Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Battle You want to Know that You are Part of a Well Oiled Machine



  




We went to see the USS Alabama and the submarine the USS Drum. While it was super hot, being the last week of August, I truly enjoyed climbing up and down those narrow stairs and exploring each nook and cranny
and imagining life aboard a military vessel during a war. There was a mess area and a place for doing laundry. A store for clothes and a store for gum, cigarettes and other things that might be considered treats for the men aboard the vessel. There were storage lockers for the men to keep a very small amount of personal items. I loved that they had a soda shoppe area with ice cream. There was a time out area to help the men cool off if they got into a fight (my kids loved that), and a brig for the really bad apples. I mean they really thought of everything when they put this ship together! They knew they would have to boost morale and help the men stay upbeat especially when it was hot. One thing our family has learned over the course of many summer vacations is that HEAT can cause tempers to flare in a second!  But the areas that really impressed me were the battle room, the contingency area for if they were hit, and the medical area. The battle room was just as impressive as any movie depiction that I'd ever seen. I could imagine the admiral and his commanding officers in there deciding their movements. The contingency area was right across the hall and from here they could quickly communicate with the officers and other crew members if they had taken on damage and who needed to be sent to fix the problem. The medical area was stocked even with an operating room and an area to quarantine. As I thought on how this huge ship had been so well thought out and had been successful in transporting so many men into battles and back home again coping with the everyday needs and special needs of it's mission, a comparison occurred to me.

The Lord has restored His church upon the earth as it was when He, Christ, established it upon the earth during his ministry. I know many people believe that they don't need church, and as long as they keep the commandments they don't need to go. So then why did Christ bother to restore it? Why do we need it? We have families, and that is essential to Heavenly Father's plan. So why do we need church? Here are my thoughts as to why.

God and our Savior knew that families were going to be under fire. Satan knows that they are integral parts of God's plan for us. So of course, in these latter days the heat is being turned up!!! What did I say about heat? That's right, tempers flare and sometimes as individuals we need support. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is set up to help each of us stretch and grow and to develop our teaching and leading and other skills that are essential for helping us get our families back to Heavenly Father. To prove faithful. Now is it possible that some families don't need it? Yeah probably. But someone else's family needs that family's example to help them keep their family on the straight and narrow. The funny thing is that the family that doesn't need it, is the family that will never say they don't. That's because they realize that each of us are spirit children of our Heavenly Father and part of our testing in this life is to see if we will do our part to help those that haven't received the message yet. We also need those awesome bishops just like in the contingency area of the ship. They help get things repaired and people to the right person to help with healing. Even if that might be just with them or to an addiction recovery meeting or a counselor. The church is always having activities for youth and members whether single or married to boost morale and help us  to build relationships, so we can learn from each other and enjoy one another.

I am so thankful that Heavenly Father gave us such a well oiled tool of machinery to help us be a community in these latter days. I hope that as a member that I can be more than efficient in the areas that I am called to serve.  I have personally benefited from being an active member and so has my family. I know that the organization of it is inspired and that it contains the keys of the priesthood that we need to get back to Heavenly Father.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blended


My step daughter is visiting, and as I watch her play with little Will and take Jamie on scooter rides; it makes me thankful for our blended family. I love that word blend. I don't think of it in the sense of a blender that causes all sorts of chaos and noise and then turns out a lovely fruit frappe. Although I'm certain at times you could see that analogy with our family. However, when I think of blend, I think of one color moving together into another color, creating a smoothness in transition. I feel our family has just about become that. I know we have moments that it's more like the blender, like when one of the little ones invade the cooler older brothers den of sacred space and  the bear comes out bellowing. But there are so many more tender moments that have come about because we have been working at applying the eternal principles of the gospel to our family. I love that Isaac and his best friends have no problem with his 6 year old brother coming out and hanging with them in the pool. I've looked outside to see Isaac tossing the happily screaming boy in the air for a big splash. I've watched my wonderful Alicia doing experiments with the kids, to the delight of Alexis, James, and John. I've seen Amadeus spend a night in the hospital with me to help me take care of a newborn, so he didn't miss any precious time with his new sibling before leaving on his mission. I've had Gregory give piggy back rides and neck rides when the boys became tired from walking. We have all set together in family prayer and scripture study. I have loved hearing the prayers of each from oldest to youngest as they think on each other and the struggles we might be having and to pray for them. John has given me cause to kiss him as he prays for me to be able to get some sleep and the baby to be comfortable, so his teeth don't bother him, (Does that mean that I've been a bear?) . James, 4, has prayed for help to choose the right and to not hit his sister. Lexi has prayed for her brother Amadeus even though he's been out of sight for 4 months. And there have been many other sweet examples of their being prayerful for each other that just warms my heart.
 I love introducing my step daughter in church every time she comes for a visit. There is always that part of me that wants to drop the step, but I know that might cause some raised eyebrows. However, in my mind that step isn't there. When I talk to the kids I never say your step brother or sister, and you can feel that those distinctions aren't there. We accept each other as a whole. I love that Alicia thinks of Amadeus and Isaac on their birthdays. They are her brothers too. Amadeus before he left was loving the opportunity to get to know them and share his thoughts. I could sense how accepted he felt with these two older siblings and I know that it meant a lot. It's amazing to me that just 7 years ago my husband and I had two preteens in our lives to nurture and now we have eight to nurture ranging from 5 months to 31. Takes my breath away! Each one is beautiful and talented and smart and adds their own uniqueness to our emerging eternal portrait. Not that any of us are perfect, but that's where I think we truly blend, as each of us step up with our strengths to buttress up the others weakness. To give when it's needed and make so many beautiful memories painted forever on the canvas of our minds.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Those Sweet Moments




