Monday, May 4, 2015

My Wish List

I'm sorry I took so long to share my story of so many Christmas miracles… they were miracles that came at a time that I needed profound healing… and the results thereof were still raw and too sacred for me to share… I think I was also in shock at the abundance of love that came our way.

I continually see and will forever proclaim that GOD IS REAL!!  HE LIVES!!

This past fall, I kept pondering on all the things I wanted or needed to buy for my children. Among other trials, our financial position was very difficult because of jobs that did not pay over several months.

I remember one day as I was praying I felt an overwhelming impression to put my wish list in writing. I felt silly because it seemed as though it was an impression from God, but why would God want me to put a silly wish list in writing? I obviously couldn't buy any of it; but since it was a Spiritual impression, I did it. 

I decided to be obedient. My list included some things such as clothing items for my children, but it also included large things like a drum set for my dedicated drummer, and a surf board for my passionate and improving surfer. I also had extra little small wishes for my girls on my list. They love everything from the movie Frozen.

I didn't show my list to anybody… not even Abe. I just kept it hidden safely in my wallet.

The Shirts

Soon after I had made my list, I took a trip to the grocery store. I saw an inexpensive shirt that Jackson would love, so I tried to get an early start on Christmas shopping and bought it for him. 

(He really needed more than one shirt. He had grown several inches and put on 26 pounds in the past year. To buy him several shirts was on my wish list.) 

As I went through the checkout, the shirt was only a couple of dollars!! What a surprise! It hadn't shown that sale price anywhere! I was so excited because with the money remaining from the discount, I had enough money to buy 2 more shirts!! I felt as if I was completely splurging… oh how our perspective changes in times of financial distress. 

As I walked to the car, I felt God telling me that this was only the beginning of HIS miracles… HE was working on my wish list. I thought that was so sweet and tender… but I knew there was absolutely no  way we could buy the big things for our children for Christmas.

The Surf Board

About a month before Christmas, I walked around an art fair. I began to talk to a man whom I knew was big into surfing. Tyson, my avid surfer, had a foam top surf board- those are great for beginners. Now he was ready for the next step up. I had no money to buy it for him, but I just wanted an idea in my mind of what he would need and how much I would need to save up to buy it for him eventually. I picked the man's brain for a minute about the next type of surf board my son should be riding. The man smiled really big and told me he had an idea. He wanted us to come see him in a few weeks, and he would have something special for our family for Christmas. A few weeks passed, and I was embarrassed to go see the man… What if he didn't remember our conversation? What if he changed his mind? What if I looked greedy coming to get the special gifts? I couldn't do it… 

A few days later, I received a text from somebody who knew the man and who also knew us… I had only met her once, but she happened to have our phone number because she had texted a picture to my phone a while back. She simply said I needed to go see this man because he had a surf board for Tyson. I was in shock. I cried. I couldn't believe our little Tyson would actually have a surf board. When we arrived he also had toys for Jayden, a wetsuit that would fit Jordan and money for us to buy other gifts for the children. I secretly hoped to be able to buy wetsuits for all the children for the winter months, but those were WAY too expensive. 

On Christmas Eve day, I was driving down the street when I had a strong impression to pull over to Goodwill. I had never been to that particular store; but since the impression was so strong, I turned in. I didn't even know what I was going there for. There wasn't anything particular on my mind at that moment.

I walked into the store and it was as if the wall was singing!!  There were hanging several wetsuits for the older boys and for Abe and me. After I draped the wetsuits in my shopping cart, I turned around and saw 2 wetsuits hanging on a rack right behind me. They were just the perfect size for Mariah; one was even pink!! Next to the wetsuits was a floatie with shorts just Jayden's size. I felt surrounded by gifts from God! I couldn't believe it. I bought them all with the money we were given and still had money leftover for a few of the kids' other needs like socks and underwear. I thanked God with all my heart. I had NEVER seen wetsuits in a second-hand store before… they were there… just our size… just for us.

Anonymous Angels

Several weeks before Christmas a package came in the mail. I burst into tears as I opened 8 gift cards with a substantial amount of money for each child. I didn't take another step before bowing my head and pouring my heart out in gratitude to my Heavenly Father. We would be able to buy almost all that the kids needed from my secret Wish List. The package came from an anonymous sender. The return address was from the Orlando area where we had lived the year before. Nobody knew how rough the past several months had been on us financially- especially nobody knew from Orlando. We had no idea who would give so generously to bless our family so abundantly. I sobbed to think that God already knew this would be happening when HE told me to write down my Wish List. 

I believe God wanted me to put my wishes in writing so that I would recognize that HE was meeting all my needs through HIS loving servants.

The blessings continued as other anonymous friends left beautiful, thoughtful gifts for our family at church and on our doorstep. We said so many prayers pleading for God to bless these souls to know how much they blessed our lives…. because we could not thank them personally. I cried as I pondered on the souls who spent so much time pondering on what would make our family happy.

