Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Jesus Is Special"

Yesterday I was very, very sick.  I walked around the house bundled up with a winter coat, a winter hat ,and long pants.  I was nauseated, had chills all inside of me and all over my skin.  It hurt to be touched.   My nose was either dripping nonstop or completely plugged- no happy medium.  My pounding headache made me speak a bunch of nonsense.  As I tried to continue to unpack our things, I could tell the kids were trying not to laugh as I attempted to pronounce simple words but didn't have the brain capacity to do it.  I was a mess!!

While I was sick, the children took charge!!

Tyson came to me with the sweetest letter thanking me for all my hard work.  He had drawn a big heart on the front of the card.  His tender words made me cry.  It didn't stop there though.  He encouraged the  others to also write tender letters of love to each other.  

I had fallen asleep on the floor in front of the children's bedrooms.  Mariah woke me up this morning asking me to read the letter she had written the night before for Jayden.

Oh my goodness…  Here it is:


To: Jayden
I love you very much
Can you do one
thing for me?
Can you
follow Jesus?
Jesus is special
very special
I love you
From: Mariah

My heart melted.  Those words didn't come from me.  Those words came from a child listening to God.

So many times throughout the day yesterday I wished somebody could lift me up and walk me around the house to get things done for the family.  I wished I was able to help the children better.  I was beat… I didn't comb anybody's hair.  I didn't even wash the mashed potatoes out of Jayden's hair!!  

I soon discovered that none of that mattered yesterday because Jesus- being so special to us- was creating miracles of love and service within my home as I endured the struggle of bad health.  HE was lifting all of our hearts by HIS loving influence.

Mariah played countless games with Jayden and Juliana.  The little ones were amazed at her "blowing bubbles" trick. :-)

Tyson took personal charge of Jayden when he wasn't with Mariah.  He even changed his poopy diaper, brushed his teeth, and got him ready for bed!!!

Jackson made pancakes for the family.  He made one in the shape of a heart for me.  He was a little embarrassed when his first batch came out with flour still in the middle of them.  I assured him it wouldn't have been as special if they were cooked to perfection.  

Jordan spent hours reading books to the little ones.  

When Juliana wasn't with Mariah or Jordan, she followed me around the house trying on my shoes and my jewelry… such a little cutie pie.  

All the older children did chores of dishes, mopping, and vacuuming. 

Since Abe is still out of town, all children gathered around to sing an encouraging, uplifting song that they made up just for him… It was to the tune of Happy Birthday, and they sang "Happy sales to you!" It wasn't even my idea!  What a thoughtful thing to do!  They know how hard he's working to provide for our little family.  I couldn't help but take a picture of this crazy, loving bunch as they sang.

It was a beautiful feeling in my heart to feel and to know that my children would come up with such loving ways to serve each other when I am "absent" in both mind and body.  I was praying to be physically lifted and carried around the house.  Instead, Jesus lifted all our hearts by teaching us how to better love and serve each other.  Just as Mariah said in her letter to Jayden, "Jesus is special." 

For how horrible I felt yesterday, I thought I would be sick for several days… maybe even longer!!  I woke up this morning to such a surprise!  I shook my head around in awe that my head didn't hurt one bit.  I jumped up and down and rubbed my hands over my arms, and nothing hurt.  My nose was a tad runny, but I could breathe!  God healed me!!

I immediately texted my mother and told her she MUST have been praying for me.  Of course she had and so were my husband and children.  Because of those answered prayers, I feel 98% better… in just one day!!   

I thank God for a day of sickness so that I could better recognize a day of service and love within the walls of my home and so that I could witness the miracle of my renewed health.  

I thank God for lifting us.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bunk Bed Miracle

Before Abe left last week he made sure to take care of the big things of our move- like putting our beds back together.  Our beds were in storage, and we hadn’t used them since we were in Michigan in August. 

Jackson and Jordan sleep on the bunk bed.  As Jackson was sitting on the bottom bunk, I started to chat with the boys about their room.  With a little added force, Jordan plopped down on the bed next to Jackson.  Immediately the bottom fell out, and they both crashed to the floor. 

We all screamed and laughed from the shock!  The two boys were astonished at their predicament.  We were all so grateful it didn’t happen to the top bunk!  Oh my gosh!! That could have been horrifying if one of the boys were underneath!  I proclaimed that nobody would sleep in a bunk bed again!

