A couple weeks ago we were able to make a trip to Rigby to visit Ty's family (it had been since Thanksgiving that we had seen them and a trip down was due)! It's so nice to get away and even nicer to do it while visiting with family.
We mixed it up with:
...fun in the SNOW (we can't believe they had enough still to pull us in a sled behind the four-wheeler; we don't have any snow and haven't had any for a long time where we live)...
...a trip to the Idaho Falls Museum where they had a BODIES exhibit that was so interesting. While it was difficult to keep our little ones entertained, we had a good time learning all about the body (by actually seeing each and every part of the body preserved; and before some of you get grossed out, I have to say this type of thing isn't usually down my ally but it was very neat). There was so much education available there. The experience futher confirmed to me that the intricate and beautiful bodies we own did not come about by mere happen-stance or evolution. They are truly too brilliant and amazing for me to believe anything but that they are a godly creation...
...and good hard labor (okay so maby not so hard:)). The kids particularly enjoyed helping Grandpa down at the barn. The weather turned out great one day while we were there and the kids nearly spent all day down at the barn helping grandpa feed the cows and scrape (put your imagination to work as to what that means :)). While they were down there at the barn we saw wild turkeys that like to come in close to steal grain from the calves' troughs AND they saw their dad's cousin skin a dead calf that had been smothered by it's mother. The cow had had twins but would only take one calf so Ty's cousin was bottle feeding the other. Well, when the cow smothered her calf, Ty's cousin decided to skin it and graft it's hide to the other twin calf. This gets the mother to accept the new calf (one that she identifies as the other/old calf). It seems so cruel, I know, but that is farm life. Talk about a learning experience for my kids - one I wasn't too sure about, it just sort of happened.
On our way down to the barn with Ty's grandma (who lives right just down the road from Ty's parents, and right next to the barn).
The kids both just love the out-of-doors, being around the animals, and being Grandpa's helpers. Of course, they don't see this as work but rather as an adventure - I mean feeding the cows their hay and grain, it apparently doesn't get any better than that!
While we were in Rigby we were also able to attend a banquet in which Jefferson County honored several different people and/or entities and we are proud to announce that Ty's parents were both honored there as the Jefferson County Farmer of the Year and Jefferson County Farm Woman of the Year. These awards for Ty's parents I'm sure seemed particularly special as they had a difficult year last year (Ty's dad had surgery on his shoulder and was laid up right at the busiest/hardest time of year when there was much cutting, feeding, milking, irrigating, etc. to do). So congrats again James and Orillia for all your hard work!
We even got to say a quick hello to my mom and step-dad and my younger brother and his wife in Pocatello on our way home. It was a great trip and we hope to make more soon!
A few months ago I felt I had finally come to the destination of a long and sometimes rough journey. But this destination or place I am now is where I felt my testimony has grown significantly - I am more at peace, life in general is better. I was asked to speak at our Stake Women's Conference this month and my 'journey" seemed to fit the topic perfectly so I thought I'd share with you, what I shared there. It is a long read, and I know that so many have greater struggles than I but I guess my reason for sharing is perhaps to bring hope to anyone who is struggling, that they might know there is great growth to be had in our trials and to further testify that I DO know our Father in Heaven is mindful of us all and does have a hand in directing/affecting our lives - of that I am sure! And I love the testimony of our Church leaders found in their quotes I have included in my talk - they are more of my favorite quotes!
A condensed version of my "journey" (I only had 5 minutes to share my thoughts at the Conference):
When I was asked to share my testimony of a specific time or event in my life that I felt the “hand of the Lord” powerfully direct or affect my life – I found my mind continually turning to the way the Lord has guided me through some of my most difficult times and trials. And in fact, it was made clear to me that this topic is exactly what I should speak on when, the very night after being asked to speak, as I laid awake in bed thinking about the topic, my husband shot out of bed and ran to the bathroom sick – throughout the night he become even more ill and began writhing in pain. So…after a hospital visit, it was discovered he had an acute appendicitis which had to be operated on. After we went through surgery, healing and all that an infection like that entails, I looked back and thought it was almost comical that I should be thinking of speaking on the very topic of trials on the exact night that we would be experiencing another.
I believe most of us feel that to others, our trials may seem trivial but to us, the way they affected or taught us, is significant. I know that is the way I feel. And so while the experiences and thoughts I have to share with you in regard to some of my struggles may seem trivial, I pray you’ll bear with me as I share why they have been so significant to me personally.
