Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why I Delete...

I am very open and honest about many of my heartaches and joys on my blog here.  I do not share ALL of the things that swirl around in my heart and mind.  Some things are too sacred, others are too private, and even others are too crazy. :-)

Last night I needed a time to sort through those swirling thoughts.  Late in the night, I went on a long drive and sat in my car for a while praying, crying, reading, and pondering.  As I prayed, I asked God to humble me.  I even cringed for a moment when I said those words.  Then I said them more boldly knowing that God knows best how to humble us.  Since that experience, I have felt the strong impression to make a few things very clear.


My Purpose for Writing this Blog

It is time for me to boldly speak about my purpose in writing my blog.  My blog is a holy place for me. I never write a single word without first reading my scriptures and dropping to my knees in prayer.

My purpose is to praise God's hand in my daily life.  I am forever grateful that so many others have chosen to praise God with me.  My first intention was not to even share my words, but God told me to share it in a way that I could never deny it.  I was so nervous the first time I shared my words that my whole arm that pushed the share button went numb.  I feel that same nervousness every day that I write because I am truly writing the things that are close to my heart and that I feel God is speaking to me.

Why I Delete Comments

You will never find me writing negative words about any other religion on my blog.  That is NOT what I stand for.  Ugly, degrading words is not the way God teaches.

There is plenty of ugly talk in the world.  There are plenty of places where I can find somebody who will criticize me for my beliefs.  Throughout history, there have been plenty of people who argue and fight over doctrines and their interpretations over doctrine.

When I delete a comment, it is not because I am afraid of the contents of the message.  It's because of the ugliness of the tone that I don't have the energy or time trying to rid from my life.  I'd rather just delete it.   I don't watch rated R movies, and I don't let my children watch rated R movies (or even PG13 yet for that matter).  I restrict that material from our home and our lives because it's one thing that I have the power  to rid from my life.  I have no need to let them watch the bad to decide for themselves.  Similarly with my blog; I have the power to rid that negativity from my life.  I love good, honest questions or concerns about my beliefs, and I'm happy to clarify any misunderstandings you may have about my beliefs.  You can even disagree.  However, the rudeness and negativity will not receive an answer from me any longer, and MANY have already been deleted.

Many Religions Hold Pieces of Truth

There are so many things I have yet to learn about God, and there are so many BEAUTIFUL religions both Christian and nonchristian which teach me how to be a better person.  I learn so much from each of them.  There are even atheists from whom I can learn great lessons of life.  One of my favorite classes at BYU was a World Religions  course. It was through that course that I learned to fully value the wonderful principles being taught in so many different religions across the world.

Now... I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Christian.  Jesus Christ is my Savior.  I read the Bible and The Book of Mormon on a daily basis.  No committee, no group of people, no single person can define who is allowed into that realm of Christianity.  Only Christ knows the intentions of my heart and knows that I proclaim HIM as my Savior.

What if I'm Wrong?

This is a very important principle to me.  Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe I'm not.

I have researched for years my religion and many other religions.  I have received too many strong confirmations that my Savior is pleased about the direction I am taking in my life with my family.  Is there more I can learn?  Certainly, and I am in constant prayer about that.  Do I have doubts at times?  Certainly, but I return to the feelings I once received and embrace the answers and gospel principles which have changed my life.

I believe we need Jesus Christ to live in Heaven with HIM some day.  I also believe there are so many thousands of amazing people who do not know Christ as I do.  Some do not even know HIM at all... but God is the judge.  In my mind and in my realm of beliefs, I do not make any judgements about where they will be after this life.  I do not know their understanding of the truths they have received.  I do not know what they have experienced in their lives.  I am not the one to judge!

In Luke 23:34, Jesus prayed to his Father saying, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." 

In Helaman 3:27, "...the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name."  

Jesus Christ is so good to us that if in our deepest humility, we are truly striving to follow HIM and if we are truly striving to live our lives the best way we know how, he will provide a way for us to return to HIM.  

Why I Stand Strong in my Beliefs

 I have spent years studying and researching my beliefs.  I am writing with a clear knowledge and clear testimony of what I believe.

Last night as I sat in my van, I prayed for humility.  This morning I sat in my van again waiting for my children to finish their violin class.  While I waited, I received notices on my cell phone that SEVERAL people had been writing on my blog throughout the night making false claims about my religion, sending me to hell with their words, and using profanity.  Some of the commenters professed to be x-Mormons. This persecution made my heart sad.

Nobody was around.  My other children were at home.  I sat in my car and prayed out loud with the most sincerity I could muster.  I prayed with a strong desire to know what the Lord was trying to teach me from this experience.  I couldn't help but feel there was a direct correlation between my prayer and these commenters.

I finished my prayer, opened my scriptures, and a miracle unfolded within the scriptures!!  I did not search my scriptures for these verses.  These verses were in the very chapter I was scheduled to be reading anyway.

In The Book of Mormon in Helaman 3:33-35, I read:

"33) And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church- not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God.
34) And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren.  Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.
35)Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their soul with joy and consolation, yea even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."

I am not saying that I am humble.  I need more humility- that's why I was praying for it.  What I am saying is that I find it enlightening that the moment I prayed for humility, others wrote persecuting words towards me about my faith.   I also find it enlightening that after I mourned their harsh words for a moment and still chose to follow my faith, I became "firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ" ... just as the scripture states.

Those harsh words and the inspired scriptures were a miracle to me and an answer to my prayers for my desired humility and understanding.

To Wrap It Up...

My purpose for writing is to praise God, and I will delete your comments and give you another try if your words do not praise HIM.  God bless you... whatever religion you may be, and God bless you in your efforts to bring others to HIM.  I hope to hear from you soon for I am strengthened by your faith.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Speed Bumps & Speed Limits

We live with Abe's parents right now in their gated community.  Within their gated community, I drive over speed bumps for a mile down the road.  Some drivers go over them way too fast.  Then there are these other drivers who literally come to a complete stop before each speed bump and then creeeeeep over them.  It pains me going so slow over each and every one for a whole mile.  I could run faster than that for goodness sakes!

I have to cross over these speed bumps several times each day because of the kids' various school activities.  I homeschool my kids but take Jordan and Mariah to their strings class at the school, and Jackson and Tyson to their band, jazz band, choir, and theater classes at the school.

By the time I get to the main road, I'm ready to fly- the speed limit is 55mph.  Yesterday, it was only Tyson and I in the car together.  We both eyed the clock and moaned.  We were stuck behind a slowpoke who was driving under the speed limit of all things.  We were cutting close on time, and I told Tyson, "Don't be like me.  Don't always be rushing to things.  You should be so early to the places you have to go that you don't have to race or feel stressed to get there."

He agreed that he would not carry on that particular trait of mine; but for now, we were running behind schedule and felt great impatience poking along behind this truck.

We turned onto the next street.  It was a very wide 4 lane street where the speed limit dropped down to 40mph for only a few blocks.  I stayed behind a car that was going slightly above that speed.  No other cars were around.  Right then, two police officers walked out in the middle of the both lanes and motioned for both of us to pull over.  We could see the sign for 45mph change from where we were- it was only a block away.

