Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5 Tender Moments

I've posted two stories tonight.  I just had so much to write!!  The other one follows this one.  :-)

Jordan:  Talking with a King

We all knelt down for prayer a few days ago, and I asked the children who would like to say the prayer.  Jordan immediately shot his hand in the air.  Before he said his prayer he took advantage of 7 other listening ears and shared a sweet and tender perspective…

Jordan said, "You know why I like to say the prayer?  It's a great opportunity!  You know… we would never get a chance to speak to kings and rulers of other countries… but God is our King, and we get to talk to HIM all the time…"  With added excitement he added, "…and we can talk to HIM as LONG as we want to!!!"

What a BEAUTIFUL perspective!!  Joy filled my entire body to know that my 8-year old son knew the opportunity to pray to God was a great honor, and he actually knew he was speaking to the greatest of all Kings.  He had such a good point!  I don't even let the children talk to me as long as they want to!!  I usually have to cut them off after a while because I have a diaper to change or dinner to prepare.  I'm so grateful to be reminded of the wonderful honor it is to speak to my Heavenly Father through my Savior, Jesus Christ… as long and as often as I want to… our King of Kings!!

Tyson:  Comforting His Sister

Little 6-year old Mariah had watched a scary Michael Jackson video last week and was feeling scared to go to sleep.  I over heard 10-year old Tyson talking to her and comforting her.

He said, "Mariah, you know you have a picture in your room of Jesus.  If you remember Jesus and that HE is there, then you don't have to be scared.  It's like a force field that shoots the bad guys back."  Mariah loved his answer.  What a profound, simple truth!!  Isn't that why we have pictures of Jesus all through our homes?  …to remember that HE is there.. even when we feel a little scared.  

This is Mariah's special picture of Jesus in her room.  The little girl even reminds me of Mariah. :-)

Siblings:  Lifting Each Other with Love

I remember when Jackson, our 12-year old, was just a toddler I went into a Lowe's and saw a big brother carrying his little sister on his back.  That image always stuck with me, and I hoped that my boys would help their younger siblings the same way as they got older.

Fast forward about 8 years to this picture as we entered the grocery store on Monday… Each older brother wanted to take care of a sibling. This picture is my screen saver right now. :-)  My dream come true...

Home-school Evaluation

I have felt a bit of anxiety over the past couple of days over the end-of-the-year evaluations on home-schooled students in Florida.  Utah and Michigan don't do anything like that!  Even though my children are doing well and excelling, I have felt a heavy weight wondering if what I have taught them would be what the state of Florida was looking for.

This morning I prayed for guidance on this very subject.  I had asked a teacher/friend of ours in Orlando area to do the evaluation on my children, but yesterday I found out that she was not eligible to do that evaluation because even though she taught music in the public schools, she was not a certified primary or secondary educator.  

I don't know why it bothered me so much, but it really got me down.  I didn't like the thought of strangers placing judgments on my children's intelligence- even though (just like any parent) I think they are all quite brilliant. :-)  I also didn't want them judging my methods of teaching.  In my frustration, I sent a text message to my husband telling him I was feeling discouraged and needed to go for a run. 

I always say a prayer before my runs to ask God to bless my children at home and to bless me to feel strengthened physically, mentally, and emotionally.

While I ran, I began to feel stressed because I wasn't running faster.  It was over 90 degrees, and I was drenched in sweat.  I had to stop to cool myself down.  I hate stopping during a run because I feel like a quitter.  Even though nobody was watching me run, I was putting undue pressure on myself that someone was watching me stop to walk when I thought I should have been running.  I continued in this thought process for a while when finally, the thought came to me:  

"Rachel… you can go at whatever speed you want to!!  It doesn't matter how fast you run!!  Just do your best!"  

The moment I didn't care what others were thinking was the moment I actually ran faster and stronger… I had freed myself from that stress and allowed myself to enjoy the journey.  I looked up more and enjoyed the ocean more.  

My thoughts turned to my children.  I told myself that I didn't care what others thought about my children's educational progress.  I think they're pretty awesome, and they're doing their best!

Tonight I went to church for Jackson's scouting program.  While I was there, I met a woman who was visiting from a city about 25 minutes away.  After she and I chatted for a while, our conversation turned to home-schooling.  She expressed interest in home-schooling her own children.  I told her I wasn't sure what the state of Florida required for their end-of-year evaluation and that I was worried about it.  She immediately said,"I'll do the evaluation for you!  I've done lots of those before."  

I couldn't believe it!  She was a certified teacher and had experience helping home-schooled students before!  I gathered the children in to listen to her as she told us what she would be looking for in her evaluation.  Her words comforted us all and completely removed any remaining weight of discouragement I had been feeling.  What an answer to prayer!! Today was the day the home-school office sent me the required end-of-year paperwork, and today- the very same day- our certified teacher literally walked into our lives. There isn't a single certified primary or secondary teacher in my entire congregation, but she happened to be visiting from a congregation a few cities away. 

