he carries me

Apr 4, 2017 by

I had a pretty big epiphany this weekend during General Conference. I started to have this epiphany during the 2015 October Conference when President Monson seemed to nearly collapse at the pulpit, but it came even more strongly into my heart and mind this time.

President Monson, our prophet, is not doing very well physically. Richard and Dallin told me that at the Priesthood session on Saturday night, he only spoke for a few minutes and his words were so slurred that captions were used so the audience could understand him. On Sunday morning, he again spoke for just a short while, but his voice was clear and strong and completely understandable. He was able to announce five new temples and share a message on daily scripture reading and pondering. He did not attend the Sunday afternoon session because he was too weary.

As his situation settled into my heart, a new understanding of my own life started growing. So very often, I can muster the energy, the capacity, the presence to show up and do something big…like present at a conference or teach a class or throw a party or go on an adventure. But then I crash. Hard. I will pass out, have seizures, spend a whole day in bed, stop digesting food, have a crazy heart rate, or the whole shebang of other symptoms of dysautonomia. I often think to myself, I must be making this whole thing up. Because if I can get up and do the BIG THING, whatever it is, I should be able to do big things all the time and be just fine. So, I must be making this up or wimping out or just not having enough grit to do ALL THE THINGS.

This may be a long-term struggle for me, this internal yo-yoing back and forth, but as I heard his voice on Sunday morning and stared at his empty chair on Sunday afternoon, I felt God whispering comfort and peace to my soul. I felt Him telling me that He is helping me do the BIG THINGS and that just because I can sometimes do them does not mean I can always do them.

My mind still doesn’t really understand how I can do a thing one day and not be able to do the same thing the next day, but somehow, in those sacred moments of Conference, He let me know it is the reality of my life and that I am not making anything up, am not a wimp, and am certainly not lacking grit. He helped me to understand, through watching our brave prophet’s example, that He can and will sustain me in doing the big things, at least some of the time.

Beautiful lesson from my loving Father.

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hip, hip, hooray, it’s four years today!

Feb 20, 2016 by

February 20 is the 4-year anniversary of my initial hip injury. I need to both honor and celebrate this day. My heart is SO full of gratitude for the heaps of service, love, sacrifice, and true friendship I have been blessed with over the past four years. You, my dear friends and family members, have carried me, filled me with courage, helped me see hope, and have stayed WITH me in this fight. You have not abandoned me. You have not given up. You have prayed and smiled and hugged and cried and laughed and loved more than I ever knew was possible. Your words of encouragement, acts of service, and downright awesomeness have made all the difference in my ability to keep going with a smile on my face. Thank YOU for helping me stay strong!

Please join in this celebration by doing these four things:

1. Share a hilarious/interesting/touching moment from this hip/ankle/shoulder/ribs/feet/knees/seizing/passing out/peeing journey.

2. Share something you have learned from this journey of mine.

3. Share a message of courage with me and all my friends!

4. Do something kind and loving for someone else today. It will make me SO happy to have hundreds of acts of kindness done in honor of my Hip, Hip, Hooray Party!

If you can’t do all four, choose your favorite…just share something to commemorate this day.

I love you all! Thank you for joining my celebration!

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amazing grace

Oct 20, 2015 by

Grace. Oh, how I need my Savior’s grace. Sometimes, usually on the day before my period starts, I forget the lessons God has taught me about His power to redeem me and actually believe I am a hopeless cause, but most of the time, I cling to His grace. A few years ago I watched His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox and it changed my perspective on grace. Saturday night I had one of those fall apart nights where I forgot that I am forgivable, redeemable, and not a hopeless cause.

And then the Sabbath came and I remembered my covenants and decided to try again. As I sang the words to “I Believe In Christ” at church on Sunday, I cried tender tears of gratitude for my Savior who not only has the power to redeem me, but also enough love for me to actually do it.

I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I’ll sing;
I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.

I believe in Christ; oh blessed name!
As Mary’s Son he came to reign
‘Mid mortal men, his earthly kin,
To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ, who marked the path,
Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: “Come, follow me,
That ye, my friends, with God may be.”

