first day home

Mar 3, 2020 by

First day at home has been full of successes!

  • Showered! The shower chair Lisa sent us worked out perfectly and the hand-held shower sprayer was A+. He felt so good to get cleaned up!
  • Shaved. His whiskers were driving him batty. He was able to sit in the shower chair and shave and I just helped on the spots he missed.
  • Lots of sleep. Many people have told us to expect him to sleep 16-18 hours a day for the first few weeks. He can handle short conversations and visits, but then is exhausted and needs to sleep some more.
  • His first PT appointment with Jeremy went well. Jeremy ran some assessment tests for eye tracking and balance and even though Richard can walk slowly and carefully, he has a long way to go to be functional in the world. He scored a B- to a D on all the assessments. Jeremy gave us three different types of vestibular exercises to start with and we will do them multiple times a day for the next week and then reassess.
  • Finished his steroid prescription. (Not sure if this is good or bad? Part of me wishes he was on them longer to help with brain swelling and part of me is thrilled to not be putting any more in his body!)

And now for the not so great. His marginal mandibular nerve really took a nose dive today in terms of functioning. He is dripping water out the side of his mouth, can’t push his tongue out straight, and is looking pretty crooked. His eyes aren’t tracking together completely (his right eye lags behind) and his brain is pretty foggy.

Jeremy said all his nerve functions will get worse this week as the swelling increases with the drop in steroid use today. We are using Ease, Nerve, and licorice root along with Lumi light sessions and hoping these things are super effective at decreasing the inflammation. Jeremy also assessed the swelling around the vagus nerve and said it is significant. He also gave us a pep talk about having a long-range view and that the next 4 weeks are going to be VERY tough. He encouraged us to stay motivated for the long haul so that we keep doing the hard work of brain healing and nerve recovery for the next year. It was a good appointment AND sobering at the same time.

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first 24 hours of gratitude

Feb 28, 2020 by

It is 9:42 at night and my heart is so full of gratitude. This is not an exhaustive list, but I want to record some things to both focus on and remember.

  • We are out of the ICU! It is so much more lovely and quiet over here in Acute Care.
  • My mind has been full of this thought all day…If this had happened even a year ago and definitely two years ago, I would have been unable to take care of him. These long days would have done me in and I would have been having seizures and passing out. One year ago I took care of my mama in the hospital for a little over 24 hours and it was so hard on my body and I nearly passed out multiple times. This would have been impossible. Today I hit my head really hard on his food tray and it hurt, crazy hurt, but I didn’t pass out. I can’t even describe to you what a miracle it is for my body to be doing so fantastic that I can be on my feet all day long and take care of him. Thank you stem cells, thank you Plexus, thank you God. Soooo much thanks.
  • Richard’s facial nerve continues to function! WAHOO. Just one week ago, Dr. Couldwell said “Almost certainly you will have some degree of facial paralysis after surgery. Nearly everyone does. So that is not the question, the question is how severe the paralysis will be, how long will it last, and what can we do to help you function with it.” Miracles!!!
  • We are surrounded by love. So much love with people being here at the hospital with me, people sending encouraging messages, each of you reading my posts and cheering us on. Thank you. Every single message is a gift to our hearts.
  • Our children are doing well. Of course they are scared and at times, overwhelmed, but they are brave, resilient, hilarious, and full of love. I’m so proud of them and so grateful for them.
  • Our insurance company paid for a hotel for us – what a gift! It is right next to the hospital and is such a gift to be able to run over and get cleaned up. I didn’t think we would need it, but they knew better than me and booked it. I had never heard of travel benefits before we joined Mountain Health Co-op and didn’t really trust that they would do what they say (been burned so many times in the past by insurance companies), but they are far exceeding my expectations.
  • Most of all, at this moment, my heart is so full of love for Richard. He is lying here sleeping while I type this and hearing his gentle breathing sounds bring joy to my heart. He is alive! He is recovering! He can still kiss me. He is so patient and kind and good even when he is miserable. I am so head over heals in love with this man and so blessed by his love. Somehow, miraculously, he feels like he is the blessed one. Oh my heart, I love him and am so grateful he is going to leave this hospital sometime in the next week and come home to us. I’ve had so many terrible nightmares over the past month about him dying during surgery and while I knew it was unlikely, the dread of that possibility has been weighing heavily on my mind and I want to shriek with joy that he made it through.

Sitting here in the dark, savoring this joy and gratitude tonight is just what my soul needed. Thanks for listening.

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seven hour drive = priceless

Feb 28, 2020 by

Our kiddos decided to drive down and see their papa! So fun to let them see him for a few minutes! They got here tonight right after he was moved from Neuro Critical Care to Neuro Acute Care so they were allowed into his room, wahoo!! It is such a blessing to be out of the ICU. He made it out a day earlier than they were expecting and we are so grateful and hoping for some better sleep tonight.

Just missing Blythe and her family!
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shuffling for the win

Feb 28, 2020 by

Rough PT appointment this morning with a big drop in blood pressure and some puking (big thank you to Tami for being quick with the puke bin). But this afternoon he walked with little shuffling steps all the way down the hall and around the corner and down the next hall a little ways! So proud of him! They also had him sit up in a chair for a little while and start working on learning how to put his socks on. He has been able to get a little sleep and feels much better than he did this morning. His parents brought him a teddy bear reminiscent of the bear his grandma gave him when he was five and had eye surgery and my mom’s friend, Karen York, sent some delicious Crumbl cookies! He had a few bites of the lemon one and was in heaven! Thank you so much to all of you for caring about our journey and blessing us with your love.

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miserable night

Feb 28, 2020 by

After all the exultation of how well the surgery went, it’s been a rough night. He just said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been this miserable.” His back, which was sore for about a week before surgery is throbbing. He has a pretty massive headache. And all the wires and IVs (3 IVs right now including an arterial one that is really hurting his hand because of the weird position it has to be splinted in to keep it reading his blood pressure accurately) are making it really challenging to be comfortable. They left him to sleep around 11:30. Then came and got him at 12:33 for an MRI. Brought him back at 1:29. Then encouraged him to sleep, but have come in every 20 minutes to either draw blood, do neurological assessments, clean his catheter, give him antibiotics, or administer pain meds all night long. There has definitely been no sleep to be had for either one of us. I’m working on his back now as best as I can get to it with Deeper oil and my magical tuner (Rezzimax) and hoping to get him some relief.

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carl is gone

Feb 27, 2020 by

Carl is evicted!!!!!!!! Dr. Couldwell just came out and talked to us and let us know surgery went well and he was able to remove the entire tumor!!!!!!!!!! He is still in surgery and being closed up so I probably won’t get to see him for another 2 hours or so. I’ve been strong and pretty chipper all day, but after Dr. Couldwell talked to me, I broke down and cried and just let it all out for a brief moment. My heart is SOOOOOO full of gratitude for this beautiful outcome.

Oh my, before I was able to post this, Dr. Gurgel came out and told us surgery went as best as they could have hoped for and his facial nerve is 100% intact at this moment and is firing at the lowest level which is what they want to see!!!!! He’ll still be in surgery for about an hour and then recovery for 30+ minutes before we get to see him. Thank you for all of your love and prayers. They have meant so much to me and all of us.

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eviction time

Feb 27, 2020 by

It is time to get this eviction party in full swing! His temperature control has been wonky for about 6 weeks and is getting worse by the day. Last night his right cheek was freezing cold to the touch. His left cheek was warm. His belly was frigid. His legs were hot and sweaty. It changed all night through. During the day he has been really, really warm and then suddenly it will all change and he will be freezing. All night long, I kept thinking how grateful I am that Carl is leaving today, before Richard’s nerve and brain stem damage get worse.

We have done everything we can think of that would help Richard do well in surgery and recover afterwards. Here are some things we have been doing. 1. Daily pre-surgery guided meditation (SOOOOO GOOD!). 2. Dr. Christopher’s Ear & Nerve Formula. 3. Jiaogulan to prepare his brain. 4. Licorice root tincture and tea for brain swelling. 5. Immunity builders – Anti-plague, oils, vitamins, etc. 6. Plexus Ease to reduce inflammation. 7. Plexus Nerve to increase blood flow to the nerves. 8. Homeopathic Ignatia for grief. 9. Balance exercises. 10. Lots of walking. 11. Lots of prayer, priesthood blessings, and temple time.

We have an arsenal of stuff to help afterwards as well: near infrared lights (thanks Torrie!), Complete Tissue and Bone massage oil, lots more licorice root, lots more Ease and Nerve, vestibular therapy, work with Dr. Centers, mesenchymal cells, primitive reflex integration therapy, and of course, lots more prayer.

We are walking in with courage and hope and gratitude. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. We feel completely wrapped up in your love.

Now, EVICT CARL!

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expiration dates

Feb 22, 2020 by

Annesley holding some half-n-half: Mom, is this good? I can’t tell.

Me: What does it smell like? What does the date say?

Annesley: It says April 14, but I don’t know what year.

Me, dying laughing: We may not be totally up to snuff on our kitchen maintenance, but there is no way we would have half-n-half in our fridge if it expired last April!

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eight years

Feb 20, 2020 by

Today is the 8-year anniversary of my initial hip injury. For the first time, I don’t have a celebration planned. In past years, we have had dinner parties, breakfasts, walks, and bike rides, but I’m not up to it this year. I’m fighting some immense emotional battles and with the loss of our babies last week, I don’t really want to talk to anyone, much less celebrate with a party, but I am definitely still remembering that day. How could I forget the day that changed our lives forever?

I remember running around the greenbelt on the 17th and how good it felt. It was the first run I was able to successfully manage my breathing and actually enjoy instead of feeling like I was in some sort of torture machine of my own making. I remember the back handsprings I did that day in the gym, a whole string of them across the mat. I remember feeling like Keziah and I were going to have an epic year of training and participating in triathlons, laughing and growing and accomplishing hard things.

That all changed on our run on the 20th. A searing pain started in my hip joint that brought tears to my eyes. My steps became shorter and slower as I struggled to breathe through the pain. I was determined to finish my training schedule for that day and tried to limp-jog while physically pulling my leg forward with my hands. It did nothing for the pain and I slowed to a walk. Keziah told me I didn’t need to keep trying, she would run on her own and that I should go sit down. Refusing to give in, I kept trying to continue, but finally the pain was so great, it was all I could do to hobble over to our Suburban. With tears frozen to my cheeks and pain coursing through my body, I tried to talk myself out of thinking something was really wrong.

But something was really wrong. It took us weeks to find out that I had torn my labrum in my right hip socket. That injury started a cascade of many other injuries and damage to my nervous system. For about six years, I lived in a variety of braces, splints, and wheelchairs. The nervous system damage progressed to sympathetic nervous system responses which look and feel like seizures, but are not brain-mediated. In 2015, after months of my nervous system shutting down more and more and being unable to digest food, I was given a miraculous gift of treatments with Dr. Calzada in Tijuana, Mexico. Since then, I have gone seventeen times and received stem cell treatments along with chelation, magnet therapy, radionics. These treatments saved my life. I don’t know if I would have actually died or not, but they have definitely given me back the functioning of my body. I can now walk and ride my special forward-crank bike and kayak and hike and drive and so much more that I never knew I would be able to do again.

