Monday, October 16, 2017

Our Home in Billings

When we first moved to Billings, we landed in a quirky little place on LaBrea Street. The area was great; the home, not so much. But we were so grateful for it as we had the hardest time finding an affordable place to rent for such a large family that was in the school boundaries we were hoping for.

One month before moving to Billings Dan, Hallee, Nate and I went on a short rendezvous on the 4th of July weekend to check things out. Honestly, the Billings thing was just a mere idea, not something we were the least bit serious about yet, but something told us to go check it out anyway, so we did. We ended up staying in a dicey hotel called The Rodeway Inn because Dan got a free night's stay there, and when we first started checking Billings out, we were anything but impressed. It didn't help that we felt we might get jumped in the parking lot of the hotel by a lady who would not stop staring us down. The whole town gave us the creeps at first, and we sure didn't feel like moving here.

Thankfully, we kept driving and while we drove, we kept open minds. Before long, we found nicer neighborhoods and what looked like friendlier people. Ha! We checked out all three high schools in the area, but when we drove past Senior High, the kids immediately said, "This is our school!" Now, I'm not going to lie. It may have had something to do with the gorgeous turf football field that spread out before us, glittering in the sun. But more than that, it just felt right. We were only in Billings for about 24 hours, but I think we all left feeling like we would be returning, whether it's what we really hoped for or not. Little did any of us know we would be moving here just one month later.

When we got home from our short stint to Montana we did even more research about Senior High online. We knew it had the best volleyball and football records by far of the three high schools, and those things were very important to both Hallee and Nate since they both hoped to play in college. Also, as we talked with people at the church we attended while there, we heard it was just a place with a lot of diversity. Diversity, you say? Sign us up! We were ready for diversity.

Hence, our struggle to find a rental property. Since we were determined to stay in Senior High boundaries, we were not too picky about the home we landed. We knew it would be temporary, and we could live anywhere for a year (basement living had taught us that). I wish I had taken pictures of our home on LaBrea street. It definitely had some positive aspects to it, but we chuckled all time about some of its more interesting features, like the one and only shower, which happened to be the size of a telephone booth. It was in the unfinished basement in a bathroom that had no walls. If you happen to be a person you prefers privacy, this bathroom/shower is not ideal! The basement was too creepy for anyone to sleep in except Nate. Everyone else slept upstairs. The kitchen was tiny and had carpet for flooring. There was no garage, just a carport. I knew it would be in our best interest to find a home to buy before winter. Thankfully, we did just that!

My dream was to find an old home that had been remodeled. I absolutely love the character of old homes! We had a fairly small budget. We were determined to have a much smaller mortgage than we did in Utah; unfortunately, the market in Billings was not in our favor. Still, we forged ahead, set on finding something we could either remodel ourselves (scary) or that had been remodeled enough we could make it work. After looking at at least 30 homes or more, we ended up finding something on the high end of our budget in a neighborhood close to Dan's work and to an elementary school and the high school, and we jumped on it! We have now lived here nearly a year, and we love it. Dan can walk to work, Boston and Berkley walk to school and home, and well . . . ok, Halle and Nate do NOT walk to school, but they could! Ha! They have to travel a long distance to go to seminary before school so it doesn't really work out for them to walk, but it's great that the high school is so close, too.

Here are pictures of our home. These are pictures from when the house was being sold, not current pictures of us living here. It just looks so amazing in these pics that I wanted to share them! These guys literally moved out and staged the home. It looks a little more lived-in now that we are here. Ha! I will post current pictures soon, as I do love it with our stuff in it too. After all, it's home. And it's ours.

front of the house--isn't it so cute?!

front porch--love!!

dining room--the light fixtures in this house are amazing!

kitchen--so love!

another view of kitchen, dining room, into living room

main bedroom on main floor (now Hallee's room)

bathroom on main floor 

2nd bedroom on main floor--so funny because it's Nate's room now and definitely NOT a baby's room

laundry room--small but so cute!