Christmas Program

We have some wonderful neighbors. Most of them are elderly. Abe and I had put on a Christmas program at our church, but we wanted our elderly neighbors who can't travel as far to be a part of the program as well. We held a Christmas program of singing, musical instruments and food in our home just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Tears were shed as we, as neighbors of all different Faiths, shared our love for our Savior's birth. 

Our dear, sweet neighbors also showered our children with gifts of love. We all felt blessed and felt the Spirit of God.

Movie Night

Right before Christmas, I asked Abe what he wanted for Christmas. His only request: to go to the movies. He wanted to also take the family to the theater. I bought him movie tickets for Christmas, but it would cost too much to take the whole family. Nobody else knew of this request. 

A friend whom we had just met asked us to come to her house one Sunday afternoon right around Christmastime. We had a lovely time chatting. Before we left, she presented us with movie and dinner tickets for the entire family!!!  It couldn't have been any more perfect… of course I cried again. This was not a need… but it sure let us know that God was mindful of our efforts and of our struggles. HE was truly giving us all that we asked for… and we were growing in our humility as we saw the hands of so many angels acting as instruments in HIS hands.

Side Jobs

Right at this same time period, a dear friend hired me to tutor her daughter in reading. That same dear friend demanded to pay me a Christmas bonus for my work with her daughter. When I arrived to her house to teach her daughter, she had gifts for our family and a gift card to the exact place where I found the perfect shoes for Mariah… which was also on my Wish List. 

That same friend took a pay cut in order to allow Abe to do a job with her. She could have done the job by herself and made twice the money, but she gave him half her pay in order to allow him to work. I cry now as I think about that sacrifice… to allow my strong husband to bring more money in for his family. What a blessing brought about by great sacrifice. 

Another dear friend hired Jackson and me to teach piano lessons to her granddaughter. Our Christmas bonuses included a trip to McDonalds for the whole family and to another wonderful restaurant!!  What a treat!! We called her in the drive-thru line to tell her how delicious every bite was!! 

My Final Wish

One afternoon I was feeling especially grateful. I was speaking to my sweet, little piano student's mother and grandmother about my Wish List. I was thanking them again for blessing our lives so much. I didn't tell them what was on the list, but I told them how God was miraculously fulfilling almost everything on this long list. (Her mother later told me she was listening carefully to see if I would tell her what was left on the list, but I never did. :-))

The children were not expecting many material gifts at all for Christmas. We had been warning them for months that this Christmas would be different than other years. This year we would be making things for each other. Several of the children had been preparing coupons for each other… promises to massage feet… promises to make beds, etc. They were actually very excited to serve each other in this way.
Jordan jumped into Jackson's arms as he thanked him for his coupon gifts.

What a surprise on Christmas day!! The children walked downstairs to gifts that they never anticipated. 

We opened the presents slowly and said many prayers of gratitude for the sacrifices of so many.

The girls squealed as they received all kinds of gifts from the movie "Frozen."

Jayden had a blast with everything …and also enjoyed photo bombing little Juliana as she admired herself in her new gifts. :-)

I shared in a previous story about Jordan's Christmas surprise. Here's the link:

You probably could have heard Tyson scream all the way to California when we brought his surf board out with a big bow on it… he never expected such a wonderful gift. 

Jackson loved his new shirt. :-)

Sweet Jackson never looked at his siblings' gifts with the least bit of coveting. He was genuinely happy for them, and he loved all that he received. Still, Abe and I wished we had found a drum set for Jackson for Christmas. We had been searching for weeks. We saved most of the money people had given to Jackson to try to find a drum set for him. 

A drum set had been Jackson's wish for years now. He rides his bike 19 miles a day just so he can play his drums at school. He is dedicated and loves his music. It's his truest passion.

Even on Christmas Eve I was still driving to pawn shops and contacting sellers on Craig's List trying to find a drum set that we could afford and that would be of good quality for Jackson to perform. Most were way out of our price range or way too crummy. 

After Christmas, my piano student and her family whom I had told that I had a wish list announced they were moving. We were all so sad for they were so dear to our hearts. We helped them move; and as we said goodbye, they gave us yet another loving gift. She pressed a gift card into my hand and said, "This is for you to complete your Christmas list." Christmas had already passed. They didn't even know that there was something remaining on my list. Only Abe knew… and God. 

Jackson's birthday was the following week. I knew I had to use this money for Jackson's drum set. I called his grandparents and asked if they would like to donate to a drum set for Jackson as his birthday gift. I asked his siblings if they wanted to donate their extra change for Jackson's drum set. Everybody put their money in, and I added the leftover money from Christmas. I checked Craig's List again… 

There was a beautiful drum set that had just been posted! It came with free delivery, free set up and 3 free lessons!! With the money from our anonymous angels, the money from our friends who wanted to complete our wish list, and the money from grandparents, we would be able to buy the drum set.

I called the man selling the drum set. He was so nice and so genuine I thought he couldn't be for real… but he was. He drove 25 minutes to our house and spent over an hour teaching Jackson all he needed to learn about the care of the drum set and how to tune it. He drove to our house 3 more times to teach Jackson even more. It couldn't have been a better situation… so perfect, in fact, it seemed only God could have orchestrated such a perfect gift… and in fact HE did orchestrate the completion of my Wish List.