And so today, my heart is grateful. So, so grateful for the many friends and family members who have taken care of me time and time again when I was unable to take care of myself during seizures or injuries. I’m so grateful for the nurturing our family has received, especially the love and support our children have been given as they had to adjust their lives to having a mama regularly pass out, shake uncontrollably in front of their eyes, and spend much of her time in bed. I’m so grateful for the life my friends have helped me to live by including me in their activities even when it wasn’t convenient to haul me around. I’m so grateful for the amazing treatments I have been blessed with that have strengthened my ligaments and calmed my nervous system.

I’m so grateful for Richard. He has taken care of me for the past eight years with so much patience and tenderness. Not a single time has he been frustrated with me for getting injured again or passing out or causing our family great inconvenience. He has willingly served and loved and filled me with hope and laughter again and again. He has sacrificed much, working 60-80 hours a week to provide for our family and then coming home exhausted and willing to keep working here to make up for all the things I couldn’t do. His heart and hands are always ready for one more conversation, one more act of service, one more challenging situation.

And now he needs us. In one short week he is having brain surgery to remove a vestibular schwannoma. We have no idea how surgery will turn out. It is quite possible he will never be able to work in his current profession again. Our lives are about to change dramatically. At times that feels absolutely overwhelming, but most of the time, we are filled with peace. We know we are in God’s tender hands. We know we are not alone. We know we have an army of people who love us. We know we have each other and that we can weather fierce storms together.

So we are sailing forward, with courage, hope, and faith, not in an outcome that everything will be okay, but in confidence that God is with us, that our covenants are eternal, and that somehow, someway, we will come out the other side.

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i never saw this coming

Feb 10, 2020 by

Oh my goodness, how to even start here again. I need to, because I want to remember these days forever and I want our children to have a record of this time of our lives. So much has happened since I last posted in May of 2019.

We had a glorious summer of adventure, camping and kayaking together as a family. I felt and functioned the best I have in nine years and we played as hard as we possibly could. Then September came and I completely fell apart emotionally. For seven weeks I barely functioned as I dealt with the death of our dear nephew, Kyler, mountains of survivor’s guilt, and deep personal pain.

In December we discovered we were miraculously pregnant. And on January 8, Richard was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The last four weeks have been a blur. We are surviving and holding on to faith and hope and love and each other. But the days roll on, one after another, and I can barely keep up. The first four weeks were busy, all day, every day, with phone calls and doctor’s appointments. The last few days, since his surgery to remove it has finally been scheduled, have been much needed balms for my soul. The fight for surgery with our preferred neurosurgery team and insurance to cover it was intense and now that that fight is over, I feel like I can finally breathe again.

This journey needs documented and I’m going to give it my best effort, which at this point my best is sorely lacking, but I am going to really try.

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the beginning of goodbyes

May 5, 2019 by

My mother’s oldest sister passed away today. She is the first one of the nine siblings to leave us. My heart is a jumble of emotions.

I am happy for her. Really truly happy for her to be out of pain and to be able to spend time with her son, Gary, who passed away as a little boy. I am tickled that she gets to be with her mama, my dear, dear grandma, and her father. We have a huge family of people that I know she is reuniting with and big hugs are being shared.

At the same time, there is something about her death I’m just not ready for. For a long time, our family has been a stable, steady force in my life. My aunts and uncles have always been there for me. Have always loved me. Have always listened. My childhood was surrounded by their tender care. We had frequent family gatherings at my grandparents’ home along with nearly constant interaction at our family business. If I ever needed to talk, one of them would listen.

Louise’s passing feels like the entering of a new era. One in which many people I care about are going to leave this sphere. One in which I will miss them fiercely. One in which I will have to figure out how to be a grown up, the grown up. I’m not ready for any of this. Which seems strange to me. I certainly would have thought that I would be fully into adulthood by now. But it just doesn’t feel like it. I am turning 45 on Tuesday and I still feel like a little kid in many ways.

Of my mother’s 38 first cousins, only two of them have passed away and those have both been recent deaths. This generation of relatives has been a force for good in my life and in the world my entire life. The thought of them leaving us takes my breath away. Literally. Gasping. I cannot imagine life here on earth without them.

And I really, really can’t imagine life without my mama. Taking care of her last month during her surgery was beautiful and emotionally gut-wrenching. The pain on her face brought me face to face with her mortality. She could die. She almost did die in the days following her surgery. And some day she will. And I don’t have any idea how I will live without this woman who has taught me how to live with courage and faith and forgiveness.

Several more of my aunts and uncles are in poor health and I don’t know how many more visits I will have with them. I am so not ready for any of this. I’ve never been good at goodbyes. Even temporary ones.

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annesley’s big heart

May 2, 2019 by

I’ve been sick this week with fever, chills, and a deep, painful cough. It has been miserable. I haven’t been able to read to my family.

But my delightful little girl came into bed with me and said, “Mom, you can’t read to us, so I’m going to read to you.” She proceeded to read me a Billy and Blaze book because she loves horses and Loud Emily because she knows it is one of my favorite read-alouds and she said she’d been working on the voices.

Be still, my heart.

This is the power of family-read alouds. She couldn’t bear to let me go to sleep without a story.

I’m so grateful for my Annesley-girl and the joy she spreads far and wide.

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egg roll in a bowl

Apr 25, 2019 by

I first made egg rolls in a bowl last year when Kat introduced the idea to me. Since then I have made them a few times in a few different ways, but haven’t really found my groove with it until tonight. Tonight we made it again and we all decided this version was the best yet. It comes from The Seasoned Mom and is a total winner.

    Egg Rolls in a Bowl

  • 2 lb. Ground Meat – we use Swaggerty’s Natural Sausage.
  • 2 C. Diced Onion
  • 2 TB. Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 TB. Rice Vinegar
  • Heaping TB. Minced Garlic – 4 tsp. if you want to be technical.
  • 2 tsp. Ginger Paste
  • 1/2 C. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 2 16 oz. Bags of Coleslaw Mix
  • 1 C. Shredded or Matchstick Carrots
  • 2 TB. Hoisin Sauce
  • 4 Sliced Green Onions
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Cook sausage or other ground meat. Drain. Return meat to skillet. Add onion, sesame oil, and rice vinegar to the skillet. Stir while cooking for a few minutes until onion is tender. Add garlic, ginger, Bragg’s, hoisin sauce, coleslaw mix, and carrots. Continue stirring while cooking for 5-7 minutes until cabbage is wilted. Remove from heat, stir in the green onions, and season with salt and pepper.

Oh my goodness, so yummy and super fast. I think we had it all done in 20-25 minutes. This one is going to become a staple.

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thankful thursdays 4/25

Apr 25, 2019 by

Glorious day! Banner day! Exactly what my soul needed type of day. The sun is shining, we had a wonderful day homeschooling, a visit with a friend, a one mile bike ride around the (empty) lake, and I made dinner, actually we all made dinner together. Me making dinner is not a consistent, regular occurrence at our home, but I really like it when I do. Days like this feed my soul. They remind me of why I do what I do in my mothering and why it is so important to me to be home with them soaking in the hours of my children’s fleeting childhoods.

  • I made it one whole mile on my Elliptigo around the lake on Monday and though my thighs were burning and I had to stop every quarter-mile to rest, I made it! Today I tried again and this time I made it a half-mile before I had to stop and rest. I’m so grateful to be able to start building muscles, for the equipment to do it, and for children that load all the stuff up and ride along with me very slowly so if I have fall off my bike or have a seizure, I won’t be alone.
  • Yesterday was our last day of iFamily for the year. While I was more than ready to be done teaching my three classes and all the prep work that they entail, my heart was chock-full of joy to see my Math Alive and GRIT students on fire about what we have been learning. My math students built AMAZING catapults for our catapult contest and my GRIT students have totally taken the growth mindset lessons to heart and made changes in their approach to life. Mentoring students feeds me. Seeing the impact my influence has in their lives electrifies my soul. The cherry on top is our amazing community. We have loved and served each other for so long that the result is a love beyond words.
  • Fisher has been giggling during math. Not that he enjoys it, but because it is his new coping mechanism. I’ll take giggling over grumpiness every day.
  • Our Keziah girl was given a huge blessing this week to have her track at college switched to Fall/Winter instead of Winter/Spring. This will enable her to get more credits in before next year and will allow her to come on more of our summer adventures. WAHOO!
  • Our oldest has been sick this week, which meant I had some precious hours with our grandson. This baby, oh my, he has my heart.
  • Laughter. Healing this knee and dealing with piles of big decisions, my mom’s recent surgery and subsequent blood clots, long days, full schedules, and very little down time over the past few months has about done me in. But laughter, dark chocolate, and read-alouds with our family have got me through the hard days weeks.

Now it’s time to play our new math games!

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thankful thursdays 3/28

Mar 28, 2019 by

After several days in a row of overcast skies, there is a bit of blue shining through this afternoon and something about blue skies lifts my spirits and helps me fill right up with gratitude.

  • Keziah is off on a babysitting job for five days so I get to take over her usual duties here, which means a lot of driving for me. There have been months (years, really!) where I have been unable to drive because of various injuries and it is SO wonderful to be able to do this for my family right now. My knee doesn’t enjoy it, but I CAN do it and that is quite magical.
  • Last night I won a painting from my favorite artist! Jenny Loughmiller of the Hundred Hearts Project is taking her family on a 500 mile journey on the Camino trail in Spain. As part of her project, she is selling 100 paintings over 100 days to earn money for their seven week adventure. Every day she posts one painting and the first person to comment “sold” gets the painting. I have tried and tried and tried to win the race, but I have missed out by seconds every single time. Last night, by some miracle, NOT A SINGLE PERSON had commented on the post by 36 mintues AFTER she had posted it. This just doesn’t happen. All the paintings have been sold within seconds of her posting. But last night, on her 88th painting, 36 minutes after the post went up, I commented and won! Isn’t it lovely?

  • My mama is ALIVE. She has had a rough few weeks with a hiatal hernia repair back on March 11 and then a few days after the surgery, her oxygen saturation was down to 70% and it was discovered she had formed blood clots that had passed through her heart and into her lungs. This is the second clotting episode she has had in the past two years and is also what her father died of when I was 18, so my heart has been all mama bear trying to protect her.
  • Red quinoa chips. Yummmm.
  • I get to speak at an event this weekend on Growing Grit and I am silly excited to share my message about strengthening families, building resilience, and finding courage. It is going to be AWESOME!
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is now on Amazon Prime and I decided it was high time Annesley learn all about this brave, inspiring woman. About once a week we snuggle up and watch an episode. I’m so grateful to be able to share this story with her! Dr. Quinn, Sully, and cuddling with my girl all at the same time? Yes, please!
  • Fisher is taking a fly-tying class right now and I am SO happy for him and grateful he has this opportunity. He has long been obsessed with bugs and now he gets to put his amazing observational skills to use and make fake bugs to catch fish. He has big smiles every time he talks about it and I love to see all the smiles I can on that boy of mine.

