Saturday, April 30, 2011

Living a Big Story, another of my favorite blogs, is having a great Mother's Day giveaway!
Be sure to click on over and check it out!

Friday, April 29, 2011

I am so excited!
Today I have the fun of being spotlighted on one of my favorite blogs - Diapers and Divinity.

For those of you that may have hopped over from Diapers and Divinity - welcome!
Feel free to look around and comment if you like, thank you so much for stopping by!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Waiting for the Lights

I loved this post by Laura at Living a Big Story. It reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago that I thought I would post here today.

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike roared in from the Gulf of Mexico. After careful consideration, our family decided to shelter in place. Our home was far enough away from the Gulf that we weren't worried about massive flooding from storm surges, we knew that damage in our neighborhood would come from the wind and rains. We had experienced Hurricane Rita a few years before and expected it would be more of the same.

Ike proved to be much more ferocious then Rita. We spent the days prior to Ike preparing our home for the onslaught and making sure all of our necessary provisions were in place. We then chose the safest room in our home, moved mattresses, blankets, food, water etc. in and then hunkered down to see what was to be. Our power went out shortly after we had all moved into the room. Mercifully, our children fell asleep before the fury of Ike arrived. My husband and I alternated between trying to sleep (impossible) and huddling around our radio trying to hear what was happening. Ike made landfall in the middle of the night and in the wee hours of the morning the eye of the hurricane passed directly over our home. The winds blew with such ferocity that all other sounds became almost indistinguishable. Through the wind we could hear faint popping sounds that we assumed were either twigs breaking or transistors blowing. Only when dawn came did we realize that those popping sounds were huge trees falling onto our street and into our neighbors homes. It was a very surreal, eerie experience that I hope to never have again. When the worst had passed the next morning, we decided to see if we could make it to my husband's parents house, to make sure that all was well there (Phones, cell and landlines, were out). Miraculously we were able to drive through the devastation and flooding and arrive safely at their home. While a huge tree had fallen in their backyard (it should have fallen directly into the room where my father-in-law was, but it scraped the entire side of the house instead), they had survived Ike with minimal damage. Almost immediately work crews from the Church started going out with their chainsaws to start the long process of clearing and cleaning up. Our family ended up staying at my in-laws instead of returning home, as they had a generator and could run the essentials (like a fan!) while the power was out.

When Rita hit our home, our power was restored in just a day or two. We initially expected the same to be true with Ike. Only when we saw what had really occurred did we realize that it might be awhile. Power company trucks from all over the United States began pouring into Houston to help restore power, we were certain ours would be on soon.

We waited, and waited, and waited. And then we waited some more. After a week or so power began to flicker on all over the city - but our home remained dark. After eight days power was restored to my in-laws home, but our home was still dark. It was a frustrating, difficult time as all we wanted to do was go home. We just wanted to go home. I had never before or since felt that incredible, overwhelming emotion of just wanting to go home. But we couldn't. September in Houston without air conditioning can lead to serious health problems, and since our son is prone to dehydration, we couldn't take that chance.

We waited, and waited, and waited. We always knew the lights would come on, we just didn't know when. We knew that the power company wouldn't leave us without power, that thought never crossed our mind, we just knew we had to be patient. Finally, after 15 1/2 days, our power was restored. We cried, loaded up our car and sped home.

I've thought a lot about this over the years. We always knew the lights would come back on. We had perfect trust in the power company that they would do their job and fulfill their promise to turn the light back on in our home, we just knew it is a matter of time.

I wonder if, at times, I have trusted the power company more then I trust the Lord.

Sometimes, when we are waiting, and waiting, and waiting, with the overwhelming desire to have the righteous intents of our hearts fulfilled, it can be easy to feel like the Lord has forgotten us. That He won't fulfill his promises, that He is answering everyone elses prayers, but is overlooking ours, that we have been left on our own to make sense of the destruction around us.

But the Lord ALWAYS turns the lights on.

Sometimes it's not according to our time table. Sometimes it takes months, years, a lifetime, and sometimes the lights don't come on in this life.

But the Lord ALWAYS turns the lights on.

