Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bamboo Furniture

When we moved from Michigan, we had to leave a TON of our things.  Some things were hard to leave behind, but we were comforted when we knew they were blessing the lives of others.

We gave away our nicer, leather couch but kept our couch/bed.  While our couch/bed sat in storage, mold formed all over it.  We had to take the whole couch to the curb to be dumped. :(

We accepted the fact that we wouldn't have a couch for quite a while.

My dear friend in Utah sent me a text message yesterday telling me she still had the plant I had given to her.  (I love the living sentimental value that plants hold.)  I was grateful she still had it, but I broke the news to her that we had to leave all of our plants behind in Michigan.  Some of those plants had moved with us from Missouri to Utah, and then to Michigan.  They had been given to us for very special occasions which spanned many years.

I told her we had to leave a lot of our things behind. She asked me what I missed most.  Along with my plants, I missed having a couch and our abundant food storage.  (I told her we crammed some of the  food storage under the kids' armpits, under van seats, and between their feet when we moved to Florida. :-))

A new dear friend of mine here in Ormond Beach asked me a little while back if I would like her outdoor furniture and her plants.  She had used it for years and didn't have space for it anymore.  She didn't know we had lost our couch, and she didn't know how much I love plants… but God did.

Yesterday, the same day I had been pondering about our missing furniture and plants, we were able to pick up my new friend's beautiful, bamboo, furniture set. The plants need love, and I'm so grateful to have plants to nurture.

There were so many pieces to the furniture that we used some of it for indoor furniture and some of it for outdoor furniture!  I spent much of the day cleaning it up and covering the reclining chair in green.

I texted my friend these pictures of her furniture blessing our home:

This was her response:

"That is so wonderful!!!  I'm moved to great joy in my heart and spirit!!!  Lovely!!! Beautiful!!!  Green is one of my favorite colors!!!  Comfortable to sit on too!!"

What a joy it is to serve and to be served…  What a joy it is to see God orchestrating one's needs with those who are ready to give.

As I write, Jackson is sitting on our new couch doing his homework… God is good.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pedal to the Metal!!

About a month ago, while we were still living in Orlando, my husband's gas pedal stuck in the accelerated position.  He had to pull it off the side of the road and take the key out of the ignition while the engine continued to rev at its highest power.

He eventually had his car towed back to his parents' house.

Last night at 11:00pm, we received a phone call from a sweet college-aged sister who needed a ride home from the hospital.  Abe has traveled every weekend since we've lived here, so he had never met her before.  I knew her and had offered to help her at any time if she needed it.  We were grateful she had called us.  The hospital was about 45 minutes away, so Abe drove and took Jackson with him as his priesthood companion.

On the way, the accelerator on his car stuck again!!  Abe had already had this fixed, but he worried they would be stranded themselves when they really needed to help this sister get home.  He pulled his car over and turned the engine off.  As Abe and Jackson sat on the side of the road, he asked Jackson to say a prayer.  According to Jackson, he said his third prayer at that moment.

Abe said, "Well, this has to work."

He started his car with full faith… the car gave one last spin of the tires and one last screeching pull… and then the accelerator released.  They were on their way!!

Knowing what a problem the accelerator had proven to be the previous time, Abe and Jackson knew that God had fixed the car.  They knew and I know it was a miracle from God!  They arrived safely to the hospital, took the young sister home, and arrived back here around 1am.  What a blessing for me to hear of my two priesthood holders in my home experiencing such a sweet miracle as they willingly served another in need.  I'm grateful everyone was safe and that the sweet sister is feeling healthy and strong.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sent by God

On Saturday morning, we held our morning devotional and scripture study as a family.  We read President Hinckley's words from his book, Stand a Little Taller.  He wrote, "Today will never come again.  'Have I done any good in the world today?  Have I helped anyone in need?'"

My children didn't recognize that President Hinckley was quoting a hymn, so we pulled out our hymn books and sang the hymn together.

  1. 1. Have I done any good in the world today?
    Have I helped anyone in need?
    Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
    If not, I have failed indeed.
    Has anyone's burden been lighter today
    Because I was willing to share?
    Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
    When they needed my help was I there?
  2. (Chorus)
    Then wake up and do something more
    Than dream of your mansion above.
    Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
    A blessing of duty and love.
  3. 2. There are chances for work all around just now,
    Opportunities right in our way.
    Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try,"
    But go and do something today.
    'Tis noble of man to work and to give;
    Love's labor has merit alone.
    Only he who does something helps others to live.
    To God each good work will be known.
We sang the song a couple of times and then talked about the words.  The words, "There are chances for work all around just now, opportunities right in our way," stuck in my mind.  We didn't know the needs of those around us.  We're new to the area.  What could we do?