I’m so grateful to be alive at this time and to able to mother my children. The last six weeks since I went to Mexico for stem cell treatments have been really hard, incredibly busy, and full of heartaches and heaviness, but I feel myself pulling out of it and soaking in the small, ordinary moments of joy that come each day.

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sheva

Mar 27, 2019 by

Seven blessed years have passed since March 27, 2012 when Jessica’s father laid his hands upon my head and gave me a priesthood blessing in which God asked me to find my ancestors and do their temple work.

This day is beautifully sacred to me. I feel wrapped up in a warm blanket of my Father’s love and find myself smiling on the outside and rejoicing on the inside.

On the original March 27, I had no idea what lay in front of me. I could not imagine the pain and heartache and grief and seizures and injuries that were coming, nor could I envision the love, miracles, and mountains of JOY that would surround me. All I knew was I couldn’t walk and was in extreme pain. I wanted to be fixed. I wanted to be healed and I knew, just know, that I could and would be. My heart was open wide for a miracle.

And I got one.

Just not the one I wanted.

Instead my kind, wise, glorious Heavenly Father has poured out a miracle that is completely incomprehensible to me even still today. He asked me to find my ancestors and through that process my heart has healed in the most tender of ways. My capacity to love and sacrifice and obey has increased. My ancestors have walked this path of pain and injury with me – they have carried the pain, protected me from injury, and comforted me on dark, lonely nights when I was not sure I could continue to fight the battle that Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome has handed me.

On top of those miracles, He has provided a way for me to receive life-saving and life-giving stem cells. These cells have given me a chance to live a normal life. They have dramatically decreased my seizures and injuries and have given me hope for the future. Oh my goodness, tears of gratitude and joy just thinking about it.

Today I am basking in His peace. His love. His tender, personal care. He has kept His promises to me and I have kept mine to Him…a beautiful sheva.

On Saturday a group of friends and family will go to the temple with us to commemorate these past seven years by doing sealings for my ancestors. There are no words to express my gratitude for the privilege I have had to spend the last seven years falling in love with my ancestors and providing a way for them to make covenants with God and be sealed together as families. What a glorious journey!

p.s. Sheva is the number seven in Hebrew and it encompasses the ideas of promise, covenant, oath. One of our daughter’s middle names is Elisheva which means “my God keeps His promises.”

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thankful & blessed

Jan 31, 2019 by

Full heart today. I have made two kinds of delicious soup, cleaned my house, worked on our taxes, sent my kids to the temple, and spent sacred hours with my girl.

Blythe is in labor with our first grandchild. I have been preparing for this day for pretty much her whole life and now it is finally here. During our hard years of me not understanding her or her needs, I didn’t know if she would ever allow me to be at her births. And for me, a doula and childbirth educator who loves being with birthing mamas with my whole soul, that thought was deeply painful. Many mornings I would do a visualization technique where I would picture her in labor and envision our relationship at that future date. Then I would think about what I needed to do in the current time to have a future relationship that would allow me to be at her birth. It was one of the most powerful ways I was able to curb my harsh words and be the mama she needed me to be.

And now that day is here. Right now. And it is glorious.

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a bit of mourning and a whole lotta peace

Jan 19, 2019 by

This pic came up in my Facebook memories today.

It was taken January 18, 2012, a little over a month before the fateful injury to my hip. One month before the years of pain, injury, seizures, and exhaustion took over my life. There is SO much joy in this pic. At the time I didn’t super love this pic because all I could see was my crooked, yellow teeth. But now? Now I see her vibrant spirit and uncontainable excitement. I see the lack of pain on her face. I see exuberance. I see her and a small part of me wishes I could go back to that girl.

I posted some of my feelings about it on Facebook and received this response from my dear friend, Robin. She has known me since 1996 when Blythe was a wee babe and we have been through many adventures and soul-filling experiences together.

That girl IS great, but that girl hasn’t yet come to know how strong she truly is. That girl was strengthened and led to things, people, tools and gifts that were preparatory for the upcoming chapter of her life. That girl is incredible and trusting; faithful and positive beyond most people’s ability.

She prepared you for who you are now. She got you through those rough days, the unexplainable pain and never ending surprises that pushed you to your threshold. She helped you become the resilient, STRONG warrior woman you are! Love her. Thank her for helping you grow and become the woman you are today. NEVER doubt your abilities and contribution to others and the world at large.

I love you dearly, friend.

Tears. Sobs. Catharsis.

Robin knew just what to say to help me reach deep down inside and shift perspectives. It’s true. I need to thank that girl and thank this girl. This woman who has grown in faith, courage, gentleness, and wisdom is a wonderful person to be. She has more wrinkles. More depth. More weight. More.

And that is good. I’m grateful for both girls. And if giving up this girl is the price I have to pay to go to somehow go back in time and not get injured, not develop seizures, not have to endure the suffering, then it’s not worth it. The lessons I’ve learned are sacred. The person I’ve become is full of her own brand of beautiful.

Thanks Rob. I love you forever and always.

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thankful thursdays 1/17/19

Jan 17, 2019 by

This is the last week of our lovely winter break from iFamily and all its attendant responsibilities. I thoroughly enjoy our time with our homeschool group, but I also thoroughly enjoy the weeks between Thanksgiving and the end of January that we do not meet together and have more time to explore and create and let’s be honest, sleep. So, I’ve been savoring it. Reading books I don’t normally have time to read, letting Annes and Fish watch documentaries they have been wanting to watch, but haven’t had time for, and playing lots and lots of games. It has been delightful. It is time to really start getting ready for next week, but right now, I’m still in savoring mode.

  • We have finally found a dentist that will work with us on payments for Richard’s horribly rotten, broken tooth. He is getting it extracted and bone grafts put in on Tuesday. Then we will have to work hard to come up with the money for an implant over the next few months. I’m so hoping the smell of death that has been pouring out of him for two months will be gone and I will be able to sit near him…and kiss him again. And of course, I hope he feels better as well. That is the top priority.
  • I’m thankful for children who love to play games together. As I lie in bed and snuggle with a good book, they are laughing as they play another game together. It is more than music for my ears, it is balm for my soul. Sometimes I join them, sometimes I just listen to them play.
  • I’m so grateful for this talk, Teach Them to Understand by David A. Bednar. I have read and reread it this week in preparation for a discussion I am leading on it tonight and oh, my goodness, I love his message!
  • Keziah’s blinkers on our 20+ year old Subaru haven’t been working for weeks and despite Richard’s best efforts, he has been unable to figure out why. She has almost been hit multiple times because she is unable to signal. Combine that with icy roads and I have been pretty scared for her. All of a sudden they have started working again. We have no idea how or why, but we are sure grateful.
  • We are reading a hilarious book for family read-aloud and it is absolutely wonderful for me to hear my family laughing together. My children are growing up and I never know when a book will be our last read-aloud so I am savoring each one. If you want to a super fun read-aloud, check out Wilderking Trilogy. Book 1, Book 2, Book 3.
  • I have been asked to speak at The Winter Homeschool Conference. I was supposed to speak back in 2015, but I was having so many seizures, couldn’t digest food, and could not stand up for more than a few minutes at a time, so I can cancelled. This year, I am finally able to participate again! WOOT! I’ll be part of a panel discussion on formation of a homeschool group. I am pretty passionate about iFamily’s structure and am excited to share what we have done so that more people can benefit from it.
  • I’ve also been asked to speak at our local homeschool conference in February. My mind has been swirling with ideas of what to share for a few months and I’m finally solid on what the message is that God wants me to share. It is going to be fantabulous!

Life is good. It is full and beautiful and hard and transformative and I’m so, so grateful to be living this life of mine.

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thankful thursdays 1/10/19

Jan 10, 2019 by

As I look out the windows at the snow-laden trees, my heart is somehow calmed. It’s kind of the feeling of being under a thick, warm quilt of my grandma’s, cozy and heavy and safe. This morning someone got stuck in our driveway and I was able to pull them out with our Suburban. My heart welled up with gratitude that one, I was able to pull on some snow boots and walk outside and help someone and two, that I had a big, tough Suburban that could do the job. We haven’t always had reliable vehicles, in fact, many times we do not, but right now, on this very snowy morning, my 15 year old Suburban was able to help someone and that my friends is a cause for celebration.

I have been weighed down by a wide variety of stresses lately and at the same time have been filled with so many tender mercies. It is a strange place to be living in both worlds. Today I’m going to focus on the blessings.

  • Our Blythe is 36 weeks pregnant and after some worrisome test results last week, she is doing much, much better today. I can’t even tell you how concerned I have been for my girl and our little grandbaby. It has been a rough week and today I am savoring good test results and soaking in the peace.
  • I started driving this week after months of not. I have only driven twice, but just knowing I can is SO freeing. I often feel like a prisoner in my house when I am dependent on other people to take me where I want to go.
  • I have been having a hard time breathing lately. It seems my vagus nerve is struggling to communicate well with my digestive system and my respiratory system and the result is gagging, choking, aspirating episodes that scare all of us a bit. I have to be very careful to swallow in just the right way and to not laugh at all while I am eating. Last night I had quite a few of these episodes and while I’m not grateful for them, I’m grateful Richard was able to leap out of bed multiple times to help me and that I was able to eventually fall asleep with enough oxygen running through me.
  • Miss Annesley was able to attend the temple for the first time last Friday. My whole soul filled up with joy to see her bright, smiling face as she was baptized for our ancestors. All of my children were in the temple at that same time that night, Blythe and Travis in one temple and the rest of us in another. So much peace.
  • Today Annes and I started reading Anne of Avonlea together. I love reading to my girl and am so grateful she loves it too. Snuggling up under her quilt and reading will always be one of my favorite mothering memories.
  • This is a hard, tender week for me. Six years ago, on January 8th, 2013, I had my first seizure. I’m so, so grateful for the people who helped me that first day and through all the seizures since. While they are much less frequent now that I have been blessed with human mesenchymal cells, they still happen and I still need help. Knowing I have dear friends who have walked this path with me and who continue to stand by my side and carry me literally and figuratively is a blessing without measure. Thank you, each of you, who have carried me.
  • Richard got an eensy, weensy raise this week. It’s his first one in many years. I’m so grateful for the possible extra hundred bucks a month.
  • Keziah started at BYUI this week. I’m proud of her for having the courage to step into an unknown world and try new things. I’m so grateful she has been blessed with amazing jobs and has the funds she needs for her education and other dreams.

We are throwing a onesie painting party for Blythe this weekend and have a houseful of guests coming tomorrow and Saturday, so it is time to clean and get everything ready. So grateful I can do this for my girl.