bedroom upstairs--quaint, don't you think?

downstairs bathroom (a little nicer than the one in our rental home-ha!)

back patio--I absolutely love the hanging lights!

back of home

So, I just realized I forgot to show one of the living room. I will definitely show that one another time. I am in the middle of adding a small feature to the living room that I'm excited about, so I will update it soon. Anyway, I love our home. It's nothing fancy; it's not big (much smaller than our Utah home), but it's our safe haven. It's our refuge from the storms of life. It's our place to be together and to welcome friends and share experiences. It's where we argue, make messes, sometimes take the stresses of life out on each other. But it's also where we problem solve, where we pray, where we laugh, where we love. And so it's sacred to us. And if there's one thing I'm learning as I travel around this huge stage of Montana, it's that there truly is . . .

No place like home!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

From Utah to Montana

Wow! Has it really been two whole years since I have documented our lives on this blog? I seriously can't believe it! All I can say is life marches on to a steady beat that seems to pound at a consistently faster pace as it continues on, stealing away precious moments of time, until you realize that somehow you have missed recording two whole years! It would be impossible to catch up, especially since I feel it has all been a bit of a blur, so instead I am going to start from this moment and move forward. Except that I feel a need to rewind just a bit and explain why, after spending nearly our entire 19 years of married life in Utah, we now find ourselves in Billings, Montana. . .

Once upon a time there was family. In this family there was a mom and dad who loved their children fiercely and wanted more than anything to help them know who they really were as children of God, to be truly happy, to become who they were meant to become. This family lived in a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood in Utah.

The children had good friends and went to good schools. They were part of a strong church group. Everything seemed quite fabulous. But the parents secretly worried. Were their children just going along with the crowd? Did they really appreciate the truths they had in their lives? Did they know for themselves these truths? Were they taking it all for granted? These parents didn't just worry for their children. They worried for themselves, too. Were they giving enough? Were they too being lulled into "carnal security"? Were they too comfortable? Something deep inside them kept whispering to their souls it was time for change. It was time to take a plunge into a completely different set of circumstances. It was time to stand out and stand up. It was time to stretch. It was time to leave Utah and all of the normalcy they were used to, where most people around them believed the same things and lived the same way, and set out for a place where very few lived and believed as they did. A job transfer option came open, and one month later, they were living in a quirky little rental home on Labrea Street in Billings, Montana. 

Life was about to change forever.

When they moved to Montana they had no idea what lay ahead of them. They knew life would be different, and they knew challenges lay ahead, but they could never imagine just how difficult some of those challenges would be and how some of their trials would tear at the very fabric of their lives and threaten to destroy the family they had worked so hard to build. At first, some of them were still mourning what they left behind. After all, it was not easy to leave good people, hard-earned sports positions, proximity to family and much, much more. It was a sacrifice for all of them, some more than others, and they knew it. So why did they do it? Because when they prayed about it, it felt right. That's the simple answer. And sometimes that's all there is to it. But they dove right into life in Billings and started to adjust to new schools, new friends, and a new way of life in many aspects. They were determined to thrive and determined to learn as much as they could from their new experiences.

Now, it would be impossible to recount the events of this family's entire past year living in Montana. Suffice it to say, they bought a cute little home on Wyoming Ave, settled in to new schools and then faced the most difficult year of their family's life. They suffered through painful months that humbled and sanctified them--personal, gut-wrenching, rip-your-heart-out months that knocked the wind right out of them. For a time, they felt they were losing one of their own. Yes, there were days they wondered if they had done the right thing. They questioned if these things would have happened if had they stayed in Utah. But just as quickly, they dismissed those thoughts. It was senseless to wonder about. They couldn't go back. They had to keep moving forward. They had to keep having faith. There was no alternative. And so they did the only thing they knew how to do--they prayed and prayed and prayed some more. This family poured their souls out to the Lord, searched for answers and help, took one day at a time, and clung to their faith. 

