addendum

Mar 3, 2010 by

I have been thinking about this whole missing my grandmother thing and I have some thoughts…

I miss her a lot. This is true, but what does it mean?

At my grandma’s funeral, I was crying and an uncle decided to take that opportunity to scold me for not believing in the plan of salvation, for not having enough faith, for not knowing that my grandma was in a better, happier place. I have thought about his words quite a bit since then and have decided he was wrong.

Let’s pretend my best friend is given a wonderful opportunity to meet amazing people, to study and learn from the great masters in her field, to be free from pain, and to see her long-lost husband again. Let’s pretend she has to travel across the world to a place I cannot go and there is no technology in place for us to communicate by letters, emails, or phone calls. Do I want her to go? Of course I do. Would I ask her to stay here with me? No, I would be thrilled for her to take advantage of this great blessing. I would be happy for her…but I would still miss her. I would still long to hear her voice, read her letters, and feel her arms around me. I would still long to pray with her. I would still want to play games with her and laugh with her and make her her favorite foods just to see her smile spread across her face and her eyes light up with joy.

Well, that is just what happened.

I do know she is happy. I do know she is out of pain. I do know she is with her loved ones…but I still miss her!

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you are worth more to me

Feb 19, 2010 by

I have some favorite blogs I read to give me inspiration for my motherhood journey. One of my favorites is A Path Made Straight where Eliana paints a picture of her walk with God as a mother so vividly I walk away painted anew every time I visit her site.

Today’s post touched me profoundly. What are my children worth to me and how am I sending that message to them?

Read this for the loveliest post about just that.

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choice – the deciding factor

Feb 7, 2010 by

The difference between sacrifice and punishment is not the amount of pain involved, but the amount of choice.

Interesting thought, isn’t it?

I just read a wonderful book, Influencer, for February’s colloquium. It is full of powerful ideas about effective motivation, change-making, and turning hearts.

The quote above jumped out at me. I realized I have not sufficiently helped my children to see their choices in this life. I have not taught them to fully understand the concept of agency and their ability to make a choice about their situations. They often view stuff in their lives as a punishment when I wish they would see it as a sacrifice…like washing the dishes for their family when they would rather be reading, changing the baby’s diaper when they would rather be drawing, like waking up early to get packed and on the road for a family camping trip. Many times these things have been viewed as a punishment when they are not at all punishments in my mind. I am not punishing them, life is not punishing them, God is not punishing them…instead they are being presented with an opportunity to serve, to help, to work for a better situation…a clean kitchen, a happy baby, getting to the campsite in time to set up in daylight.

This quote makes me think of struggles people have had – patriots burning their businesses during the Revolution so the British wouldn’t have access to them, pioneers crossing the plains in bitter cold and burying loved ones along the trail, immigrants scraping every penny together to come to America to build a better life, concentration camp prisoners sharing their meager rations with someone in worse shape than themselves, mothers willing to endure months of uncomfortableness, nausea, pain, and exhaustion to grow a baby, the throes of labor, fathers going to work day after day at jobs that don’t bring them joy – and I realize in all of these situations people could choose to view them as punishments, as the cruel servings of life OR they can view them as sacrifices that they are completely willing to choose to reach their goal.

How do I view my life…as a sacrifice or a punishment? How do you view yours?

I am going to continue pondering this statement and try to own my choices more and more and try to teach my children to do the same.

How about you?

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how bizarre, how bizarre

Feb 1, 2010 by

I have vivid dreams. Very vivid dreams. Many times I can’t figure out what is real in the morning. It is fairly disconcerting to wake up and believe that such and such happened when nothing of the kind occurred!

The last few days have been full of vivid dreams. The first night we were the subjects in lots of different science experiments. We would go to the library or the movie or anywhere else that there is a line to wait in and a scanner and when we got to the front of the line we would be “scanned” but instead of being scanned, we would be frozen and then taken as a specimen to be experimented on. There were many “sequels” in this dream, but just to give you a taste of what it was like – in one version of this a section of our brain was sucked out with a little hose and then our behavior was evaluated without that section. Then the brain matter was somehow put back in. Pretty strange, eh?

Even stranger when I woke up believing it really happened.

Yesterdays dreams were awful. In my dream I met Richard when I in reality did meet him, but I didn’t marry him. I married a controlling, manipulative, somewhat mentally ill boyfriend from high school. It was horrid – full of fighting, fear, abuse, crazy-making, and all that garbage. Then I left him and somehow found my way back to Richard, who was still wonderful and loved me. Somehow we got married and then for the next 14 years, I had affairs with a series of men and would go back and forth between Richard and these other men (who were also former boyfriends from high school). I would be with these other guys for years at a time and then would go back and visit Richard for a few months and then leave again. Truly despicable. I was so repulsed by my behavior. Finally, at the end of my dream, I hit bottom and my family invited me, my four children (my same four children that I do in reality have), and Richard to go to a water park for the day (which is really funny because Richard strongly dislikes swimming). I watched him throughout the day holding Annesley and realized Richard was who I really wanted AND needed, not all these other guys. We talked for hours and he forgave me and we started building a real life together.

It was such a nightmare! When I woke up I had no idea whose bed I was in or where I was at. I had all these awful feelings of guilt, sorrow, self-hate, longing for security, and much more. I was a wreck. I looked over and saw Richard and started shaking, realizing all the stuff in my head hadn’t really happened. He woke right up and came to my side of the bed and held me for a long time till I calmed down. I tried explaining it to him, and he just kept telling me he loved me and he was here and wasn’t going anywhere and none of that happened.

But I realized something.

It could have happened.

I was so messed up back then that I really could have caused all of that chaos in my life. I could have made those choices. I could have hurt untold numbers of people. I could have committed adultery. I could have, I could have, I could have.

But I didn’t. Through God’s grace I was rescued from that life and given this one. I was literally put in Richard’s path and knew I had to marry him. He was blessed to help me get rid of all that craziness. He was strengthened to love me when I was hard to love. He was taught by our Savior how to heal me.

24 hours later I am still deeply troubled by this dream, but I am also grateful. It showed me clearly what my life would be like without God, without the gospel, and without my dear husband.

