Sunday, December 29, 2013

Together--Our First Christmas

Thank you to everyone for your wonderful Christmas cards and holiday wishes!  We have truly drawn from your strength and experiences, along our journey.  You have motivated us, encouraged us and inspired us, and for that, we will be eternally grateful.  This was a our first Christmas as parents of ten!  We made memories and even learned a few lessons on the way.

Lesson 1=  Christmas is not just a day on the calendar, but a feeling of togetherness.  I had thoughts of having all of the children together, young and old, our first Christmas, to enjoy the Christmas story on Christmas eve, decorate cookies and deliver to neighbors, to discover their stockings together on Christmas morning and enjoy hot cinnamon rolls (which I don't even know how to make!) while opening gifts together.  However, the reality was, three of our children spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their mom.  3 more of our children spent the early afternoon on Christmas day with their dad.  Then, by 6pm, Christmas night, we were all under the same roof, minus one.

Lesson 2=  When blending families and dealing with any type of family change, Christmas is a great opportunity to create bonds with one another.  Early in the month of December, the kids had drawn names amongst themselves.  They would purchase a nice gift for one sibling.  On Christmas night, with everyone finally together, each child held the gift they purchased.  One by one, they were to tell the person they had purchased the gift for, three things they loved and admired about that person.  A great thing began to happen.  By the third  person, everyone would chime in and say what they loved about them as well.  It took about 30 minutes to get through everyone.  And, by the end of the night, there was an amazing spirit of love and togetherness that was felt by all.  This type of activity is crucial when blending families, as the relationships are new.  During times of family change, like divorce or death, family dynamics are different, and often times, spirits are down.  So, a bonding activity is a great way to invite the spirit, and create new relationships with the new family dynamics.

Lesson 3=  Christmas is a time of great tradition.  While part of me wanted to just create all new traditions and forget the old, I spent the month of December asking the kids what their favorite Christmas was a why, what types of traditions they had and what they liked about them.  Whether death or divorce, the holidays can be a time of great sorrow, if we allow it, as our focus is all on Christmas Pasts and how things will never be the same.  However, by talking about those Christmases of yesteryear, all of the kids realized that I wanted to know, was interested in their traditions, and allowed them a positive venue for discussing such experiences when they may have felt like they could not talk to me about them.  I was then able to incorporate some and create some others, and celebrate the first Hirchak-Weidmer Christmas, together!

Lesson 4=  Christmas is a time of great anticipation for kids.  So, it was not surprising that out of our 10, their were one or two who were tired, grumpy and even vocalized their disappointment in the gifts they received.  Rather than take offense and feel like a failure, I just focused on the odds of 9 out of 10 and felt like we had done a pretty good job.  Their grumpiness also created a great teaching moment and opportunity to remind them that Christmas is not just about the presents, by His presence.

Lesson 5=  When things don't turn out just like you planned, make a new plan with what you have rather than focus on what you have-not!  It would have been easy to throw my hands up in the air and give up, when I realized that kids would be heading in many different directions on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, when I pictured us all together.  However, I got out an index card, and wrote down who was going where and when.  This allowed me to pinpoint the time that everyone could get together, and we made our plan, sent out the invites, shopped for special food and created a great family event, during the time that we could all get together.

I realized that each Christmas and holiday will be a little different than the one before, and a lot different than the many I remember.  However, each holiday has the potential to create loving bonds and be a vehicle for transforming us as families change, together!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Hirchak-Weidmer Christmas letter

Christmas 2013

Here’s the story, of a lovely lady, who was bringing up 4 very lovely kids.
Some of them have glasses on, like their mother, E’en the youngest one in specs.
Here’s the story, of man named Brian, who was busy in the Public Safety realm.
He had 6 kids, 3 big, 3 little, and lots of food storage.

Deb and Brian, grew up together, same county, church and high school did they go.
School, sports, homework and seminary; great friends so long ago.
Then one spring day, they found each other, and they knew that it was much more than a hunch.
That this group of 12 must somehow form a family; August 8th began the Hirchak-Weidmer Bunch!

We took a trip in June, all of us together, as sort of a trial run, and camped at Lake Tahoe for a week.  We must have all passed the test!! Then, we spent the rest of the summer moving Brian and his 3 youngest kids to Orem.  And, on August 8th, Brian and I were married!  It was a beautiful event, one we will never forget!! 
Half of the garage has been converted into a woodshop.  Brian immediately designed and built a shed, in the backyard, for outdoor and camping equipment.  What was once Garrett’s room is now the Boy’s Bunk House.  And though Debbie enjoyed having a laundry room, after Ashlyn got married, that quickly became Karmen’s room.  And so, after the months of dating, moving and projects that go along with that, we have all been about blending our two little families into one big one------ and it has been so much fun!!
Brian is a Canyon Police Officer for Salt Lake County.  It is a dream job, as he gets to spend his days in the mountains he loves, and get paid for it.  He will often send pictures of the scenery he adores, so that we can all be jealous of the beauty he is surrounded in.  Brian works with the 11 year old Scouts, which is perfect for him.  Garrett is currently in his group and Sean will join them in February.  Brian has been fabulous role model for ALL of the kids, and I will be forever grateful for his love, laughter and guidance in our home. 

We have been blessed with two beautiful blonde daughters, in their early 20’s.  Brenan is very creative and loves to read, write and draw.  Ashlyn is married to Jordan, and they are awaiting the arrival of our first grandchild, a grand-daughter, the beginning of April--- and the whole family can’t wait!!  Both Ashlyn and Jordan are full-time students and great examples of hard work.

Tyler and Adam are 18 years old.  Tyler is a welder and works full-time.  He loves the outdoors, especially climbing, hiking, camping and sailing, just like his dad.  Tyler worked hard this summer to recertify, and proved to us all the importance of hard work.  Adam works full-time at the Mustang Grill.  He has been able to experience many of the different jobs that a restaurant has to offer.  He also works part-time at Hang Time, a popular trampoline facility.  Needless to say, Adam is quite popular among all of the younger kids, and he is kind enough to take them jumping and for a soda, as often as his time allows.  Both Tyler and Adam are great role models and the best big brothers ever.

Cassidee and Amber are both sporty, spunky and super fun!!  They both play basketball in high school.  Amber also plays softball while  Cassidee also plays volleyball and runs track.  They both act like they have known each other forever, and have a blast when we can get them together.  They both fill our home with laughter and love, and are incredibly helpful and fun to be around.  They are always smiling and usually Karmen, is not far behind.

Braden is 13 years old and in the 8th grade.  He loves the outdoors, video games and going to Hang Time with Adam.  He loves family events and ALWAYS wants to sit at the grown up table.  He is a leader and very smart.  He has a huge heart, loves to read and had a blast this summer, at his first go at Scout camp. 

Garrett is 11 years old and in the 6th grade.  Garrett has loved no longer being the youngest!  Garrett always wanted to be a big brother!  Garrett loves music, loves to sing and play any and all sports.  He is often found in the neighborhood surrounded with friends and brothers, organizing a football or baseball game at the park or the church.  Garrett is a great brother, super son, and fabulous friend. 

Sean is 10 years old and in the 5th grade.  Sean is brilliant!  Sean loves to have family meals all around the table and while he has a captive audience, he will tell us about his adventures of the day.  Sean enjoys playing on the computer and video games.  He also loves late night trips to the grocery store with Amber, and having his back tickled. 