Things are better now, but if there's one thing this family is learning, it's that they have a lot left to learn! Also, that life is a journey to be taken one step at a time. Challenges still lie ahead. There will still be bumps in the road and sharp, unexpected turns that knock them off kilter a bit. But all of those trials are worth it because they strengthen them in vital ways and force them to reach out to each other and especially to the One who can and does offer relief, answers and life-saving help. This family's "happily ever after" has not yet been reached, but because of Him, the Savior of the world, there will be a happily ever after. It is possible. And in the meantime, they are so grateful to have each other, even if some days they don't act like it:). And no matter where they find themselves, whether in Utah or Montana, or anywhere else for that matter, they are learning that as long as they are together, they can get through anything! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Halloween 2015

It's no secret I am not a fan of Halloween. The truth is, my disdain for this holiday grows every year until I am now at the point of deciding our family is absolutely NOT following traditional Halloween rituals ever again. Now, I know that sounds harsh and maybe even a bit ridiculous, but the thought occurred to me that if following the expected traditions of the world is making me so unhappy and unsettled, why on earth should I keep doing them? I realize there are many, many people (I am definitely in the minority on this one) who love this spooky holiday, and I think that's great. But since I am not one of them, I have decided to celebrate differently from now on (and I'm hopeful my kids will still turn out OK--ha!)

This Halloween happened to be one of our worst ever. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was ill-prepared for it. I had done little to no planning, and as everyone knows, that is usually a recipe for disaster. Since our family made the decision we are going to stay in a hotel in Rexburg for Thanksgiving this year, going that route for Halloween, like we did last year, was not very realistic. Therefore, I decided to simply go with the flow and borrowed a couple of costumes for Regyn and Boston from my mother-in-law's playroom wardrobe. Berkley is over the moon crazy about My Little Pony right now, so I splurged and actually bought her a Rainbow Dash costume.She loved it and looked adorable in it, I have to say. Dan, on the other hand, couldn't get over all the glitter that managed to fall from the costume and sprinkle itself all over our house.

The one thing my kids (at least the three younger ones) actually enjoy is going to Dan's work at H&R Block the day before Halloween and doing a quick Trick-or-Treat session from desk to desk. I actually don't mind this tradition either and especially like how it is indoors and we get to say hi to all of Dan's co-workers. Boy, oh boy, do we get a loot of candy in no time! That's when I'm left to ponder what on earth to do with all the candy. We collected this huge bowl of candy in about a half hour's time. Wow! 

Halloween morning actually started out fabulously. Dan's parents were in town and we had all gotten together with some new (old) friends who just moved back to Utah from New Hampshire the evening before. It was so much fun eating and talking together--our families really hit it off (which is especially great since Hallee actually asked their son Zack to the Christmas Dance coming up next month--more on that later). After a fun-filled Friday evening together, we all decided to go to breakfast together Halloween morning before my in-laws and their in-laws (who just happened to be great friends and traveled from Cache Valley here together) had to go back home. I wish I had pictures of the event. We ended up in our own large banquet room, with three large round (yes round) tables slid together to form one big long breakfast set-up. We had a fabulous breakfast together before heading home to decide what else to do for our Halloween.

Unfortunately, I had a migraine--a really bad one--and crashed right when we got home. I snuggled up on the couch and never left it the rest of the day. My poor children entertained themselves all day and then made their own plans with friends to go trick-or-treating. Actually, Dan and Nate went to Ogden to watch the last of the city football games of the season, Hallee spent most of her time upstairs in her bedroom listening to music and doing homework, while Regyn and Boston figured out a trick-or-treating plan. Poor little Berkley didn't even get to go at all since her dad was gone and her mom was a mess of a person laid out on the couch. 

