Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Piano Blessings: Pass It On...

Receiving Piano Lessons

I am not a very good piano player.   I always wished I could have received lessons as a child.  When I was on my mission there was such a great need for piano players in church, and I wanted so badly to help… but I didn't have the talent.  I decided my children would all learn so they could be of better service in their lives in that area.

My dad was a band teacher, and I play the flute.  In Utah I taught flute lessons, so I know how to teach music.  I took my boys to a piano teacher for lessons for a short while.  I watched and learned and realized that I could teach my boys on my own, so I have taught them piano for the past 3 1/2 years.  They are now excellent players and able to play hymns well enough to accompany choirs when they sing.  They continue to memorize hymns and learn new ones.  They are now beyond my knowledge and have just started taking more advanced lessons from Jordan and Mariah's violin teacher.  That beautiful woman is donating her limited time to bless our children's musical future because she was blessed as a young girl by others who helped her.  What a miracle to have her goodness in our lives!  As part of her lesson, she sits on her couch and lovingly talks about the theory of piano with them.  She's passing on her beautiful light!  Gosh I love her.  I feel the Holy Ghost when I am around her.

This morning I read this scripture:  3 Nephi 12:15-16 "Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel?  Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house: 16) Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

I thought about our dear piano/violin teacher who has served our family so selflessly.  What a beautiful example of a woman letting her light shine.  Her good works truly do glorify our Father in Heaven.  When we are able, I hope to pass on the goodness that she has shared with us…. and give light as she does.  I hope to pass it on...

Giving Piano Lessons

We have been getting to know a lovely family who is learning more about the gospel.  They have been meeting with the missionaries for a short while.  The mother heard my boys playing the hymns on the piano.  She asked me where they learned to play like that.  I told them that I taught them.  The mother asked me to teach her daughter piano lessons.  I agreed… a bit hesitantly... because I am not a talented piano player myself.  Her daughter liked the piano lessons so much that her mother referred two more little girls to my house for piano lessons!  Then the primary president at church asked me to teach her two daughters as well!

What a blessing!  I am now teaching piano to five little girls, and they're paying me- which in our financial hardship is a much needed blessing!! :-)  The girls are learning very well.  I have told them that as they become more proficient, I will have to send them on to a more advanced teacher… but that won't be for a while yet.

I have taught flute, gymnastics, spanish, and preschool classes, but I NEVER would have considered teaching piano to other children besides my own… unless God placed this opportunity right into my lap… which HE did.

This is definitely a miracle in my life… to be able to help with finances while staying in my home.

It is also a precious blessing for our family to be able to become closer to this wonderful family who is learning the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They came to our home for Family Home Evening on Monday with the missionaries.  Jackson shared a very inspired, spiritual thought from the scriptures, and the missionaries shared a very inspired lesson with all of us after that.  The influence of the Holy Ghost was powerful in our home that night.

This scripture spoke to my heart this morning, and I thought about this family:  3 Nephi 12:6 "And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost."  I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost when we are with this dear family.  Because of their hunger and thirst for righteousness as they search the things God wants for them in their lives, they are a great blessing and miracle in our lives.  I hope to always hunger and thirst for righteousness as they do and be an instrument in the Lord's hands as they have been to us.  I hope to pass it on...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Birthday Wishes: God's Perfect Timing

For Tyson's birthday last week, I wrote his birth story.  Even though Tyson was completely happy with his strawberry cake and favorite dinner with family and a few friends.  Tyson's greatest wishes were to go to a football game and to go deep sea fishing.  He had been talking about it for months.  I prayed to know how to make his day special because we couldn't afford either of those things.  His birthday passed, and Tyson never complained about not going deep sea fishing or watching a football game.  A surprise came… one week after his birthday!  

Our awesome neighbors gave us 5 free tickets to the big college rivalry football game here.  What a blessing!  The tickets were intended for Abe's parents and for me and Abe, but Abe's mom graciously sacrificed her ticket for all the Mills Boys to go together.  I also stayed home with the little ones.  It was a perfect day! The game instilled even more passion in their hearts that they want to play college ball like their daddy. Well… they actually want to play in the NFL!  Remember their faces! :-)  Tyson is number 89. :-)

  According to all the Mills Boys, the marching bands were amazing beyond words… they danced their formations, played awesome music, and flipped their instruments around between notes. This also motivated them to excel in their instrumental talents!