I believe in Christ–my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I’ll worship him with all my might;
He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.
From Satan’s grasp he sets me free,
And I shall live with joy and love
In his eternal courts above.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I’ll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain.”
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I’ll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men.

This morning Annesley and I watched this beautiful arrangement of Amazing Grace and more tears came. Watch it, hear it, feel it. Let your heart be filled.

I love the Lord Jesus and thank Him for setting me free again and again. It is truly amazing that he can break the chains that bind each of us.

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celebrating the family video

Oct 13, 2015 by

I saw this video yesterday and have to share it because I love it so much! I set a goal to memorize The Family: A Proclamation To The World this year in our homeschool and even had an awesome giant poster printed (thanks to Valena!) in the weeks right before Blythe left, but we haven’t started yet. I haven’t even hung the poster up! But today that is changing. Today we begin! This video gave me the nudge I needed to get back on track with this goal.

If you want to make your own giant 24 x 36 poster, here is the pdf file. The awesome Valena also made a matching poster for The Living Christ. You can download that pdf file here.

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these things i know

Jul 1, 2015 by

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.

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with friends like this, i can stay in the race

Dec 4, 2014 by

I watched the Catching Kayla video a few weeks ago. Unlike most things I stumble across on the internet, this story has stuck with me, staying in my mind and teaching me lessons of life.

Kayla was a 14 year old girl who loved playing soccer when her feet suddenly started to tingle. The tingling spread until she had no feeling in her legs at all and she was diagnosed with MS. After figuring out a cocktail of medications that brought the sensations back to her legs, Kayla decided she wanted to run since she could no longer play soccer.

And run she did. Because of her courage and dedication, she went from a not-so-great runner to a strong, fast runner. Kayla has beautiful form and is a joy to watch run.

This part of the story alone was enough to inspire me. But there is more. During her runs, her body temperature rises which causes the tingling, numbness, and lack of sensation to return to her legs. In a way I can’t understand, she can keep running when this happens, but she can’t stop. Her coach has to catch her at the finish line and carry her out to the middle of the field to ice her down to lower her body temperature. When she collapses, she appears disabled and dependent. Her voice cries out “Help me!”

She runs with this wonderfully capable body and ends with a broken body that needs lots of help to be able to function again. She appears totally normal and I would think most people would never know anything is wrong with her.

Just like me.

I get it. I look normal. I can walk and talk and look completely and totally capable one minute and then seconds later be in a heap on the floor unconscious and incapable of taking care of myself.

Yesterday it happened again. A big group of friends had a lunch date at Red Robin. We laughed our heads off, ate delicious food, and buoyed up each other. Aside from lying down in our booth instead of sitting, I looked completely normal. I felt completely normal. And then I stood up. My heart rate jumped up to 130 immediately and I started to lose consciousness right there in the restaurant. The poor diners next to us were probably wondering what the heck was going on as my friends got my body to lie down, my legs elevated a bit (I think in someone’s arms?), and ran to get Jen’s Yukon. I started shaking a bit and I’m sure was a sight to see.

After a few minutes, I thought I was stable enough to walk out. I did okay for the first 30 feet and then I knew I was going down again. We made it into the car just as I collapsed a second time and this time passed out.

The cycle I dislike ever so much started with violent shaking, then passing out over and over again. My friends were holding me, assessing my heart rate, making sure I didn’t fall out of my seat, and doing all they could to help my body calm down. At one point I started throwing up which is about my least favorite activity in the world. These five ladies dealt with the awful stench, held bags in front of me, cleaned up the puke in my hair, helped me in and and out of the car so I could get it all out in a parking lot instead of a bag, and did all of it with compassion. Every time I would throw up, the shaking and passing out cycle would start again. Oh my. It was a doozy.

