Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Myth busters

Grandma Julie scored Hayden 2 press passes to Myth Busters. They were a sold out show we a strict NO PRESS and NO INTeRvIeW policy. But, she worked her magic and told them what a true fan he is. They were mesmerized with my boy and caved. 

Hayden was ecstatic. Over the moon excited. His dream came true and this was truly a bucket list item. He could hardly contain himself. 

I sat with Julie as they wrote down lists of interview questions. Hayden had tons of questions. He loves them. He made a great interviewer because he is truly interested in everything they do. 

Hayden scored and was able to spend 40 minutes, one on one with the star and co-creator of the show, Jamie. Hayden loved every minute with him. He stayed engaged and even re-routed his interview when Jamie took,another direction. The boy is becoming so relaxed and a natural information finder. I'm so proud of him. He even found out that Mythbusters will be on Hulu in 2015. It made Hayden's day. He was even able to get his birthday Mythbusters DVD from Aunt Jodi signed. 

Julie said that Hayden loved every minute of the show. He giggled and laughed the entire time. 

He came home talking non-stop. Telling me every quote and story they tried and all of their experiments. 

It was a night he will always remember. He met some of his true life heroes and inspirations. He said that they were very similar to him at his age. They loved Legos and pranks, tried getting out of chores and loved experiments and figuring out how things work. 

I am sure that between the interview and seeing them live, my number one myth busters fan just became the uber #1 fan. 

Thanks Grandma Julie.... You made my boy a very happy boy!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weekend with Talmage

Oh how I love any time I get to spend with my dear nephew Talmage. He brings so much joy in my life. He brings laughter and joy and so much fun into our hearts and home. 

Thursday night, after the surgeon appointment, we decided to go to dinner, go get a blessing and look at Christmas lights. We tried a new Korean place that was so yummy. Then went to Jake's to have him give me a priesthood blessing with Thomas. He was so sweet to me. I felt so loved. 

Talmage curled up next to me on the couch when we got home. He is so funny and I just could listen to him talk and explain things forever. He said he would always me my little buddy but thought maybe he wanted to sleep with Hayden and not me. I laughed. 

Hayden was absolutely amazing with Talmage. He fed him, he played with him, he entertained him, he taught him new things and was an absolutely amazing older cousin. I loved listening to the boys laughing and talking. I loved watching Hayden feel the role of an older brother. 

We enjoyed his laughter and joy. We loved his smiles and cuddles. We loved his sweet personality and the joy he brings. He was the best medicine I could have asked for. 

They played video games, watched movies, played Legos and entertained the dogs. 
Look at the joy in their faces. 
Talmage copied everything Hayden did. 
Whether they were Zombies, or crazies or playing Lego video games, those smiles and laughter eased the pain. It melted my heart. Oh how we love our Tman. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oral surgery take 2

What a whirlwind of a week I have had. The pain and infection in my mouth grew increasingly more intolerable over Thanksgiving weekend. By. Monday, I was downright miserable and in throbbing pain. Tuesday morning, Thomas called to schedule me an appointment with the dentist considering I have a phobia of dentistry. They were closed and didn't open until 9am. He decided to call back and leave a message and instead the dental assistant picked up excepting a call. Thomas explained the situation and the girl said to come right in as their early morning emergency appointment had not shown up. We rushed to the dentist. 

He sat us down and explained the state of the tooth as unsalvagable. He was in awe at how quickly it had almost disintegrated. He told me it had to come out. While there, my sweet dentist fixed another tooth, free of charge. Such a great man. Thomas and I left and figured that when our dental insurance kicked back in, I would have the tooth removed. However, my pain grew increasingly worse and the Spirit wouldn't quit nagging at Thomas. 

Thomas prayed for guidance and felt inspired to call my dad. My dad felt waiting for January and insurance help was probably our best bet but not without JD taking a look at it. So Thomas sent X-rays on Tuesday evening to JD. As soon as JD was off of work, he called. He asked about the tooth and we discussed everything that had occurred...the vomiting, the nausea, my weakened immune system and all the events unfolding the past several years. He said that the tooth needed to come out immediately and it was not worth losing me over a thousand dollars. He told me to immediately contact the surgeon and he would be shocked if they waited until even Monday to do the surgery. 