I must say… the Mills Boys are soooo cute!

Yesterday, the second part of Tyson's greatest wish was realized as well!  

There are several ponds with fish in the subdivision where we live, but we asked around and discovered a fabulous fishing location called Sebastion Inlet.  (It's where the expert high caliber fishers and surfers go.)  

The pier reached out into the deep sea to great depths without going out on an expensive ship.  It was perfect!  

It was a little chilly and very windy which created awesome waves on the outer coast.  Once we reached the outer pier, the kids were amazed watching experts pull out 100 lb fish! 

As the sun set, the Pelicans soared in from the skies and dove in for the fish every few seconds.  It was simply breathtaking to soak in the majesty of God's creations...

...and to feel HIS power within HIS creations as the waves pounded against the pier.

I believe that God expects us to work towards our righteous desires, and then HE opens the doors when those righteous desires are in accordance with HIS will.  I believe that God cares about the things that truly make our hearts happy.  I believe that God's timing may be longer than we want at times.  Despite that, I believe that HIS timing is absolutely perfect.  

I thank God for blessing our lives and fulfilling our righteous desires in such magnificent ways and perfect timing.  

Our perfect day even included a little mud/sand fight… They tried to get me, but I think I won. :-)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Divine Intervention

There is a sweet sister whom I hadn't seen at church for several weeks.  She is the sister I wrote about a few months ago in my blog post, "Familiar Face."  I kept thinking about her and wondering where she was.  The last several times I had called, her phone number didn't work, so I hadn't tried her phone number again to check on her for awhile.

Yesterday morning before church, I had a very strong impression that it was time to call her again, so I did.  For the first time, she answered!  After talking to her, I found out that her husband had been living in a hotel.  She went out of town with her kids to stay with family for several weeks because they didn't have a new home yet.  She and her children had just returned the day before and now the whole family was in the hotel room together… with no car… and still no home!  One of their cars was broken down, and the other one needed to be registered.

She was overjoyed that she would have a way to get to church!  I arrived and quickly helped dress the children and comb their hair; we made it to church JUST in time.  This lovely sister had a huge smile the entire time.  The phone number I had been using was to her old home, but now it was being transferred to her new cell phone.  Thank goodness I could finally reach her!

As we drove home from church, Abe asked her where she was going for Thanksgiving.  She smiled and said, "We're accepting invitations."  We are grateful to have this sweet family come to our home for Thanksgiving dinner.

A miracle can be defined as divine intervention.  Members of our bishopric at church asked how we knew this family was in need.  I told them it was the power of the Holy Ghost.  I'm grateful for divine intervention… I'm grateful for miracles… I am grateful for the guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost.  God truly does love ALL HIS CHILDREN.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Leaders, Bullies, & Defenders

My boys go to public school for 4 elective classes.  They are actually classified as home-schooled kids.  I have been driving back and forth so many times throughout the day for their varied classes that I was getting worn out. Since their grandmother is the crossing guard, she usually takes them with her at 7:15am even though their first class doesn't start until 8:45.  Sometimes I let them sleep in because they've had a late night.  On those days I wanted them to start taking the bus instead of me driving them again.

I put off allowing them on the bus for several days because the kids at the bus stop always looked so rough.  I saw them shoving each other around, so I worried about how my home-schooled kids would be treated.  Tyson would also be the youngest kid on the bus.

I finally let them go yesterday.  I wasn't sure if they would even know anybody, so I encouraged them to be friendly and get to know the other kids.

The Bus Ride

As my boys walked towards the huge mass of kids waiting, I prayed for them to have a good experience.  They seemed so small and so innocent.  I watched as the girls piled on one bus and as the boys piled on a different bus.  The bus drove away, and I waved wondering if my boys would be "too cool" to look back at their worried mother in the van waiting for them.  They weren't; I could see Jackson in the window waving back.

When I went to pick them up at 11:30, I asked the boys with anticipation how their bus ride went.