Jackson has since been asked to practice and perform with 2 different rock bands, and he will also play the drum set in a couple songs for the high school jazz band concert. What a blessing this has been for his musical progress.

God Is Real

I hesitated to share this story about my Wish List because I really would have been fine without the material gifts…

Also, our children really would have been happy at Christmas without any material gifts…

But it wasn't about the material gifts… it was about what the material gifts represented…

I believe God wanted us to know that HE was aware of our many trials… God wanted us to see the goodness of people… God wanted us to know we were important enough to HIM to send so many angels our way.

It was so much more beautiful and life-changing for all of us to see how the Lord made up for where we lacked… to see that our Wish List was important to HIM… 

I am humbled. I am grateful. I thank God for showing us HIS hand. I am thankful for the example of sacrifice and love that so many friends and anonymous friends gave to our family. So many beautiful miracles… 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Purse Drama

Last Tuesday, I gathered my children to race out the door for Grandpa's surprise birthday party. "Grandpa" is the grandfather of our congregation at church. EVERYBODY loves him. He makes us laugh, tells wonderful stories, gives special little gifts to the children, and loves us so sweetly. He was completing his 85th year. My children were VERY excited to go to his party- they even dressed up like him!

I called to the children to get in the van while I ran to grab my purse out of my closet... it wasn't there. How could that be? I always put my purse in the same place. All the children began racing around the house looking for my purse.

I retraced my steps:

I taught seminary at the church that morning. My kids didn't have school that day, so I didn't even drive ANYWHERE else that day. I had so much work to do in the garden that I didn't even go upstairs the entire day. My house was clean, so I thought I should have been able to find my purse quickly. All of us looked in every possible place.

The only thing I could think was that it must have been at the church where I taught seminary. I carried little, sleeping Jayden into the church while Jackson carried my purse. Jackson said he remembered placing the purse on the table in the room where I taught at the church.

People were already beginning to arrive at the birthday party at the church where I thought my purse could possibly be, so I called two different families to go look in the seminary room. Neither of them found my purse. They said they searched the entire room.

I was very worried. My purse had my credit cards, bank cards, license, money... EVERYTHING. I needed my purse to buy groceries while we were out. We live 30 minutes away from the church and the grocery store.

Since my friends couldn't find it at the church, I knew it had to be in my house. I prayed over and over again for God's divine help.

Seven-year old Mariah stopped me and said, "I know what you need to do. You need to be calm and then pray again."

I smiled at her and told her she was right (even though I had been praying, and I felt like I was really trying to be calm enough to listen to the Spirit).

I took her advice and knelt down right there and offered up a calmer prayer. Up to that point, I wasn't ready to accept any other option other than staying in my house until my purse was found.

As I prayed I felt God tell me to just "go to the church anyway."

I didn't like that answer because everyone at the church had already been looking for it. It wasn't there, and I just wanted the inspiration to know where my purse was BEFORE I left. (It was a timely matter.)

On the way to the church I continued to ponder about my purse. I had another thought. I told Jackson, "I don't think you put my purse where you think you put it this morning."

We arrived at the church. The children rushed in to see Grandpa. They arrived wearing sweaters just like he wears to church, and they each had their own stick to represent Grandpa's cane.

Meanwhile I went straight to the seminary room. Yep... just like everyone had told me... my purse was not in there. I had a fleeting thought: There had been a TV in the seminary room. 

I planned on checking on that, but by the time I entered the gym to celebrate with Grandpa I had forgotten that fleeting thought. I became distracted.

Grandpa and I hugged. I made him a balloon hat and made balloons animals for the children.

I still had a heavy heart feeling worried about all that I had lost from my purse. People had checked the lost and found and the clerks office- they checked pretty much everywhere. I decided I would have to go to another room and make some phone calls to cancel all my cards in the next few minutes.

Less than two minutes later, Tyson walked up to me holding my purse!!  I squealed with excitement!!  Everyone around me did too because they had been feeling my worry.

Tyson had been praying to find my purse, and he said his eyes just stopped right at the television. It was the same television that had been in the seminary room... the one that God had brought to my attention, but I became distracted before I could act on that inspiration. My purse was sitting on the television stand all along... in the very room where we had been celebrating Grandpa's birthday!

Tyson had saved the day. My cute son couldn't stop smiling. I grabbed him and kissed him all over his face as I thanked him for listening to the Spirit.

A few things touched my heart about this experience:

*God told me to go to the church, and I had to obey even though I thought I had the better plan. (I didn't want to leave home until it was found or confirmed that it was found at the church.)

*I received that strong prompting to go to the church AFTER Mariah challenged me to pray with a calmer heart.

*God spoke to my heart that the purse was probably not where Jackson said it was during seminary. Therefore, it might be a little harder to see.

*God gave me a gentle, quick thought about the television that had been missing... but I became distracted and missed the further inspiration that would have brought me peace much sooner.

