Monday, June 24, 2013


It was Christmas time.  As I studied for finals, I began to write our family Christmas letter.  I have always enjoyed sharing some of the highlights of the year with friends and family.  But this year was different!  Our 2012 letter marked the third letter I wrote, ending with myself, no husband, no "we", no "us" and no "together."  As I wrapped up our annual letter, I did some soul-searching.  Did I like being by alone?  Was I becoming so used to being by myself that I would not have room in my life or my heart for anyone else?  Was I too afraid of being hurt again, to ever give anyone else a chance?  Was the fear of failure greater than my faith in any future opportunities?

I longed to be somebody's favorite!  I missed being cared about after spending the day caring about everyone else, as we mother's do.  I so loved being a wife, a companion, a best-friend, a confidant.  I missed hearing the garage door go up in the evening, after a long day, and being so excited to just be "together" again.  So, as 2012 came to a close, I went to my knees and really poured out my soul to my Heavenly Father.  I told Him that though my heart and my family were healing, there was still a hole or void.  I was alone and didn't like it one bit!  I acknowledged my weaknesses as a single mother.  As hard as I tried to do it all, to be it all--- this was a job that was divinely designed for two.  And, if He would help me, I was ready to be a team again. 

One day, while working on this very blog, I was reconnected with an old friend from home.  We had grown up together in the same ward for many years.  We attended the same high school and went to seminary together.  We laughed a lot, helped each other with homework and even went to a couple dances together.  He was married as I entered the MTC to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We had not heard from each other since.  However, as we reconnected, we quickly realized that we were both divorced, and had been living only 30 miles apart for over 25 years.  We picked up right where we had left off.  We realized we both love dried mangos, mint chip ice cream, peaceful music and Mexican and Italian food.  We also realized that though we had experienced different challenges, much of our pain and hurt were very much the same.  The empathy we felt for each other was profound.  Instantly, we felt spiritually and emotionally connected.  And, that hole in my healing heart has been filled and running over!  We both could feel His hands lifting us, bringing us together, and working many mighty miracles along the way. 

Dating is yet another Family Change.  You find yourself experiencing teenage feelings with very real adult responsibilities.  Your own children are asking you questions that your parents did, years ago.  Though awkward at times, dating has proven to be a learning experience for us all and has opened the door to many conversations with my kids that would not have happened any other way.   Blending families is and will continue to be yet another Family Change.  But, I testify that if two people want to be "together" bad enough, and they have the Lord on their side, it is possible to beat the odds, combined life's experiences and interests and make it work---- together

August 8th, he and I will be married.  Together, we will work on strengthening our relationship while helping our families strengthen theirs---- together.  As we experience yet another Family Change, together, we will be ready to climb any mountain that presents itself along the way.  We are well aware that it will take time and effort.  We are well aware that it will not always be easy.  We are well aware that there may be some bumps in the road along the way.  However, we are equally aware, that nothing can be more challenging that doing it all alone.  And, I am confident that nothing will prove to be more rewarding than continuing our journeys as a team.  "Together" we can do anything!!!

I will close this post with the last few words of my 2012 family Christmas letter:  "It's not about's about LIVING!!!  It's choosing to make lemonade out of the lemons in that those around us will want to make lemonade too!!!" And, with our pasts, it should be no surprise that we both love lemon things!! Often times, after some of the hardest challenges and most difficult trials,  Families can Change for the better!!!  It takes two!  We are making lemonade.... Together!!