This is what happened according to Jackson and Tyson:

They walked on the bus, and a boy walked on with them and confidently made an announcement to the bus driver and all the other kids:  "These guys are new.  I'm going to let him sit by me (pointing at Tyson).  Does anybody have a seat where Jackson can sit?  A boy whom Jackson had played football with a couple of times spoke up and said, "He can sit by me!"  Both Jackson and Tyson told me how kind the kids were to include them in conversations and let them play with their video games.

Are you kidding me?  What a leader!  How mature, kind, courageous, and wonderful of that middle school boy to step outside of himself to make my boys feel welcomed and accepted.

The Band Class

Then, with just as much enthusiasm, my boys told me what happened in band class once they got to school:

A kid came up to Tyson and said, "Are you mental?" (Tyson says the kid's comment was unprovoked by him.)

Before Tyson could even answer, the biggest boy in the class stepped between them and got in the kid's face to defend Tyson.  (I've seen this boy who was defending Tyson at band concerts- he's huge with long hair.)   Tyson's defender said real loud, "You better watch how you talk to Tyson because that's Jackson's little brother!"

Then Tyson's defender chased the little bully all the way back to his seat.  Both Jackson and Tyson were telling me the story with the biggest grins on their faces.  How could they not grin?  It feels GREAT to have somebody on your side in the face of conflict.

I couldn't believe how my prayers were answered!  Not only were my boys fine on the bus, but the kids were kinder than I ever could have imagined.  …and not only was their experience on the bus better than I could have imagined, but God also gave them an AWESOME defender after the bus ride.

I had a good talk with my boys yesterday about using those leaders and defenders as examples for their lives.  I asked them to recognize how good they felt from the experiences and to be leaders and defenders for others as well.  See?  The answer to prayer continues… Not only did God give them the bus ride and the awesome defender, but HE also gave my boys valuable examples of leadership and courage so that they can be better servants of HIM in the future.  

Wow!  I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for answering our prayers beyond what we even ask.  I'm grateful I can ask HIM for help with any worry in my life.  HE is listening to all our prayers and answers those prayers in the most perfect way which will bless our lives the very most.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We Love Burger King!

About a month and a half ago, I went to Burger King for a quick lunch because we ran out of time to drive home again between the children's classes at the school.  Burger King gave us our food, and I thought they had forgotten to include some of the burgers.   I immediately went inside to tell  the manager about my problem.  While I waited in my car, I discovered that everything actually was accounted for… one of the burgers was tucked under Jayden's carseat, and the other ones were underneath the fries.  Embarrassed, I quickly went back inside to tell them how sorry I was.

Burger King gave me the extra burgers anyway!  The kids were all so happy to have extra food!  (My boys would eat 3 burgers each if I let them.)  I went away thinking how nice they were to accommodate me even though I was in the wrong.

Halloween was a couple of weeks after that, and one of the homes we visited gave all the children coupons to receive a free Frosty.

I don't like to go to fast food restaurants; but a couple of weeks after Halloween, we were far away from the house again longer than expected.  I was getting shaky, and my brain was becoming quite foggy.   I'm severely hypoglycemic, and I really needed protein in my bloodstream.

I thought in my mind, "I want to go back to Burger King because they were so awesome before.   I have these Frosty coupons.  That will be a great treat for the kids!"

I went through the drive-thru and ordered 5 Jr. Frosties and a value burger for everyone.  One of the kids had lost their coupon, so I planned on paying for one of the extra Frosties.  (Jayden could share a Frosty with one of the older kids.)

I ordered the Frosties at the Burger King drive-thru and told them I had coupons for the Frosties.  The manager said, "OK.  We'll deal with the coupons when you get up here."

As I handed him the coupons I looked closer at what was in my hand.  In my foggy, hypoglycemic state it took me a minute to figure out what I was doing… I looked over at the sign of where I was…

WHAT WAS I THINKING???  I said, "Oh my gosh!  These are Frosty coupons for Wendy's, and I'm at Burger King!  I am so sorry.  I didn't even realize what I was doing."

The manager just laughed and said, "That's ok.  We're going to honor them anyway because you could just decide to take your coupons over to Wendy's, and we want to keep you here!"

We were all so excited.  The kids cheered from the backseat when they realized what was going on.

