Monday, March 31, 2014

Ringing Telephone

Early Saturday morning, Abe had to leave on an unexpected business trip to Miami.  (His company needed a replacement sales guy.)  The rest of us… all 9 children and I… raced around to get ready for a baptism that same morning.  It was quite an ordeal trying to find church clothes to fit the older boys who were visiting us.

We were all finally in the van when I realized I didn't have my cell phone.  I wanted it in case Abe had trouble on his 4-hour drive to Miami.  I also did not want to drive anywhere with 9 children without some form of communication.

We needed to get out the door, but I raced back in the house to try to find my phone.  For the life of me, I couldn't retrace my steps because my steps had been EVERYWHERE!!  Time was ticking by… I stopped on the stairway and said a prayer.  I asked Heavenly Father to please help me find my phone quickly.  I didn't even reach the top of the stairs before I heard my phone ringing.

I honestly couldn't even believe it!  I RARELY get phone calls throughout the day.  Since I'm constantly surrounded by children's voices, it's more efficient for me to communicate through text messaging.  However, the alert from a text message wouldn't have given me a long enough sound to follow, but the very timely, constant ringing of the phone allowed me to find my phone quickly and get on our way to the baptism.

 I knew the timing of that phone call was a miracle sent from God.  I knew it because I felt it!  I felt HIS love and concern for me the moment I heard it ringing.  God is ALWAYS listening to our prayers and ALWAYS answering them in the way that will bless us the very most.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sharing Our Time

My boys and I had been praying for our friends from Orlando for a long time.  They had been making some wonderful decisions to take the missionary discussions and learn more about Jesus.  Jordan even fasted for them last week.

The thought came to me:  "You're praying for them… what are you going to do about it?"  This week will be Abe's longest time at home, so I was tempted to not share our time with anyone; but again, the thought came to me… "What are you going to do about it?"

I immediately sent the boys' mother a text message and asked her if she would like to bring them and another neighbor boy here until Monday afternoon.  She gladly agreed because she would be working all week.  So… now we have 9 children for 5 days!  What a party. :-)  In fact, yesterday we had an even dozen because we were watching 3 more children while their parents packed up their house for a big move to Utah.

It has been a great blessing in our home to have the children all here together playing.  We have felt God's love abundantly in our home.

Our Hospital Visit...

Yesterday we found out that a friend of ours was in the hospital.  All 12 children made cards for her.  This friend has such a beautiful heart… she actually welcomed a visit from all 14 of us!  Promising to keep it short, we gave her the cards and some flowers, and then we all sang I Am a Child of God.  She cried at the sight of so many little children with love bursting from them.  When Jordan and Tyson saw her cry, they turned their faces away because they too had tears welling up in their eyes.  They were worried about her.  Everyone felt the presence of the Holy Ghost in her humble hospital room.

Abe took all 12 children out of her room while I stayed to talk to her for a moment.  She said it would be of help to her if I stayed all night.  The first thought in my mind was, "Because Abe is rarely home, I should stay HOME with HIM!"  Immediately… almost before that thought completed itself in my mind… a second thought entered my heart and mind even more powerfully… "Because Abe is rarely home, it is a BLESSING that you are ABLE to stay with your friend in the hospital through the night."

My friend and I stayed up talking until late into the night.  I felt so blessed learning more about this amazing young woman!!  Some day I will seek her permission to tell her story.  Her entire life is a miracle!!!!

I'm so grateful that these "thoughts" for Abe and I to share our time were not dismissed.  The Lord has an amazing way of blessing us so much more when we choose to open up our lives for HIS purposes.

From the pictures, you can see just a fragment of the excitement going on here.  These are memories I am grateful we did not pass up.

We walked to the beach before our friend dropped off her boys for the week.  It was FREEZING on Wednesday!!  

We bundled the little ones up in coats and hats...

But the boys… decided to be warriors!!  It was 50 degrees, and they all got all the way INTO the water!!

You should have heard their warrior cries when they got out!!  We laughed hysterically!!

Our 6 warriors turned into 6 "men" in a hot tub.

 Thursday, 3 more wonderful children joined the party while their parents packed their house.  We held a lot of wrestling matches.

…and of course we went to the beach.  (It was a bit warmer on Thursday.)

I can just hear Abe saying… "WHAT A WEEK!"  


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Miracle of Friendships

All good friendships are a gift from God… but some friendships you feel something different… something even more powerful… you can feel your inner soul is filled with peace and love when they're around.

My dear friend came for a visit with her two girls yesterday.  Although I have not yet known her for a year, she is one of those dear friends.  Maybe she fills the hearts of everyone she comes in contact with because of the charity within her heart…

She and her daughter arrived with a picture of Christ as a housewarming gift. What a gift!

It is a true miracle to feel the depth of a friendship blessed and orchestrated by God's Almighty Hands.

