Monday, September 30, 2013

The Experiment

I went to the Women's General Conference session on Saturday.  Our women's organization is called the Relief Society.  The president, her counselors, and also our prophet spoke to women all over the world via satellite and internet broadcasts.

My mother-in-law is the president of the Relief Society in our area of Florida (our stake).  She, with her counselors, provided a nice dinner and activity before the broadcast.  I did the dishes and served the food.  While I placed food on the tables, a sister, whom I don't even attend church with, approached me among the almost 200 women.

She said she was getting ready to start an experiment of reading her scriptures through a special program.  This program of intense scripture study is tailored to bring more inspiration and miracles into our lives.

After explaining the program, she said, "I saw you from across the room and thought you might need some miracles in your life."  I didn't look sad or anything.  I was smiling quite big, so I don't know why she thought of me.  This woman did not know about my "Daily Miracles" blog, and she did not know how badly I am praying for a good job for my husband and a home for our family...  "You bet I could use some inspiration," I thought.

I don't have all the details of her reading program; but I DO know that although I have been reading my scriptures, I could devote MUCH more time and thought into that study time.  I have been kind of marking it off my list each day without losing myself in the messages contained therein like I should.

I opened my scriptures today, and the next chapter in my reading just "happened" to be my very favorite chapter about faith.  It was in Alma 32 of the Book of Mormon.  In Alma 32:27, it says"experiment upon my words."

I absolutely KNOW that it was not a coincidence that this woman spoke to me of all the women about finding miracles through the scriptures.  I also absolutely KNOW that it was not coincidence that the first day I decided to attempt this experiment, I read the very verse that told me in those exact words to experiment upon the Lord's words.

Also, on an even more personal note, I received a special blessing as a 14 year old girl.  It was my patriarchal blessing.  In it, for an entire paragraph, I was urged to read the scriptures with a stronger resolve.  It spoke of the powers of strength, knowledge, joy, and peace that I would receive if I read the scriptures in the way they were intended.  I believe that to be true, and I believe that promise of strength, knowledge, joy, and peace applies to ALL of God's children who choose to read HIS word with more depth.

I don't know if this experiment will give us a job and a home in the time that I want it (because I really want it right now:-)), but I DO KNOW that miracles come and angels speak to our hearts when we devote more quality time to opening our hearts and minds to the Holy Ghost and "feast upon the words of Christ" (2 Nephi 32:3).

I am beginning this journey today to more fully experiment upon the words of Christ on a deeper level.  Before my other entries, I will report my progress on here each day.

I believe in the scriptures.  I believe there are angels helping us daily.  I believe in prayer.  I believe in the Holy Ghost.  I believe in my perfect Heavenly Father.  I believe in my Savior, Jesus Christ, who has offered us a way to be saved.  I believe in miracles. I believe in YOU and that YOU CAN and DO find miracles in your life.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Abe in his Hooptie Ride

This morning I read in my scriptures about a group of people who were extremely prideful.  They stood on their Rameumptom, which was their holy stand, where they claimed they were better than all others because of their gold and silver and extreme righteousness.

I giggled a little as I looked out the window at Abe's car.

Abe currently drives a 23 year old Lincoln Towncar around town, which, in its day was really nice.

When I was a kid, my dad drove a big van with colored stripes across the side.  We called it the A-Team Van.  I found out later that Abe's dad also drove a big van with colors flaring that they named the A-Team Van.  What are the chances that we would both grow up gaining character riding around in similar "A-Team" vans?  Now we drive the kids around in an awesome 12 passenger shuttle van.

Abe was driving the kids to school in his car a couple of days ago when out of the blue Jackson said, "You have a modest car, Dad"

Abe asked, "What do you mean?"  

Jackson responded,  "Well, you're not driving it around to show it off to people."

I laughed so hard when Abe told me this because in all honesty, that is one of the very reasons I married Abe.  I had dated so many guys who bragged about their nice cars that it sickened me.  One was even bold enough to say he was worried that I might like him for his car!!  Not only did I not like him for his car, but the fact that he would even be thinking so highly of his car made me not want to date him ever again!

When I dated Abe, we definitely did not look "cool" in his Buick Skylark; but when I saw his confidence in his old beat up car, I knew he was a man of true character.  The car did not define him.  Now... his own son was recognizing this humility and true character in his father.  I'm also grateful he was not embarrassed to ride with his father in the modest car.

Modesty, in all its forms, is the guardian of virtue.  