*Tyson continued to pray for inspiration and allowed his eyes to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. I could see the joy in his eyes knowing he had followed the promptings of the Spirit. I'm thankful the Spirit continued to find somebody with a listening heart.

*My purse was found just minutes before I was ready to cancel all my cards... I often see the miracles happen right at the last moment. I believe that sometimes God allows that to happen so that we have the opportunity to grow our faith in HIM. 

I am so very grateful for those answered prayers and for the lessons I learned along the way.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Do We Walk Alone?

I have written a few things about last fall's struggles without the specifics… 

I felt very alone through these struggles because I wasn't able to openly talk about them. I prayed and read the scriptures in an effort to gain strength… but I still felt like I was hanging on by a thin thread… I often wanted to shrink away in a corner and not deal with the pains at hand. I expressed my hurt a couple of times to others, but it seemed like the ears that heard had not really heard me… so my hurt burned deeper.

After several months of reaching deeper for spiritual strength than I really wanted to, I felt the healing begin to take place. I was finally feeling as if I could confidently push away the hurts out of my mind and at least function. Right about that time, when I was feeling stronger, I received multiple phone calls, text messages, and emails from people from all walks of life asking me if I was ok. One sister from church, whom I don't even know, called me out of the blue. She said, "I was praying and felt the distinct impression that I needed to check on you and pray for you. Are you ok?" Another friend said she had felt a strong impression to pray for me for a long time… but on that particular day she felt it was time to reach out to me. Another friend from high school said she couldn't get me off her mind all morning. She just had to find out if everything was ok. Strangers sent me messages of love during this same time period over a couple of days. 

I thanked each of these wonderful people for reaching out with so much love, but I didn't understand why they had received that impression. I was actually doing ok… FINALLY! None of these people had anything in common… except that the Spirit had spoken to them. These messages were undeniably messages directly from God via these lovely souls.

I asked God why they hadn't spoken to me when I was at my lowest. Why didn't this influx of love come at a time when I felt like I wanted to crumble to pieces? I was receiving this influx of love… this absolute knowledge that God was sending me love… AFTER I was actually feeling better. 

Usually you hear stories about people reaching out during the deepest, darkest moments of sadness and hurt. Why now? This troubled me for a bit. I prayed about it a lot. 

A couple months passed and pure joy was returning to my soul as I continued to heal. I was moving in a very positive direction when out-of-the-blue I received a 2nd influx of love. Some were the same people and others were different, but it was a very obvious influx. I knew by the messages that I received. People said over and over again that they felt "inspired" to contact me. 

Again, I was confused. I was actually still doing ok. I'm ALWAYS grateful for messages of love. I just didn't know why there so many random messages in a 24 hour period. That very night, in the middle of the night, I received a very strong impression that there was something wrong again. Shortly after, my fears were confirmed and my sadness returned full force. Just a few short hours after God had sent this influx of love, I was in the midst of another deep trial. 

As I suffered the pains of this trial once again, I asked God why HE was sending such a wave of love right after and right before my deepest sorrows when I actually wanted the constant reassurance DURING the trial. I hadn't found the answer yet…

Soon after, Abe and I were asked to speak at a young single adult conference for the whole state of Florida. There would be several hundred young, single adults in attendance. Guess what the topic was? 

It was titled: "We Never Walk Alone" from a talk our prophet, President Monson, delivered in General Conference in October 2013.  

I cringed, I cried, and I refused to prepare this particular message because I felt like my experience had shown me otherwise. I had felt VERY alone DURING my trial, but I also knew I couldn't back out of this commitment, but how could I speak on not walking alone when I had felt very alone for so many months?  

I knelt down and offered up a very powerful prayer. I knew God had sent love my way, and I knew it was a very deliberate message. I mustered up every bit of courage and humility I had and began to read President Monson's talk again. All of a sudden it hit me very strongly:

A child who is learning to walk receives hugs and cheers and all kinds of encouragement the moment before his mother releases her fingers from his. The father, standing on the other side of that child, waits for him to take those few steps to him. Both the mother and father are there the entire time ready to catch the child and to keep that child from being harmed. The parents make sure that their child is not going to fall into a hole or face any trial that the child can't handle. They gently cheer the child on; but in order to learn, that child has to take those steps on his own. That child has to reach the other side by learning how to walk. The parents are there all along… just waiting… knowing this is a good experience for the child's growth. When the child reaches the father, what happens? Oh my goodness there is an eruption… a very obvious INFLUX of love and hugs and cheers. He did it!!  

As I thought about the timing of my eruption of cheers from God during my trials, they came before and after my deepest trials. My Heavenly Father was there all along, but HE had to let me work through the pain (under HIS watchful eye) in order for me to grow. 

I read the talk from President Monson again. This time I believed his words when he said:

"You will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you."

I thanked the Lord for teaching me. As I spoke to the single adults I gave them an object lesson. On the way to the event, I felt inspired to ask our children to sing the song they had performed at a talent show only a month previously. This would be an even larger audience, and they didn't have time to run through it again. The prompting came to me for them to sing, so I knew the Lord would bless them. 