The miracle I recognize today is how God fills our souls when HE is the center of any relationship.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's a Beautiful Life with YOU Baby!!

Yesterday was our 13-year anniversary!!!  What a joy!!  Abe returned home from his trip yesterday afternoon, and we spent a wonderful evening together.

Last year I wrote about our God's hand in our courtship! Click on the link if you would like to read. :-)

This year, my sweet, wonderful husband wrote me an amazing poem.  They were truly some of the most beautiful words I had ever read.  He also brought me flowers and chocolate.  Jackson babysat the children while we went on a date.  Abe gave me options to go to a nice, romantic restaurant together for our date, but I chose a buffet!!  I LOVE buffets!  What a treat to eat to my hearts content with no cooking and no clean-up. :-)  Even better... what a treat to sit alone with the love of my life and feel completely carefree. Gosh I've been missing him soooo much.

Before we returned home, we parked by the ocean and listened to the pounding of the waves while we talked about the mysteries and depths of life.

I love learning from my wise husband.  We have been through so much sorrow and joy together I can't imagine God preparing anyone better for me than him.

I pray that my daughters will find a man to marry like their father.

I know my sons appreciate the man their father is.  They want to be like him.  In their excitement about our anniversary, Jordan and Tyson wanted to do something extra special for us.

*Jordan had been working really hard to do a backbend- kick-over.  I told him he could have a king size candy bar when he did.  After months of practice, yesterday he did it!!  We bought him his candy bar, and he selflessly picked out one of Abe's favorite treats at the store- "Turtles."    He presented it to him when he arrived home. What a loving, tender choice.

(In my post about Jayden's birthday, I wrote how he couldn't take his eyes off Daddy.... look at him now!  Lol!  He's holding a firm stare on him. :-)  Abe had just come home moments before.)

*Tyson earned some money last week.  He literally begged to spend much of his money on gifts for us.  I kept telling him to save his money and to draw me a picture of it instead, but he really wanted to do this for us.  I LOVE his gift, and my heart is deeply touched by the way he showed his great love for us.

He bought a beautiful plaque for me that says:

"Thanks for being there for me."

He bought one for Abe that says:

"Dads are special people no home should be without." by Helen Steiner Rice

Abe... thank you so very, very much for loving me for who I am.  You are a beautiful gift from God.   I love you dearly.  You are an amazing man!  I am grateful our children can look to you for strength.  I look to you for strength.  Thank you for your bright,  positive attitude.  What a great man you are!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jayden is 2: Life Is a Party!

We have been celebrating Jayden's birthday for almost an entire week!!  …lucky little 2-year old! :-)

His birthday was last Saturday; but since Abe was gone, we celebrated again when he returned!

I have already written a few entries about the miracle of Jayden's first few months of life and the months leading up to his miraculous arrival.  In honor of our little toddler, I am posting pictures of his special birthday week.

Abe's parents treated all of us and some other friends of ours to a pizza buffet after the boys' wrestling tournament!

With his own money, Tyson bought Jayden a boogie board, so he could be like the big kids.  

We went to the beach right after eating pizza.  Jayden insisted on carrying his special gift the entire way.

After 2 weeks away, Abe came home on Wednesday for a wonderful day and a half before he had to leave again!  Gosh he's so handsome! :-)  Jayden had been asking about "Daddy" all week, so he couldn't stop looking at Abe as if he was surprised that he was actually right in front of him.   

 Our short time was so packed full of activity that we ended up celebrating Jayden's 2nd birthday in the car between wrestling practice and another little boy's rock climbing birthday party. 

 There is something very special about Jayden….  He sees life as a party!! It didn't matter that he was strapped into his carseat, he still had a blast eating his cake and opening his presents!!

Mariah worked hard making the cake look just right for Jayden.  He LOVES football!!!

He wanted to try this new outfit on immediately!  

He was so darn cute I had to take him out of his seatbelt, put his new clothes on him, and squeeze him tight!! How could I not?!?!  My goodness he's a joy!  I love how his little hands clasp around my neck.

Last night, Jayden partied on his new little scooter for 4 hours while the older kids climbed the rock walls.

When we returned from our outing last night, we found a bag of gifts by our garage door.  One of our sweet, elderly neighbors had left it for little Jayden.  As I set up the cards, I realized something… he received 4 birthday cards with gifts… one from my parents, one from Abe's parents, one from our adopted grandmother in Michigan, and one from our adopted grandparents here in our new home in Florida.   I am touched that people would take my children in as their own.  There are so many good, loving people in the world!

This morning the party continued… we ate ice cream and opened the gifts from our sweet neighbor this morning.  We all couldn't stop laughing at how goofy Jayden was as we read the card to him. He is one funny kid!