Phone calls were made on Wednesday morning, and my loving father wrote a check for the surgery. All of it. He said I was worth saving. I was so touched. He was concerned with the diagnosis JD gave and sincerely felt awful that I had to continue to walk this painful and miserable path of ill health. Tears of joy and gratitude streamed down my face out of gratitude and love. 

Thursday was a crazy day as Jodi and her sweet children came to visit and drop off Talmage for the weekend. I loved every minute they were here but was in so much pain. I was terrified for the surgeon visit yet knew the path that lay ahead of me. Seeing my sister gave me the courage and added strength to face those next moments of decision making and endure the torment associated with the embarrassment of my teeth.  

I was so grateful Thomas was able to meet me at the surgeons office. The office explained that they were booked for two weeks due to everyone trying to utilize their health care savings plans. The thought of enduring this pain two weeks and having surgery just before Christmas was awful. I said a silent prayer for guidance. The surgeon came in and looked at the X-ray and spoke to me and reassured me that this was all of my health condition and not a direct result of anything I did or didn't do. In fact, he told me to stop trying so hard. He then explained the severity of the infection, the disintegration of the tooth and the health concerns for my safety. He scheduled surgery at 6:30am the following morning to remove the shattered tooth, infected jaw and gums and clean the area. 

Friday morning came early and before I knew it they were applying laughing gas and an IV line. I don't remember much besides almost falling out to the chair and them trying to wake me up. Julie brought me home for a day of ice packs and pain meds and trying to endure. 

The past several days have been miserable. Filled with throbbing and bleeding and pain and long suffering. But there have been so many tender mercies. Hayden was wonderful with Talmage. Talmage was so sweet and caring. Julie and Suzi and Lisa and  so many helping out. I felt very loved. 

My life is crazy. The pain continues. The surgeries and illnesses and diagnosis seem unyielding. I feel the constant pressure of moving from one illness or trial to the next. I feel the reign of illness in my body. I long for the day I will be made whole again. That the physical torment of this mortal body will cease. But then I think of the joy in Hayden's smile and in Thomas' touch. The way that I feel when I see my sister and her children walk through my front door. The peace I feel as I sit with those that lovingly sacrifice so much for our family. I am reminded that although my body suffers and is ill, I am incredibly blessed. There are so many things to be grateful for. As I lie awake and in pain, I am grateful my life was again spared. That I may spend more precious day with those I love and adore. 

I read a quote from our beloved general authorities today and if it wasn't 3am, I would probably try to locate it. Instead. I will summarize. "Life doesn't always come in the package we planned. It doesn't promise us the outcome or journey we expect. However, if we are to let The Lord lead, our view may be different and the journey a different course than we set down, but if we allow the Savior to take the broken pieces, we can again find joy and healing. And the journey can still be wonderful." 

This life wasn't what I wanted or expected or pictured. But I am grateful I am still here to experience it. Each day is truly a remarkable gift. Pain or misery can set us back but not hold us down. We have a it a stumbling block or a stepping stone?

Thursday, December 4, 2014


My dreams lately have become very vivid. I remember amazing details and I am actively aware. I'm not merely a bystander without ability to run or frozen but actually can think thru my answers and can be shown where to go. I was studying on Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams. I thought of the pharaoh's dreams and then compared them to mine. Oh how I would love for a dream interpreter to help me understand some of the finer points of my dreams. I get the big stuff but I know I am missing things. As I pray, I know all things shall be made manifest to me "in time" but I ponder the meaning often and hope I am correctly analyzing the messages contained therein. 

Monday night I wrestled for sleep. It didn't come easy. I felt as if I was awake while dreaming and making conscious decisions rather than me playing a part in a unknown or senseless dream. This one was different. A big snake had gotten loose in our home. But it wasn't just slithering to and for or hiding  in a corner, this snake was watching, waiting, calculating. It's as with looking at the snake, I could for see his next move. He dove after Maya (our 4 pound puppy) knowing I would leave my area of safety to rescue her. He watched me as he tried to strike her, not interested in her, but my every move. 

As I grabbed the snake with both hands, he began striking at me fiercely, cutting my skin and attacking my heels and arms and wherever he could strike. I stood firm holding him with all my might and power. I felt a strength accompany me beyond my own. This snake, with hate and malice in his eyes was striking at me with all of the power and force of his body. As his fangs would cut into my skin, I would tell him that he had no power over me, his venom could break my skin but not damage or hurt my soul. He did not have power over me and nothing he could hit me with would change a thing. 