What happens when somebody is about to take the stage and perform? We cheer and give them a huge round of applause. (We give them an influx of love and encouragement.)

Then, they are required to walk out onto that stage and perform on their own. When my young children stood in front of the large audience, I couldn't sing for them. I sat in front of them and smiled at them and prayed for them, but I couldn't do it for them. They had to sing their song.

When a performance is finished, what happens? Of course we give them another huge round of applause. We may even give some whistles and extra shouts. 

When my children finished their performance, they received a standing ovation. Tears streamed down the faces of many in attendance. The biggest cheers come before and after the performance.

We hear the stories of people performing and, unable to finish, the crowd joins in and sings with them. People also often tell their stories of when they suffered greatly through trials and then received much needed relief just in time to save the day.

We rarely hear about the stories when we felt as though we were alone and needed intervention, but the help we thought we needed did not come. 

I testify that we are NOT alone even when we are not receiving the help we THINK we need. God IS beside us ready to keep us safe from those things that would harm us greatly. HE is merely allowing us to stretch and to grow in ways that only that particular experience will allow. HE allows the difficulty of the way because HE knows we are capable… and HE is there ready to give us the greatest influx of love when we come out conquerors in these spiritual battles we all face. I imagine we received a grand influx of that same love before we came to earth.

I shared this experience with the young single adults of Florida, and afterward, there was a line of young men and young women who expressed gratitude because they too now understand that they are ABSOLUTELY not alone. Our challenge is to watch for the moments when God allows us to hear and to feel the moments of love and encouragement that HE is offering along the way… to watch for the influx of love when we have conquered a small obstacle… when we have finished act 1 or act 2 of our grand performance here on earth… for we are on the stage right now giving our best performance… and we do it for HIM. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Miracles at a Bar

First of all… I'm sorry I haven't written for so long. We have had so many visitors and events for the children I haven't had any time at all. I am making a list of all the things I still want to write about. When will I ever catch up??? :-) I'll just keep trying. :-)

Miracles at a Bar in Jacksonville

Abe is teaching voice lessons to a young girl who was performing at a big competition in Jacksonville last weekend. She asked Jackson to be her drummer. What an experience for these two 13-year olds. They were the youngest performers at the event, and there was some VERY impressive talent there.

There was so much traffic at the competition that we all had to carry all the pieces to Jackson's drum set for almost 4 blocks (without Abe's strong arms because he was out of town).

When we arrived at the first venue, a nut was missing off Jackson's cymbals and the pedal was broken on his hi-hat cymbals. We didn't know what was wrong, but it seemed as if a part was missing. Neither would function properly without those missing parts.

All my children prayed for help, and several of us began retracing our steps back to the van to see if we could find any shiny pieces that could possibly be the parts we were missing.

I found a random nut lying on the sidewalk. I picked it up knowing it wasn't the exact piece that he was missing, but I was hopeful it might help fix something somehow. When I returned to the venue where Jackson was trying so hard to put his pieces together, we were all overjoyed to discover that the random nut fit the cymbal!! What are the chances that it would be an exact fit?!? I knew God had HIS hand in that for sure.

The other, more serious problem was the foot pedal for the hi-hat…

I approached the owner of the establishment for help. We didn't want Jackson to miss this opportunity, and we didn't want his singer to be without her backup drummer. The owner happened to also be a drummer and very generously loaned us his hi-hat foot pedal stand for our first show. We were so grateful for the temporary solution, but I was still worried about Jackson's next show which would be at a different venue. I was also worried about the shows over the following days. (This competition lasted several days.)

Nobody I asked seemed to know the problem with the stand nor the solution.

I sat off to the side and prayed over Jackson's hi-hat stand- pleading for God's help. I asked God to help me figure out how to fix the problem. I said, "Heavenly Father, you helped us to buy this drum set because of thy miracles. Please help us to be able to use it for these very important shows."

The more I tried to fix it, the more I began to feel a bit frustrated that I wasn't receiving any answers from God. As we began to set up for the next venue, which happened to be in a bar, I watched the sound technician racing around connecting wires and cords. I was afraid to ask him for help with our hi-hat stand and foot pedal because he looked so busy… but we truly were desperate.

The sound technician looked at it for 2 seconds and immediately knew the problem: the spring inside was broken, and we would need to buy a new one. A moan began to escape my mouth when he interrupted me and said, "BUT I think I have an extra one that Jackson can have."  He ran to the back and pulled out a really nice, hi-hat foot-pedal and stand. It was of a MUCH higher quality than the one we owned. These nice hi-hat foot pedal stands are VERY expensive!! I couldn't believe he even had an extra of exactly what we needed, and I couldn't believe he was GIVING it to us.

I cried and both Jackson and I thanked him over and over again. He opened his arms and gave us hugs.

I told him I had been praying for a solution but never imagined such a beautiful one.