Jordan had found a football, bobble-head guy at Goodwill, and he had forgotten to give it to Jayden until this morning.  Oh we were all laughing so hard as he played with that.

My dear, sweet Jayden.  Simply put, you are a joy.  You- by far- are my busiest baby.  You- by far- make me run faster to keep up with you than anyone else.  You- by far- have gotten hurt the most from doing crazy tricks.   (Jayden started walking at 7 months old!!) You sure make me tired some days… but it's a GREAT, FANTASTIC, WONDERFUL tired.  I'm forever grateful Heavenly Father sent you to us.  Our lives would not be as joyful if you had come with any less energy.  You are a beautiful light in our lives.  We all love you so very much.  You will always be our little miracle.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Acceptance, Support, & Unity

The Pizza

Last week I had to attend a Red Cross certification course.  My children waited outside reading books for 3 hours!!  I promised them pizza when I finished.

I went to the drive-thru to order 4 hot-n-ready pizzas for my children who had HUGE appetites.  (My boys would be wrestling in a tournament that night, so I wanted to feed them well.)  At the window, the man looked past me at Jackson in the passenger seat.  Then he asked, "Is that Jax?"

I was highly surprised.  We weren't even in the town where we live!  We were 25 minutes away in Daytona Beach!  I asked him how he knew my son.  He answered, "He's in my Meteorology class at college."  Jackson had the hugest smile on his face.  He tries really hard not to draw any attention to himself in class.  He takes good notes, thanks the teacher after class, and quietly slips in and out of the classroom.

We were both surprised that he would even recognize Jackson- let alone know his name!!  I handed him my credit card and was shocked when the receipt reflected only half the price!  I thanked him profusely - we all did!  His classmate pointed at Jackson and said, "No… thank him!"

I have a feeling this fellow student was proud of little Jackson taking a class with adults and handling himself well.  He wanted to reward him… to let him know he was accepted among them.

Rolling the Mat

My boys wrestled in two different wrestling tournaments this weekend.  On Friday night, our school was in charge of it.  Late Friday night, after we came home, tears dripped from Jordan's eyes as he shared this story with me:

After the wrestling tournament on Friday, Jordan, the youngest member of the team was helping to roll up the mats.  He overheard a girl say, "He's doing it wrong!"  Then his teammate quietly responded to her, "I know, but don't tell him because it will hurt his feelings."  

After Jordan told me the story I asked him if he was crying because the girl said he was doing it wrong or because the boy stood up for him.  He teared up again and said, "I'm crying because he was so nice to me."

I hugged little Jordan and felt deep gratitude for the support he had received and continues to receive.  Those wrestlers cheer for my young boys and coach them on how to be better.

Tyson All Alone

Tyson related this story to me after Saturday's wrestling tournament:

Tyson was sitting high in the bleachers all by himself.  While he sat, a middle school kid several years older than him made his way all the way to the top of the bleachers and said, "You're sitting alone.  Are you ok?'  Tyson assured him he was ok and that he was just getting mentally ready for his match.  The boy responded, "I just wanted to make sure you were ok."  Then he jumped down the bleachers to go practice.  

What a way to show acceptance, support, and unity within a team!!  These are middle-school aged boys who hardly know my kids… What a difference these small gestures make in the development of a young child!!

Wrestling Report:  Substitute Coaches!!

Remember last weekend when Jackson lost every match?  Remember when I said the boys had been highly inspired by other athletes?  Well…this weekend, Jackson won every single match on Friday night and every single match on Saturday!!!  

On Friday, Jackson placed 1st, Tyson placed 2nd, and Jordan placed 2nd.

On Saturday, at a different tournament…

Jackson placed 1st again, Tyson placed 1st, and Jordan placed 1st!!  All three boys pinned every single opponent!!!!!  

We were yelling and screaming.  Even more special, Abe is out of town, but Abe's parents and our primary president and her husband and children drove over an hour to come and support our boys.  The primary president's husband wrestled in high school, so he and Abe's dad crouched by the sidelines guiding the boys along through almost every match.  Again… these same words come to mind… the acceptance, support, and unity of our church family helped our boys achieve great things this weekend!!

I thank God for the opportunity to see the power of these simple acts reaping MAGNIFICENT results.  

The Run

Because the kids were doing so well, I decided to devote more time at home training them to become even stronger.  We've been running a few miles a day on top of their wrestling work-out.  Mariah bikes half-way with us and then runs home while I push the stroller with her bike balanced on top of my double-jogger stroller.    

She was struggling to keep up with the boys on our last run.  I looked up, and this is what I saw… 

I could have dropped to the ground and cried right there.  It was a joyful moment to watch 8-year old Jordan pulling his little sister along so she could keep up.  He encouraged her just as he was encouraged by the older kids over the weekend.  

She giggled as she ran.  