He wrote me a ticket for going 49mph- just 4 over what the sign was that I could see.  I was so irritated and claimed he was just trying to trick people for money by pulling people over so close to the speed limit change.  He agreed that he was indeed tricking people and doing it for money.  That bothered me even more.  Then the police officer corrected himself and said, "We're saving lives ma'am!"

I thought about my ticket the whole day.   I hadn't received a ticket for 5 years, and we definitely are not in a financial position to pay one now!  I prayed about it, and I was determined to find something good to come out of it anyway... nothing came.  Tickets just plain stink.

Today, I picked up my kids from their band classes, and we went on our 15 minute trek back home.

At the wide 4 lane street, I set my cruise control right at the speed limit while all the other cars whizzed past me.  Nobody was going the speed limit but me.  We entered the gated community and got to the speed bumps.  One of the "other drivers" was in front of us.  He came to his complete stop then creeeeeeped over the bump.  I didn't say a word this time about his pace, but Jackson did.

"This guy is going really slow.  He needs to hurry up," he called out in an impatient tone (not to the driver- just for us to hear in the car).

Trying really hard, I said to him, "Now Jackson, we can learn to be patient.  We're going to have plenty of time to do the things we need to do."

Jackson knew this was not characteristic of me.  He smiled real big and said, "Tyson told me about your ticket."

I grumbled, "Why is he telling everybody my business?"

Listening to Jackson and Tyson talk about the ticket made me realize the answer to my prayer wasn't about the ticket or how we were going to pay it.  It was about the speed bumps and speed limits that our current trials seem to be.

I realized that's what I feel like in this delay in my life with no job and no sense of permanency or purpose.  I feel like calling out, "We don't have time for this!  We need to hurry up!  We have other good things we could do without these 'speed bumps' of life."

Oh, but God knows better.  He is NOT trying to trick us.  His plan SAVE LIVES: our spiritual lives and the spiritual lives of all HIS children around us.  The more we trust HIS speed bumps and speed limits, the more HE can work with us to have better order in our sometimes chaotic lives.

It hit me powerfully.  I need to slow down.  Yesterday I told Tyson to not be in a rush like me, but today I am considering the possibility of changing me now!

I hate to say it, but maybe the darn ticket was good for me.  I often ask myself: "What would Jesus do?"

My image of Jesus is not one of him plowing past people to get to his next destination. The image I have of HIM is one of patience.  I will be slowing down my pace a bit.  Jesus is in charge, so that doesn't mean I will slow down my progress!  I can still be anxiously engaged in good causes and go 55- 70mph (figuratively speaking) when the time is right.  HIS plan and timing for me to accomplish my mission in life is perfect and flawless. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Image of her Courage

On Sunday, my baby Jayden was talking too much during our Sacrament meeting service, so I took him out to the foyer.  While I sat with Jayden, another family with three little girls entered and sat on the couches across from me.  Their baby and my Jayden started yelling back and forth to each other.

During one of the hymns, I welcomed them and asked them where they were from.  They told me they were coming to go to Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios through Make-A-Wish Foundation.  My heart dropped.  I could see that one of their children had some health issues, but I did not pry.  I gave well-wishes for them to have a wonderful time.

A few minutes later, they asked me if I knew anything about Gatorland because they could receive tickets to go there as well.  I left my seat on the couch and sat right next to them to tell them all about Gatorland. (We were just there the day before!)

As we chatted, the older two girls made me and Jayden some special little pictures with stickers all over them.  They talked to me about the importance of being kind to everyone- even those who are mean.  They were the sweetest little girls in the world.  They told me all kinds of stories about their pictures.

Then, the oldest daughter stood up right in front of me and said, "Do you know why I walk with a little bit of a limp?"

I said, "No sweetie, I don't."

She responded, "It's because I have cancer in my brain."

I couldn't help it.  Tears welled up around my eyelids, and I tried not to let them drip.  I told her how sorry I was for her, and then I told her about my mother's fight against cancer with her shield, helmet, and sword.  The little girl giggled heartily.  I rubbed my hand on her sweet, little arm and told her that her laughter was very healthy and would help her in her healing.

I asked her how old she was.  She said she was 7 years old.  I told her my son just turned 8 and will be baptized in a few weeks.  She said, "... and I will be baptized in a few months.  I am trying really hard to do my best; but when I turn 8, I don't want to make any mistakes."  I assured her that we all make mistakes, but that was wonderful she was trying so hard.

I could feel how hard the whole family was trying; although, I could also feel that they had always been this kind and good.

When the little girl was busy doing other things again, I asked her father how long she's had brain cancer.

He shared their story:

In July, her sweet little face began to droop on one side, and they took her in to get checked.  She had possibly had cancer all her life- they don't really know, but they received the diagnosis shortly after.  Her father said the prognosis would have been the same if they had found it years ago because of the type of brain cancer that it was.  It intertwined around her brain stem, so there is no way to operate.

Oh my heart ached as just a piece of the pain of what this family has endured over the last few months entered my soul.

He continued his story sharing the many miracles that have come into their family since the diagnosis:

*His friend told him about a job in Utah which would give them health insurance.  They decided to move their family and take the job.  Their health insurance became active just a month before his daughter's diagnosis of brain cancer... just in time.

*In 2008, the father felt a very strong impression that he needed to do something differently in order to make more money.  He went back to school (I think to get his masters).  His higher education brought him a higher paying job.  Because of that, their family is able to pay the huge out of pocket expenses.  They would not have been able to afford even those with his other job... again, just in time.

*He then told me that his little daughter is receiving an experimental type of chemotherapy.  There were only 65 doses allowed in the entire country.  Their daughter received the 65th dose... just in time.

I learned so much listening to this father share the miracles he has received.

I promised him that my family would be praying for their little girl.  I hugged his wife; but strangely, I felt strengthened by her returned hug.    We invited them for dinner, but they were on their way for a relaxing day at the beach.

They left church without meeting anybody else.  I walked towards the door as they left feeling helpless.

I have this little girl's face deeply imprinted on my mind.  I never want to forget the image of her courage.  She stood strong, stated her trial in life; and then just as courageously, proclaimed her greatest desire... to do her best.

I am praying several times a day for her.  I know you do not know her name, but please pray for her as well.  God knows who she is.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jordan's Birthday Part 2: Photos of his Scary Surprise!

WARNING:  The following photos are VERY SCARY... SERIOUSLY!!

We had prepared Jordan that his birthday celebration would be much smaller this year because of financial restraints.  However, it became MUCH, MUCH more!!  My wonderful in-laws surprised him with a fantastic Gatorland trip for the whole family!!  Turning 8 is very special because he gets to get baptized at age 8.  His special day is in December... but in the meantime... Gatorland awaited....




Part of Jordan's gift included a special zipline adventure OVER the alligators!!  I got to accompany him!