My Squishy Tire

I left the church tonight around 9:30pm.  By the time I arrived to the van, the children were gathered around my tire.  Jordan asked me why the back tire looked, "squishy."  I took a better look… indeed it was squishy.  There was a screw lodged right in the middle of the tire.  My first instinct was to grumble.  Abe had already been gone for 2 1/2 weeks, and he wouldn't be returning for another 5 days.  I wondered why I had to deal with this stuff alone with all 6 kids.  

I said a silent prayer and drove to the nearest gas station to put air in the tire.  Usually our churches are built in the nicer sides of town, but this was definitely on a sketchy side of town.  I walked into the gas station to get change for the air pump, and on the way back out I noticed some strange things:

A group of guys were off on one side suspiciously digging into a trunk.  I looked across the parking lot across the small side street, and there was a police officer watching the activity from his parked car.  With my active imagination, I envisioned a full-blown confrontation between the police and these guys bursting out at any moment.  

I tried to push away my paranoia as I struggled for a bit trying to figure out how much air to put into the tire.  Normal tires should read 35-40 psi.  Written on my giant, 12-passenger van tire was the guideline to fill it to 80 psi.  That didn't seem right to me, but I wanted to fill it as much as I could so I could make it home and hopefully have air for my morning trip to the repair shop.  As I put air into my tire I wondered why I didn't have a tire gauge in my car anymore.  "What a foolish thing!"  As I walked back into the gas station, I promised myself I would buy one soon.

I asked the employee for advice on my tires.  We debated in the store for a moment about what I should do when a customer quickly offered to help me since he had a tire gauge in his car.  

I was already a bit paranoid about the area, and this guy looked a bit rough himself.  Despite his appearance, he seemed sincere, so I accepted his help.  The man checked my tires and gave me some sound advice about what to do.  Before he left he said, "Would you like to keep this gauge?" Even though I knew I really should have one- especially now- I declined his offer.  He offered again, and I told him I would pay him a few dollars for it.  

Finally, this rough looking man with tattoos covering his body very kindly said, "Please do me a favor and take this tire gauge.  It would make me feel a whole lot better."  

As I took the tire gauge, I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes.  I needed to feel like somebody was taking care of me at that moment.  His kind gesture made me feel as if God was telling me HE was watching out for me to have the things I need even though my husband is gone.  I know I need to be careful about who I trust, but I also know that God was watching out for me.  I felt that God was watching out for that man too!!  Both of us were edified by his kind act of service!  

What a beautiful life it is when we know God is taking care of the details!!  

Quick Report with Pics:-)

Dear, Old Friends

Wow!  I have so many wonderful friends in Utah I wish I could have met with them ALL while I was there.  As it was I only had a couple of hours between the time my plane landed and the time I had to be at Solitude Ski Resort.  

One of my dear friends picked me up at the airport and later brought me to see her 6 children.

 It was wonderful to wrap my arms around her and her family.  Before I saw her family though, she treated me to the nicest restaurant I had been to in years.  Right when we walked in, she had planned for my other dear friend to surprise me at the restaurant.

I will never forget that moment of seeing my beautiful friend just sitting on the bench as I walked around the corner.  What a surprise!  So many memories flooded into my heart.  Our baby Jayden is named after her mother who passed away several years ago.  I sat at dinner and just wanted to keep hugging these wonderful women.  I felt so humbled that they would go out of their way to see me in the short time that I had.  I had longed to hug them for so long, and here we were eating dinner together!!  What an amazing moment. 

Young in Heart

I went to my training in Utah knowing I would be the oldest Trip Leader taking youth on these service expeditions.  I never doubted my energy, love for the youth, and love for the gospel, but I did wonder how I would be received from the other young leaders.  I am happy to report that it was an AMAZING weekend.  We danced, we rapped, we cried, we laughed, we snow-shoed, we were humbled by our huge responsibility with these youth, and we spent hours learning wonderful lessons on how to show greater love.  It doesn't get much better than that!!

There are 3 trips going to Bolivia.  This is my Bolivia Crew.  The guy on the far left  (with the gray jacket) will be my Co-Trip Leader for week 3!  Lucky youth and lucky me… he is so much fun and only has kind, loving things flowing from him!! He will bless the youth greatly.

It was 86 degrees in Florida and a big snow storm in the mountains in Utah.  AMAZING!!

Powerhouse Mills Boys

While I sat in the snow storm on Saturday, my 3 older boys wrestled at the Florida State wrestling tournament.  I sat in training checking my cell phone every few minutes for updates.  My sweet in-laws took them to their tournament and cheered for them in my place.  Those amazing young men did awesome!!

*Jackson took 3rd place in state!
*Tyson also took 3rd place in state!

*Jordan took 4th place! 
My poor little Jordan shed a few tears, but it was reported that he wrestled with ALL HIS HEART!!  We finally convinced him that he was a champion too!!

I'm grateful for such a wonderful, rejuvenating weekend!!  
Life is so good… even when it's hard. :-)

A few extra pics from a wrestling tournament a few weeks back...

Every good wrestler has a few good cheerleaders. :-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On the Airplane...

Denver to Salt Lake:  Not a Chance Meeting

I was already seated for my final leg of my flight when a bright and beautiful young woman and her husband sat beside me.  There was something so familiar about her.  Our flight was short, but we started chatting from the moment she sat down.  She told me she was going to Utah for a blogging conference.  "I blog too!" I exclaimed.