This car has served us well for over 3 years, and it was a gift from my dear grandmother.  She gave her car to Abe when she decided it was time for her to stop driving.  The only problem with this car (besides a window that won't roll up on demand when a rain storm hits) is that the two stereotypical groups of people who drive these cars are grandmothers and gangsters.  Since Abe is clearly not a grandmother, he has been assumed to be the latter.

A black man driving a "gangster" car raises some suspicions for many police officers.

In Michigan, Abe was pulled over 8 times in that car.  He was only speeding once.  All 7 other times???  Well... the police officers were just "making sure everything was ok."  Here in Florida, Abe has been pulled over once in our first month... again.... he was NOT speeding.

Note:  The blue bag is only in place when the window is stuck.  He didn't even have the blue bag hanging on the edge of the window when they pulled him over.  Because I DO admit, that blue bag could raise a few suspicions.  Abe, in his complete humility, never acts angry or bitter for these stereotypical actions.  He allows them to learn who he really is as a person... not just a black man driving a low rider, hooptie ride.

Abe's humility has been a source of much inspiration in our lives.

I believe God can work through the hearts of those living by the code of virtue, humility, and modesty.

Last night, I read from Sports Illustrated about a BYU football player who was recently suspended for his actions which broke the honor code.   In this young man's sorrow for his actions, a beautiful miracle unfolded because God worked through his humbled soul.

It's a GREAT story.  Please read:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Where Is the Miracle?

Yesterday, I made a nice big breakfast of eggs and pancakes for my oldest 2 boys before they raced off to school for their early classes.  They had a cross-country race, so I wanted to formulate the perfect meals so they would be strong but not weighed down.  At lunch, I made sure they ate a healthy balance of carbs and proteins as well.  The kids were excited for their big race.  There are only 4 races in the whole season, and they had improved considerably over the last week.

The boys met with their team to travel on the bus, and we packed up our van with snacks, all the children, and Grandmommy too.  It was about 40 minutes away.  We stopped for gas and picked the gas station that looked like it would be the fastest in and out situation.  When Abe ran in to pre-pay for his pump, an older man came over and used our pump for his car!

I leaned my head out the window and said, "Hey!  You can't do that."  He explained that he had told the cashier the wrong pump, so he was just using ours.  What he didn't know was that Abe had already corrected the situation and the cashier had transferred the man's amount over to his correct pump.  Now this stranger was using our money and our pump.  The manager had to come correct everything, and Abe had to return to the inside of the gas station several times.  Needless to say, we were there for a LONG time as I impatiently watched the clock tick.

We finally got on the road again.  We were only a few minutes away from the meet when we received a message from Jackson that his bus had just arrived to pick them up from their school.  Upon arrival, the bus driver realized she had a flat tire.  We called Jackson to find out what was going on.  He sadly broke the news that the team had no way to get there now because by the time another bus could come, they would miss the race.  We were all so irritated... not because of the flat tire- that happens- but because the bus (for the 2nd week in a row) was VERY late.  Even more irritating was that it was part of the original plan from the athletic director to get the kids to the race only 20 minutes before it started, so when the bus was late AND with a flat tire, that left no buffer time.  If the bus had come early or even on time and then had the flat tire, there would have been time for other options to get the kids to their race.

I felt especially irritated because I'm their main school teacher and their main coach.  Win or lose... I LOVE watching the kids perform.  The looks on their faces as they try their very hardest is the treat at the end of all the work and training.

We sadly turned our van around to pick up our children at the school.  I felt my irritation build towards the school for their poor planning.  I prayed for something good to come out of this.  It was sad to see the boys climb into the van wearing the uniforms... but no race.  Our smiles slowly returned as we re-enacted our own race (in the car) as we neared our home- I was the announcer... announcing them as the winners.

Trying to make "something good to come out of this" I decided to make a special dinner.  The highlight was home-made chips and fresh guacamole dip.  Right during dinner, Jayden stood up, coughed once, and threw up all over the table.  Abe's mom grabbed her plate and went running.  The kids all screamed and shoved their chairs backwards, and I swooshed Jayden away to the shower while my hero husband cleaned the table.  Half of our food had to be thrown away.  Thank goodness for Abe's cleaning skills!

The night continued... Abe, the children, and I rehearsed an African song, dance, and drum piece we would be performing for the multi-cultural night at church on Friday.  That went great.  Their African roots were flowing from their bodies. :-)

The night continued... Jackson, Tyson, and Jordan and I decided to go for an impromptu late night run.  It was beautiful to run with my boys in the quiet of the night alongside the peaceful lakes.  Lights glistened off the smooth water.

As I said my prayers, the most special moment in the day became vivid in my memory.

