Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prayers Go Up: Blessings Come Down

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the sale of our 1st home. As I've been reflecting on that momentous & miraculous occasion and the many other blessings of the past year, I have felt such gratitude for the gift of prayer in our lives. I have tremendous faith in the power of prayer. Last year we offered up many prayers. Some were desperate, pleading prayers for help and direction. But most were sincere prayers of thanks for blessings received and Divine help rendered.

While studying today, I re-read the entry for prayer in the Bible Dictionary. I love this explanation: "...Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them..."

Last year we did ask...and as promised, we did receive of our Heavenly Father's promised blessings.

While attending church today, the scripture which reads, "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things..." came to mind, & I wanted to share my witness that our Heavenly Father does love each of us and is mindful of us and our needs, especially during time of struggle and sorrow.

Many of you reading our blog know the struggles faced by our family last year. While I don't share our laundry list of trials to suggest that we (by any stretch of the imagination)believe our lot in life was harder or more difficult than anybody else's, I share it to recognize the absolute hand of God in our lives as he continually led and directed us, brought us peace and comfort, even when the going got tough.

To briefly recap the year: Within a matter of about 6 months, Josh started his 2nd semester of grad school, underwent foot and ankle surgery requiring him to wear the notorious boot cast, our son Jacob fell off the trampoline severely breaking his arm and requiring emergency surgery, the sale of our house fell through resulting in months of double mortgage payments, and I learned that the baby I was carrying had a higher than normal probability of being born with Down’s Syndrome. For us, this was a lot to handle in a short period of time.

Do you know what got us through it? Our testimony of a loving Heavenly Father and Savior & the power of prayer.

I will never forget the experience of having a close friend call me to ask if she could organize a “friend” fast for our family. (For those of you who are not of our faith, you can click here to read about "fasting.")She knew we were near desperation to get our house sold. The money we had carefully saved "for a rainy day" was nearly depleted, and soon we would have to take more desperate measures. Fast and testimony meeting had been the week prior. She asked if it would be ok to contact some of our closest friends and hold a special fast the following Sunday. We consented. The next Sunday at church, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who stopped me in the hall to give me a hug and say they were fasting and praying for our family that day. After church, these wonderful sisters and their husbands met in our home to offer a prayer and break the fast. It was a humbling experience. By the following Sunday, we had an offer on our home. That simple gesture of fasting, meant so much to me. Similar support was given upon receiving the news from my doctor that my routine blood tests showed increased risk factors for having a baby with Downs. I received reassurance from family, women I was working with in my church work, and close friends that no matter what happened, the Lord loved us and would help us. Our 3rd child, a son, was born healthy and strong and has been such a marvelous blessing in our lives--a true joy.

Through our difficulties we grew stronger as a family. Our children learned of our absolute dependence on the Lord, as did we. We learned to be thankful for small and simple blessings. We learned that "people are more important than things" as we sacrificed some worldly things and pleasures to continue to scrimp and save in the event that the housing crisis continued. Ultimately, we gained a greater appreciation of our Savior's sacrifice and love for us.

We are grateful in the knowledge that when "prayers go up, blessings come down".

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Survivor: Outdoor Adventure Part 1

I thought when Josh graduated from his MBA program in May I was done being the "single wife"(to steal a term my sister-in-law Mari so aptly coined)and single mom. I was wrong. I don't mean to sound like a whiney complainer, because really that is not my intent, but I will say, I am so looking forward to next year and spending all of our family vacations together, instead of apart.

This summer, several fun family vacation opportunities were presented, but due to some trips/commitments we had already planned & the fact that Josh spent 10 days on a mandatory MBA study abroad trip to Vietnam earlier in the year, he had a shortage of vacation days.

This left me with 2 choices. A.) Stay home and miss out on some fun with my kids. B.) Toughen up and brave the adventures with my kids as a single parent, once more.

I decided to attempt toughening up. What's the saying? "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." I got going alright.

For 5 summers in a row, a wonderful family has invited us on a week long camping trip to Banks Lake. Every year, we excitedly mark the dates of the adventure on our calendar, vowing that this will be the year that we actually go. Every year has come and gone and as you can guess, so has the opportunity to go. For some reason or another (funerals, weddings, pregnancies, schooling, etc...)we have been unable to go. When this year rolled around and Josh was out of vacation days, I decided this year would be the end of the empty promise to go. If it meant taking the kids by myself, I was determined to get to Banks. I decided I could survive. It meant doing 3 things: Outwit, outplay and outlast my kids. (With a few tricks up my sleeve, I figured I could do just that. I would be a survivor.)