Instead, I have a happy family, a wonderful marriage, a pretty stable emotional life, and covenants that we both strive to keep.

A world of difference from my dream. I don’t ever want to go back into that dream. It was horribly painful to watch my life unfold in this other manner, to see my childrens’ pain at my choices and the various men who came in and out of their lives, to see how much I hurt Richard by coming and going in and out of his life and how he tried to help me and love me, but I wouldn’t let him in to my heart.

Awful, awful, awful. It is very difficult to type this all out because it takes me back into it.

But this morning, I am full of gratitude for the life I do have. Full of love for my husband, my children, and my extended family (who in my dream worked very hard to get me back to Richard for good). I am ready to start another week of homeschooling my precious brood and surround them with the security they didn’t have in my dream.

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watch where you are going

Jan 17, 2010 by

That is the lesson of last night. I must have really needed to learn it because I ended up in quite a mess by not watching where I was going.

I was walking out of a store with my friend and walked right into a thigh-high statue. Other people may have just banged their leg on it or fallen to the side, but I flew right over top of it and landed very unceremoniously on my elbow. All 130 lbs. of me. Right on my elbow – then my knees came crashing down as well. Then the pain hit. Hard. People were of course staring at me as I was moaning there on the ice cold sidewalk. I was amazed at how much pain I was in and kept trying to figure out how I got from being an upright, put together human being to this crumpled crying life form on the ground.

With the help of my friend I was finally able to make it to the car and I thought I would be okay. After a few minutes, the endorphins were not keeping up with the pain very well and sharp waves of pain would pulse through me and bring on the moaning again. Despite my protests, my friend insisted on driving me home and putting me to bed. Good thing too – the drive home was excruciating. Every little bump jarred my arm and took my breath away.

When I woke up this morning, after a long and uncomfortable night, I tried to stretch my arm a little. A loud wake-up-Richard-from-deep-sleep sound exploded from my arm and then it felt a lot better. It must have been a little dislocated and now put itself back together properly.

Although I am still really sore, I am functioning and able to get around. I went to church and gave my Primary class strict instructions not to touch me.

Now, isn’t this all a great metaphor for life? When we watch where we are going things usually go better. We can avoid many obstacles, distractions, and pain if we will just look ahead of us, be aware of our surroundings, and have a vision of where we want to go.

So many times I have been unaware of where I was going in my life. Bumbling along I would try to make the best of a situation, but I would often find myself in repair, recover, and rescue mode instead of action mode. I spend my time fixing my past decisions instead of being able to push forward with a clean slate.

I am still in that mode (maybe that is why I am frequently running into doors…and now statues!) but I am striving to be in action mode where I can look ahead and set a course to work towards.

My planner (remember my amazing birthday present to myself?) has been helping me greatly in this area. Even though I am still an unorganized fool, I am a million times more organized than I was pre-planner. Now, to tackle the rest of my life!

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human doings

Jan 13, 2010 by

Human Doings.

I recently read this phrase on a TJEd discussion board and instantly fell in love with it. It will become a fabulous way for me to remember that I am a being, not a doing.

What exactly are we teaching our children when we value results, actions, and behavior instead of patience, forgiveness, and tenacity? Now, I am not saying any of us actually make a conscious choice to value the former over the latter, but perhaps we do it with our actions. Perhaps?

When we praise the child with straight A’s and the child who struggles is left with a cursory “good job” we have spoken our priorities loud and a clear. When we finish a child’s project for them because they are taking sooooo long, I think we send a message of results, not process, adult excellence, not childhood attempts. When we want children to sit still and stop wiggling this very minute, we might be sending the message that their holding still behavior is far more important than anything else. When finishing gets more glory than learning how to work, learning how to figure something out, or learning what failure feels like, children learn very quickly that results are all that are important.

I was raised with the phrase “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” While I agree that that is a true statement, I also know from firsthand experience that it is paralyzing. If you cannot do something well, where does it leave you? If you don’t have time to do it well right this minute, what are you to do then?

I have come to love the phrase “Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first.” It conveys to me that I don’t have to do everything well. I certainly don’t have to do everything – or anything for that matter – perfectly. If it is worth doing well, then it is worth the time it takes to learn how to do it. It is worth the effort of watching others, reading books, practicing, disciplining, trying different approaches, asking questions, and keeping on keeping at it. It is worth it!

I have told myself for years that I cannot sew. I am quite handicapped in this area, that is true. BUT, as I have embraced the mantra of  “Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first,” I have decided to keep trying, to reach out to others that can help me, and to not beat myself up for my less than stellar results.

And guess what? I have made some pretty cute things! My children’s deluxe pencil rolls turned out adorable AND they love them. Love them to pieces. They use them all the time and they show them to their friends with pride in their voices. I have made a few things for friends that are beloved by them, perhaps because they know how much love, unpicking, and hair pulling went into sewing them. I have decided to keep trying even though it is really hard for me.

I want my children to know I adore them because they are children of God. They are mine. They are lovable. It doesn’t really matter to me what they do – it matters to me who they are. But even if they become someone I don’t like because of what they do OR who they are, I want them to know I will still love them. I want them to really learn that anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first. I want them to be willing to try new things even if they aren’t very good at them. I want them to know that their value is so not dependent on what they do.

I think its time to change the song “I Am a Child of God.” You know the part about “teach me all that I must do?” I think it should be “teach me all that I must be.” Should I try to change it?

Being. Becoming. I think that is what this life is all about.

Thoughts?

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a whole new view

Jan 4, 2010 by

I love to rearrange. In fact, I cannot clean without rearranging. My children do not understand this. They are all about constancy. I do believe they would never move a thing in their bedrooms if they had their way about it (I do try to let them have their way about it, but sometimes, things have got to be moved!) I, on the other hand, love rearranging. I love changing around furniture every month or so. It clears my mind and gives me a chance to get a new perspective.

There is nothing better than the rearranging that comes with Christmas.

First, we have to shuffle things around to make room for the tree, the nativities, the pictures of Jesus, the Christmas books, the baking, the present making, and the stockings. I love the coziness of it all. I love the whole month of December and how we work together as a family to learn about Jesus and serve others…but after the New Year, it is time to put all that stuff away (hopefully not all the lessons or desires…just the stuff). It is amazing what happens – the whole feel of my home changes. After a month of focusing on only one topic and being immersed in it, we are ready for more. Ready to do more and try more. Our ability to think is expanded. It is as if we have made room for new thoughts and ideas to bounce around the walls of our home…and our minds.

