Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Light of Christ

The girls were downstairs watching a movie and I had gotten almost everything done that was on my resolution chart. Enos was on the computer working on special needs scouts stuff and he said, “Why don’t you get out of here.” I decided to go shopping. But before I made it to Walmart, I ended up at the cemetery. The sky promised a colorful and bright sunset and I wanted to be up high to get the best view. As I turned into the cemetery I heard a voice say something like, “The sunset is great, but what it lights up can be even better.” With that, I anticipated that the eastern mountains would be glowing with vivid autumn colors. At the top, I turned right, heading toward Josh’s spot. That’s when I saw it. The Jesus statue close to Josh’s marker was a brilliant white. The setting sun had shadowed the ground all around, but the statue being elevated caught the last of the light. I parked quickly and ran, pulling my cellphone out of my pocket to take a picture. Wow. After my spiritual bucket was full, I pulled away and as I drove back down the hill, I said to Josh, “You’re still with me, aren’t you?” In my mind’s eye, I saw him smile and I felt such sweet emotion. Hearing the little voice promising me something better than a sunset and seeing the Jesus Statue lit up was the highlight of my day.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rainbow Smile

When I attended my Uncle Don's funeral I heard several relatives say that I looked just like my mom. Aunt Ruth told me that she always tries to be like my mom. I thought more about Mom that weekend, after being with extended family that I don't see often, including my dad who travelled down from Washington state. I found myself asking, "What would Mom think of me now?" It was with a self-defeated tone that I reflected on this. You see, I'm ashamed of myself. After getting our foster girls back, and after a surgery and some hormonal imbalances, I became a yeller. Sometimes, I would get so mad at their bad behavior that I would act badly. Somehow I justified my actions which opened the door to repeating them.  

I don't remember my mom yelling at me. I know at times I got the silent treatment but no anger-spurting, ugly yelling. Sunday night when I prayed, I was still thinking about my mom. I asked that she could, in spirit, help my brother, who I was concerned about. Then I went to bed.

Monday afternoon I paused from my chores because the girls asked me to step outside to see their concert. I sat on the bench and watched Lily playing a guitar (a plastic rake from their sandbox), our friend, Mateah, beating on her drums (two little step-up stools) and Natasha playing on her little electric kitty piano.  I was amused. Then I looked up. In the southern sky there was an amazing rainbow smile.  I don't know that I've ever seen one of these in my whole lifetime!

Whenever I see a rainbow, the words come to my mind from the song my mom picked for her funeral. (Click here to see a youtube video of it)  "I'll build you a rainbow, way up high above, send down a sunbeam, all plumb full of love, sprinkle down raindrops, teardrops of joy, I'll be happy in heaven, watching over my boy girl." That's what I sing when I see a rainbow. 

It later occurred to me what day it was. May 19th, my mom's birthday. 

Sitting there on the front porch, watching my little girls in their dress-up clothes performing for me, with the rainbow smile above their little heads, left me feeling different inside.

This morning I came across this scripture..."this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

The first thing that impressed me is 'forgetting those things which are behind me' (break out into singing Let It Go!)  Yelling is behind me. I also considered specific ways to 'reach forth' and 'press toward the mark'. Lastly, I thought of what my high calling is. Another song that my mom picked for her funeral is called "The Noblest Call" by Deanna Edwards.  It is worth your time to listen to this beautiful song.

(click here to listen to the song)

Something tells me that it wasn't a coincidence that the girls called me outside on my mom's birthday in time to see the rainbow smile.  Rainbows are fleeting, just like life.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Angel Faces Smile

click here and you can return to this tab to read as you listen to my arrangement of "Be Still, My Soul".

Uncle Don, gentle and kind
This morning I laid in bed enjoying a few moments of quiet and solitude. I thought about being at Uncle Don's funeral yesterday. We love him and his family so very much. It was a sweet and sad day. Several extended family members that I don't see except at these life events, expressed compassion to me that came from remembering being together at Josh's funeral. To one sweet aunt, I shared pictures of our daughters and explained that they were gifts from Josh. There was empathy and joy in her eyes. To a cousin who I learned has a daughter that only spent four minutes in mortality, I acknowledged our shared grief and hope. I told him I wished I could take all the tender mercies that have come with our loss and put them in a little bottle that I could open and share in a moment's time. As life is, we're too busy to stop and talk about the important, eternal things.