We both began sharing intimate stories from our lives.  I felt blessed by the energy that she shared.  She was not of my same religion, but we talked extensively about God.

I realized that the areas in her life where her faith struggled, I too had struggled, but those were the areas where I now have unshakeable faith.  I was grateful for the opportunity to bear strong testimony to her about the miracles that God provides us in our daily lives.

Likewise, the areas in my life where I lacked confidence were areas where it seemed as if she had mastered complete confidence.  I learned so much from her!!  Yesterday I wrote about my prayer in the airport when I asked God to "open the way" to share HIS word…

As this new friend and I spoke, I felt very strongly that God had "opened the way" for us to meet.  She agreed!  I even invited her and her husband into our home for a visit this summer, and it felt completely natural! I hope they come! :-)

When I recognize God's hand in my life, I can't help but proclaim that HIS orchestrations… simple as they may seem… are simply miraculous.

Salt Lake to Denver:  Heart-felt Prayers

I sat in my seat, and 2 huge men sat on both sides of me.  Their knees towered almost twice as high as mine did.  I soon discovered that both men were return missionaries from my church!!  Their love for Christ helped carry on the spirit I had felt at my training in the mountains over the weekend.

Our plane was delayed over an hour, so we shared our worries about catching our next flight.  Once the plane landed, I ran off looking for my gate and realized that I was already at my gate!!  I would re-board my same plane!!  Hooray!  

In great relief, I said out loud, "Thank goodness my plane is the delayed plane!!  I would have missed my flight!"  

A woman standing beside me exclaimed her same gratitude… She barely made the plane because it was delayed.  She had to buy an emergency plane ticket to go see her daughter in Orlando who was giving birth.  The doctors were very concerned about both her daughter and the baby's lives.  The doctors had told her to get to her daughter's side as fast as she could.

In the next few minutes I listened to this woman speak.  I could see the anxiety and worry in her eyes and in her entire demeanor.  My heart ached with hers, and I promised to pray for her daughter… and I continue to do so. 

I couldn't help but ponder on the fact that there are so many people with great struggles in this life at this very moment… I am eternally grateful for the power of prayer… to receive guidance and deliver comfort.

This sweet mother had great faith and hope because of the power of prayer.  I understand that the power of prayer lifts our perspective to greater hope even when things seem to be spinning out of our control.

Denver to Orlando:  Death Is Not the End

Once I boarded the plane, I found my seat in the exit row… across the way from the same, worried mother for whom I was praying.

There was a unique man in his 20's sitting right beside me.  There was something a little "off" about him.  I laughed a lot for those first few minutes he sat there.  He kept asking me the same questions over and over again and had absolutely no inhibitions. In the middle of our conversation, he said a swear word.  I gave him a look of disapproval.  He asked me if he said something rude.  I responded, "Yes!  I'm a woman!  I want respect!  I don't want to hear that language." He tried hard to watch his tongue after that. :-)

The flight attendant came to our row and informed us of the duties associated with sitting in the exit row, she sweetly placed her hand on this unique man's knees and specifically asked him if he would be capable of the duties in the exit row.  After she left, he looked at me and was confused as to why he was singled out.  As our conversation continued, he finally admitted he was DRUNK!

I broke the news to him:  "If you're drunk, I don't think you should be sitting in the exit row!"  He told me I needed to tell the flight attendant because he was too embarrassed.  I informed the flight attendant, and she promptly found a different man to sit in his place beside me.

The moment this other man sat down, a strong feeling came over me that there was a purpose to this change in seating.  I felt that once again… God was "opening the way."

The man and I joked around for a moment about the drunk man, and then he mentioned that his first child was born just a week ago.  My heart was touched as I listened to the details of his daughter's birth story.  He showed me pictures and glowed with love for his newborn and his wife.

He beautifully described his awe of how his little daughter was as an extension of him.

Overcome by the sweetness of the experience, I shared my faith in God and how Heavenly newborns are.  I noticed that he was polite about my beliefs, but he seemed a bit indifferent when I said the word "God." As we continued to converse, I learned that he had been through quite a bit in his life.  Both of his parents and his sister had died.  He even quit school for a time while he cared for his dying mother.  While pregnant, his wife was diagnosed with melanoma!  (She is doing well now.)

I expressed that his parents would surely want to be a part of this beautiful time in his life… for his sweet, first-born child was an extension of them as well.  Knowing that "God" was a topic he didn't especially appreciate, I was scared to say what was in my heart…. but the Spirit kept telling me I had to share… so I did….

I asked this man if he believed that his parents were still living.  He told me he really wasn't sure and that he wasn't into religion.  I told him that this was not about religion… this was about eternal truths pertaining to his life.

I shared with him sacred experiences I had been given with my sister who had died from cancer many years ago, and I bore pure testimony that I knew his parents were still living as she is.  I told him that there are many things about God that are based completely on faith, but this knowledge of life after death was an absolute for me.  As I tried to be respectful of the tender feelings surrounding this subject, he broke down his walls and shared with me about a sacred dream he had received many years previously suggesting that there is indeed life after death.