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thankful thursdays 11/15/18

Nov 15, 2018 by

Today I’m thankful for love. My heart is hurting for lots of reasons right now. My little six-year-old nephew is in an immense amount of pain and is most likely dying. His family is exhausted from caring for him and trying to find answers and all of us are heartbroken they have to walk this road. Many of my dear friends are facing big challenges in their lives and there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to help. My son is struggling with figuring out who he is, what his strengths are, how to conquer his weaknesses, and how to become a good man. My siblings are hurting with the recent divorce of their parents. It is all heavy and hard and I’m about cried out. At least I think I must be. And then more tears come.

But in all of this, there is love. One of my favorite books is When We Don’t See Eye to Eye by J. David Pulsipher. He says,

Most of us share a common handicap – our greatest resources, weapons of love, remain either sheathed or only timidly employed. This is unfortunate because the weapons of love aren’t wimpy. They don’t involve surrender to aggression or disengagement from conflict. Love resists. Love engages. But it resists and engages according to a different dynamic because love is the greatest force i the universe. Really. It’s stronger than hate or greed or fear or malice. Most of us have glimpsed its emotional and spiritual potential, but at its most vibrant and divine, love is also material and forceful. It is a physical force – perhaps even a primary force that organizes and binds the cosmos – and a growing body of scientific research is cataloging its characteristics and effects. Similar to light and sound, love reverberates in tangible, measurable ways. it has physical effects on our bodies and our relationships, and its influence can be traced through our homes, our communities, and our world.

I’m so grateful for love. The love that has been shown me on a has made all the difference in my life and has carried me through gut-wrenching challenges. I’m trying to unsheath my weapons of love in the lives of those around me so I can help carry them right now when they are hurting so deeply.

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thankful thursdays 11/8/18

Nov 8, 2018 by

I taught a lesson this week at my GRIT class on being grateful. I read my students The Quiltmaker’s Gift and then we played Gratitude Pictionary. I hope the power of gratitude really got into their souls. It has made all the difference in my life. In my bullet journal, I tak time almost every night to jot down the tender mercies of the Lord, the things I am grateful for that day. It changes my heart that day by helping me remember the goodness and over the course of the year, I am able to flip through it and quickly see piles of blessings in my life. Gratitude is one of the most important things for my sanity.

  • DRUM ROLL! Today we got a new couch! I’ve been saving up pennies for a looooonnnnnggggg time to get new furniture and today was the day. It is so exiting! We now have more seating for our expanding family and I can seat 14 people comfortably at my monthly book discussion groups. WAHOOOOOO!!! I’m incredibly grateful for the blessing of this couch and I’m already savoring the many memories we are going to make as we snuggle up together and read delightful stories. First read-aloud on our new piece of heaven will be happening tonight!
  • I like to help my children start their own businesses and Annesley has decided she’d like to try her hand at a sourdough bread baking business. Today was her first day making bread. We had a lot of mishaps. Dough flying out of the mixer, running out of accessible wheat when we needed a bit more flour to get the dough to the not-sticky stage, having an oven full of burnt stuff that made our house stink when we turned it on to preheat. There was a bit of frustration and a few tears, but she stuck with it. I’m so grateful to be able to teach my daughter how to make bread. Sharing these moments with her in the kitchen is magical…and messy…and oh, so worth it.
  • Strong kiddos. My kiddos have some serious muscles. I’m grateful they have them since they are incredibly important with our Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Aside from that, they can lift and move all the heavy things in our house. They are lifesavers!
  • I’m currently reading The Book of Mormon in about 85 days and marking all the verses that talk about Christ. It is not easy for me to develop an every day routine, but I am trying hard to make this a priority in my mornings and I am really loving my time alone in the scriptures. The peace and calm it gives my day is a beautiful thing.
  • My husband warms up my middle section of the bed every night. He lies in my spot and gets it all toasty for me and then when I come into bed he moves over onto his side and the sheets which are freezing cold. So, so thoughtful and something I take for granted all too often.
  • My boy is sometimes grumpy. But sometimes he is super sweet. Last week he earned a candy bar in one of his classes and he saved it all day long to give to me because he knew I would love it. It may have been a small thing, but it gave me enormous piles of hope for our relationship.

I know I won’t, but I always want to remember this moment. My girl is in the kitchen in her fleece zebra sweats and Irish Dance leotard taking her bread out of the oven for the first time. Priceless.

p.s. It’s delicious.

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circle vs. mountain

Nov 7, 2018 by

Life is such a beautiful mess. Seriously, every single day is a mix of peace and gratitude and frustration and pain and wonder and laughter. Every day. My friend, Lawson, wrote an analogy this week about life being a circle instead of the mountain climb we so often picture it as. He is serving a mission for our church right now and his thoughts have helped this week to face the sameness with more hope and determination. He said,

I realized a mission isn’t like this mountain, where it climbs and climbs and then there’s the top, and it’s over. It’s like a circle. You do the same things day in and day out. You teach the same lessons, say the same things, and promise the same blessings. You plead for the same charity, you experience the same heart wrenching disappointment, and you feel the same exhaustion. And most of all, you feel the same love, day in and day out. Every night going before God and telling him of all the things you did wrong that day, all the times you weren’t the best missionary possible. And you know and feel those failures, yet you feel the guilt and shame and regret washed away. You quite literally feel the power of Christ’s atonement, every single night. And that gives you strength to get up the next morning and tell people they can have the same thing! that they can feel the same peace, know the same love, and receive the same strength. It really is a message of joy, and good tidings. And it’s the greatest, scariest, most stressful, most joyful thing in the world to be entrusted with delivering that message.

I feel like every day I face the same frustrations and experience the same beautiful moments. And sometimes I just want it to be done. My spontaneous soul is ready for something different. Something far more interesting and exiting than the sameness. Or even something just different. I don’t want to do the sameness anymore. I want to reach the top of my mountain and be done. Be done with the laundry and meals and bills and sadness and upset children and math lessons and teaching classes and answering emails and dislocating joints and pain and tiredness. Just be done. I think, “surely I have climbed this mountain long enough. Surely there is something else, anything else.”

Somehow Lawson’s words touched my heart helped me remember that in the sameness, I am growing. I am making a difference. I am becoming who God created me to be. There is power in this sameness.

So, I will keep washing those clothes and making those grocery lists and teaching these precious souls God has entrusted to me and dealing with the pain and learning to love better and more fully.

Becoming me.

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thankful thursdays 10/25

Oct 25, 2018 by

Today I’m breathing in the sunshine and the richness of my life. I’m trying to let it permeate every cell of my body. This afternoon we went to the lake to play with friends and it was so, so lovely to get out and breathe in the crisp fall air. I haven’t been outside nearly as much as I would like to be this fall and my soul is suffering for it. After a summer spent on the water and on my bike, I’m feeling all sorts of cooped up and need to make sure I get outside at least once a day. Truth be told there are many days I don’t leave my family room at all and that is not working for me.

So today Annes and I went and played for a few hours and drank in the goodness. And my heart is filled up with gratitude.

  • I’m thankful for parsley-pineapple smoothies. It’s like sunshine and happiness in a glass. I love it.
  • Good friends who travel this journey of motherhood and homeschooling with me.
  • Right now not a single joint in my body is braced or taped and that is an amazing feeling. I’m trying to get in a good exercise routine to build muscles during this time of no-massive-injuries.
  • Prayer. Opening my heart and mind to God is sooooo good for me. And not super easy for my mind that jumps all over the place. This week I had a small impression to pray for something specific for our dear Dallin who is serving a mission for our church and later found out it was something he was struggling with – experiences like this remind me that Heavenly Father is walking with each of His children.
  • Laughter. Tonight I could not stop laughing during our family prayer. And then we were all laughing and full of love for each other. And then I peed all over the kitchen floor and we laughed some more. Oh, it so good for my soul to laugh with my family.
  • Today I’m focused on gratitude for my mama. Some dear friends lost their mama this past week and she is the same age as my mom. As I have prayed for them, I have felt their heartache and pain and grief. I’m grateful for who my mom is and the relationship we have. We talk multiple times every day. We laugh and cry together. We help each other. We forgive each other. We love. It’s a beautiful thing.
  • Today I was doing family history work and I found my 3rd and 4th Great-Grandmothers! I have been looking for my 2nd Great-Grandma’s parents and family for the past 6 1/2 years and today I found them! I cannot even tell you how excited I am and how grateful I am that God asked me to do this work for my family.
  • When I was a teen and didn’t have a date on Friday nights, a group of us girls would get together and watch Man From Snowy River and Return to Snowy River. Annesley found one of the DVDs at grandma’s last week and brought it home and has been begging to watch it so the last few days we have been working our way through the two movies. We finished tonight. Ahhhh, sooooo good to share Jim Craig and his rock-solid character with my girl.
  • Taking time to soak in the goodness of my life is just what I needed today. Life is good. Really good.

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25 years

Oct 15, 2018 by

Twenty-five years ago this morning I knelt down at an altar in the Salt Lake Temple and made sacred covenants with God and Richard which enable us to be sealed together as husband and wife forever. This weekend, Richard and I went back to that temple and did endowments and sealing work for my ancestors and it was glorious to walk the same halls and do the same ordinances with twenty-five years of love between us.

Oh my, this man. He fills my soul up with joy in indescribable ways. He sees me as a kind, dedicated, passion-driven woman and so, he helps me become that person. He sees me as trying my best. He firmly believes I am fantastic and adorable and capable and delightful. And because he believes it so thoroughly, he helps it become a reality. Oh, his goodness and gentleness and stableness are such balms for my windswept soul.

This weekend we took one of our very few couple trips – we definitely need to do more! I think this may have been our 2nd trip alone? We went away for a night on his 40th birthday and maybe there was one other trip at some point, but I can’t remember for sure. We were able to snag a Priceline deal for $79 and the man at the front desk was soooo nice – when he found out it was our 25th anniversary, he upgraded us to a fancier king-size room and gave us free parking. WAHOO! It was simply amazing to be alone with my sweetheart and not feel the pressure to make food, do laundry, teach math or history or problem solving or ANYTHING, or to even make any of the five gazillion decisions a mother makes every single day. Truth be told, I realized just how tired I am and how much the duties of motherhood weigh on me. And it felt glorious to let it all go for a few days.

We stopped at one of our favorite restaurants from the early days of our marriage. When Blythe was a baby, we would often go to Senior Iguanas for a $10 meal before we did our weekly grocery shopping. We had Starving Student cards with Buy 1/Get 1 free meals. Richard always got the two foot burrito and I always ordered the chicken and cream cheese enchiladas. With tax and tip, it came out to right around ten bucks. It was such a fantastic deal and we always had leftovers for the next day so we went there pretty much every week. It seemed only fitting to go there again after so many years and get our favorite dishes, though Richard went for the one foot burrito instead of the two and we still had leftovers for Saturday.

