We spent an evening in the hospital. Afterward Jacob said we had a special date with him. That’s one way to look at it. 

The whole event was strange but also kind of beautiful. Let me back track. 

Friday morning Jacob began having bad stomach pains. By the time he got home from school he was crying out in pain and it broke my heart. He cried and cried and said it was like no pain he had ever felt. I was concerned about appendicitis. So when a slight fever came on I felt it was time to take home to be looked at. We started at the urgent care and they sent us to the er. 

I sent texts to family to let them know and to ask that they would pray for him. As he was crying out in pain he asked that we would pray. I let him know all the people who were praying for him and that seemed to give him some peace. 

One of the sweetest moments was when I received these pictures by text  

I showed them to Jacob and told him they were praying for him. He couldn’t hold back the tears and neither could I.  He said he could feel the prayers of others  and that’s why he got emotional. I think we underestimate the power of prayer and I was grateful for this beautiful opportunity for him to not just learn that but feel it in his heart. 

The Drs gave him pain meds through an iv which he found rather fascinating. I’m used to my other kids who let themselves get a little quesy at the sight of blood so it seemed kind of funny. He actually laughed when they gave him the lidocaine shot. As the blood was drawn for test he watched the whole thing in completely intrigued. Maybe a dr in the future?

During the MRI I felt peace and comfort. A dear friend of ours at 17 is going through treatments for brain cancer and I couldn’t help but think of them and their struggle. I could handle whatever we were asked to face. 

The test results came back negative and he was released. On the way home this sweet boy told me “I’m so grateful I could be healed”. I have a lot to learn from him. 

2016 you are looking beautiful already

For the last few years I have picked one word to try and focus on. One word to steer my choices and actions. One word to strive for. 

Last year I picked EMBRACE. I wanted to learn to accept who I was and what I was capable of.  I desired to be more in the moment and embrace more of what God had in store for me.  I started a blog with my sister focused on uplifted our readers. I embraced my identity and have much greater hope in my ability to step up to what I am meant to be. I am not where I want to be. But I am much closer now than I was. 

A year ago I sat down at my kitchen table with my pen in hand and a prayer in my heart. “Heavnely Father, show me where I should be focusing my efforts. Help me to see what you want from me. And then I wrote. The words came quickly and easily. It was time for me to embrace who I am and what my life has brought me through and to. 

Admittedly the year did not go as I thought it would. But in reality it was exactly what I needed. 

I found healing that was 30 years in the making through embracing my trials and sorrows. I came to have a much deeper relationship with my Savior by embracing His sacred offering on the cross and in gethsemane. I felt utter disappointments that ended up becoming beautiful blessings by embracing change. 

Embracing myself has been a year long struggle and yet in the final month of the year I began to see how to better do that. Skydiving was a pivotal moment that changed how I had been looking at myself and the world around me. (That will be a future post) 

I had no idea the opportunities I would have to embrace the agency of others. Allowing others mistakes to be part of their journey and let go of the hurt that can come has not been an easy task. But I am on the road to understanding this one a little more. 

And oh imperfection, how difficult you have been to embrace. You have mocked me and taunted me. But most importantly you have taught me how to be ok with my journey, bringing beauty and pleasure I had no idea could be found when embracing the less the perfect. 

Many times this last year I have come to my knees with gratitude and heartache. Coming to a deeper understanding of how aware my Father in Heaven is of me. Embracing his nearness and his deep love has filled my cup to overflowing. 

Taking this time to reflect on the last year has caused me to open my eyes to the change that really has occurred for the better and it also gives me tremendous hope for 2016. 

Yesterday as I read a book to Jacob about two frogs who wanted to fly a kite my little boy taught me a valuable lesson. One frog wanted to quit. Nothing they did seemed to be working. The other frog was determined to make it fly and kept trying new things. At the end of the story I asked why the optimistic frog kept trying and his answered was profound “the one frog had hope”. 

As I look forward to this new year I think on hope and its relationship to success. For many years I have let my fears overcome me, letting that fear, at times, be much bigger than my hope. And so I would never begin something I truly wanted. What if I fail was a question that seemed to pop up its ugly head more often than I care to admit. 