I wasn't kidding... OVER the alligators!!  He got stuck at one point and dangled like a piece of chicken over the scary gators!  ...but he wasn't afraid one bit.



As part of his special celebration, Jordan had the "opportunity" to stand right in front of 12-15 hungry, gigantic alligators to feed them raw meat!  Your eyes do not deceive you... my little birthday boy is standing just a few feet away from the giant alligators... with their mouths open... with no fence in front of them!!  I'm still not quite sure why that is ok!!  IT WAS ABE & JORDAN'S IDEA!!  ... gifted from his parents. :-) Thank you Mom and Dad!!!  What a day!  (BTW... there was a Gatorland employee standing right next to him for added protection beyond his measly stick. :-))



We ended with cake, ice cream, and balloons.  Do you see my in-laws in the back?  They made great sacrifices to make this day extra special; they were the heroes of the party!!




Jordan's Birthday Part 1: His Strong Willed Birth Story

Jordan's birthday was on Saturday, so it is my honor to write his sweet birth story.  He loves to read my blog, so this is my gift to him.

We were living in Missouri right across the street from my parents and a house away from my Gragran.

Jackson and Tyson were both admitted into the NICU (Newborn ICU) after their births for unrelated problems, so I was a little nervous about my upcoming experience.  I called the local hospitals to investigate their medical capabilities.  I called one from a nearby town and asked them if they had a NICU there just in case the need arose.  The nurse said she wasn't sure and then yelled out to the other nurses with the thickest country twang, "Hey! We got a NICU here?"

In shock I said, "You don't know if you have a NICU or not?"  She said she thought they didn't, but she wasn't sure what a NICU was.  I explained to her what it was, thanked her, and hung up the phone with a firm decision that we would be driving all the way to Springfield (a bigger city an hour away) for our delivery.

The Delivery

Since my first two childbirths became high-risk, I couldn't give birth to them without an epidural, so I was determined to deliver baby Jordan without any drugs.  I did fantastic... for a while!  I was so calm and did my breathing so well that the nurses even thought that I was asleep during my heaviest contractions.

For several hours I worked hard relaxing my body through the contractions.  However, I hadn't been properly trained on what happens at the "transition" period- which is right as the baby is about to come out- so I panicked when my entire body began to tremble uncontrollably.  I called for the epidural.

The doctor came and put the needle in my back WHILE I was sitting up getting ready to push baby Jordan out!!

I turned to him and said, "Maybe I don't need it now!"

He responded, "It's too late; I'm here now!"

I didn't have the energy to debate the issue with him.  Baby Jordan was on his way out for goodness sakes... but OH MY GOSH that was the wrong time to have to sit still and have a giant needle placed in my back!  Less than 10 minutes later, baby Jordan was born.  The epidural only had time to take the edge off the pain of only one side of my body... and I got numb AFTER he came.  Not cool!

Our doctor was amazing though!  We had laughed about his quirky ways; but when it came time to deliver, he was the best we'd ever seen in action.

Jordan was placed on my chest and was as cute and healthy as can be.  I nursed him and cuddled him all through the night.

My mom came to the hospital with Jackson and Tyson.  They looked so adorable.... but Jackson's pants were high waters and Tyson's pants were dragging on the floor.  I had set out clothes for them to wear.  Jackson was wearing Tyson's clothes and Tyson was wearing Jackson's clothes...  that's what happens when mom is busy having a baby. :-)

On one of the nurse's routine check-ups, they took Jordan away.  I anxiously waited for his return, but they never brought him back.  Finally, I asked one of the nurses where my baby was.

Ever so casually, she said, "Oh he's in the NICU.  He was having trouble breathing."


The Human Side of the NICU

"What?" I exclaimed.  "When were you going to tell me?"  I immediately got up to go check on him.  They discouraged me from leaving my room, but I had already been through this with two other babies.  I knew my baby Jordan needed me.  I went to the window and looked in on my baby in the NICU.  After some time, the NICU doctor finally came out.  I told the doctor I needed to hold my baby.  In a very professional tone she said I could in a while.  I had already waited "a while" when they put him in the NICU without informing me!

Having spent weeks and months in the hospital at Primary Children's Hospital in Utah with both Jackson and Tyson as newborns, I was well-educated on what my struggling child needed.  I very firmly expressed to the doctor that she was forgetting the human side of this situation, and that I needed to see and touch my baby right then....  I explained to her the need for my struggling baby to have his mother's touch.

She let me in.

My poor baby Jordan had developed pneumonia from aspirating fluid at birth.  It took almost 24 hours for the pneumonia to fully develop in his lungs, and his breathing was quite rapid.

Ronald McDonald House

Jordan would have to spend several days in the hospital's NICU, but I would have to be released.  When baby Jackson and Tyson were in the NICU, I was allowed to stay in a room right down the hall from the NICU.  

They didn't have such accommodations at this hospital.

We didn't have enough money to get a hotel nearby, and I refused to go back home and be an hour's drive away from my baby.  I told them I would stay in the lobby and sleep in the chairs.  They said I couldn't.  I told them I wasn't leaving my baby; I would sleep in my car... anywhere.  I guess they saw I was pretty serious, so they told me I could stay at the Ronald McDonald House which was a very short distance from the hospital.  The Ronald McDonald House is a full house set up to help keep families and sick children close to each other at a charitable price.  It's a full house, and each family has their own room and bathroom.  

What a miracle that place was!!  Abe, Jackson, and Tyson slept there while I went back and forth to the hospital all night.  Jordan wasn't able to nurse for a while, so I pumped and fed him his bottle.  That meant I got back up every hour and a half to drive over to my baby Jordan.  

The nurses were all in love with him.  They said they hadn't ever seen a baby with such a strong will... especially a sick baby!  He immediately calmed down the moment I held him.  I cherished those quiet times in the middle of the night.  I stroked his little face and prayed for his health to return.  I could feel that he was a strong one. 

One early morning, I returned to the Ronald McDonald House from the hospital feeling exhausted.  I entered the kitchen and found it full of college-age students bustling around.  They had come with Halloween cupcakes, games, and decorations for the families of the kids who were in the hospital.  I cried and hugged them.  These college kids were such a sight of beauty to a tired mother's eyes.  A mother's heart is deeply touched when others show love to their child.  I cry even now... eight years later thinking about their joyful faces serving our family during our time of worry and stress.

My little Jordan is a special little man.  I thank God for sending me such a beautiful gift.  I will never forget the beautiful day he was born.  He will be baptized in December.  He is continuing to ready himself for that special day.

Bragging about Jordan 

(I apologize for the bragging you are about to read, but I want my sweet little Jordan to always remember how amazing he is!)


*I've always remembered the nurse's claim about Jordan's strong will because that is definitely still the case.  He pushes himself harder than any kid I've seen.  He doesn't see his size or age as an obstacle.  That is a curse as well because he gets very upset when his brothers beat him.  We have a hard time convincing him it's ok... they're 2 & 4 years older than he is!  