He started screaming at me, at the top of his lungs, although, it may not have been words exchanged but more understanding of thoughts. "Die! Why aren't you dying? I've struck you so many times that the venom should be destroying your heart. Just die!"  I stood firm. I held on to him tight. He was trapped and going no where. And although the strikes of his fangs piercing my skin was painful, the venom was not traveling to my blood stream or heart. Firmly, calmly and determined, I faced him saying, "Get thee hence you serpent. You can pierce my skin but will never have any power to let your venom take hold in me. You cannot hurt me. You have no power over me. Your efforts are in vain. You will never destroy me." 

His response turned to viscous anger. As he yelled, "Die! I have sent so much poison at you. I have struck you with all I have had. I have continued to pour venom into your veins. I sent so much venom that it should have utterly destroyed you." 

I held tight, I suffocated him. I held on and his repeated blows, although painful, had no impact on my strength, my determination, my will power or my spirit. My body was able to completely keep him from poisoning and killing me. 

I awoke. Not frantic or upset as I usually would with this type of dream. Instead. I was calm. I was strengthened. I was reassured. I felt so powerful. I knew that I was not alone. 

I have spent hours in the last couple of days thinking of this dream. I realize that the serpent or snake is the adversary. I understand his venom is hatred and jealousy and anger and feelings of self doubt and unfairness. Bitter emotions that would cause my heart to wither and die. I understand his blows or fangs piercing thru my skin were his attempts at sending hard things and negative comments and criticism and judgement, false acquisations and temptations. I understand me standing up to him mean to that I had the Savior on my team and I am not alone. I knew I was strengthened to bear the torment and challenges that were placed before me. 

I knew that I had become a strong person. Not one that breaks. But one with courage to face the future. No matter how painful or how many trials get thrown my way. I will be victorious. I will win this fight. 

I can't remember a time when I felt so strengthened and so powerful. I knew I had just faced the adversary head in. I know I could stand firm in my testimony. And faith in my Savior. I am sure as life moves forward, I will gain greater understanding and a greater knowledge of my dreams. Until then, I will hold firm knowing that I will continue to hold tight to the iron rod and continue to walk in the ways of my Savior. Only then, am I entitled to His divine help to be strengthened and uplifted beyond my own abilities. And when awaking from this dream, I knew just that. I only could not stand but with the Savior on my side, all things are possible. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Refiner's Fire continues

Oh how I do not enjoy the hot flames of the refiners fire. My life, at this moment, is consumed in unrelenting heat while the Master strikes and hammers at my imperfections. As He hammers out each one, shaping and molding me, I feel each blow of the hammer and feel myself melting into His design. The process is slow and excrutiatingly painful, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It refines and changes each and every cell of my DNA and my will so that my life and desires are aligned with my Master. The process is proven. It changes and molds us to His plan and the person He desires us to become. And although I know the end result will be worth the pain and excrutiating torment of the refiner's fire, I wonder if I will be able to mold and be shaped as He desires or if in my weakness, I will break in half during the process. 

Trials come. One by one we face them. They bring us, especially me, to our knees. They help to shape our will and desires with the will of our Savior. 

I have learned to endure many of the trials that have been placed in my path to refine me. I have been accustomed to what I once would have considered incomprehensible pain. I have learned to endure the loss of my independence and acknowledge that I am reliant on others for everything I need. I am unable to drive or walk to doctors and grocery stores, and rely on others for help obtaining our basic needs. I have had to learn to ask for help and realize there are very few things I can do on my own. Being a fiercely independent person, this complete dependence on others has been a struggle and long coming realization of my own inability to provide the very basics for me and my family. I have learned to pinch pennies in ways I would have never thought possible. I have learned and sacrificed and more clearly understand need vs. want. I have had to give up many motherly duties and acknowledge that I cannot do it alone and require help and assistance from others. I have come to understand the principle of exchange. Giving up one thing at the cost of another. I do not have endless energy. Everything I do from shaving my legs to bending to pick something off the floor to sitting with my feet on the ground has consequences and trade offs. Life has become a game of trade offs and considering of how I carefully and calculated spend every once of energy I have been given. 