As I rearrange our living spaces, I can feel my spirit opening up to changes and opportunities that this year will bring. I am excited about the new thoughts that are coming. We just finished up family council and have made some changes to how our family will function and what routines we are going to be striving to establish. I am excited about starting our Old Testament study tomorrow night. I am excited to start a new learning time plan with my girls that will give them time to be “teachers” for the younger children while I have some 1:1 time with each of them. I am excited to start Magical Moments with Mom. I am excited to start a new math adventure with Blythe and The Life of Fred. I cannot wait to read the rest of The Hidden Christ. This morning’s reading was far too short for all the treasures I found.

The great thing about rearranging furniture is that if we don’t like it we can try out some other way that might suit us better. It isn’t permanent – it is temporary. My children seem to think if I put the couches a certain way they don’t like that they need to moan and complain. I just smile and say “We’ll try it this way for a little while and we will change it in a few weeks – no need to fret.” Maybe if we saw the changes in our lives the same way we wouldn’t feel so leery of making them.

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twilight

Dec 7, 2009 by

Here I am, admitting in public that I strongly dislike and disagree with the Twilight series. I have lots of friends and family that love (or at least devour them the second they come out) the books & movies and I have not wanted to cause offense, so for the most part I have tried to keep my thoughts to myself.

An author at Meridian Magazine has written a fabulous article on why she is opposed to the series and as it sums up my thoughts so well, I will just link to hers and save myself the typing time (seeing how it is 12:45 a.m. and I should really be asleep!).

Here you go: Emotional Intimacy in New Moon as Salacious as Physical Intimacy

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real beauty

Dec 6, 2009 by

Recently, my niece Andie was here visiting and she shared with us some videos that Dove has made to spread the message that real beauty is within each of us and that the stuff we see on magazines, billboards, and TV is completely fake. I loved these videos and they really taught my daughters that what they are seeing is not real. I have told them that a million times, but it wasn’t until they saw this video that showed how a billboard photo was created that they really understood. The second video is pretty graphic and shows some a lot of skin, so be ready for that and watch it yourself first before you share it with your husband or children. It shows how strongly the message of “you need to diet, cut, lift, dye, wax, remove, add, soften, firm-up, endure, sacrifice, and spend” to be beautiful is fed to our children (and us!) every single day in America.

It is amazing to me that with as little exposure as my children have had to the world that it is still an issue in my home. I have a daughter who believes she is fat! She believes her thighs are ugly! My experiences and long discussions with her have taught me that we must be extremely proactive in teaching our children what real beauty is and in undoing the brainwashing that they are going to get every time they walk by the magazine rack at the grocery store (and even in the conversations they hear us adult women participating in!).

Many studies show that women are depressed in America. I think there are loads of reasons for this and one of them in my mind is that we are “surrounded and inundated with media that constantly bankrupts a woman’s self-esteem and self-worth with advertisements that promote cosmetic surgery and anti-aging products. It is very difficult for the average woman to accept, love and value herself in a society that continuously bombards her with messages of being inadequate and not-beautiful-enough to be a valued member of society.” (taken from here). It is very common for a girl or grown woman to only hear compliments about her physical appearance and not about her mind, her talents, or her character. And if she isn’t receiving compliments about her physical appearance, perhaps she isn’t receiving any compliments at all. If the world is feeding her the message that physical appearance is all that matters and then the pictures they put up of the ideal physical appearance are impossible for anyone to reach and are photoshopped far beyond reality, then is it any wonder that women feel like they don’t measure up?

The most beautiful woman I have ever known was my grandmother, who was always overweight, but was happy, giving, funny, smart, sincere, and loving. That is what makes real beauty and it is the beauty I want to have. I want my girls to understand that who they are on the inside will determine how beautiful they are on the outside. I want them to know that the changes their bodies are going through are wonderful and necessary for them to be able to have children. I want them to see their bodies as gifts from God. I want them to see my sagging breasts, stretch marked thighs, and non-flat belly as the marks of motherhood – that I have this body so that I could have them and that I don’t regret it at all. I don’t need to change it or needle it or cut it or anything it. I do need to take good care of my body and be a good steward over it. I do need to exercise and eat healthy food and get enough rest, but not so I can look like anything or anyone, but so that I can have health and strength to do the work God has given me.

Watch the videos, make a plan, talk to your daughters, and create beauty, real beauty, in this world. We can make a difference in the lives of girls and women everywhere.

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not seeing the end

Nov 23, 2009 by

As I was sewing pencil rolls tonight, my mind was able to drift with the same thought (something fairly rare for me and my jumbled, jump from idea to idea mind) for quite awhile. The lines I was sewing had become just a tad easier and I could do it without completely stressing out and having to devote every single brain cell to it.

The thought came to me, “I’ll bet my mother never imagined I would be using this sewing machine that she gave me for Christmas in 1982 to sew pencil rolls for children in Uganda.”

Then, “I surely never envisioned it!”

Then, “What other gifts do I have in my life that I am using in unexpected ways?”

I thought back to when our home burned down 13 days before Christmas and 8 weeks after we were married. We lived in a little town where no one really knew us because we had just been married, then moved there. We were spending the vast majority of our time in Boise because we were in college and working and had to travel 45 minutes to get into “the city.” That all adds up to us being virtual strangers to a sleepy town that didn’t get many move-ins. Then our house burned down and we lost pretty much everything we owned. All of our beautiful and precious wedding presents. All of the quilts our grandmothers had made for us. All of our pictures. All of our clothes, furniture, bikes…all of it…gone.

We found another place to rent in the little town and every night when we would get home from work/school we would find boxes of stuff on our doorstep. People gave us all sorts of stuff. Brand new stuff, DI stuff, treasured stuff.