I've been thinking of those sweet moments we all have, and how thankful I am for them. Our time upon this earth is fleeting, and so each happy moment can slip away and leave us sad if we don't catch it and remember to be thankful. Wedding days are particularly chock full of those moments. I have already journaled the whole day in a hard book journal that I own, but some things I will never forget. Like how thankful I was to have my Dad help me remember the pace I was supposed to go up the aisle because as soon as the music started, and I caught sight of the love of my life waiting for me; it felt like my feet had wings. If it hadn't been for my Dad I would have flown down the aisle to be next to him. 


Then how Douglas held out his hand for me, but my Dad just gave him this look and wouldn't relinquish me till the music stopped. And then how Douglas winked at me during the ceremony, and that kiss, whoa that kiss! It was like he'd been saving that romantic moment up for just that moment. It was perfect and I felt it down to my toes. And truly, it was as if everyone faded away, and it was just us. 



Then being later being swirled around the floor by Douglas to LaVi En Rose for our first dance as husband and wife. Never did he seem so smooth. Never have I felt so pleased to be the center of attention. It was our moment. It was our time to say, "Look at us! We are so in love!". Yes definitely a moment to treasure as he dipped me back and kissed me again. Yes, I definitely married a man fit for a musical romance.



Then almost a year later, after praying that we would have the chance to have children together was that another moment that is etched in my mind. The moment that the doctor held that sweet chubby baby up and said, "You did it! A nice healthy baby boy.". And Douglas was holding my hand and there were tears in his eyes, and I felt this tangible spiritual connection between us. I knew what this meant to him, and he knew what it meant to me, and our cup was over flowing. 

 Sometimes the moments haven't been so sappy and happy. There have been moments that are just as unforgettable. Moments that I might wish to drop into a deep abyss, if they didn't remind me of something so precious and comforting that I need to be reminded of again and again. So I'm thankful, for that moment when John slipped at that Splashtown in San Antonio, and split his head opened and I was alone with him. I looked down and saw that huge gash and that blood flowing out and so many thoughts flooded my mind. But the first was to start praying. And I did. Immediately, upon praying my family found me and were able to give John a blessing and help me get him to an emergency room. 
Then there was that call that my Dad died. I remember hearing my brother's voice on the line, when my husband handed me the phone. I'd been looking for the past hour for my phone which John must have thrown away because we never did find it. Knowing what he was calling to tell me, and then that long drive to my Mom's pouring my heart out to God in my grief. Not understanding why we couldn't keep him with us longer. That seems to be the longest moment of my life so far. But somewhere in that long moment the comfort that I needed came.
Then the moment that this sweet boy had spent the night sick, but had not told me till the morning.  I was pregnant with James and Douglas had already left for work. Recognizing that it was most likely his appendix, I immediately called my visiting teacher to come watch John, and rushed Isaac to the hospital. I remembered praying for him and trying to comfort him as I calmly got him to the emergency room. I was thankful for my personal experience and being able to recognize the symptoms, so that his trial was less difficult than mine. But at the same time I longed to take it away from him. 
 So Some would wonder why would you be thankful for THOSE moments? Because those moments bring me closer to my Father in Heaven. And it helps me keep things in an eternal perspective. Making my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and our Savior's teachings stronger. so that ......

THESE MOMENTS are sweeter.






And these moments of looking into the eyes of each of these sweet children and my other ones....