This moment was better than the race could have ever been.  It was better than my hero husband cleaning up all the throw up.  It was better than my children's African roots flowing from their cute little bodies.  It was even better than our moonlit run.

God reminded me of the moment in the day when I had been searching the house for Jackson.  I had called his name several times until I found him quietly reading his scriptures on the couch.  He hadn't responded because he was so enthralled in the scriptures.  My heart was overjoyed to see my middle school aged child choosing and remembering to feed and strengthen his soul with God's word.

Most days, there are irritating moments, moments of disappointment, moments of disaster, and moments of beauty.  As I prayed to God, HE showed me the moment of a true miracle...

Yes, my son's athletic ability is increasing each day; but more importantly, his spirituality is increasing even greater with each day.  Seeing the sweet expression on his face as he looked up at me from his scripture reading beat any finish line expression I could have witnessed for the day.  I thank God for showing me HIS miracles of the Spiritual growth in my 11 year old son.  After all, that really is the most important to me.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Love Bug

There is a bug here in Florida that I had never seen before.  It's called the LOVE BUG!

Every August and September, they come here in large numbers.  They mate while they are in the air and stay connected!  The females fly and walk forward while the connected male is pulled in a backwards motion.

They don't bite or sting anyone- they just invade your space!!  Several of them crawl all over your arms, legs, hands, and hair at the same time.

Most people speak frustration of their presence.  I was warned by many that the Love Bugs would be coming.

When they did come, I heard many adults and children complain about the bothersome bug.  Jordan, my 7- year old, claimed he couldn't even do his math because of them!

Mariah's squeal of excitement overpowered their complaints.  As the bugs crawled all over her, she exclaimed, "They LOVE ME!!"

At first I giggled at her response because the Love Bugs "love" everyone.  They BOMBARD us with that "love."  We literally have to shake them off of us just to have them return again two seconds later.

Little 5-year old Mariah saw it differently.  She actually felt ADORED by them.  She truly felt SPECIAL for being their landing zone.  What perspective!  

She does this all the time.  Not only does she see the positive side of most situations, but she also assumes that she is loved by everyone. 

How would life look to us if we assumed that we were loved by everyone?  Well, Mariah's outlook is that she also loves everyone else... no skepticism.... just love.  She "mothers" her brothers and sisters and gives grand hugs and smiles to other little children and adults of all ages needing a friend.  Her assumption of others' good intentions towards her is her catalyst for being a human love bug to all of us.  

I know that there are SOME who do not have good intentions.  I pray that as she grows older, the Spirit will continue to guide her love, and I pray that life's hurts won't weigh down her confident, loving nature.  God would have us all love so generously.  Isn't HIS love unending and generous?  I will try to see those around me with the eyes of my Love Bug Mariah.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Birds Are Singing!

My day started off beautifully today.

Mariah burst into the house and announced, "Mommy!  The birds were singing to me!"

I responded, "Wow!  Really?  How did they do that?"

She said, "I heard chirping out the door, and then I went out there and saw three birds.  The other two weren't singing.  The one was singing on the tree.  Then they stopped.  Then I went and started to chirp.  Then all three birds started to sing again."

Birds were singing to my daughter... how could I not go with faith to my doctor's appointment today?

Abe accompanied me to the hospital.  I sat in the waiting room not wanting to speak hardly a word; I just held his strong hand and looked at it remembering all the wonderful ways his hands had comforted me.

The other 2 women waiting with me didn't speak either.  We were there for the diagnostic mammogram.  These are given when there is reason for worry.  Mine included a mammogram under a stronger microscope and also an ultrasound.

I imagine the other women had my same worry:  "What if there is something inside of me trying to take my life at this very moment?"  A woman muttered something about her nerves.  I agreed.  Then they called my name.  I went in for the ultrasound, and we wished God's blessings on each other.

I felt peace as I walked in.  I couldn't believe it... I felt peace.  For just a small moment I questioned how I could have peace.  Then I quickly remembered I had many prayers on my behalf.

The tech finished the ultrasound, and we waited patiently for the results.  She returned after the radiologist had assessed the images and stated with complete assurance:  "There is no cancer."

I was stunned.  I was overjoyed.  I walked out of the room thanking God and making personal promises to live a better life... to stress a little less... to encourage and believe in crazy dreams a little more.

I anxiously texted my mother the good news as I walked out of the hospital.

My mother, my hero, will always feel the pain of losing my sister to cancer.  My mother, my hero, fought her own cancer while she continued to teach special education to many small children.  My mother, my hero, suffered these last several days with me as mothers do.  She felt my pain and worry with me.