One of those things we were given was a patchwork quilt that was old and worn and full of character. I don’t know who gave it to us or why, but I am sure they would be surprised to know it has been our picnic blanket for years. It has gone on all our camping trips. It has been snuggled under while reading stories and watching movies for the past 16 years. We love this blanket! It is threaded throughout so many of our family’s memories and even though it is completely falling apart, we will never part with it. The stuffing is coming out, the seams are ripped open, and it gets full of sand when we take it to the beach. I’m sure the people who gave it to us have no idea how many happy times have been had with their blanket.

My history teacher in high school was a brilliant teacher. He knew how to inspire his students, how to connect with their minds AND their souls, how to demand enough to get excellence, but not so much to destroy all hope of success. He spent lots of time (including his summer vacation!) outside of paid school time teaching AP History. He spent countless hours preparing for his classes each day and we knew it. We knew he loved his subject and he was going to be ready to give us his best each and every day and he expected us to give us our best as well. This gift of energy, time, scholarship, and passion has been used in my life to judge every other teacher I have ever had, to evaluate my own teaching, and to yearn to be as gifted as he was in his interactions with students.

I think of gifts I have given my children. I had a multicolored velvet cloak made for Blythe when she was about 6 or 7 and completely immersed into The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I figured she would love it for awhile, but I had no idea how much she would use it and how it would become part of her identity. She wore the thing everywhere for a few years. She loves using it for night games to this day. She plans activities and outfits around it. She treasures it. I can’t imagine her life without it.

I bought her some yarn and a knifty knitter set a few years back. She has gone on to knit with needles and now has taught herself to crochet. She has people hiring her to make things for them! She has skeins and skeins of yarn filling her bedroom and spends hours creating nifty projects. I had no idea the yarn would turn into such a love and possibly a money-maker for her.

I think of a small Christmas tag Richard wrote on our first Christmas when he gave me new scriptures to replace my burned ones and how I have kept it tucked in 1 Corinthians 13 for all these years. It is tattered and thin, but it still brings a tender surge of love every time I read it.

I think of letters my mother wrote to me throughout my childhood and teenage years and how I read and saved and reread and reread and reread those letters for years. They were a tangible evidence that she loved me and wanted the best for me even if it was difficult to have a for us to have a civil conversation.

I think of an adorable outfit a lady at violin gave me once, thinking she would pass on her grown out baby clothes. That outfit has been worn by Fisher, shared with Creed, worn by Annesely, and now made into the Oompa Loompa pattern by Kat and now we have lots of copycat outfits that I am thinking of selling if I can ever get up my sewing confidence!

I think of the gifts of kindness, meals, listening ears, massages, baby blankets, cleaning, laughter, encouragement, fresh cabbage for mastitis, a Johnny Carino caesar salad on the day Annesley was born, a book with just the right message, a fridge full of fruits, veggies, and fresh sprouts, a phone call at just the right moment, and “big, wrap your arms around me and connect with my heart” hugs that have been given to me throughout my mothering years and how each of those things have filled up a well inside of me. These gifts are still alive, still teaching me how to bless and love others. I want to spend my life serving others as I have been served – I want to find perfect things to do for people that will soften hearts, save backs, or nourish souls.

Now as we are getting ready to mail 500 pencil rolls to children in Uganda, I wonder what will become of these gifts. Will they be treasured? Will they last for years? Will they be passed on to younger siblings, friends, or even strangers? Will they inspire some artistic creativity? Some kindness? Will they help political relations between America and Uganda?

You just never know where a gift will end up or how it will change a life.

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trials?

Nov 8, 2009 by

I attended church today in a different ward and it seemed I was surrounded by people with problems. Big problems. There was a mother in a wheelchair who had 3 sons about 2, 5, and 7. She held the 2 year old on her lap in her wheelchair for all of the meeting. There was an older woman in a wheelchair with bright yellow safety glasses on. There was a set of twins who were born at 28 weeks and struggle with a variety of disabilities. There was a young man, 12 years old, who has been battling cancer in his knee for the last several years and could hardly walk as he passed the sacrament. There was a woman about 55 years old who hobbled down the hallway on crooked feet. There were two children with autism. There were numerous older people trying to get around with their canes. It was quite humbling to be in the midst of so many physical struggles, which I know are accompanied by emotional and spiritual struggles as well.

I spent much of my worship time pondering how the Lord teaches us and why we have the struggles we do. Why do I struggle with pride, personal prayer, prioritizing, and pregnancy (wow, 4 P’s in a row, completely not on purpose) and others struggle with cancer, divorce, resentment, or anger?

I learned (relearned to be more exact) that I am grateful for my trials. I wouldn’t really want to switch places with anyone else. I want to learn from my trials, to come closer to Christ by giving my heart to him, and to help alleviate other peoples suffering.

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eating bread

Nov 4, 2009 by

Oh my, have I got a treat for you! I just read this post and have to share it with you. It is all about one family’s experience with The Word, the Bread of Life.

It is delightful and will soothe your soul. I promise.

A Holy Experience – Eating Bread: The One Habit that’s Most Changed Us

What are your family practices to teach your core to your children? How do you create peace in your home? What have you feasted on lately?

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epiphany

Oct 17, 2009 by

This week I have been overcome with feelings that I am finding hard to put words to. These are such strong experiences though, I feel I must share.

I was asked months ago to mentor a discussion on The Lord of the Rings for a group of homeschooled youth and this week we finally met. I have been excited to share and learn together with these youth, but I had no idea what I would feel as I was there. First, we picked up another girl to ride with us to the discussion and as she and Blythe chatted on the drive the thought came to my mind, “you are so blessed to be able to spend your days involved with youth who are happy, excited about learning, and are discussing REAL ideas, instead of what movie is playing or the latest gossip of the world.”

Then, at the discussion, the youth had such great comments on leadership, friendship, journeys, fighting evil, how to prepare for our own missions, comparisons between The Lord of the Rings and Pilgrim’s Progress (really, how many youth are reading Pilgrim’s Progress today?) and a conviction that anyone, anyone at all, even themselves can change the world. We discussed so many wonderful ideas and they shared themselves with me in a way that touched me deeply. They had important ideas about their reading of this book and they let them out and shared them. Part of it felt very normal because I experience this often, but part of it felt very surreal because I think it is fairly uncommon in this busy, technological, adult-teenager-angst world.