Are NEVER taken for granted.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Grandma's House

I'm off to visit my Grandma today. The nursing home she lives in just moved her to a different area because she keeps falling and isn't being able to get around much anymore. I'm afraid since she's not conveniently 'close', I have let the days that I've been out to see her be far and few in between. It was my daughters response to her when we hosted a birthday party for her and her twin, my great aunt, at our house this past May that made me realize how remiss I've been. I taught my kids to sing a song for her and they haven't stopped singing it. As a matter of fact, they request it for bedtime sometimes and sometimes I just come across them singing it for fun. My daughter, who is only 2 and a half, is always reminding me that she loves her MeMe Maw. It amazes me that they feel such a strong love for her. I haven't fostered this love like I should have. Not that we haven't been out to visit, just the visits have been few. And I think on all those visits and because my kids are a little stir crazy, the visits have not been that long. So I have to wonder at those ties that they feel to her.
Is it possible that they recognize her spirit? I have to wonder. She has always been a fun a person. I've written before that she is the reason that I love crafts. That I believe that it's never to late to learn or develop a talent. My grandmother was also responsible for a lot of the positive self esteem that I had. I had lot's of negative from school friends and teachers. So I am thankful for Grandma that always had something nice to say about me. It started with her always telling me what an angel I was. Even if I did act like a stinker at times. She also always told me what a good organizer I was. Which has helped me be a house keeper. She always took pictures of me and told me how beautiful I was. Eventually I believed it, but it was through her continued praise and love that I could eventually see it. In short my Grandma believed in me. She new I could go far. And while I may not be champion figure skater (we always loved watching that together), or president of the country ;)   I know she knows that I've done well as her granddaughter and a daughter of God. I can see it in the way she looks at my kids and the way she talks to me now. I hate what her illness did to her quick mind, but I'm grateful to know that after we are resurrected that she will be that vivacious eager to have new experiences person that I knew growing up.
And I'm thankful that I still have time to make the most of her time left on earth and that my children do feel a connection to her. However, that has come about. So like little Red, the children and I are off to visit Grandma today. Glad to know that there are no forests to cross on the way ;)
 Her most recent visit to our house on her birthday with her sister.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Baptism

This is a picture of me the day of my baptism back in 1982. We talked about baptism and what it means to us at church today. I started pondering and realized how grateful I am for this ordinance. I know that their are some people out there that don't believe that it is necessary that it is an insignificant ordinance as long as they are keeping the commandments and that they  believe in Christ. But I believe a loving Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves. In the old testament it talks about how Heavenly Father wants us to be a covenant keeping people. Why would that be important? We could just keep the commandments, right? But I think it was important to show us the importance of integrity and also to show us that Heavenly Father always holds up his end of his promises. Baptism is essential. It shows us that narrow way that we must travel to get back to Heavenly Father with our Brother and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ himself was baptized to show us this. I don't think we realize the magnitude of the blessings that come from making and keeping sacred covenants. Baptism teaches us from the age of eight when we reach the age of accountability that we need to be responsible for our choices that they have eternal significance. It teaches us who to follow. Our Savior. And it teaches us who we can look to for guidance, the holy spirit. I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and his perfect plan for us. I know sometimes that it may not seem so perfect as we pass through sorrows and heartache, but I know that we agreed to it, with this knowledge. It is just as necessary for us to go through the sorrow to be able to know happiness. And that the atonement helps to heal all those sorrows and pains and turn them to our good. I know because I've experienced it in my own life.
I remember feeling so special and being so excited at the prospect of being 'perfectly clean' the day of my baptism. I was baptized in our new chapel in Magnolia. There were three other kids from my primary class getting baptized that day and one of them, a boy named John, had to be dunked a handful of times because his toe kept coming up, so he wasn't completely submerged. Again, some would be say, 'well so what?'. We teach that just as Jesus was submerged in baptism that we need to be too. This has symbolic symbolism for us. "Immersion is symbolic of the death of a person’s sinful life and the rebirth into a spiritual life, dedicated to the service of God and His children. It is also symbolic of death and resurrection. " Mormon.org
I am thankful for the opportunity that baptism gives us to show Heavenly Father our willingness to keep his commandments. To be a committed person, makes me more focused on goals that bring happiness in my life and the will eventually lead me to life eternal with my Heavenly Father.
Just a few more memories that were fun ones of that day. I remember being nervous that my Mom would forget my extra dry underwear to change into because she did that to my older sister, and I remember that afterwards we went to eat at this 50's hamburger joint afterwards because I wanted to celebrate with a chocolate malt, which I love above shakes :) Yep Eight is great!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Eternal Families