Not only did the Burger King manager give me four cups of ice cream with the four Wendy's Frosty coupons I gave him, but he surprised me and ordered a total of 6 ice creams for our family at no extra charge!!!

I thanked him and thanked him and thanked him!  He said he was glad he could make us so happy.  The kids were so excited that the next time the manager opened his window to give us the rest of our food they all shouted out in unison, "WE LOVE BURGER KING!!!"

I believe that was just what the manager wanted to hear.  He wanted to make sure we would come back, and of course we will!

So why am I sharing this story?  Well… of course I'm always amazed at the good people of the world.

I am also amazed at the love God has for us.  I believe God had his hand in that whole funny scenario!

In those little moments of joy and recognizing people's goodness, I think of God.  I think of God because I believe that HE and HIS angels enjoy spreading pieces of laughter and joy to lift our hearts. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

1 Year Anniversary Today!

Abe and I were married in the St. Louis Temple for all eternity.  Because we were married in the temple, all our biological children are automatically sealed to us for all of eternity.  Jayden came to us a different way…. Jayden was born from my heart.  It is true!  He was in my heart since I was a little girl.  The adoption finalization through the courts had just taken place, so we were now able to take him to the temple.

Exactly one year ago today, our entire family went to the St. Louis, MO Temple to have our precious baby Jayden sealed to us forever.  Normally, our other children would have to wait until they were older to enter the temple; but since they were given the opportunity to be present for the sealing, our children had been preparing for this day for quite some time.

We made the 6-hour drive as a family from Michigan to St. Louis, Missouri on the morning of November 20th.  We arrived in the early afternoon- just in time for the sealing ceremony.  Abe's parents, my parents, and several other close friends were there with us.  We arrived with all our white clothing in our bags, and we were ready for this big moment we had been anticipating for such a long time.  My parents accompanied my children into the dressing room and helped them get dressed into their white clothes.  When Abe and I entered the dressing room, I could feel the excitement in the air.  The temple workers had given each of the children a packet for them to write their feelings about their experiences.  The children looked like the purest of angels dressed in all white.

I cannot express in words the feelings of love that ran through my heart as Abe and I knelt at the altar knowing that in moments Jayden's adoption would be sealed for the eternities.  We had been praying to find him for so long.  My mother brought our baby Jayden to us and placed his hand on ours.  After the sacred ceremony, the rest of our children came up around the altar as well and learned about the significance of an eternal family on a level they will never forget.

I asked each member of our family (who can talk) to share their feelings and memories from the temple.

Their words touched my heart deeply.

Abe's Memories

I felt like it was a beautiful time to be with all of our family in the temple.  What a great opportunity it was for our young kids to go to the temple.  And now how much greater of a testimony they have of the temples because of their experience.  When I was in the temple, it was just a really nice, calm and peaceful feeling.  I was grateful that a really important piece was being added to our family.  I think Jayden is a miracle.  Every day he's just always so happy.

Jackson's Memories

I prepared to go to the temple by studying the scriptures and going over how I need to act in the temple and how special it is.  I remember when we got sealed, I felt the Spirit.  It was like there was a tingling around me.  I could feel the Holy Ghost right by me.  It was really great that Jayden finally was going to be with us forever no matter what and that he's our brother.  I like how energetic and joyful Jayden is.  He smiles a lot.   I feel that it's really awesome that he's my brother forever.  My favorite part of the temple was when we kneeled down together around the altar.  I liked that part because that was when we were all together as one family.

Tyson's Memories

Well… I really loved the mirror room because I saw my family for eternity and eternity and eternity.  I also liked walking around and looking at the temple.  I felt the Spirit everywhere I was.  The Spirit felt awesome.  I liked all the pictures of Jesus I saw.  The people there were nice too.  I couldn't wait to go to the temple, so I was excited to be there.  I did a lot of things such as getting baptized to prepare to go into the temple.  It made me happy knowing that little baby Jayden was sealed to us forever and ever.  Jayden is one of my number 1 pals; he's my bro.  He makes me happy in everything he does.  He touches my heart and others' hearts too.  He teaches his sisters and is always nice to them. I know the temple is the house of God because I prayed about it, and the Spirit has told me it is true.  I always feel the Holy Spirit when I'm at the temple.  Even when I'm not inside, I feel the Holy Spirit.   I feel so close to God when I'm near the temple.