Not the best scenario for Halloween. Poor Boston realized he had left his costume in Dan's car and went out the door without a costume or a candy bag. Thankfully, the neighbors helped out and when he came home a couple hours later, he had on a wizard costume and carried a pillowcase full of candy. Our family had decided we were at least going to watch a movie together when everyone got home--around 8:00 p.m. Unfortunately, even though I had already slept for four hours during the day, I could not stay up a minute longer and I ended up going to bed.  Talk about family togetherness! Ha! 

All I can say is my last thought before drifting off to sleep was how grateful I was that when I woke up, Halloween would be over and I wouldn't have to think about it for a whole nother year! It had been a rough night. Since I had a terrible headache, I told the kids to put a bowl of candy out on the porch with a sign to take some, hoping nobody would ring our doorbell. That little tactic did not work (apparently, most Halloweeners are small children who do not yet know how to read). The doorbell still rang constantly, and every time it did, our sweet little dog would start yelping as loudly as he could. Not the best cure for a mirgraine, I tell you. I finally told Berkley to turn off all lights--outside and inside--hoping it would look like we were not home. So sad, I know. Aren't you glad you are not my neighbor??? I am one pathetic Halloween neighbor!

I am determined next year will be better. Why? Because we are going to do our own thing! I am going to be prepared, and by golly, we are going to spend some time together as a family! I'm also hoping for no migraine next time--that would definitely help our situation. The good news is, as awful as my children's mother was at planning and carrying out a fun-filled holiday, my kids still love me and think I'm almost great. That's what I love about kids!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Over the years I have become less and less in love with the autumn season. Not because I don't love what goes on around here every fall (namely football and volleyball season and the kids starting up school fresh again), but simply because of one thing: fall means winter is close behind. I actually love and appreciate the change of seasons Utah affords, but I absolutely hate to be cold. I also hate snowy road conditions. These two aspects of winter have led me to dread its arrival and pray for its early departure.

As a result of my disdain for winter to arrive, I usually find myself moaning and groaning when fall arrives and the evenings cool down. I simply can't seem to enjoy it when I know snow and freezing temperatures are right around the corner.

That is, until this year.

I decided instead of loathing an absolutely beautiful time of year I was going to breathe it in. Literally. So I started leaving my house for a brisk morning walk every day before my children left for school. And I made sure I took deep breaths, lots of them, just to really appreciate all that surrounded me. The results have been magnificent! Not only does it feel great to begin the day with a little exercise, but more importantly, it is wonderful to breathe the fresh crisp fall air and take in the beauty that surrounds me right here in Kaysville, Utah. 

Here is what it looked like yesterday morning as I rounded the corner near the elementary school.

So, maybe you aren't so in love with mountains and skies as I am, but seriously, aren't those clouds on top of the mountains beautiful? I absolutely love the mountains around here. They make me feel happy and safe and fulfilled every time I look at them. They are like therapy.

And this isn't actually the best picture of the amazing trees around here, but I love this row of them anyway. Very soon they will all be red and orange and flaming gold, and it will be stunning.

 This is the view I found when I rounded the corner just yesterday. Can you see the blanket of puffy cotton clouds resting on top of the mountains? It's so cool!

Here is another look just a ways down the street. The sun is just getting ready to make its debut and that blanket of fluffiness is sleeping on the tops of the mountains like a dream. Seriously! So stunning!

I haven't even shared all the amazing sunsets around here. God's masterpiece is truly splendid, and I am incredibly grateful for it! To be able to walk out my door and see such refreshing beauty all around me is a blessing I don't ever want to take for granted.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Interview

I always have this wonderful intention of interviewing each of my children on their perspective birthdays and recording it. We have copies of a few interviews my husband's mother gave to him as a child, and they are so fun to watch! It's absolutely incredible to see the growth, both physically and emotionally, from one interview to the next. Favorites, mottos, goals, and perspectives change so much as these children grow! I love it!

Unfortunately, I have not remembered to do this regularly (it's a major goal I have this go-around of birthdays). It is absolutely mind-boggling to see and hear my children's responses to questions and to see their individual personalities throughout the interview! It's one of those things that makes me smile clear to my toes and then thank God once again for these children of mine! Here is an example of what I'm talking about.