Tyson suggested we make cookies for the neighbors.  We didn't have ingredients for cookies, so I decided to make bread for a particular neighbor instead.

While the bread was still hot, Tyson carried our prettiest loaf to our neighbor across the street. The other children tagged along.

They excitedly returned with this message:

The sweet elderly woman said she was feeling very sick, and that bread was exactly what she needed.  She thanked each of them and then asked Tyson to write down my phone number and the names of all the kids.

Tyson returned home, wrote all the requested information down, and took it back to our neighbor.

When he returned to her house, she thanked him again for the bread and said, "God sent the bread."

What a blessing that Tyson would hear those exact words!

We didn't tell our neighbor we had asked God who needed service today, but she knew God had sent that bread.  I am grateful that God comforted her, and I'm also grateful that my children were able to see such a direct need fulfilled as a result of their willing hearts of service.

Ours was a simple loaf of bread… walking a short distance across the street.  God makes our humble gifts much more far-reaching when we're acting in HIS name.

**** I want to thank the many sisters who sent loving messages to me via my husband at Time Out for Women in Layton, UT last weekend.  You lift our hearts.  I especially want to thank the dear sister who sent my husband with the cherished gifts and loving card.   I don't know who you are, but I know that GOD SENT YOU.  I read your card to our children, and we were all deeply touched by your kindness.   I don't know how to adequately thank you; but as the hymn says, "To God each good work will be known."  Your generous gifts of love are much more far-reaching than you will ever know. ****

Friday, February 21, 2014

Glory to God!!

Yesterday was our last day with Abe before his next trip.  I love him so very, very much.  We all savor every moment we have with him.  He is truly my hero.

The weather was nice, so we took a walk to the beach for our family time.

I realized that I’m always watching the children 100%, so I had never gone on a real jog on the beach in my entire life.  I decided that since I have a passion for running, I needed to do it.  I asked Abe to take complete charge while I took a moment to myself.

I told him I would only run a half-mile down the beach, but it was longer…

At the beginning of my run, I avoided the waves thinking the water would make me cold.  I kept running and running- I didn't want to stop because I felt so free in my bare feet!!

The freer I ran, the broader my smile grew.  I began to splash in the water as I ran and discovered the cool water was a perfect match for my rising body temperature.

I kept running and feeling more and more gratitude in my heart for God’s creations.  I had run so far that I was completely alone when I saw a beautiful flock of birds relaxing a little above the edge of the waters.  As I ran beside them, they all took flight simultaneously as a mass of white wings fluttering directly over my head.  I felt a rush of God's love in the flight of those birds, and I felt as if my heart would burst with joy and love for HIS creatures. 

I ran with my head tilted backwards and shouted out, “Oh thank you God!  Thank you so very, very much!” What a liberating feeling it was to shout with pure, loving emotion for God while maintaining reverence for HIS name!

I soon turned around and headed back.  I pushed my body harder once I could see my family in the distance.  My heart felt great joy to reunite with their happy activities.

I returned to my sweet children and amazing husband in less than 20 minutes. Who knew that in less than 20 minutes I could feel so rejuvenated and overwhelmed by God’s great love for me?  God truly did create this beautiful world. 

A few days ago, as Jackson studied in his meteorology book, he looked up from his book and exclaimed a similar impression.  He said, “I don’t know why people think that this perfect Earth was created by an explosion.” 

This world is beautiful!!  Only God could have created such a magnificent place!  The animals, the mountains, the forests, the desserts, the skies, and the waters… are all so enriching to the soul as we behold them.  We are all so blessed!!

(I turned around and took this picture on my return run.  I couldn't have ever managed to pull out my camera in the very moment… I was engulfed in pure joy.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Is $.30 Worth It?

I have written before about the sweetest, elderly lady who was our neighbor in Michigan.  She has been sending our children birthday cards with money in them.  She also includes jokes for the kids as well.

We sent her Valentine’s and birthday cards last week including a box of chocolates.  She responded to those cards with great gratitude.  She also wrote of her failing health. As we read this letter, Tyson’s eyes grew watery.  (Tyson is the one who broke down the barriers and gave her the first hug a few months before we moved away.)  He truly loves this lady.  We do too.

She also sent us $25.00 to spend on treats for the children at the beach. 

In honor of this special gift, we decided to drive to a nearby state park to see the West Indian manatees in the wild.  Every winter the manatees come to this spring because the water temperature remains at a warm 72 degrees for them. 

These manatees are endangered.  What a special experience it was for us to see these gentle giants in their natural habitat.  We also saw bold alligators, fearless armadillos, 3 snakes, friendly squirrels, and big fish in their nests.  It was a perfect day!

