Tuesday, December 30, 2014

[it's almost 2015]

The morning was spent budgeting (double ick), organizing the pantry (ick), menu planning (a little less ick), and baking a delicious Texas Sheet Cake with the Goose (not at all ick!).

Since Saturday evening, Grammy has been feeling progressively more yucky, so when she asked to go to the dr. today, Luke jumped on the chance.  They're there now.  Haven't heard what it is that's ailing her.  My guess is it's the same gomboo that plagued McKayslin and I for the past week.  Luke seems to have held out on the sickness.  Hopefully he won't get hit right before he has to go back to work...

The house is very quiet right now.  Almost too quiet.

The morning was filled with lots of discussion, a little wondering, and a whole lot of thinking.  That, combined with the now quiet, has my brain kicked into overdrive and my freak out mode in full force.  

This afternoon, Luke and the girls will do a drive by to see Kenton (with a wind chill of well below zero, a drive by will have to do - sorry little buddy!).  I will do a drive by when I head down to school to pick up a few things to work on.  Need to get my phonics lessons planned and prepped and caught up before Monday hits.  And homework for the next couple of weeks.  And perhaps a couple of sets of emergency sub plans depending on what our friend Shauna might need.

The tree will come down this afternoon.  Or tomorrow depending on how things go at the dr. with Grammy.  And with that, we've survived our 2nd Christmas without Kenton.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve.  Our traditional three gifts should bring laughs and fun and memories (which will bring some sadness, some tears, and a whole lot of missing our boy).  We'll light fireworks at the cemetery at midnight, and come home for sprinkle filled pancakes with whipped cream.  

And just like that, 2015 will be here.  The 2nd year to start without our boy.  On the 22nd, we'll mark 2 years that Kenton has been gone.

I think of that, and I wonder - are you proud of us, Bubs?  Do you miss us as much as we miss you?  Do you think of us as often as we think of you?  

And I wonder how we've made it almost two full years without that smile, those hugs, that laugh, and all that love.  Or how we'll make it another year...

Monday, December 29, 2014

[a mess]

Christmas is over.

McKayslin's birthday is over.

New Year's Eve is in 2 days.

All of this wraps up into one big huge emotional mess of a time of year.  

Try as I may, I can not, just can't, make it work.  

I can't juggle the emotions of everyone in this house while I attempt to juggle my own.

I can't put on a smile and go out in public and pretend that my broken heart isn't.

I can't spend too much time with the people I love because their sadness echoes my own so deeply that soon we're all just lost in the sad.

So our days consist of reading.  TV.  Computer time.  Tablet time.  Cooking.  Eating.  And lots of time in separate rooms away from each other.

It certainly doesn't help that McKayslin and I both caught some awesome bug last weekend.  And that she missed the last 2 days of school.  Or that I still am not feeling well.  And Grammy is now sick. 

It doesn't help that today for dinner I made ham and beans - the one meal Kenton requested I make for him when he was finally better and didn't get to make for him at all.

It most definitely doesn't help that our house still looks like Christmas threw up all over because no one has the emotional energy to take it all down and put it all away.

Today, Luke and I went on a date.  
Mostly to get the things on our list, plus the traditional 3 gifts of New Year's Eve.
It's hard.
The memories.
The emotions.
The knowing Kenton doesn't get to do any of this with us anymore.

Taking pictures, knowing that I won't ever have any new ones of him.
Looking at old pictures, wishing I'd taken more.
Wishing I'd written the memories of the pictures.
Catching up on some scrapbooking.
Heart ripped out of my chest and lying in shards on the floor with each page.

Wondering if the new year will bring an added measure of peace that we so desperately seek.  Knowing that the peace will come, but praying that it stays.  That it heals.

And just so many other things that are so illogical and unreasonable that I can't even make myself say them out loud...