That night I came home to a dinner made by my husband for our anniversary. He had come home early from work and made dinner while I was gone to the discussion – complete surprise to me! We still had one of the youth from the discussion with us and she and her father ended up sharing our meal. It was lovely to share our anniversary dinner (which we always do as a family because it is the day our family was created, not just the day we were married) with friends who are on this same path of learning together as families.

Once again, I thought how blessed I am to have such a simple, wonderful life.

Then…and this is the kicker…I taught gymnastics on Friday. Each week I teach 70 homeschooled students to do donkey kicks, monkey jumps, cartwheels, and back handsprings. That day, I received at least 20 giant bear hugs, some kisses, a lot of smiles, and tons of great energy. One particular girl was working on vaulting. I knew she could do a tuck-on all the way up onto the horse, but she didn’t think she could. I had her try again and again and again. Each time she landed on her knees. By her fourth or fifth try, all the parents and lots of the children were watching her, all encouraging her and hoping she would get it. She DID and the whole gym cheered for her. Most importantly, she gave me a huge smile and I could tell she had conquered her fear and was proud of herself. She had learned she could do hard things. As I went through each class, several more events like this happened and a powerful feeling washed over me…it was something like this…

“You are changing lives. You are helping these children to know who they are and what they can be. You are an instrument in My hands to love, to build, and to know these children. Give them your heart and it will provide them with strength and courage in the days to come. You are not just their gym teacher, you are their friend. Do not take their love lightly, as it is precious and life-giving.”

These words do not completely capture the feeling, but they give you a sense of it.

What a blessing to know these children and to be able to share their lives with them. I will do better to remember this and the effect I can have.

Looking back, I can remember people in my childhood that greatly influenced me…until this week I never truly realized I could be that person for someone else’s children.

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how firm a foundation

Oct 11, 2009 by

This song is one of my all time favorites. Our family loves to belt it out – all seven verses – at the top of our lungs. It is full of power, full of hope, full of commitment. Keziah is singing a solo of it in our primary program in a couple of weeks – we LOVE this song.

Today at church I testified that God knows exactly who we are and what we need. I shared the miraculous story of someone ordering us a ton of cases of food at the case-lot sale and how much our pantry had needed them and more importantly, how much our hearts had needed to know that we are not forgotten by our God. We needed to know He would prompt someone to take care of us.

This has been a very long six weeks since school started. Richard is leaving the house at 6 a.m. and not getting home till after 8 p.m.. He works six days a week. We miss him. We need him. He needs us.

And yet, we need to pay the bills. We are trying our best and it just isn’t enough.

So I bawled my head off in front of my whole congregation and told them I knew, really knew that God knows exactly what we need and our job is to have faith that He does and that He will extend His arms to us, often through earthly angels.

As I sat down, the organ started playing “How Firm a Foundation” and I burst into another torrent of tears. I sobbed through the entire hymn. Listen to these words and think about them and your relationship with your God.

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Text: Attr. to Robert Keen, ca. 1787. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.
Music: Attr. to J. Ellis, ca. 1889

If you would like to listen to it, here it is.

Isn’t that beautiful!

What more can He say to me? Really?? He has worked more miracles in our lives than I can even count. Truly, I need to trust Him completely. Why is it so hard to trust and depend on Him? His arm is stronger and more sure than anything I could possible do on my own and yet again and again I try to solve my problems myself.

New goal? Trust that I will be upheld by his righteous, omnipotent hand…and not waver!

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enough

Sep 20, 2009 by

My friend, Rebecca, has been through and is still in the middle of a huge trial. Her husband and daughter were in a motorcycle accident three months ago. Her husband almost died and was in the hospital for two months with a myriad of broken bones, an amputated leg, a head injury, and a host of other issues. Her daughter was injured as well. She keeps a blog of the recovery and she posted something so profound, so beautiful, so mind-expanding, I just had to share it with you. Check it out here.

Isn’t that lovely. I want to remember it forever.

I pray you enough.

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servant-hood – a call to action

Sep 6, 2009 by

Last night I discovered a blog that touched me to my very core.

Before you read the rest of my thoughts, go and read (If you are like me and hate music blasting out of websites, turn your sound down before you you click on the link.) this blog post.

Done?

Do you see what I mean? Worms? 10 lbs.? Lifeless? Cardboard box-house? I knew this was out there, but now I KNOW. I know and now that I know, I cannot turn my back from them.

This girl is in Uganda trying to save lives AND save souls. She needs help. More help than we can imagine.

Go read this post of hers as well.

She is a normal American girl who has given her heart to Christ and to the children of Uganda.

Now go read her organization’s website.

Did you go to the “stories” link? If not, go back and read them. All of them.

I want to do something to help. I am pondering what it is that I am to do. What God wants me to do. I invite you to do the same and then let me know if you would like to be involved in a group effort.

I am a Christian woman. I want to serve my King. I want to serve His children. I want to be a force for good in this world. I want to bring all of these babies home with me, but since that is not possible, I need to figure out what I can do. What I must do to help my heart feel better about my service to my fellow-man.

Please post your thoughts and how you would like to help in the comments section. I will develop a plan of action and we will make a difference. I know it.

p.s. When I read the posts to Richard he asked if this meant I was going to Africa. He so knows my passions run overboard. So to those of you wondering this as well – no, I am not going to Africa. I am however going to figure out a way to help.

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carpe diem

Aug 17, 2009 by

We are home again. It was so good for my spirit to be away from this world of busyness, cell phones, internet, laundry, vacuuming, emails, distractions…yes, that is it, distractions that keep me from being who I really want to be and from doing what I really want to do. I cannot tell you how lovely my mountains are. They are part of me. I see them when I close my eyes. You know that “special place” all those birth books tell you to go to relax. I think its supposed to be a warm sandy beach with soft ocean waves lapping at your feet. Well, Green River Lakes is anything but that, but it is my special place. It has gotten me through four births. It gives me rejuvenation every year. It gives me strength. It grounds me. Those mountains work their magic on me and I feel more me.

I have been learning a lesson lately about change and savoring opportunities when they present themselves or even chasing them down when they don’t quite land in a gift wrapped package on my doorstep. This lesson has been building in my heart and mind for awhile, but this trip to my favorite place in the world (besides my husband’s arms) helped give it shape and drive it home.