My dear, sweet, on-the-ball mother-in-law decided to interview each of her 20 grandchildren (ok, so a few are babies and cannot speak for themselves, but you get the point:) and record their answers. I'm honestly not sure how this woman makes so many wonderful things happen in her family, but I think it probably has something to do with her desire to raise a righteous posterity who knows she loves them, and I sure appreciate that in her. Anyway, she recently interviewed my children (not Berkley yet, but the oldest four). Here are a few of my favorite responses:

HALLEE: (ok, I must mention that Hallee is this amazing girl who DOES NOT like attention. She is happy to stand in the background and let others have the spotlight. Also, she is very goal-driven and works hard in school and volleyball. I do not have to tell her to do these things--she is self-motivated. You will see these traits come out in this interview--and I just have to smile).

Q: What would you do if you knew you could not fail and you could do anything you want?
A: Play college volleyball at Utah State University, go on a mission--not foreign.

Q: Regarding your responsibilities at home, what are you favorite and least favorite?
A: Prefer vacuuming, do not like cleaning bathrooms (What???? I have her clean bathrooms all the time, poor girl! Ha!)

Q: What is the most fun thing you have ever done?
A: Disney Cruise (She was 7 at the time--was the most fun she's ever had really 9 years ago? We've got to have some more fun around here!:)

Q: What took courage on your part? What made you stretch?
A: Talking in church--2 times! (This is where I wonder if this child is really mine. It was so incredibly hard for her to give a 4 minute talk in Sacrament Meeting, and yet I speak in front of hundreds all the time. Isn't it wonderful to notice traits your children did not get from you?)

Q: What do you look for in a guy?
A: How they treat their family (Love this! Let me note that she treats our family so sweetly almost always)

Q: What worries you the most?
A: Speaking in front of people (Ha! Again, she mentions this!)

Q: What is the best advice you've ever had?
A: Dead last is greater than "Did not Finish," which trumps "Did not start." (I'd like to say she got that golden nugget of inspiration from her mother, but I think she found it on the internet. Ha! At least it's comforting to know the internet really can provide positive info!)

NATE: (Ok, so now I must add a small explanation of personalities for all of my children:). Nate has a fabulous sense of humor. He also loves sports and works hard at being good at them. School work is not high on his list of priorities, although he gets good grades).

Q: What would you do if you knew you could not fail and could do anything you want?
A: Play sports in college, develop my own job in business or coaching, have a family

Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
A: History. But I hate school.

Q: Who is your best friend/s?
A: Dallen Burningham, Landon Brandt, My sister Hallee (Yep! I cried when I read this one, mostly because it is true and I love seeing my kids love each other!)

Q: What is the most fun thing you have ever done?
A: Disney Cruise (Ok, seriously, the kid was 5 years old! I'm getting the strong impression we need to go on another Disney Cruise!:)

Q: What are you looking forward to?
A: The end of the school year. I hate school. (Apparently, Nate hates school.:)

Q: What do you look for in a girl?
A: A girl who loves God more than me, is nice, attends church, wants 3 children.
Follow Up Question: What if she wants more children? Answer: We'll do rock, paper, scissors.
(I love it! I cried when he mentioned a girl who loves God more than him and I laughed out loud when he suggests rock, paper, scissors as a way to make important family decisions!)

Q: How old would you be if you could be any age?
A: 18--I could go on a mission--I'd like to go state-side, I'd be done with high school. (What is it with my kids that none of them want to go out of the country? )

Q: What inspires you?
A: My dad because he's a good example (Yep, tears again)

Q: What is the best advice you've ever had?
A: Never give up.

Q: What is your greatest joy in life?
A: Watching coaches work for something out of teams. In football, it's like 1-Don't stop until you've met the goal line, and 2- Life isn't easy--there is opposition.