One lesson this experience taught me is that I can trust the Lord perfectly. He is anxiously waiting to turn the lights on and will do so the very second that is best for us. He will not delay one moment longer then necessary because of His infinite love and care for us.

So no matter how long we may have to wait, we can be assured that He, who loves us more then we can comprehend, will ALWAYS turn the lights on.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Thoughts

“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;

Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The multitudes were rejoicing, weeping, and worshiping who was soon to be their Savior from sin and death. I cannot even begin to imagine the overwhelming joy, emotion and powerful witness that must have been present at that event. It is a moment I wish I could have been present at.

And yet, in just a few days time, the multitudes forgot, turned away and some even brutally turned against He who was theirs and is our Advocate with the Father.

Perhaps before we become too critical of those who forgot Him in those moments we should take a moment to reflect on the words of President Howard W. Hunter.

“On Palm Sunday, and next week on Easter Sunday, our minds turn very naturally to wonderful thoughts of Jesus…that is admirable, but we wonder if thoughts of Jesus, which “with sweetness fill our breast”, ought not to be far more frequent and much more constant in all times and seasons of our lives. How often do we think of the Savior? How deeply and how gratefully and how adoringly do we reflect on his life? How central to our lives do we know him to be?

For example, how much of a normal day, a working week, or a fleeting month is devoted to “Jesus, the very thought of thee”? Perhaps for some of us, not enough.

Surely life would be more peaceful, surely marriages and families would be stronger, certainly neighborhoods and nations would be safer and kinder and more constructive if more of the gospel of Jesus Christ “with sweetness” could fill our breasts.

Unless we pay more attention to the thoughts of our hearts, I wonder what hope we have to claim that greater joy, that sweeter prize: someday his loving face to see and in his presence rest.”

The path of the triumphal entry would lead to an upper room where sacred ordinances were instituted. The path would eventually lead to a quiet gathering of olive trees where on a dark, solemn night He who was the greatest of all, became the servant of all as He took upon Himself our sins, sorrows, pains and heartaches. My husband and I had the sacred experience of traveling to Israel three years ago. As I stood in the Garden of Gethsemane I was struck by the fact that as our brother, Jesus Christ, was kneeling in that quiet garden the temple would have been very plainly in front of Him, lighting up the night. Perhaps the temple brought Him comfort in those terrible moments, just as the temple brings us comfort in our darkest of moments.

From the Garden Christ would have seen a band of Roman soldiers led by Judas – a band being 600 soldiers – with their torches climbing down the steps of the wall of Jerusalem, following the path that led through the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. How cowardly Judas was, to bring a band of soldiers to take our Savior to Caiphus.

He was judged of Caiphus and Pilate, He who had only brought light and life was condemned to death. He was mocked, tortured and nailed to a cross while his confused and crushed followers helplessly looked on.

As Elder Worthlin stated –

“On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior – the man who had walked on water and raised the dead – was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.

On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.

It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorry that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.

I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.”

Sometimes, I think, it is easy for us to lose sight of what that Friday meant to His followers. We know the end result – the glorious resurrection.

They did not.

They had lost their teacher, their Master, He who was to lead and liberate them from spiritual darkness and captivity. He who had calmed the seas and calmed their hearts had was now hanging from a cross. I cannot imagine what fear must have gripped their hearts, what terror, what confusion. How could this be part of the plan? This was not how things were supposed to work out. How could they pick up the pieces of their scattered lives, dreams, hopes and move on? Was this not the Messiah? Truly, that Friday was the darkest this world has ever seen. But as Elder Worthlin states-

“The doom of that day did not endure.

The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.

And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.”

The darkness that seemed everlasting and crushing was dispelled by the light of the Resurrection. He dried their tears and their lives were once again whole and filled with joy.

Elder Worthlin –

“Each of us will have our own Fridays – those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world like littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.”

Our Fridays will come, perhaps there are some even today who are feeling crushed by the darkness of shattered dreams and hopes, not knowing how to cope – let alone move forward. Maybe we found ourselves saying – as perhaps the witnesses of the Crucifixion did – This was not supposed to be how things worked out. How can I possibly endure? But one of the great witnesses of the Resurrection is that, as Elder Worthlin states,

“I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death – Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.

May we always know that no matter how dark our Friday, Sunday will come.”