On Saturday we went to the temple. Oh my, it was soooo wonderful. We had the same sealer who did Blythe’s sealing in April and he is so fantastic. What a treat to be with him again! Then we drove up the canyon to go hiking. But we took the wrong road and almost ran out of gas. I guess 68 miles of gas goes pretty fast when you are climbing a mountain – we went through it in about 15 miles. We turned around at the 4 mile gas range mark and coasted down the mountain and to a gas station. Then we took the right road and 9 miles later arrived at our destination. What we didn’t plan on was the snow. We had climbed in elevation so much that there was quite a bit of snow on the ground and we were in shorts and Chacos. We did have jackets, so we bundled up and went as far as we could before we decided to be wise and pay attention to the snow and the wind and the setting sun. It was a glorious mile of walking through the woods.

Being outside surrounded by trees and rugged cliffs does something magical for my soul. It gives me strength and courage and hope. And that is just what happened. As we walked hand in hand up the mountain, I realized that trek is a lot like our life together. It has been steep and left me out of breath. It has been full of joyous moments and harsh realities and miles of beauty. We have helped each other over the tough parts and picked each other up when we have stumbled. We have taken lots of wrong turns. We have loved each other first and best and always and learned to love each other better.

That night we went to three different restaurants and shared an appetizer, salad, or dessert at each one. So fun! Sunday morning we attended the most loving, exuberantly joy-filled ward I have ever been in and soaked in the goodness and realness of the people who were gathered together from all over the world. Then home to our children with a renewed purpose to make our home a safe and soul-filling place to grow up.

He melted my heart on our trip. I asked him what he would change about the last twenty-five years and after thinking about it for a moment, he said, “Nothing. I wouldn’t change a thing. The lessons we have learned are worth it.” I pressed him with ideas of changing our financial situation or to change me into a wife that makes dinner every day and keeps a spotlessly clean house, but he insisted he would keep things just as they have been because our experiences have made us who we are and he wouldn’t want to change what he has learned and become. After a lot more thought, he said, “I guess if I could change one thing, I would fix your body so you wouldn’t have had to go through all the EDS challenges.” And I thought about it and decided I wouldn’t change the EDS. I would be thrilled to be healed right now, but I wouldn’t take away the past 6+ years of injury and pain and heartache. I have learned to trust God and to rely on Him in sacred ways and I wouldn’t want to lose that. I have also learned of the deep goodness in this world and the rock-solid stability of my husband. Those lessons are too precious to wish away to get rid of the hardness of these EDS years.

These twenty-five years have been such a beautiful gift. I didn’t know if we would make it this far. Deep down in my soul I felt this was forever, but the stark realities of my life showed me that marriages don’t last and certainly don’t function in happiness. I love him more now than I did on that long ago day. I’m so grateful for the real, tangible, connected happiness we have been blessed with and the foundations of trust, forgiveness, support, and faith we have built upon.

Our marriage brings me joy. So much joy. Oh, how I love him and us and what we have created. Here is to the next 25. And the 25 after that. And then infinity and beyond!

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thankful thursdays 9/13

Sep 13, 2018 by

I have been saying for 3+ years, “I really want to start regularly blogging again.” But I haven’t done it. I haven’t figured out how to add this practice back in to my life after letting it go and filling that space with other things.

And that makes me sad. There have been countless experiences, insights, and adventures I wish I had blogged about. There are things I have needed to process through writing. There are lives I have needed to touch with my words.

Speaking of lives being touched, check out The Hundred Hearts Project. I will do a whole post on it soon (promise, promise, promise), but for now I will say that the experiences I have had in the past few weeks with Jenny Loughmiller and her amazing project are why I am super determined to start sharing in this space again.

Eons ago, I regularly wrote a Thankful Thursdays post. In an effort to start blogging again, I thought I would start back with something I know. So here goes, the first of many to come!

  • I’m thankful for working hands. For two long years, I could not use my hands very well at all. I couldn’t write or type or mouse. I have been out of my splints for about a year now and they are regaining their functions. I still can’t type for a super long time and I have to hold my pen a bit skeewampus, but I can write without pain!
  • My children’s growth is making my heart burst with joy right now. They are learning and progressing and making decisions to do hard things. Ahhhh, the harvest is sweet.
  • I have kayaked all summer long and my soul has been fed by the water, the paddling, and the connections with friends. Oh my goodness, I love kayaking. I’ve done the Snake six times this year and each time it has worked its magic and given me nourishment. We’ve also done the Teton, Wade Lake, Buffalo, Green River Lakes, and Henry’s Fork. A day on the water helps me see more clearly and gives me strength to go forth.
  • After 13 years of being unable to sit on an upright bike, my hip has healed enough that with the right bike geometry and a comfort seat, I can do it! I bought a bike in February to celebrate the six year journey with injuries and seizures and have been riding it ever since. HALLELUJAH! Some day, somehow, I’m determined to get back on my beloved recumbent again, but for now, I am soooooo loving riding my Felt Verza Cruz with my family.
  • I’m so grateful for time in my Levitat. My life is full to the brim with wonderfulness and a good afternoon relaxation session in my hammock is the perfect gift to help me stay centered. I look up through my trees to the blue sky beyond and drink in nature for a few minutes. And sometimes I take a nap. That is always good too!
  • Stem cells!!!! They are amazing and are healing my body in countless ways. Such a gift! I travel to Mexico next week for my next round of cells and am so excited to see the progress they give me.
  • Life, oh, how grateful I am to be alive and living and experiencing and learning and loving and making mistakes and crying and facing challenges and soaking in goodness. What a blessing it is to be alive and be able to connect with other souls! What a blessing to love and be loved. What a blessing to suffer and triumph and laugh and learn. I’m so very grateful for this opportunity to be here, right now, and be able to LIVE.

It’s time to focus on learning time with my kiddos, so I’ll stop for now. But I’m coming back. I’m showing up here at Wet Oatmeal Kisses. I’m ready to make this a priority in my life again. Thank you for joining me.

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sweet & sour chicken

Jun 14, 2018 by

I used to make this meal all the time. Then when I was injured in 2012 and stopped cooking on an even less regular basis than I usually do, it was forgotten. But it was one of Blythe’s favorite meals and today I was thinking about her all grown up and decided to make it and see if my other kiddos liked it as well.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

  • 3-4 TB. oil (I use coconut)
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 C. pineapple tidbits with juice drained off and saved for later
  • 2 C. chicken broth
  • 4 TB. Bragg’s Amino Acids
  • 6 TB. vinegar
  • 1/2 C. honey
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 TB. cornstarch
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 2 C. cooked chicken, diced or shredded
  • 6-8 C. brown rice

Cook rice. Drain pineapple and save juice. In large skillet saute green pepper, green onion, and pineapple in hot oil for 3-4 minutes. Add pineapple juice, broth, Bragg’s, honey, and salt. Stir cornstarch into water, then add to pan. Cook and stir gently until thickened. Add chicken and heat through. Serve over hot rice. Serves 12.

I hope you like it! I think I’ll make another batch up and put it in the freezer to take on our next camping trip.

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goodness, i’m exhausted

Apr 2, 2018 by

I’ve been on a pretty insane schedule even for someone with a full pocket of spoons…and we all know my spoon level is not ideal. I am tired. More than tired.

And it isn’t going to get better for another month. In the past month, I have had four trips, with another one this week. Fisher is in a Shakespeare play at the end of the month and his rehearsals are on the increase. On top of that, I have been dealing with another blasted knee injury, a head injury, a rib dislocation, and quite a few passing out episodes. Somehow, in between the trips, injuries, and daily life, I’m working on my daughter’s wedding which is less than three weeks from today.

I still haven’t found a dress to wear to the wedding (oh, the tears and body shaming I’ve been trying to fight), nor finalized the bridesmaid’s dresses, bought the food for the wedding, got the sign-in book, or figured out a zillion other details. The truth is, I have no idea what I am doing. I have an amazing group of friends who are saving me from complete failure, but it is really challenging for me to show up, day after day, in the wedding planning work. I just want to go to bed.

So today I did. After a morning of homeschooling and a bit of family history work, I took a long bath, read a soul-soothing book, and then fell asleep for several hours. It was just what I needed.

I think I need about fifty more long soaks and longer naps. I plan to sleep from May 11 – June 3. Surely that will work?

If I can just make it to May 11, then I can rest. In the meantime, I’m going to need as many naps as I can get.

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this day will always be sacred to me

Mar 27, 2018 by

On March 27, 2012, my dear Jessica’s father laid his hands on my head and gave me a priesthood blessing. It was not the blessing I expected or desired. It was far more powerful than any blessing I had ever received in my life. It felt HUGE and full of peace and goodness and His power all at the same time.

God asked me to find my ancestors and to do their temple work for them. I have been dedicated to this work since then (though it took me two weeks to get started). This is big. Really big. I don’t usually stick with anything for very long at all. The fact that I have spent thousands of hours, enlisted hundreds of people in my temple army, and stuck with it week after week shows what a powerful message God gave to me that day. It was a message with staying power, a message that changed me in a way I cannot describe.

I am so, so grateful for that blessing, for that invitation from my Father to find my father’s family and allow them to experience the joy of building a relationship with Jesus Christ founded in temple ordinances.

This past Friday, we had a group of 22 dear friends meet in the temple to do 106 sealings to commemorate the 6th anniversary of my priesthood blessing. It was sacred and joy-filled and glorious.

God knew the healing I needed was far more than the physical blessing I was seeking that day. He knew my soul needed the buttressing of my ancestors to make it through the physical and emotional challenges of the past six years. He knew I needed their love and protection and joy. He knew I needed more of Him and His son. Through family history work, He has blessed me with all of these things. God is good and He is in the details of our lives. Hallelujah forever and always to the God I love.

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losing patience and finding love

Mar 8, 2018 by

My boy has been grumpy. Grumpy isn’t even the right word for it as it is SO FAR beyond grumpy. Full of mountains of rage? Obstinate beyond all conception? Having never raised a teenage boy before, I really have no idea what is normal. I have wondered if this is some crazy, anger-filled period that all boys go through (and if so, how on earth have generations of mothers survived it?) or if something is going on inside of him that is outside the bounds of normal.

Today is the umpteenth day of the grumps and I almost lost my cool completely and screamed at him for his refusal to do his math and his angry words and dagger eyes. But I didn’t. I calmly explained his lesson to him again and again and again. When he still refused to even try, I told him he could choose to do housework or math. After folding laundry and doing dishes, he finally lashed out at me.

“How many other kids have to have a mom who can’t ride bikes with them? How many other kids have a mom who can’t really do anything with them?”

Oh my. Big feelings right there.

I was a bit tempted to lash right back at him and say “I JUST bought a bike and we WILL be riding together and STOP your whining about how hard your life is and do your math. For heaven’s sakes, you have parents who love you and food to eat and hundreds of Legos and gobs of books and clothes to wear and you live in America and are not in a war zone!”

But I didn’t. I responded with a soft voice and said, “Oh buddy, I know. I know it is hard to have a mama who can’t do all the things you wish she could.”