Things change. They do. I think I haven’t always known this. I think I thought things would always be the same. The same stores would always be there. The same people would always be part of my life. The same books would be on my shelves. The same foods would always be available. The same clothes would be worn. The same hair stylist would be in the same salon in the same town and would have the same incredible skills. The same children would be adorable babies. The same trees would always be there.

Well, guess what? That is all a bunch of hooey. Stores close. People move, die, or drift on. Books get lent, lost, or destroyed. Favorite foods are no longer made. Clothes get stains, get holes, or are grown out of. Stylists leave or stop cutting well. Children grow up.

And trees? Yes, they get cut down.

My trees. My trees I grew up running around, sitting under, tying ropes to, hiding behind, and feeling completely safe in are gone. The forest service has cut them down. They have changed my favorite place in the world so completely it feels as if I have lost an arm, or a leg, or a best friend. As I walked around touching stumps and thinking of my friends, the trees, I was filled with memories of my childhood. Of running down to the lake with Camille, past the rock horse, across the watermelon stream, down through the trees where no one could see us. Of playing tag at the bathroom rocks for hours, surrounded by trees in our own little world. Of playing space ships on the hillside in the dark, not because it was nighttime, but because the trees were shading every inch of ground.

As adults, we have been camping there all but one year of our married life when it was closed due to a fire. I looked at tree stumps that once had been trees holding homemade swings for Blythe and Andie. I remembered Rook games, hot chocolate, meteor showers, and campfire songs under my trees. I remembered midnight talks with my cousins, walks with my grandma, cooking pancakes and fish over the fire, playing softball on our “field”, celebrating the girls’ birthdays, hanging up tarps, and watching moose amble through camp – always surrounded by my trees.

Now they are gone.

So are a lot of other things in other areas of my life and I have been trying to work my heart around all of that. My grandma is gone. Some of my friends are gone. My friend’s husband’s leg is gone. The grocery store I grew up in is gone. My favorite pants are worn right out and need to be gone. My dishes are slowly breaking and being thrown away (I only have 2 bowls left of 8!) My little brother and sister are finally grown up and moved out of the house we were raised in. My mother is almost 60. My miscarried babies, eight of them, are not here in my arms. My midwife may not be practicing anymore. My little ones are growing up (we just had our first birthday of birthday season and will have one a month till November). Our first violin teacher moved. Our next violin teacher just stopped teaching. Some of my friends’ marriages have ended. Each of our vehicles are on their way out.

Some of these are big, some of these are small. They have all played a part in teaching me that nothing is forever. Change is inevitable and I need to figure out a way to accept it. But accepting it is not the biggest part of the lesson – carpe diem is.

Seize the day. I need to live in the present with those I love and seize the magical moments of life. I need to live without regrets by truly living each day, not just existing. I need to love with my whole heart even if I know it is going to end up hurt. I need to give of myself to others, for tomorrow they may not be with me. I need to enjoy the blessings of each hour and not take them for granted. I need to live. I need to love.

I have learned something else.

There is one thing that is forever.

Love.

What lasts? Ice cream melts, flowers wilt, the leaves of autumn fall. Sunsets fade, seasons change, and children don’t stay small. Balloons pop, snowfalls stop, do summers last? Never! Weekends fly, today will die, but families are forever.

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obsessions or treasured opportunities?

Jul 11, 2009 by

I have been a mother for nigh on 13 years. I have learned a lot during that time and wanted to share one pearl with you. Take it or leave it – perhaps it will be helpful on your mothering path, perhaps not.

My children are obsessive. They get totally wrapped up in something and that is all they do for days, weeks, or months. When Blythe first started doing this, I thought it was kind of cute, then perhaps a tad strange, then I thought I needed to intercede and get her interested in something else. I have learned, however, to let these obsessions play themselves out. I now know I need to take advantage of the obsession and help them learn all they can about whatever it is because it will pass and then they will be obsessed about something else and may not go back to the previous obsession. It may be my one chance to teach them about that topic.

Examples, you ask?

When Blythe was about 3, she was enamored by bugs. She and I would go for walks nearly every day and she would find and follow the bugs who were out walking as well. She would tell me all about their legs and wings and eyes and colors and what they liked to do. She would introduce herself to perfect strangers by saying “I’m a bug-lover, what are you?”

Now she wants nothing to do with bugs and says they are the worst part of the summer.

When Blythe was 5 and 6, she would listen to the Book of Mormon from 5 a.m. until bedtime. She did this every day for months and months and months. Each day when I would wake up, she would already be awake, drawing in her room, and listening. She would listen all day long. She would bring the CD’s with us wherever we went, begging to listen to them in the car. At family scripture time, we would read multiple chapters and she would be so sad when we were done. She wanted more. She would tell scripture stories to pretty much everyone she met. She listened to the Book of Mormon over 30 times during that obsession and knew the whole thing almost word for word. She would quote me entire chapters and then ask questions like “What do you think it means that the first shall be last and the last should be first? Do you think it means the Jews and the Gentiles will each come to a knowledge of the Lord or do you think it means something else?”

Now she dutifully reads a chapter of the Book of Mormon a day, but the obsession is gone.

Around age 6, she became obsessed with The Chronicles of Narnia. Once again, she listened to them every day for hours. I read the whole series to her, repeatedly.

Now, she still enjoys them, but the obsession is gone.

Around 7 1/2, she became completely and totally engrossed in The Lord of the Rings. She listened to the entire book – all 1000+ pages – over and over again. She sang the elf songs, she spoke to us in elvish, she recited Bilbo’s poems, she knew every character, every event, every thing about the saga.

This obsession is kind of still going, although it is not in the intense “I must devour this book this instant” phase.

Fisher has been obsessed with airplanes since he was about 6 months old. He could hear them miles away and would sign to us that an airplane was in the sky. He would crawl outside and would not be satisfied until he could see it for himself. He has checked out books about airplanes nearly every week at the library for several years. He watches airplane movies with a drugged look of pure euphoria. He slept with his airplane book that was a birthday present from Grandma Dorothy for months.