Jordan's Memories

I prepared to go to the temple by trying to be really good.  I had an interview with the Bishop before we went.   I felt really good, and I felt the Holy Spirit in the temple.  Before I went into the mirror room, I was getting dressed in the dressing room.  Then we went through all these other rooms, and then we went into the mirror room.  When I was in the mirror room, I knew that we would have an eternal family.  When we stood in the middle of the room looking at the mirrors, I felt really, really, really good.  I knew that Jayden was sealed to us.

Mariah's Memories

I remember that Jayden got sealed to our family, and I remember that Jackson felt the Holy Spirit guiding him.  I felt something around me keeping Jayden in our family for all the eternities.  I remember that we had to dress up in nice, white clothes so that we don't make the temple dirty.  We wear white clothes because it helps us remember all the angels in heaven.  I feel happy that Jayden gets to stay in our family.  Even when I die, he's still with me.  I love Jayden so much because he's cute.  He's a good brother, and he loves to do funny things.

"My Mommy"

My little Jayden, born of my heart, has a little game he plays.  He wraps his arms around me as tight as he can, looks around at everyone else, makes sure they're listening, and then says really loud, "MY MOMMY!!"  I then squeeze him back really tight and say, "MY JAYDEN!!" We love our dear little Jayden.  All of our children are miracles in our lives… Jayden is definitely no exception!  What a miracle he is!  We all thank God Jayden is ours forever!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tyson's Story of Awesomeness!

My dear, sweet, funny Tyson turned 10 years old on Sunday.  I know!  We have a lot of birthdays right in a row.  It's been fun to revisit their births and put them in writing.

Funny Tyson came to family prayer like this one night… as "Uncle Willy???"  What a joy Tyson is!!  Truly!!

Tyson's Birth Story

I became pregnant with Tyson right around the same time that Jackson was going through his major open-heart surgery.  It was a joyous time because Jackson was healing and finally able to get around without purple lips and a long oxygen tube attached to him.

On Sunday morning my labor started.  It wasn't too bad, so I just kept a log of the frequency of my contractions.  After church I went to the hospital.  They sent me home.  I returned the next day VERY ready.  It all happened quickly and smoothly.   Jackson was delivered as an emergency C-Section, so I knew I wanted an epidural with Tyson just in case things didn't go right.

They gave me the epidural, and I almost passed out.  I called out as my world began to fade around me.  They quickly put other medication in me to bring me back to consciousness.  I guess in all the fuss they forgot to put in my catheter.  Uh.. oh...

His Perfect Delivery… with a Little Oops :-)

Everything was going well.  Abe had the video camera out.  The doctor told me to push, so I did.  All of a sudden I heard a strange spraying sound.  Yep… the poor doctor had both his hands up shielding his face from… well it was the result of the nurses forgetting the catheter.  I apologize for putting this in my blog, but I do also write for my posterity.  The fact that I "sprayed" the doctor is one of his favorite parts of the story.  Here I was about to meet my precious little Tyson, and the whole room was in laughter… including me.  I was laughing hysterically and apologizing at the same time as Tyson came into the world.  That was one EXCELLENT epidural!  It was a perfect delivery.

We named him Tyson Rakem.  He shares his middle name with Abe, my husband.  Rakem means "True God."  Ra means "God," and kem means "upright."

My little Tyson was as sweet and precious as can be.  I vividly remember holding my little angel Tyson all through the night while he looked all around the room and into my eyes.  I couldn't believe how alert and curious his eyes were already.  I remember feeling that I would never forget that moment, and I haven't.  My big, 10-year old Tyson was cute to crawl into my arms yesterday to reenact that special moment for me.  He curled his big, long body up into my arms and gave me his same wide eyes.  I won't ever forget that moment either!

The next morning our wonderful Pediatrician came to our hospital room to check on Tyson.  Since Jackson had so many severe health problems, I had a lot of anxiety about this delivery.  He said, "See?  You worried for nothing- he's perfectly healthy."