All of those things are just apart of my daily life. The hand picked select set of trials that should ultimately prepare me to meet my Savior. And although it is a struggle, most days, I endure well and am grateful for what I do have and do not rely on my inabilities and limitations but kneel down in gratitude that I still have the ability to do some things, no matter their limitations. 

Then come along weeks and months that feel as if all the forces of Heaven and earth have been unleashed against me. I feel the torment of doubt and fear and of questioning and hopelessness. I feel as if all the powers of the adversary have been unleashed against me and my safety shield has been compromised. I am currently in a battle so deep and the stakes so high, that although it is taking my all and effort and strength beyond what I can muster, I know quitting isn't an option, and it feels enduring is asking me to walk on water. 

I pulled out my week and listed all I needed to accomplish. I became more and more overwhelmed as I wrote my list. "Follow up with Hayden's cardiologist. Find out what steps need to be taken to resolve his issues and what type surgical / medical intervention needs to take place. Call the ADHD clinic for reevaluation and progress on Hayden. Meet with Dr. Contact dentist on cracked tooth. Contact oral surgeon to remove tooth/bone/gum on infected and abscessed tooth. Contact Mayo clinic for a reevaluation and complete comprehensive exam for disability case. Contact bankruptcy attorney to stop wage garnishments. Meet with Eagle Scout advisor to obtain Hayden's list of must do's before 13th birthday. Plan Hayden's 13th birthday with zero funds. Find items within home to sell for cash to pay for surgical needs." 

And the list goes on. 

While trying to somehow drag this body, fighting horrific infections, out of bed to even be able to start to knocking off items on my ever not so fun list, and seeking help to accomplish these tasks, a friend expressed her disdain of my life and needs and expressed that I just exaggerate and am choosing this life. I felt stomach punched. Because of the endless list of trials we are currently facing, in which very few areas of our life are immune to serious challenges, this comment stopped me in my tracks and made me question everything about myself. I broke down. Literally. 

Yesterday was filled with river of tears that no dam could possibly contain. My heart was broken. My will was broken. My ability to see my hand in the midst of the darkness was impossible. With each passing hour, the trials and tests we were to endure surmounted. Things I thought were resolved unraveled. Criticism and judgement came at every turn. When I so badly needed those around me to reach down and lift me up, I felt kicked instead. 

We all have days like this. None of us are immune. I get it. But it is these days, I believe, that define us. When we stand alone against the winds beating against us and it feels like the raging storm will be the death of us, we learn who we are. 

I am grateful for all those that gathered their swords yesterday and surrounded me. My dear husband, my sister, Suzi and Julie all came to my side. My sweet son sat in the bed with me and tried to comfort me as he said he had never seen me cry so hard as I did yesterday. Then my sweet brother spent over two hours on the phone with me, going over each medical decision needing to be made. He looked at X-rays and diagnosis. He spent time researching and trying to more clearly understand. He showed compassion and a willingness to help me come to a resolution I would have never figured out on my own. 

Life throws curves.  It knocks us to our knees. It makes us question our desire and ability to keep going. We see ourselves as the stripped down soul, full of flaws and weaknesses, mortal and unyielding trials to be faced. When there are no more tears to cry as each one has been shed. There is nothing left. We stand stripped of all ungodliness before our Maker. With complete humility and willingness to do whatever it takes to just feel ok again. Willing to submit completely and utterly to our Savior's will as we realize how He is the only way to redemption and a whole ness again. 

I am so very tired. I am mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted and drained. I have been stripped of any pride or pretense. I feel my complete nothingness. I admit my complete and utter dependence on my Savior for my every need. Without His intervention. Without His love and goodness. I am nothing. 

Oh how I so do not enjoy one moment in the refiners fire. But I do realize that my Savior loves me enough to be willing to put me through it in order to mold me into His. I pray for the strength to walk what is required of me. I pray I will be strong enough to mold and be refined instead of breaking and being discarded. I know if I put my trust in my Savior, I cannot fail. There are no other options, I must walk this path. No matter the trials that lie ahead, my only option is to continue to give my all and move forward trusting that the days I fall down, my precious Savior will lift me and send legions of angels both earthly and heavenly to administer unto me and help me to continue this journey. And although I feel utterly alone, I know none of us truly walk alone. "It was in those moments, when you see one set of footprints that I carried you." I know that although I feel broken, and life feels completely stormy, my Savior is not leaving me. He walks this difficult journey with me and places those in my path to strengthen and uplift me. I just pray that I can endure until the storm clears and I can again clearly see that my Savior was only out of sight because I was safely and securely in His arms. 