This obsession is still going strong, but now we are building on it by teaching him about engines, wings, missiles, etc.

There are also annual obsessions that need to be taken advantage of. A recent one in our family was patriotic music needing to be learned for the girls’ America’s Hope performance. They have sung these songs for hours and hours on end for the last couple of months. At times, it drove me bonkers. Then I would remind myself to let them sing their hearts out so the lessons of liberty would sink deep into their hearts and increase their love for America. I knew Independence Day would come and these songs would not be of huge interest for another year.

There are many more instances I could give you, of each of my children, but I think you get the picture. Now, the wisdom I have gained is let them listen, read, build, explore, etc…the obsession will pass naturally once they have gained all they need to from the subject. If it becomes a source of tension between parent and child, then the child will cling to the obsession all the more fiercely. If the parent delights in it with them and enjoys it with them, then the child will be able to discuss it with their parent and get even more learning out of it. Now, I didn’t say this is easy. It can drive me batty to have someone in my home so focused on a specific topic. I remember saying once, (even though I love, love, love the Book of Mormon) “We have got to turn this off! I just can’t listen to it another moment!”

Now that she is only reading a chapter a day, I sure am grateful I let her listen to her heart’s content when she was young!

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inadequacies

Jun 25, 2009 by

We are all inadequate; that is simply part of the human condition and it’s a major temptation to dwell on that rather than accepting and understanding that we do the best we can and that is all that God expects of us. Sometimes the best we can is far better than we think it is.

Madeleine L’Engle penned these words and I love, love, love them. Isn’t it refreshing to stop thinking of being “perfect”, but instead focus on what God expects us to do. What He expects ME to do, not you or my mom or my grandma, but ME, only ME. That is all I need to focus on. My stuff to do is different than your stuff to do.

This quote also inspires me to do better, not because I have to, but because I know deep down inside that God created me for greatness. He knows I can do better than what I am doing. He knows I can be better – more kind, more loving, more brave, more forgiving, more repentant, more joyful, more hardworking, more stalwart, more me, and most importantly, more Him if I will only let Him mold me, teach me, and love me. Knowing that He knows that, helps me remember to know it as well.

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dads needed

Jun 19, 2009 by

Dads are exactly what children need. They give guidance, correction, love, fun, and leadership. They teach differently than moms. Not better, not worse, just different. I believe God created men and women to be different in order to bless us. Each offers something unique and needed to the world, to the family, and to the marriage. Here is an article highlighting how important dads are:

Let’s Not Forget Role of Fathers
by Wade F. Horn

Several years ago, rangers in the Kruger National Park in Africa were faced with a problem. The elephant population at the park had grown so large that rangers devised a plan to disburse elephants to other parks.

Being huge creatures, elephants are not easily transported. So, the rangers constructed a specially designed harness, which they attached to a helicopter to airlift the elephants to other wildlife preserves.

However, while the helicopters were able to lift the juvenile and adult female elephants, the much larger adult bull elephants proved too heavy for the harness. Consequently, the juvenile and the adult female elephants were relocated without the presence of any adult males.

All seemed to go smoothly until rangers at Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, the elephants’ new home, started to notice something strange. Rhinos were suddenly turning up dead.

At first, the ranger thought this might be the work of poachers seeking the precious horns of the rare white rhinos. But upon closer examination, none of the rhinos’ horns were missing. Moreover, their wounds did not resemble rifle shots, but punctures made by long sharp objects. If this was not the work of poachers, who was killing the white rhinos?

To find out, the rangers set up hidden cameras throughout the park. What they found astonished them. The culprits were bands of young, hyper-aggressive male elephants who, after chasing the rhinos, knocked them down and then gored them to death with their tusks.

Such behavior is unheard of in elephants. Elephants are generally docile creatures that rarely attack other animals, especially in packs. Yet these juvenile male elephants had banded together and were terrorizing not just the white rhinos, but other animals a well. What could be causing such bizarre behavior?

The rangers came upon a theory. Under normal circumstances, a dominant adult bull elephant keeps the younger (ones under) control. Perhaps these young, transported bull elephants were missing the civilizing presence of their elders.

To test this theory, the rangers brought in a number of older bull elephants. Sure enough, the older bull elephants soon let the younger ones know that such ruffian behavior was, well, not elephantlike.

Within weeks, the acting-out behavior ceased. Instead of terrorizing other animals in the park, the younger bull elephants now were following the older bull elephants around, imitating their more appropriate – and civilized – elephant behavior.

I am so grateful my Richard plays, laughs, wrestles, builds, prays, reads, cleans, cooks, and snuggles our children. He is a wonderful father and we are all so blessed to have him be the “papa” of our home.Richard, Fisher, and Annesley

Happy Father’s Day.

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what you were born to do

Jun 18, 2009 by

Some inspiring quotes from G. G. Vandagriff, a writer over at Meridian Magazine.

A weight lifted from me, and I took a deep breath. Then, another message came, ‘Death is not the ultimate tragedy. The ultimate tragedy is not doing what you were born to do.’

When we are living hand in hand with our Savior and Father in Heaven, doors will open so we can accomplish what needs to be done. Our greatest enemy will be self-doubt, which can crumble faith faster than anything.

D&C 132: 24: “For this is life eternal to know God and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent.” Any road that takes us to that destination is the road we were meant to take.

Find the rest of this article at Meridian Magazine.

When I read this article this morning, a smile filled my heart. Finding one’s mission in life gives you purpose each day, determination to finish the task, and joy along the way. I believe that knowing you are doing those things that God sent you here to do changes everything. It makes the late nights possible, the exhaustion doable, and the excitement palpable.

Go read that last quote up above. Do you ever wonder if you are in the right place? Do you ever wish you could go back in time, change a decision, take a different path? I have.

That quote up there brought some lovely thoughts to my mind. If I end up closer to Christ, to knowing Him, to being like Him, then the road accomplished what it needed to. It helped me in my journey. I need to stop questioning past decisions, stop beating myself up, stop wondering and be grateful for the paths that have led me to want to be a mother, want to serve my fellowman, want to be kind, want to repent, want to rejoice, want to love, and want to give my heart to my Lord.