When I was a young girl, I remember my mom confiding in me, at a tender age, that not all things in her life and/or our family were as happy or right as they should be. While I was completely surprised, I instantly realized that things would not be working out between my parents. My eyes were opened early in life when I learned of the colorful life my dad led. I remember one rough night in particular, following an ugly divorce, that I spent sobbing - trying to understand why my dad had made some of the decisions he had - I felt he had thrown away the chance of our being an eternal family-and for what? Didn’t we matter? Didn’t he love us? Within this and other memories, were many inter-mixed feelings of love, betrayal, dishonesty, resentment, etc. Although it’s difficult to admit, until just recently I still struggled somewhat with those feelings.
I’d always known that such difficult feelings could not simply be buried. And many times I’d thought I had overcome them and that forgiveness had been reached. However, whenever my dad presented another disappointment, I would again bring all the old difficult feelings out of storage, so to speak, only to realize that I had gotten nowhere in my efforts to forgive.
I was forced to examine and re-examine my feelings and the depth of my testimony again this last Thanksgiving when my dad announced that he and his wife were going to be baptized. Many nights were spent pondering and praying and eventually I felt prompted to write all my feelings down – in a letter I would give to my dad. I believe that because I acted on that prompting, late, late, one night, and began writing that letter that I was blessed with an amazing outpouring of the Spirit and came to the realization that if my testimony of the principles of faith, repentance and forgiveness and of the blessing of the Atonement was as strong as I believed it was, I had to overcome any and all difficult feelings, I had to forget, forgive, and move forward. Without hardly even realizing what I was writing, I was able to tell my dad in that letter that I forgave him, that I was sorry I hadn’t been able to tell him so sooner, and that I was entirely thrilled with his decision to be baptized. I was amazed at how easy it was to write such things – and how sincere I was in my feelings.
The following day, and in further answer to my prayers, I received a phone call from my dad – he was calling to ask for my forgiveness before going through with the baptism he had scheduled for that weekend. I was so grateful I had gotten up the night before to write that deeply emotional letter – I knew exactly how to express my feelings and felt completely guided by the Lord as I explained to my dad the contents of that letter. Further, I was able to tell him – most sincerely, “Yes Dad, I forgive you!”
We were able to go to the baptism for my dad and his wife that weekend. Every one of my siblings and all their children – all of us were there. The Spirit was strong that night, it seemed that the hope of an eternal family was renewed for all of us. It was the icing on the cake to practically a life-long effort/journey to get right with myself, with my dad, and with the Lord in regard to this trial. I better understand and completely agree with President Harold B. Lee who once said: “Sometimes when [we] are going through the most severe tests, [we] will be nearer to God than [we] have any idea. "
I know that the future will still hold struggles for my family - that disappointments may still come, but I know better now that they don’t matter. That if I put my faith in the Lord - trusting that all can and will be made right through Him - relying on that promise, it is possible to move forward, to forget, and to forgive.
Truly, in hind sight, I am grateful for the trials that my family and I have been through, for I would not be the person I am today had I not suffered through them. My testimony of those important principles of faith, repentance, forgiveness and the Atonement would not be as strong as they are today.
I am reminded of a quote by the Apostle Orson F. Whitney who said: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”
I know that trials give us opportunities to show the Lord and ourselves that we will be faithful. I know that I can rely on the hand of the Lord in my life and trust in Him – to comfort me and guide me through my trials. For when we turn to Christ, we will not only find the comfort we seek, but in so doing we will also gain an increased testimony of the reality of the Savior and His Atonement, which can heal all suffering because we know that Christ suffered pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind so He could be filled with mercy and know how to succor His people according to their infirmities.
I know God loves us perfectly and “would not require [us] to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for [our] personal benefit or for that of those [we] love.”[Elder Richard G. Scott]. I am truly grateful for this and every trial I have experienced, for their refining process - I have truly gained strength and grown from them as I know we all can. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
You have to take a look at the new story I wrote up about Vanna in my "Kids Say/Do The Darnest Things" sidebar of my blog (under March 2011). It's gauranteed to either gross you out or crack you up. Either way it's a great story!
I have been married to Ty now for eleven years - he is a wonderful husband and father! We have been blessed with three amazing children! Cash is 9 and is an energetic and animated boy to say the least! Vanna Marie is an independent and beautiful girl who is 7 and who loves to sing and play the piano. Rosalie is our little sweetheart (almost four now) - we enjoy her addition to our family so much! I love watching the kids interact with one another and spending as much time as possible together as a family.