By the time the day was done I think I threw up in four different parking lots, passed out 10-ish times, thought I was going to be run over by Jennifer as the car started rolling into me on one of the throw up episodes, had a police officer come over to assess the situation of the shaking, crying, heaving woman who keeps losing consciousness, and thoroughly peed my pants during the endless retching…all out in public for all the world to see.

Oh, my goodness. Mortification sets in if I allow myself to think about it too much.

But this morning, I am thinking of Kayla and her courage to keep running in spite of the embarrassing things her body does at the end of the race. I want to keep doing the things I love even if it means my body falls apart. My body handles things pretty well if I stay home lying in bed or in my chair. I can do learning stuff with my children, direct the affairs of our home, send emails, and even do a little housework. It is when I go out that the troubles start. I don’t want to always stay home. I want to do fun things with my friends. I want to teach gymnastics and other classes. I want to be able to do my own grocery shopping. I want stay in the race.

And I think Kayla’s courage to keep running is the visual I need to keep running my own race even if it means other people see my body do embarrassing things. Life is worth living!

And because I have THE BEST friends who keep catching me when I fall, I can stay in the race. Thank you, dear ones, for allowing me to have a life outside of my home – I couldn’t do this without you!

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changed for good

Nov 11, 2014 by

Remember when I was preparing myself to receive an outpouring of love…boy howdy, did that love come! My dear friends, Tasha and Bob and their ten children, organized a whole army of other dear friends who swept into our home and yard and transformed it. They scrubbed and washed and organized and repaired. It was like one of those Extreme Home Makeover shows without the fancy sponsorships, television crew, and team of professionals.

In the space of eight short hours, they hung my bathroom door, fixed my dining table, fixed my beloved green table, repaired the back door, fixed the garage door, hung a rain gutter, and prepared the roof for a snow stop (Who knew there was such a thing! We just might be able to get in and out of our front door this year without having snow blocking the doorway!) They fixed the gaping hole in the deck, secured the deck banister so no one (especially me!) will plummet to their death, and repaired the deck stairs. They scrubbed out the fridge and freezer, cleaned out the pantry, washed every single canning jar and replaced them back on the top of the kitchen cupboards, cleaned out the inches of dust from said cupboard tops, and removed the ridiculous waste-spacing lights that people use when they put greenery up there instead of canning jars. Piles and piles of garbage were hauled off, trees trimmed, leaves raked, lawn mowed, and flower beds cleaned out. Our three bathrooms were DEEP cleaned – oh, my goodness, I had no idea they could even be that clean. Our messy school room was completely organized from top to bottom. The chandeliers were cleaned strand by strand, all the bookshelves dusted, and windows washed.

On top of all of this, they filled up our freezer with freezer meals, meats, and other goodies, our root cellar with potatoes, and our refrigerator with deliciousness. So. Much. Love.

I wish I had before pictures so you could see what a huge impact they made.

The newly repaired and pressure-washed deck. Isn’t it beautiful!

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Dustin and Troy fixing the deck stairs. These two were energizer bunnies, going from project to project faster than I could think of more broken things.

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Marie cleaning the lights. None of us are tall enough to get to those lights even when we stand on the table, so they are completely neglected and covered in dust most of the time.

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One of my little math students cleaning out our scripture-holding bookcase, she did an excellent job – it has NEVER shined like it did when she was done with it!

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Look how they transformed the yard! I’m not sure who worked outside since I never made it out there, but I think it was Kimberly, Dwayne, Cosette, Adam, and an army of youth.

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Bob, the jolly man behind this whole project. I love him so, so much. He teased me all day and got me to the point I could look at him with a smile on my face instead of tears running down my cheeks.

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Tasha will hate this picture of her, but it is just too picture-perfect of Bob’s antics to not post it. They were the brains behind this whole undertaking.

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Madi washing hundreds of jars.

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Keri and Dustin removing the ridiculous cabinet lights.

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The lovely Vanessa cleaned out my kitchen cupboards which were stuffed with who knows what!

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Jennifer tackled my disgusting bathroom…oh my goodness, the sparkles she created!