I am reading The Lord of the Rings right now. The travellers are right in the midst of this, wondering if the choice to go through the mines was right, if the choice to go down the river was right, if the choice to go to Rohan was right…and yet, they are on the right road. They are accomplishing their mission. They need to trust.

We all do.

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hope

Jun 9, 2009 by

A few days ago I was reading the June Ensign (which is chock full of amazing articles! Check out the ones on “Our Refined Heavenly Home”, “Leading Class Discussions”, “Granola Crumbs & Paint Cans”, woohoo, they are all fabulous this month!) article entitled “Hope: The Misunderstood Sister”. May I just say, my life was changed. My entire outlook was altered. I felt like I could begin to see clearly again.

The premise of the article is that the concept of hope is seriously misunderstood. We hope for things…we hope dinner turns out, we hope the baby stays asleep, we hope we make it on time, we hope we get that new job. But often times, those things don’t turn out. Did we not hope enough? Is hope not strong or effective enough? Or is it possible we don’t, well, really, I, don’t understand what hope is and how I can obtain it?

The last few many months I have literally been without hope. I have not been able to see a way out the financial mess we are in. I have not been able to see any way for Richard to earn more money. I have not been able to see how we can go on with him working every day except Sundays at jobs that are physically and emotionally exhausting. I have not been able to see how our children can go on missing him so desperately and wanting him to spend time with them. I have been full of fear, worry, sleepless nights, pain, and sorrow. I could not see a way out, over, or through…and so, I gave up. I gave up hoping for an answer.

Then, I opened my Ensign and read the article. The author discusses Romans 5:3-5, which says, in part, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”

The author was perplexed at the meaning of these verses and I have been as well. I know that tribulations bring patience. I have even been able to rejoice in many of my tribulations because I can see how they changed me into a better, more patient, and more loving daughter of God. For many years, one of my favorite scriptures has been James 1:2-3. I can see how God has helped some measure of patience to develop within me and how that leads to experience (or knowledge, wisdom, etc.). What I haven’t understood is how that leads to hope!

In the article, the author says:

For me, things I don’t understand about the gospel are like pieces of a larger puzzle I’m working on. If I don’t see where they fit, I put them aside and work on other parts of the picture…

And so one day, as I reexamined this particular puzzle piece, I saw a possible connection I hadn’t seen before. When we endure tribulation with faith and patience, what we experience is the Savior’s awareness of us and His love for us. We experience them through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. We receive this witness after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6).

In my own life, when I patiently endure trials, the Savior, who took upon Himself all of our ills and sorrows (see Alma 7:11–12), ministers to me through the Spirit. I experience the Savior’s tender mercies. My trials may continue, but having taken upon me the yoke of Christ, I find Him sharing my yoke, making my burdens bearable, and giving me hope. I then have strength to endure. I have assurance that all will be made right, not just in eternity but also for eternity. Hope is anything but wishful. It is expectation based on experience.

I see Hope more clearly now. She is serene. Her eyes have the deep, knowing look of someone well acquainted with sorrow, the luminosity of recently being wet with tears. Hope has the confidence of one who clearly sees a bright future even when the next hours seem fog shrouded. Hope is steady and strong, a friend I am glad to have beside me during my own trials.

Did you read that? Did it change you? It changed me dramatically. See, I knew that God had provided for us for the past 2 1/2 years since my husband’s company closed. I knew that He knew our needs and sent people in to love us, help us, and provide for us. I knew that He had opened the hearts of many, many people and inspired them to bring us food, money, clothing, and hugs at just the right time. I wish I had written down all of the miracles that He has given us, for they have been tender, perfect, and sustaining. I knew that he created ways for me to earn money to buy the little things, through my gymnastics program, selling diapers, attending births, or teaching classes. I knew that He loved us, oh so dearly. However, in the midst of knowing these things, I also could see no way out. I could see no way to keep our house, to feed our family, to have more than $5 in our checking account, to have Richard be able to spend time with us again.

Then the answer came. I have learned that God does love us and will work miracles on our behalf. Because of that knowledge, I can have faith that He will continue to do so. I still cannot see the way out, but I now have hope that He can and He does. He will help us. I know He will because He has spent so much time teaching me who He is and how He works. He has taken care of us. Regardless of what happens to our home, I know we are in His hands and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Thank you to each one of you who have been God’s hands in blessing our family. You have given us your love, your time, your money, and your food. We thank you and hope to be able to bless others the way we have been blessed.

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happy mother’s day from richard

May 10, 2009 by

An amazing woman is behind the very cute and worthwhile wetoatmealkisses.com web site. And like most of the truly great things that go on in this world there will likely be no parades or celebrations. Politicians will not call for a renewed effort to emulate the character of her. Movie moguls will not be meeting with screen writers and actors in a multimillion dollar blockbuster effort trying to tell her story.

More likely the wise of the world will find fault with this tremendous lady. They will criticize her for wasting her intellect, selfishly choosing to use it on her husband and children instead of blessing the world. They will chastise her for using her own judgments for health and not blindly following advice from professionals. Much lamentation will be had in her deciding to educate her own children and teaching them not only their facts and figures but also godly virtues, and a love of God and mankind.

There are many in the world who will not appreciate the greatness of this woman that I love. To them I’d like to say……………well…………. To them I’d like to say many things, but because I am trying to live worthy of Tracy it would be better if I didn’t say it. BUT I’M THINKING IT!!!!!!!! Actually it isn’t hard to be dismissive of the nay-sayers because the blessing it has been to be her husband makes life truly enjoyable and peaceful. I want and need to be better for her. Watching her try to help not only my children and I, but those in our community and extended family, makes me realize I’m not trying hard enough.

Though the world with its glitz and glamour may try to discredit her, the flimsy foundation of those who do so is built on such false arguments that it will never be able to contain this kind of woman. The weighty matters that she helps propel in our home will break down the oppressor, take power from the media and help to build the kingdom of God which will never be broken. The framework she is building will last generations, not days or weeks. She will influence for years past her time on earth. Popularity and propaganda are only for the moment and ultimately have no lasting power.

Mine is the privilege of being her companion on this journey, and thankful am I for that. Happy Birthday and Mothers day. I love you much more than I have the capacity to say.

Eternally yours,
Richard

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