*Jordan reads almost a chapter book a day.  We bought him a book-light for his birthday.  Last night, I went into his room late into the night, and he was still reading.  He sweetly looked up and said, "Thank you so much for my light."  He was in heaven.  I didn't have the heart to send him to bed.

*He ran a half-marathon (yes all 13.1 miles) the day after his 7th birthday.  

*He is almost done with 5th grade math... at 8 years old.  Again, because of his strong will.


*He bears his testimony almost every single fast Sunday.

*When he was only 3 years old, he bore his testimony of Jesus Christ and his religion to strangers walking by all over Nauvoo, IL.  (Our family had just performed in the pageant, and many were touched by this young man's testimony.)

*Jordan LOVES to dance.  During the Nauvoo Pageant that year, Jordan danced so vigorously that he fell off the stage during the show!  The man playing Parley P. Pratt, picked him right up and placed Jordan on his shoulders.  Jordan then pulled the actor's hat down over his eyes!  He's a ham for sure!!

*He reads his scriptures every day and loves the Lord with all his heart.

*Jordan runs multiple touchdowns in every football game.  At his last game, the coaches on both teams started yelling out, "We found Barry Sanders!"  When he does score a touchdown, he doesn't even show any expression.  He just throws the ball back and gets ready for his next play... it's all business with this kid.  When he wrestles, he's got the same concentration...  and businesslike attitude.

*We went to Downtown Disney, and there was a really tough "Simon Says" contest with about 50 other kids.  He got second place because his concentration was so intense!


*He LOVES healthy food.  At a buffet, his plate is always filled with fruits and vegetables. :-)

*Jordan is his own man.  There might be 30 kids all choosing their favorite flavor of ice cream, but Jordan isn't afraid to say he likes a different flavor.

*Jordan gives the most gigantic hugs in the world.  Sometimes I have to tell him to take them down a notch because he comes running at us for his hug with such great force.

Jordan is a great buddy to all of us!  
He is my champion in every way!!


Friday, October 25, 2013

John Anderson: One of a Kind!

My father, John Anderson, turned 76 years old a few days ago.  I just can't go another day without writing a few words and stories about this marvelous man.


Service & Energy

I have never, in my life, known a man at his age who works harder and serves more than he does.  Every single time I talk to him, he is digging a hole, helping somebody in jail, or giving somebody a ride.  We lived near my parents for a year and a half, and my father left his work several times to come to my aid.  Anywhere we go, he is the last to leave because he's busy helping everybody with everything.

His energy seems endless!



He chases the grandkids around the yard like a wild animal just like he did to me when I was little.  I remember one time he chased me like a wild bear a half a mile up the street!  I was a teenager and was laughing hysterically, but I actually ran as fast as I could from the "wild bear!!"



The grandchildren adore their Papa because he's so actively involved and plays with them at their level.




Testimony

My father has helped so many young men stay in the gospel; I can't even name them all.  He works tirelessly with kids who have no support elsewhere.  Last time I was visiting my family in Missouri, a young man preparing to leave on his mission said in front of the entire congregation, "Brother Anderson is the strongest person of our faith that I know." This young man gave much credit to my father for helping him get to the point where he was in his life.  When I was leaving on my mission, a member of the stake presidency interviewed me.  He said, "Now make sure you have a balanced life."  Jokingly he said my father did not have it balanced because ALL he wanted to do was church work. :)

My father certainly does have the strongest testimony of anyone I know.  Although he served in the bishopric as a young missionary and college student, most of his callings in our church have been to work as a teacher, director over stake activities, sports,  and the scouting program.  He magnifies those callings and reaches out to every lost soul he can find.  Even the incoming missionaries have said that Brother Anderson wears them out.... in a good way.  They're excited when they get called to his hometown because they know there will be a lot of missionary work for them to do with my father around.:-)

I grew up going on trips with him, and we would talk for hours about the gospel.  Even now, if I have any question about the scriptures or the doctrine of my church, I call my dad.  If he doesn't have the answer, he prays and studies it out until he finds the answer.  Then he usually mails or emails his findings.

His greatest desire is for his children to stay close to the Lord, Jesus Christ.  He's tells me of this desire almost every time we talk on the phone.  There is no doubt in my mind where my father's heart is.

Unconditional Love

My dad thinks that everybody is wonderful.  On purpose, I've tried to convince him of people's obvious faults because I've accused him of being too naive.  He refuses to judge anyone.  I tell you... everybody should have a John Anderson in their life.  When I have felt that the world was against me, he sees the beauty in me and helps me to see the beauty in others... just as Jesus would.  When I've done really dumb things, I always know my father is not holding a grudge against me or judging me because he doesn't judge anyone!  He just loves me deeply, and I can't help but feel that love when I've needed it most.



Music

My father was a band teacher, and he still substitute teaches in band rooms (and just about every other classroom actually.)   As a kindergartner, I waited in his office when my morning classes were done.  I took a nap on his floor and then watched him teach from his window.  He was the best teacher ever!  He danced these crazy foot moves across the front of the classroom, and the kids were ALWAYS impressed.


A couple of years ago at a dance recital for my kids, volunteers were asked to go on stage to dance.  My dad went up!!  He shook his body all around in jerky motions as fast as he could.  He made it to the second round and was then voted out.  For the next few days he kept showing me new moves he could have tried to have won the dance contest.  I giggled every time he asked me about it again.  (He really was the best one on the stage, and I loved his zest for life for doing it... so did his grandkids.)

I grew up listening to my father jam out the Boogie Woogie on the piano. His whole body got involved while his fingers flew across the piano.  When finances got hard, we didn't have a piano anymore, but he still rocked the house.  He is an excellent trumpet player and still plays in an orchestra at 76 years old!

No exaggeration:  I remember in high school, I was trying to go to sleep, but I was awakened to some wild noises just after midnight.  My father had an array of my mother's pots and pans spread out across the table, and he was making some amazing music banging them like a wild man!!  My mother was laughing and videotaping his masterful work of musical art.

Grape Juice

Again... no exaggeration:  My father believes that grape juice is the cure-all.  In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the father is always talking about "Windex."  My father ALWAYS talks about the health benefits of grape juice.  It doesn't matter the ailment!  He thinks for a moment, and then he very thoughtfully says, "You know, if you add a little lime juice to your grape juice that will really make you feel better."  We call that "Jungle Juice."  He also loves mixing grape juice and milk- that's his "Purple Cow."  The grape juice curdles the milk... Yuck!  ...but he loves how it curdles!

My father drove a car out to us from Missouri to Utah a few years ago.  We knew he was supposed to be coming in soon, so we worried when he wasn't driving up.  

Apparently, when he was less than a mile away from our house, somebody flagged him over because his car was on fire!!  He jumped out of the car, and he could see the fire was behind the tires.  People were watching.  He had to do something before the fire trucks could make it to him.  He didn't have any water to put the fire out... BUT HE HAD HIS GRAPE JUICE!!  Yep, he poured his precious grape juice all over the fire and saved the car!  When the firefighters came, they investigated the cause.  They concluded that his breaks had locked up through the mountains... but they were very confused by the sticky substance that had formed all around the tires.  My dad explained his use of grape juice to put the fire out.  We made sure to buy him some more grape juice for his stay at our house.