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Liz may die that I put her hiney on the interwebs, but look at that pantry! Look at those cleaned out shelves. I kid-you not, those shelves have been a death trap for months. Every time we open the doors, there was a risk of being attacked on the head by falling jars, pasta, raisins, or herbs. Always hoped for herbs.

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Near the end of our clean-up day, Liz took Annesley to a fundraiser for another friend of ours…a little baby with cancer. She brought her home all decked-out and happy as a clam. Way to multi-task Liz, fundraising carnivals AND pantry renovation AND growing a baby all at the same time! She also left us with a roast in the crock-pot that we thoroughly enjoyed late that night. I’ve never had a roast taste that good…it was amazing.

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Three of my favorite boys laughing their heads off while they scrub the dirt off their arms from working outside.

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Even the little ones worked. Thank you Mr. Levi!

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Sometimes the little ones played.

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And sometimes they ate.

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Jenn washing windows, I can’t even imagine the muck she faced on this task…I fight mold in this house constantly…and I haven’t been fightly valiantly for quite some time! She faced it head-on and eradicated all the yucky black spots that build up around the windows and transformed the glass into clearness.

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Since I spent much of the day crying, there is not a single good picture of me. My face is red and splotchy and I look like a beached whale in my chair. Jess kept me company wrapped up in my quilt…and I cried and tried to smile and laugh with my friends.

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At one point, Kat brought our her completely addicting apple dip and I was able to stop crying long enough to get a few pieces out of Jessica’s hands before she snarfed it all down.

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Keziah and Courtney stopped working long enough to paint their faces. They are SO silly…and SO fun.

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And even though her face is painted, this is one of the few pictures I have of Keziah (in her WHOLE life!) where she is not making a crazy face, so I have to share it for posterity.

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We didn’t get any pictures of Becky and Jennifer (the third Jennifer that was there that day…and my Jen, of the Jen, Kat, and Jessica gang) cleaning out my despicable fridge and freezer. Or of Amanda cleaning the upstairs bathroom that hasn’t been deep-cleaned since I broke my foot cleaning the ceiling last summer. Or Paula and Bonnie who washed laundry. Or any of the work done downstairs. Or Amy labeling all my canning jars. Or any of so many things. I basically laid in my chair and cried and sent my camera out on picture taking tours with various youth when my brain would turn on and remember I wanted to document the awesomeness.

I have been involved in and spearheaded lots of save-the-world projects. It is something I LOVE TO DO. And I have witnessed the power of people working together to raise money, put on events, spread love, and bless lives. I have been on the receiving end of lots and lots of kindness and generosity. So none of this is shockingly new to me. But I have never felt the power of community to transform hearts the way I felt it this day. This great outpouring of service done with such a beautiful spirit of love has changed me in a way I cannot describe. Throughout September my spirit was full of grief unspeakable. At times I wanted to shut myself off from the world. I could not bear to talk with people, which if you know me at all, you know talking with people is my life-blood. This day filled me with a deep hope…a hope that goodness will always triumph, that ordinary people can do and DO do extraordinary things, that my little family is known to God, and that while my garden of vegetables is hopelessly flawed, my garden of friends is overflowing with a most bounteous harvest.

At the end of the day, I laid in bed and sobbed. Deep, convulsing sobs. I poured out my heart to God in gratitude for this great kindness. Then I wrote a thank you letter to my friends…and many of them blessed me again by writing back.

To my Dear, Dear Friends,

Oh my goodness, our hearts are full of gratitude at the enormous outpouring of love and service you have blessed us with. As I have sat in my living room in the early morning hours these past few days, I have been overcome with feelings of deep, deep joy – joy in the work that has been done to take care of our home, joy in the relief this has given my dear overworked husband, joy, most of all, in our relationships with so many wonderful families. Thank you for teaching us the power of community. Thank you for showing us the impact a group of people committed to doing good can have. Thank you for taking us into your hearts and truly loving our little family.

To EVERY SINGLE person who came and helped and to those of you who sent your love, but were unable to attend, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There are not sufficient words to express the feelings of my heart. Please know that you did far more than clean and fix a home. You helped repair a broken soul and infuse our entire family with hope.