Now, upon hearing the great news, my mother texted me back:   "Thank you God!   Thank you Thank you Thank you!"  Another friend sent the very fitting message:  "Hallelujah!"

My boys arrived home from cross-country practice shortly after I arrived home.  They announced that they ran the fastest mile of their lives.  We all high-fived each other.  Then I announced that I didn't have cancer!

Hugs from my children encircled me.

With a sweeping sword action Jackson cried, "Cancer didn't win this battle.  Cancer tried to hold on to you, but your faith hit it off.  The cancer fell onto a Venus fly trap.  It closed; then all the poison killed the cancer!"  I surely appreciated his dramatic interpretation!

I will return for a diagnostic mammogram in 6 months, but all looks well!

The birds are singing!

Thank you God!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!!  Hallelujah!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Strong Through What?

I tried to write in my blog last night, and I couldn't.  I tried to write early this morning, and I couldn't.  I tried again to write just now, and I couldn't... until I expressed what was really in my heart... until I wrote what God is really doing in my life at this moment.

I am headed to the doctor today to hopefully resolve some concerns that I have about my health.  Frankly, these concerns have been taking over any other thoughts in my head for the past several days.

It is a very unsettling feeling to look at your life with different eyes.  On one hand I begin to feel angry that something could be wrong with my healthy body.  On the other hand... I have felt more patient with the small details that aren't going right.

It is the unknown that is the most unsettling.  The questions... the possibilities... the doubts...

How does one let go of the yearning to know what it is that God has in store for the immediate future? How long do I have to wait to find out?

My husband and father-in-law gave me a priesthood blessing saying that my body would be strong.  That statement alone raised other questions in my mind... strong through what? 

In my state of worry, two different friends on Facebook left messages on my wall expressing that I am a strong woman.  I didn't tell them that I am facing a difficult health situation and that I needed to hear that I was strong.  I will eventually tell them just how inspired they were.

I began to read the Ensign this morning hoping to take my mind elsewhere.  My Ensign magazine fell open to a page in the middle of a story that I had never opened to before.  It talked about the courage of a man who faced the exact same question that worried my heart.  In shock, I turned to the front of the story... and cried.  He faced and conquered what I feared.

Maybe "strong through what" isn't the lesson I need to learn... just that God wants me to be strong.

My Doctor Visit

I waited all weekend to speak to a health professional about my health concern, and she calmed my nerves a great deal.  I found three lumps in my chest last week, and to say that I have been worried would be an understatement.  Breast cancer runs in my family, and all weekend I have been praying and pleading with my Heavenly Father to keep me alive to raise my children.  Nightmares dominated my sleep.  I couldn't do anything fun just for the fun of it.  My mind wouldn't allow me to do it!

As beautiful as Heaven will be, I couldn't bare the thought of leaving my beautiful children before I felt that my work was finished with them.  I don't think I'll ever feel ready!  There are just too many amazing things yet to do in this life.

As my doctor checked me over, she said she could feel my worry.  Tears flowed down my cheeks and my palms sweat profusely.  I wanted so badly for my body to stay healthy and strong for my family.

Good News!

My doctor believes the lumps in my chest are merely cysts, (*Relief*) but I will get the official report tomorrow after the ultrasound and diagnostic mammogram.  I would greatly appreciate your prayers, but I do feel STRONG!!

Something strange happened... I got so caught up in my fears that I had forgotten my strength!  The challenge is to find that strength in the midst of the trial.

Again... Strong through what?  Strong through EVERYTHING because God is with us through EVERYTHING.  As we dig deep and muster up whatever courage or strength remains within in us, God steps in to strengthen those remains when we think we're at our end.

I received a second blessing last night to calm my nerves.  I wanted the main message to tell me that I did not have cancer.  Instead... over and over again, I received the message of Jesus Christ's great love for me.  HIS love is great and forever comforting.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Lord's House

I had never been to or even seen the Orlando temple before.  As we approached the temple last night, I was surprised to see it towering above everything else.  What a beautiful sight!  The location, grounds, entryway, and Celestial room took my breath away.

While I was on my mission in Bolivia, I taught a man who worked on the Cochabamba, Bolivia Temple.  He was an engineer and had worked on several projects around the country.  He was not yet a member but was surprised at the superior materials used on the temple that nobody would ever see deep within the walls.  He had never worked on a project where so much perfection was expected.  He was so moved by the level of excellence expected by every last detail of that building that he knew the temple he was working on had to be the Lord's house.  He requested to pay his tithing to the church even before he was baptized because he knew it was the true church! 

I was blessed to teach this man and his family the gospel and watch him enter the waters of baptism.  