Our pediatrician left, and I looked at Tyson's lips closer.  I had become an expert at watching for a lack of oxygen because our 1st son had bluish lips often from his heart condition.  I noticed Tyson's lips looked a little bluish.  I asked the nurse to check his oxygen levels.  She left with him and came back about 15 minutes later without him.  She said he was on oxygen tubes in the nursery.  I jumped out of bed to go check on him.

Life Flighted 

When I went into the nursery they told me not to touch him because he was sick.  I had been through months of sickness with Jackson as an infant because of his heart problems.  If there was one thing I knew- I knew my newborn baby needed his mother's touch.  I had waited for what seemed like an hour patiently watching him while he slept.  I wanted to be holding him!  I then told the nurse that I was going to go pump and then I would be back for my baby.  The head nurse said with reservation, "Ok. I guess you can hold him if he's awake."  Are you kidding me?  She was going to give me permission?  That was my baby, and I loved him with all my heart.  We had spent the entire night gazing into each other's eyes.  

In a very low, firm voice, I spoke very slowly:  "I don't think you understand.  WHEN I come back, I WILL hold my baby."  They did not have a NICU at this hospital, and they were not as experienced as the children's hospital.  It was a newer concept to actually let mothers touch their sick babies.  I had already been through this with my first baby, and I knew Tyson needed his mother's closeness… especially if he was sick.  The nurse was surprised by my firm response and agreed to let me hold him.

By the time I returned to Tyson, they were making arrangements to send him to the children's hospital by the Life Flight Team's ambulance.  Our pediatrician returned and assisted Abe in giving baby Tyson a priesthood blessing before he was whisked off to the other hospital.  I gathered my things to leave the hospital.  The nurses tried to tell me that the rules stated I needed to stay in the hospital.

With bags already packed I simply said, "Ok… Um… I'm leaving with my baby."   One look at me and they realized I really wasn't going to stay in a hospital room feeling completely healthy while my precious baby was in another hospital not breathing well.  How could I be separated from my baby Tyson- my dear, sweet love?  The nurses promptly brought me the papers to release me from the hospital.

Tyson spent 5 more days at the children's hospital.  They couldn't determine what the cause was for his low oxygen levels.  Because I was highly experienced with oxygen tubes and medications, they sent Tyson home sooner than they would have and made plans for a nurse to come visit the house and change his IV's.  They even gave me instructions on how to change the medications on the IV's.  I was relieved to be in a hospital where they trusted a mother's intuition.  Because after all… it was the Holy Ghost and my intuition as a mother which guided me to even identify there was a problem with his low oxygen levels to begin with.  What a miracle that was!

The doctors at the children's hospital allowed me to monitor his oxygen levels at home and decide how best to wean him from his oxygen.  Right at about 6 weeks , I took Tyson off his oxygen tubes completely.  We discovered later that the first hospital never gave him a hearing test.  We gave him one several weeks after that, and he failed it.  He had tubes placed in his ears and an adenoidectomy at a few months of age, and his hearing returned fully.

Tyson continues to have problems with his ears and sinuses, but he is healthy and strong otherwise… with those same curious eyes.  What a great blessing and joy he is!

Little Stories of Tyson's Awesomeness

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

*As a baby, Tyson had such a beautiful little face framed by soft, brown curls that people always thought he was a girl.  One time at a restaurant, a man interrupted our meal to say, "Oh my gosh, your daughter is just breaking my heart she's so beautiful."  Of course I didn't have the heart to say she was a he… especially since he was breaking his heart.  Abe and I just smiled and told him thank you.

*As a little 1-year old, Tyson kissed Nanny as if he was in love with her.  He would hold her cheeks in his hands and kiss her over and over again.  Grandmommy said he always pinched her arms gently while he cuddled with her.

*Tyson was ALWAYS dirty.  Jackson would come in from playing and look spotless, but Tyson would come inside with thick dirt all through his scalp… both are wonderful in their differences, but it just gives you a little insight to the way Tyson tackles life.

*Tyson loves to read his scriptures and bear his testimony, and he always asks if he can be the one to give the prayer.