As we stood in the bar where Jackson would be performing his second show and with people beginning to come in, this kind-hearted sound technician took the time to talk with us about God. He said that lots of people had helped him as a young musician, so he was happy to pass that on. He bore firm testimony that there are no coincidences in this life and that God blesses us with beautiful miracles in our lives at times when we think all is going wrong. What an AWESOME GUY!! Jackson really enjoyed working with him.

I couldn't stop thinking about this experience all week:

I had prayed for God to help me FIX the situation. I actually became a little bit frustrated with God because I felt as if HE wasn't answering my prayers in the way that I thought was best. After I saw the whole picture, I was quite humbled to realize that not only was God answering my prayers, but HE was answering them far better than I had imagined.

The hi-hat stand we now had was far better than anything we could have imagined owning or fixing, and the conversation that Jackson and I had with the sound technician was priceless… It was a moment to remember forever… a moment to forever inspire my young musician.

I am learning to accept and TRUST that God's ways are much better than my ways… and I am grateful for the times when I am able to see that so clearly.

Jackson's 2nd Venue

Jackson's 3rd Venue

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Inspired Gift

My dear friend from Bolivia, Maria Luisa, arrived to our home Tuesday morning at 2:30am. Abe arrived the following morning 1:30am. It has been WONDERFUL to be together.

Maria Luisa has the sweetest, most grateful heart. The following morning, we were racing between activities and all I could gather was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. You should have seen her joy at eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the first time! She has been washing dishes, cleaning my floors, helping me with my garden, and of course loving and teaching my children.  She is such a joy- not because she's doing so many chores around the house- but because she gives so much sincere, gushy love.

The morning after she arrived, I was standing in my kitchen looking at a picture of the Orlando temple, and I said in my heart: "I really wish I had a picture of the Cochabamba, Bolivia temple."

I had the beautiful opportunity to finish my mission just a couple of weeks after the Bolivia temple was dedicated. I helped at the dedication and open house and saw and heard many miracles pertaining to this temple. It was a place that was very dear to my heart.

That night, Maria Luisa opened up her suitcase and brought out several gorgeous, wonderful gifts from Bolivia for each member of our family. She even brought gifts for my parents and for Abe's parents. Her generosity overwhelmed us.

Then she presented a gift that was wrapped. I opened it up and saw the most beautiful representation of the Cochabamba, Bolivia temple made out of wood. The greatest warmth spread through my entire body and tears just poured from my eyes! I can't even express in words how strong the Spirit was throughout my entire body. I had never seen such beautiful workmanship. Maria Luisa's son found it in Bolivia and knew it would mean so much to me even though he is not a member of my church. I had never seen one like it in all my time there!

Maria Luisa's husband was baptized because of that temple. He worked as an engineer on the temple and saw the perfection that was required for even the smallest details that nobody else would have even  known about. As he worked within the walls of the Cochabamba, Bolivia temple, he felt and knew that he was helping to build the Lord's House.

This beautiful representation was a gift from my precious Bolivian family who knew how much I love the temple, and it was also a gift from God.

What a tender mercy from the Lord to know and speak to all of our hearts so perfectly.

God knew I would be receiving that gift. HE put the desire to own a picture of the Cochabamba, Bolivia temple very strongly into my heart just a few hours prior to receiving it. I believe HE did that, so that I would know that this was a gift orchestrated by HIM… a gift that HE had guided my friends to find… a gift that would not only touch my heart but theirs as well.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Skateboarding Mama!

My mother who will be 74-years old next week sent me this email a couple of days ago about her trip to see my brother, his wife and their kids Texas. The email was intended just for me, but I requested permission to share it. Keep in mind we all compare my mother to Lucille Ball.

Here is her story:  

"The day I arrived in El Paso the kids wanted me to go out and watch them skate board.... (well it's your fault, I see picts of your little children doing it so I think.... I'd like to try that... if Rachel's little kids can, surely I can…) 

I can ice skate, roller skate, etc.  I won't do any trick or anything like that... I'll just cruise down the street like they are doing.  So Lauren gives me a skate board!!!  I put one foot on it and as I lift the other, zoom! The thing zooms out from under me and leaves me crashing on the pavement.

I yelped, 'Oh no! my beautiful hip, my beautiful hip!!'  (Not that it was beautiful to look at but it was working beautifully.) 

The children laughed and picked me up.  I was hurt so badly.  

Lauren [her granddaughter] went in and told Bonnie, 'Nanny fell off the skateboard!' 

Bonnie:  'Is she hurt?' 

Lauren:  'I don't think so, she's not crying!'"

(Note from me:  Pause for a moment and remember she is 74- YEARS OLD!! I had to stop to laugh hysterically as I pictured my mother flying in the air! What 74-year old woman tries to skate board? I can't even stay on a skate board!!! Now that's a woman who is truly trying to live every second of her life!! :-))

"We laughed about it and I prayed about 50 times that day hoping that I didn't break my wrist and/or hip.   People my age have that happen with smaller falls than that!  I just couldn't sit for several days very well and stairs were hard but as I continued to move, it helped and I am back in shape now. 