Feeling like my best will never ever be good enough again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


On Sunday, our Sunday School lesson was The Gathering of Israel.  Our lesson started late.  We had exactly 29 minutes.  The lesson started out on track as we discussed the physical and spiritual gathering of Israel.  And then I shared something I had learned in my lesson study.  A quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie.  (I actually used a lot of a talk he'd given in preparing to teach the lesson (Come: Let Israel Build Zion)).

The message which has come to us is that the Lord will “have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

I shall speak of the manner in which the Lord will build up Zion, the manner in which the Lord is having mercy upon Zion, and the part we are expected to play in the building of Zion.

...as of now, the Lord has laid upon us the responsibility to lay the foundation for that which is to be. We have been commissioned to prepare a people for the second coming of the Son of Man. We have been called to preach the gospel to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. We have been commanded to lay the foundations of Zion and to get all things ready for the return of Him who shall again crown the Holy City with his presence and glory.

Zion is people; Zion is the saints of God; Zion is those who have been baptized; Zion is those who have received the Holy Ghost; Zion is those who keep the commandments; Zion is the righteous...

After sharing this quote, I asked first, "Where is Zion?" and second, "How is Heavenly Father showing mercy upon us?"

The remainder of our lesson was spent discussing Zion.  And our Heavenly Father's love of us that is shown so clearly within our Zion.  That is one of his greatest mercies.  That we are surrounded by those who love, serve, support, guide, and help us along our path.

Zion is right here.  It is my own little family.  My own little circle of friends.  My own extended family.  My own little ward.  My own stake.  Right here.  Right now.  

What is my responsibility within Zion?  We have been commissioned to prepare a people for the second coming of the Son of Man. We have been called to preach the gospel to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. We have been commanded to lay the foundations of Zion and to get all things ready for the return of Him who shall again crown the Holy City with his presence and glory.  Pretty clear.

As the discussion continued on preparing a people for the second coming of our Savior, we talked a lot about example and service.  Like it or not, regardless of our circumstances, and sometimes because of our circumstances, people watch us.  They watch what we say.  They watch what we do.  They watch how we treat those around us.  They watch how we respond to challenges and to the task of daily life.  I've heard it said many times, "You are always an example - you can be a good one or a bad one, but you're always an example."  This is something on which I need to work.

I really love our ward.  I really love our stake.  I really love our little town.  There are so many great people here.  So many people that love our Savior and constantly find ways to lift and serve others, not to say hey look at me, I'm so awesome!, but in a manner that that exemplifies the love of our Savior.

This discussion brought me up sharply in remembrance of all of the loving acts of service we have received.  Meals, money, fundraisers, cards, letters, texts, visits, treats... we live in our own little Zion and it's a pretty great place to live. 

However, that being said, I'll admit that it's been a rough few days.  

The days after a really awesome spiritual experience usually are.
I need to do better at remembering that.

Remembering that my emotions will be higher.  Tighter.
That my patience will be shorter.  
And that my tolerance level will be non-existent.

Satan is real.
And I let him in this week by allowing simple things to breed anger and impatience.
By responding with annoyance instead of understanding.

I simply must do better.

I took an interesting quiz yesterday at www.16personalities.com .
My results: 
Your personality type: INFP (turbulent variant)
Strength of individual traits: Introverted: 83%, Intuitive: 40%, Feeling: 81%, Prospecting: 56%, Turbulent: 93%. 

INFPs are driven by a strong sense of right and wrong and a desire to exercise their creativity, even if only behind the scenes. Their weaknesses include sensitivity to criticism, poor organization, and low assertiveness. Keirsey referred to the INFPs as Healers, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Idealists.[2] INFPs are one of the rarer types, accounting for about 4-5% of the population.[3]

The turbulent variant part made me a little sad.  The best I can figure is that my emotions are still all over the place.  I suppose that just gives me an awareness.  I can't hide behind my grief.  Or use it as an excuse.  I can't live there.  I DON'T HAVE TO LIVE THERE!  I can miss Kenton, as I do with every piece of my heart, but I can miss him while still showing an outpouring of love and patience to those around me.

