Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holy Places

Hirchak Family Theme for 2013 has been chosen and posted.
"I will do my best to make my life and my home a holy place.......and be not moved!"
I know many who read this blog may think I am crazy for having a family theme and a quote-of-the-week. However, these help me make my actions consistent with my beliefs, they redirect me when I feel off-course. And, they make me smile, on those days when I feel weak and wonder if I can do it one more day. What is a holy place? Most of us would say, "church", "temple", or some sort of religious building, depending on our faith. They are holy because of what takes place inside them, and how they are revered with incredible reverence. All of which are places of learning and growing closer to God or that higher power we want to feel in our hearts. How great it would be if our homes could be such a place? After all, they are definitely places of learning. Everyday, I am humbled by the things my children teach me------ inviting a friend to dinner who just wants to be with a family, spending hours creating thought-journals for their entire team. Or those face-to-face conversations, when your kids tell you everything your are doing wrong as a parent, and after the anger and embarassment, you realize everyone, including yourself, have SO much to learn. Places of learning are not only physical structures, but places we have been our life, like a time of anger in search for the ability to forgive. Places of self-doubt and depression. Places of incredible sorrow and loneliness. Places of job-loss and financial destitution. And yes, especially places of Family Change. Though difficult while in these situations, when we look back, these were incredible places of learning ----- "holy places" within each of us. So this year, I will focus on creating a home of learning--- a home that we can all revere with reverence because of what takes place inside. And, when 2013 sends it's storms and challenges, which it will , I WILL stand in such holy places .....and BE NOT MOVED!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What is Christmas?

I have found myself, a week before Christmas, trying to accomplish what I used to do in 3 months.   With very little time, and even less funds, I have wondered, what is Christmas?  Christmas is watching your new married kids, scramble around to purchase and hide Christmas presents for each other and anticipate their first Christmas morning together, when their long-planned tokens of love will be unwrapped, adored and appreciated.  Christmas is doing a family musical number in church with your kids, when you are scared to death because you can't sing very well, but you are so amazed and honored to be there because your kids are so talented!  Christmas is asking your kids who they would like to serve this holiday season and watching them think, wonder and plan the annonymous act of love.  Christmas is shoveling your snow covered driveway, while being so overwhelmed with gratitude that you have been able to keep your kids in the home that they love, regardless of the life-altering events of family change!  Christmas is even though you don't have outside Christmas lights, your home glows with an amazing spirit of hard work, love and family!  Christmas is making sugar cookies for a sweet little friend and remembering to leave the frosting separate---just like she likes it! Christmas is when your son tells you that you can sell his prize Christmas present from last year, to pay for this year's Christmas.  Christmas is opening your door, feeling the freezing cold air, and discovering a gift, the warmth of that discovery, and realizing that He is that gift.............and there is no longer need to wonder, what is Christmas, because He is Christmas.  The gift is the fact that He loves us regardless of our weakness.  He comforts us when no one else knows that we even need comfort.  He warms our heart as we love and serve others and others love us.  He fills the emptiness felt as Families Change.  He is light when all is dark.  Wise men still seek Him, just as they did that first Christmas night because they know..........He is Christmas!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unto Us a Son is Given

The most remarkable, life-altering , family change, we have experienced to date, has to be the journey of adoption.  My first 3 children are biologically mine, and my 4th would best be described as UNDENIABLY mine!! So, this post I would like to dedicate to all the amazing birth mothers out there, who have truly given the ultimate gift---not only to families all around the world, but to their children!  Christmas time, 10 years ago, was a very difficult one for our family.  Garrett had been an integral part of our home, for 6 months.  We had all learned which cry meant he was hungry or tired.  Which whine meant, "give me a toy NOW!"  Which squeal meant, "Adam, please make a funny face!"  And, which stretch and hand signal meant, "One of you sweet sisters, pick me up this instance!!"  Yet, Christmas 2002, we were only foster parents to this beautiful brown haired, chocolate- eyed baby boy.  So, the ultimate outcome was unknown.  It was hard to be joyous, appropriately for the season, when I knew, any day, a piece of me could be gone.  The kids were so great!  Ashlyn said, who was 10 years old at the time, and wise beyond her years, "even if this is Garrett's only Christmas with our family, don't you want it to also be the best?!?!"  Needless to say, Garrett never left.  He was adopted a few months later, and was and always will be the same miraculous addition he was, at 5 days old.   So, we never know what life will bring, what new challenges may come our way, or even a family change.  But, every Christmas since, I have tried to make it the very best!  And, by very best, I mean MY very best.  I remember vividly, having just a couple of days to prepare for this sweet baby's arrival.  Friends and neighbors rallied around with clothes, bottles, diapers, formula and even bassinet for this little one too sleep.  Do I make room for the ultimate Son, for whom the carol sings, who also unto ME, was given?   This Christmas, I plan to give my very best to my children.......and to Him!!  For, unto us all.....a Son is given!!