Karmen is 9 years old, in the 4th grade and LOVES being the “baby” of the family.  She likes to remind everyone, that someday, she will be the only kid home, and she will get to eat whatever she wants, have the room of her choice, and be in charge of what we watch on TV.  Karmen loves Barbies, arts and crafts and helping Debbie with cooking and chores.  Karmen loves to pray and to leave us all notes of love and inspiration, in special places around the house. 

I am still a full-time student at UVU studying Public and Community Health.  I have 2 more semesters left!!  I still work part-time at the elementary school where Garrett attends.  I love to spend time with the kids, drive them to and from where they need to go, take them on errands, teach them all about Saturday chores, dance with them in the kitchen, and laugh a lot!!  We go through 100 Ziplock baggies, 40 granola bars and 6-8 gallons of milk each week.  I do about 20-25 loads of laundry each week, and do lots of night time “tuck-ins” and “tickles!”  Most of all, I have realized that a Mother heart has no limit!!!  And, that being a wife is just like riding a bike----- it’s something you never forget! 
We have all learned that there are many different ways of doings things.  And, “our way” and “their way”, really don’t matter.  What does matter is what will work best for our family NOW!  And, we have learned not to get upset if someone does not react in the way that we would react, or in a way that we think they should.  We just take each day, each person and each issue, and figure it out together, as if it is something that has happened for the very first time.  Brian and I have learned that after being single parents, we can do anything together!!  And, that step-parenting is really about learning when to STEP-IT-UP and help each other.  When to STEP OUT and allow time for one-on-one time with each of the kids, which is crucial in a large family.  And, we have learned that being a step-parent is really about helping the children use us to STEP UP and STAND a LITTLE TALLER.  It is just another opportunity to make a difference, and change generations for the better, one child at a time!

We know that, just as Heavenly Father blessed Mary and Joseph, that first Christmas night, He will bless us as we look to Him.   We know that He has brought our families together for a reason.  And, that within the walls of our home, something truly holy is taking place.  We are grateful for His love and guidance.  And, we know that He has and will continue to place shepherds and wise men and women in our lives, as we seek Him.  Heroes are those who are willing to give up something now, for something better later, in order to lift, love and rescue.  We are thankful for the many heroes in our lives, like each of you.  We will be forever grateful for your love and support.  Merry Christmas!!

Love, Brian and Debbie and kids 


 One night, not too long ago, our 3 young boys were running about the house, jumping and screaming, yelling and laughing.  When the volume reached a point that all thoughts and music could not overcome, I made my way up the stairs.  There I found our 13 year old, flying about, chasing the other kids and confidently  proclaiming, "I am Batman, and nothing can kill me!"  Though the movie screens, televisions and computers, toy stores and video games are full of  Hollywood heroes, I firmly believe that there are Heroes, divinely placed in our lives, to save the day!! I have spent the month of December, reflecting on such heroes in my life, and felt impressed to share.

Sallie was young mother in our little mountain town.  I looked up to her and loved spending time with both she and her little family.  When I was 12 years old, she was involved in a terrible car accident.  Her close friend and young mother was killed as a result.  Sallie suffered serious head injury.  Her long blonde hair was shaved as she endured surgery.  She would need to re-learn everyday skills like walking all over again.  The hospital she was in was about an hour and a half away, which, for a 12 year old, might as well be on another continent.  After months of hospitalization, Sallie came home.  I watched her light up when she put on earrings, her favorite scarf and hat, and walked out, aided by her husband, and enjoyed the comforts of home.  As the weeks passed, she grew more and more independent.  Sallie taught me that having courage does not mean never being afraid-----it means being afraid and doing it anyway.  She taught me that we are not products of our circumstances, but that we can choose what we become in spite of them.  Her accident taught me, at the wise age of 12, that bad things happen to good people, and that life is not always fair.  Sallie was, is and always will be a hero to me.  When I have gone through difficult times, especially those of Family Change, I have remembered Sallie's superpower of courage----- and the lessons I learned from her, have gone to "save the day", more than once in my life.  

Livvy was 3 years old.  She loved to play with her sisters, wear dresses and sit on her grandma's lap and watch MASH, and find the tissues and deep hidden treasures in Grandma's shirt.  One summer afternoon, Livvy suffered a near-drowning accident.  After her arrival at a near by children's hospital, I received a phone call to travel with our Relief Society president and support and offer help to her family.  When we arrived, we found Livvy's mother peaceful, but understandably worried.  Her husband was out of town on a business trip, so we spent much of that night, with Livvy's mother.   Mom immediately brought us back to visit her little princess.  What I saw and felt, left an impression on my heart and soul, that I shall never forget.  There in front of me, amidst the tubes and machines, lay my little friend.  Though she appeared lifeless, her giant spirit filled the room from floor to ceiling.  I took her hand and sang, If the Savior Stood Beside Me (as I had just arrived home from girl's camp, and that was our stake song).  As I sang to her, the spirit testified to me that the Savior would in fact, stand beside her, walk beside her and even lay down beside her in that hospital bed.  And, I felt very strongly that there were challenges ahead of me, and that the Savior would stand beside me, as well.  Though Livvy never really woke up, and could no longer leap a building with a single bound, her heart kept beating strong as ever.  Livvy remained in a body that no longer worked for her, and in that state, she went on teach lessons of love, service, endurance and strength to all those around her.  She survived for about 9 months, but as she was a true super hero, her legacy lives on.   Livvy's super power was her gigantic spirit and her love for her family.  These super powers allowed her to hang on for them---- for her father that was out of town, for her mother and grandmother who adored her and her devoted sisters and baby brother.
Christopher Reeves, a real life Superman once said, "I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."  Livvy, is such a hero!!!

 Kate has been a long time friend and hero!  Kate struggled to finish school and was married young.  She loved fashion and make-up and doing hair.  She talked about going to hair school, but was not sure if she could do it because of the challenges she faced during her school years.  However, very young and married, and a baby on the way, she enrolled in hair school.  There were times when she felt like giving up. Times when she was tired of studying and just wanted to stay home with her baby.  However, with lots of family support, Kate mustered up the strength to continue.  Despite the class time, required reading and time away from home, she persevered and finished.  Kate is my hero!   Her super power is her ability to persevere.  A hero is willing to give up something now for something better later.  Heroes take journeys and confront dragons.  Kate persevered and confronted her dragons of self-doubt and fear and finished hair college, despite the odds.  She has gone on to become a beautiful wife and mother.  She has spoken in church, though I know that is not her favorite thing.  Kate took those challenges and used them as a spring board to grow closer to her family, closer to the Lord, to surmount and overcome.  A hero does not seek for rewards, but is willing to pay the price.  Kate has paid the price and I'm sure will continue to do whatever it takes.  Kate is just such a hero!