It is a strength to me to know that his testimony stemmed from working on the Lord's house.  

My experience in the temple yesterday was beautiful and spiritually uplifting in every way.  I too know the temple is the Lord's house.  It is in the temple where I have received the ordinances possible to be connected and sealed to my family for now and throughout the eternities.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Literal Obedience at the Finish Line

Jackson and Tyson ran their first cross country race today.  Tyson asked what place he should come in; I told him it didn't matter, but he should just run his hardest.

One of my best friends growing up always told me her father said that if she didn't throw up at the end of a race then she wasn't running her hardest.  I always thought that was pretty intense; but as a joke, I told Jackson and Tyson that they would know they ran their hardest if they threw up at the end.

My two young boys gathered at the start line amongst 110 other boys ages 11-14.  I revved my boys and their teammates up by assuring them that pain was ok, so they could run with all they had.  I said a lot of prayers that my boys would feel good about their runs.

The gun went off, and I could see them running their hearts out.  We all ran to different check points to encourage them.  I always tear up when I watch my kids AND other people's kids running because they are so young and putting so much effort into their race.  I especially love the final stretch to the finish line because their faces are so full of intensity.

Jackson rounded the final corner before Tyson did, and I could tell he was giving everything he had.  We all screamed for his success.  He crossed the finish line... and promptly threw up.  Several people rushed to his aid; I couldn't help him right away because Tyson was running in about a minute behind him, and I needed to cheer him on as well.  Jackson finished 3rd from the runners on their team, and Tyson finished 4th on their team.  They are both champions, and they both ran their fastest times.

When I finally met up with both boys, Jackson said he couldn't feel his legs at the end and his stomach started to hurt very badly.  He reported that he was tempted to walk out the pain, but instead he pushed harder.  He fought through the pain until he finished!  Boy did he!!  I didn't really want him to throw up, but I knew he had put his all into his run.

Jackson wants to do everything right.  He tries so hard and really wants to be the best that he can be.  A couple of weeks ago we went on a training run.  When I told him he could have run faster, he said he wanted to go back out that night and run again so it would be his best.  I thoroughly convinced him that  it was not necessary.

Last year when he ran cross country in Michigan, our bishop's son was running on the team with Jackson.  At the first race, his son beat him by quite a distance.  Before the next race, I told Jackson to stay with the bishop's son because he would be a good pacer for him.  Do you know that my sweet Jackson stayed with him for the rest of the season?  There is something inside this young man that he takes his obedience very literally.

I pondered on Jackson's literal obedience.  As I pondered this, I felt God asking me:  "Could you be more literal in your obedience?"  I'm such a free spirit; I sometimes have a hard time wanting anyone to tell me what to do or where to be.  On one hand that's a good quality because it takes women like me who step outside the box to open other's eyes to brighter possibilities... like marrying outside my race. :-) On the other hand, I could tame that free spirit with some more literal obedience.

I thought about this more... In what areas does God want me to be more literal in my obedience?  Many ideas come to mind, but I have a feeling that more answers will come as I visit the temple tonight.  I'm on a journey to better myself!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spanish, Scriptures, & SUCCESS!

After trying for weeks to work Spanish into our curriculum, I planned on making Wednesdays my Spanish day with the children.  We had just been to a wonderful birthday party the night before with several Bolivian friends.  We were determined to start this day right learning Spanish, so the children could better communicate with their friends!

We started our morning devotional with a hymn and prayer in Spanish.  Right after the prayer, Jackson announced that his notebook was lost.  I tried to instruct him in Spanish on the importance of putting things in their correct location and preparing his things the night before.  Jackson stared at me blankly, and I broke into English.  Now our scripture study and Spanish study were missed as we all looked for Jackson's notebook.

I felt discouraged with the way our day was beginning.  I even assumed that the rest of the day would continue likewise.

I sent Jackson and Tyson on their way to school for their elective courses and tried to start the younger ones on their school work.

In a moment of dramatic expression, I told my husband that I wasn't doing anything right!  After my pity-party, I decided to read my scriptures which were opened wide on my lap... just waiting to speak to me.

I read a beautiful scripture from The Book of Mormon in Alma 26:27:

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said....bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."

I wanted success!

Because I homeschool my children, I assign them the work which needs to be accomplished, and I let them govern their own time.  Jordan, my 7 year old, was supposed to be reading for an hour or practicing his instruments.

Since I still had the assumption that all would go wrong for the day, I immediately felt frustrated and assumed Jordan was playing around when I saw him sitting in front of the computer.