For 2016 I wanted a word that described my desire to move forward inspite of that fear. To hope for things that might be and then be willing to go forward with a strength and vigor I have not been willing to do in the past. To truly embrace imperfection and accept that on my journey I will make mistakes. And that things won’t always look the way I want them to but that I can keep moving forward. 

Just like the optimist frog in Jacobs story I want to see the failed attempts simply as stepping stones to the desired outcome rather than as failures. I want to dream bigger than I have been willing to allow myself to dream expecting a journey filled with ups and downs that lead to a destination of higher proportions than I could have dreamed. 

I want to fly. Letting my dreams and hopes have wings. Soar through this life with wind in my feathers. Expecting that sometimes the weather will be rough and other times a breeze. Hoping and dreaming it will carry me to through the life God has in store for me. 

I could not settle on one word for the year. As I strive to find joy in the journey this year I will…

Dream. Hope. Fly. 

Nauvoo day 6

Today was a little different from the other days. We started out the same. Went on a carriage ride. Walked through the women’s garden. Had lunch at the rental, walked through Wilford Woodruffs, Hebert C Kimball, and Lucy Mack Smiths homes.   

  But then there was a moment when I wondered why the kids seemed a little bit on edge and I wondered what I could be doing different to help them. It was hot. They were all a little tired and hungry and so we decided to do something different. 

We drove to the old cemetery. As we walked up to the grounds the kids found frogs and explored. They seemed to be enjoying the unstructured time. Sarah and I went up to the cemetery and Ryan walked around with Jacob. Eventually everyone found their own way to the hallowed grounds of those that had died while living in Nauvoo. So many children. So many crudely made gravestones. They either didn’t have the times or means to make anything nicer and that saddened my heart. How I wished those graves could tell their stories. I have always loved cemeteries for that reason. The lives that were lived. The memories that were recalled as the people were buried. It is a beautiful thing to me. 

We then headed to the general store where the kids could spend their money on candy or souvenirs. I bought myself a couple things to display at home to remind us of this wonderful vacation. We walked around he temple and took a few pictures.  

I think at this point everyone would have gone back to the rental, we had an hour before our dinner reservation at the Hotel Nauvoo. (Side note. We have been utilizing the crockpot at the rental for dinner every night so we splurged for one night out. I have loved having dinner ready when we are done for the day)  Jacob wanted to go to the park and Ryan suggested that Jacob has been a good sport about doing all that we wanted so we should do something he wants. 

This was one of my highlights. It had nothing to do with old Nauvoo but everything to do with family time. We laughed and chatted. Made a silly time lapse video. Watched the clouds. 



  My heart felt so full. This same lovely spirit of unity joined us into to dinner  


It was a buffet and Jacob created this very iterating salad. After a few bites he put it aside and said “what was I thinking?”  We all had a good laugh.  As we walked out I thought how my heart was as full as my belly. I wished our lives could slow down on a more regular basis and we could enjoy more moments like this. 

While I paid for dinner Ryan and the kids found chairs outside in a little park and the kids were reciting poems they had learned for school. I felt a joy that was deep and full. I believe these are the moments I’m going to look back on with fondness when I’m old. 

Nauvoo day 5

Considering it’s now our 3rd day touring Nauvoo I was surprised how each day seems to get better then the one before. 

Today we went to see the tin shop which was filled with lovely hurricane lamps. I wondered if I could justify buying one and if so where would I put it. 

This beautiful home was the home of John Taylor and the sweet sister Missionary there brought the spirit almost instantly. I fell in love with this man and desire to know more about him. I will have to study his life when I get home. I wish I could remember the things that were said but more than anything I felt the love he had for the gospel and that he was willing to give whatever was asked of him.   After this we drove to the Carthage jail where Jospeh and Hyrum were martyred. From the moment we walked onto the grounds I felt as though we were on sacred grounds.  A place made sacred through the blood of our beloved prophet. 