Going forward, my goal is to be less sharp, less critical, more supportive, more forgiving, more understanding.  I respond too quickly.  Expect too much.  Allow hurt to enter too easily.  We have been commanded to preach the gospel... and in my experience that mostly comes down to living the gospel.  Responding with kindness, patience, love.  Doing my part to build up my own little Zion instead of tearing it down. 

Today I am grateful for forgiveness.

** And, yes, I realize that this post is all over the place and probably makes zero sense to anyone reading it.  Not that anyone really does read it, but whatevs.  Today I needed to dump my thoughts.  That's how I attempt to organize and work through them.  I don't know if it worked or not.  

Monday, August 4, 2014


Jesus climbed the hill
To the garden still
His steps were heavy and slow
Love and a prayer
Took Him there
To the place only He could go

Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

He felt all that was sad, wicked or bad
All the pain we would ever know

While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago

Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

The hardest thing That ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus.
The fight was won by Jesus.

Jesus loves me
So he gave His gift to me
In Gethsemane

Jesus loves me
So he gives His gift to me
From Gethsemane

Saturday night I went to bed and found myself praying.  That's not an unusual occurrence, but this night there were many dear friends on my heart...

In my little circle there are many that are struggling.
Feeling lost.
And just so sad.
Facing trials that could break them.

As I prayed, I kept repeating the phrase ...and please, Father, let them feel thy peace, the peace that only comes through the Atonement.  Please...

With tears on my cheeks and a continued prayer in my heart, I closed my prayer and drifted off to sleep.  As I was slipping into sleep, I heard this song.  It's one of my favorites.  But I've never heard it sung quite like I did that night. A chorus of angels were singing me to sleep, reminding me of the greatest gift I've been given.  Helping me recognize and remember the love of our Father and our Savior.

This morning on Facebook, I read the update on our little friend Ethan that his mom posted last night...
For those who haven't heard, Ethan has gone steadily downhill on a slippery slope today. He has basically lost one function after another. We were told by the doctors that he will most likely not make it through this. The kids are on their way, and they will make sure to keep him alive until the kids can get here to say their goodbyes. There is a very small chance that things could turn around, but right now, it isn't looking good. I am so grateful for the plan of happiness, and the peace of the gospel. I don't know how we would do this without it.

He felt all that was SAD.  
All of it.
Even this.

We're not alone.
We never have been.
We never will be.

I am so grateful.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

[recognizing tender mercies]

Yesterday was started out as a hard day for me.  
I was grumpy.  

McKayslin wanted a friend to play.  I don't blame her.  I didn't want to be around me either!  She called to see if Ella could play.  She could!  :)  They decided to play at Ella's house after lunch.

I dropped McKayslin off and ran in to get a few things in town.  Callie and I were texting back and forth (and the girls were sending me hilarious pictures of themselves).  I asked Cal when we should start our temple trade-off trips again.  We've been talking about it since we decided to take the summer off from trading and have really missed going to the temple on a set schedule.  Her text back was something along the lines of How about next week?  Unless you want to go tonight!!  A few more texts back and forth and it was decided that we'd start up again this week.  As in last night.  McKayslin was already at her house, so Luke and I would get the first trip.  

I sent Luke a text telling him not to pick up McKayslin but to come home and get ready to go to the temple instead.  
We made it to the chapel just seconds after the 3:30 session went up.  We sat and listened to the music as we waited for the 4:00 session.  The first hymn that I remember hearing was "In Humility Our Savior."  And the only phrases I could remember from the hymn were... fill our hearts with sweet forgiving...teach us tolerance and love...then when we have proven worthy, of thy sacrifice divine, Lord, let us regain thy presence, and let thy glory round us shine.

The first two phrases were for me. 
Very specifically.

And the last phrase, a promise and a reminder that Kenton is safe, well, and happy.