*As I was teaching Cash about cows, I would ask him, "What is a baby cow called?", "What kind of things can we make from the milk we get from cows?", etc. I asked Cash the following question as well: "What do we call daddy cows or boy cows?" To which he responded, "Cowboys!" - I thought it was a pretty clever answer.
* We just got a kitten and whenever he is relaxed and purring near Cash, he is sure to inform us that the kitty "is burping" (it's how he says purring which I think is so cute/funny).
*I asked Cash to hold a picture of Jesus Christ for me while I was preparing my Sharing Time for Primary and as soon as he got it into his hands he hugged it and said, "I love Jesus - he just my best friend." It was such a sweet reminder of the love we should have for our Savior as well as a reminder of the true friend he is to all of us - of his love for all of us! October 2010:
*Ty was wrestling around with Cash and said "Cash, you're such a goofball, do you take anything serious?" Cash answered, "yeah.". "What?" asked Ty. To which Cash responded, "macaroni and cheese."
*Cash: "twice and a half"
*Cash: "It's my pleasure."
*Vanna is always getting into my lotions and lip gloss and whenever I discover her in the act of doing so, so reassures me that it's okay for her to be getting into my goodies by holding up her hand in a 'stop and listen to me' motion and says, "tiny tiny tiny bit" while pinching her thumb and index finger together. I guess if it's just a tiny tiny bit, it's okay right?!
*Cash: "That was totally wicked awesome!" He's so animated - love his use of adjectives!
*When Cash gets scared at night we'd often ask him to be brave and try to comfort him by asking him to say a prayer or reminding him that Jesus is watching over him through the night and that we're only across the hallway from him, etc. Lately, however, he will tell us he's all out of brave or that he doesn't have anymore brave.
*I still have to help Vanna wipe when she goes big potty so when she asked me to help her the other day, I went in to the bathroom to find nothing in the toilet. She adamately claimed to have gone though so I thought maybe it was just a tinckle and wiped her anyway. Well, when I discovered that she was actually dirty I asked if she went potty again. She said, "yeah in Hank potty-garage." When we were through, she went out to the garage where our cat's litter box is to show me that yes, indeed she had gone poop in the cat's litter box. Ahhh! I guess I should be glad it wasn't anywhere else - but still, how nasty. We had a little talk and I hope it doesn't happen again - it will certainly be a good blackmailing story and looking back, it was pretty hilarious.
*Cash: "I'm getting so grumpy at you!"
*Cash: Cash sneezed today and afterward informed me that I forgot to say "bless you" so of course, I said, "Oh, bless you". He responded with: "Thank you for that - I appreciate it." He's using such sophisticated terminology lately (like "terrible, beautiful, awful, just horrible" etc.)
*I asked Vanna to put a pair of her dirty socks in the dirty laundry basked (located in the kids' bathroom). Well, instead of doing as I asked Vanna flushed them down the toilet! I don't know where she's getting these peculiar ideas lately!
*When I have to get after Vanna for one thing or another, she'll begin crying and put me on a huge guilt trip by saying, "You make me sad Momma, you bein' mean Mommy!" Ohhh, isn't that so heart-breaking?! I really do feel so mean when she says it.
*"Don't get mad - be glad!" The kids saw the Glad (garbage bag) commercials on TV once and they picked up on their slogan right away and are so clever in their use of the slogan in our home. Often times when I get grumpy they'll burst out with "don't get mad - be glad/get glad"! Oh what a quick mood lifter!
*The other day I had to put Cash in the corner and when I did he sobbed, "You're breaking my heart to piece". Well this did break my heart and I had to explain that I don't like putting him in the corner but when he chooses to be disobedient there has to be some sort of consequence. This did nothing to console him - btw where do all his dramatics come from? :)
*Vanna in her loudest voice will sing/say: "I don't know - I been told!" - like the army chant and Cash says it like this: "I don't know what I've been told!"
*When the kids were away to Grandmas and Grandpas while I was on bedrest, Cash would occasionally get home sick. My mom told me one day that on one of Cash's particularly hard nights (just before they got to come home), he was listing off all the things he didn't like about his Grandmas and Grandpas homes and one of them was their decorations. He said he only liked the decorations at our house. I thought this was a funny (albeit sad too) comment - it was just Cash's way of saying he was ready to come home!