REGYN: (This girl is so fun-loving! She loves the spotlight and loves to talk incessantly. She is sweet and kind and is still trying to figure out what she really wants to do, although she does love to act and sing)

Q: What would you choose to do in your free time (if you were alone)?
A: Make up a dance

Q: What is the best advice you've ever gotten?
A: Oh my! For acting I was told, "Do it in a dorky way so you won't be nervous." Also I'm told, "Don't police." (Ok, I love this! She is so honest!)

Q: What makes you happy?
A: When my mom says things like, "You are the best kid ever because you are always willing to help me." (A full range of emotions shot up when I read this, and it makes me realize all over again how important positive feedback is for kids)

Q: What are you goals for this year?
A: Stop policing. (Isn't this wonderful? It makes me smile clear to my toes. She was told she had a policing problem, so her goal is to stop it. Love it!) Also, have a better attitude, stop whining, learn my 12 times tables, say my prayers every morning, and close my eyes during the prayer. (Wow! This tells so much about this sweet girl's desire to be good)

Q: What is your worst job?
A: Cleaning bathrooms (What? None of my girls like to clean bathrooms apparently. I'm going to have to come up with a way to spice up this undesirable chore, I guess)

Q: What is your biggest worry?
A" My dad will lose his job (This shocked me. I had no idea. It makes me realize our children have concerns we absolutely don't know about)

Q: What makes you happy?
A: Having my mom tuck me in each night. I feel save when she is there, and also, going to church. (Feeling safe is so important for kids)

Q: Do you think you have felt the Spirit of the Holy Ghost? If so, when?
A: When Berkley was sealed to us in the temple. (That was such a special day! It's amazing to me how sensitive to the spirit our children really are. I love that she remembers feeling the Holy Ghost that day--she was only 7 years old).

BOSTON: (This kid constantly surprises me. I wonder sometimes if he is really "getting it" but then he will show remarkable maturity at times and I am humbled.)

Q: What super power would you want?
A: To fly--no, to see Jesus (What can I say? That answer is simply amazing to me)

Q: What is your favorite job?
A: That's hard--I don't like any. Probably dust. (This is so funny to me. Nate said he liked to dust best too and when I asked him why, he told me it's because he never really does it and I never seem to notice. Ha!)

Q: Who is your best friend?
A: Jesus (Again with the tears. I am so grateful for what Boston is teaching me)

Q: What is the most fun thing you've ever done?
A: Family reunion at Bear Lake (Keep in mind, he didn't go on the Disney Cruise:), but I think it is so telling that every child mentioned their funnest memory was something we've done as a family--not with friends).

Q: Do you want to go on a mission?
A: Yes--to Utah (Ha! I laughed out loud at this answer! My kids need to get out and see the world! I don't dare break it to Boston that he probably won't get called to serve in Utah since we live here)

Q: If you could do anything, what would it be?
A: Anything except die. (Ha! Who thinks of that? I love it!)

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: A ninja (What???!! I have no idea where this comes from, but it definitely seems like an answer an 8-year-old boy would give)

So, I'm sure these little interviews didn't mean as much to you as they did to me, but I'm telling you, my children's answers made me laugh and they made me cry, and most of all, they made me love my children even more deeply, which I didn't even think was possible. I just love how different each one of them is, and I love their honesty, and I love their perspectives! Sometimes I long to go back to a time in my life when I saw the world through the eyes and heart and mind of a child. I'm truly grateful I can still do that in a small way when I try to see things from my children's perspectives. I love these darn kids with all my heart!

And I can't wait for the next interviews!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cancers of the Blood

Oh my goodness, has it really been so long since I have written?? Yikes! I have wished to be at my computer so many times, recording our lives and my feelings about all that is taking place in our family, and yet I have not made it. Ugh! Well, today is a new day, and I am hoping to get back on track here. I have no idea how many, if any, read this blog, but it doesn't change my purpose in writing. I write for my children, and I can't wait to share it all with them some day (because I know they are going to appreciate it like nothing else! ha!).