An overwhelming feeling came over me that he needed to believe this truth.  He and I continued to talk for a LONG time about God.  His wife was Jewish, so we had very different views on Jesus.  We were both respectful and learned from each other.  It was mutually uplifting, and I felt the Spirit present in our conversation.  I don't know what will become of this kind man, but I do know that God loves him and will continue to call to him with HIS arms open wide.


I am grateful for the opportunity to bear testimony of the truths which are so dear to my heart.  I am grateful to have met so many wonderful people in the most unlikely moments.  I am grateful for the influence of The Holy Ghost in every conversation.  I am grateful to see how much God loves ALL HIS children… He loves us enough to place us in each other's paths to uplift each other.  There are opportunities all around us to feel of HIS love.  I am grateful…

Monday, April 28, 2014


On my way out to Utah, I had a layover in Denver, Colorado for over 4 hours.  My phone was dying, so I found an outlet for my charger on a pillar that was right on the edge of the main walkway where people where walking back and forth on their way to their gates. I sat down and leaned against the pillar.  I decided that this would be a good time to also read my scriptures.

I didn't want to seem like I was sitting in the walkway with my scriptures trying to get attention, so I covered the top of my scriptures with my jacket as I read.  I wanted to keep my reading a little bit more private.  After reading for a few moments, the thought came very strongly into my mind, "Rachel, why are you hiding your scriptures?"  

I realized what I was doing and felt guilty.  For goodness sakes!  I wasn't ashamed of what I was reading, and I didn't care if people judged my intentions!  I pulled them out from behind my jacket, placed them on top of my jacket and continued to read. 

As I read, I said a prayer in my heart asking God to open the way if there was someone with whom I needed to speak.

I happened to look up as a modern-looking lady with spiky hair walked by.  She looked at me strangely  and kind of tilted her head back as if to say to herself, "What is SHE doing?"

A few minutes later, that same woman returned and stopped right in front of me.  She spoke slowly and with hesitation:  "Excuse me… are… are you reading your SCRIPTURES?"

I nodded and quietly told her that I was.  Boisterously, she exclaimed how wonderful it was that I was reading… that  so many people don't read anymore… and that she believed in the word of God.  She then said, "Tell me what verses you're reading!"  

My prayer I had offered only moments before asking God to "open the way" returned clearly into my mind, and I was in so much shock that God had answered that prayer so quickly that I was at a loss as to what to say.  

I soon discovered that my words were not important… just the action of reading God's word is what touched her heart.

I told her I had been reading in the book of John and that I had cross-referenced some scriptures in Matthew.  I told her I had 6 children and explained to her that reading my scriptures on a daily basis is what maintains my peace every day.  She then told me about her son whom she had been trying to help return to God.  We spoke for just a moment longer, and then she left with a big smile.

Our conversation was short, but it was AMAZING!!  It was amazing to see that God is so aware of the littlest details of our days and of our prayers.  If HE is answering my small prayers so quickly, I know for a fact that HE is aware of the BIG, pleading prayers throughout my life and YOURS- even when things don't seem to be going just right- I have confidence that God is working on a grander, more marvelous plan. 

I believe that if we are willing, the Holy Ghost will guide our every action so that we may be an instrument in the Lord's Hands.  

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16).

The rest of my trip to Utah continued to be AMAZING!!  I continued to see God's hand in the details as HE placed wonderful people and experiences in my path.  I will be writing those experiences over the next few days…

God loves us and every detail of our lives.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Off to Utah!!

I'm off to Utah today!!!  Several months back I wrote about the exciting news that I have the wonderful opportunity to be a counselor for H.E.F.Y. which stands for "Humanitarian Experience for Youth."

I will be traveling to Bolivia this summer with about 25 youth.  We will build a school and grow in our spirituality as we learn to love one another on a deeper level. :-)  This weekend is my training!!

I'll report back Sunday or Monday.  Have a beautiful weekend!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mighty Miracles in Fort Lauderdale

My heart is full of joy.  I haven't been able to adequately put into words the joy that has filled my heart, but I'm going to try…

A week ago, our family returned from Missouri after driving through the night.  Abe left that same morning for a 3-week business trip.  I had been invited to go with a group to the temple open house in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Temples are only open to all ages and to the general public just after they are built and before they are dedicated.  A generous, loving sister even offered to give us a hotel room for our family since it would be about a 4 1/2 hour drive each way.  I was so excited to go- especially for the children to have every opportunity to walk through the temple and see the rooms they would not be able to enter until they are older and ready to make those covenants with the Lord.

A few days before the trip, I began to doubt I would be able to make it because of gas expenses.  I didn't want to be foolish and spend money we did not have because this trip was not an absolute necessity, but I also wanted to take full advantage of every opportunity for my children to grow closer to their Savior.  I cried and knelt in prayer asking God for a way to go.

Abe's job is going well, and he's getting lots of sales.  It's a commission only job and the process for payment can take a couple of months.  We are hopeful for the future.  I was just deeply concerned about the present.