*In his prayers, Ty will often pray that I will be able to "carry the baby to an appropriate time" (or something similar) and Cash has picked up on the idea and so in his regular prayers he will say, "bless that Mommy can carry the baby to the doctor" or "bless that Mommy can carry the baby and not drop the baby". It's really quite darling and quite hilarious at the same time with the way he must be thinking of "carrying".
*In her recent prayers Vanna always prays for her baby sister: "Bless the baby can be safe and reverent."
*When I have to get after Cash for misbehaving or not listening, etc. and afterwards we talk things over and/or apologize, Cash has been saying, "Do you think you can try harder to be a better mommy?" What he means by this is: Will you never put me in the corner again?":) After I let the slight sting of guilt wash over me, I then say something real clever and turn it back on him, such as: "Do you think you can be a better listener?"
*Rosie snorts when she really gets upset and cries.
*Vanna is so good about always randomly saying "I love you" to me every day, several times. Now she also says, "I love my baby" referring to Baby Rosie. So sweet!
*As I was giving Rosie a bath when she was only a couple weeks old, she grabbed hold of her hair (she has a whole head of long blonde hair) and locked her little fingers in a fist around it (why is that babies often have their hands in such tight fists?:) and would not let go. She was pulling her own hair. When I finally managed to pry her fingers loose, her head in that area was bright red from her tugging - but she never cried through the whole thing! I just thought it was so funny!
*At 7 weeks, Rosie consistently sleeps 51/2 to 61/2 hours for her first stretch at night. Then, after I get done feeding her, she usually sleeps another 2 to 3 hour stretch before she's really awake for the morning.
*Also at 7 weeks, Rosie smiles all the time. Early on, she'd often smile just as she was dosing off while nursing, but now her smiles are for real-when she's fully aware. She's such a good happy baby. We're so blessed to have her in our family!
*In Vanna's prayers lately she's been praying for the missionaries but she pronounces them: "the marry missions". :)
* The other day Cash asked me to guess what his favoritest show in the whole wide world was. I guessed Cars 2 (because we just checked it out from the Library and I knew he was excited to watch it for the first time). His response was, "Well, that is my next favoritest...and Scooby Do but what do you think is my very favorite?" I said, "I don't know, you tell me." His reply, "GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!" This proud mom was beaming!
*Cash sometimes calles cigarrettes "smokearrettes" when he's trying to explain that he saw someone smoking and that it's not good for you, etc. etc.
*Vanna heard Cash say the following (and keeps repeating it as if she cleverly came up with it all on her own :) -
Vanna: I know how to make you say "how". Me: How?
*Vanna has always been so good to tell us she loves us and for months now, just randomly, she will come up to me and/or Ty and say, "I love you with all my heart." It is the sweetest thing and certainly melts your heart!
*The other day in the van, the kids pulled out their scriptures (they like to carry them along with us in the van) and Vanna started: "Chapter 1, and it came to pass...." I thought it was so funny that she recognizes that common phrase in the scriptures and repeated it on her own.
*A friend of ours had a 8-yr. old (Macie Jensen) who was being baptized and when she was asked who she wanted to speak at her baptism, the young girl said, "mmm...Vanna". Her mom had to explain that Vanna was probably too young to speak and that maybe it would be nice to choose someone from her family to speak. She shared this with me and I thought it was so sweet, I had to record it.
*Vanna - "Do I have school tomorrow?" Mom - "Yes." Vanna - "Awww man (in her best drawn out whiny voice)." Mom - "Don't you like school?" Vanna - "Well, I DO like the snacks." That's our sugar baby! :)
*Over dinner we were discussing the need to take care of our things. The kids would say things like "well, if it breaks we can just buy a new one" and Ty said something like, "Where do you think money comes from? do you think it grows on trees?" Vanna responded, "No Dad - it grows in the ground!" :)
*Cash came home the other day with a new song he's learned from school: "Girls go to college to get more knowledge, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider!" Funny he didn't use it to his advantage and switch the girls and boys around. :) Anyway - where do kids come up with this stuff right?!
*Cash and Vanna were at their friends' house playing in the back yard when the neighbor came out and yelled at them to "get the h... away from her property before she calls the police" and the like. You can imagine how this upset all the kids who didn't even realize they were near her property line. It just so happened that I was there to pick the kids up right after this happened and when we pulled into our driveway, the waterworks began. Cash particularly wouldn't settle down. He kept saying, "I don't want the cops to come and put me in jail!"