, my heart rate went up like it usually does, and I leaned back in my chair and tried to relax and think calming thoughts to help it come back down. But all the stimulation of kids running around, people talking to me, and the mass chaos of hundreds of people being in the same room together were too much for my nervous system to process. I tried closing my eyes and breathing deeply for awhile and that helped it calm down somewhat. Eventually Richard left to go figure out a way to get our car right up by the door and I counted heartbeats, willing them to sloooooowwwwww down and tried everything I knew to calm my system. The men were all working hard taking down tables and chairs, but could see something was wrong with me and left my table and chairs alone.
Fisher, my dear son who hates to be an inconvenience to anyone, came over and said, “Mom, can you move?” Barely lifting my head, I mumbled, “No, no I can’t.” I thought, “Oh, my heavens, can’t he see I am on the verge of passing out? Does he really care more about inconveniencing the men putting away tables than he does about my body’s needs?” He asked again, “Mom, can you move?” Again, I mumbled “No” and tried to get him to understand that I wasn’t using the table and it could be put away as long as they didn’t move my chairs or try to move me. Not satisfied with my answer, he persisted, “Mom, can you move? They are playing basketball.” In my nearly unconscious state of mind, I nearly exploded inside thinking, “Seriously! He is wanting to play basketball when I am having an episode? He wants me to move so they have more room to play!” But I couldn’t say anything because I was fighting with everything I had to stay conscious and calm. Finally, he said, “Mom, I’m worried the ball is going to hit you and hurt you. We’ve got to move you because they are playing basketball.”
I opened my eyes and looked around and saw that there was a group of teens playing basketball and I was right on the 3-point line. They were running all over the floor and the ball was flying wildly near me. I had had no idea any of that was happening and the boys had no idea anything was wrong with me, they were just trying to have fun. Grasping the situation, I told Fisher, “I can’t move, so you are going to have to protect me from the ball.” His response, “That is what I have been doing, I just think you would be safer if we could move you away from here.”
Oh, my goodness, the tears of gratitude welled up inside me for this good, good boy of mine. He wasn’t embarrassed of me. He wasn’t worried about inconveniencing the clean-up crew. He wasn’t wanting to play basketball and have more room on the court. He was watching over me and protecting me without anyone asking him to and without me even realizing what he was doing.
So often I respond too quickly, long before I understand the real situation. I am grateful for a body that was unable to speak and lash out in irritation and was instead able to hear his quiet voice, full of love, trying to help me.
Eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand…those are the gifts I yearn for.
p.s. Yes, I did pass out a few minutes later. As we slowly made our way out to the car, my body collapsed in the hallway with Richard and several other men catching me and taking care of me. I am surrounded by angels, both heavenly and earthly ones. Thank you to those of you who so willingly walk this journey with me.
It feels like a gazillion years since my baby was born nine years ago. It also feels like it was such a short time ago that I held her in my arms for the first time. Surreal.
My entire life has changed since she was born. Our family has grown up. There are no more diapers, kids needing help getting dressed, bathed, or fed. There are no more board books, burping, or putting on their shoes for them. They are all big and capable and my role as mother has changed from caretaker of physical things to nurturer of the soul (and let me tell you, soul caretaking is hard for me).
I remember so clearly the fear and faith that surrounded her pregnancy and the joy that came with her birth. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and told me, “It’s gonna be okay.”
And you know what? It has been. The past nine years have been full of incredible challenges, immense mountains of love, poignantly tender miracles, and so many experiences I would never have chosen, but am grateful to have learned from.
Annesley has never had the privilege of having her papa have a schedule where he can spend lots of time with her as he has worked long hours six days a week her entire life until this fall. She doesn’t remember her mama not being sick or broken because the breast lump happened when she was 3 1/2 and right after recovering from that is when the EDS challenges began in earnest. She has had to face hard stuff and she has done it with laughter, love, and light. Annesley’s spirit is huge. She spreads joy everywhere she goes with her big smile and loving heart. We adore her to Pluto and back.
She has been totally in love with Leonardo da Vinci and inventions for months, so her birthday book this year is Cleonardo, The Little Inventor. It is a darling story of Leonardo’s granddaughter and her awesome invention.