We can trust that the Lord is at the helm. He always has been, and He always will be – Sunday will come.

Elder Worthlin stated – “The Resurrection transformed the lives of those who witnessed it. Should it not transform ours?”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Filling Empty Lamps

Has your family ever been in crisis mode?
You know, that time where y'all hunker down, slow down and take each day one day at a time.

We've been in that mode since last October. My husband's work schedule, he's in his first year of residency, drastically changed and I, for all intents and purposes, became a single parent. As his schedule improved in December we began our In Vitro Fertilization attempt. As this progressed I experienced fairly painful, albeit rare, side effects - which pretty much put me out of commission. In January I found myself a single parent again, as my husband's schedule shifted once again. At this point my sister flew out to stay with us for two weeks, which helped tremendously. Much to our overwhelming joy, our IVF treatment was successful and in February we found out we had twins on the way. Just as the painful side effects of the IVF were starting to wear off, I was blindsided with morning sickness unlike any I had experienced before. For the next three months, despite medication, I found it difficult to get anything, other then getting my kids out the door to school and throwing dinner in the oven, done. And I honestly wouldn't have had it any other way - to have more children is worth any sacrifice. Just in the last few days I have started to feel a little better, other then the fact that I vomited 5 or 6 times this morning :), and the haze that has been over my brain has started to lift. I'm not laying out our life for sympathy purposes - we are happier then we have been in 6 years - we have babies on the way! I just know that we all have been there, in one form or another, we have all had our weeks, months, sometimes years of crisis mode.

As my mind has been functional enough to reflect on the well being of my family over the last few days, I have realized that our lamps are running on low. While we never stopped our family home evening, family prayers, scripture study etc. over the last few months, our focus has been on surviving - not on thriving. And it's time to get those lamps filled to the brim again! For us, this has meant that my husband and I have needed to take close, introspective looks not only at our own lives, but also the lives of our children. It's meant praying and pondering with greater intensity to know how each of our lamps need to be filled. And each of us requires a different filling mechanism. For my son, it means more one on one time with each of us. It means having his daily scripture reading being a study session with Mom on the couch, it means learning how to connect with a child who is growing up in the blink of an eye. For my daughter, it means an increase of hugs and kisses. It means formulating a more specific plan to help her prepare for baptism. It means lots of snuggle time as we read books together. How grateful I am for guidance to know what my family needs at each specific time in our lives! I would be useless without it.

As I've reflected, I've also come to greater appreciate the filling effects that the basics (scripture study, family home evening, family prayer etc.) have in our lives. By doing the basics each and every day we fill our lamps so that when it becomes necessary to enter a crisis mode, our lamps are ready to light our way through the darkness. I'm so grateful for prophetic counsel, so that when our crisis mode came, our lamps were at the ready.

We have had various crisis modes throughout our family life, some shorter, some longer, some seemingly painless, some that have driven us through more sorrow then we thought possible. And I am certain that we have more on the horizon (quite possibly when our little twins make their debut!). But I am just as certain that as we follow the counsel to daily fill our lamps, they will miraculously sustain us when that crisis comes.

Image courtesy of

Monday, April 4, 2011

was it worth it?

Almost six years ago my sister came to live with us for awhile. Every summer afternoon would find us on the couch in serious conversation while my kiddos slept. She was trying to figure out whether living the standards of the gospel were really going to make a difference in her life. She was at a crossroads, trying to know for herself if the Church was true and if that was the path she really wanted to take. I distinctly remember pleading with her to just trust me, that everything would be worth it in the end.

That summer was one of our happiest as she became a part of our little family. She became the big sister to my children and I claimed her as one of my own. We have remained especially close over the years.

Last week I had the tremendous privilege to be with her as she prepared to marry her sweetheart in the Mesa Temple. I was surprised with how close to the surface my feelings were that week, especially as she went through the temple for the first time. Tears were present as I put my arms around her at the end and whispered to her - "Was it worth it?" With a huge smile on her face and tears in her eyes, she nodded.

The week was as chaotic as any wedding week, but the sweetness of those few moments far outweighed the stress.

I left Arizona with a renewed determination to do all I can to point my own little ones to the temple. I cannot even begin to imagine what those precious days will be like.