At some point, I did remind him that I will be bike riding with him as soon as the snow melts and that we are going to have some epic adventures. And then he started crying and said, “What chance is there that you won’t get hurt again when you ride your bike and you will be in bed for another two years? Not very big!”

So fear and sadness are at the bottom of this grumpiness. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it sure does give me a window into his soul.

I know my broken body is not the worst thing in the world, not by a long ways. I know our lives are full of blessings and rich with beautiful friendships and awesome adventures. But today I saw for a brief moment how very heartbreaking it is for my tender little boy to have a mama whose body doesn’t work like normal. More love, more patience, more nurturing, that is what this boy on the cusp of manhood needs from me.

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sometimes mothering is hard

Mar 6, 2018 by

Mothering is getting the best of me lately. All these vastly different people with different needs, challenges, and personalities living under one roof is hard. Really hard.

We have still not adjusted to having Blythe back in our home after her mission. It has been almost a year and parenting an adult child is still something I haven’t mastered. There are lots of wonderful moments. And there are lots of hard moments. I love this girl of mine so fiercely, so deeply. Yet, it is hard for me to have a pleasant conversation with her.

Sidebar: This girl is doing amazing things. She came home from her mission, started school two weeks later, started at a college of massage therapy program a week after that, and excelled in her classes. She graduated in December, took her boards last week, passed them on the first try, and is ready to start looking for a job in the massage therapy field. She is engaged to a young man and getting married in April. So many good things going on in her life and I’m so, so proud of her.

And yet, it is still hard for us to understand each other. And it breaks my heart.

Then there are the daily ups and downs with homeschooling. My boy who doesn’t want to do math EVER and at the same time giggles while I read our latest read-aloud, Wee Free Men. The girl who wants to create and build and invent and paint and makes messes all over the place every single day. The teenager we rarely see because her schedule is so tightly packed with gobs of good things. The stomachs that are hungry and the hearts that need to be soothed – it all takes so much of me. It is exhausting and soul-filling all at the same time.

I love mothering. I really, really do. I never thought I would, but I have given my brain and my heart to raising these children well and loving them fully.

But I’m not all that good at it. I’m not a natural and it takes serious effort for me to love and serve and give.

After a rough morning with my boy and two rough days in a row with Blythe, I’m tempted to throw in the towel. To give in and give up and say, enough, I am done.

Instead, I am going to dig deep into the marrow of my soul and remember who I am and who God is and who they are and I’m going to keep on trying to mother them.

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six years

Feb 20, 2018 by

It is early morning on February 20, the sixth anniversary of my hip injury. The thoughts and emotions and heartache and joy and pain and gratitude of the past six years are swirling around in my soul. I can’t actually capture the magnitude of this experience in our lives, but I want to try to share some of my thoughts so I can always remember this moment of the journey.

We are at a place in the healing journey I didn’t know we would ever arrive. Over the past six years, I have been in wheelchairs, braces, splints, and tape continuously. At least one, and usually many at the same time, body parts have been injured and needing to be held together. Hips, sacrum, ribs, wrists, hands, ankles, feet, knees, jaw, vertebrae, elbows, shoulders, and face along with all the muscles and fascial layers associated with those joints. Thanks to hundreds of stem cell injections, I have been out of all my braces since August and have been out of tape since late December. I am actually, factually exercising multiple times a week – muscle building is happening!

AND I BOUGHT A BIKE! Yesterday, in honor of this sixth anniversary, I decided to celebrate in a big way and buy an upright bike. Last week while I was in San Diego after my stem cell treatments, Tami and I rented cruiser style bikes to ride from the beach to a darling restaurant we discovered in January. We rode about a mile and I was in HEAVEN!

It was hard as heck on my leg muscles, but it didn’t hurt my pelvis, so the wheels in my brain started churning. I came home and talked to Jeremy, my amazing PT, about biking. He initially vetoed the idea saying there is no way my pelvis could handle the force of being upright on a bike. After looking at crank forward bikes (which use a very different geometry from normal upright bikes), talking with Jeremy some more, and testing out all our local options, I found a bike that doesn’t hurt my pelvis AND I BOUGHT IT!

This beauty is the Felt Verza Cruz. It has crank forward pedals that open up the hip area, an adjustable, giant, comfort seat that can slide on that funky, curved seat post, and an upright handlebar position so I don’t have pressure on my very weak elbows and wrists. For any of you locals, Dave’s Bike Shop has them in stock and will take care of you.

Yesterday, Keziah and Fisher loaded up the trailer with all the bikes and we went over to the lake to ride in the 20 degree frigidness. It was SO cold. AND it was so fun to be on a bike and riding with my kids.

In a time I almost cannot remember, we were a cycling family. We rode our bikes everywhere, violin lessons, the grocery store, the park. In the first year we were married, Richard and I sold his old Hyundai and bought bikes so we could ride all over Boise. When Blythe was born, we bought a bike trailer and hauled her around with us. In the evenings, I would take my bike out and ride 10-30 miles on a regular basis. It was my time to be with God. Thirteen years ago, I had to stop riding my upright bike after my pelvis was damaged in a car accident when I was 40 weeks pregnant with Fisher. I didn’t let that keep me from cycling for long – when Fisher was about a year old I bought a high racing recumbent bike and happily rode my cares away many a night until that fateful February day in 2012 when everything changed…seemingly forever.

I have held on to that recumbent bike as a symbol that I would not give up the hope of healing. Doctor after doctor told me I would never ride it again and I should sell it. But I held on to that dream of someday getting back on my recumbent. But I never once believed I might be able to ride an upright bike with my family again.

And now I am. Not a normal upright, but an upright nonetheless. It is a miracle. An absolute miracle.

And so today, my heart is full and my eyes are leaking tears of gratitude. While I have a long, long way to go to get my body strong and functioning well again, right now I am grateful for the past six years of beautifully hard challenges.

  • My Heavenly Father’s tender care. He has whispered to my heart to trust Him. He has held me when my soul has been wracked with grief. He has taken away pain. He has sent angels, both earthly and heavenly, to minister to me. Oh, how I love Him.
  • Richard. This man. This magnanimous, gentle, full-of-love-for-me superhero. He would never think of himself as a superhero, but he is. He takes care of me with a steadfast, patient, always encouraging love that gives me wings to fly even if I’m stuck in bed.
  • My amazing children. Oh, the tears. These kiddos have been through a lot. They have had to watch their mother seize on the floor, speak incoherently, be carried out of buildings, and sob her soul out. They have had to be cooks and cleaners for years. They have put up with an often cranky mama, endless doctor’s appointments, and a lack of stability in their lives for a long, long time. The other night when I was trying to express my gratitude to them, Keziah said, “I don’t really remember life before you were injured, so this just seems normal and not a big deal.” Mom being injured is their normal and they have adapted beautifully. There have been hard days, really hard days of broken hearts and angry words, but there have also been many days full of laughter, learning, and a whole lotta love. I am so, so proud of them and the people they have become over the past six years.
  • My extended family. My mom and siblings and my dad and my aunts and uncles and cousins have blessed my life so much. They have paid for treatments, sent encouraging notes, prayed for me, cleaned my house, nurtured my children, and so much more. They have shown me the power of family again and again. My mom especially has gone above and beyond. She is fighting her own huge battles and she has showered me with love and encouragement on a nearly daily basis.
  • My absolutely incredible friends. I am richly blessed to have a huge community of homeschooling friends who have wrapped me up in their hearts and taken care of our family. We could not have walked this journey without them. Meals, hugs, rides, and rescues are just the tip of the iceberg. So frequently on my darkest days, a friend would come and lift my spirits or love on my children, and that would be a lifeline to get us through the hard. Many, many events and activities have been interrupted by my having a seizure or by another of my body’s needs and people have responded with love and patience every time. My dear friends have listened and laughed and cried and mourned and hoped and dreamed and everything in between. They are amazing. Oh, how I love the amazing women in my life. I’ve also been deeply touched by my church and online communities. I cannot express how life-giving the words and hugs and meals and encouragement have been. So many times when I didn’t know how we would go on, someone would reach out with a heart full of love and somehow we would make it through.
  • Stem cells and all that goes with these amazing treatments – the miraculous healing they have given, the money for treatments, and the many trips to Mexico that Tami has left her family for, taken care of me, and been a superhero in all the ways. She has sacrificed much and I’m so, so grateful. There is no way I could have done this without her. Oh, how I love her! Dr. Calzada’s treatments have given me a life again. When I first saw him in January 2015, I was hardly able to digest food, was having seizures on a regular basis, could not bend my hip more than 150ish degrees, had a torn LCL along with many other injuries, and had little hope of ever improving. I had been on a continuous downhill spiral with my neurological symptoms getting worse each month that went by. Each injury made my nervous system more hypersensitive and there seemed to be no way to prevent the injuries as simply rolling over in bed would dislocate multiple joints. I have been blessed to be able to go to Mexico 11 times. Each trip has been hard and wonderful and painful and full of healing. I’m so grateful for the miracle God has given me and the help that has been showered upon me to enable me to go.
  • My ancestors. On March 27, 2012 I was given a powerful priesthood blessing in which God asked me to find my ancestors and do their temple work for them. I was incredulous that He would ask anything of me when I couldn’t even walk and I was angry that He wouldn’t heal me on the spot and instead was asking me to spend my very limited time finding dead people that I didn’t care about at all. My attitude quickly changed and I fell in love with my ancestors. Researching my family lines, spending time in the temple, and orchestrating an army of people who are helping me do the ordinance work, has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. My ancestors are now dear friends. I know they have helped carry me through the past six years. They have spoken words of comfort to my soul, taken away the pain of injury, and protected our family from multiple tragedies. I’m so grateful God knew exactly what I needed and asked me to find them.
  • Jeremy, my amazeballs manual therapist. I can’t even imagine where I would be without him. He knows my body and what it needs and is able to put things back in place like a magician. He has stuck with me through injury after injury and patiently helped my body on this crazy adventure. His wisdom, gentle encouragement, and kick-butt skills have been an integral part of getting me to the place I’m at now.
  • The pain. I’m grateful for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain of the past six years. I have many wrinkles on my face that testify of the physical pain. I wish they weren’t there, but I guess they are badges of honor given to those who survive the hard. I hope my levels of empathy and kindness have grown in response to the mental and emotional pain. And I’m deeply grateful for the spiritual changes I’ve been blessed with as I’ve come to depend upon God and hear His voice more clearly. The price that I’ve paid to come to know Him more intimately is worth it. I would do it all again to have this relationship with my Heavenly Father.
  • The lessons. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of things I have learned and there is not space or time to recount them all. Here are a few. God loves me. My husband will stick with me through all the mess and yuck and hard. Miracles happen. A smile can change a life. Sometimes a long cry is necessary. Grieving can be beautiful and it is an essential step on the path of healing. People are good and kind and come in all sorts of superhero packages. Covenants with God provide power in my life. Hugs fill my heart. Hope is critical to a soul’s survival. I’m braver than I believed, stronger than I knew, and loved more than I ever knew was possible.
  • Thank you. Thank you for the big and thank you for the small. A huge thank you to each one of you who have blessed my life and walked this journey with me. Thank you for your love, encouragement, friendship, and hope. The importance of your influence in my life and the life of my family is immeasurable. We have needed each one of you and are so, so grateful you have been part of our journey.