These are the events and miracles which followed those prayers:

* My mother very lovingly offered to help us if we found we had a need to make ends meet.  Although I did not want to take any help, I was grateful for the back-up which eased my panicked heart.

*The same night, our dear friend, who lives in our house in Utah,  sent me a text telling me she had paid her rent already… 17 DAYS EARLY!!!  What?!?  Nobody pays their rent EARLY… unless God speaks to their heart to do so.  I wished I could have hugged her through the phone right then.  She had no idea of my pleadings to get to the temple open house.  I knew that was a blessing from God; however, my panicked heart still questioned if it was prudent to go on the trip because I had LOTS of other expenses which were adding up as well.

* Two days later, a dear friend from Michigan sent me a text saying she would be arriving in Fort Lauderdale/Miami area the following Friday night.  I couldn't believe it!!  She would be there the same time that I would if I went to the temple!!  Inside I knew this was no coincidence…We have spent Christmas Eve with her and her family, and we shared many other special family dinners when we lived in Michigan.  I spoke at her husband and children's baptism.  I love this family and hoped I could see them.

*I prayed harder for guidance to know what I should do.  I could easily make it if I used my mother's assistance, but my pride wouldn't let me do that… unless we were starving… which we weren't.  This trip was optional, so I prayed to know how it would impact my children's spiritual lives.  The answer came to me that if I would take a step of faith and provide the spiritual opportunities, the Lord would open the way based on my faith.

*Thursday morning, the day we were supposed to leave, I took that leap of faith.  I texted my friend with the hotel room and my friend from Michigan and told them I would be going on the trip.  Both were excited.  I began packing, and shortly before we were supposed to leave, another special friend whom I had only communicated with once in the past 8 years sent me a random Facebook message asking me how I was.  (We had lost touch for several years.)  I happily responded to her, and all of a sudden it dawned on me!!  She lives in Fort Lauderdale!!  I told her we were coming her way that night. I texted her the address to our hotel wondering if we were close at all.  She said she lived across the street!!  That was definitely not a coincidence that she would send me a message just before we were to leave.  I felt God confirming in my heart that we were supposed to be going on this trip.  We had an AWESOME visit with her.  She's several years younger than I am, so Abe and I had known her as a young girl just out of high school.  It was my first time seeing her since that time, and I was deeply moved by her grand spirit and powerful testimony.   I was grateful to see where her life had lead her after so many years.  What a blessing that visit was to all of us!!  My heart was full!!

*I have another VERY dear friend who lives in Miami (close to Fort Lauderdale).  She and I have supported each other through very difficult trials over the years.  I even stood-in as her "mother" when she was first married.  I told her I would be coming to her area.  She was available Friday evening.  I had been a bit worried about what we would do that evening while we waited for my Michigan friend's plane to arrive.  That was my answer!  She lived less than 10 minutes from the airport!  I couldn't believe how everything was falling into place.  We had a beautiful time with this dear friend.  In all honesty, this woman is the most compassionate woman I have ever known.  Her heart is of gold, and she lifted all of our souls with her sincere love.

*Next, we drove to the airport to give our friend from Michigan a gigantic hug.  You should have seen us running through the airport!!  By mistake, we parked at the opposite side of the airport from where she was.  Jackson carried Juliana on his back, and I pushed Jayden in the stroller.  We were quite a sight… running with complete joy through the airport at 10:45 at night!  We kept texting each other back and forth… "We're Here!!"  "Coming!!"  When we finally saw her, we were all sweaty and red faced,  but we didn't slow down our sprint.  We almost tackled her to the ground with excitement.

****I wondered if I should share this next miracle, but I need it in writing for my children to recognize how the Lord blesses us beyond measure.  We were taking this temple trip all the way to Fort Lauderdale on a humongous leap of faith.  It would cost us at least $150.00 in gas.  Like I said… we're fine financially… However, this particular week our rent was due, our gas expenses exceeded what we had planned to get to and from Missouri, and Abe's commissions hadn't been processed yet.  Two of those friends we visited, secretly slipped money into my possession… equaling double the cost of our temple trip.  There is no way I would have accepted it if they had handed it to me!!  I had no idea they were even pondering on doing such a thing!  I am sobbing now even thinking about their hearts.  I did not tell them I needed money.  I only mentioned that we were considering not going on the temple trip because of gas expenses.  God spoke to their hearts and to mine.  What a direct miracle from God.  I believe HE wanted me to know that HE would ALWAYS support us in our efforts to do those things which matter most.  HIS blessings are ALWAYS better, richer, fuller, and with beautiful, eternal magnitude.

*We left Miami just after midnight. On the way out of town, I stopped at the WRONG gas station.  A crazy lady stood outside my van door and wouldn't leave.  She was drunk and insisted she was a state trooper, President Obama's wife, and the owner of the gas station.  I went inside the station, and she stood by my side… yelling.  The guy in front of me had drugs rolled up on the top of his ear.  Everything… even the Cheetos were locked away behind the glass doors.  I called Abe and kept him on the phone.  Abe kept asking me if there was a fight in the store.  I told him it was just the crazy lady yelling at me.  Meanwhile… I kept my eyes on my van with 6 children inside!!!  I was trembling a bit.  Abe kept begging me to get out of there quickly.  I tried to prepay, and the cashier "jokingly" threatened to charge me $1,000 instead.  After I left the gas station, even my credit card company contacted me because of possible fraud.  Maybe because they identified the area of town I was in????  I thank God we were safe!!