A wise superhero once said, "With great power comes great responsibility."  Britt was given great power.  Britt was given an incredible personality and ability to love others.  Britt is able to make everyone feel like they are the most important people in the world.  Britt loves music, theater and dance, but her true super power is her ability to be a friend.  Britt decided to use her super power in the mission field.  She prepared, and received her call.  She would study the Spanish language in the MTC for two months, before heading to South America.  No sooner had she arrived at the Missionary Training Center, when the adversary began to fill her mind and heart with doubt.  She felt afraid, unqualified and just plain overwhelmed.  She was ready to give up and come home before the end of her first week.  Through letters and family correspondence, I was able to keep updated on her progress.  I knew it was difficult and she was struggling.  It would have been SO EASY to give up, as she lived just miles away from the MTC.  As Britt was in the MTC, running the race of her life as a new missionary, I was home, running the race of my life as a single mother and full-time student.  The emotional demise of being left by a spouse is difficult enough, but to also overcome my fears and return to school was almost more than I could bear.   Many days, with my spirits running on empty, I wanted to give up.  However, I would think of Britt and say to myself, "If she can do it, I can do it!!"  As I would receive updates on Britt, there were highs and lows, but she never gave up-----------and because of her courage and dedication to the Lord, I never gave up either.  In November, she returned home, after completing 19 months (that's one month extra,over and above her call).  Her super power to love others allowed her to fulfill her responsibilities as a missionary.  Her super powers gave me super powers!!
 As I hugged her at the airport, I not only realized she did it ---- but so did I.  It's easy to see the difference that people make in our lives, but it's a lot tougher to make a difference.  A hero is someone that understands their responsibility and does it well----intent on making the world a better place.  Britt is such a hero!

You don't become a hero because of anything you do---- it's who you are, who you touch and who you inspire.  There are heroes all around us, divinely placed, to help us leap with faith, face our fears, overcome the overwhelming and beat the odds.  Those powers are not found in capes or muscles, but in the families and friends that surround us.  You never know how strong you are, until strong is all you have left.  Pondering the heroes in our lives can be an amazing Christmas gift to ourselves and to others.  It causes us to reflect and show gratitude.  But, most of all, I have realized that these heroes truly were placed in my life, not by accident, but miraculously on purpose to prepare me with the super powers I will need to face what lies ahead. Heroes are ordinary people about extraordinary things.  The greatest hero of all, we celebrate this Christmas season. It is He who can truly save, lift and heal.  It is He who gives us the courage to not be afraid.  He who gives us the strength to hold on.  He who enables us to confront dragons, to face our fears and to never give up.  He is my ultimate hero and yours.  His gift to us, His life, that we may live, lift, love and inspire!! Heroes!

Friday, December 13, 2013


 The other night, I was making my way home along the busy, snowy roads.  The light turned green, and cars began to travel in the typical holiday hurry to their various destinations.  Then suddenly, I heard a siren.  It got louder and louder and soon, the large hook and ladder was in view.  The streets, covered with new fallen snow, reflected the lights of the sirens, in a beautiful RED and white pattern.  It was captivating.  Soon, I realized the fire truck
was waiting to cross the street, and the cars were not letting them through.  Each and everyone in too big of a hurry, focused on their next stop or purchase or event.  I shouted to myself, "Debbie, Stop and pull over, there is a crisis ahead!"  As I pulled over, other cars began to follow suit, and make their way to the curb. And soon, the large RED truck was able to make its'way through the light and focus on the tragedy ahead.  As I sat on the side of the road, I remembered sitting in church, one Sunday in December, just two years prior, as an exhausted and overwhelmed single mother.  I still remember the moment, for it changed me.  My kids and I arrived, that cold Sunday morning, and took our seats in the center section, about 5 rows back.  I sighed and realized I had made it one more week.  One more time, I had kept everyone alive (including the dog) for one more week.  One more week, I had gotten everyone awake and fed and to church on time.  I was just finishing up finals, like I am today.  As I sat, I noticed the poinsettia flower arrangement majestically gracing the podium.  As members of the congregation spoke and sang, I thought to myself, "How can they be so happy when my life is falling apart?" This was puzzling to me.  How could I be struggling to survive each day, praying not only to make it through finals, but throw together some sort of Christmas miracle for my kids, and yet, everyone seemed so happy and did not even notice I was completely falling apart?  I sat and listened, my lip quivering with hurt, frustration, pain, guilt and even resentment towards everyone else who seemed to have it all together, that day.  You know, how when your car is broken down, everyone seems to be driving a shiny RED sports car.  And, when you have a bad hair day, the world seems to have just walked out of the salon----- well, everyone but you, that is.  I realized while sitting in the chapel that day, that even when you are having the best day of your life, someone else may be having their worst.  When you are the happiest, someone is the saddest.  When you feel like life just could not get any better, someone else is hoping and praying that it just doesn't get any worse. So, after pulling over and letting the firetruck through, I made it home.  I pulled into my driveway, and audibly yelled STOP!!
 I needed to regroup, and refocus.  So, I decided that rather than focusing on trying to figure out Christmas after finals, I asked myself, "Today, have I RED the words of He whose birth we celebrate this Christmas season?"  "Have I RED and pondered the life of service and sacrifice He led and of His blood He so freely spilt in my behalf?"  "Have I thanked Him for the gift He so REDily gave, that broken hearts like mine, can become healed hearts, through Him and only Him?"

We live in a world where so many celebrate His birth, each Christmas season, yet so few celebrate His teachings. I decided then and there, that I did not want to be one of them.  Every time I see firetruck, a stop sign, or anything RED, I will think of Him.  He who would STOP at nothing to save and heal me.  He who whose line is never busy, who always knows my needs and would not hesitate to "pull over" and let anything and everything go, just to help me during a time of tragedy, crisis or concern.  And, all I need to do is STOP and go to Him, who birth we celebrate this Christmas season.  Every time I see something RED, I will ask myself, "Have I RED of Him today?"  Have I RED of He who loves the unlovable, heals the incurable, warms the cold and feeds the hungry and befriends the lonely?  As I wrap up finals this next week, I will not allow myself to be overwhelmed with what the world calls Christmas.  I will strive to put Christ back into Christmas------- and remember, that even when I am the happiest, someone else's world may be falling apart, and I will do my best to reach out as He would, and be His hands of whom I have RED today, this Christmas season.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Season

As the holiday season approaches, I find myself trying to make it through finals, and get to the holiday concerts and events, while running out of time for anything else.   The other night, I laid awake, and the chill of all that I have not had time or resources to do was paralyzing.  Struggling to invite the light back into the night, I pondered some of those present, that first Christmas night.  And, as I pondered, I could see a little bit of myself in each of them.  The shepherds, full of faith, as they secured flocks and went in haste(quickly) to see the Christ child.  The magi, who were so wise.  They saw the star when others did not.  They knew the purpose of the star.  They had courage to follow the star, as they knew it would lead them to the holiest of scenes.  Then, they desired to bring gifts, the very finest as a symbol of gratitude and honor for the holy child.  And so it was, their knowledge, courage and offerings that led them to the baby Savior, that first Christmas night.  The Innkeeper, just plain out of rooms.  Perhaps, he was just too busy to feel the sacredness of what was about to take place?  Maybe he did feel something, and so wanted to help, and the stable was all he had to offer?  Joseph and Mary, a young couple who experienced the ultimate Family Change of their time---- find they are expecting a child, but in a way they had never dreamed of.  Joseph is quietly courageous and provides and raises this son as his own.  Mary responds, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord.."  Handmaid by Him.  She trusts that if He has chosen to divinely and precisely place this child in her home, that He will provide a way.  I am sure she knew that it would not be easy.  And as the days unfold, she is great with child on the back of a donkey.  Delivers in a stable.  Persecution mounts and many seek the life of her son.  And finally, more Family Change, she must bid farewell to her child, for a time, clinging to her testimony that she will see Him again.   As I lay in my bed that night, tears began to flow.  I could not help but think about my family of Christmas past.  I soon realized that though my family may not have come to be in the way that I dreamed of, I knew without a doubt that my little son we adopted, my six sweet step-children, and my three biological children have ALL been divinely and precisely placed in my home.  And, He who has placed them there will help me love them and teach them!  No matter how challenging and difficult at times, I realized that I am also one of his Handmaid, we all are.  And though, Families Change, He will provide a way, and the lessons we learn from the Nativity are key, in order to have His divine help.