Friday, December 14, 2012


One Sunday, I was walking in the halls, near the Primary room.  I could hear the entire room of little angels singing.  It wasn't even a quiet song, but I learned a lesson I have never forgotten.  They were singing about the wise man and the foolsih man.  The wise man built his house upon the rock.  The foolish man built his house upon the sand.  The chorus, after telling the story of each of these men, was the same.... "The rains came down and the floods came up...."  That corridor, outside the Primary room that day, became a crucible of learning for me.  I watched the kids sing the song, with great enthusiasm and hand motions indicating how after the storm, the foolish man's house on the sand had washed away, yet the wise man's house, on the rock, stood firm.  I could have pondered the symbolism behind the rock and the sand.  I could have wondered why the foolish man would choose to build his home on ground so unpredictable as sand.   But, what sang to my heart that day, was the fact that it rained on BOTH!!!  I felt chilled by my own reality of suddenly becoming a single parent.  Did I have the strength to row through these difficult waves of financial insecurity, emotional unsteadiness, and constant worry of what tomorrow would bring?  Would I be able to create a lifeboat of safety for my 4 kids, who were depending on me during this flood, for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs?   And, would I be able to rejoice in the small triumphs of each day, while quietly rowing, upstream it often seemed, to keep us all afloat?  I decided that day, in the chill of the hallway of the church, that no matter what changes we had to make as a family, we could do it....together.  I decided that I would not only row, but smile as I did.  And, as our family changed,  we would row and rejoice, as we experienced many blessings along the way.  Whether we feel we have lived a life that is "foolish" or "wise",  the storms of life will come, sometimes in waves of one hard challenge after another.  The question is not "if" they will come, but WHEN they come, will we have the courage to stay in the lifeboat.............and keep rowing? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Ring

During a particular class, we were asked to take some personality tests, to find out how we learned and absorbed information.  This was ultimately supposed to enhance our study skills and make us better test takers.  I sure needed that direction as a 46 year old, full-time student.  As I began reading the questions, thoughts like this were racing through my mind, "Well, my ex-husband is A, so I must be C".  "He was B, so I am surely D."  Pretty soon, I realized, that if the results were going to be accurate and helpful, I needed to answer the questions truthfully, for myself.  So, I began to re-take the test, however, I left my little notes in the margin.   It did not take long to realize that many of our answers were the same.  The results gave me some great ideas that changed the way I studied, but I also learned something even more valuable.  Through the 21 years I was married, much of whom I had become was because of my ex-husband.  When  Families Change, it is so easy, even natural, to run from the pain, hurt and emptiness.  I wanted to get rid of anything and everything that reminded me of him.   But now, I realized that a lot of who I am is BECAUSE of him.  So, I came home and found my wedding ring neatly tucked away in a silky pouch.  There was a thin band, with diamonds around it, that he had purchased for me, with the birth of our 3rd child.  That child was now, 15 years old,  and watching her older sister get engaged.  One day she told me, "Mom, I wish I had a special ring!"  I responded, "Cute girl---- I have just the ring!!!"  (Some might say "coincidence"---- I say "inspired").  I went into my bedroom, retrieved the ring, told her that it was from her dad, that he had purchased it for me when she was born.  It fit her finger perfectly!!!  Then, I held the actual wedding band in my hand.  Memories flooded my heart.  I remembered the test and I knew just what I needed to do.  I called my friend who worked in the jewelry business.  I asked her if she could have my ring sized to fit a different finger and engraved.  I now wear my wedding ring on my right hand, and on it is the word, "REMEMBER" and of course, a star!!  Symbols surround us, especially at Christmas time.  The "tree" reminds me of growth and change and infinite possibilities.  The ornaments, which add so much, remind me to take the time, each day, to look my best---for when I look better, I feel better, even on a really hard day.  The presents of the season remind me to look outside of myself for what I can give, who I can lift or who I can inspire.   The Christmas lights are a great reminder to me that light dispells darkness and when I go to Him, each day is brighter.   And my ring, everyday, reminds me that things don't always turn out in the best way that we thought they would or should of------but that , things turn out best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out!!  