I believe it's human nature that when a person feels accepted and supported, they want to pass that on to others.  Thank goodness!!  Let's keep passing it on!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Book of Moses

For the past couple of years I have spent most of my time at church teaching the children.

I have a confession:  I am usually completely oblivious as to what the adults are even studying in the adult Gospel Doctrine class.

Last night I was talking to my mother about some thoughts that have been running through my mind from my personal scripture study.  I told her that I had a very strong impression to begin a deeper study of the Book of Moses from our Pearl of Great Price.

She laughed and said, "That's because the whole church is studying the Book of Moses [and the doctrine of the Old Testament] right now!"

I honestly didn't realize!  She and I shared insights we had gained from studying these marvelous books.

This little moment was a miracle to me that the Lord was inspiring me to study much of the same material as the rest of the adults of our church even though I had no idea what was even happening with the adults.

That study has brought me much inspiration in my life lately.  I'm grateful to know that what the adults are studying is so important that God wanted me to participate even though I'm with the cute, little people on Sundays.  I think that's pretty cool!  I guess I should be more proactive about keeping up with what is going on with the "big" people too. :-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Packages of Love

There are angels among us!!  I testify to that!!

***After sacrament meeting at church on Sunday a sweet sister walked up to me with a special box.

It was my migraine care box.  I cried when I saw it!  She had noticed me rubbing my temples last Sunday, but I told her I didn't need medication or anything.  I smiled and told her it wasn't too bad.  How did she know it was worse than I was letting on?  She said she found my blog. :-)  What a beautiful angel and servant of God she is to see a need and to actively do something so loving and thoughtful about it- just to show she cares!  I didn't know that she knew of my struggles.  I'm sure she's very busy in her own life- we all are.   She could have easily and innocently passed up that opportunity to serve… but she didn't.  The result is a strengthening within my soul that is incalculable. I want to be like her!

What a "Package of Love!"  Contained within were special items that have helped her with migraines:  special soap, candle, puffy eye cream, puffy eye patches, ibuprofen, mints, special ginger chew, mascara, lip gloss, CocoCola, and an eye cover.

This box will remain in my bathroom forever to remind me of that loving, thoughtful sister whom I want to emulate.

***A sister we were just getting to know in Michigan had promised my children some cookies before we moved.  I didn't know about the promise, and my kids had long forgotten about it as well. We haven't even spoken to her since August, but she didn't forget!  She spent the time to make an assortment of cookies and wonderful bread.  She also included lots of other candies and treats. I wish you could have seen our home burst with joy!!  It was a blessing to have these wonderful treats to eat at the wrestling tournament on Saturday since we were there almost the entire day.  We didn't have to buy anything at the tournament!  

Her act of kindness meant more than satisfying our cravings for sweets.  As I envisioned this sister creating our "Package of Love," my heart filled to the brim with greater love- which love comes from Christ Himself. 

***Yesterday we received a package from my mother for Jayden's upcoming birthday.  I didn't open it yet because it was for his birthday. :-)  Last night I was wishing we hadn't devoured all those treats from the dear sister last weekend because I had a sweet tooth craving.  I looked over at the box from my mother and opened it.  To my surprise, my mother had included some bags of cookies for all of us!!  Hooray!!  In my mind, I could imagine her in her kitchen making the cookies.  Her "Package of Love" included extra little gifts for all the children- including Jayden's birthday gifts.  We had a great time tasting a piece of love sent directly from Nanny's hands of service."

***Last time Abe came home from his trip, he visited his parents before returning home.  His mother sent him with bags of cookies, fruit snacks, apples, and a brand new pair of shoes for each child!!  That's a lot of shoes!!  Abe told the children the "Shoe Fairy"had come.  We called "Grandmommy" immediately to thank her for brightening our lives with her generous love.  It's quite amazing how love can travel so far… even in a pair of shoes!!

"Packages of Love" have come to us in other forms as well. :-) 

***We have several kind neighbors here.  There is a dear, elderly couple who have extensive health problems.  A few days ago she called me to check on our family since I'm all alone with the children.  She called me apologizing for not calling sooner.  Wow!  I would have never expected her to check in on us, but her simple phone call spoke mountains of love.    That was her "Package of Love"to us.

***Last week a kind sister told me she had a huge turkey she would like to cook and share with my family!  I made mashed potatoes and homemade creamed corn to accompany it.  We had a wonderful dinner together with her entire family.  The thing that touched me the very most was that this family did not decide to wait until I had my husband around to share dinner with me.  They acted on an instinct to invite and show love NOW.  They've never even met my wonderful husband!  Sometimes "single" sisters feel left out of activities.  I hope more people will invite those single sisters into their home. I was honored they would give me and my children an entire evening by blessing us with their friendship. :-)  I pictured their little family as a "Package of Love."