We must be as the shepherds and constantly secure our flocks with quality family time and go to Him often, in haste.  We must be as wise as the magi,
and follow His lead, and bring our gifts to Him of gratitude, honor and dedication. We have to learn from the Innkeeper to always have room in our lives and in our hearts for Him.  I must have Him in my heart, if I want Him to be in the hearts of my children and be the heart of my home.  The Christmas season is not a season of presents----but a season of His presence.  And, as we reach out to those in need, may we give His presences in our lives as our gifts---- that is the magic of the season.  It is in reaching out with our hands, our means and our time in order to help our families and neighbors reach up to Him, whom we celebrate this Christmas season.  I know that Baby Savior, that first Christmas night, was divinely and precisely placed in the arms of His earthly parents, who then laid Him in a manger.  I know that my family was divinely and precisely placed in my arms, in my home and in my heart, by those same loving arms.  And, I will forever treasure the sweet lessons I have learned from this season.  And, though I know it is not always easy, I know where my strength lies..... and I will go to Him often, in haste, for I, too, was handmaid of Him.  This I know without a doubt.  I will forever be grateful for this gift of the Season.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Shed

No matter how much faith we have, we lose people------- and, their memories can give us the very faith we need to continue on without them.  Families Change, through death, divorce, marriage and remarriage.  Through many of life's experiences, people come into our lives and slip away, and we are left to rebuild, to reunite, and to redefine our families.  When my first husband left, after 20 years of marriage, I experienced a myriad of contradictory feelings.  In one breath, I wanted to keep everything exactly as it was the day he left.  I guess, in an attempt to not face my new reality, to pretend a bit that it was all a bad dream and I would wake up to everything the same.  And, perhaps even to protect my heart from the devastation of divorce.    Yet, in another breath came a burning desire to make everything new.  To sort of clear the slate and start over.  Some kids wanted certain pictures down, while other kids wanted certain pictures up.  So, we redesigned and relocated a few, and even redecorated a bit, until we came to a happy place for us all.  Then, there was the master bedroom closet.  His clothes hung straight ahead and were the first things in view every time I opened the door.  Those clothes hung for hope---- that someday he might return.  Those clothes  neatly organized, just as he had left them, reminded me of the many good things he had taught me like being clean and organized, and patterning our home and our lives in that same manner.  His white shirts reminded of our beliefs that still burned deeply within my soul.  And, his Olympic coat, from his volunteer experience reminded me of warmth and security------not only of the warmth and security I once felt from him, but also of the warmth and security I hoped to again feel, someday in the future.  I left the closet just as he left it for over a year.  Then, I was ready.  The kids were all invited to different events, that weekend.  I began to empty the closet.  I laundred and neatly folded his clothes and placed them in bins.  Each drawer was tenderly emptied, boxed, taped and labeled.  As I went through things, I realized that those days, as I knew them, were over.  I cried tears over what I had lost, over what he gave away and over what would never be.  But, those tears were cleansing and healing.  Those tears enabled me to close the door to that chapter of my life, with confidence in what was ahead of me.  

This past August, I had the amazing opportunity of remarrying an incredible man and father.  As I mentioned in a previous post entitled "We Build", one of the first things we did was to build a shed.   We got rid of many things, donated others to those with a need.  We filled a storage unit and built a shed.  There were just some things that though they did not need to be in the house or garage, we wanted them close by, just in case.  There were other things that we knew we would not need again, but were however, useful to someone else.  Like, an extra washer and dryer.  Just as we were moving his things into my home, there was a neighbor relocating.  She had been through years of challenges.  Things were looking up for her and she was finally getting her own basement apartment.  That washer and dryer meant the world to her.  I had an extra Scout shirt that was just the right size for a new Scout leader in our neighborhood.  Then, we were able to place in the shed those things we might use, rarely use or just plain could not part with.  

"Forget what hurt you, but NEVER forget what it TAUGHT you!".
 Put those items in the shed----not too far away and close by just in case, those things you just can't part with.  I realized that my memories did not lie in his clothes in my walk-in closet nor the pictures on the wall. Those memories and lessons were deeply ingrained within my heart and soul, and when the time was right, they could be simply put in the "shed" of my mind, close by just in case, but not so close as to make our new family dynamics uncomfortable.   I vowed to never forget where I came from, because you never know when you might have to travel that road again, or help someone else make the very same trip.  Though I am remarried, I never want to forget those feelings and experiences I had as a single mother.  As hard as they were, it was definitely a time of refining in my life.  A period when I had to make the conscious effort to smile and wake up, to become better not bitter, each morning, I arose. 

Never forget where you've been.  Never forget who you've been with.  And, never take for granted those who have journeyed with you.  Always remember you have become who you are because of them.   There is power in knowing that if you make this trial of Family Change your strength ----- it cannot be a weakness.  Perhaps, it's the very scars we receive in this battlefield we call life ---- that remind us of the prints in His hands and feet.  The very prints that allow us to put our pain and heartbreak in the "shed" ---- not too far, and close by just in case----allowing us to press forward in faith and carry on for those who are depending on us to succeed.  I know that my life has happened exactly as it has, so that I might be prepared for what lies ahead.  Often times, I think we feel that we are doing a family member a disservice by putting there things away, sharing their clothes or even changing a picture or two.  But, I cannot think of a higher medal of honor to give someone we have lost,  than becoming better because of them.  And, not being afraid to put things in the "shed", was part of that process, for me.  Now, in my closet, there is another cluster of white shirts that remind me of our standards, our way of living, our beliefs and the core values we share together, in this new union, in this our family of Family Change.  I might also add, there is also a section of warm coats, even an Olympic coat, which remind me daily, that I am warm and secure, not only in the arms of my husband, but His arms.  His arms whom I have learned to cry on and rely on during the past few years of incredible Family Change.  I never want to forget that journey.  For it represents the possibilities in us all to rise above, to overcome, to heal, to put things in our "shed,"  not too far away, at times out of sight,----- yet close by, always to be found if we need, in our "Shed" of memories and experiences, lessons learned, hearts broken, healed and enlarged. And, spirits bigger, better, stronger and more dedicated  to today, because of yesterday----- which has been tenderly placed at His feet, in "Our Shed."

Sunday, October 27, 2013


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Northern California, where our high school football team of 30 years ago, was celebrated for winning the all-state Championship game!  The 1983 Football team from El Dorado High School was reunited, Thursday during a dinner event.  Then, Friday night, this team of Champions was honored during the half-time celebration of the varsity game.  Coaches and teammates were reunited.  Though appearances had changed, their hearts and passion for the game and for each other had remained.  These strong young men of yesterday had all gone on to become husbands and fathers, accountants, police officers, business owners, executives, construction workers, coaches and teachers---- all contributing members of society and striving to make each day better than the one before.  5 teammates had passed away, during the past 30 years, and their lives were tearfully remembered.  It was so fun to play the supporting role at this event, and let my husband know I was proud of him too.  I watched the eyes well up of these grown men, as they spoke of their love for each other, their admiration for the coaches, their memories and heartbreak over the 5 who had passed on, and the lessons learned, on and off the field, during those high school years.  And, of these lessons, only a fraction were actual football plays and strategies from the field.
These young men paid tribute to their coaches and team players for believing in them, and for teaching them that anything was possible with a lot of dedication and hard work.  Practice makes perfect, and if it's not perfect, keep practicing!  They spoke of being teenagers and the difficult and intense schedule that they were required to maintain, to be part of the team.  Early morning practices, after-school practices, exhaustion, late night games followed by late night homework.  Day after day, year after year, these young men worked in order to play in the game they loved.  As adults, each and everyone of them has had to face difficulty and challenge of one sort or another.  And, they remarked how during those very hard times, they would often reflect back to those football years and the hard work they put in to be part of this team.  And, if they could survive that, they could push through and survive anything.  Shy men rose and spoke not-so-shy anymore.  Football had given them purpose and life had given them value and voice and they stood and spoke with confidence.  