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week
“Keep the faith.  Look for the good in your situation.  
Do something kind for someone…..
Christmas is within YOU!!”        
 —Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (Ensign-Dec. 2012)

Christmas letter 2012

Dearest Family and Friends---                                                                                       Christmas 2012

We hope this letter finds you each happy, healthy and ready to make 2013 the best year it can possibly be.  This year has definitely been one of growth and change for our cute family.   They say, “things turn out best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out!” -----  My kids have positively kept us about making lemonade out of life’s lemons, this year!!! 

Ashlyn has had an incredible year.  She got married in August!  She is a full-time student at UVU majoring in Theatre Education.  She works as a nanny for 7 children ranging in age from 3 months- 11 years.  She is also helping to direct the musical at the local Junior High, and she teaches theatre classes at the Scera Theatre, here in Orem.  She is on the move, as always, and happily married to the man of her dreams.  Jordan teaches Tongan at the MTC, is the LaCrosse coach at Orem High School and attends BYU full-time.  He is dedicated not only to his studies but, to his family.  He is adored by us all.   Jordan has been the “sweetest” addition to our family this year!!

Adam is a senior in high school.  This year, he has enjoyed playing on both the golf and tennis teams.  He is currently experiencing an honors physics class and seems to have a great mind for science.   He loves getting Slurpees with Garrett, playing sports and hanging out with friends.   Adam loves to golf anytime, anywhere and really enjoys playing LaCrosse with Jordan.  And, he has loved becoming a brother-in-law!  Getting a driver’s license this year, has definitely made life more fun.  And, sharing a car with Mom, is even better! 

Amber is a sophomore and is playing on both the basketball and softball teams.  She is a great leader, full of energy and loves to help.  Amber enjoys school and manages to stay caught up on her homework while juggling games and practices at the same time.    This year, Amber has enjoyed learning how to drive.  And, on February 2nd, she will be ready to get her driver’s license.  Yes, you did the math right----that will be 3 drivers and 1 minivan!   (Funny---my Mother’s Day gift was a bike!!!  That was subtle, kids!)  Wish us luck!!

Garrett is 10 years old and in the 5th grade.  He always has a smile and a great attitude about life.  In October, his class learned about electricity and made haunted houses that had real lights.  He did a great job!  He has also enjoyed playing some city league sports like soccer, basketball and baseball.  He is a great team player and his attitude is a “plus” for any team.  Garrett loves to do anything with Adam, play with his friends, and he loves being outside.  Garrett has also embraced becoming a brother-in-law.  Thank goodness Garrett is NOT learning to drive this year!!!  He will have to stick with a bike for a few more years!!!

I just finished my 3rd semester at UVU in Health Education and started a blog!!  I am still cross guarding, tutoring, cleaning and working at the elementary school.  However, the nametag I wear with the most pride is that of “Mom”.  Somehow, even though I am doing a job that was divinely designed for two, I have managed to be home during the major cross-roads of each day in my kid’s life------- seeing them off for school, welcoming them home, cheering them on in their games and performances, getting them to and from scouts and other events, working on school projects, planning a wedding, and waiting up at night to find out how much fun they had or didn’t have---And that, is the real miracle of all!!!   I am thankful that the events of my life have been tailored just for me.  I am grateful to know that someone else is not only in charge, but in the details of every day.  It is finding the courage to realize that life is good, and anything that is not, He makes up the difference.  And it is “He” whose birth we celebrate this Christmas season.  It’s not about surviving….. It’s about living!!!  It’s choosing to make lemonade out of the lemons in life…… that those around us will want to make lemonade too!!  Merry Christmas!!    

--- Much Love Debbie, Ashlyn, Jordan, Adam, Amber and Garrett  (

Friday, December 7, 2012

Goodbye Stella!!!