*I began my 4 1/2 hour drive and was honestly confused as to why I felt so strong driving all through the night!!  Abe texted me and said he was praying hard for me… of course he was… I felt strengthened by those prayers.  Abe wasn't with me, but HE pleaded to God, and I know that angels were sent to assist me.

*We arrived to our home close to 6am.  The boys had a wrestling tournament at 9am.  I walked into the school to pay for my boys' entry fee, and they waved me on telling me they weren't going to charge me.    What?!?  I questioned them again, and the coach just motioned me to keep going on my way.  I was now on 2 hours of sleep and feeling so much gratitude in my heart I could hardly speak.

*******On the way home from our trip, I asked my children what they felt in their hearts as they walked through the temple.  As I listened to their innocent words, I KNEW why it was that the adversary tried to keep me from going, and I also KNEW why the LORD blessed us so abundantly for going.  The temple is truly a Holy Place, and I am grateful my children felt it.  Here is the account of their sacred experiences:

Jackson:  "When I went into the baptismal room, I could feel people waiting to get baptized.  I felt something warm, and I felt people waiting up high.  When I went into the Celestial Room, I could feel the Spirit so much, and in the Sealing Rooms, I knew that this was a place where people could get together forever."

Tyson:  "When we were walking up to the temple, I knew that this was the House of God.  I could feel it really strongly.  When we went into the temple, I could feel the Holy Ghost.  My favorite room to look at was the room that people do baptisms for the dead in.  In one of the rooms, I felt the Spirit so strongly that I started to tremble.  When I left the temple, I had a warm feeling inside of me."

Jordan:  "I loved seeing the baptismal font because I knew I was going to baptized there one day.  I also loved the sealing room because it makes me feel very good inside.  It feels spiritual.  …and I liked that room with the big ceiling and the big light… the room that we weren't supposed to talk in... because I could feel the Holy Ghost in it."

Mariah:  "In the room that we had to be quiet in, it felt really spiritual to me.  It felt really good.  At the baptismal font, it felt good too."

Our sweet friend, Semira, is part of our family too. :-)  

What a grand turn-out of children from Daytona Beach ward. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Smile for God

Our family returned yesterday from a 6 day trip to Missouri.  We were asked to participate in Joplin Missouri's annual Young Single Adults conference on Saturday and Sunday.  My parents live in that area, so we enjoyed a WONDERFUL weekend with them as well. :-)  (I'll be writing more about those awesome parents of mine later.)

The conference was entitled,  "Joplin Jam."  Abe and I gave 3 workshops on love.  We were overjoyed for the opportunity to share our testimonies of Christ and HIS love for us. We opened each workshop with The Boogie Woogie- performed by Jackson and my dad.  Everyone in the room ended up dancing each time.  What a blast we had stepping outside of our comfort zones!!

On Saturday night, Abe performed a concert for the single adults.  As part of his concert, I choreographed a song/dance to the song entitled SMILE.   The children did an awesome job…

I hope the video makes you SMILE because GOD is working great miracles in YOUR life. :-) :-)

Click on the link below to see the Mills' kids get down. :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jayden's Healing by the Power of God

Abe returned home at 4am Tuesday morning.  The kids and I weren't expecting him until later in the day, so it was a WONDERFUL surprise.  I have written about how excited everyone gets when he arrives home from his trips.  Jayden doesn't ever want to let go of him!  Around 7am Jackson brought baby Jayden into our bedroom.

Jayden was different this time...

I kept telling him that Daddy was home, but he only wanted to lay on my chest.  He wouldn't even turn his head to look at him.  Instead, he slithered off the bed and rested on the floor.  I picked him back up off the floor. He lay on my chest for a little while longer and didn't hardly move a muscle.  I lifted his little body, and it just flopped back down with dead weight.  Then he slithered to the floor again.

His eyes were open, but he lay there motionless... for a very long time.  I thought maybe he was just extra tired. I picked him up again, and tried to sit him upright.  Even 8-year old Jordan said, "It's as if his soul has been taken out of him!"

Jayden is the most energy-filled child I have ever known.  Even when he's sick he doesn't stop moving!  Something was definitely not right. Abe and I talked about going to the hospital, but then I asked him to give little baby Jayden a blessing first.

As Abe readied himself to give the priesthood blessing, I recalled a story I had just read about a Mormon pioneer who had been shot in the stomach.  The doctor had proclaimed him to soon be a dead man, but the pioneer claimed that the doctor didn't know about the power of the priesthood.  This pioneer man received a priesthood blessing and described that blessing as rings of healing around his body and rings of healing encircling his wound.  After the blessing the pioneer stood up and lost 3 quarts of blood (including pieces of clothing from inside his body from the wound).  The pioneer fully healed; he reported that he never felt any pain again from his wound... only some weakness from the loss of blood.