My sister-in-law made him a t-shirt that says, "Grape juice saved my life, and it can save yours too."  I LOVE seeing him wear that wonderful shirt. :)

I love my father with all my heart.  I really could go on for days about Dad.  I'm eternally grateful I have a father whom I can turn to for unconditional love.  He is a shining example of testimony and service.  I also love his quirky ways.  That's my dad!  I hope that if you have not met him yet, you will have that opportunity some day.  You will be blessed. 

Happy Birthday Dad!!!  I love you!!  We love you!!  You are ONE OF A KIND!!  

Mom and Dad make a marvelous team!!  

YOU ARE TWO OF A BEAUTIFULLY DIFFERENT KIND FOR SURE!!










Thursday, October 24, 2013

We Are As the Army of Helaman

I remember when I first entered the MTC (Missionary Training Center), I wondered why it was so hard for me.  I enjoyed it, but it was hard.  Everybody else seemed to be so carefree.  I even asked other missionaries if it was hard for them, and they said it wasn't.  I thought I was doing something wrong, so I worked and prayed harder.

At the following devotional, Elder Jeffery R. Holland spoke to all of the missionaries.  I can't find his talk written anywhere, but essentially he told us very firmly that our missions should be hard if we're working hard.  He reminded us that the difficulty of the way is because the work we are doing is of such great value.

At the end of my two month time at the MTC, I was asked to speak at the farewell meeting.  I bore my testimony to the hundreds of missionaries who would be entering the mission field... all across the world.  I believe God allowed my experience to be hard, so I could search deeper for a stronger testimony and a stronger, more spiritual resolve in my missionary work.

I said a few weeks ago that I would be reporting on my increased scripture study.  Those first few days after reading, the reward in my soul was so great and so immediate that I made a commitment to God in prayer to never go back to casual reading again.  Then as the days continued on, the miracle of joy in my soul from my scripture study seemed harder to access.  I had to ponder longer and deeper each time.

Two sweet sisters left comments yesterday that confirmed this concept in my mind:

*One quoted Elder Holland:  "If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart.  So it has been with the best people who ever lived."

We are not alone if it gets HARDER when we try harder.  I bear testimony that it is worth it.

I thought that with increased scripture study, I would be singing all the day long.  Since I have increased my scripture study, I have felt a depressing force overwhelm me when I first wake up.  I work very hard to push past those feelings.  It's actually easier to wallow in them; but instead I struggle through them and fight them with prayer and scripture study.  When I get to my scriptures, I read and reread my first few verses in the scriptures several times because it takes several tries to push away the other forces and accept the peace God is offering.  After an intense struggle, I am able to live my life!!
   

*Back to the comments that were inspired to write on my blog.

The second sister wrote:  "Doubt not!!!  You know who is wanting you to!"

(I wish you could have heard my husband giving his "Amens" to that one.)

Just this morning in my scripture study, this concept was confirmed in The Book of Mormon in Alma 57:26.   Previous to this verse, the scriptures tell of 2060 very young, stripling warriors who were taught by their mothers and fought under the direction of Helaman to be obedient and valiant.  They fought in a battle in defense of their religion, their families, and their rights.  They fought with and against grown men.

Here's the verse:

"And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea that they should be spared while there was  a thousand of our brethren who were slain.  And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe- that there was a just God, and whosoever did not DOUBT, that they should be preserved by his marvelous. power."

I am certain the battle was harder than these young warriors ever imagined.  I am certain that as they approached their enemy, they appeared bigger than they expected.  I am even more certain that they did not DOUBT their ability to conquer their enemy because they had complete faith in God.  I am 100% certain that they saw that their increased, harder efforts were difficult but worth it- especially when they returned to their families having saved their families from the hands of their enemies.

Yes!  It is worth it to push away the negativity... to try harder even if it means that for a time the adversary may try to stop us.  When the adversary strikes harder, that just means we are moving in the right direction... a direction the adversary doesn't like... a direction that brings the greatest peace, joy, strength, and knowledge that can be found in no other way.

The difficulty of the way is a miracle to me that we are fighting a worthy battle for God.  We are not always on the battlegrounds, but we are always on guard with scriptures in hand. The fact that we are fighting through the frustrations is a grand victory and a grand miracle in our lives.  We are as the army of Helaman- those young, stripling warriors.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Live Your Life Like Gragran

It was my father's birthday yesterday, and I called him to sing Happy Birthday.  He kindly listened and then quickly reported that he was racing out the door to help my 94 year old grandmother.

My grandmother, whom we call Gragran, had collapsed, and my mother needed help with her.  Once my dad arrived, my parents called the ambulance because Gragran's coloring did not look good.

I waited and worried all day wondering how she was doing.  The doctors believe her collapse was the result of a newly discovered heart condition and dehydration.

Although 94 years old and although most every part of her body aches, Gragran is determined to make the most of each day God has given her.  In fact, she collapsed while attempting to arrange quilt pieces after a busy morning of shopping!   Gragran continues to hand quilt such intricate pieces that even my young hands and eyes couldn't do what she does!  She has a beautiful garden full of vegetables and flowers.  She feeds the animals that come to visit her yard, and she cooks delicious food for us when we come to visit.

My mother stayed by my dear grandmother's side until late into the night last night.  As Gragran lay in her hospital bed, she was in good spirits.  She is 94 years old, and she had never known what it could feel like to take a day off and not worry about getting anything else done.  She actually enjoyed it!  "How is it that Gragran has lived ninety-four years, and she's just now discovering a "lazy day?" I questioned my mother.  We both agreed on the answer:  she's simply amazing and a beautiful example of service and love.

Every day, my mother makes copies of my "Daily Miracles" and brings them across the street to her house because she loves to read them.  When I feel tired and worn out.... that maybe I won't write for the day, I think of my dear grandmother who musters up every bit of energy she has to do the things God wants her to accomplish each day.

Having a weakened body must be very discouraging for her because her valiant spirit wants to do so much more.  I hope my dear Gragran knows how much she touches our hearts by fully living the beautiful life God has prepared for her.  HE does not expect more from her.  We do not either.  We are grateful for Gragran and her heart of service and love.









Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jungle Journey

I'm not sure my heart could be any happier on days like these...

As a little girl, I always wanted to be around more nature.  Some of my happiest memories were of our log home deep in the country woods.  I loved going on walks through the woods.  

Last Friday, my husband went on a trip to perform; and since the kids were out of school for the day, I decided to take my children on a hike through the "jungles" of Florida.



We were warned of possible giant snakes and alligators.  The park official said it's a great hike, and that there have only been reports of attacks on small dogs.   (I kept the children who were the size of small dogs close by. :-))  I was a bit freaked out to say the least.  Holding Jayden on my back, I led the children through the trail warning them to watch every step. 