Stella is Ashlyn's prize Hyundai Elantra.  They were ALWAYS together!!!  Best friends through and through.  Ashlyn worked hard to pay for Stella herself, and maintain her and pay for her gas and keep her shiny and clean.  Tuesday night, I received a sad phone call.  Ashlyn was in tears as she informed me that she had been in a car accident------ and Stella did not survive.  She was heartbroken!  In between sobs she said there would never be another Stella, and she did not want any other car.  Between sobs, I asked her why another car would not due------Stella was simply a means of transportation, right?  Emotionally, my cute daughter began to list off all of the many events that Stella had taken her to, all of the roadtrips with friends, the sing-offs as they drove and the great talks and experiences that Stella had been a part of.  I told her this was a great life's lesson for many reasons. Besides learning about the importance of auto insurance,  she realized that she must have been surrounded by protecting angels (big, strong ones, no doubt, like Papa Jim) to not have been injured, in a car accident that totaled her car, the week before Finals, at Christmas time!!!  Then, I was overwhelmed with my own emotion, as I assured her that her memories were hers, and would not leave with a car, or a family member, for that matter. The body, mind and heart are SO divinely designed, that we get to keep those memories forever.   Any silver car will remind her of the last minute roadtrip to LA, the beach and to Disneyland.  Any CD player can play Suddenly Seymour and take you back to Acting Up competition.  Any Christmas tree reminds me of 4 small children, waking up Christmas Day, excited and thrilled with the surprises of the holiday season, with a mommy and a daddy.  And, the beautiful coral color will remind us all of  the day that Ashlyn, my sweet daughter began her own eternal family.   So, Stella is gone, Families Change, but the memories are ours forever. And, that is a gift that is ours everyday------ to create what will be remembered. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I absolutely LOVE stars!  You will find them all throughout my house.  The large star above my front door reminds me that something  truly holy is going on inside.  Each time I return home, I see that star, and I remember that my Heavenly Father is just as concerned about my family, as He was about that little family, in a stable, on that first Christmas night.  Stars also remind me to retreat often in prayer and pondering about my little family, and seek His guidance.  The stars in my home remind me of the shepherds in the fields, that very night the baby Savior was born.  I'm sure they were busy!  I only have 4 sheep (and one sheep-in-law) and it's all I can do to keep them counted.  However, they say the shepherds saw the "sign" (star) and went to Bethlehem in haste.  They hurried, went quickly, were focused on what really mattered, that night.   I am sure it was quite a task to secure their flocks before they left.  As I see my stars, in the kitchen, office, bathroom and bedroom, I often ask myself, "have I secured my flock?"  Have I counted them?  Do I know where they are?  Have I found out about their day?  Have I asked if they need anything?  Have I made sure they know they are safe and secure and loved?  The shepherds had to have faith that they would in fact, see the Christ child lying in a manger, after all their effort.  So, they followed the star.  My stars remind me of my core values, of my higher power, of what is REALLY important to me, each day.  And, my stars inspire me to make my actions consistent with those values.   My stars remind me to have faith that He hears and answers prayers, especially when I go to him in haste.  The star on my Christmas tree reminds me that the first Christmas was in the most humble of settings, in poverty, even a stable,  but changed the world for good.  I have faith that Christmas is indeed about the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh--- about  giving the finest that we have within ourselves for the benefit of others, to lift, love and inspire-------and perhaps,  even change the world for good! Stars!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


As the Thanksgiving holiday approached, my 15 year old was intrigued with Black Friday.  "What is Black Friday?"  "Mom, can we sleep over in front of a store tonight?"  She was curious and asked presistently.  Finally, I agreed, we would head to Walmart for the 8pm sale.  I was not interested in sleeping over anywhere, but in my own bed.  However, there were a few items that interested me.  So, she and I set out, Thanksgiving night, at 7:45pm.  The parking lot was full to the brim.  As we walked in the door.  There seemed to be a rush of enthusiasm that met us as the automatic doors opened.  "Here we go," I said to my cute daughter.  We walked around, waited in a couple of lines.  Then, at one point, I saw a sign for a new dvd for only $1.99.  I thought to myself, "Now there's a gift that is in my budget!"  I headed into an enormous crowd of people.  I was pushed, shoved and even elbowed in the eye, yet I kept walking towards the SALE.  Then, as I approached the almost empty rack, I realized that my height (or lack of) could be to my advantage.  So, all 5'2" of me knelt to the ground and I extended my hand to grab as many movies as I could hold.  With my arm outstretched, I was overwhelmed with a feeling............................All of sudden I was taken back to the times of Christ.  I pictured a crowd, much like the one I was in.  And, I was the women who had the "issue of blood".  For 12 years she had suffered and spent all that she had seeing physicians.  Then, in the crowd of all crowds, she reached out her hand to touch the hem of her Savior, even Jesus Christ.  Knowing, that if she could only touch his garment, she would be healed.  I felt chilled as I realized for what I was reaching?  I was reaching for what the world calls Christmas.   I was frozen for a moment, then grateful that the true meaning of Christmas was taught to me that night, in a crowd, not by the caos or the myriad of shoppers, but by the Spirit.  I realized that Christmas was that simple---we need only touch the hem of that baby Savior born that night in Bethlehem.  We can touch His hem by reaching out to others in service, by serving in our families, and by lifting the hands that hang down in His honor---------  That is the REASON for the SEASON!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Look up!