As much as I'm dying to start recording the goings on around here, I'm actually going to take a few minutes today to write about something totally random--random, that is, if you have not been affected by it. If you have, this topic suddenly becomes very personal and even difficult to think about it. I'm talking about the blood cancers leukemia and lymphoma. September is Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month, and as it seems like these terrible diseases are affecting more and more people, I think it is important to raise awareness and work together to find cures.

Although I have been fortunate enough to have escaped the horror of watching a family member suffer from blood cancer of any form, I know others who have not been so lucky. I have seen children who are fighting this disease so they can live to fulfill their dreams, and I know adults who have suffered as well.

One person who was dear to me as I grew up was my high school volleyball coach's wife, Kris. She was such a great example of kindness and goodness and unselfishness. One time when I was going through a particularly difficult struggle, she was there to comfort me and reassure me, as my own mother would have had she been there. Kris was one of those people everyone loved because she was genuine and good to the core. Maybe it was in part due to the fact that she suffered from Hodgkin's Disease as a teenager, and at a young age had to face the battle of fighting a very serious blood cancer. She won the battle for many years and was able to graduate, marry and experience motherhood. But in the end, effects from the cancer caused multiple health issues that eventually took her life as a young mother. This was a devastating experience for her family and those who knew and loved her.

Hodgkin's disease is a type of lymphoma, a cancer that starts in white blood cells. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 8,500 people are diagnosed with lymphoma each year, most of them being between the ages of 16 and 34 years old. That is during the prime of their lives!

I am sure there are avenues where we all can help, but one I know if is the Holland C Gregg IV Research Fund. Patience Brewster , an artist and designer of handcrafted gifts and ornaments who lost her son to Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2002, designs a special Christmas ornament every year to raise research funding toward a cure for these type of cancers. This seems like a great way to contribute to finding a cure! I hope that nobody who read this post today has ever been affected by lymphoma or any other type of cancer, but either way, there's so much good a few of us can do by just helping a little.

Until next time (which should be soon!) . . .

Sunday, February 22, 2015


It’s been so long since I have written. Life continues to move forward at a dizzying pace and I long to sit down and pour out my soul and record our family’s experiences, but it just doesn’t happen. Tonight though my heart feels ready to burst and I know I must write.

I have often wondered what response I would give if I had to state in one word what I have learned most from motherhood—from my children. Would it be patience? Certainly I have had to exhibit large amounts at times and practice this virtue on a regular basis. Maybe it would be humility. Motherhood has most definitely humbled me time and time again as I have searched for answers and wisdom far beyond my own in an effort to teach my children important values and truths. Faith is another word I have had to become well acquainted with as a mother—faith things would turn out all right, faith I was not alone in this important endeavor, faith I could keep going. The faith of children has always been somewhat mind-boggling to me, and I have most definitely been awed by my own children’s faith at times when my own was wavering. Perhaps the word would be exhaustion, for I have never been more tired or more drained, from staying up with sleepless newborns to working tireless hours to being sleepless myself due to concern for one of my children.

Today I realized that none of these words could even come close to the one thing I have learned most from this journey of mothering my five children. Today I realized what my one-word response—without hesitation—would be. The thing my children have taught me most is this:


From the moment my first baby was placed in my arms to right now, today, I have never loved so deeply or been loved so much. It’s difficult to even write about the love I have experienced as a mother because the words sound so cliché and lack the power to convey what I really feel, but I am going to attempt it anyway because I want my children to know—really know—what a gift they are to me and how deeply I truly LOVE them.

The thing about the love that exists in a family is that it is so unique, so binding and so incredibly powerful that it transcends every other emotion—fear, anger, disappointment, envy, and so on. Love truly produces miracles; I’ve experienced it time and time again. Love softens hearts, breaks down barriers and leaves understanding in its wake.