Here are the interesting facts as of a few days prior to the camping trip:

1. I have only gone camping once since being married (not by choice...but more from lack of time).
2. We have only taken 2 of the 3 kids camping (the one time mentioned above)and it was just overnight.
3. We now have 3 kids, one of which is an 8 month old baby.
4. We did not have a tent big enough to accomodate our larger family.
5. We did not have life jackets for any of our family.
6. I did not even know where Banks Lake was.
7. I was planning on camping for 4 days/3 nights.

Prior to the trip we:

1. Bought a new 8-man tent, practiced setting it up in our front yard for family night(Exhibits A & B)so I didn't look the fool in front of about 85 other friends going on this trip and vowed to keep it as dirt-free as possible.



2. Purchased life jackets for all of us.

3. Loaded the cooler with junk food (for bribing purposes), bug spray, sun screen and more camping gear than a mom of 3 could EVER possibly need for such a short period of time. (EXHIBIT C)


4. Got directions to Banks, but still didn't really know where it was located upon departure.

During the camping trip we:

1. Had loads of fun playing in the water & sand (wakeboarding, boating, water-skiing, swimming, canoing, etc...)

2. Ate lots of junk (the ice cream tab at the campground store grew each day).

3. Got dirty (but kept the dirt out of the tent). (Side note: Kaylee woke up every morning and asked, "Mom, do I get to eat junk today and get dirty?" To which I gleefully responded, "yes". You'd have thought it was Christmas!!)

4. Had fun building friendships with wonderful people!

And, I'm happy to report that I SURVIVED a 3 night/4 day camping trip with 3 kids by myself!

Thanks for the fun and memories!! We can't wait for next summer!

Monday, August 4, 2008

She Does Her Little Turn On The Catwalk

What started as a serious question by my 6 year-old, has turned into an all out obsession for my 3-year old.


Jacob (6 yr. old): "Mom, what is a catwalk?"
Mom: (somewhat distracted and not really wanting to go into a complex discussion): "What do you think it is?"
Jacob: "I think it's one of those runways that models walk on."
Mom: "Good thinking Jake. You're right." (I was feeling pretty relieved the conversation was quick and painless.)

A few hours later the kids were helping me sort the laundry. I came out of the laundry room to discover a makeshift catwalk created from bathmats and runners lined up one after another. Kaylee and Jake were taking turns strutting their stuff on the catwalk, complete with turns and poses as they reached each end. They continued their modeling debuts for about 20 minutes, each runway attempt getting more involved and showy. Little did I know, Kaylee's performances wouldn't end there.

Last week at the YMCA while we were waiting for Jacob to finish his swimming lessons, Kaylee climbed to the top of the bleacher seats. She promptly placed her hands on her hips, started strutting across her "runway" and put on quite the show with pretty sexy moves for a 3 year-old. When she was finished with her little performance, I noticed everyone turned their attention from her, to me, and I swear the expressions on their faces seemed to say, "Hmmm...I wonder where she learned those moves". I wanted to shout out, "It wasn't me!! If you only knew her father." Luckily, Jacob came out of the changing room just in time, and we made a quick exit.

I'm a little worried about where her next catwalk will pop up. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

...You Look Like a Monkey & You Smell Like One Too!

Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Josh. Happy Birthday to you. Scooby Doo on channel two. Many more on channel four. You look like a monkey and you smell like one too!

Josh spent his real 32nd birthday with 20 young men, their fathers & fellow YM leaders at Lake Cushman for this year's Boy Scout High Adventure. He adores the young men in our ward and probably couldn't have chosen a better way to celebrate his special day. And, when he got home...he did look a little like a monkey (because of the dirt) and definitely smelled like one. (Love you honey.)

When he arrived home from his camping trip, the kids surprised him with a new movie, gift cards to Best Buy & an IOU for some basketball shoes of his choice (which come with a free pair of crutches for his next foot/ankle injury). They had even helped make a cake for Josh's birthday & couldn't wait for him to eat it (literally--they had eaten several pieces before Josh had even had one).

Later that evening, we met up with some good friends (Sean & Jodi Elwell) and enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Stanley & Seaforts overlooking the water in Tacoma. It was Jodi's birthday too. The restaurant staff provided both Josh and Jodi with complimentary desserts which they were so kind to share with us as well.

Three Amazing Reasons for Purchasing a King-Sized Bed

Need I say more?