To Kat and Jess – thank you for helping me get through the day. I couldn’t have done it without you. Truly. I needed to look in your eyes and see that I was safe…over and over and over.

To the Lamoreaux Family – Thank you for being willing to pray for our family and listen to the answers God sent you about what we needed. Thank you for insisting this project go forward even when I threw a fit and vetoed it. Thank you for having hearts full of joyful service.

Thank you for Being The Good In The World – you have taught me, once again, to Believe There is Good in the World…so much!

And as if their service wasn’t enough, they filled up my soul with love notes!

Tracy,

We want to say thank you so much for letting us come. You have touched all of our lives in such a deep way. Without you there would not be such a strong community willing to join together to do such amazing service.

I know it was probably so hard to let us come. In fact, when I got home that night and saw the whirlwind that we had left our own home in that morning, I thought “I would DIE if everyone came here!”. But I want to honestly say that I was impressed with your home considering the amazingly difficult health challenges you have had for so long.

Sure, there were some cleaning and repairs that needed to be done, but nothing out of the ordinary needs of a home. I straightened books on bookshelves and admired the great literature you have in your home. I picked up toys and my heart warmed as I observed the wholesome games and toys that you have thoughtfully chosen for your children’s development. We sorted through dress ups and I thought of the times I’ve come to your home and seen your children dressed up and enjoying their imaginative play. I vacuumed up some popcorn and thought of the times I’ve been with you enjoying popcorn and lots of laughter and happiness. I thought of how much time Courtney has spent with Keziah in your home and all the crazy fun memories they have. I remembered passover dinners, and classes and other great times you’ve orchestrated. And even without all the huge projects going on, you have a way of loving those around you, finding what their talents and strengths are, and lifting all of us.

We love you and appreciate the day we got to spend serving your family!
Tasha

Today was amazing! None of it would have happened if you hadn’t spent the last 16-ish years building an amazing community of wholehearted compassionate powerful people. I am eternally grateful to be part of this community and to call you Friend. Bob-Tasha Lamoreaux thank you for organizing this! I keep spontaneously bursting into tears. My heart is so full.

Kat

We love, love, love you and your family Tracy! Thank you for impacting our lives and the lives of our children…and for allowing us to give back a little to you.

Keri

You are so sweet. It was our pleasure. Could not think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Honestly! You’re such an amazing family.

Dustin

An amazing group of people that all love you, Tracy because you make a difference in the lives of others. What a great way to give back. You guys are all awesome! Wish I could have helped out too because you have made a difference in my life as well as my children’s lives.

Michelle

Thanks for being so Christlike to us! Thanks for setting the example you do, and for allowing us to try to return a little of your service! You and your hubby deserve this and so much more! We love you! So many people love you!!!

Bonnie

I cried reading about all of the good that has been returned to you this last week. I cried because I couldn’t be there personally (but I sent Madison and Alex). How I wanted to be there to DO something in return for all that your family has done for us. I love the comments that Tasha made and I feel the EXACT same way. All the deep joy you felt is because in a way, you do so much for everyone else. You are just getting what you deserve: JOY in boundless amounts :) I am so glad that Richard was able to get some extra hands to help fix up your home because I know he works so hard for your family. What a blessing to have so many that love all of you and put their love to work. That is true wealth, the love of family and friends.

I love you, and thank you for all the times you spent driving my Madison with you to the traditional Conference trips, etc. You are a light and an example to me and my family that only gets brighter.

Jana

It has now been several weeks since this day of love and the feeling of being wrapped up in God’s arms is still with me. I am in the midst of trying to heal a pretty bad injury to my inguinal ligament and feel pretty discouraged by the condition of my physical body, but the light that filled my soul on this day of awesomeness has stayed with me and raised my spirits more than I can adequately describe.

p.s. That post title? Yes, it is from Wicked…because I knew you (all of the YOUS), I have been changed for good. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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the blue book

Oct 21, 2013 by

Yesterday I spent some time reading my Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book that my mama gave me for my 35th birthday…boy, that seems like a lifetime ago…and I found a lot of comfort in this thought.