Another cousin said she couldn't miss coming regardless of the long drive because she knew her parents would be there. They've passed away. I told her I understood and I mentioned Josh. She was caught off guard. She hadn't heard that our son passed away. I gave her a few details and looking into her motherly eyes, I felt the need to reassure her. I told her about a dream I had just that morning. I walked into a room and saw Josh and Cody tucked in a large bed. They looked up at me with boyish grins. They were probably 8 and 10 years old in the dream. It was a gift to see their smiling faces when I would feel of their absence while amongst other loved ones that day at a funeral.  
Me and my guys! 

After I reviewed this as I laid in bed this morning, I turned on the radio to hear the Sounds of Sunday. "Lead, Kindly Light" came on and it was a tender mercy because my mind went right to the final lyrics of the hymn. 

I asked Cody before he left for his mission which hymn he'd like me to arrange for him. He picked "Be Still, My Soul." As an interlude, I put the first two lines of "Lead, Kingly Light" and I ended the arrangement with the last two lines, "And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!"

"Be Still My Soul/Lead Kindly Light"

Monday, May 12, 2014


Last week in Relief Society I mentioned giving birth to my children. The comment that followed left me feeling reprimanded for bringing up one of my motherhood blessings when there are others who haven't experienced what I have. Yesterday was Mother's Day; and there are plenty of people who have a hard time with that 'holiday' because of tender feelings.  

Everyone's motherhood journey begins the same; we are born to a mother. I love my mom and I'm grateful for her example of goodness. I wish I could remember more about her, I wish that I could talk to her, hug her, say thank you to her. But, cancer shut down her body and her spirit left us. I was twenty.  Mother's Day became bittersweet. I got married three years later and missed her like nothing else. The next four years I experienced the monthly cycle of hoping to be pregnant and then being disappointed. Four years. I waited and prayed. I watched as my friends and sister and sister-in-laws got pregnant. I worried. I cried. I pleaded. Finally, we were pregnant. I was thrilled. Ten weeks into it, I miscarried.

My body healed, but my spirit was wounded. In less than a year, we were pregnant again. I held my breath, figuratively, through the next nine months as my body swelled and hope and joy competed with my fear. He came a week early. I went natural. Why? Who knows? I didn't regret it though. I wanted to experience everything fully. I wanted to have my body say it was time. Time to push. The exhilaration matched the pain when I saw him for the first time. Although nursing was difficult for me at first as my skin cracked and bled and I had infections, it was worth hanging in there. I nursed Cody until I was pregnant with Josh. I nursed Josh and Nathan as long as they would let me. 

I was okay with Mother's Day again. At least until Josh died. You don't know how awful that is until it happens to you and you feel such compassion when you hear of it happening to someone else. It's been six years and the whole week before Mother's Day I am still weepy.  Having our first born, Cody, away on a mission is hard too, but at least he was able to send me flowers and we skyped!

In the spirit world Josh has helped me become a mother all over again. Instead of preparing the home with a nursery room, we were getting it ready for inspection and licensing. Instead of taking birthing classes, we took foster care training classes. There was a lot of anxiety and prayer. It didn't take nine months. It took almost four years to transition from being a foster mom to being an adoptive mom. It's not the same as being a birth mom. It was more laborious to adopt my three girls then it was to carry and give birth to my biological boys. Maybe when you adopt children as babies, it's different. But adopting foster children can be traumatic for the family. 

I'm not a perfect mom. I pray at night with regret. I start again in the morning. 'Look for the good. Be grateful. Don't be too hard on yourself.' That's my pep talk. Then I have magical motherhood moments. Giggles. Singing and Dancing. Holding hands and hugs. And tears. I came home from a date with Enos on Friday and Natasha started crying. I held her and asked, "What is wrong, what happened?"  She said through her sobs, "I just missed you so much. I wanted to be with you."  