  I must brag a bit and add, that my husband was also quite the track star, during our high school days.  Though he is very humble, he set some track records that are still posted in the gym and have yet to be surpassed by any other athlete.  
 He was All-Conference for two years as a football player and his name is on a plaque on the Wall of Fame at the football field.  And, he was also Athlete-of-the-Year, an excellent student, and one of our Student Council Presidents.  Very talented!  Full of determination and zeal for anything he pursued.  And, a burning desire to perform wherever and whenever with excellence!  A true Champion!

The afternoon before the reunion dinner event, my husband said he was not sure if he wanted to go.  He suggested just attending the game with the boys and heading home, the following night.  With the ups and downs of life, it is easy to lack confidence and find peace about who and what you have become.  Life's challenges had definitely robbed him of his Champion status, and most days, he felt like anything but a "winner."  It is easy to look back on our lives and discover all the things we did not become and did not accomplish.  For some reason, we seem to see our lists of races we did not win, embedded on the walls of our minds, rather than the many times we crossed the finish line, exhausted and down trodden, but didn't quit.  Immediately following the half-time celebration, we jumped in the car and drove back to Utah, through the night.  With two of our sons, sleeping peacefully in the backseat, we talked and discussed the reunion events.  In the quiet of the night, I asked him what he like the best about getting together with his team.  He loved seeing his teammates and having those feelings of brotherhood fill his heart again.  He loved seeing the coaches and remembering that they believed in him.  He loved listening to the hours of stories and memories shared, which reminded him of being back in the locker room or on the field, making that touchdown, and feeling like a true Champion! He loved walking in the gym of our old alma mater and seeing his name there on the wall, for track records still unbroken-----30 years later, still a Champion! And, he loved sharing all this with his family.
 He loved putting on the jersey and walking onto the field with many of his teammates, knowing there were people in the bleachers cheering for him, just like 30 years ago, because he was and still is a Champion.  When we left the football stadium, my cute husband had an extra spring in his step, an extra dose of confidence and a permanent smile on his face.  As we drove through the darkness, the Champion sitting next to me had a light of confidence about him that I had not seen in years.  The more we drove, the more we talked.  And, the more we talked, the more accomplishments he remembered. Touchdowns he made. Races he won.  And, the more he remembered, the brighter his smile.

 It all seemed so therapeutic and the result--- a returning Champion!  So, I decided to make my own list of Championship accomplishments. I was not an honored athlete, though I loved sports.  I didn't win any races.  So, for my Champion list, I went clear back to 2nd grade, when my self-portrait 

was chosen to hang in the community library, and the honor I felt each time we went, and checked out books, and walked by my masterpiece.  In 7th grade, I won a science award for the Best Design of my machine powered by a can of soda.  Student Council Secretary.  A junior high award for participating in All Sports.  High School chemistry award. Crazy as this list may seem, as I drove, I continued with my Champion List!!  By the time we arrived home, I remembered I was a winner too!!  I decided, we all need to take time and make our Champion Lists!  We have all accomplished things that we are proud of.  Whether we have been selected or honored or not, we are all Champions of one sort or another.  And, remembering an award for my 7th grade soda pop machine reminded me that I was a Champion too.  A Champion is not afraid to fall and get up and run faster!  A Champion will fight through anything!  A Champion never quits!  A Champion was once a contender too.  A Champion requires motivation and hard work, winning is just the end result!  However, the most important attribute of being a champion ------- is believing that you are one.  So, if you fall, get up!  Keep persevering and never quit!  Work hard!  Don't just think Champion---- Be a Champion!!  What's on your Champion List?  Don't let life cause you to forget the races you have won, the teams you have supported, the lives you have touched or the pictures you have drawn.  Make your list! Remember the feeling!  Don't just think Champion--- Be one!  Smile bright! Dream big!  Champions!



One of the most common questions I get asked is, "How and why did you get back into school so fast, after such a devastating experience?"  "Why didn't you get a full-time job instead of school?" So, YOUR questions have become the inspiration for this post.

 "Learning"  would definitely describe the past three years of my life.

It was October 2010, Winter was right around the corner.  The air was cold, my heart was heavy and I could barely wrap my mind around my new reality.  I was alone.  I had 4 children.  I never finished college.  And, for the past 18 years, I had just been a Kool-Aid mom and taken care of our children and managed our home.  Now, I found myself needing to manage my life and the lives of 4 children, as a single mother.  And, the tremendous weight that accompanied my new reality felt all-consuming.  I decided that I loved taking care of people, so I would try to get into a  Nursing program.  At that point, obtaining a CNA was a prerequisite, so I went to check out a nearby program.  I found out the next CNA program started in two weeks.  They gave me a stack of papers to fill out.  I sat down and began to write, as I was afraid that if I left, I would would never have the courage to come back again.  Upon completion, the secretary told me that I needed to take a math test, before I could be considered for admittance.  She handed me the math test, 50 questions, and two pencils and two blank pieces of scratch paper.  I walked through the sterile hallway into a testing room, found a seat and began the test.  I remember, looking at the paper and then looking out the window, and thinking to myself, "This CANNOT be happening to me!"  "How did I go from full-time mom, PTA regular, and Garage Sale Guru, to single-mom-taking-math-test, in a moment of weeks?"  I then sent a prayer to the heavens, pleading for help on this math test, a subject that was my least favorite in school and of which, I had not had formal instruction for over 20 years.  I made a deal with divinity that if I were to go back to school, I needed a Math Miracle to give me the confidence and courage
I would need to succeed. I took a deep breath, opened the test, got my scratch paper ready and began!!  Some of the problems were harder than others.  I would sit and stare at equation after equation and wait for inspiration.  Sometimes, I could see myself helping one of my kids with a similar problem during a homework session.  Other problems, I could hear my father instructing me as a young girl, "Work it out backwards", "Figure out which answer it is not."  I only had an hour before I needed to pick up kids from school and practices, so my mind was on my test and the clock.  As I finished, there were 2 problems I just could not figure out.  Finally, I took one last look at each, chose the best answer for both and turned it in.  The secretary corrected it immediately.  My score-------- 49 out of 50.  That "A" on my math test that day stood for:
                                                    Absolutely go back to college!
                                                    Always pray for help!
                                                    Alone I was NOT!    and,
                                                    Ashlyn, Adam, Amber and Andrew Garrett are counting on you!

