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.

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