The sister Missonary who lead the tour was so special and really did her part to bring a sacred feeling to this place. Throughout the tour I felt myself holding in tears. I could feel that Jospeh Smith really was a prophet of God. That what he taught in life was divinely given and that he really gave his life for the Lord. 

As we walked into the room where he was shot I could hold in the tears no longer. Prayed hat my children could sense the specialness of this moment. I prayed that their testimonies would be strengthen and I thanked God that we were blessed with the ability to bring them here.  That I could shared this moment with them. At one point in the day a missionary looked at the children and told them to thank their parents for brining them. And again I was brought to tears that we were blessed to do so. 
I did not need this trip to have the testimony I have. I did not need it so that I would believe. But I am grateful for the strength it has given me to want to be better and reminded me of the hope I feel because of the gospel. Words just don’t suffice in moments like these. Oh that I could adequately express the feeling of my heart this day. 

Joshua was having a hard time sitting still so I handed him my phone during the tour and so he could take some pictures. 

The top window is where Jospeh feel out of when he was shot. 

  This is the whole shot through the door that killed Hyrum. We took of picture of my Jospeh and Jacob (his middle name is Hyrum) posed just like this. I wanted them to understand who they were named after and what great men they were. 

 On a less spiritual note, there are very few places to eat here. We are sure spoiled to have so many options where we live. We found this little while in the wall and it did not disappoint.    We were seated right next to this tv which was playing a Chinese game show similar to Wipeout. I laughed so hard. The food was not awesome but the TV show sure made up for it. 

 Once we got back to Nauvoo we went to the lands and records building where we found several of our family members and they were awesome enough to make a cd for us. 

One of the things I was most excited about was the red brick store house. And I am sad to say it was not what I hoped for. It is owned by the Community of Christ and it did not have the save sacred feeling the other things we have seen did. I went upstairs where the relief society was started and where Joseph and Emma were sealed and I felt nothing. It was a bad feeling, just a nothing feeling. I guess that is hard to explain. 

As I reflected on that later I thought that maybe it was because the buildings and grounds that the church owns have probably been blessed and consecrated to the Lord. You can feel it just walking around in that area. And then, when we entered the other area not own by the church it was gone. I wonder if that is what it’s like to lose the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

In that same area we visited the Smith cemetery. Not much to say about that. 

The Brigham young home was last for the day and oh what a lovely ending. The Sister who conducted the tour was so endearing and she did such a good job of helping me to feel of who Brigham was and again the spirit of that place hit me strongly. We talked with the maisionary afterward and Ryan felt inspired to make a promise to her. She got very teary and I could see in her eyes the glory of the gospel. It made me want to some day serve a mission here. 

I have been so impressed with my kids. Over and over again people have commented on how good they have been. So as a little treat I surprised them with a trip to the fudge shop. Which they are patiently waiting for me to finsh writing his so they can have some.  

 Good night Nauvoo. 

Jacobs journaling  
Joshuas journal   

Nauvoo day 4

Today was filled with fun activities and demonstrations. We went at a slow place with no hurry to get from one place to another. I have thoroughly enjoyed that part of our trip. I can’t imagine trying to see it all in just a couple of days. 

    We started the day off with reading stories from our ancestors. I hoped to help the kids feel connected to their roots and this special place. 

Once we got into old Nauvoo we rode on a carriage drawn by oxen. They were so mild. Not sure why but that surprised me. We then enjoyed demonstrations of rope making, rug weaving, bread making in beehive ovens, barrel making (which we later discovered was a profession of one of our ancestors who lived here back then) brick making, and a few other things. We walked through some old homes, the gunsmith, the blacksmith, the bakery and a school. I was well pleased in the way the children behaved. They might of gotten restless a time or two, or even fallen asleep during a presentation, but they were well mannered and good to each other.  

 The kids received a few take aways which they really enjoyed. Some homemade bread, a ginger bread cookie, a nail made into a “diamond” ring, the rope they got to help make and a nauvoo stamped red brick. We were all pleasantly surprised by all the free souvenirs. 