Monday, December 1, 2014


I have so much to be grateful for. November and Thanksgiving always helps me to feel more grateful. I look for blessings. I see the good. I recognize more readily the gifts I have been given. I really do have a wonderful life. 
My gratitude list.... I am thankful for:
My Savior and His loving guidance, his sacrifices for me, His unconditional love and His comfort. He has become my dearest and most cherished friend. I have learned to lean on Him, trust Him and go to Him for help and direction. He is the first one I turn to and the one I find my worth with. He is my everything and I am so very grateful for my precious relationship with Him. 
My Father in Heaven - He loves me and I am His daughter. I am divine because of Him. He listens to me and answers my prayers and helps me to be better. He quickly forgives even when all other things in my life He requires my patience and long suffering. I feel His unconditional love. 
Holy Ghost- I am most grateful for the feeling of peace. I can cope with life as long as peace accompanies me. Without peace, I fall apart. The Holy Ghost is my comforter and companion. He teaches me right from wrong and gives guidance in my life. He brings me peace to know regardless of life's trials and problems that peace is attainable even in hard situations. 
My dear husband, Thomas- he is my rock, my life, my strength, my love, my other half and the one who does so very much for me. He makes me breakfast every morning and gets me my diet coke before work. He would do anything for me and serves and loves with all of his heart. 
My sweet son, Hayden- he is my all. My joy. My fun. My laughter. My reason to hold on. He is my heart. He is my smile. He is my strength when I can't muster any for myself. He is the reason I continue to fight to live. He helps me to hold on and face life's storms. He is such a sheer joy. 
My sister, Jodi- oh how I love my sister. She is the one I call when I need something. She is my BFF. She is the one who knows all of my stories and all of my past. She knows when I am not ok just by looking at me or hearing my voice. She loves and serves with all of her heart. She would and has done everything for me. I am so so grateful. 
Julie- a second mom to me. Someone who does anything I need. From laundry to cooking to rides and even help, she loves the way only a mother can. I feel honored that she considers me one of her own. She does the little things for me that only a mom would do and I am so very grateful. 
Suzi- my friend. A wonderful aunt to Hayden. Someone who helps when I don't know what to do. She is the most generous soul I know. 
Joyce, my mother in law- she raised an amazing son. She serves and loves our family. She adores Hayden. She is willing to do anything we need and then thanks me for the opportunity to help us. She makes our life so much easier. I love her so much. 
My Dad- I owe my dad everything. He has given so much to us. He has provided shelter for us in a beautiful home. He has helped us on numerous occasions when there was no where left to turn. He taught me so much. Most of all how to depend and trust my Savior and Father in Heaven. And that is my most cherished gift. He also taught me to see others how the Savior sees them. 
My bonus children - Brooklyn, Brigham and Talmage. I couldn't love them more. Jodi has been so wonderful as to share them with me. Brooklyn is my girl, my joy. She warms my heart with her giving and serving ways. She loves with her huge heart. My Brigham and his heartwarming smile. Oh that smile - I'd do anything to see it. He gives the best hugs and is so loving. I love how he asks questions and how he loves the pups. He is so gentle and tender. Then there is my sweet Talmage. He is a true tender mercy. For every one else in my life, my illness has been a burden. But not for Talmage. My illness brought countless hours of hugs and movie time, cuddles and uninterrupted precious time. According to him, Aunt Jer was never too busy to hug or listen or just sit and cuddle. My illness was a blessing in his life, not a hindrance as it was to everyone else. He gave me reason to keep going as he sat on my lap and we watched movies. He is my cuddle bug and little buddy. 
My nieces and nephews- I could list each of them and how they have touched my life. From Dallin at 5 years old asking Santa to bless baby Hayden and bring him toys to Austin's tender hugs, to Kaylee and her giving me the gift of being an aunt to a precious baby girl, to JD's newest little Ashlyn. I love the way Coby hugs me and runs to me. The way Ann brings her boyfriends to meet me and get my approval. And Megan's sweet smile that makes me laugh. Each so important. 