With a heavy sigh, I asked, "Jordan, what are you doing?"  He sweetly answered, "I'm reading Daily Miracles for an hour."

I froze... yes, that is EXACTLY what I would want him to do.  After all... I do write these stories for my posterity.  This was a great blessing to see him thoroughly enjoying the stories and miracles of God's hand in our lives.  This was definitely a success!!  How could I have assumed otherwise?

(By the way, the red notebook in the picture is the one that Jackson was searching for frantically.  All will be well, and he will have it for tomorrow's classes.)

 Every day has the potential to be fantastic and full of success- no matter what silly things try to discourage us.

Just because the first hour of the day started out crummy, does not mean that the remaining hours until I sleep have to go wrong.  Just because one child made a mistake, does not mean that I have to assume the worst from that child's following actions or anyone else's actions either.

I am going to assume and expect the very best from everyone around me today... even if another notebook is lost at an inopportune time.  God wants success for each of us!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Testimony of Love

My 3 older boys went on a run with me late last night.  All four of us burst into the house sweaty, exhausted, and still out of breath when sweet little 5 year old Mariah rushed to my side and handed me her notebook.

Mariah had been writing in her journal.  I did not ask her to do this.  She just felt deep emotions in her heart and wanted to put them in writing.  


"Jesus love us
I love my mommy and my daddy
I also love my sister and brothers
I love God
He loves me I also love the temple
and the creations that Jesus made
and when he died for us
Jesus Love us"

Mariah Mills

My daughter's testimony of Christ's love and sacrifice for us touches me deeply.  When pure testimony is expressed, you can't help but feel the truthfulness of those words reach deep within your soul.

My miracle today is the strengthening of my own testimony that has filled my heart.  Sometimes I try to overanalyze why certain things are happening.  Mariah's words remind me to return to the simplicity of Christ's message of love.  I can fully trust HIS love for me and desire for me to triumph over EVERY trial.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Running & Shaving= Confidence!

*Jackson is on the cross country team at the middle school.  He received nice new running shoes, and last Tuesday's  practice would be his first time wearing them.  He also drank a big glass of some special alkaline ionized water for the first time about an hour before he ran.  Their cross country coach timed the team on their mile run during practice.  Jackson beat his time by 30 seconds! That's significant because he was already the 3rd fastest boy on his team and running pretty well.   "Awesome!" I said, "Was it the shoes or the water?"  Still red-faced from exhaustion, he looked at me with complete sincerity and said, "Maybe it was me."  I was proud of him that he carried so much confidence in his abilities.  Jackson believes in himself no matter what.  I've heard kids make rude comments to him, but he doesn't even pay attention to them- literally!

*Last Friday Tyson's band teacher told me all the girls like him.  Then, in theater class Jackson said all the girls talk about how cute Tyson is.  Then... Tyson said a 13 year old girl from his choir class asked him to be her boyfriend.  (These poor girls have no idea that Tyson is only 9 years old!)  He acted like he didn't hear her, and the girl ran off giggling.

We explained to him to still be friendly to these girls, but to politely tell them he is not interested in having a girlfriend until he's much older.  I asked him if he thought any of the girls were pretty.  With a grin so big it must have hurt his cheeks and eyes so bright they lit up his entire face, Tyson said there was a tiny girl in his choir class who was always smiling with cute chubby cheeks.  I LOVED his innocent description. He seemed embarrassed talking to his parents about cute girls.  We assured him it was ok to think girls were pretty.

Yep... he was pretty confident in himself as the new kid at school.... so confident that this morning he came out of the bathroom with his chin dripping with blood.  Tyson had taken a big chunk out of his chin in his attempt to face manhood early and shave his "hairy" chin.  The whole family couldn't help but laugh, but Tyson turned his head away as a few tears dripped from his eyes.  I told him that I was 9 years old when I secretly shaved my legs in the bathroom.  I tried to convince him that he could laugh at this funny life experience.

He was embarrassed to go to school with a band-aid on his chin.  His confidence was fading.  It was such a big wound we had to put a band-aid on it.  I said, "Just tell people you cut yourself if they ask."

As he sat in the van and rode away with my mother-in-law, who is the crossing guard for the school, I could see her talking to Tyson about his chin.  I prayed that he would feel confident and happy.

My mother-in-law thought we were just saying it looked as if he had cut himself shaving.  Upon realizing he had actually shaved at age nine, she exclaimed, "That's REALLY funny!"  She encouraged him to laugh with her.

He must have pondered hard on the remainder of that drive to school.  When he arrived, the other crossing guard immediately said, "What did you do to your chin?"