As the day was winding down and everything was getting ready to close we went to the seventies home, which I had not intended to go to but we were right next to it. And it ended up being my favorite stop. A story was told of how the building was built. After one wall was put up a tornado came and the wall was destroyed. When they rebuilt it they ended up going two bricks deep for stability since the one brick depth was not strong enough. 

I couldn’t help but think of the storms that sometimes come into my life. And how devastated I feel when things do not go the way I thought. At times hurting very much. But like this story I can learn from my experiences and be made stronger so that I may weather future storms. The storms are not meant to tear us down but rather to strengthen us so that we may become more than we would settle for. 

And as if that lesson was not enough, we were invited to go up stairs and look through some of the records they had of the seventies of the church at that time. I found 4 of my ansestors names and I felt so close to them at that moment.    

 If they were willing to give everything for the gospel I to could do whatever God asks of me. In that moment I wanted to be strong like they were strong. 
Jacob last night asked if when he is dead there will be a statue of him like there is of Josoeh Smith. I understand his feelings of wanting to be like these amazing people who paved the way so we could have all that we have. Ansestors who stood strong in their belief in God so that I could be raised with those same beliefs. 

And then the town closed and the kids played in an empty field for sometime. Just burning off energy and laughing together. We made a new friend

 Who Joshua carried around for a long time.   

We ended the day with dinner and a movie. The rental we are staying at had the first Work and the Glory. 

  Today was another fantastic day!

Jacobs journal page that he dictated to Ryan.  

 Joshuas journal page  

Nauvoo day 3

This morning I woke up before everyone else. Which is hard to do with my early risers. The trip really wore them out. 

I took the opportunity to study my scriptures outside with this beautiful view.  

 This is just outside the back steps of our rental house. Dreamy, right?  Again I felt teary and grateful for this city.  We took our time getting ready. The kids explored. We read scriptures and talked about church history. The kids seemed closer to each other then they have been and that lasted all day. They laughed easily and seemed to genuinely like each other. As a mother, those are always precious moments and more then I could have hoped for the day. 

We began by stopping at the nauvoo visitors center. They have many displays showing how life was in early nauvoo. The kids ran from display to display while I asked about tickets for the wagon ride. Lucky us it was just about time for the next one. The wagon ride took us throughout town telling the history of the town. 

As we were coming upon the red brick storehouse I felt the spirit come over me. That is where Emma started the relief society. That is where she was sealed to her husband and received her endowments. This place is filled with the spirit of the resorted gospel. Over and over again I felt of Gods love for those pioneers. For their willingness. For their faith. 

We ate lunch at a little cafe in town. Then walked around and looked at the shops. The people were so friendly and the town, although older, was well kept up and very quaint. The kids enjoyed spending some of their allowance and at that moment I was grateful we have started budgeting and make sure hey earn allowance. That way we all knew how much we had to spend and no one was begging me to buy them stuff. Kinda awesome!!

We needed to load up on groceries but the nearest grocery store was over 30 minutes away so we let the kids hangout at our awesome rental. And we made a little date out of it. We headed into Iowa and it fascinated me how different cultures can be even in the same country. I felt humbled for all that we have that is often taken for granted. The town was a poor town and I felt like we stuck out a little bit. Again, I felt grateful for the overly wonderful life we have. 

I made dinner when we got back as Ryan and the kids explored out by the water. I watched them out the window and wished I could freeze time. Memories were being made.  

Handsome kid here. 

 This is Jacobs vacation shirt. He found it over the summer at a thrift store and declared it such. Now everytime we go out of town he brings it. Funny kid. 

  Joshua was pretty excited about the giant shells he found. 

When dinner was eaten and the dishes were all put away we headed off to see the musical put on in old nauvoo titled Rendezvous Nauvoo. I will admit my expectations here were pretty low. But I was so pleasantly surprised. The senior missionaries performed and I could feel of there testimonies. It was funny and spiritual. My favorite part was the moment the men sang about their willingness to go west.  

Before the play I snapped a quick shot of my people.   
Good looking people if you ask me.   

 My heart is full as I head off to bed. 