One of the greatest assignments, so far in college, has been the challenge to write my own obituary.  It might seem crazy, but I would challenge each and everyone of you to do the same.  I found it not only remarkably eye-opening, but healing at the same time.  It is the final party that we will attend, only in spirit.  In preparing my own obituary, I realized that it did not really matter what I thought, felt or understood had taken place during the events of my life, but how others interpreted them.  It does not really matter if I think I am a good mother, but how my kids view my fullfillment of this calling.  It won't really matter if I told my family often that I loved them.  It matters only if they felt loved by my words, actions and committment to them.  Often times, the present seems to just slip by while we are busy feeling overwhelmed with guilt about the past or worrying about what the future might bring.  I once heard a quote that said, "The bad news is, time flies-----the good news is YOU are the pilot!"  So, I began to write my obituary.  Each sentence seemed to provoke ten more feelings.  There were some things that I wrote that surprised even myself.  For example, I would want my children to speak of me as one who supported them and encouraged them to live their dreams.  I would want them to describe me as loving, kind, always serving.  Trying to teach them skills and helping them by lightening their loads everyday.  I would want my children to mention that I taught them to love and value education.  That I taught them that they can do hard things.   One of the final statements of my obituary said, "Debbie was best-friend to many, including her ex-husband.  He admired her courage, her stregnth, her positive attitude, her willingness to do hard things and her ability to find love where others would only find hate."  As I wrote this part of the obituary, I realized, that though divorce was nearing completion, it was important to me how he felt about me.  And, I still wanted to make him proud.  So, this changed my heart.  None of us knows how many more tomorrows we will have, but we have today, and I had some work to do.  If I wanted to be described as loving, I needed to love.  If I wanted to be known for being positive, the glass needed to always be half-full rather than half-empty.   I needed to find faith when I felt afraid.  I needed to find courage when I felt weak.  And, most importantly, I needed to find love, when it seemed logical to hate.   I know that our eyes are in front by divine design-----because it is more important to look forward than back.  And, I would add, to look up along the journey, and recognize His guidance and continuous blessings.  How do you want to be remembered?  Be that person now!!!  Look forward!  Look up!  Enjoy the journey---and others will enjoy YOU too!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Christmas gift!!

As Christmas time approaches, I have found myself thinking a lot about Mary.  We know she was  amazing, as the scriptures say she was “highly favoured of the Lord”.  I am sure she wondered how she would explain her pregnancy to her peers.  I am sure she worried about what her family and friends would think.  She probably knew embarrassment would come with the calling to bear the Baby Jesus.   I am sure she knew that it would not be popular to raise the “Son of the Highest.”  Yet, she responded courageously, “be it unto me according to thy word.”   Do you think she knew that she would ride on the back of a donkey, and walk for miles and miles, in labor and then, give birth in a barn?  Her response to such a call inspires me------ “Behold the handmaid of the Lord…”  In other words, here I am—send me!!!  I am confident that we too, knew this life would come with its’ difficulties and challenges.  Though not in a barn, as families change, we find ourselves, much like Mary,  walking and laboring through challenge and trial, only to finally stop at a stable………for a moments rest, in between such terrifically refining experiences.  Death, disease, illness, accident, divorce, one after another families change, just like Mary’s.  Yet, during these times, do we see the potential lesson learned, testimony strengthened, and faith enlarged?  Or do we allow ourselves to be beaten up by our own self-doubt, lack of faith and insecurity?  For Christmas, I want to give my Heavenly Father the gift of “Mary”-----having the attitude of His will over mine, my willing heart even in the face of adversity----- Here I am—send me!!  This Christmas season, I will serve rather than sorrow!!!  And in her words, “ My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour!” 

 (Garrett said, "Mom, will you build a snow fort with me?-----Remembering my Christmas gift, I put the homework, dishes and lessons aside.....snow pants on...Here I am---send me!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Living--not just surviving!!