She is still in love with Adventures in Odyssey, fishing, hiking, music of all kinds, playing the piano, drawing, soccer, football, baseball, and Irish Step-Dancing. Her dreams are big and she has endless confidence that she can do anything she sets her mind on. She recently was able to go on a date with her papa to an Irish performance and loved every minute of it. She couldn’t help but dance in the lobby during intermission and I was told she put on the quite the show!
This morning she opened her presents – a tackle box, her first set of Prismacolors, and a doodle book. Keziah and Dallin took her ice skating this afternoon and tonight we will enjoy her ice cream cake creation – Mint Oreos, a layer of chocolate ice cream, and a layer of Breyer’s Mint Ice Cream. She has been planning it for months.
Miss Annes reminds me so much of myself. She looks just like me, has oodles of interests, and is full of zest and sass and sparkles of happiness. She has adopted most of the elderly people in our church congregation. She makes them cards, takes them presents, and loves to go over to visit. They shower her with love right back.
Here are some pics from the last year of her life.
Christmas Jammies from Grandma Dorothy – Star Wars!
Snowboarding for Homeschool Ski Days
Annesley is so excited to be in plays like her big sisters some day. Keziah’s January play was so fun!
Provo City Center Temple Open House in February
Liberty Girls Icicle Finding
Liberty Girls Fancy Tea Party for Purim
Going to General Conference with her dear friend, Olivia and big sister, Keziah.
Scheel’s aquarium on the General Conference trip.
Playing the piano and singing at the top of her lungs.
Swim Camp 2016 – What a great way to kick off the summer!
Rock Climbing with friends – she’s a natural!
Smith Reunion and visiting Grandma’s and Grandpa’s graves.
Reading The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic – our summer read-aloud. Snuggling up and reading for hours was our favorite way to spend the morning hours this summer.
Camping, hiking, fishing and snakes galore. Oh, how she loves the outdoors!
Daddy-Daughter Date with her papa at church.
Fisher’s Birthday Hike at Cave Falls
Our first ever family bike ride since I was injured in 2012. I rode my Elliptigo and everyone else was on bikes. I only made it about a mile, but let me tell you, it was glorious!
Climbing trees at Fairy Land – our favorite spot at the greenbelt.
End of Summer Party at Lava – speed slides are the best!
Her new Irish Step-Dancing Class – yes, she is the youngest and smallest! She loves it! She hardly walks anymore and prefers to do one-two-threes everywhere she goes.
Cousins holding hands at the Star Valley Temple Open House in September.
Thanksgiving sledding with cousins, Easton and Oaklyn.
Last hugs before we came home yesterday.
We are so, so grateful for this girl that God sent us at what seemed like the worst time. We need her sunshine! It is so much fun being her mama! She has had a wonderful year learning and laughing and having fun. May she have many more happy, happy birthdays.
Celebrating the 4th of July without my freedom-loving girl was kind of strange. She is still in America and was able to see some fireworks. I love to hear her stories of teaching. Sharing the message of Christ a beautiful privilege.
We had two pretty cool lessons this week. We came over to teach a lesson to a friend of someone in the ward and it was really spiritual. The friend had already been reading the Book of Mormon, and it went really well. He had a lot of good questions. We have to pass him off to the Saddleback YSA district, but it was still pretty cool.
We also taught our investigator on Sunday. Her name is Venus. She has a 7 year old son and she is really prepared. She has a really hard time getting work off Sundays, so she hasn’t been able to make it to sacrament, but she came to RS last week and this week to Gospel Principles and Relief Society. She had a really great experience there and loved the lesson, which was on ministering angels. It was really great and she was able to meet some of the members. They just welcomed her in. It was really good. Then we took her to the Music Devotional and for a tour on the temple grounds and she really felt the Spirit. We ended up having a couple young women from my previous ward there, they were awesome on the tour and it went really well.
Zone activity yesterday was pretty fun. We did it late because they wanted us in before all the crazy people got their 4th parties on. So we hung out at the stake center and ate food. I laid on the floor with some others and we talked about random stuff, which was pretty much all I wanted to do. Then we heard the fire works start. The church sits on a big hill and looks over pretty much the entire valley, so we could see maybe 10 shows going on. It was pretty great.