The wrist is what is taking longer to heal.  Mike said he could x-ray, but I felt it wasn't broken... just badly jammed with a palm wound.  Aaron [her grandson] had just had a skate board accident the day before and we had our picture taken sharing our matching hand wounds.  I have to wear a wrist brace till it heals.  It was black and blue and it still hurts. *~X( at wits' end  

Over and over again I said…"That was so stupid!!!!"  (Stupid is a 4 letter swear word only worse because it's 6 bad letters.)

Over and over again I thanked God it was not worse.  

So... I skate boarded but only for one millionth of a second!!! (and never again)*:D big grin 
Love, mom.  "

What a funny, lively woman!!  What a blessing she is in our lives, and how grateful to God we are that she is still walking after her skateboard attempt! 

I Need YOUR Help

Gosh, I have so much I want to write about and not enough hours in the day! I can't express how therapeutic it is to put in writing the many ways the Lord is blessing my life. It is healing to go back to a dark few months and see more clearly the miracles along the way… to see HIS ALMIGHTY HAND.

I have been feeling strongly that I would like for YOU: my readers and friends, to share YOUR stories of faith and miracles because YOUR stories strengthen me. I'm not sure exactly how it will turn out, but so many of you have shared your experiences via email, I would love permission to share them on my blog. It is a blessing to share these miracles from God. (I know that some are too private, sacred and personal.) Ever since my children began writing their miracles, they have a tendency to recognize God's goodness in their lives even more.

I have found that ever since I returned to writing again, I am so much more focused on the good in the world. My perspective changes when I write… I feel as if I open a column of personal communication and revelation from God for my life when I take the time to meditate on my life.

I would love it if YOU would share YOUR faith-building experiences to my email, and I will share one of those stories every week on my blog (with your permission only.) I can share it anonymously or with your name- whatever you choose.

My email address is 

Please do not stop sharing your experiences with me! I will only share them on my blog if you give me permission.

I know the Lord is working through and in all of our lives, and we are mutually uplifted as we see how HE is creating such personalized miracles for each of our lives… all with the same perfect love.

Please share your stories with me to my email. God is in all the details of our lives. HE is there… even when we do unthinkable things… like try to skateboard as a Senior Citizen!  God is so good!!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fluffy & Rumblemuffin

Our Bunny Miracle

This past Christmas was AMAZING. I promise to write this week about the miracles that happened at Christmastime with our wish lists… people are so good!

The day before Christmas Eve, I asked Jordan what he wanted for Christmas. He said he didn't need anything at all. (He knew we didn't have very much money and didn't want to put stress on the family.) Tyson overheard him and said, "Jordan go-ahead and tell mom what you really want." 

After much hesitation, he said, "I want a pet that I can cuddle with."

Shocked because I already have about a million human bodies to feed and clean up after, I said "Oh no Jordan- no pets!!" 

Then, he sweetly said, "That's ok. What about a fish?" 

I was touched by his sweet response, and the wheels began turning in my head of how to satisfy his wish. To cover up I said, "No way, Jordan." 

He responded sweetly, "That's ok. A pretend fish?"

Oh my gosh… he was breaking my heart!!  I told Jordan I was sorry but he would have other gifts for Christmas.

That day I called his old football coach. He breeds rabbits. I asked him what was required to take care of a rabbit. He told me to come over the following day, and he would give Jordan a rabbit and a temporary cage. I was so excited!!! On Christmas Eve, Abe and I snuck the cage into our bathroom. 

The rabbit was one of our last gifts to pull out… Jordan and EVERYONE ELSE were thrilled to see the cute, little, brown rabbit… a REAL ONE!!  

They adored this rabbit. I have posted pictures of Juliana with the brown rabbit. They named him Fluffy. 

One day, about a month ago, Juliana left the cage open during the night and Fluffy was gone by morning. The boys immediately ran through the woods looking for him. With sad faces and drooped shoulders, they returned with no Fluffy. The empty cage was devastating for everyone. All kinds of big, wild animals roam through our yard; some have even tried to get into Fluffy's tiny cage. We were certain that Fluffy was gone for good...and most likely dead.

We all prayed for Fluffy, but Mariah continued to pray with the most faith for Fluffy's safe return. I greatly doubted the likelihood of his return. 

The same day that Fluffy was gone, I called our friend and delivered the sad news about Fluffy. I told him I would be returning his cage that day. He immediately insisted that we keep the cage and come pick out a new rabbit. 

By that same afternoon, we came home with a small, white rabbit. The children named him Rumblemuffin.

Rumblemuffin was with us for only two days when Juliana looked outside and saw Fluffy hopping to our front porch! Our brown bunny had returned! You should have seen the excitement! We ran after him so wildly that he ran off scared and we had to chase him down in the forest. 

Mariah immediately reminded us that God brought Fluffy back home safely. 

She was right… what a sweet blessing from God to see Fluffy!  Not only was he alive, but he was sitting on our porch!! God cares about us. God cares about our children. God cares about what makes us happy. We all know that God answered our prayers- especially that of Mariah who maintained her faith and continued to pray for Fluffy. 

God kept little Fluffy safe from the animals in the woods and brought him home. 