    I have no idea what the next year or six years will bring. But on this day, my heart is grateful for where we’ve been, what we’ve gone through, and where we are right now.

    She looked back and marveled how far she had come. She didn’t wonder how she made it. She already knew the answer. Only with God’s help had she powered through. For without His strength, she could do nothing.

    I just read through the past anniversary posts and boy, howdy, it has been a ride. If you want to check them out, here they are:

    2013
    2014
    2015
    2016
    2017 – must have missed writing about it!

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letting him in

Jan 18, 2018 by

There is really no way to put the feelings and experiences of the past ten days into words, but I want to remember this time, so I am going to try.

Monday, January 8, was the five-year anniversary of the first time I passed out and had a seizure. I think because of the way my brain catalogs dates of all kinds, anniversaries of hard days are often hard for me.

This one was a doozy. I started bawling in the morning and didn’t stop for about 36 hours. January 8, 2013 played out in my mind over and over again. I saw myself collapsing to the floor, shaking, trying to find my head that was floating far away from my body, and saying all sorts of nonsensical gibberish. As the day wore on, grief filled my soul. I could not stop thinking about how hard the past five years of passing out and seizing have been, the pain and suffering of the injuries, the lost abilities, and the seemingly never ending heart rate issues. Then I thought about my children and all the things they have missed out on by having a fragile, broken mother who is unable to run and play with them.

Then the guilt came. I started thinking about the burden I am to so many people. Pictures came into my mind of the many meals, events, and outings which have been interrupted by my body’s needs. I thought of the money, time, and effort that have been given to me again and again and was overcome with guilt that so many people have given so much to not only help me get my life back, but to also just get me through each day.

Oh my, it was rough.

On Monday, during the crying-fest, a friend called and said we should go to Mexico to get the mesenchymal cells that are far stronger than the animal stem cells I have been receiving. I wanted them so badly, so intensely, but the guilt took over and I started telling God, “No way, this is too much. My life is not worth this much money.” All sorts of emotions were swirling inside of me – guilt at the possibility of getting them, fear that they wouldn’t help, overwhelming grief – and I could not process it all. I could feel the possibility of a big miracle, but I was terrified to actually believe it or to even let myself hope for it. All I could do was cry.

On Tuesday evening, Tami called and after talking for a long time, I finally let out a chuckle. That was the beginning of coming back to myself. Then Kami kidnapped me and took me to The Greatest Showman which did my heart a world of good and reminded me that dreams and hopes and love are worth fighting for.

By Thursday, I was feeling much better, but still fairly ambivalent about accepting the opportunity to go and get the mesenchymal cells. That day as I was showering God spoke to my heart and gave me a powerful message of hope and healing. Later that day, God showed up in big ways again and sent my friend, Karami, with a message. She told me God was working on my heart and to let Him do his work without judgment, without fear, but instead, to let Him in and to be gentle with myself while He is working. I shared some of my feelings about the mesenchymal cells and she said “Trace, I think you have gotten comfortable with THIS level of a miracle, but God has TTTTTTHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSS big of a miracle for you.”

Those words opened my heart to a flood of ideas. For the next several days I pondered them and I realized I was telling God, “it’s too much.” I had to dig deep and really think about my beliefs about miracles and healing and God’s hand in my life. How could I say I would accept all of the atonement of Jesus Christ, that I believed I could be forgiven of my sins, cleansed every whit, comforted, redeemed, and claimed by the God of heaven and earth, and yet not be willing to take in the possibility of miraculous healing?

More tears. More digging in the scriptures. More pondering.

I left for Mexico on Monday. I received my normal stem cell treatments on Tuesday in my back and hips. Afterwards, we went to The Greatest Showman where I was given messages of hope again and then the temple where we did initiatory work for my ancestors and shared beautiful, sacred moments with those on both sides of the veil. Each experience opened me up a little more to the work God is doing in my life. I cannot explain it, but I felt like a chisel was tapping at my soul, opening me up to His purposes one tap at a time.

On Wednesday, as I laid waiting for the mesenchymal cells, I poured out my heart to God. I told him that I was finally open to whatever healing He has for me, big or small, I was ready. As I opened my arms wide and told Him I was ready to submit fully, tears flowed out of me again. After the IV started, I opened my Daring to Hope book and right there in front of me was exactly the message I needed to hear at that moment.

Katie Davis Majors is referring to the woman with the issue of blood…and to each of us.

I resonate deeply with this woman. I can see her pushing through the crowd, reaching out for Jesus’ hem. I can feel the strain, that desperate reaching, longing to touch Him, just even the very edge of His robe. A longing for only Him. I imagine her inner pleading after tying so long to be healed: Please, please.

And I am like the woman with the issue of blood, except I am the woman with the issue of doubt. I am the woman with the issue of sin, with the issue of flesh, with the issue of forgetfulness. I am the woman who wants to snap my arms shut and protect, fold my arms tight around my chest to guard my heart, which is still so raw and exposed, protect if from being broken yet again. I want to gather my children to myself and shelter them from the ugly hurt of this world. My mind wanders too quickly from He can To I can’t, and my focus turns to earthly struggles before it rests in my Heavenly Father.

Hope is the great expectancy of this woman that Jesus will help her. Hope is our great expectancy that we will know HIm in all our circumstances, even the seemingly hopeless ones. Hope is this mocked-by-the-world, nonsensical reaching through the crowd just to touch Him. To the cynical, it seems like a waste. Why reach in such a crowd? Everyone is touching Him. You’re wasting your time. What if nothing happens? We risk great embarrassment to hope in this way, don’t we? But the reaching shows something about the woman’s heart, something about my heart: a faith undeterred by the world or our circumstances, a faith that believes in what we cannot see. My expectancy grows my heart toward God, grows room in my heart for more of Him, and allows me to see Him here, wherever here is.

Sure, daring to hope feels a little too much like playing with fire, especially when we have been burned before. To hope exposes me, just like the bleeding woman. It lays me bare and vulnerable because I can’t fix this and can’t control the outcome. My hope puts me right up next to Jesus, torn open and defenseless, completely at His mercy, completely surrendered.

Oh. My. Goodness. The tears poured out of me. The cells dripped in. My soul opened up to God and I begged Him to come in deeper, to pour His power and light and mercy and miracles into every one of the 21 million stem cells entering my body and every fiber of my being.

Holiness.

His holiness filled the room and wrapped me up and there are no words to describe it.

I do not know what healing these cells will bring, what healing God has in store for me, but I do know, emphatically, He is with me. I am in His hands and He is taking care of me in beautiful, soul-filling ways.

May I always remember.

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on turning ten

Nov 25, 2017 by

It is the night before my last child’s tenth birthday.

I am sitting here eating leftover pumpkin pie, watching Keziah, Dallin, Fisher, and Annesley play Egyptian Ratscrew and laughing their heads off.

And the tears keep spilling out of my eyes.

This darling girl has been such a gift to our family. Such a gift to my heart. Such a gift to this world. And she is growing up.

Ten has always felt huge to me. I remember when Blythe, my firstborn, turned ten. It seemed so old to me. Past the halfway mark to eighteen. On the countdown side till she would grow up and leave our home.

We have been through this tenth birthday with Keziah and Fisher and it has been hard each time.

But not this hard.

Now my baby, my last precious baby, is turning ten. And my heart hurts so much.

Our cuddling days are numbered. I know I can always hug her, but having three older kiddos has shown me there is a natural end to the daily snuggles that young children so freely give…and that we all need so much.

The pain of saying goodbye to my mothering-the-babies days feels monumental. The tears won’t stop and the ache won’t go away.

Tonight I will hold her and rub her back one last time as a nine year old. I will tell her her birth story and listen to her prayers. And then, I will say goodbye to an era. Twenty-one years is a long time to have small children in our home…and yet, it has gone far too fast.

Annesley Aliyah, I love you baby girl.

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thankful thursdays 11/9

Nov 9, 2017 by

Boy howdy. This back injury has me reeling. It hurts a whole, whole bunch. I am clinging to faith and hope and love, but often slide into despair and anger. Because it’s hard to hurt this much and have no idea when it will end.

  • Tens units are the best. So grateful I have one.
  • My Rezzimax Tuner is also the best. I alternate between my tens unit and my tuner and if one of them is on me, I can function. As soon as they are taken off of me, I writhe in pain again.
  • I’m so grateful for amazing children who are taking care of me during the day.
  • Blue skies make all the difference for me. If I can see the sky outside my window, my soul feels a million times more hopeful.
  • I’m so grateful for dear friends who drive me to events so I can still participate, make a place for me to lie down, and don’t bat an eye at all the special care my body needs.
  • My children are blossoming. After years of struggling with reading, my little ones are reading and reading well. I’m so proud of the hard work they have put in and the time they have had to develop in their own ways. Miss Annesley is reading Little House in the Big Woods to me and we are having so much fun with it. Hearing her happy voice read about Laura’s adventures makes these long days in bed much more bearable.
  • Two more weeks until I go to Mexico for more stem cell treatments. I am SO, SO hoping for a miracle for my back.

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thankful thursdays 11/1

Nov 3, 2017 by

It is food for my soul to take some time and ponder the blessings of my life.

  • I am grateful for the past many weeks of consciousness. I haven’t passed out fully since I got home from Mexico on September 1. I did have one small episode on September 15 at gym and one almost episode on a trip to Utah on the 16, but I didn’t actually pass out either time and haven’t had anything close to an episode ever since. It is AMAZING!
  • My bed is glorious. I spend far more time in it than one would think is wise, but oh, my it is just so comfy. The past few weeks my back has been hurting something fierce and lying in a comfortable bed has been such a gift to my recovery.
  • I’m so grateful for the human beings my children have become. They are now 21, 17, 13, and 9 (almost 10!) and while we all have character development we could improve upon, I am genuinely pleased with who they are and how they are living their lives. They are kind, caring, honest humans.
  • Warm baths are near the top of my list right now. My back has been spasming for the past few weeks and I’m so grateful to have a comfortable tub I can soak in comfortably.
  • The beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows of the season bring a smile to my soul. As my beloved Anne says, “I’m so greatful to live in a world with Octobers.” Now that it is November, it is mostly drab.
  • I’m grateful to be mentoring Worldviews right now. It is a TON of work for me and I wonder if I am up to the task, but I love discussing big ideas with my students and immersing myself in the mountain of books we are reading.
  • My amazing husband has a new job this year and he is loving it! He feels like he is actually making a difference. I’m so, so grateful he has this opportunity and that his work is being valued.
  • I am especially grateful for the Giver of All Good Gifts. He is ever reminding me of who He is and who I am.
  • This is the beginning of November, the month of Thanksgiving. I hope to open my heart more fully to gratitude and to His bounteous gifts this month…and always.