Love you guys!
This letter is from June 27. I am so grateful she has the opportunity to learn to love people from all sorts of backgrounds. It is one of the most important lessons of this life – loving those who are different than ourselves.
This has been a good week. We are teaching Brandyne, a long time less active member who has had a pretty rough life. Her dad abused her, her son and husband died, and her family and herself really fell apart. She’s made a lot of wrong turns, and has been absolutely miserable. A while back she ran into the missionaries, and was at a pretty low place, and wanted to meet with us. She’s about to have another baby, and she really wants to give him a better situation. If we had talked to her about God a few months ago, she would not have had ears to hear, but now with the path she has walked, her heart is starting to open. After all this time, she finally has the desire to repent, and have God in her life. There’s still a long road, but she is finally seeing the light. We taught her twice this week.
Venus is great! (She is a referral we received several weeks ago. Her co-worker is has been talking to her for a while, and she finally decided to meet with us. She’s SO ready, and is very close to the spirit. Her 7 year son is named Daniel.) She was not able to come to church this week because of her work schedule again, but she used her lunch break to go to Relief Society in Live Oak Canyon, close to her work. She is wonderful. She just has so much hope, even though she’s had a lot of trials. We are so excited! :)
Diana is great, too. (She’s the one we taught a couple weeks ago, but her husband isn’t ready for the gospel yet.) We stopped by to visit with her this week, and talked to her for a while. She is so sweet, and wonderful, and just loves us so much! If her husband wasn’t opposed, I think she’d be happy to be baptized. As it is, we’re praying for her husband’s heart to be softened. We’ll do what we can in the meantime. She is so awesome. Every time we see her around the community she gets super excited! We love her.
We had a funny experience this week. We were tracting in a part of our area that a lot of Hispanic people live and their houses are all sort of clumped together. We met several really great people out there, and one guy who argued/bashed us until we could leave. So we got there and there was this little girl playing outside her house and she was really excited to see us for some reason, so we said “hi,” and proceeded to knock on the doors, and she followed us, and we kind of wondered what to do. So we walked up to a door, and she says “You’re going to my house?!” really excitedly. There was some guy inside her house fixing something, and he was super awkward. He said “I don’t live here. Ah, let me get the lady who lives here” and he was trying not to talk to us. So turns out the girl’s mom is sleeping or something, so we told her we’d come back some time to see her mom. So then we walk away, and she keeps following us. All the doors face each other, so we were only like 15 feet from her door. Each door we walked up to, she’s say “This one is [blank]’s house. It two buttons (doorbells),” “This one has no buttons” “This one has 1 button” etc. It was pretty cute. We told her we’d have to come back when her mom could talk. It was pretty interesting.
My goodness, I am SOOOO behind on Blythe’s mission letters. This letter is from June 20 so I have over five months of letters to post. If it weren’t for the need I feel to have all her letters posted in one spot, I would give up! I can do it, I can do it, I can do it!
I think I just wrote to President Orgill for the last time, though it’s possible that the letters next week will still be to him. I’m not sure. It was pretty hard. It doesn’t seem real that he is actually leaving. I will miss him so much! He is incredible.
We got a baptismal date with Venus this week. She is so excited to be baptized. There is some ground work to do to make that happen, involving her job and some things she has to overcome, but she is very prepared. We are so excited for her. She is moving, and she doesn’t know where yet, but hopefully it won’t be out of ward boundaries, but if it is, then I think it will still work out well.
Gloria had a really good talk with the Bishop a little while ago. Her son died when he was very young, and had a cool near death experience, a while before he died. He told her when he woke up, that God had said he had a plan for their family to be together forever and that they would see each other on the other side. So she has always believed that. She’s been investigating for a long time, 18 years, and hasn’t gotten baptized, even though her husband was baptized about a year ago. She just didn’t see the necessity of it, because she just thought that since her son had told her that God had a plan, that it was kind of automatic, that you die, and it just happens, but the Bishop was able to explain the necessary steps to make that happen, how baptism and being sealed in the temple were the steps to make that happen, and laid it out very clear for her. They talked about how nothing in this life that is worthwhile, comes with out effort and work. I think she is close. She is very close to the Spirit, and I think when it happens for her, it will just fall into place. I am so excited for her!