I’ve tried to pinpoint what it is I love most about my children because truly they bring me so much joy. Yes, they quarrel and exhibit unkindness on a regular basis; yes, they are disobedient and unruly at times; yes they make the same dumb mistakes over and over again. But they are mine. And they are amazing. And they have given me one of the greatest gifts in my life—the gift of love.

The thing about the love a mother experiences for her child is that it’s truly unconditional. To me, that is a miracle. Of course it’s easy to love my children when they are making good choices and being obedient and causing those around them to feel happy. But what I have come to appreciate even more is the deep love I feel for my child when he/she actually has feet planted on the wrong path. I think when I was a young and naïve mother (now I’m an older naïve mother), I was quite devastated when my children were naughty, especially when they seemed to enjoy it! My initial reaction was to show my disdain and censure them. What I am learning instead is that exhibiting love—sincere, heartfelt love—goes so much further. Not only does my child’s heart soften, making him/her more willing to be taught and to repent, but it bonds us together in unspeakable ways.

I have truly come to appreciate the love I feel from my five children. They hug me and kiss me and offer words of affection to me; but even more than all of this, they trust me and they forgive me (time and time again) and they continue to come to me, even when I have offended them. They want me near them. They want my time and my attention. They want my affection and my care. They even want my words of advice at times J. All of this, even though I am so weak and so inadequate as their mother. That is incredible to me! I have never felt so loved as since I married the man of my dreams and we started a family.

And then there is the love I feel for each one of these children I have been blessed with. They are so very individual, so very different from each other (that never ceases to amaze me!) and yet I love each of them immeasurably. I marvel at their strengths and abilities and I appreciate their struggles and weaknesses, knowing that with weakness comes the opportunity to grow. I love them when they are kind and respectful. I love them when they are accomplishing great things. I love them when they are giving of their time and energy to serve others. And I love them when they are failing and living far below their potential as sons and daughters of God; in fact, I believe it is in these moments my love for them grows the most because I come to appreciate all they are up against and marvel at their strength and desire for goodness. I understand the difficulty of this journey they are on and respect so very much their courage to sojourn it.

So the question I am left with is this: how do I instill in each child how unequivocally and powerfully I love them? How can I help them understand the love I feel for them when they accomplish great things? How do I help them know the love I have for them when they brighten my day with their beautiful smiles, their quirky senses of humor and the light that shines in their eyes? How can I tell them adequately how much I love them when they reach outside of themselves to lift others? How do I express to them how much I love them when they grow another inch or master a new skill or grow in character and integrity? How do I ever help them understand that sometimes the love I feel for them is so great and so full, I feel I might actually burst?

Most certainly I do it with constant words of affection—everyone needs to hear they are loved. I also must hug them regularly, kiss them goodbye and goodnight and hold them close to me when they’ve had a particularly bad day and just need to feel safe and warm in someone’s embrace for a moment. I believe it takes forgiveness to really love completely. My children must know I will forgive them and that I am a strong believer in fresh starts. More than anything, however, I feel I can show my love most generously by giving each of them my time. Time is the hardest thing to give it seems, but oh, how they each need it! They need to know they are more important than my other endeavors and they need to know I will be here for them—with my eyes, my mind, my heart and especially my time. I feel them hunger for it, and it is what I must give.

How grateful I am for the amazing gift of love I have for/from my children! They have loved me at some of my most unlovable moments. They have laughed with me, cried with me and prayed with and for me. They have never given up on me. I imagine their futures and know hard days are ahead. I know they will stumble and fall at times and make heartbreaking choices, but that will not change my love for them. In those moments, I pray with all my heart, I will love them better and love them more, not for their lack of judgment and righteous decision-making, but for their ability and desire to get back up and keep trying. Everyone needs love at those times.

My earnest prayer is that each one of my children—Hallee, Nate, Regyn, Boston and Berkley—will know unequivocally that their mother, this imperfect, undeserving mess of a woman at times—loves them with all her heart and soul. And that will never change!