Can you see the manatees?  They're the large, tan masses in the water. :-)

The squirrel stayed right next to us while we fed him lots of crackers.  The kids even named him Jake.

We had never seen fish nests in the wild like this before.

After our visit at the state park, we bought food at Burger King with our friend's money; and as requested by our friend, we stopped at the grocery store, Publix, to also buy treats for the kids.

The children picked out a box of Drumsticks.  I specifically picked out the variety pack because it was  $.30 cheaper than the regular.  When they rang it up at the cash register, they charged me the full price. 

I told them my concern about the overcharged Drumsticks, and they sent me to the customer service desk for my refund.  I had 2 children with me, and the others were waiting out in the car with Abe.

There were a couple people in line before me.  I wondered if I should just not worry about it and leave.  It was only $.30!  However, on our drive to the store, Abe and I had been talking about being good stewards of our money.  We talked about always spending wisely even if we have an abundant amount of money.  I felt silly waiting so long for $.30, but I wanted to be a good steward of my money and not to take anything for granted.

When it finally became my turn, I almost told the lady how dumb I felt for waiting for such a small refund.  Something inside me told me to keep quiet. 

She rang up my refund and handed me $7.40!! 

She saw the shock on my face and said, “That’s Publix’ policy.  If we ring something up wrong, you get the full amount back.”  Of course we all gave her HUGE amounts of gratitude.  Tyson and Mariah even ran back into the store a second time to thank her.  She knew we were only expecting our $.30.  What a fun moment for all of us.  I sure am glad the Spirit reminded me that $.30 was worth the wait.  Hooray!  We will be eating treats another day too! J

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Different Perspective

So… I feel inspired to write about something a little different today. The stories and miracles I share are told with hindsight perspective. I understand how difficult it is to wait on the Lord's perfect timing. But when I do so without panicking, I'm in awe of HIS perfect plan for my greatest learning and greatest joy.

I wrote about “Our Big, Happy News” about a month ago.

I wrote that we have moved into our dream home.  I have felt joy every day that I drive the 7-mile street that borders the ocean.  I thank God daily that we have a home of our own.  I am truly happy.

Because I have felt so much joy, I haven’t written in as much detail about disappointment and PANIC I have felt along the way.

A friend sent me a text message with a quote from  I don’t know who the author is, but this is the message:

“God loves us.  He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray, and trust, and be believing, and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, when something doesn’t seem to be going just right.”

This message is the key!!  God is providing me with opportunities to understand this principle better.

Of my many faults, I have a serious fault that I know God is trying to help me with.  I tend to panic!!  I guess I panic because I KNOW that bad things happen, and I worry that the worst of those bad things will be my next lot in life. 

Today I’m writing about 2 (of many) experiences where I panicked… and learned.

The Baptism Trip

We had just moved into our dream home.  We had 2 large checks that were promised to us from 2 different companies, but they still hadn’t come because of mail issues.  All of Abe’s co-workers from both companies had received their checks. 

A bill for $200.00 was withdrawn from our bank account 3 days earlier than usual.  We have a rental property in Utah.  Income from that property wouldn’t come until the next day.  We needed money that day in order to get to a very important  baptism in Orlando!

The $200.00 bill overdrew our account this particular morning by about $6.00.  We had just put all we had into moving into our new home.  Now we were in a predicament…

I needed to get to Orlando for our neighbor’s baptism.  I promised I would go, and I did NOT want to miss it for anything.  I had been a part of several of their spiritual discussions, and my children were doing the special musical number.

I panicked…

In order to drive to the baptism, I would need $55 dollars to drive my giant van to Orlando and back and about $6-$8.00 to bring our account into the black again.  I had nothing left. 

I prayed to know how to get to Orlando for the baptism.  The children rounded up the last of their birthday money and spare change.  They brought me $45.00.  I sobbed as I borrowed money from my own children… but it still wasn’t even enough.  Then, I remembered a reimbursement check in my wallet for $18.00! 

In tears, I went to the bank to deposit just enough money for our drive to Orlando.  I felt stupid for putting all our money into our house…. but we really did have enough… it just wasn’t getting here when it was supposed to! The lady accepting my deposit reminded me that everything would be ok.  She said it with so much love- I could feel it was a message from God trying to calm my panicked soul.

I apologized to Jackson for taking his money.  However, Jackson was too busy smiling like a champ knowing he had saved the day.  He confided in me later that as he ran to get the money he was chanting, “Jackson saves the day!!!” 

I was horrified at our predicament, but even now Jackson comments about how grateful he was that he could have just enough for us to go to the baptism. 

I had planned to visit a dear friend on the way to the baptism.  I reapplied my make-up before I entered her house trying to feel normal; but the moment I saw her loving face, I broke down in tears again. 