Abe came into the room and took a better look at it.  After further investigation, Abe noticed that back in Michigan somebody had ambitiously taken all the screws out of the sideboard when they took our beds apart.  The sideboard was connected to a small, perpendicular board.  That perpendicular board held up the mattress and other boards across the base of the mattress.  The whole bottom of the bed was only being held up by glue!! 

Then Abe shared what happened while he was putting the beds together:

He said that by "mistake" he put that particular sideboard (oblivious to the missing screws) on the bottom bunk It was supposed to actually be the sideboard for the top bunkHe noticed the error and thought about changing it.  He decided against it… leaving the weak sideboard on the bottom bunk-which saved my boys from very possible, serious injury. 

The way I see it: 

The bed only buckled under the pressure after Jordan (the second boy) plopped on the bed.  If the sideboard were on the top bunk- where it normally is- it probably wouldn’t have buckled under the pressure of one boy sleeping on it until deep into the night after he had been putting pressure on it for several hours… crashing on top of Jackson underneath!! Even if it would have buckled sooner as Jordan climbed into his bed, it could have injured him crashing down from such a high place. 

Anyway you look at the possibilities, a miracle occurred when Abe felt like he should leave the sideboard on the bottom bunk.  The miracle occurred when he actually followed that prompting and left it where it was.

I’m grateful my boys were safe.  I’m grateful Abe followed the Spirit.  (Oftentimes the Spirit works like that.  You don’t even know you’re following the Spirit, but because you’re living your life in a manner to hear HIS voice as HE speaks to you throughout the day, miracles take place.) 

I’m grateful for the beautiful miracles God provides in our daily lives.  HE loves us!!  HE and HIS ANGELS are watching out for the details in our lives… even when we don't feel like we deserve their presence.  

I understand that sometimes bad things happen… maybe the bed does actually crash down on us.  That does not mean God has forgotten about us or is punishing us.  That means that HE, ever-so-lovingly, is providing us with an opportunity to apply our faith in HIM and grow closer to HIM through an added trial… What's amazing is that God has the power to turn every trial into a beautiful life experience as we draw nearer to HIM.

I believe that is the greatest blessing of all… to draw nearer to HIM- our Almighty God.

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Because I Have Been Given Much"

On moving day, a sweet friend showed up at my in-laws' house to help me pack up my things.  I hadn’t asked anyone for help, but she just decided to come and see what could be done.  Another dear friend showed up at dinnertime with several boxes of pizza to serve our entire family.  There are so many truly thoughtful people in the world, and I have felt richly blessed to be the recipient of so many gifts of love.

This friend who came over to help me pack brought me a housewarming gift for my new home.  It was a tile with this beautiful message:

She said she had two ideas that came to mind of what to imprint on the tile.  Her 8-year old daughter helped her decide which one she should make for us.

What a WONDERFUL gift!

I felt so much warmth and emotion in my heart!  I LOVE the hymn which inspired this quote, and I quietly wondered when the last time was that I had sang it in church… I couldn’t even remember a time!

Because I have been given much… my friend and I talked about how pertinent that message was at a time I was feeling so blessed to have a home once again.

All week, I have been anxious to find the perfect spot to display the tile in my home, but I've had to put pots and pans and clothes away first. :-)

Abe left for a 10-day show on Thursday, so I’ve been holding down the fort working until 4-5am every morning organizing and decorating.

After another very late night unpacking, I woke up early to get all the kids ready for church.  All of a sudden I realized that I would be meeting a lot of new people for the first time.  I wanted to make a good impression and not look as exhausted as I felt.  I had a mountain of clothes and shoes to sort through in my room before I found a matching skirt, top, and shoes. 

With butterflies in my stomach, I began to wonder if I would make new friends again… or how long it would take before I felt “connected” to someone in my new congregation.  I wondered what the Lord had in store for me…

Just as I was going out the door to go to church with all the children, I received a text message from the same dear friend who had given me the plaque. 

Her text message said:

“Just wanted to wish you good luck on your first Sunday in your new ward!  The members there are blessed to have such a wonderful family.  We love you guys.”

Wow!  What a thoughtful thing to do!!  She herself had much to do to get ready for church, yet she stepped outside of herself and thought about what I might be feeling that first Sunday morning in a new ward.  I felt strengthened by her reassurance of love.

When we arrived to church, all the doors were locked, and there were only 2 cars in the parking lot.  “What do we do now?” I grumbled under my breath- it was a half hour drive to go back home.  “If church starts any later, my kids will be starving by the time church ends!”