I imagine those will be the words I will say to my mom and my son when I finally get the chance. The sorrow of separation is the bitter part of motherhood for me now. I believe in life after death and eternal relationships and the resurrection and because of Jesus Christ, sadness comes, but hope overcomes it.

In Relief Society last week, I wondered if the sister who made the comment would prefer to have given birth to her children instead of adopting them as babies IF she had to experience one of them passing away as a child. But before she concluded, she shared that it had been difficult but she is finally finding peace in accepting her motherhood journey even though it was void of the birthing experience. 

Joy and sorrow are integral parts of the motherhood journey. I will take mine over anyone else's only because I know it is a gift from a loving Heavenly Father.

Elder Cody sent me flowers for Mother's Day;
with Natasha, my littlest one.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dog-gone it!

JOURNAL ENTRY of our first anniversary of Josh's passing, March 2009:

"Tuesday night Enos came to bed around 12:30.  I had been in our room, crying until my tear tank was empty.  It was a rougher night than I expected.  I think I got to sleep before 1 o'clock but then I woke up believing that I heard Nathan crying.  But as I laid there listening, there was no sound.  I decided to check on him anyway.  I’m glad I did. He was wide awake.  I climbed in bed with him and we talked and cried for an hour and a half. I tickled his back and we talked about memories of Josh.  One thing new I learned is that he and Josh used to play cell phone hide and seek.  They would text each other clues and they could only tell lies on 3 of the 5 clues.  :) 

Nate & Josh at California Adventure 2007
Survived Tower of Terror Together 2007
On the drive home from Disneyland 2007
(Journal Entry continues:) On Wednesday, Josh's day, we were hoping to buy a dog. Instead we visited Marilee and took home lots of dog hair. We learned about golden retrievers though.  I didn't care to have dogs all over me, with bad breath, heavy paws, and slobbery mouths, but this isn’t about me.  

We stopped at the cemetery and Cody and Nate flew kites.  I was an onlooker, smiling at their persistence and childlike enthusiasm. 
1st anniversary of Josh's passing, 2009
 One meaningful thing on our list for today was to finish reading the Book of Mormon.  We read the last verse together out loud.  I was fighting tears.  

Before we went to bed, we hooked up the camcorder and played back old home videos.  We watched the one where Josh was a newborn through his toddler years.  I can’t express the pain to see the baby I carried and gave birth to and nursed and held and loved and played with and taught and enjoyed all through the years and then not see him here where it feels like he belongs.  Sometimes it hits me so hard.  Where is Josh?  I just miss him.  I will never get tired of looking at pictures of him.

On Thursday I made it to the temple.  While in the Celestial room, I wanted so much to have a spiritual experience where I could see Josh as he is now or know what he is doing specifically.  I waited and hoped but nothing miraculous happened.  I felt discouraged but then in my mind I heard four little words, “I love you, Mom.” 

On Friday I found a dog online, a three year old golden retriever male, just like Marilee’s Timber.  There wasn’t a picture posted yet, but after I made a call, I felt strongly that this was our dog."

Bringing Brody Home
Cody & Brody
Master & Mutt :)

Friends Forever

Every year since, we have taken off work and school on Josh's day and have made new family memories. Adding Brody to our family has done wonders for Enos and the boys. Brody doesn't do much for me, but it's not about me.

Imagine receiving three foster daughters into your home who were missing their puppies so much.  At their biological dad's house, they each had their own chihuahua. Often at visits, the dad would bring the puppies for the girls to play with. So, one day I told them that I understood that if we adopted them, we would need to get them a puppy. After the adoption, I acknowledged it was time to 'bite the bullet'. I started praying to find the best one for the girls, just as I had prayed to find the right dog for the boys five years ago. One morning as I again began typing 'chihuahua' into the search for dogs on KSL classifieds, the spirit told me not to. So I didn't. I just scanned down through all dogs recently listed. There was Oreo listed as a chiweenie.  I'm still not a dog lover. But then again, it's not about me. 