Joshuas journal entry for today.    Jacobs  journal entry for today that he dictated to Ryan. 
 (Most of my pictures are on my big camera and I will upload those picture when I get home.)

Nauvoo day 1 & 2

As we drove into town late last night an excitement filled the car. Up until that point everyone was tired and ready to get out of the car. For me I felt the spirit of the town. I thought of my forbearers and what they were willing to go through to remain faithful.  To go into the wilderness, to travel for months, losing family along the way, so that I may be raised with a faith that has sustained me. 

This trip is one I have dreamed about for years and years. Since before I was married. In fact, if I recall, it’s when I read the Work and the Glory. Which is slightly ironic since we listened to that on the 24 hour drive here. 

We drove to Amarillo Texas the first day. So many times I became teary along the drive. We were seeing country I had never seen before. I was taking my family to see one of the most memorable sites in church history. We were taking the trip of a life time.  And then we drove the rest of the way the second day. 

I took picture after picture of the landscape. The top is New Mexico and the bottom is Arizona. 

  This is somewhere in New Mexico. Such a lovely sunset.   
 I felt myself say over and over again “isn’t this beautiful?”  “Oh, isn’t that beautiful?”

We were privileged to listen to conference one the drive, when we weren’t listening to the work and the glory. I felt so full and so blessed. My three favorite talks were from holland, Nelson and the guy who talked about ponderizing. Can’t remember his name. 

I was especially surprised who well everyone behaved. I’m not sure what I expected but the easy of the drive was a huge blessing.  

  Pokemon origami was a if hit.   And a well planned trip in the middle of nowhere so Ryan could try a green chile shake was appreciated. 

Taste the bitter

Today was a little rough. Kids were extra grumpy and I woke up on the wrong side of the bed because of nightmares. I kept trying to keep my cool but I felt I failed more then I succeeded.

Then as were are making dinner my sweet Sarah says to me. “I’ve been thinking about the kind of spouse I want to marry. And I want someone i can talk to and work things out with. Someone who makes decisions with me. Just like you and dad.” She got teary and I felt so much gratitude for this strong willed girl who reminds me of what is really important. It’s love and communicate, even when we disagree.

Rough days pass. The trick is to see the beauty in the bitter. To look for those tiny precious gems that can carry us through the hardships.

Today I’m holding tightly to her words. I may not succeed as much as I would like but I will take this moment as a victory. My daughter is blessed to see that her mom and dad love each other dearly. And I am so so grateful for that.

What a week

This is me laying in bed feeling so sick. Sometimes life comes at you hard. Every single person in our house got sick. Most of us in a 6 hour period. I will say I prefer it to hit us all at once. It was a little bit easier to handle.

But by tonight I was just so worn out and my fuse was a little to short. To add to the sickness earlier today Jared screamed out in pain. Excoriating horrible pain. He moved just the wrong way and displaced his knee.

We didn’t know that’s what he had done. And so I had no idea how to help him. It is so hard as a mom to watch your child hurt. I didn’t know what to do for him. The chiro wasn’t able to see us until after 6 tonight. She was in meetings all day and that’s the soonest she was available. At this point I just thought he had pulled a muscle or something. The poor kid. I held his hand and said a silent prayer. Please help the dr to help him. When she put it back in he was in so much pain. It broke my heart for him.

I am tempted in moments like these to feel a little down, maybe even a little picked on. But then I am reminded of how aware of us our Father above is. He loves us deeply and if we let Him all things in our life can be turned for good. Remembering that can sometimes be the hard part but when we do the peace and comfort can be felt.

Some days are just hard. You lay down at night and you feel exhausted. But there is always hope for a better tomorrow. Tonight I am grateful for hope and for the knowledge that me and my family are watched over and loved deeply.

The end has come

It’s a bitter sweet feeling when basketball season, for the high schoolers, comes to a close. With both Jared and Sarah playing this year it got pretty busy. The younger kids liked playing around during the games but I don’t think they enjoyed watching so much. As evident from the pictures they take during the games.





Ryan and I have loved watching them thrive in the sport they love most.