My puppies- Max and Maya- being confined to a home all day, everyday with no ability to leave and most days trapped all alone, is difficult. Add to it that I cannot go outside or even open the blinds or seizures start. It is a life of waiting for others to visit and relying on others for help and constantly having to be alone. Max and Maya love me being home. Hey bring me cuddles and laughter, joy and companionship and feelings of being needed. I'm so grateful for the joy they bring. 
My brother, Jake- jake would give his life for me. He takes care of me and my house and any crazy needs I have. He brings a smile to my face and lifts me like only he can. There is something. About Jake that is so special. He makes me smile. He helps me feel needed and wanted and like gold. He does so much for me but most of all he just says, "I love my seester" in a way that melts my heart. 
Lisa and her sweet family- her moving a couple doors down has been such a blessing. I'm not alone as often. She comes down to talk or borrow something or run an errand. She is close. I'm. Or so scared with her close by. It gives me comfort for Hayden and friendship for Thomas and Hayden. 
Chad- I love him with all of my heart. He has become so precious to me. I love his thought process. How he thinks. How he loves and protects Haydne. How he trusts me. He helps us however and whenever he can. I am forever grateful for him in our lives. I love him like he was my own. 
JD and Josh and their families- I love my brothers. I love the way JD and Cassie always make time for me when they are in town. I love how they come see me. How I matter. I love their boys. And I just treasure any time I get with them. I respect Josh. He tries his best to give his all and do what is right. He has a great head on his shoulders and reasons all problems out. No emotion, just solutions. He has helped us when I don't know what to do and he helps us with a game plan. He is always willing to move us or help out. Always at our events and always present. He is a rock and I love his precious family so much. 
My grandparents- they have all long gone but have left a strong foundation in my life. I feel their presence often. All of,them. I know some are assigned to help me with my trials. They strengthen and lift me. 
The gospel- I love the Book of Mormon and plan of salvation. I love the sound truths I know because I have been blessed to know and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. It brings me security and so much peace. 
My ward family- they have been my rocks and support on so many occasions. I'm blessed to serve with so many wonderful people whom I cherish and love. 
My friends - too many wonderful ones to count. I've been blessed with an abundance of support system and rock solid people in my life. I am truly blessed. 
My home- I'm so grateful for a roof over my head and a place to live. I'm grateful for the comfort and safety it provides. And most of all for the Spirit of our Savior that dwells here. It is my sanctuary here on this earth. 
Food- I'm grateful for a full pantry and I know what a blessing that truly is. Not often have we had to worry about our next meal or how to feed our family. So many struggle with that. I'm grateful for all I've been given. 
Clothing-shelter-necessities of life- I'm grateful I can feed and clothe and have shelter for my family. I realize this is such a blessing. I am so grateful for a reliable car to take us where we need to go. I'm grateful that so many of my wants are met and all of my needs. I'm truly blessed and so grateful. 
My health- I know. I am far from healthy. I live in a very mortal body that daily battles to stand and walk, to bend without falling and I endure pain I never thought I could endure. But I am getting a little stronger and healthier. I am so grateful for my good days. I am grateful for what my body is allowing me to do that I was told would be impossible. I'm grateful for the days I can get out of bed. 
Miracles- oh have I been the recipient of many, many miracles. Being alive is one of the biggest. I know without divine intervention I would not be waking this earth. And I am so grateful for each day that I get to spend with those I love. 
Life- I have walked the edge of death and brushed it way too many times. I have felt lifeless. I have felt my spirit slip from my grasp. I have understood the reality of losing my life. I've had to say goodbye to those I love. I've had to teach them how to go on when I no longer walk with them. I've had the hard discussions. I e spent all night in prayer on my knees. I've laid in bed pleading for another day or night, grasping for anything to hold on to. Life is a precious gift. Each day a reason to smile and celebrate. Sure life has ups and downs. It is rocky and scary. But having a body and being able to control that body is such a blessing. I am grateful for each day I wake up alive. And I am given the chance to make soe thing of myself and offer help to those I love and cherish. 