After passing this spiny spider just above our heads,
 

I looked back and saw that the children were braving the jungles crouched real low... there was a very large lake just to their right, and they were listening to every creak in the branches.

Their intensity couldn't be matched by any preparation for any roller coaster ride they had ever been on.  They were ready to fight anything that could come their way. 


After braving the first trail, we entered the next one... called "Bear Island Trail."  I stopped them in their tracks several times to listen... we continued on.... still no bears... but we were ready!  It was getting darker, and the children were getting braver.


As we neared the end of our trail, it became quite dark.  Jackson discovered a giant walking stick along the way with a baby on its back... how appropriate that sweet Jackson would find the walking stick with the baby on the back.  Just like the walking stick, Jackson carried his baby sister through the scariest parts of the hike because he didn't want her to be bitten by a snake.  
 We all climbed into the van, and the children burst into song.  "We love you Mommy!  Oh yes we do!!"  (They had secretly planned to sing to me in gratitude for their hike.)

I thanked them for their sweet song.  I really did feel so much joy in my heart.

One child said, "You're the best mom!  Do you see any other moms taking 6 kids on a hike here?"  

Another one said, "Do you see another mom taking 1 child here?"

Then a third one said, "Do you see ANYONE ELSE here?"

Hmmm... there wasn't anyone else around.  Did the locals know something I didn't????  I thanked God for our safety!!

I also thanked God for our adventure knowing the children loved every second of their hike.  I was grateful the Lord helped us to find something that brought so much true joy to their souls on a budget we could handle.

God's almighty hand is in all living things, and I feel HIS presence when I am surrounded by HIS beautiful creations.

The next morning, this is how I found my little 9-year old Tyson in our backyard...  truly in his happy place... surrounded by God's beautiful creations once again.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Clutching Tightly to God's Messages

Last night we were happily eating dinner when my 5-year old Mariah leaned way over another chair and quietly said to me,  "Mommy, did you know that Jesus is a lot closer to you than you think right now?"

I said, "Oh yes, Mariah.  I know.  Thank you for that wonderful message.  What made you think to say that just now?  Did you talk about that in church?"

She replied, "No.  It was just something that popped into my head to tell you."

After dinner, a sister from church showed up at my house.  I didn't even know her very well, and we don't live very close to each other.  She was wearing her pajamas and holding a gift for me.

(She creates and sells t-shirts with positive messages - www.madetoshirts.com.  She felt prompted to give one to me!)

Not knowing any of my issues, this was her message for me:





I thanked her with all my heart.  I looked down and noticed I had a very tight clutch on the shirt against my chest, and I wasn't planning on letting it go any time soon.  It made me happy to remember that God made me tough enough to do the things that are hard... even when they keep piling up.  My friend said it is my cape.  My cape of strength and remembrance of how God made me.

Let me tell you about this sister :

She has two small children.  She's pregnant!  She works 12-hour shifts as a nurse.  She runs a t-shirt business.  She is helping her husband kickstart his children's books series.... AND.... on top of it all.... she isn't afraid to follow a prompting to serve another.

Escaping the temptation to drown in depressing thoughts is very difficult some days, but God does not leave us alone.

I am so very, very grateful for the many beautiful ways that God keeps pulling us up to where HE wants us to be.  Others may give up on us, but HE never does.  HE sees the greatness in us.  HE sees our talents and abilities as untarnished beauties.  He sees us as valuable contributors in HIS Kingdom.  HE remembers who we really are.  "Jesus is a lot closer to (us) than (we) think."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Diving for the Salad

I helped make a dinner for a very special event.  I made the salad, cake, and breadsticks.  I wanted to make it by hand, so money could be saved overall.  After the dinner, a lovely person started to help with the clean-up in the kitchen.  The bowl of salad was half full still; this person took it to the trash and started dumping the bowl of delicious salad with all kinds of expensive, healthy ingredients into the trash!!

As people mingled- oblivious to the falling salad- I moved in superhuman motion and dove across the room.  I caught the salad before it touched the rest of the trash in the bin.  (She didn't know I was the one who cooked most of the food in the kitchen.)

I didn't even have time to think about what I was saying.  I yelled out in desperation something along the lines of, "No!  What are you doing?  You can't do that!"

Everybody stopped talking to look at what I was sacrificing my dignity to save.... it was embarrassing to be saving the salad with such vigor.  Abe's dad broke the silence when he said with a little chuckle, "You've gotta understand... Rachel doesn't throw anything away."

I was raised to not waste anything.  My mother always said that God is watching how I value what I've been given, so HE can bless me with more.  At this point in our lives, I REALLY wasn't going to waste...even a few tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.

I laughed it off, and then a good friend approached me later.  I told her how I dove for the food like a desperate, crazy woman.  She laughed too.  Then I told her how sad I really was to feel so much desperation towards every morsel of food.  We have PLENTY of food, but I'm well aware that as the weeks continue with no significant income, we are becoming more and more dependent upon my husband's parents for our basic needs.  (I really love my independence, so this is very hard.)

She suggested that maybe I am learning more compassion for those in these situations.  I argued that I already had a lot of compassion for these situations because I have been taught to value every penny I have.  I don't spend my money frivolously, and I grew up watching every penny we spent.

This whole week I have been trying to ask God what HE wants me to learn instead of why we have to pass through this.

All of a sudden it hit me.  I didn't need more compassion for those who didn't have money as much as I needed more compassion for those who have a hard time finding a job.  Finding a job has always come easily for me when I have been in the workforce.  It always seemed like the perfect opportunities just fell into my lap, so it has been hard for me to understand why others couldn't just find a job when there seem to be so many jobs available.  Oh my eyes and heart have been opened as Abe applies for every job he sees.  My pride is being broken down to have more compassion for those who have struggled for years with jobs and other financial stresses.

I'm grateful for my opportunity to dive for the salad, so I could ponder on what the Lord is trying to teach me with my new perspective.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Scriptures at the Picnic Table

I dropped off my little Jordan and Mariah for a violin class at the public school this morning before the regular school hours started.   I planned on sitting under a tree far away from anyone while I read my scriptures, but the assistants at the school convinced me to sit at the picnic tables right by the doors.

There was another mother sitting at a picnic table beside me chatting with her son.

I sat there with my baby Jayden and Juliana and read my scriptures.  I tried not to be obvious about what I was doing, but the assistant walked by me and spoke slowly in a stunned voice, "Are... you... reading your... BIBLE?"

I nodded and smiled.  She responded more positively than I expected.  "That's great!!" she exclaimed.

As I continued to read, I overheard the mother at the next table begin to talk to her son about loving God and not showing hatred to other kids while at school.  She talked to him about going back to church.

Her son seemed confused by the sudden change in conversation.  He said, "What Mom?"  (This didn't seem to be a normal conversation between the two of them, but I was grateful that they were having it.) I believe the short interaction between me and the assistant reminded this mother of the things she wanted to implement into her home.  I admired her humility and ability to change her conversation with her child the moment she felt it in her heart.