*When our family was in the Nauvoo Pageant the first time, Tyson was only 6 years old.
After the show, he walked up to several strangers to bear his testimony to them about Jesus Christ.  He approached an elderly couple and bore his testimony to them- unbeknownst to little Tyson, they happened to be on their way home from their missions.  They were merely passing through Nauvoo, IL on the way.  This elderly couple told the directors of the pageant that Tyson's testimony was the highlight of their entire mission.

* During that same Nauvoo experience, 6- year old Tyson decided to teach 4-year old Jordan how to bear his testimony, so he took him by the hand and walked up to a young couple.  I watched him do this from afar and then decided I better listen in- I had no idea what they were saying to these people!  Tyson told Jordan, "Tell them what you know about the church Jordan."  Jordan bore his testimony.  Then Tyson looked at him and said, "Jordan, tell them more about what you know about Jesus."  Jordan's hero is Tyson, so he told them more.  The couple's mouths dropped open, and they were obviously emotional as little Jordan obediently shared more about his love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

*Tyson is also very talented in music.  He isn't afraid to try anything new.  He plays the piano, the trumpet, the mallets, and the drums… all very well with kids several years older than he is.

*Tyson is a great leader in the home.

*He started a wonderful family tradition of writing letters during the night for each member of the family and secretly delivering them.  We all have our mailboxes, and it is his example that gets all the other kids excited about writing the letters.

* He often makes treasure hunts for all the kids too.  He is ALWAYS thinking of the most creative games whenever we have to wait somewhere.

*Tyson's greatest love is ANIMALS!!  I made him a special book with all the crazy pictures of him with animals.  He has a gift with animals.  They are drawn to him.  We have a picture of Tyson kissing a giraffe because he had a cracker in his mouth, but one time a giraffe walked up to Tyson among about 15 other children and started licking him all over his coat and neck.  The other children were squealing with excitement.  Tyson held his head back as if he were in heaven!

*At age 7, Tyson had never played football before.  We put him on the team that didn't hold any practices.  His first time on a football field was to play in an actual game!  He excelled so quickly that he received the award as "Most Improved."  Tyson's athletic ability is superb.  He puts his whole heart into every sport he tries, and he loves competition.  He isn't afraid to ask strangers if they want to play with him.  When he runs after somebody in football, they hardly ever get away.  He's happiest when he gets a pick 6 which is an interception for a touchdown.  He's aggressive.  When Tyson played tackle football, kids cried in practice because he tackled so hard.

*Tyson ran a half-marathon… all 13.1 miles at the young age of 8-years old.  At age 9, his fastest mile was 6:42.

*Tyson has a gift of connecting with people of all ages.  Older people are touched by his sweetness.  Little children love the games he plays with them, and teenagers love him for his enthusiasm to join in with maturity.

*Tyson received one of the lead roles and a solo in the first play he ever auditioned for.  All the teenage girls' parents told me how much their daughters loved little Tyson.  He's very gifted socially. :-)  All the girls wanted autographs and pictures with him after the show because he was soooo cute. :-)

*Every one of Tyson's teachers have told me what a joy he is to have them in his classes.

I love my tough, tender-hearted little Tyson.  He is such a joy in my life.  It's been a fabulous 10 years!

Tyson's Birthday Celebration: Enjoy the Pics:-)

His brothers and sisters made a shrine of stuffed animals for Tyson to wake up to- just like they had done for Mariah.  They also slept right by his side to make him feel extra special.  

For Tyson's birthday, he wanted to eat chicken enchiladas, empanadas, and have the same strawberry cake that Mariah had. :-)

Some neighbors came over to celebrate with us, and we had a great time playing games together.  After the little party, Tyson told me how much he loved just sitting and talking about animals with one of the older boys.  Tyson is good about making everybody feel welcome and part of the group.  It's been a beautiful few days celebrating Tyson.

More Fun Pics I Wanted to Include for Tyson

Tyson, age 5, with his brothers and sister… before Juliana and Jayden were born...

Our cute little animal lover!! 

Lizard mania!!  Do you see it hanging off his ear?

Tyson made an acorn hat for a lizard from the yard.  He is so silly!

 We found this turtle in our backyard!  Tyson did a whole documentary on the specifics of this turtle…. it was VERY cute.

The snakes ARE real!!