I could feel an underlying excitement running through me as I looked at the name on my card. Lena M. Alford.  It was a different feeling than I'd had at the temple before.  A feeling of anxious and excited energy.  And then I felt the calm familiar feeling I get when Kenton is close.  And I knew that we were exactly where we were supposed to be at exactly the right time.

The session was small.  Less than 30 people.  Throughout the session, I continued to feel both that anxious and excited feeling (which I'm thinking must have been Lena) and Kenton's calm and familiar presence.  It made me smile.  

During the session, as always, I found myself praying for peace.  
For understanding.
For strength.

Usually there's a phrase that sticks out to me a little more than usual.  Yesterday it was one simple word, directed at Satan from our Heavenly Father.  Depart.  Several other phrases became more clear to me as I understood more clearly than ever that the powers of Satan only become powers when we allow them to.  

Depression is real.  And it's scary.  
Anger is real.  And it's scary.
Feeling lost and alone and worthless is real.  And it's scary.

At least in my life, those are the powers that Satan uses against me.

BUT GUESS WHAT?! He can't use them against me if I don't allow him to!  Isn't that awesome?!  I.am.in.charge of what I let in.

(Please allow me to add that I KNOW that, in some cases, simply saying he won't be allowed to use these powers does not give some the strength to fight against them without help from an outside source or a medical professional).

For me, I needed to be reminded that I get to choose.  

I get to choose if I allow my sad or my mad or whatever I'm feeling that day to take over my day.  To take over my week.  I GET TO CHOOSE!!!  I have to let myself feel each emotion.  Locking them up would not be healthy.  Or safe.  But as I allow myself to feel the anger, the grief, the sadness, the loneliness, I don't have to stay there.


As the session progressed, the anxious excitement was getting stronger, pulling, frustrated that things weren't moving faster.  It kind of made me giggle.  

We prepared to move to the last part of the endowment.  I heard Kenton say, "Mom, I have to go now, I'm proud of you.  Thank you.  I love you."  And I felt him leave.  I imagine he had one more thing to do to help Lena with this last step.

The sweet temple workers directed us to the final step.  I could feel Lena tugging on my hand, urging my feet to move faster.  I could feel her excitement and her gratitude.  Several times I have had confirmation that the work I've done has been accepted.  But nothing like yesterday.  It was incredible.  And such a blessing of peace for my heart to know that my boy is being the great missionary we knew he would be!

As it were, I was the first to enter the Celestial Room.  I heard one more quiet thank you, and I was alone again. Tears of gratitude filled my eyes and I felt peace. 

I know that's where we were supposed to be.  And I know that we wouldn't have gone had Cal not been listening to a prompting and willing to keep McKayslin.  I really do have the best friends.  

As I was studying for my Sunday School lesson last night, I kept coming back to this part.  "He gathers them so they will build temples and perform sacred ordinances for ancestors who have died without having this opportunity."  

And more specifically to this phrase.  This is what my friends do.  They strengthen me so I can find protection from the unrighteous influences of this world.

In April, 2005, Elder Bednar gave the talk The Tender Mercies of the Lord...

I have reflected repeatedly upon the phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord.” Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits “his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).

We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord...

I am thankful for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith and for the knowledge we have today about the Lord’s tender mercies. Our desires, faithfulness, and obedience invite and help us to discern His mercies in our lives. As one of His servants, I declare my witness that Jesus is the Christ, our Redeemer and our Savior. I know that He lives and that His tender mercies are available to all of us. Each of us can have eyes to see clearly and ears to hear distinctly the tender mercies of the Lord as they strengthen and assist us in these latter days. May our hearts always be filled with gratitude for His abundant and tender mercies.

I was reminded, also, of President Eyring's talk in October of 2007.  O Remember, Remember.