What an memorable Thanksgiving!!!  I was able to spend the holiday with some of the most amazing women in my life (my mom is taking the picture---she is of course, the most amazing of all!!).  Families Change, and as the holidays approach, they change too.  This was a scary thought to me, when I found myself a single mother.  I was afraid of what the holidays would bring, or not bring.    If this journey of single parenthood has taught me one thing, it is that it's not about surviving----it's about living!  And, so with the dawning of each new day, and holiday, I ask myself, "What will I make of  TODAY, for myself, for my kids and for those around me?"  So, Thanksgiving 2012 was spent with the Gardner family.  They have not only taken Ashlyn into their family, but they have taken in us all!!  We have all found great friendships within this amazing family!!  Was it odd to not have my boys for Thanksgiving?  Of course it was!  But, rather than focus on the emptiness, I trusted that my Heavenly Father is in the details, and once again, the miracle occurred!  The emptiness was quickly filled with the love and kindness of others.  It's not about surviving---- it's about living!!  And I also know that He lives!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nephi's bow

I know that this blog is public, but I absolutely love the Book of Mormon and I believe you will too!!  There is amazing power in this book.   If you have read it, I recommend reading it again.  If you have never read it, don't let another day go by until you start!!  And, if you don't know where to get a Book of Mormon, comment on this blog, and I will get you one!!  The other night, I was reading with the kids.  We read in 1 Nephi 16.  It talks about Nephi and his brothers who are out hunting for food for their families.  Nephi's bow of STEEL breaks.  Nephi states, "I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel;"  Often times, we believe our families and ourselves are invinsible----immune from challenge and hardship.  I testify that families change and as they do, the Book of Mormon is an incredible resource for those tough times.  So what do we do when our "bows of fine steel" break?  The scripture reads, "And it came to pass, that I Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones.  And, I said unto my father:  Whither shall I go obtain food?"   Rather than complain, Nephi goes out and makes a bow out of wood, makes some arrows out of sticks.  Then he asks his father for  divine guidance-- where to go hunt, that he might obtain food and care for his family.  In other words, Nephi makes do, he makes it happen, and he believes that after he has done all he can do with a tough situation, Divine guidance with lead him to provide for his family.  I too, believe!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Get on climbing....!!

"Life doesn’t end just because you have a tragedy—there’s a new mountain to climb. Don’t spend a lot of time sulking over what you’ve lost. Get on with climbing the next mountain.”----- Great quote from Elder L. Tom Perry, who knew, first hand, that families change.  He lost his first wife, remarried, lost a daughter and  2 grand children.  So, great council for us all--- Let's get on climbing the next mountain!!!!!

Families Change----Welcome Jordan!!

2012 has definitely been a year of Family Change! Divorce was final in January. Our sweet friend Britt, who had spent countless hours in our home, left on a mission to Argentina in April, then, in June, Ashlyn annouced she was getting married! Then, on August 22nd, I received one of the greatest gifts I could ever imagine.......a son-in-law who was truly sent from heaven!! He is fun, courageous, determined, kind-yet-firm, oh so smart, charming, he adores my daughter and is is remarkable example, brother and friend to us all!! We absolutely adore Jordan's family, which is yet, another blessing!!! I always say, you can count how many blessings you DO have, or count how many you don't ------the only difference is ATTITUDE!! 2012 has been a remarkable year!!! Rather than pondering the end of one family, as we all knew it--- we celebrate the beginning of the Jordan and Ashlyn Gardner family!!! Love you Jordan!! Love 2012.

Keeping the Spirit

Earlier this year, our water heater went out.  Yeah for challenges!!!  I spent the next few days calling around and trying to find someone who could help, and for the best water heater for the best price.  For the upcoming week, there were always two large pots on the stove boiling; for dishes, baths and washing.  During the later evening hours, I would begin the walk from the kitchen to the bathroom, dumping large pots of boiling water into the bathtub.   I so wanted my kids to feel warm, safe and secure---- that everything would be ok, during this time of challenge and family change.   It was so cold outside.......... yet inside, I kept boiling water to care for my family.  One night, exhausted from the day, I found myself walking down the hall towards the bathroom, with a pot of boiling water.  As I waited for the next pot to boil, I would study my text books, which I layed open on the kitchen counter.  Trip after trip, until the bathtub was just full enough for a child to barely bathe, I walked and read, read and walked.   I paused for a moment and realized what meticulous care I was taking for the physical warmth and care of my children, but was I keeping the Spirit boiling in my home, in order to meet their spiritual needs?  That cold, winter night, I prayed for help.  I promised my Heavenly Father that if He would help me find a way to replace the water heater, I would do ALL I COULD do to make sure the Spirit was invited into my home.  That I would help my kids feel and recognize that warmth ---- and that keeping the spirit with them was worth any price!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