This is by no means a complete list or even a fraction of my gratitude. But they are some of my big points. The main reasons I fight to get up each morning and push through the pain. It is the reason I give my all and continue to fight to live another day. And my dear Savior, has been so good to me, he comfort me and hold me when the road is too rocky and unsteady. He balances me. he strengthens me. I am so very blessed. 

Thanksgiving at Grandpa's

Thanksgiving came this year and exceeded all of my expectations. It was the year for all the Simonton's together at my dad's house. We arrived and saw Josh and his sweet family walking in. I noticed how grown up his boys were getting. How they towered over me. The smiles on their faces and love in their hearts as they each hugged me. I smiled as I watched Hayden and Braden greet each other with a "what's up" and a fist bump and wondered when they changed from boys to teenagers. I one by one hugged each of my nieces and nephews, brothers and sister, in laws and Bonnie and my Dad. I felt so much love in my heart as I realized how lucky I am to be apart of such a wonderful group of people. 

We sat and ate and Troy and Jake had me laughing harder than I had in years. I'm not even sure what was so funny other than the huge ASU and U of A rivalry existing between the family. But I felt so safe sitting next to Thomas and Jake and Jodi, with Rosie and Troy by my side. I smiled as I watched Josh and his family interact with the Grandparents and smiled at how grown up all of our children have become. There are no longer littles running around. They are mostly teenagers. Full of life and excitement, eagerly talking to one another instead of creating messes. 

I remembered many Thanksgivings gone by surrounded by the love of family. I said a silent prayer of gratitude that I was born into this family. That I had a mom and dad that loved me and provided the best for me. They taught me unconditional love and right and wrong. They gave me a solid foundation on which to build my life. They taught me about God and His son, Jesus Christ and all of the important truths contained in the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible. They taught me to love and serve and be kind. My gratitude about ruptured my heart I was so grateful for the life I have been given. 

We all talked and laughed and visited with one another. We talked of Christmas and being together. We talked of gifts and some of the best places we have traveled together. I smiled as Jake told Dad to buy all of us crock pots and take he rest of the Christmas money and buy him a cruise. So Jake. So funny. He keeps us all laughing. My Dad was tender and concerned. He talked of memories and love. He spoke of days past and memories of his family and parents and the love he has for them and his own siblings. He shared kindness and gratitude and love. 

All of us lingered. We all felt it. None of us rushed off. We hung out and just soaked in one another's company. We loved and laughed and enjoyed just being together. 

It reminded me of Thanksgivings past. When my mom was still alive and cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles filled our home and the home of my grandparents. Those were precious days. They were filled with fun adventures of love and life and wanting the day to never end. This one felt similar. Love surrounded me. I felt wrapped in the arms of my family's and my Savior's love. I felt heavenly peace and deep seeded love and gratitude. I remember wanting and praying for the feeling to last forever. I knew I was in the presence of angels that day. Some walked the earth disguised as my husband and father, my sister and brothers and my sweet nieces and nephews. I looked at each and thought how they have bettered my life and brought me insurmountable joy and love, hope and peace. I felt the presence of heavenly angels. Those that have gone before us. I felt my dad's parents near as he spoke of them, I could almost hear Josh saying hi to Uncle Charlie Tuna. I felt my mom ever so gently smile at me and wrap her arms around my father. I felt my Grandpa telling me he loved me and my Grandma Donn laughing at Jake trying to get a trip for Christmas. It was hard to tell where is earth ended and the spirit world started. Kitchen at my dad's house on Thanksgiving will always hold a cherished memory for me. Heaven and earth collided that day. Heaven was right where we were. All together. All happy. All watching out and taking care of one another. And all smiling. 

Life does not always go as planned. It doesn't promise us more tomorrow's. It doesn't hold endless joy and no suffering. It is filled with opportunities for growth and stretching. Trials and tribulations take us to our knees. We have misunderstandings and hard feelings some in families. But no matter what life throws at us, we love one another. I do know that I am loved. I have been blessed to be placed in a family that would help me to grow and reach. They would also be there with a hand to help me up when I fall. I'm grateful for the family I have. All of them. I just wish JD and his sweet family could have experienced such an amazing day with us. They were truly missed. 

I was on a spiritual and emotional high for the next 24 hours. Life has its rocky points but I am so grateful for the life I have. I love all those that have been placed in my life and all the ways they teach me and help me and comfort me. I am truly blessed.