I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.
The years have gone by. My boys are grown men. And now and then one of them will surprise me by saying, “Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when …” and then he will tell me about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day.
My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done. You remember that song we sometimes sing: “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”2
It won’t be easy to remember. Living as we do with a veil over our eyes, we cannot remember what it was like to be with our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in the premortal world; nor can we see with our physical eyes or with reason alone the hand of God in our lives. Seeing such things takes the Holy Ghost. And it is not easy to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companionship in a wicked world...  Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him. I testify that He loves us and blesses us, more than most of us have yet recognized. I know that is true, and it brings me joy to remember Him.

He loves us. 
He blesses us more than most of us have yet recognized. 

I add my testimony that I know Heavenly Father loves us.  
I know He is very mindful of us.  
And I know that most of the time, our prayers are answered because someone close to us was willing to act on a prompting He sent. 

Today, I recognize.
And I remember.

I am so grateful.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

[lost in the lights]

Center field.  Night game.  Playing under the lights.  Strong wind.

A high fly ball is on a perfect trajectory to be caught.  But the wind shifts.  And the ball gets momentarily lost in the lights.  What could have been an easy play is suddenly not.  As the ball drops just out of the line of lights, it falls past the outstretched glove.  The runner advances.

The team pulls together.  Rallies.  And solidly ends the inning leaving the runner on base.

Isn't that how life is?  

It's so rare that we have perfect weather.  No wind.  And a clear line of vision.

Sometimes, we're on the trajectory of a really good play.  A really good day.

But the wind shifts.
Our focus gets momentarily lost in the lights.

And what could have been a really good day, isn't.

Our team pulls together.
Ends the inning.

And we're okay again.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

[not quite a sunday]

I have such big plans.  Such big ideas.  Such high hopes.  
I sometimes forget that I don't always get my own way.

Yesterday was an okay day.

It wasn't a Sunday.
• No baseball. Too much rain.
• Still 1 assignment short of assignments that were due on the 28th.
• The bathroom desperately needed cleaning.
• With all of the Kenton's Cup merchandise arriving, and the onslaught of school supplies that have appeared in my home, our living room looks like an episode of Hoarders.  Minus the bugs.  And the rotten food.  And the rats.  And the feces.  (So maybe it's not as bad as I think!).
Cried SOBBED through the song He's My Son (Mark Shulz) when it came on Pandora.
• It was Kenton day.  Tuesdays are always just a little sadder.

But it also wasn't a Friday.
• It was a rainy day.  I love rainy days.  I should have jumped in some puddles.  Or gone for a bike ride up to McDonald's to get a chocolate shake like Kenton and I did that one day in the spring of 2012.
• McKayslin got to go play with her sister, Paige.
• I made bread. Wheat bread. From scratch including grinding the wheat.  And it was good.
• I cleaned the bathroom (mostly because Josh was coming to recaulk the backsplash, but whatever - it's clean).
• I finished 3 out of 4 assignments that were actually due on the 28th.  
• Had a fun little visit with my sister, Cia.
• Luke did all the dishes.  And vacuumed the living room, family room, the hall, AND the stairs.  AND he straightened the piles of stuff in the living room so it doesn't look quite so "hoarderish."
• We stopped to see our Kenton.
• Dinner was a success.  Buttermilk wheat blueberry pancakes from scratch, buttermilk syrup (Kenton syrup as Luke calls it), and bacon.  And fried red potatoes.
• McKayslin said family prayer... "and please bless our angel families to feel the peace of The Plan of Salvation" right after she asked Heavenly Father to please give Kenton the biggest tightest squish He could from us and tell him that we love and miss him so much and thanks for being the best big brother ever.

And we slept well again last night.

So perhaps yesterday wasn't a Sunday.  
But it wasn't a Friday.
Maybe instead it was something along the lines of a Tuesday.
Because it really was an okay day.

And some days are like that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

[sunday will come]

Sunday Will Come
(Elder Joseph B. Worthlin, October 2006, General Conference)

Over the past 2 years, more specifically over the past year and a half, this has been one of my go to talks.  It stays in an open tab on my tablet and on my phone.  I find myself reading his words of love and peace several times a week, and sometimes several times a day.