God can CERTAINLY bring all of us safely home!!!

But now we had two bunnies!!!  

This too was a blessing. If we hadn't lost the first one, we wouldn't have had the courage to get a second one… and the children were even MORE overjoyed!! 

But now we needed a bigger cage… 

Abe could see that the children were definitely in love with these bunny rabbits, so he did something COMPLETELY out of his nature. He borrowed some tools, turned our garage into a carpenter's lab and built a rabbit hutch.. in his "spare" time.

Yes… my cute city man built a rabbit hutch for the children's bunnies. He even built a divider in case we get a female bunny and some day want baby bunnies… we will wait a bit for that! 

But look at what Abe built!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Talent Show: Touching Hearts

Last fall my children were in a fashion show that was a fundraiser for a wonderful organization called  Clarita's House.  I was in charge of the children models. I told my kids to give it their all out there on the runway… oh my goodness… they DID!! They strutted their way to the end and danced their hearts out. Jordan was the highlight of the event when he dropped to the ground and did the worm!  Baby Jayden ran out after him. He too dropped to the ground. I thought he had fallen down! Nope… he was trying to do the worm too. The audience laughed, cheered, and snapped all kinds of pictures. It was a fun day, and the event was a great success.

The following is the video they made with highlights from the fashion show. The first minute and fifty seconds have a little bit of each of us. Even though we missed Jordan and Jayden's second entrance with the worm on the stage, they have a snip of Jordan practicing his worm before the show at 3 minutes and 34 seconds. Crazy little boy… :-)

Soon after the fashion show, we received an email requesting that my children perform in a competition talent show in the Orlando area because they had heard about the kids' performances on the runway. I gladly accepted the invitation. If nothing else, I knew the children would have fun. 

Our family had just sang the song "Glorious" for a Christmas program we had put on at church. (Stephanie Mabey sang and wrote the song, and David Archuleta made it famous.) This song is very close to our heart.

The following link is David Archuleta's version:

Tyson, Jordan and Mariah prepared to sing "Glorious" in the younger kids division, and Jackson prepared a piece on his drum set to compete against the older kids.

Two days before the talent show, the organizers of the event informed me that I would need to prepare a second number in case our children made it to the finals. What?!? I didn't have time to prepare a second piece. The children sang through a couple songs that they could possibly do IF we made it to the finals… but we really didn't have time to prepare anything special. We had guests coming in from out of town that same weekend, and Abe was out of town too. I was swamped.

The day of the event came. Tyson, Jordan and Mariah performed "Glorious" beautifully. When they finished, I trembled as I watched the people rise to their feet. They were the only ones to receive a standing ovation the entire evening! Jackson did an awesome job drumming on his set and received a great applause after his rock session. :-)

They announced those who would go to the finals round, and Tyson, Jordan and Mariah were selected from their song, "Glorious." I immediately grabbed them and ran outside to prepare them for a second number. They knew lots of songs from church that they had been singing their entire lives, so we created a quick medley of "A Child's Prayer" and "I am a Child of God."

I told the children that they would NOT win first place because there were some highly talented children performing. Instead, we huddled as a family and asked God for HIS Spirit so that we would be able to touch hearts.  

I sat nervously through the performances waiting for my little ones' turn. We had only talked about what they would do on stage and quickly sang through the songs. These songs were so simple and basic that I wondered how this could this match their first number?

Their hope was to share God's light.

Mariah stood alone in the center of the stage and sang in acapella the first part of "A Child's Prayer."

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev'ry child's prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away, 
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:

"Suffer the children to come to me."
Father, in prayer I'm coming now to thee.

She knelt down for the final words "Father in prayer I'm coming now to thee."

Her brothers then entered the stage from both sides and knelt by her side as they sang with her these words:

Pray, he is there; 
Speak, he is list'ning.
You are his child; 
His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer; 
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav'n.

Then all three children rose up together holding hands as they sang in strong voices, "I am a Child of God."

  1. I am a child of God,
    And he has sent me here,
    Has given me an earthly home
    With parents kind and dear.
  2. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
    Help me find the way.
  3. Teach me all that I must do
    To live with him someday.

    It was simple, and it was beautiful.
They announced the winners, starting with third place. We cheered for everyone and then looked around the room as they prepared to announce the 1st place winner. There was a drum roll… Everybody sat quietly. First place would receive a significant cash prize. We waited and smiled at all the contestants… then they announced, "The Mills Family!!" What an absolute surprise and joyful time for my little performers. They received their prize and smiled for pictures. Then they returned to their seats.

After the entire show was over, my children were still sitting in their seats when a lady approached them with tears in her eyes. She said, "I just want you to know how much you touched my heart." Wow! That was the best part of the day. That was EXACTLY what we prayed for. We wanted to touch hearts. Not only did God allow the children to win the entire contest from singing songs about HIM, but HE allowed them to touch hearts in the process… for that was their truest desire… to touch hearts.

In a day and age where there is so much emphasized on big, spectacular presentations, the audience and the judges were touched by the Holy Ghost as the children shared a humble and eternal message from God.