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!!