When President Hinckley spoke at Sister Wirthlin’s funeral, he said that it is a devastating, consuming thing to lose someone you love. It gnaws at your soul.
I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.
On that terrible Friday the earth shook and grew dark. Frightful storms lashed at the earth.
Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced. Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.
On that day the veil of the temple was rent in twain.
Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were both overcome with grief and despair. The superb man they had loved and honored hung lifeless upon the cross.
On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior—the man who had walked on water and raised the dead—was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.
On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.
It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.
I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.
But the doom of that day did not endure.
The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.
And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.
Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.
Yesterday was a good day.  
A "Sunday." 
One of those days where things just felt pretty darn good.  

McKayslin had art camp in the morning.  She's loved spending her Monday mornings there all summer, creating, laughing, learning.  I had just enough time to run to the Wal-Mart to pick up the few things we needed (and perhaps a few new school supplies - shhhh...).  After art camp, we grabbed some lunch, and came home.  I worked on laundry and cleaned up a little.  

Right around 1, we heard the knockity-knock at the door.  Analeise was here!  I'm not sure who was more excited for this play time, Analeise or McKayslin!  Those two little munchkins (McKayslin playing big sister for the day and Analeise playing little sister) ran and played and jumped and colored and played dollies and painted nails and picked beans (because they were looking for more peas but there was an ant hill, ha, ha!) and watched shows and played play-doh.

I loved the giggles.  
I loved watching them play so well together.  
I loved hearing Analeise say Goosey and Uncle Wuke.
She mostly just called me You.
Guess we know who her favorites are!  ;) 

But I really loved what happened about halfway through the visit.

The girls were tearing through the kitchen on their way to their next grand adventure, when Analeise skidded to a halt in front of the large picture of the kids I have on the kitchen desk.

She stopped, looked at the picture, looked at me, looked back at the picture and said, "Ohhhhhhh...."  I said, "That's Kenton and McKayslin."  She looked at me and back at the picture, and her tone of voice registered recognition and love as she whispered, "Kenton..." McKayslin and I just looked at each other.  The moment was quickly over as the girls then sped off to pain their nails.

President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us."

Later as they were playing play-doh, making cacos for Uncle Wuke, Analeise made something else and set it aside.  I asked her who that was for.  In a very matter of fact way, she shrugged and said, "It's for Kenton."

The play date was over way too soon.  That little sweetheart has all of us wrapped around her little finger!

We ate dinner (delicious Kenton favorites of creamed peas and potatoes, steak bites, and fresh green beans - which are now McKayslin's favorites too - except the steak!).

And headed off to Smithfield to watch that biggest brother play some baseball again.
It was perfect baseball watching weather.  

And perfect company.  
The game was pretty slow.  Tied 1-1 for a while.  And then 3-3 for a while.  Tay was up to bat, bottom of the 7th, 2 outs, winning run on 2nd, with the score tied at 3.  Ha, no pressure there.  

He pounded one into the field, bringing the runner in.
The end.  

We love watching baseball.  
I can always feel Kenton close for a few minutes during each game.  

Game over we stopped for ice cream and came home.  
And we slept well again.  
I hope I don't jinx us by saying that...

Yesterday was indeed a "Sunday."  

What's interesting to me about these Sundays, is that they don't come and stay.
I don't think we'd appreciate them as much if they did. 

They come around once in a while, just like regular Sundays do.  
These days of smiles and peace and all day happy.  

And on these Sundays, Kenton is so close.
Just as close as other days, certainly, but it's a different close.  

It's an I'm proud of you guys kind of close.

And on these Sundays, I know he's giving us that trademark grin and a double thumbs up.

Because Sundays are family days.  
Tradition days.  
Kenton's favorite kinds of days.

Today is Tuesday.
Kenton day.
Tears are always a little closer and emotions a little tighter on Tuesdays.

We miss our boy.

We miss his hugs, his smiles, his laugh, his joy in everyday living.


Until we are reunited as an eternal family, we will miss him.