I signed up that day.  Found the entire CNA program paid for by dear friend.  And, that friend, you know who you are.  YOU are the reason that I was able to hold my head high when I felt lower than low.  YOU are the reason I had the courage to try.  YOU are the reason that I did not quit.  If I had paid for the program myself, I would have quit when the work got hard, the homework even more difficult, sleep became scarce, the stress of tests and deadlines overwhelming when coupled with the demands of single parenthood and shattered dreams. But, your gift of education and courage taught me not to give up, that I could do hard things and smile, and that someone much bigger than I was ultimately in charge. I completed the CNA program, applied to college and jumped in full-time.  I am now in my 5 semester of college studying Public and Community Health.  I hope to work on the Utah Valley University campus with the Turning Point program geared towards helping people in transition, or in the Women's Center---- and sort of give back as so many have given to me.

Going back to college, I have LEARNED that I can still LEARN at age 47.  Not only can I LEARN in my classes and become better and brighter with each credit.  But, I can LEARN with each life's experience.  Some classes are more challenging than others.  Some classes require a tremendous amount of reading
and quiet studying while other classes require more group work.  And, life has proved no different.  Some challenges have sent me to retreat with the ultimate text book, my scriptures, and quietly ponder for answers and inspiration, strength and motivation.  While other experiences have drained the life right out of me, and my only hope has been a group of family and friends,
to bring me to my feet again, and give me hope for a new tomorrow.  I have LEARNED that prioritizing makes all the difference.  When I have taken care of my children, put my house in order, accomplished my part-time jobs, and even taken time to serve, I can go to my Heavenly Father in prayer.  I remind Him that I have taken care of the sweet spirits He has entrusted me with, I have tried to lighten someone else's load, I have worked to help provide monetarily, and now I need Him to help me.   I plead with Him to take the hour or two that I have and make them more.  And, He always does!!!  I have been blessed to be able to memorize in an hour what should have taken a week.  I have been inspired with different ways to study, like recording my notes, and playing them while I shuttle kids, fold laundry, change sheets, or make sack lunches for an entire basketball team at a moments notice------- then go take a test.....and succeed!!

 LEARNING has helped to heal my broken heart.  About a year after my husband left, he began requesting a regular schedule of visits and weekends with the kids.  The first day of the first visit arrived.  I had a suitcase packed with tender loving care----- medicine just-in-case, vitamins, warm jammies, clean clothes, favorite blankets and a picture of me with an I Love You note placed right on top!  He arrived, kids left.  The car drove off with my most priceless possessions.  I shut the door.  I slowly slid down the inside of the of the frame, barely clearing the doorknob and crumbled to the floor.  Not only was I empty and broken-hearted, but the sweet little ones that I lived and breathed for were gone.  The house was still and quiet.  The lump in my throat enlarged so big that I felt I could no longer breathe or swallow.  Unable to mutter even a prayer, the tears began to pour and I just simply looked up.  There on the kitchen counter, illuminated by the only light on in the house, sat my pink plaid back pack.  Homework!  I could do my homework!  When the kids were gone, I could work feverishly on homework, and even get ahead.  Then, when they were home, my time could be more devoted to them and to our home.  That day, I realized that I needed to go to school for many more reasons other than obtaining a degree.  I needed to teach my kids that education and LEARNING are important.  I needed to create a career that could provide for them and me in the future---- a career I would love and that would enable me to give back.  I needed to meet people and professors who would go on to inspire me.  (This blog is the result of one such class and one such professor).  I needed to learn how to prioritize and rely on the heavens to make up the difference.  I needed HOMEWORK, to fill in those dark and lonely nights with deadlines and study groups------- requiring my mind to focus on education while healing my broken heart.  And, I have LEARNED that I am never Alone------- and if the adversary wants me to believe that I am,  it only takes "Reading" or a little "Group Work" to know that I am wrapped in His arms, all throughout life---- and all the while I am LEARNING!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I was watching General Conference, this past Sunday.  It is a meeting for anyone and everyone, all over the world.  It gives the general authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints an opportunity, every 6 months, to address the church, as a whole.  The talks are not planned as a group.  Topics are not given.  However, the meeting always seems to flow together, with an amazing spirit of renewal and inspiration. Last week, there were many talks which taught me, however, one talk pierced my soul to its very core, and I could not sit still until I wrote:

Sunday-- 6 October 2013

Today, marked the last day of General Conference, October 2013.  It was remarkable!  We were reminded to stay close to the Lord.  We were encouraged to Love God and to Love others.  We were invited over and over again, to share our testimonies.  It is my hope and prayer, that through this post, the Spirit will be felt, my testimony shared, and most of all, that the heart of each reader will be touched.  I was moved to tears, as President Thomas S. Monson spoke this morning.  He opened his talk, remembering his sweet wife Francis, who passed away, just a few months prior.  President Monson spoke of her sweetness and their close friendship.  He spoke of her constant support without complaint.   He said, "To say that I miss her does not even begin to describe my feelings..."  He described his loss as "profound".  And said she was, "an angel indeed."  My heart began to pound as I thought about my years as a wife, the past three years without that role and title, and the past two months of remarrige, as a wife again.  It was not a question of, "could it be said of me that I was supportive, a trusted confidant or closest friend?"  It was much more than that.  It was a question of, "would it be said of me?"  Would I be described as an "angel?"  Once I pass from this life to the next, would my loss be "profound?"  I realized again, the importance of my role as a wife and a mother, and soon to be "grandmother"(that's right--- April 2013) meant to me.  The incredible warmth I felt from head to toe, testified to me, that these roles are eternal, and also mean everything to Him.  This testified to my very being, how much I love being a wife, and as equally powerful, how much I had missed that role.

I decided today, that if I wanted to be referred to as an angel, that I had better go about my day as an angel would.  And, that if my loss was to be felt and my legacy remembered, I had work to do!!  In his address, President Monson shared the words of a poet:

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Though there are days when the adversary would have me feel like a failure, this poem reminded me that perhaps, the strong wind of divorce, hurt and pain, could in effect, make me even a better wife.  And, that though I have been divinely given the opportunity to be a wife again, there will still be storms to bring strength, bright blue and dark gray skies------ all with the potential to make me "profound" and "angelic".......if I allow it to. 
I realized that because families are SO important and vital to all of us and even to our communities and our futures, the adversary will waste no time in his attempts to tear them apart.  He will use large wrecking balls of infidelity and addiction.  He will quietly take us apart, brick by brick with low self-esteem, hatred, anger, priorities and secrecy.  He will try and get us to fight rather than be faithful.  To be negative rather than nurture.  To see our glass half-empty instead of half-full.  He will beat us down with our own weaknesses.  And, he would have us feed our doubt and fear until it becomes all-consuming, rather that look to our higher power who truly holds all power to make us free!  He will turn our focus from posterity to possessions,  from kitchens and cradles to careers and clothing.  He would have what model and year we buckle up into become more of a priority over who we buckle up and how quickly those years fly by! 
Today, I have begun my life-long pursuit of becoming angelic.  Though I know I AM a child of God, I want to BE a child of God, in all my interactions and pursuits.  I want to love when it is easier to hate.  I want rise rather than crumble.  I want to put up over give up---- everyday, without ceasing.  Though each day I am a mother, a recess-duty, an elementary school aid, a full-time college student, maid, cook, chauffer and wife, the title of His Child, will dictate what I do, what I say, how I act, who and what I listen to and how I serve, as I fulfill each of these roles................if I let it.  The knowledge of being His child not only brings meaning and reason, but hope, peace and motivation to be His hands, each and every day, inside the walls of my own home and out. 
I want my kids to know, all 10 of them, that I LOVE YOUR fathers!!!!  That I have and forever will be their friend, their confidant, their support and biggest fan.  And, when I mess up, I will rise with the help of heavenly wings and brush off the dirt with apology and forgiveness and begin again.  To my 4 children, I ALWAYS supported your father.
Though I have had moments when his actions have torn me apart to point of bleeding to death in hurt and pain and I have retaliated as a child of His would not have, I have apologized, sought forgiveness, and taken courage and allowed His grace and sacrifice to heal those wounds, and I have tried again.  And, I will continue to do so.  To all 10 children, I LOVE my husband!  I am honored to be his wife.  Doing laundry is no longer a chore, for I know, that load by load, I will run across his items, and love permeates my being as I fold them.  I do not love him in spite of weaknesses, I love him because of them!!!  We are a team for each other and for each of you!!  Though I am not angelic, I am an angel in the making.  And, I am part of Lord's university of love, life and forever learning.  Where classes can be retaken as many times as needed, requiring a full-tuition of courage and desire to try again.  "Profound" is the word I would use to describe my husband, your father and step-father, my best friend........and most of all, my love for each of you.   Profound is the warmth I feel when each of you are around!
Profound is my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I KNOW He lives.  I know He suffered for each and every one of us.  I know that He is the only one who knows our sorrows, pain and sufferings.  I also know that He is the only way to healing.  I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that he did restore the Gospel here on earth.  The fact that he would lay down his life for it, is nothing other than profound!  I know that He prayed and his prayers were heard and answered.  I know, as sure I am typing, that he did in fact, see God the Father and Jesus Christ.  Not because I saw it too, but because of the profound warmth I feel, as the Holy Ghost testifies, each and every time I read of it!  I know that we are all His children.  I know He loves us with a profound love!  I know that though Families Change, He does not!  He is constant! The Gospel is a profound blessing and the fruit from living it is thirst-quenching.  I hope and pray to be a profound influence for good in the many lives around me.  This is the degree I truly seek.  And, I know that with Him, I can do exactly that------ with nothing less than a profound amount of courage and faith, strength and effort, and LOVE!! Profound are we!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


There I sat, on the edge of my hospital bed, staring at the familiar bassinet where my new daughter lay sleeping.  This marked the culmination of my 4th pregnancy and 3rd delivery in 5 years.  I had just sat on the edge of that very bed, 18 months prior, after the delivery of my second baby.  Needless to say, the familiarity was accompanied by paralyzing anxiety regarding the future.  My thoughts raced with useless self-doubt in my ability to sufficiently meet the needs of these three little ones, under four years of age.  Fear soon followed, as my mind raced with wonder, "How will I take care of two young ones and a newborn, each morning they wake up hungry, needing love and attention and care?" "How will I get them to bed each night, with the same one-one-one time I have always given them?" "What time will I need to wake up in the morning, to have a minute to read and recollect, before I begin each day?"  "Where will I put my groceries with a basket full of children?"  Without answers for any of these questions, I kissed my newborn on the cheek, and decided to shower, there in my hospital room.  As the water began to run down my head, tears began to flow as I pondered my future.  Soon, I heard the voice of my pediatrician.  Through the door, he asked me how I was doing?  I told him I was fine.  I assumed he then checked out the baby, and headed to his next patient's room, as he did each morning.  When I was able to maintain a little bit of composure, I turned the shower off, wrapped my body and hair in a towel and opened the bathroom door.  There, smiling, sat my pediatrician, on the foot of my hospital bed.  He winked at me and said, "Are you ready to take this Princess home?"  Suddenly, I just broke down and crumbled, right before him.  I explained to him my feelings of complete and utter inadequacy regarding this newborn, and the responsibilities that awaited me at home.  I begged him to keep me in the hospital for a few more days.  He sat down with me, and calmly took out a piece of paper.  He drew one small circle.  He said that represented my little family----- my husband and my 3 little ones, and our home, the day to day stuff that absolutely  NEEDED to be done each day, like meal prep, laundry and basic clean up.  He then drew a larger circle around it and labeled it, "My Responsibilities".  He told me that My Responsibilities included house cleaning beyond the typical day-to-day stuff, yard work, church callings, and any school or community responsibilities that I had committed to do.  Then, he drew yet an even bigger circle.  This outer circle was labeled "Friends and Neighbors".  It represented anything and anyone that did not have a particular time limit or responsibility connected to it.
 After creating these three Circles, he tenderly put his arm around me.  He pointed to the center circle.  He explained that this was all I needed to worry about for the coming days, and possibly even months.  It was up to me.  He told me that when I woke up in the morning, I just needed to worry about a husband and these 3 little ones and NOTHING ELSE.  He told me to make easy meals, do minimal chores and just worry about my family.  He told me that each day I would get better and better at it.  And, that after I felt confident with that ever important task of taking care of my family, I would naturally extend my energy to the next circle of  My Responsibilities.  I could begin to incorporate extra chores, some yard work.  Then, I could fulfill my other commitments.  This feeling of accomplishment would create more and more confidence in my abilities, that soon I would be able to reach out to that outer most circle of Friends and Neighbors.  In doing so, my confidence would grow exponentially, as I learned to take care of My Family, meet My Responsibilities and then, reach out to Friends and Neighbors.

Circles continue to remind me of a loving doctor and friend who took the time to not only teach me a valuable lesson, but to show me that he cared.  Circles continue to remind me that I cannot always do everything.  And, that my priority lies in My Family circle.  This Circle Effect has helped me during the many events of Family Change.  When a family member has been sick or struggling, I automatically go back to my inner circle, and make sure their needs are met each day.  Then, I venture out to other Responsibilities and then Friends and Neighbors.  When my husband left, for the first time, in 2005, leaving me with 4 little children, I, once again, went back to my inner most circle and began to work my way out again.  Then, when my he left for good, in 2010, the feelings of failure were all-consuming.  I had worked SO hard, been SO supportive and I failed!!!  I functioned on auto-pilot for the next few days, barely getting kids fed and off to school.  One morning, my alarm went off.  The burden of my reality so heavy that I could not even move the covers let alone, get out of bed.  So, I laid still, and horizontally pleaded to the heavens for divine guidance.  As I opened my eyes to the darkness of the morning, I saw above me, the drawing of Circles.  And, I could hear His familiar voice and feel His loving arms around me, and knew I just needed to go back to my inner Circle------just take care of my 4 children, and soon, I would gain the confidence and strength I needed to tend to the other Circles of my life.  I was calm as I realized again, that not only could I not do it all myself, but that I did not HAVE to do it ALL.  And, most importantly, someone knew me, knew the challenges that awaited me, and took the time to let me know He cared.  I can honestly say, it probably took me a year to venture out of my inner circle, after my husband left.  And, that was OK!!!  I realized that my Inner Circle had changed.  Death, divorce, college and missions, birth and adoption, military service, kids grown and gone, and even re-marriage....... as life goes on, our inner circles change.  With some change, our inner circles enlarge.  With other change and challenge, our inner circles are strengthened.

I have come to know and understand the importance of my inner circle and making sure those needs are met.  Taking care of those that I have a divine responsibility to, allows me to accomplish my other Responsibilities and even touch the hearts and serve my friends and neighbors, as I accomplish, serve and love, one circle of responsibility at a time.

I have grown to love and appreciate this blog so much.  Over the past 3 years of incredible Family Change, it has allowed me to reach out beyond my inner circle, through technology, when my time and energy would not have allowed.  It has given me the opportunity to make more friends, meet more people and even have opportunities to speak and share, even though, there are still days, when I never make it out of my inner circle. And, through this blog, many of you have touched my heart with your stories, your good wishes and your strength and courage and confidence.