I did not want anything from her.  I was just happy to hug my friend.  Abe had been gone for a long time, and I needed her loving arms.  I cry now thinking about the love that emanated from her. 

I had to tell her why I was sobbing.  I told her we were using our last pennies to go the baptism.  I felt stupid, but this dear friend saw me in a different light.  She expressed her admiration for our faith to come support the baptism even amidst our financial stress.  We had to come!  The Lord had provided just enough money for us to arrive in time!

Feeling emotional with me, my friend ran to get me some cash for our trip home.  I absolutely refused- I didn’t want anyone’s help.  We had enough to make it.  I just wanted to cry because I was in a panic- hating the feeling of being so vulnerable.  With $100.00 in her hand, she cried begging me to take the money.

With tears, she continued to press the money into my hand, and with tears, I finally accepted.  She promised me she would let me give it back to her next time I saw her.  She wanted to make sure we were safe. 

We only visited for about an hour; but during that time, my friend started loading up boxes of food to put into our trunk.  She loaded up several boxes of her very best food.  I kept begging her to stop.  She wouldn’t hear it.

We had given away most of our food storage to those who were in need before we left Michigan.  We still had some wheat and flour.  Our family had been living off of spinach shakes, eggs, crackers, and potatoes.  Abe was eating peanut butter while away in order to keep costs down.  We had what we needed to be healthy and strong, but our fridge and pantry at home looked like the ones described in stories… quite barren.

I could not stop crying from gratitude, love, and my humble circumstance.  We of course visited my in-laws as well while in Orlando.  I wasn’t crying anymore at that point, but as we departed, my mother-in-law pressed some cash into my hand for our drive home.  She too would not take it back.

Our Broken Van:  The Panic

I have recently shared about our broken down van and car.  Here are a few more details….

I shared about how my bike was fixed in 30 seconds after my deep, heartfelt prayer.  I didn’t share that on our bike ride Mariah’s bike got a flat tire… but we were escorted home in the middle of the night by a random police officer- who happened to be passing by.  

During the repair process on our van, the auto technician said, “Think positive… maybe it will only cost a few hundred dollars.”  The next day he said, “Think positive… maybe it will stay under $2000.”  What was the final cost to fix our van?  It was $2,600!!  It was NOT what I was praying for.  It would seem as if my positive thinking didn’t do much good at all.  Abe had been making GREAT money for the last several weeks.  This past weekend was his worst show.  The money he did make got cut in half because a high-paying customer cancelled his order.  I have a STRONG feeling God was teaching me not to panic.

Although the van cost more, although Abe had his worst sales week, although I would have rather not had these huge bills come all at the same time… it all worked out.  The loan was approved.  Our van is running.  Our family is together. 

I am learning that sometimes God takes away those problems, but ALWAYS God provides an opportunity for us to learn and to grow and to see HIS hand in our lives.

Where was God in our baptism trip and our van troubles?

*In my 12-year old son donating all his money with great joy.  What an opportunity for him to serve the family.  He will always remember that experience. 

*In the forgotten check in my wallet-which equaled the exact amount I would need to get to Orlando and back.

*In the dear friend and mother-in-law sending us on our way with security of money and food.

*In the elderly man giving us a ride home after our transmission died.  (I wrote about him in a previous blog post.)  When we saw that elderly man again, he cried as the children hugged and thanked him.  Wasn’t that more important for him to know that he had done a great act of service?

*In the dear sister, my visiting teacher, who went out of her way to donate her family van to us for an entire weekend. 

*In the lady at the bank who reminded me that everything would be ok…

*In the lady at the loan office who worked overtime to get us the loan we needed to cover ALL of our expenses with our van.  She spoke with so much love and understanding on the phone.  She also reminded me not to panic. 

*In the man at the transmission shop who refused to give up on a plan to help us get our van fixed. 

*In the numbers… When I added up our money and all we had to pay for tithing, fast offering, doctors, loans, rent, food, and gas.  We will have enough.

*In the police escort when our tire went flat as nighttime made our long ride home a bit scary.

I wasn’t ever going to share the story about going to the baptism because I was too embarrassed about our situation.  However, I need you to know that God is taking care of all of us even when every bit of us may want to panic or exclaim that things are not going our way. 

God could have made the mail come to us like it did for everyone else.  God could have miraculously fixed our van to only cost a few hundred dollars.  In fact, I fully expected HIM to provide those miracles for our family.  When those miracles did not come, I learned to accept and feel joy in the miracles HE did provide… which were absolutely perfect.  God is orchestrating miracles in more lives than just ours.   

The miracles God provided taught me humility and trust.  I believe it also gave others beautiful opportunities to sacrifice and thereby grow closer to HIM.