Life is a school in which we enrolled not only voluntarily but rejoicingly; and if the school’s Headmaster employs a curriculum – proven, again and again on other planets, to bring happiness to participants – and if we agreed that once we were enrolled there would be no withdrawals, and also to undergo examinations that would truly test our ability and perceptivity, what would an experienced Headmaster do if, later on, there were complaints? Especially if, in His seeming absense, many of the school children tore up their guiding notebooks and demanded that He stop the examinations since these produced some pain?

Pretty profound, eh? I know God is a wise Headmaster. My current examination is definitely one in which I have wanted to rip up the blue book and storm out of the test. But I am grateful I am here in the middle of this experience. I am grateful to be learning these lessons. My only prayer at this point is “Father, help me learn the lessons I need and thy desires for me. Help me use this experience to draw closer to thee, to learn how to listen to thee and obey thy counsels, and most of all, to become closer to the being thou created me to be.”

That is really the point of this life…to become…and if this body full of injury and pain will help me become, then bring it on!

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josh burton, a hero in every way

Jul 23, 2013 by

josh burton, a hero in every way

After the miracles of Sunday our hearts were full of joy. Yesterday we received more good news that Elder Burton had excellent color and was doing well, speaking to the hospital staff, being his funny self, and had kept the ability to feel and move his legs. Heather took off for Guatemala with joy in her heart that she would see Josh soon. So when my mama called me earlier and told me that Josh had passed away, I could not believe it. I questioned her and told her she must have read about Josh Burton, the race car driver, not my Josh Burton. But she was right and dear Josh has indeed died today after having several heart attacks.

I am heartbroken and full of tears. I can’t sleep. I am so, so sad for Heather and Allan and their other eight children. Their son Denny is on a mission in The Netherlands. Their son Christian is supposed to enter the MTC, tomorrow, July 24. Their whole family is a tight-knit ball of laughter, bravery, love, and dedication to truth, good government, and living one’s dreams. They inspire me on a continual basis.

Josh desired to change the world through his music. He composes his own piano pieces, practices them till they are just how he envisions, and then performs for anyone and everyone he meets. He knows the power that music can have on a person’s heart because it has opened his heart so much.

I remember hearing Josh speak to a room full of youth at a homeschool conference once. He had them in the palm of his hands. They responded to his message of reaching for your dreams, doing the hard work to get there, and treating others as children of God. I remember seeing him speak to each person who came up to him as though they were the most important person in the world. I remember his smile…his beautiful, beautiful smile full of zest for life and passion for soul-filling music. I remember…and I pray I will never forget how he laughed loudly, spoke boldly, and gave his whole heart to whatever he was doing. He is my kind of guy.

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All the Burton children…yes, Heather and Allan have nine beautiful children and now, one grandbaby, Peter, from their oldest son Rob and his wife Naomi.

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Rob and Naomi’s wedding

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Josh on the left as Gepetto in one of his many summer plays in Cardston.

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In Guatemala

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Singing his heart out, Josh-style, in Guatemala

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Teaching piano lessons to anyone willing to learn

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Heather made sure Josh had every supplement, vitamin, herb, first-aid tool, and medical apparatus he could possibly need while he was so far from home. Josh, in signature style, pokes fun at her care. Unfortunately, no amount of vitamins could protect Josh from the roll-over accident that took his life.

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My heart is with the Burton’s today and will be for some time. This family has taught me what a family can and should be. They have taught me the power of laughter, of treating people with dignity, of having courage to fight for laws, policies, and a culture of common sense and goodness, of living one’s dreams boldly, and of dedicating one’s life to family AND the betterment of the world. They are my heroes and I love them more each time I speak with them. Heather, please know you are being prayed for in our home and thousands of other homes across the world. Josh’s legacy will be treasured always and his impact on the world for good is not finished.

Josh

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