They sang

We tend to usually think of the pioneers in the summer time. However, lately, I have found my mind wander to their experiences, as I have shoveled snow and bundled up to stay warm. "Pioneer children SANG as they walked and walked and walked and walked......and walked." It's motivating------ their feet freezing for the lack of shoes and socks---but they SANG. Brothers, sisters, parents and grand-parents passing away on the trail, digging graves to bury them in the snow--- but they SANG. Hungry, cold and lonely--- and they SANG. I'm sure most of them did not aspire to walk across the United States, to be cold, parentless and hungry at such a young age. But, they walked and they SANG. So, I post a picture of my pioneer shoes------ the perfect hot pink boots, just my size, from the local thrift store for only .99cents. In them, I walk to and from classes, shovel heavy snow off my driveway and wait on the porch for teenagers to return home from their events---alone. Though being a single parent is not the handcart I ever thought or desired. Nor did I aspire to be a full-time college student at age 46. And, waiting for and supporting teenagers is a job that was divinely designed for two------ it is MY handcart and it must be pushed. If I try to walk with my head hanging down, feeling sorry for myself, those hot pink boots make me smile..........They were .99 cents and just my size, because someone bigger is in charge. HE knew I needed them so I wouldn't slip. HE knew my size. HE knew I loved pink! HE knew they would make me smile and give me faith to keep walking. HE knew----- because HE knows me! HE is in the details of my life. I know it. The pioneers knew it. And I WILL SING!!!

Quote of the Week

"Forget yourself and... go to work!"----------------Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, November 12, 2012


I can count my blessings I DO have or the blessings I don't have----the only difference is ATTITUDE!!

Better, stronger, thicker

 I have learned that the world around me is basically “good”, and full of people with wisdom and resources to share, They are just waiting for opportunities to do so.  Life has a way of teaching us lessons, through on-the-job training, which allows us to open up and learn, as life unfolds or withdraw and learn nothing.  I am grateful that my parents instilled in me a positive outlook on life, regardless of what exterior forces present.   I grew up in Northern California, near the Lake Tahoe area.  Oft times, there would be forest fires----some were controlled burns by the forest service and other times accidental---- perhaps by a car accident or fireworks.   However, it never ceased to amaze me, that, though it took years to re-grow, the forest would grow back better, stronger and thicker, with each fire.  We all have times in our lives when we feel completely "burned", by tragedy, illness, sorrow, depression, emptiness, failure, employment, finances, or just that we plain don't measure up.........  Then, we have the opportunity to "come back" better, stronger and thicker than ever before.  And, just as the new trees grow and thrive together, we need each other!!  I like to say, "The grass is always greener------after it's been burned!" 

Monday, November 5, 2012


Cheerfully doing all that is in my power.............

My story

My husband and I had just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a weekend getaway.   It was picturesque and so relaxing.  We had 4 children ranging from 8 to 18 years of age, each of them so amazingly talented, in their own way.  I was working a couple of afternoons each week as a lunch recess duty at our son’s elementary school.  It was perfect.  I had enough time during the day to take care of the house, serve on the PTA and was anticipating serving as the PTA president at the junior high the following year.  I was done with diapers and was excited to spend my days serving in our ward and in our children’s schools, to sort of pay back all those wonderful women who had dedicated their time and days, when my children were all babies at home.  I was supposed to meet my husband for lunch, that afternoon, as soon as I finished at the elementary school.  I returned to the car, looked at my phone, to find a text from my husband.  It read:  “I’m sorry.  I went to the house and took my things.”
            My sweetheart had been struggling and I had been aware of his challenges for a few years prior.  Well, that day, he gave up, Satan won, and he was not only done trying but done being part of our family as we knew it.  He was gone for good.  I immediately knelt in prayer and asked Heavenly Father for peace and direction for the coming hours, weeks and even months.  I felt as though my handcart had just been loaded to its capacity, and I had been sent out to join a company, without a map, only the Spirit and my faith as a guide.  I also knew it would be hard and long------but I KNEW we would make it!!