After a while a few cars began trickling into the parking lot.  I soon found out that this would be a special video broadcast transported in from Orlando.  Church would start at 10am and would only be 2 hours long instead of the normal 3 hours.

While we waited in our van, I had a talk with all the children about making an effort to talk to people even if nobody talks to them.  They all felt revved up and ready to make some friends. 

Everyone gathered into the church ready for the broadcast, but for some reason the transmission wasn’t functioning properly.  One of the leaders stood and announced that we would be singing 2 hymns while we waited. 

Guess what we sang!!

Because I Have Been Given Much!!!

What a tender mercy to sing the very song from the tile I had just received and loved so much.  What a tender mercy to sing the same song an hour after receiving a message of love and encouragement from the one who gave it to me!

I felt confidence rise up within me again that God was a part of this big move we were making.   The people were amazing at church!  My kids were already invited to a birthday party, and I couldn’t even pull them away from happily chatting with the other children.  Tyson excitedly said, “I think we met everybody in the whole ward!”  Jackson is already going to an awesome Young Men's activity… WWF wrestling match in Orlando- crazy huh! :-)

My heart felt excited to learn more about the wonderful people in the ward.  My heart also told me there was more God wanted me to learn from the hymn, Because I Have Been Given Much.

I decided to try to open my mind and heart…

This is what happened:

Last night, I took the kids on a walk to the beach.  It was dark, so we experienced the beach a little differently this time. I watched the children run down the beach with flashlights in hand.  They looked like little bouncing lights of happiness.  I slowly walked and pondered on the hymn that had been a reoccurring message over the past several days.  Feeling an abundance of peace within my soul, I began to sing the words to the hymn.

I sang with all my heart.  As I sang, gratitude overwhelmed me.   I knew the Lord had given me and Abe so much.  I knew the Lord had given my children much.  I knew I had more to give to others.

After I finished singing, I sat down on the beach and watched the waves as I pondered some more.

Tyson knows how much I LOVE shells.  I always go home with a bag full of them.  He had been bringing me these beautiful, unique shells.
He asked me if I wanted a flashlight so I could find shells too.  I told him I didn’t need the light because I was fine where I was. 

Right then he shined his light down where I had been sitting.  Wow!!  All that time I had been sitting on a mountain of shells- I thought the beach was just a little rocky- I had no idea of the beauty right under me. 

The thought came to me… how many beautiful “shells of life” are we missing out on because we turn down the “extra light” or the added knowledge, revelation, and light from God?  How many talents, gifts, and opportunities are given to us- right under us- and all we need to do is to turn on the light of inspiration and accept the revelation God is waiting to provide so that we too may give to others.

I made several promises to God as I sat upon the mountain of shells and pondered all that I had been given. 

I asked the children to come sit with me, and we quietly listened to the roaring of the waves together.  We looked deeper into the starry sky, and then we gathered in even closer, knelt down, and held our family night prayer. 

As we walked home I heard Tyson singing:

Because I have been given much, I too must give.
Because of thy great bounty, Lord each day I live.
I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see,
who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care…
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share-
my glowing fire, my loaf of bread-my roof’s safe shelter over head,
that he too may be comforted.
Because I have been blessed by thy great love dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need. I’ll show that love by word and deed,
thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

I’m so grateful for the personal revelation which flowed into my heart and into my mind on how “I too must give.”  We’re all on different missions serving God!!  HE has great plans for each of us!!  HE speaks to our hearts when we’re willing to listen.  There are no coincidences… God is speaking to our hearts all day every day.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Temple Trip of Blessings

It has been a beautifully hectic week!!  I’m sorry for not writing sooner, but I had to clear a path to the computers before I could. J  No complaints here.  It’s a joyful mess to organize.J

Since Jackson’s twelfth birthday a few weeks ago, he has been an official member of the young men’s program at our church.  This week happened to be their designated week to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. 

(Let me briefly explain this concept.)

There are thousands and thousands of people who lived beautiful and worthy lives to return to live with God… according to the knowledge they had received.  Who, had they received the opportunity or full understanding of Jesus and HIS gospel, would have chosen Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and would have followed HIS gospel and been baptized.  None of us can judge or decide who received a fullness of that opportunity while they were living in mortality here on Earth.  I believe God is so merciful that HE has provided a way for them to receive the ordinances necessary to live with HIM forever.  