 Now, with a new marriage, my inner circle is filled with new cherished loved ones who are counting on me to focus on them, and meet their every need.  So, I find myself, back to focusing on my inner circle.   I am loving the challenge of figuring out who likes what in their sack lunches, who loves their back tickled at night, who needs to be tucked in with an extra kiss and needs an extra prayer, just for them, whispered in their ear. I am learning who needs to be picked up where, who likes what for dinner, even what music everyone loves to hear.  My Inner circle has grown in number and obligations.  But it has grown even more in love, trust and confidence.  Whenever I doubt  my ability, I can hear that tender whisper of wisdom, and see those Circles.  So, I listen.  I regroup.  I move those heavy covers and return to my inner circle and begin again, to work my way out towards my other circles of responsibilities. I know that as I focus on my family, my inner most circle, that someday, I will be encircled in the arms of a loving Heavenly Father, who entrusted me with each of them.  Circles!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

We Build

One of the very first things that we noticed in blending our families, was that we were definitely going to need a shed!  Two households into one, you do the math.  A shed was a must!  What would be the best way to begin?  Should we buy one used?  Should we buy a kit?  Should we purchase the materials and build and design our own?  We decided to design a plan, get the materials and build it ourselves.  So, all day Saturday we went up the hill for supplies, and back down the hill to unload, dug up grass, poured cement and worked busily ALL DAY long!!  At the end of the day, I went out to see our new shed.  What I found surprised me!  After hours of work, many hands, what I found made a profound impression on me, and hence the inspiration for this post.  There before me, I found only a square in the grass in the shape of a rectangle.  I stood and looked at the wood framed, reinforced, cement foundation and a few stakes marking the shape of our future shed.  We are building a shed!  We are all building!  We are building friendships.  We are building businesses and communities.  Most importantly, we are building families.  And so, we build!  And because Families Change, we are never done!  The business of building families is a contractors dream----- always changing.  We don't have the option of buying used or finding kit with everything we need included.  We must design our families after the pattern of our choice.  Then, we must be willing go up and down the hills of life, as we work to create.  And so, We build!

Flexibility is a must for any builder.  Supplies at times may be scarce.  Designs may be flawed.  Problems may arise in the beginning, middle or even the end of a project, requiring us to change our plans.  Many times, as a mother, I have found my supplies scarce.  Just plain out of time and patience.  Perhaps our shelves are empty of emotional or even physical endurance.  We may realize a flaw in our design.  Perhaps a discipline plan or a schedule is not working------ so we change.  Maybe relationships have been strained ----- so we reinforce. Then, there are those times, that a project comes to a stand-still, requiring us to change or even create a new design for our future.  Death and divorce, marriage, remarriage and the realization that our nest is now empty, require us to regroup, be flexible, possibly even re-create---------And so, We Build!!!  I know that when I realized my first husband had challenges extremely difficult for a marriage, I needed patience, love and inspiration to create a new plan.  Then, a few years later, when he left our family for good, I had to sit down, cry, ponder, and create yet a new design, a new vision for what my family looked like.  I needed courage and strength beyond my own.  And so, We Build!

 3 years later, I found myself looking at a yet another new design, when dating and remarriage presented itself.  Again, I needed to sit down, be willing to toss my design aside AGAIN, and seek divine intervention and inspiration in creating another plan, just right, for all 13 of us!!! And, find the patience, trust and determination to start all over again------- in searching to find the perfect piece of land, and begin again.  We build!!!

 Patience is something that I have always needed to work on, and forever wish I had more of.  When my husband said he could design the shed and build it himself, I thought, "Super--- he has a couple of days off, we ought to have the shed built and the garage emptied by the end of the week."  However, I can testify that sheds are not built in a week, nor are families.  Both require constant hard work.  As well as creativity and endurance.

Each night, I have enjoyed discussing the progress.  "Today, we prepared the ground for the foundation."  "We just finished the foundation, a firm foundation, a reinforced foundation, a foundation that cannot be moved----- and it will take a couple of days to dry."  "The walls are up, I need to get up early in the morning, before work, and reinforce them, so they will be strong to withstand any weather."  Building cannot be rushed.  There are many things that need to be done, even things that no one will ever see, to make our shed sturdy and strong.  And so it is for families----- sturdy and strong.  This shed-building has already taught me so much more than the importance of moving your thumb BEFORE you swing the hammer.  I never realized how much building experience I already have.  (And, my husband thought he was the only one with construction experience!)  We all have more building experience than we realize.  Some have survived divorce as children.  Others have lost parents and siblings at a young age.  Some have watched older siblings leave home and witnessed, firsthand, the redesigning and building of families.  There are those who have cared for elderly parents and then buried them.  Both again, requiring a new design of family.  Then others, have withstood the tsunami of storms and buried children and suffered the loss of a spouse through death or divorce----- not only forcing a new vision for the family, but unseen strength and hands.  So, we all been builders of some sort or another all of our lives.  So, we too have experience.  We just need to dig deep.  I think we will find that not only do we have more knowledge than we thought, but we are stronger than we ever knew.

One thing that has really impressed me, is that even when the night comes, or the weather turns for the worst, my husband can be found searching for ways to improve the shed, drawing plans for the perfect roof or even calculating the exact amount of materials to be purchased.   This shed building experience has taught me so much about building families.  First and foremost, it cannot be done in day.  Building families requires a plan----- a plan of core values to instill and upon which to base our teachings, a financial plan, a plan for discipline, a plan for the future and even plans for fun.  I need to be willing search for new ways, study sturdiness and seek to improve upon the design for my sweet family, and be willing to work hard to implement what I learn.   Due to my shortage of patience, sometimes I want to wake up to the family unit I thought of and dreamed of, only the night before.  Or better yet, the perfect family EVERYONE else seems to be a part of.  However, in order to have the strong family I so desire, I need to plan and be flexible and be willing to change-----and sometimes just wait for things to settle and the cement to dry.  I also need to invest the time in pondering the days' accomplishments and coming up with a plan of attack for the future.  One day at a time, both our shed building and family building are coming together.  Somedays, there may not be visible progress, but our plans are in the works, our thoughts are focused, and we are building, and the cement of love and dedication are drying---------we are building and reinforcing in preparation for any storm or change.  Our foundations are strong.  We built the foundation for the shed out of a well-calculated wood frame, cement mixed with rocks for even more strength and wire caging to reinforce an already strong foundation.  For our family, we have chosen a framework of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and cement of faith, reinforced with love and rocks of reality------ reality in knowing that families change, and regardless ----We Build and even re-Build!  A plan designed  for the shed.  Time taken to reinforce the foundation and the walls, not in case of a storm, but in preparation for the storms that will surely come.

Families Change and there is no way around it. Loved ones pass away.  Children grow up and move on.  Jobs are lost.  Illness strikes.  Depression sets in.  Divorce divides.  But, if we remember to build upon a firm foundation of faith, change will come, and we will stand strong!  Put "HAPPINESS" back into families by taking out the word "Perfection," and replacing it with the words, "Perfectly willing to smile, to "build" and make it work------as families change.  With time and design.  Work and patience.  Flexibility and love.  Those we choose to Build up ----- in reality are Building us!   We design.  We wait.  We ponder.  We study.  We reinforce. We're flexible.  We smile.
 And, ---We Build!!!!