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roller coasters in my soul

Oct 29, 2017 by

I don’t know what is wrong with me. Taking the time to blog has become nearly impossible. I got out of the habit when my hands were injured at the end of October 2015 and even though I can usually type now without gobs of pain, I haven’t figured out how to carve out the minutes in my day to write.

I am hoping to change that. I really, really miss taking the time to ponder and share the inner workings of my soul. And I SO miss having a record of our life.

I think I have said similar things the last ten times I have posted. Hmmmmm. How boring is that? Pretty boring.

It is Sunday evening and I am vacillating between peace in my soul and an angtsy-overwhelm feeling at all the things I need to do, want to do, and “should” do. My husband is taking a much deserved nap across the room from me. His gentle snores are music to my ears as they signal to me that he is actually getting good sleep. My oldest is standing on the washer and dryer creating a “Speak Life” motif on my giant chalkboard. (I had a dream of her doing it before she left on her mission, but it didn’t happen and now that she has been home for nearly 7 months, she is finally giving me this gift. YES!) My youngest is writing a story and has been plucking it out on the computer for several hours. She keeps running upstairs to ask for my input on character’s names and telling me more of her story. Sabbath Day music is playing and filling my soul with God’s love. Our one and only boy is drawing at the counter. All is calm and my goodness, it feels wonderful.

At the same time, my entire living room is full of thousands of pieces of clothing as I am finally doing the giant clothing purge that Keziah and I started back in 2015. I’m staring at my back door which needs a handle and lock so it can open. This makes me think of my basement doors which do not shut all the way and desperately need to be replaced because they let in so much cold air. The fake wood floor in front of those doors needs to be replaced because they are separated and yucky from water damage. This makes me think of the stinky carpet that was ruined in the wall leak we discovered the day Blythe came home from her mission back in April. Then my thoughts go to my bedroom windows that do not seal well and let cold air in all winter along with ice and the subsequent water melting. And then my mind jumps to the need we have of alternative heat – a wood stove that is not dependent on electricity to keep us warm. There are so many things that need to be fixed: sprinklers, vehicles, fences, roofs, couches, flooring, baseboards, tubs, the fridge, the dishwasher, screens, cupboard doors, vacuums, leaves, trash, and many other things. Another winter is coming soon and they most likely will not be taken care of before the cold is upon us.

It all feels so overwhelming. And impossible. There is not enough money or time to solve these problems. When I focus on them, I can easily burst into tears.

So, I keep going round and round in my brain between the peace and love in my home and the feeling of going crazy with fear and want and overwhelm. The reality is we have a lovely home in a beautiful place and mountains of blessings. We have running water, toilets that flush, appliances that make our lives infinitely easier, thousands of books, food to eat, and more luxuries than probably 90% of the world. We also have a whole lot of love and laughter.

Focusing on the good is what I need to do. I’m amazed at the mind game it is to stay on the positive side of things and how quickly I can fall apart when I start thinking of all the things I need to fix and all the ways I am falling short. The last few months I have been on a roller coaster ride of emotions swinging wildly from tears to anger to laughter and joy and back to tears again. I don’t know if it is lack of sleep, peri-menopause, CRAZY period emotions, not turning enough to God, or basic character flaws. The emotion of the minute changes on a dime and my dear husband and children have no idea what to expect from me anymore. They see me crying more often than not, but in the midst of all the crazy hard emotions, there has been heaps of joy and peace and love as well.

I’m really trying ever so hard to focus on the good – to connect with each one of my family members’ souls each day, to spend time communing with God, and to savor the small moments of peace. But the tears still come. I cried my way through the sacrament today. Then when we sang “How Firm A Foundation” for the closing hymn, I sobbed as I took in His grace and mercy and love into my soul.

And then I stood up and hugged an old friend from Ghana who showed up in my church services today. Up and down and all around, I never know what is going to come out of my mouth or if I am going to burst into tears of sadness or tears of joy.

Is this normal? Is this the result of dealing with a chronic health issue for a very long time? Is this the result of selfishness? Insanity? Hormones that are swinging wildly? A husband who works a zillion hours a week and doesn’t have enough time to fix all the things? I don’t even know. I just know it is hard. It is a fight, each and every day, to stay in a place of peace and love and calm.

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thankful thursdays 7/20

Jul 21, 2017 by

Sunshine and blue skies and beautiful trees are oh, so good for my soul. I need more of them in my life. I have spent much of the past few weeks cleaning and decluttering my home while recovering from a brain MRI (the gadolinium contrast made me sick for several days) and it has felt pretty soul-sucking. But yesterday, I went kayaking and remembered just how much I love being on the water. It is medicine for my soul in a way I cannot describe.

  • Today I am really grateful for my Keziah. This girl has worked and worked and worked the past few weeks and has been the muscle behind all the projects going on in our home. She has cleaned the storage room and sewing room and been a decluttering maestro. She has little attachment to things so she was able to help me sort out what really needed to go. This girl is a cleaning wonder.
  • Insurance is on my list today. I am philosophically opposed to the whole Obamacare program and it is terribly disturbing what it is doing to our country as a whole. However, I am one of the few it has been a blessing for and while I still disagree with the program, I feel a need to say thank you. In the past month I have had genetic, brain, spine, heart, and blood tests totally over $10,000. My insurance has paid for all of it except a couple hundred dollars. Such a blessing!
  • My dear husband. I’ve been a bit of a bear to live with lately. Maybe I am always a bear, I don’t know really. In spite of my prickliness, my gem of a man has been kind and forgiving and helped me work through super big emotions. I love this man. So much.
  • My body is doing FABULOUSLY well at the moment. I am making heaps of progress physically and this week I made it into the gym at PT! I believe it is the first time since Fall 2014! I have been riding my Elliptigo on short, little rides and now Jeremy has given me a list of exercises to do at home each day. This is HUGE. Since 2012, I have made it to this point four or five times and then gotten injured within two to three weeks. This time I am hoping beyond hope to stay on the healing side of things and be able to actually grow some muscles.
  • I’m thankful for new bookshelves. Keziah bought them since I have no pennies to spend at the moment. Kat helped me assemble them. And I have been slowly filling them all week. They fit perfectly and hold far more books than our last set-up. I have big plans for Richard to eventually build cupboards below them and add crown molding so they look like built-ins, but I have no idea when that will happen.
  • Last summer Kat planted me some daisies right outside my bedroom window. I love them. They are blooming and those little flowers bring me joy every time I see them.
  • I’ve become a little obsessed with Caesar salad with feta cheese and craisins. While the feta and craisins might not actually be good for me, I have convinced myself that eating a giant bowl of romaine slathered in Caesar dressing and the delicious aforementioned extras is super nourishing to my cells.
  • I’m so grateful for friends who have listened while I have fallen apart over the possibility of something being wrong in my brain. At times it feels really, really big and they have let me cry and rant and rave and have given me big hugs, wise words, and heaps of laughter which makes it a bit more manageable. Thank you, dear ones.

I have received quite a bit of crazy medical news over the past few weeks and I am researching, trying to process it, and sorting out what I want to do with the information. More tests? Submit to various treatment plans? More appointments with more doctors? It is a bit overwhelming. At times I burst into tears. Other times I try to distance myself from it and force myself to think of other things. Some of the most helpful things I am doing are taking the time to think of what I am grateful for, remembering God’s hand in my life, and doing the new exercises Jeremy has assigned. Those are things I have control over and are actually growing muscles and building mental toughness.

Today I started another grow-my-sanity practice. I have a daily devotional book based on the writings of C.S. Lewis that I am going to be reading one day at a time and then writing my thoughts. I think this is going to be both centering and heaven focusing. Creating a new morning routine is pretty challenging to me, but maybe, just maybe, my good friend, Jack (C.S. Lewis) will be a strong enough pull to help me get out of bed and spend some time communing.

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summer has arrived!

Jun 13, 2017 by

June is nearly half over and summer is here! We just completed our 14th year of Swim Camp. There were 49 families camping with us, 110 kids in lessons, and many other children not in lessons. SO MUCH FUN.

The next few weeks are full of family reunions and camping with Tami (cousin), Mikelle (sister), and my mama on the banks of a beautiful, slow-moving river the kids will play in all day long. This summer we will also have our regular trip to the Wind Rivers, a wedding for my niece, Andie, in Fort Collins, and many days at our local lakes and rivers to kayak and paddleboard and soak up sunshine.

Summer time is just what I need. Amazing how it comes around every year at just the right time to fill my soul up with family, nature, time on the water, blue skies, and Vitamin D from that glorious sun.

I am recovering from my trip to Mexico for stem cell treatments four weeks ago and I can feel my torn ligaments healing. It is ever so slow, but it is working. We went kayaking and paddleboarding on Memorial Day and my hands were able to paddle. It hurt my shoulder with the still recovering subscapularis tear to pull on the paddleboard, but kayaking was okay. It must engage a slightly different set of body parts. My goal is to be in my boat and on my board as much as possible so I can grow some serious muscle. Last summer I was able to grow 5 lbs of muscle between May and September because of all the kayaking I did. I lost nearly all of it over this long winter of injuries. Now, I want to grow more and then NOT get injured and be able to keep growing muscle all winter long.

Bring on the sun and sea (or beautiful rivers and man-made lakes which populate Idaho!). Bring on the family time. Bring on the camping in the majestic mountains and fresh air. Oh, how I love summer.

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thankful thursdays 5/25

May 25, 2017 by

I met with my geneticist, Dr. Ball, at Primary Children’s Medical Center, on Monday. It is a pretty big deal to meet with him. It is a big deal emotionally, physically, and mentally and I’m still recovering days later. It’s time to take some time to focus on gratitude.

  • I’m grateful there is a geneticist in the intermountain west who knows EDS inside and out.
  • I’m grateful Kez and Dallin took me down to SLC and listened to me go round and round about how maybe the whole thing is in my head. They may have laughed at me, but they listened and helped me sort through the tangled web of thoughts running on repeat in my mind.
  • Sunshine is feeding my soul. Oh my goodness, I love the sun streaming through my windows, shining down on my body, and glistening through the trees.
  • Dallin. This young man has my heart. He is Keziah’s best friend and we love him. His goodness brings me so much joy.
  • We had a crazy windstorm on Wednesday and lost hundreds of branches and one big tree. I’m so grateful nothing came through our windows or roof or smashed our cars.
  • I can feel the stem cells kicking in and energy is starting to increase a wee bit every day. I’m still super exhausted, but I can feel a difference and others are seeing a difference.
  • My dear Richard. He is working so hard, so many hours trying his darndest to make ends meet and to take care of all of us. He comes home wiped out, but still plays catch with the kids, does laundry, cooking, or whatever else needs done, and most of all, he loves us. He is almost done with the school year and it will be so, so good for him to have a bit of a break.
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