As Abe placed his hands on my lifeless baby, I thought about this Mormon pioneer's faith as he received his priesthood blessing.  I watched as Abe gently dropped consecrated oil on baby Jayden's head.  As Abe placed his hands on Jayden's head and pronounced the blessing, I envisioned those rings of healing and felt very strongly that through our faith, our baby would be healed.

After priesthood blessings, I usually linger for a bit to wait for continued inspiration.  Not this time... I immediately stood up with Jayden and asked him if he wanted water.  With absolute certainty, Jayden said he wanted milk.  I was so grateful he was speaking!  He very rarely asks for milk; in fact, I can't remember the last time he specifically requested milk.  He clasped his little hands around the cup.  The cup trembled as he rose it to his mouth.  Jayden drank 2 full glasses of milk and a few bites of yogurt.  Moments later, he threw it all up!!  I carried him into the shower, and as the hot water hit both of us, baby Jayden began to sing these words in his sweet little baby voice, "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here.  Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear..."

As cleansing water ran over both of us, I hugged my baby tight and looked into his eyes while I prayed to God thanking HIM for healing my baby Jayden by the priesthood power.

After our shower, Jayden wanted more yogurt and some scrambled eggs too.  It was as if the milk was just what he needed to cleanse whatever was attacking his little body.  He ran around the house as if nothing had ever happened!  I watched him in awe wondering what could have possibly happened.  We had all seen the transformation.  We had all witnessed the miracle of healing for baby Jayden.

I'm grateful for the faith-building story I had just read about the pioneer man trusting in the priesthood blessing of healing.  I am grateful my husband was home earlier than planned so that he could administer that blessing.  I am eternally grateful for the priesthood power.  Our baby Jayden was healed, and there is no doubt in my mind that it was done by the power of God.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Miracles Along the Way: Our 4 Minutes

On Saturday morning I had just finished cleaning the house from top to bottom in preparation for General Conference.  I wanted everything to be just right so we could sit and listen in peace to our prophet and other general authorities speak to us via television.  It was an hour before start time, and I decided I wanted to go for a run by myself to clear my mind.  (I hardly ever go anywhere by myself.)

Before I started my run, I asked for safety over my children because Abe was out of town.  I also asked for God's blessings on my run.

Oh my goodness it felt so good to be free in the outdoors for just a moment without any other voices demanding my attention.  I ran on the sidewalk which bordered the ocean.  I was shocked at what I saw… at least 8 dolphins dipped in and out of the waters!!  I had never seen such a thing in the wild before.  I stopped just for a moment to watch them.  I looked around to tell somebody, but nobody else was nearby.  Instead I thanked God for truly blessing my run.  I felt God speak to my heart that this was a good thing… spending a short time alone to strengthen my spirit.  I arrived home strengthened and ready for conference.

In preparation for conference, this is how I found Jackson… I asked him what he was doing.  All he said was, "King Benjamin Mom."   (From Mosiah 4:6-8)

All the other children had followed suit…

 Jordan peeled oranges for himself and for Juliana in his tent.

Mariah set up a huge bunch of bananas in her tent to share with Jayden :-)

Tyson cut and created his own fruit and displayed it pretty just as I would have wanted to have done it.  This truly was part of the blessing on my run.  God knew I needed a short time alone, and HE inspired the hearts of my children to be agents unto themselves.

This morning, I decided to take another 25 minute run alone.  I made sure all the children were safe before I left.  I asked God to bless my run again… In my mind I thought, "I'm not sure how HE can top Saturday's run- I'm sure I will not see 8 dolphins again!"

Over the weekend I began to struggle with congestion in my chest, but I started running anyway and felt good.  I smiled at people as I ran.  On the way back, I got REALLY tired, and my chest started to wheeze just a bit.  I was trying really hard to keep up my pace even though I was feeling completely exhausted.  As I ran, something miraculous happened…

I do not exaggerate… EVERYONE I passed cheered me on!!!  The guys digging dirt yelled out, "You're pace is good!  Keep it up!"  Bikers and other walkers said, "Lookin' strong!"  "You're doing great!" "Good job!!"  Even people driving by started to honk!!!  I felt like I was running a race!!  

I pushed through the pain and thanked God for sending so many cheerleaders when I needed them most.  

This is the image of me… beat!  The picture doesn't do justice for how red my face really was. :-)

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson gave a talk in General Conference yesterday entitled "Your Four Minutes."  Please read/listen to it!!  I have been thinking about my life as my 4 minutes as he suggested.  This run gave me confidence that my "4 minutes" of life is aided every step of the way by a loving Heavenly Father who sends cheerleaders and miraculous experiences along the way to help us finish the race… and return to HIM with success.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Miracles of Time

I have been praying a lot this week about my use of time.  There are so many wonderful things to teach my children, and I want so badly to choose those things that will bless their lives and the lives around them the very most.  I want to do God's will in their lives.  There are so many good things to do in this life!!  I've been praying to see into their souls just a piece of what God sees to help me make my decisions.

The first thing that was brought to my attention was that I had been driving long distances to take my children to wrestling tournaments, but I hadn't taken the 2 hour journey to the temple in a couple of months.  Since the children cannot enter the temple yet, it seemed to me that it wouldn't be a possibility without my husband to help me watch the children.