            The next day, I posted a laminated strip on the wall in our kitchen.  It read:  Family Theme 2010, I CAN do hard things……..and SMILE!  I introduced this theme that night during family prayer.  I told my children that this was indeed a hard thing, but that our attitudes would dictate much of the outcome.  I reminded them of Pack Meeting, baseball games, softball games and community plays that they were all involved in.  I reminded them of their school work, and the importance of their personal prayers and scripture study.  Most of all, I reminded them that this family change did not DEFINE them, but that it would REFINE them.  I told them that this difficult challenge was no excuse to give up or for failure and that we all had obligations awaiting us, and to get to work!  Joseph Smith, during some very lonely and dark hours in the Liberty Jail said it best, “Therefore, let us cheerfully do all things that lie within our power.”  I found some things that really helped our family during this difficult time of family change:

1.        We posted a motivational Quote of the Week.  I introduce the new quote each week during Family Home Evening and we talked about how we could become better throughout the week, by keeping this thought in our minds and hearts.  One particular quote we had up was from President Monson.  It read, “We face many challenges in the world today, but I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of us.  He loves each of us and will bless us as we seek Him through prayer and strive to keep his commandments.”   April 2011 General Conference

2.      Start a new family tradition.  That first Friday night, that my husband was gone, the stillness frightened me.  I began to feel the loneliness and I did not want my kids to feel that deep pain I was feeling.  Though, I knew it would come.  So, I announced, “Hey kids, it Friday Family Pizza Night---invite as many of your friends over to our house, I will supply the $5 pizza and let’s have fun!”  The house went from quiet loneliness to a house full of laughing kids in about 30 minutes.  We had a great time!  We were together.   Still, over a year later, everyone anticipates Friday Family Pizza night.  Friends are invited and we continue to have fun together and look forward to Fridays with excitement, not sorrow.

3.      Have regular Family Home Evenings, family prayer and family scripture study.  If your family has always done these things than this is the time to keep it up.  If your family has never done these things, than now is the time to get to work.  There is incredible power that comes not only from studying and learning the gospel as a family.  But, there is power in obedience and during any family change or challenge we need that power.  It is a power that brings peace.  A power that brings blessings.  A power that brings hope, when you may feel all hope it lost.  And, it’s a power of unity during a time of trying change.  It is the glue that unifies during a time when it would be easy to fall apart.

4.      Serve together!  I have always said that a formula for great day is to do something for myself, something for my family and something for someone else.  It works every time!!!  It does not have to be something big.  Talk about it in Family Home Evening and do something each week.  Perhaps, it is to get up early and shovel a neighbor’s driveway, to make cookies after school one day and deliver them to someone who has been sick.  If extended family is nearby, perhaps it is to plan a surprise visit to one of them.  Or, write letters to the full-time missionaries.  Holidays are a great time to be a secret Santa, Easter Bunny or deliver a Halloween treat.  My kids love to ding-dong-ditch the treats and they always make elaborate plans on who will run, carry the cookies and ring the bell.  Then, we hide and watch our gift be received.  Lift up the hands that hang down, and your’s will feel lighter as you do.

5.      Re-decorate a room.  Home is where the heart is, so we need to make it warm, bright and even a little bit of heaven.   Move the furniture around, hang a new picture, re-organize some cupboards and even clean along the way.  It is fun to rediscover long lost items under a bed or dresser, to clean, change and even brighten a room with a new coat of paint.  We did this and then we had a great lesson on how some change comes our way because of our own choices, like re-doing a room.  And, other times, change comes our way because of someone else’s choices.  Stephen R. Covey teaches us that we are not products of our circumstances, but products of our decisions.   We talked choosing to do hard things and smiling.  We talked about becoming better not bitter.  We enjoyed the newness of the room……and we realized that each day we could choose to be happy and the importance of good choices and how they lift and brighten the soul and all those around you, just like the new room.

The words to I Am A Child of God have never been more true than they are today.  I plead each morning and night for a loving Heavenly Father to lead me, to guide, and to walk beside me………and He always does.  I know that Heavenly Father loves his children.   Better yet, I know Heavenly Father loves me and my children.  I know that He will direct me as I put my faith in Him and “cheerfully do ALL things that lie in my power” to adjust and help my children adjust to change, challenge and even trial.  We all can do hard things------ it’s smiling while we do them that is difficult.  But, that smile shows our Heavenly Father that we trust His plan. That smile tells our families that things will be all right.  That smile gives courage to those around us to do the same. 
Families Change..........and so can we......for the better!!

 FamiliesChange Update:   On August 8, 2013, I married Brian Weidmer, a close friend from Northern California.  We grew up together, laughed in high school together......................families change and as they do, I continue to learn and grow and trust my Heavenly Father.  Being a step parent is just that many more opportunities to change the world, one child at a time!!!