On June 23, 2014, my husband and I got to go not just on any family vacation, but a strengthening of our family vacation. This beautiful family below is my brothers and they have had the opportunity to adopt a sibling group this past year. Now obviously the three youngest are mine, lol. They have had a lot of heartache as a couple in trying to realize their dream to become parents, so it was a big blessing to be able to travel up to the Nauvoo temple in Illinois to see them sealed together as a family forever. For those that might read this blog that don't belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and aren't sure what I'm talking about, I'll fill you in a bit. We believe in families that are tied together through the eternities, not just till death do us part. We also believe that Christ restored the priesthood keys to do this sealing to Joseph Smith in the 1800's, when he thought to ask the question, "Which church should I join?".  Those priesthood keys and the ordinances that are performed in the temple to bless and seal our families in the eternities were very necessary to help us make it back to Heavenly Father.


  It was super exciting for us to be there for their sealing as they had been to our sealing with our kids back in May of 2010, almost exactly 4 years earlier at the Houston Temple. We have loved getting to know each of their new children. And it had been funny at how quickly the cousins have bonded. They have been quick to find similarities and to enjoy memories and moments together. It really has been hard to believe that it's only been a year since we first met them. We already have such a stock pile of memories of them that it seems as though they've always been a part of our family. They have added such new dimensions to the family gathering that they haven't been just a blessing to my brother and sister-in-law, but a great blessing to the entire family. The temple that they chose to be sealed in is a special one to our church because it was rebuilt in memory of people that realized the importance of forever families and built such a beautiful temple even though they were a people of little means. They chose to be industrious and to make this temple building a priority because of the blessings that it would bring to their families.
We had lots of fun exploring the area, and reviewing church history. We happened to be there on the week of the anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith at Carthage Jail. So it was a special and reverent experience to walk in those areas and review those events. My children loved learning about the ways of life back then and learning little spiritual messages that went with the life skill that the missionaries serving there would share. For example, of favorite of mine was when they were teaching the kids how to make a rope. At the end the elderly man helping them told them  that he could have made the rope by himself, but having lots of others to help made it much more fun. And that families are like that. And before he handed them the rope they made, he made them promise that the next time they were asked to pitch in and help to remember that. That helping and working together brings us closer together and can make the work fun.
We loved the oxcart ride. The boys were super  impressed at how the oxen could poop and still keep walking, lol. We learned why they were preferred to horses and we also learned that it was probably preferred to walk than to ride with how bumpy it was in the cart. We thought about the sick that had to ride in the carts and how miserable it would be. It again made us count our many blessings for the day and age that we have been blessed to live in.



 This is a picture of the black smith shop where the kids get a prairie diamond ring at the end of the presentation. This is a favorite stop for most families as the ring is a coveted memento, and the processes explained are pretty fascinating for most of us. Little Lexi loved her ring and went around the next few days twisting her ring upon her finger and saying, "I wish, I wish, my wish would come true". After stating it that way several times, I asked her what her wish was. She then said, "I wish, I wish, I wish my lipstick would come true." She then opened her eyes and said..."hey this ring doesn't work!". Lol! I hope that it works better at bringing beloved memories of

a week that helped unite our families. She is definitely a hoot. Here is a picture of her at the games center. The kids got to dress up and pretend to be pioneers. They also had lots of fun games to play. I loved the iron hoop and stick game. The kids absolutely loved role playing. They could have come there several days in a row and not gotten tired of these activities. Not once did they say they were bored.





My little James ringing the kids back to school.



Can you believe she loved sweeping the floors?!? I'll have to remind her when she's older, lol.



 My cute hams! Don't let John fool you. He was having a blast. He was just tired of Mom and Dad interrupting his play time with pictures.
  These sweet kids were also a part of strengthening our families. These are my older sister's kids and we hadn't seen them in 5 years since my Dad died. We hadn't even met the youngest and they had only met John, and he was only a year old the last time they saw him. So it was super exciting for my kids to meet and play with these cousins that we talked about and saw pictures of on facebook, but had never met. It was exciting at how quickly they all had fun together. James was super quick to attach to their high energy kid, and John is always up for some new pals.
 We did some other fun things as a family coming back, but one of my favorites was stopping off at this little park in Arkansas to see this natural wonder. It's a natural bridge. It was so beautiful! It brought  to my mind what our whole vacation had been about. Strengthening our family. Both extended and our immediate. Our sealing back in 2010 tied my boys from my previous marriage, Douglas's kids from his previous marriage, and our new children to us. It helped unify us and help us to be more at one with another. I felt the same thing as we witnessed my brother's family get sealed. I love the blessings of temples and the bridge that they form for our families to help us get back together after this life.

Friday, June 13, 2014