Tyson responded, "I cut myself."  With no hesitation, the crossing guard said, "Did you cut yourself shaving?"  He laughed... and Tyson was able to laugh with him.  That was where the real confidence entered his soul.

It's easy to be confident when everyone thinks you're wonderful... and cute. :-)  It's easy to be confident when you're doing amazing things.  The true confidence comes when you do the silly things in life but recognize the joy in the silliness of it.

I prayed for my son to be confident.  In my mind, I hoped that nobody would pay attention to his wound.  Not so... everybody would notice, but he learned to laugh and be confident in the silliness of his life experience.  Tyson came home from lunch telling funny stories about how everybody noticed his shaving accident.
 Just this morning I read in the Kids National Geographic about a pilot named Barrington Irving.  In 2007, he was the youngest person and still is the first African-American to fly solo around the world.  To the young children, he said, "You have to have confidence.  If you don't believe, no one else will.  Confidence will always keep you going."

I believe our confidence is strengthened when Christ is by our side- that's when miracles are created.  God answered my prayer and gave my son increased confidence and happiness.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jordan Knew to Let Go

Yesterday I sat down to read some Bible stories to my little 3-year old daughter, Juliana.  When we came to the story in Genesis about Lot's wife being turned into salt for looking back at the city of Sodom, my 7-year old son, Jordan, immediately stopped his other work and joined in on the conversation. 

He exclaimed, "What?  Salt? Why did that happen?"

I explained further.  I told him that she looked back at the city which held her past life.  They were commanded to not look back- to just let go and move forward.

Jordan nodded with comprehension and stated frankly, "I let go of my sins last night." 

Surprised, I said, "You did?"

He answered with complete sincerity, "Yes!  I said a prayer last night, repented, and asked God to forgive me for all my sins." I couldn't believe that he even associated my words of "letting go" to the process of repentance.

Jordan is a very intelligent but very rambunctious little 7-year old.  He is constantly joking around and jumping on everybody- even during scripture study.

We spend hours and hours teaching our children gospel principles.  I'm so glad to know it was worth it!  I had no idea Jordan was having these serious talks with his Heavenly Father in the quiet hours of the night. 

It is one of the greatest miracles to me to have had the reassurance that the truths we teach as a family of the gospel of Jesus Christ really are absorbing into our children's young minds in a healthy, uplifting manner.

I thank God with all my heart that Jordan knows he can have very personal, private conversations with God through the power of prayer. 

Jordan turns eight next month and will have the opportunity to be baptized.  His knowledge and faith in the power of prayer will be a strength to him as he enters the waters of baptism and will be a guide to him throughout his entire life.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Strong Women

As I drove my children to one of their classes yesterday, I pondered about the many financial stresses we were facing as a family.

Along the way, I was immediately distracted from my worries.  I teared up and honked my horn as I drove past this lovely lady waving her flag proudly along the side of the road.

September 11:  she was doing more than remembering.  She was helping us to remember as well.  On my return, I stopped to ask her if I could take her picture.  More cars drove by honking their horns while she smiled for my camera.  She seemed surprised at how touched I was by her service.  However, another woman, who was not a native-born citizen of the United States, also pulled over in her car to personally thank this woman for her service to our country.  

As I attempted to turn my big shuttle van around filled with my 6 children, we all continued to wave with gratitude in our hearts.  I pulled into a small cul de sac when all of a sudden an alarm sounded from my car!  I had never heard such a sound!  The "ABS"(break system) flashed and then across the dashboard on the odometer screen read the words, "Service RSC." 

The alarm continued, so I shouted back to the kids in a panic, "EVERYBODY OUT!"  

As a little girl, I had to jump out of a truck that almost caught fire, so that fear is always in the back of my head.  I had no idea what RSC meant, but it must have been serious if it was sounding an alarm!

All 6 kids stood on the side of the street looking bewildered while I searched for help.  I approached a resident of the cul de sac to ask her for advice.  She had no idea what the code meant.  

I called a local auto body shop. The manager didn't know what it meant.  He asked his technicians; they didn't know either, but they were pretty sure my van wasn't going to blow up.

There I stood on the side of the street wondering how I was going to pay for a repair; but more importantly, I wondered how I would drive my car to be repaired not knowing if it was even safe to do so with all my children in tow. 

As the many stresses ran through my mind, this resident said, "Hey look at this spider!"  In moments, my children were trailing behind her as they investigated armadillo holes, snake nests, and this giant spider in her yard.

There is nothing wrong with your screen or my camera.  Tyson, my biggest nature lover, is standing in front of the giant spider.  BIG AND CREEPY, right?  Big and creepy is EXACTLY what my children love!  