I wondered... "Am I humble enough to learn from strangers?"  I'm trying, and I'm grateful for the good people around me who teach me so much.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Emotional Roller Coaster

I've been a bit grumpy for the last couple of days, so I honestly didn't feel like I could write anything of worth.  In the midst of my grumpiness, many little miracles and kind deeds helped me to feel God's love and understanding for me despite my imperfections.

These are my downswings lifted by God's upswings:

*Right in the thick of my emotional struggle, the Bishop called my husband's cell phone.  He said, "I'm at work right now, but I just felt like I should take a break and call your family.  Is everything ok?"  Abe answered quite brightly that all was great in our lives.  When he hung up, I said, "Why did you tell him that everything was great?  I am not GREAT!!  I'm really, really sad!  I'm going to call him back right now."  (We've only spoken to our Bishop briefly once or twice in the two months we have lived here, so Abe seemed quite surprised that I was going to pour out my heart of frustrations to him.)  Abe said, "Have you thought through what you're going to say to him before you call him back?"  I told him I didn't need to because the Bishop already felt inspired to call me- he knew somebody in our family was struggling.  I want him to know he was inspired to call!"  Although my frustrating situation has not changed, our bishop's phone call was a great step towards feeling validated and understood.  The Bishop shared the greatness of God's love for me, and the power with which he spoke touched my heart.  He assured me my frustrations were not silly.  I needed that validation because I felt ungrateful to God every time my frustrations crept back into my heart.  My biggest frustration being that I don't have a space to call my own.

*I went to the store... still feeling grumpy.  When you're grumpy, you start to see the whole world as grumpy too.  I was on my way back out to the van with my cart.  There was a lady walking beside me.  She happened to be going to the car right next to my big van.  She impolitely crossed in front of me and cut me off so that she could open her car before I could open the side of my van to let my children into the van.  I just stood back and didn't say a word.  I watched her wondering why she felt like she had to be so impolite.    She then hurried to her trunk while I began loading my children and my groceries into the side of the van.  Right at that moment, my bag of apples tipped over and half of them went rolling under my van and under the car on the other side of the van.  I grumbled as I got on my stomach to reach the apples.  While down there, I was shocked to see this same woman rushing over to crawl under another car reaching for my other apple that I had lost.  I couldn't believe this was the same woman who I assumed was in too much of a rush to think of others.  It felt so good in my heart to see this woman how God sees her... a woman who is kind and full of service.

*After spending the entire morning making phone calls to Walmart's customer service, I went straight to Walmart to resolve a ridiculous issue about a refund for my phone.  There were all kinds of conflicting emails I was receiving from a third party company associated with Walmart, and instead of sending me a reimbursement for a new phone when they were supposed to, this third party was going to take a week to do it.  I complained to them for quite some time that I needed a phone sooner to keep track of my kids and that ethically they needed to follow through with what they said they would do.   I prayed for help because I was feeling like this was just one more thing piled on top of my other frustrations.  A stranger- a really big man with tatoos all over his legs- approached me with the upmost sincerity.  He very lovingly said, "How are you doing?"  I said, "I'm frustrated."  He responded so kindly, "I understand.  I overheard, and I'm sorry." I could have hugged him right then and there!!  Finally, the manager looked at me with sympathy and said, "We're going to take care of you."  We walked to the back of the store, got the new phone; and while they rang it up, one of his co-workers even rushed to get a chair for me to sit down while I held my sleeping baby Jayden.  I felt grateful for resolution and so much kindness in the process.

*I had so much to do... I still needed to get my Florida Driver's license.  With documents in hand, I went to the wrong location, had insufficient documents, and I discovered it would cost 20 more dollars than I had assumed.  After driving to the next city, I finally made it to the license desk.  I had my picture taken for my license while I was once again holding my sleeping baby Jayden.  I stood at the desk, and the employee called to another customer to get me a chair.  I couldn't believe he was doing that for me.  I sat quietly and relaxed from all my worries as he recorded all my documents into Florida records.

I've never had anyone rush to get me a chair in a public place... two different gentlemen in two different locations insisted on bringing me a chair when I needed extra tenderness.  Again, I felt God's hand comforting my grumpy, sad, and worn out soul.

*I decided that along with increased scripture study, I wanted to return to memorizing more scriptures as a family so that words of encouragement were running through our minds with more ease.  We had been slacking in that area for several months.  I was trying to devise a plan to help my younger children and older children stay on the same page with their memorization, but their ability to memorize varied greatly.  I felt inspired to visit a blog that I hadn't been to in a very long time.  I was surprised to see her page filled with great ideas of how to help little children memorize the most important pieces of scripture.  That's EXACTLY what I had been pondering about!  I downloaded 6 of her scripture signs and presented the plan to the family.  That experience reassured me that God was still giving me revelation even though I felt lost in our financial endeavors.  HE has not left us alone- I know that God is very much a part of our lives, and I am more confident in that knowledge when HE guides us in these simple areas of life.

*I have felt like a roller coaster of emotions.  I told my husband that I need even more tenderness these days.  His father held my hands and explained to Abe that women just need to be catered to sometimes.  My humble husband came home with roses and a long, tender kiss today!

I felt silly being the one with emotional issues, but now I feel grateful that I am loved enough by a dear Heavenly Father who placed people in my path these last couple of days to "cater" to my roller coaster of emotions.  I'm not always like this, and I'm trying desperately to keep a bright perspective on what may be in our financial future.  In the meantime, I'm grateful there are inspired Bishops, strangers, father-in-laws, and husbands who are willing to do the little things that let me know God is aware of our every need.

Monday, October 14, 2013

You Can Do It!!

I have taught gymnastics off and on ever since I was 16 years old.  I even had a gym in my home where I taught about 75 kids.  I hadn't taught my own children for a while, but Jordan and Mariah showed interest in gymnastics again over the weekend.

Mariah was doing backbends and Jordan was doing backhand springs- even little Jayden and Juliana rolled around in the grass.

Jackson and Tyson came outside wanting some lessons too.  Tyson did his backbend, and then Jackson tried...

Jackson never did have a knack for gymnastics.  His attempts are the same- but always funny.  For years now, I have tried to teach him the backbend; and for years, his arms propel around so fast before he drops to the ground that he looks like a strange, baby bird learning to fly.  All of us, Jackson included, can't help but laugh... but he really wanted to try again.

Last July I hurt my shoulder severely while playing football with the boys, so I didn't have a ton of extra strength and endurance in my shoulder to spot ALL the children on their backbends and backhand springs.

I decided to be completely honest with Jackson... In the past I had always told him to just keep trying.  This day... I said, "Jackson... it's ok that you can't do the backbend.  You have other talents.  Man- you play the drums!  Everybody is different."

Jackson looked at me and nodded.

I turned around to spot Jordan and heard muffled but excited noises from Jackson.  There he was- upside down in the backbend position- yelling:  "I did it!  I did it!!!"