Karina & Oreo

Liliana & Oreo

Natasha & Oreo

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I told Enos

It took me almost 5 months to confide in Enos that it sounded like we were going to be parents to a baby girl. We were 44 years old at the time.

Journal Entry, March 5, 2009

"On Thursday, I had my fingerprints done for foster care. Enos and I had our first foster care class. On the upside, the teacher is excellent.  On the downside, he did his best to scare everyone away from foster care so only the serious/brave at heart were left.  I left questioning myself.  I cried that night after telling Enos about me hearing a voice last year that I assumed was Josh’s say, “I’m going to give you a baby girl.” (more details here) Enos was so okay with everything and I was an emotional mess.  Enos would welcome any children into our home and love and take care of them like he does us.  He is an amazing person."

{If you continue following my posts, you'll see that he wasn't okay with a lot of things. So often I wished that Enos would be the one having the 'tender mercies' that pointed to the conclusion that Josh was doing what he said he would do and that Natasha was indeed the baby girl he promised me. But, there were times that I threw my hands up in the air and told Heavenly Father that I was done; it was too hard. Maybe I needed the tender mercies more than Enos because I am not as patient and compassionate as he is.}

On Saturday (April 26, 2014), while in the Celestial room of the temple, Enos and I were waiting to be escorted into the sealing room. He said, "Aren't we too old for this?"  (Now we are 49 years old!) I asked him if he remembered how 'okay' he was five years ago when I told him what Josh had said. He didn't remember. He ended with saying, "Well, I guess there's no going back now." He was smiling, kind of.

Enos reading Bible Stories to Natasha & Lily, Easter Sunday 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

What to know, what to be, and what to do...

Ogden Utah Temple
An excerpt from my Tender Mercies Journal, 
dated February 22, 2009:

"I lingered in the Celestial room until there were only a few patrons left and it was more reverent. I bowed my head and prayed. I told Heavenly Father that I just wanted to give Him an opportunity to communicate to me anything that He wanted me to know, to be, or to do. Before I had a chance to close my prayer, I heard this instruction: 'Go stand by that mirror.' 

I got up, unsure of what was to transpire and walked over to the mirror I had been directed to. It wasn't a framed mirror on the wall ~ it was a mirror panel, probably 3-4 feet wide that ran from floor to ceiling. I purposely avoided looking directly into the mirror as I didn't want anyone to think I had stopped to admire my own reflection. I stood there a moment, waiting, feeling a little awkward, until I was directed, "Look." I faced the mirror and looked. To my surprise there was the 'eternal reflection effect' just like in the sealing rooms. I had never noticed before that there was an identical mirror on the opposite wall. But it wasn't just me reflected in the mirrors. There was a pattern, thin lines and curves, gold in color, that repeated itself all the way to the tall ceiling. As I considered this chainlike pattern, I heard "Know that you are sealed as a family, an eternal family." As my eyes followed the double loops going up, I thought of my ancestors. I also thought of Josh. Then I heard, "Be grateful for Priesthood power." 

The double loops, upon later contemplation, made me think of arms, arms that cradle a baby.

On my way home, I replayed the experience in my mind. That's when I realized that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer as to what he wanted me to know and to be. I wondered if there was something He wanted me to do. My understanding was that He wanted me to be prepared to share this experience. Interestly, I got a call in the evening from a sister in the ward who is working to come back to church activity. Without any prompting from me, she said that she wanted to get to the temple ~ not only had her husband passed away, but she has children in heaven. I then shared with her my experience from the temple and told her that I believed in her ~ that she will make it, even though she is struggling now. I promised her it will be worth it.

I wrote this in my tender mercies journal because it was another witness that comforts me when I think about Josh and miss him. I do miss him so much."

This experience happened about a month after I had prayed about whether or not to believe it was real, that Josh was going to give me a baby girl. Saturday, that 'baby girl', now 4, and her 6 & 7 year old sisters were sealed to Enos and I in the Brigham City Temple. 

Enos & Natasha, Nathan & Liliana, Me & Karina