As my children found joy, so did I.  I felt my heart begin to calm.  I chatted for a few minutes with this lovely woman and discovered she was fairly new to Florida as well.  As she spoke of her many projects  she had been resolving, she said, "Life sure does throw us curve balls." I nodded grandly with agreement as I pointed to my broken van.  

Feeling it was time to leave, I gathered the children and felt my stress begin to rise again knowing I would be driving with my breaks and SOMETHING else terribly wrong with my van.  As I walked holding baby Jayden in my arms, this woman reached her arms out to hug me!  

Surprised and grateful for her gesture, I hugged her in return.  With her hug, she placed the biggest, most loving, motherly kiss on my cheek.  Even more surprised by her kiss, my heart filled with gratitude for her loving nature.  Her kiss calmed my heart as I drove away VERY slowly not sure if I had breaks or not.  All I could do was pray for the best.  

On the way, I pulled into a convenience store and turned off my van.  As I restarted the van, the RSC alarm and break system lights turned off.  Could it be?  It was all better... no worries!  

I investigated the code myself on the internet.  RSC means "Roll Stability Control."  It's connected with the break system and prevents the van from rolling over!  The complaint of this system is that once it is defective, there is no way to silence the alarm until the issue is fixed.  If you bypass the alarm, the engine becomes disabled.

I don't know what happened... How did the alarm silence?  Why did it even begin to sound off in the first place?  Why did the alarm begin in that particular moment?   I don't know the whys and hows of God's mighty hand.  I don't even know all the reasons behind all the emotions that run through this body of mine.  

One thing I do know:  I was supposed to meet the woman with the flag and the patriotic heart and the woman in the yard of wild nature and big kisses.  They both strengthened my resolve to stand strong.  

Later in the day, I drove past this area of town again and noticed that BOTH women were now standing together on the side of the road waving vigorously.  How appropriate!  I honked with pride for my country and for my womanhood.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Darkness, Light, Risk, Freedom

I haven't wanted to write about this because I didn't want to get anyone else down by talking about my disappointments.  However, it's what is weighing on my heart and mind A LOT!

The job my husband decided to take just before we left for Florida did not turn out the way we had hoped.  He would have been doing sales for a company that had several reviews of bad ethics.  We chose not to work that job.

It is a very unsettling feeling to live in somebody else's home, to do all that you know how to do to find a job that will support such a large family, and not know when everything will fall into place.

Believe me... I KNOW God is looking out for us, and I KNOW HE is preparing a wonderful future for us as we try our very hardest... but it's HARD to WAIT!!!!!

I feel helpless, frustrated, and at times discouraged.  Then I look back and realize it really hasn't been that long.  I look back and realize that random checks for past jobs have come into the mail just in time so we can buy the things we need.  I look back and am humbled by the graciousness of both of our parents.  I look back... I look back... I look back... and KNOW that God is taking care of us.

Yesterday morning I read an article from the July Ensign by Elder Larry W. Gibbons because an image accompanied it of a man pushing against a cloud of darkness.  I thought, "I need to read that because that is EXACTLY the way I often feel lately."  It's a constant job to push away the adversary's desire to completely suck every bit of hope for a decent job away from me.

"I HAVE HOPE!!"  I keep reminding myself as I muster up my courage and push the cloud of doubt away.

In the article, President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was quoted:  "Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness." 

Before I read the article, I told Abe that I felt tight inside, needed to burst out, and be set free... not free from my life... just free from my thought process.

Guess what was in the very next paragraph... Elder Gibbons said, "Most of us naturally long for security and clarity in life, but there must be some uncertainty to allow us to use our agency and grow.  There is no freedom without agency, and there is no true agency without some risk.  Therefore, there is no true freedom without some risk, some uncertainty."

That was a very interesting quote to me because I had never considered risk to be part of God's plan.  It was also interesting because I had JUST had the sensation of needing freedom.  Wow!  I was supposed to read that article.

...but it got better.  I took my boys to scouts last night at our church.  I casually chatted about some doctrines of the church  to one of our Bishop's counselors.  He didn't even know about our current job/house situation.  Out of the blue he quoted the EXACT quote from President Packer that I had just read about taking steps into the darkness!  In shock I questioned him, "Why did you just say that? Darn it!  Now I KNOW for SURE that was the message I needed to hear!"  .. and I was hoping for some security and clarity immediately!

I'll try to learn this principle quickly, and in the process I'll know that God is here and teaching me through every trial.  Miracles are here now, and miracles are coming.  I thank God for guiding me through it all.