We got a ton of service this week, and the last couple, which is great, because there is never service in this area, since everyone seems to have everything they need. We were helping with set up for a high school grad night. They seriously go all out! It’s insane! Set up took weeks, and a ton of volunteers. It was fun, but this weekend was take down, and that was rough. It got so hot this weekend! Saturday it was in the high 90’s. Sunday it was 103 over here, and in Mission Viejo and RSM, it was 114! It was AWFUL!!! We went knocking on doors when it like 99 Sunday morning. We purposely chose Nellie Gale since the houses are really big, and have shaded porches frequently. We gave out two copies of the Book of Mormon in about 15 minutes of each other, which made our goal for the week. One lady named Jenny, was super nice to us. She was really impressed that we were doing this even on Father’s Day, and we talked and got to tell her about the Book of Mormon, and she seemed pretty serious about looking into it. She invited us in, and gave us drinks, which was great, since we were melting. She was visiting her dad, so she wasn’t local, but she lives pretty close, and she didn’t seem opposed to talking to missionaries there, or being in contact with us. She was awesome!
This morning I was reading the Book of Mormon, in the book of Mosiah in chapter 5. In verse 2, it talks about how the people had the Spirit of God given to them and how through that they had no more desire to do anything wrong anymore. I love how, through the Holy Ghost, we can be cleansed from our past and be able to receive strength to overcome our bad habits, so we can come closer to God. Verse 12 was also really cool. It talked about how, as we follow God’s commandments, and build our relationship with God, we become more like Him, so that when He calls us, we will recognize His voice, and that when we go back to Him, we will know Him. I really enjoyed that chapter. It really strengthened my faith and understanding.
Love you all!
Here’s the deal – I’m failing at this whole blog thing.
I could offer a zillion excuses like these ones:
- My hands hurt
- My life is extremely full with my homeschooling, church, health, and friends responsibilities.
- My brain is tired.
- There is a whole lotta crap going on that I can’t talk about and it makes it seemingly impossible to even begin to compose a sentence about the many lovely things I CAN talk about.
- My room is filthy and it hard to justify sitting down to blog when I should be cleaning with my five minutes of time.
And while all of those things are true, so very true, it really boils down to me not making or taking the time to write and letting my online time be sucked up by other things.
So, here it is November 6 and I have hardly blogged for an entire year. My right hand was injured one year ago and I had to really limit my typing and mousing, but what started as a temporary heal-the-hand activity change has become the norm. Typing and mousing have been hard this entire time and now my left hand is injured as well so I don’t know when it is going to get easier in the foreseeable future. But I do know this; I have missed an entire year of recording and remembering our family’s experiences and hilarious moments and I can’t get those back. So, I am going to try my darndest to make the time, to take the time, and start writing again. My soul needs it…and I don’t want any more memories to be lost.
So fun to go back and read this letter in August and to read her enthusiasm over meeting Venus since I now know she will be spending lots of time with her in the coming weeks.
Last Monday we started teaching a new investigator! Her name is Venus, and she is a friend/referral from a lady in Live Oak Canyon. She is a single mom, and super ready for the gospel. She was so excited to start reading the Book of Mormon, and was very receptive to the lesson. She has a 7 year old son named Daniel.
That is 3 Mondays, a.k.a. P-days, that we have picked up a new investigator! We’re going to call them Magic Mondays! It’s been really cool, since Mondays are often not the most productive time.
So, funny story about that. We got out of the lesson with Venus pretty late, especially since we just stopped in to contact her, and weren’t thinking she’d actually let us in. So we leave, and she lives at the end of this really long street where a lot of Hispanics live, and there is no parking ever. So we had to park down past the intersection of the main road, about 3/4 of a mile away, and we had to get back to our car quickly so we could get home, which was a 15 minute drive AFTER we got to the car, so we had to run back to the car. We got super hot, I was wearing a pencil skirt, and we almost got sprayed by a skunk since it happened to be near where we were running.