While cheering for him, I questioned:  "What?  You did a backbend?  How?"

Boy did I feel horrible.  I spent years watching his dramatic and awkward interpretations of a backbend.  I figured it just wouldn't/ couldn't happen with his body.  I figured he was old enough to focus on the things he was really good at instead.

Thank goodness little Jackson took my words as a reason to prove me wrong instead of quitting.  I could have encouraged him with more confidence in his ability, and I'm sure the success would have been the same because he was ready to conquer that backbend!

I'm ashamed that I'm the one who told him he couldn't do something, and I never want to be that person again.  I told Jackson I was sorry for not believing in his ability to do it.  He said at his last race a parent told their child to pass him.  Instead of feeling sad or discouraged by those words, he ran even faster so the kid couldn't come anywhere close to him.  He believed in himself!

God is working in our lives on a constant basis.  Talents and life situations that may seem impossible, may just be on the verge of becoming a great success!!  I don't ever want to be the one on the sidelines of life saying it can't be done ever again!!  As I read my personal scriptures this morning, the message, "Yes you can," came very strong into my heart.

Well something amazing just happened... I was busy writing all the things we can do that might seem hard, and Mariah (having no idea what I was writing about) made up a song and sang it in the other room at the top of her lungs.   I wish you could hear it coming from her sweet, little voice, but here are the words:

"You can be a champion.

You can flip up in the air.  

You can jump off of cliffs on a rope.  

You can read with big people.  

You can dance on people's heads.

You can do anything in the world.

You can do flips that are better than counting to three.

You can be a champion."

Wow!!  What inspired words with just the perfect timing!  What a little champion!  I'm grateful to be taught by my 5-year old little girl and my 11- year old son!  Yes!!  I can, you can, and we can do anything in the world!


Friday, October 11, 2013

If Not by Me, by Whom?

My home was quiet.  One child was at a class, two other children were sleeping, two were doing school work, and one was playing with dolls.

I finally found a moment to catch up on emails.  A fellow brother in Christianity from Alabama created a video exposing the addiction and devastation pornography delivers.  He asked me to view it and share it.  I turned it on and soon found two of my sons standing by my side with complete attentiveness as they watched the facts being delivered.

I thank this man for creating such a powerful video, so my children's eyes can be opened to how easily this addiction creeps in on even the best of people.

I have written several entries about my personal crusade against pornography in store displays.  Just last week I carefully placed a seductive magazine behind the metal cover intended to hide the most immodest parts of the magazine.  I asked the cashier to please make sure the magazine remained covered.  My husband was with me, and she looked at him like, "Is she serious?"  Abe smiled and nodded reassuring her that I was VERY serious.

My 9- year old said that kids at his middle school talk about sex between all his classes.  How exhausting! The adversary's ugly tactics start very young.

In my church, there is a lovingly inspired, support program called the "Addiction Recovery Program." It is a support for those who are addicted and also for those family members who are feeling the hurt as a result of that addiction.  Our Savior's love, forgiveness, and powerful ability to change us as we turn our will to HIM is one of the overwhelming messages delivered by this program.  Many miracles have come about as a result of this program.

Here is the link to find support groups in your area:
http://addictionrecovery.lds.org/?lang=eng

I'm happy to support this man's cause in his fight against pornography  The facts he shares are VERY enlightening.  Here's the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zeXcXqTnP-o

Growing up, my mother always said:  If not by me, by whom?

If I don't clean my room, who will?  If I don't share my testimony, who will?  If I don't teach my children, who will?  If I don't fight for righteousness, who will?  My prayer is that we ALL will do our duty to stand for truth and righteousness.

God bless you and your families.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Training Schedule

My boys ran their last middle school cross-country race last night.  My boys are in the middle.  Jackson is looking right at me in the picture. :-)

 The gun went off, and I heartily cheered them on at the start and at the mid-way point.  The race was intense.  It was the finals!  As they splashed through mud, some kids even lost their shoes!

I stood about 200 yards away from the finish line to encourage them on their last stretch.  They ran with all they had.  As Jackson passed me, he was involuntarily gagging while he sprinted.  I stayed where I was because Tyson was close behind him.

The principal reported to me that green beans came up from Jackson at the finish line.  About 30 seconds later, Tyson came sprinting by.  As he tried to pass a kid on his last stretch, the kid shoved Tyson back.  Tyson continued to run hard, and he too threw up at the finish line! What in the world??  I made my way to the boys and gave them both big hugs.  They looked exhausted but pleased with their performance.

Because the course was so muddy, it wasn't their fastest race, but the kids CLEARLY ran their hardest!

On the way home, I asked my boys if they wanted to continue to run and train for the national AAU race in Georgia coming up in December.  I told them if they fully committed themselves, I would give them more efficient and consistent training than their middle school opportunity had provided... it was their choice, but they had to commit and not complain about the training schedule.

I gave them a tentative schedule as we drove home; but in my mind, I knew I would have to do some research to figure out how to help them run without throwing up... I would also have to figure out the best method to help them increase their speed in a safe way for their little bodies.  I didn't know how to do it...

Guess what happened?  Only about 10 minutes after we arrived home, two members of the Elders Quorum Presidency showed up at our house.  (The Elders Quorum is a group of men within our church- most of whom hold the office of "Elder" within the priesthood.  Their duties include serving the members of their congregation in many different ways.)

Since we are fairly new to the area, they came to see if we had any specific needs.  In Michigan, my  husband, Abe, served all three years in the Elders Quorum Presidency; it was a great opportunity of service for him.

These two men asked our boys about their race and shared a little about their own running experiences.  We quickly discovered that these men were both phenomenal runners!!  One of the men asked the boys, "Do you want to know what to do to get faster?"  I excitedly answered before the boys did, "Yes!  Please tell me!  I was just struggling trying to figure out a schedule on the way home!"

The Elders Quorum President gave me an exact training schedule including the foods they should eat before their race so they can keep their food down better at the finish line.  His training schedule was so different than I would have created that I protested a couple of times.  He and Abe laughed.  Abe said, "Just hear him out."

After I wrote down exactly what he suggested,  these two men asked all the children to find verses in the Bible and The Book of Mormon pertaining to racing.  The children searched their scriptures frantically to be the first ones to find them.  Then, very lovingly and patiently, these men taught all of us about the race of life.  It was a spiritually and physically uplifting night.

These two members of the Elders Quorum Presidency, whose duty is to serve, came to our house to welcome our family.  I'm sure they didn't think their service would entail creating a training schedule for young boys, but that is exactly what we needed!  I wanted my boys to grow in their confidence in this sport that they loved so much.  I am deeply grateful for the inspired advice.

Their spiritual application of the race of life brought increased love into our home.  My children's hearts were filled with that love.  As we bid them goodbye, our kids threw their arms around them.  I was shocked to see Mariah actually jump into their arms!

God's hand was definitely in this timely visit from the Elders Quorum presidency.

Today we start our official training schedule!!

I thank God for sending inspired servants to aid us on even the littlest details of our lives.