I believe there is great teaching and learning about Jesus Christ in the world of spirits after we die. Since we all must receive a baptism as Jesus did in order to live with HIM, we are halted in our eternal progression until we take that step. Baptisms for the dead allow everyone the opportunity to be baptized.  This means one who is living worthily can be baptized in proxy for them.  The person who has received a proxy baptism may then accept or deny that baptism…. Sometimes we receive spiritual confirmation of that acceptance, and sometimes we never know.

Youth have to be 12-years old and living worthily in order to enter the temple to do this ordinance.    On Sunday, Jackson received his interview and recommend from the Bishop to enter into the temple.  I wanted him to have this opportunity to go, but I still wasn’t sure how we would manage getting him from our new home back to the church (an hour and 45 minutes away) in time to go to the temple with the other youth… on moving day!!

I decided to seize the opportunity and try to make it work!  I prayed for help!

Tyson and I took a vanload full of boxes to our new house and unloaded it as fast as we could.  Abe and his dad packed up the moving truck, and Jackson and Abe’s mom watched the little ones back at my in-laws’ house.

I searched through and dumped several boxes finding Jackson’s socks, shoes, and a tie for the temple.  While at our new house, I realized I didn’t have Jackson’s suit for the temple- it was with Abe.   He was driving toward our new house while I was driving back to the old house.  We met halfway off the highway.  He gave me Jackson’s suit (and a kiss), and we were off in opposite directions. 

On my way to pick up Jackson, my GPS led me to take two different nonexistent exits!!  I grumbled as I eyed the clock and had to backtrack several miles trying to find my way.  (I’m directionally challenged, so to make my own intelligent decisions on directions doesn’t usually turn out so well.)

I had to be back at the church with Jackson by 5:15. I picked up Jackson, and he hurriedly dressed while I drove.  We arrived at 5:16!!

Phew!!  Once I got there I lingered for a moment watching my young son join in with the older kids.  He had a sweet, humble look on his face.  I could tell he was preparing for a very special experience.  He knew where and what he was about to do.  I was so grateful that amidst the hurriedness of moving, Jackson hadn’t forgotten what was most important. 

I wasn’t going to write in my blog for a few more days until I felt more settled in my home; but as I prayed this morning, the thought came to me to write about Jackson’s experience in the temple.  Now as I write, I know why God told me to write….

Unlike Jackson, amidst the hurriedness of moving, I DID forget what was most important.  I haven’t been reading the scriptures with my children, and I haven’t been doing an in-depth scripture study on my own.  (I’ve hardly taken time to shower!)

I kept saying in my mind, “Let me just get unpacked and back on a schedule, and then we’ll get back into our scriptures.”

Oh boy have I been mistaken!!  Providing spiritual protection for myself and for my children should be part of who I am and what I do for basic survival.

After all that I know and all that I understand, how could I place boxes and things before God?  I am repenting and starting the day off right today.  I know for a FACT that my mind will be clearer today, and my heart will be more joyful and ready to handle the day’s challenges.  I refuse to bypass this important part of who I am. I sure am glad when God reminds me of my mistakes, so I can be successful!  He wants us to succeed!!

Jackson returned from the temple on Tuesday night with a beautiful smile and a glow about him.  He had been waiting for years for this night.  While I rushed around doing a final cleanup of my in-laws’ house, Jackson kept stopping me in my scurries because he wanted to talk to me about some of the people for whom he was baptized.  He told me he felt such a beautiful spirit.  Every once in a while I would look over at him, and his HUGE grin and shining eyes never faded.  He seemed to me to be standing as a pillar of goodness and joy amongst the rest of us in our swirling scurries.  I can still see that smile and glow in my mind.  I want to be more like Jackson….

Jackson’s temple trip did much for me:

*I felt God’s hand in my life because it was definitely a tender mercy that we arrived exactly on time for Jackson’s temple trip. 

*I felt inspired to reach higher in my own life as I saw my son as a pillar of goodness.  I have that vivid image that I want to emulate… It is certain that our lives will see more busy days, and I want to be that pillar of goodness and joy… preoccupied with the things of God.

*I feel grateful for forgiveness and the opportunity to try to be better.  Because the Holy Ghost spoke to my heart to write today, I changed my perception of scripture study as a part of who I am instead of a part of my schedule. 

*And lastly, the picture I posted is of Jackson and his buddy from church.  For both of them, it was their first time doing baptisms; and even though we are moving, they will be forever friends having shared this special experience together.  I see two future missionaries, and I can't help but cry...