We also got a mission wide text on Friday morning, that there had been 3 earthquakes in the last 6 hours, which was “unusual” so we had to go over our emergency plan, and both of us and our roommates were talking about how unsafe our apartment is in case of an earthquake, as it is set on a hillside. It’s not really that unsafe, though. We were just having a good laugh over the image our apartment sliding down the hill. Then we were thinking that if we had an earthquake that maybe we’d be in danger of a tsunami, so we went over that plan, and talked about where we’d go if there was tsunami warning. Nothing happened, though. :)
I am also not losing my companion this transfer. For the first time in like 7 months I will have a companion for longer than 6 weeks. :)
I’ve made it to the June 6th letter! Slowly, but surely making progress. Our girl is serving and loving and growing in her relationship with God. It’s a beautiful thing.
It has both been a great week and a hard week. Our new, basically golden investigator from last week will not be meeting with us for lessons anymore because her husband decided he’s not ready to hear about Jesus yet. But she wants us to come by and see her whenever we can and she was really excited to read the Book of Mormon we personalized for her. So we’ll keep seeing her and maybe something will change.
This week the zone was really pushing to get 70 contacts in every companionship. This area, of course, is really hard to get contacts in, so it was a little intimidating, but we decided we were going to do it. Sister Wright planned out carefully how many contacts we could get each day so we could make the goal, based on how much time we had available to contact, which was amazing. Some days we got behind, and we were trying to make it up as we went. We really prioritized contacts above some things we normally do. Saturday rolled around and we knew this week our Sunday was booked and we would have no contacting time. We had 17 more contacts to go, had breakfast with a member, a meeting in the morning for temple tours, lunch, and then a district blitz in LH2 for an hour before we could make it back to our area. It was super hot, and we were tracting for the blitz, then we had to run to a window, where we were tracting for another hour, in which we only talked to 3 people out of the 20-something doors we knocked. So we were super hot and only had 3 of the 17 contacts we needed, though they were pretty great contacts. We had an hour before dinner, and we would have very little contacting time after that, so we were getting worried that we would not be able to make that goal. We ran to contact a referral we’d received, then went tracting for the last 40 minutes before dinner. We were super hot and still had 11 more people we had to talk to after dinner, so we ran to the park hoping that by some miracle there would be that many people at the park. There were more people there than usual. We got down to 3 more needed contacts to make it to 70. Up to this point we had seen no miracles from all this contacting we had done all week, and no new potentials from it, so Sister Wright was thinking we probably wouldn’t see a miracle from all this work, aside from the fact that we actually made the goal. We went to contact these last three people who were in this group together, and we got talking to the guy, and found out he was a former investigator from when they were reorganizing the mission 3 years ago, and that his wife and mother had just come from China. So we got his number and address. So we saw a miracle from it, and it wasn’t until the 70th contact. We thought that was pretty cool.
There’s this couple in the ward that are having some health issues, and so we went to leave them sticky notes. We showed up at like 10, and there was some guy painting their house, so we decided we’d come back later, since we were trying not to get caught. So we came back at 2, and he was still painting the house. So we come back at like 7, thinking surely he must be done by then, but nope, he was still out there. So we went back the next morning, and stuck them on the fence. The guy was still there, but he was in the garage. So that was fun.
We also finally have a progressing investigator! We haven’t had one the whole time I’ve been here, but Amy has started reading the Book of Mormon!
I felt pretty badly last night. I was feeling like I wasn’t making a very big difference and was down on myself for some things I haven’t been doing so great on. I feel like I could have been a better companion for Sister Wright. Even though we haven’t had any problems, I still feel like I haven’t done enough for her, and for the Lord. I think I’m a good missionary, I hope I am, but I want to be great missionary. Anyway, I decided to read some from the Book of Mormon and see what I’d find, and I ended up opening up to 2 Nephi 3, and it was talking about how out of our weakness God will make us strong. Then I read in chapter 4, and it was just what I needed, because the feelings that Nephi had of his weakness and struggles were just what I was feeling, and it was cool to know that even someone as great as Nephi still felt that way.