Jackson babysits the children when we go on dates; but if Jackson were to babysit on the temple grounds, I was concerned about my little Jayden running into the busy street beside the temple.  I was also concerned about not being able to check in on them for the full two hours I would be in the temple with no cell phone.

Through my prayers, my mind was enlightened, and I felt peace about trying anyway.  I left with the kids at 6am yesterday for our temple trip.  I felt immediate peace when we pulled up to the temple.  I realized that I had forgotten about the gate that encircled the entire temple grounds.  I had forgotten about the security guards at both ends of the temple.  I knew the children would be safe, and I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Jackson watched the five younger children while I served in the temple.  The temple patrons and security guard knew my children would be coming to them for any emergency.  Once I was done, Jackson joined a youth group from another area and did baptisms with them while I stayed outside with the children.  (I wrote about why baptisms are done in the temple in my religion in a previous post in January. :-))

It was an absolutely perfect morning!!  I felt deeply moved by the messages I received in the temple.  After Jackson came out of the temple, he shared with me in detail how the Spirit moved through his body during his service there.  I wondered how I had let this wonderful use of time slip from my schedule for so many weeks.

As I prayed further about our use of time, a question returned to my mind about our upcoming weekend.

My boys are passionate about wrestling.  We have an option of attending one of two wrestling tournaments this coming Saturday.  General Conference is coming this Saturday and Sunday too.

(General Conference is a time when our prophet, apostles, and general authorities speak messages from God to the entire world.  It's a weekend which is always highly anticipated in our home.)

I explained to the boys that they would rebroadcast the conference, and we could watch it later in the day if they wanted to still go to one of the tournaments.

Jackson, who had just been in the temple, immediately declared he wanted to stay home to watch General Conference instead of competing in his wrestling tournament.  I explained again that we could still watch it later if we went to the tournament.

…but who am I to discourage such a righteous decision?  I had been praying for enlightenment on better uses of our time.  What an answer to my prayer!!  I believe that when choosing what to do with our time, each good decision has GREAT influence on every following decision.  I did not want to break the effect of what was happening.

So… we will be devoting our day to conference as a better use of our time.

In my prayers this morning, I asked God again for guidance on our use of time.  I had a big list of activities we had been invited to… all good things.  I also had a huge list of things I wanted to teach the children.  As I cooked breakfast, I listened to a past General Conference talk on my cell phone.  Not knowing which talk would come up next, I pushed play.

It was a talk from October 2011.  The title was "A Time to Prepare" by Ian S. Ardern.  The entire talk was about how to make better use our precious time given to us from God.  I was in complete awe!!  I had been praying so hard for this, so I listened intently and allowed the Spirit to speak answers to my soul about how to spend my day.

God continues to enlighten our minds on the things we pray about, but already I have received great answers to this question of time.  I'm thankful to have found a way to go to the temple.  I'm thankful the Lord allowed me to see a piece of what HE sees into my son's soul when Jackson boldly chose to sacrifice a day of wrestling for a day of listening to General Conference. I'm grateful to have been guided to listen to a talk that "happened" to be the most perfect talk I could have listened to right after I had knelt in prayer about that very question.

I have no doubt that the Lord is answering our prayers and playing a very active role in each moment of our lives.  HE loves us dearly.  I know our time is precious, and I pray for courage to use it in a way that is pleasing to God.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blessed with Faith to Pray

Three boys from two separate families (twin 13-year old boys and a 10-year old boy) came to our home for 5 days last week.  They have not yet been baptized, but they all started their journey to the gospel of Jesus Christ while they were our neighbors in Orlando.

Last week I posted pictures of some of the fun times the children shared.  I didn't write yet, however, about the spiritual growth that took place...

On one of our beach days, I felt nervous about the strong current as a result of heavy winds earlier in the day.  I stopped all the children and told them my concern.  All 9 children knelt with me at the beach to ask God for safety while we swam.  That prayer prompted some really special talks about God's power in our lives.

After the first couple of days, the twin boys begged to say the family prayer every time we knelt down.  The 10-year old boy was still too shy to say a prayer.  On Saturday, during a prayer, one of the twin boys asked God to bless the 10-year old boy with the faith necessary to say a prayer.  It was one of the sweetest supplications I had ever heard.

On Sunday afternoon, I took all the children on a leisure bike ride.  Before we took off on our bikes, I gathered the children to talk to them about the safety rules for the ride.  One of the boys suggested we have a prayer first.  Guess who offered the prayer?  The sweet 10-year old boy who had been blessed with the faith and courage necessary to do so.  Do you know how amazing it is to watch the spiritual growth of such young boys?

The following day, we left the house in a hurry, and I had forgotten to hold family prayer before we left.  While driving, I asked for a volunteer to say the prayer for our day.  The same boy volunteered again!!  His prayer was beautiful and sincere.  His faith filled our van.

What a miracle to watch the spiritual growth of such young boys!  What a miracle to see the result of such positive peer influence!  What a miracle to see the answered prayer of a young boy asking for faith for another!

All the children- even Jayden- were sad to see them go…  We pray for their continued growth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.