Friday, June 14, 2013


As Families Change, it is so easy to put up "fences." Consciously or subconsciously, we begin to fence-in and fence-out people, help, feelings and even emotions.   I absolutely love the story of the Widow of Zarephath, in the Old Testament.  Elijah enters the city and finds the widow "gathering sticks".  Sticks perhaps for a fence of sort.  In actuality, she is gathering sticks to build a fire that she might prepare a final meal for she and her son, who are starving to death.  Starving, no doubt,  physically and spiritually.  She is a widow, indicating she has suffered the ultimate Family Change, the loss of a beloved spouse.  Her emptiness is indescribable.  Financially destitute.  Emotionally empty.  Spiritually void.   Most likely, feeling betrayed even by that Higher Power she felt would see her through any and all life's challenges.  But now, feeling that perhaps that same God she had trusted has forsaken her, by taking away a most priceless possession--- a family member.  This feeling of betrayal by one's Higher Power, is definitely a "fence" or a wall we put up during hard times in our lives.  It is human to want to blame somebody for our circumstances.  So, in our quest for fault or reason, we fence Him out------ He who often times, is our only hope for renewal and healing.  We even fence out He who paid the ultimate price for each of us, that we need not suffer as we are------ for He already did!  Yet, the "fence" goes up.  We stop praying because of our anger with Him.  Then, completely out of the habit, we have created quite a sturdy "fence" of stubbornness between we and He!  Elijah reminds the widow and us all, when he asks, as she is in the depths of despair gathering sticks, to fetch him a drink of water.   Not just turn the sink on, in her sadness and fill up a glass.  But, broken hearted and weak, to go to the river and fill a vessel.   A great symbolic lesson given, that there may never be a better time to head to our source of living water than when we are in the depths of despair.  Elijah, in his desire for a drink invites the widow to take down her "fence" and follow him.   She responds and heads to her water source, in the prophet's behalf.  Then, Elijah asks her to also bring him something to eat, some bread.  She reminds him of her state of ultimate poverty, and even tells him that she only has a "handful of meal" and  a "little oil" left to feed her son.  He responds to the widow and to each of us, to take down our "fences" as he bids her to FEAR NOT.........then he promises her, that if she will make food for him first, then for herself and her son, that she will be blessed with plenty of nourishment for the future.  Profoundly so, when we reprioritize our lives, and put the Lord first, and even have the courage to serve when we are suffering, we are blessed with MORE than we had before. 
The story of the Widow of Zarephath, reminds each of us, that Families Change, and as they do, so must we!!!  Her family was not a perfect family with a father and a mother and a house full of healthy children.  Her family was a single parent home with a weak mother and a sick son.  And, it took a visit from a prophet of God to help her remember her core values and trust in her Higher Power again.  In the words of the Old Testament, the widow "went and did!"  After my husband left, I found myself thrust into a crazy life of hurt, pain, fear, and utter caos---- not to mention assuming the life of a full-time college student with a couple part-time jobs and being a full-time mother of 4 children, who also had broken hearts that needed my attention and love.    I found myself soon becoming a "fence" builder.   I "fenced out" many friends, as seeing their families and their resources were a constant reminder of those things I no longer had.  I "fenced out" events that would have filled my barrel and cruse.  I "fenced in" my children, afraid to let them go, out of fear of possibly losing them to the challenges this life currently offers.

 I remember vividly coming home from a study group, late one night.  A neighbor had brought dinner to my children in my absence.  I drove home empty, much like the widow, with nothing to give and barely a crumb for myself and my children.  I remembered there was a meeting at the church, that evening.  I felt so weakened by my trials and so empty at the loss of my husband, that physically, I could hardly move.  As I walked down the road to the church, I felt much like the widow as she headed to her water source.  When I arrived, the meeting had already begun.  I looked in the window and every seat was taken.  I thought about my options----- quietly unfolding another chair, sitting by someone that I did not know, or perhaps someone who knew me too well, and their eyes of pity I could not bear.  So, I turned and walked back home.  I did not fill the vessel for Him who could have healed me and blessed me and made my situation easier to bear.  That night, on my knees, I promised my Heavenly Father, my Higher Power, that I would NEVER put up another fence between He and Me!!!  I needed Him more than He needed a vessel of water or a cake.  I NEEDED the blessings that would come from serving, from putting Him FIRST and foremost in my life again.  I needed the blessings my whole family could receive----------- I knew that night, that if I tore down the "fences" that I had built , that our barrel of meal would "waste not" and our cruse of oil would NEVER FAIL!! 
Tearing down "fences" does not happen overnight.  Day by day, I have made a conscious effort to pray, to call and visit friends, to serve others and to allow others to serve me, to put other's needs before my own, making Him a priority in my life again, like the Widow as she "went and did."  Fearing Not has allowed me to become Faith Filled............... and the view, without fences,  makes it so much easier to see where we are going, and who we are going there with!! 
Fear Not!  Be Faith Filled!! No Fences!!!