Today we'll have pancakes and bacon for dinner.
Maybe even blueberry pancakes with buttermilk syrup.
And bacon.
Because it's Tuesday.

And we'll go see our boy.  

And then we'll go watch some baseball.  

Because sometimes, even Tuesdays can be Sundays.

Monday, July 28, 2014

[grateful in any circumstance]

That was our Relief Society lesson yesterday.

Grateful in Any Circumstance_President Uchtdorf

I'm going to be totally honest when I say it really touched a raw nerve (or 5!) for me.  I think there are a lot of misconceptions about this topic.  About this attitude of gratitude if you will.

Don't get me wrong.  We do need to be grateful.  And we do need to acknowledge our blessings AT ALL TIMES AND IN ALL THINGS.  I'm not saying we shouldn't.

And perhaps my last raw nerve was strung so tightly yesterday that I couldn't appreciate the conversation during the lesson...

I don't know.

What I do know is this: President Uchtdorf counsels us to be grateful in any circumstance.  NOT for every circumstance.  That's a great comfort to me.  I don't HAVE to be grateful that Kenton had leukemia.  I don't HAVE to be grateful that he died (because seriously?!?!?!?).

But what I do HAVE to do is be grateful for the blessings and knowledge that came during and from those circumstances.

Grateful that both Luke and I were given one on one time with each of our children.  Time to focus only on that kiddo.  Time to develop a stronger relationship.  Time to learn about each other.  Time to teach each other.  Time to strengthen our eternal family bonds.

Grateful that our friends stepped up so quickly and with so much energy pulling off the most amazing fundraisers that we did not have to worry about how our bills would be paid, or how we would afford to travel to Salt Lake and back multiple times a week, or how we could have a halfway house for Luke and Kenton to live in post transplant. 

Grateful for the friends that stepped in and each had a "McKayslin day" during the week so she wouldn't be so bored and lonely.

Grateful that our Hyrum 8th ward family took to heart the scripture in Mosiah18:8-9...and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; Yeah, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort... and took such good care of our little family in our times of greatest trial.  Grateful for the months of lawn mowing, and garden watering/weeding, and Sparky tending, and meals, and garden picking/preserving.  Grateful for letters and texts and emails and visits and gifts.

Grateful for the staff at Lincoln Elementary, my friends, that so generously provided financial gifts to us at the exact time in which they were needed.

Grateful for our families that prayed, and called, and visited.

Grateful that Grammy took months off of work and spent her summer here as well, helping take care of the kids.  Grateful for the relationship that they developed with her.

Grateful for Kenton's friends, teachers, scout leaders who never left him out and who made a very concentrated effort to include him and let him feel of their love.

Grateful for the hundreds of times our names were put on the prayer rolls of the temple.  We didn't get the miracle we had hoped for, but what we did get was peace.  And strength.  

Grateful for the friends that dropped everything and came to the hospital to visit even when I'd told them I was fine.  Because they knew I wasn't.  I recall most specifically the day in June, a really really hard day for both Kenton and I.  We were both sad and scared.  And lonely.  I'd told several friends that we were doing fine.  Not to worry about us.  I didn't think either of us needed anyone viewing our pity party.  And suddenly, at the window of Kenton's door, we see Heidi-mom, a plate of treats in one hand (which happened to be the treat Kenton was craving that day!), and Knox in his carseat in the other.  She came.  Because she knew we weren't okay.  And she didn't listen to me when I said we were.

Grateful for friends (and sometimes complete strangers!) that generously provided financial support at a time that was so needed.  Grateful for those that wish to remain anonymous that completely paid for Kenton's funeral expenses.  

Grateful to understand and appreciate the power of The Atonement.

Grateful for loving ward and stake leadership that always came when called to give blessings.  And sometimes just showed up to do so because they knew we wouldn't ask.

Grateful for so many things that I know I've failed to mention.

We can, and SHOULD, choose to be grateful in any circumstance.  
Every.single.day we miss our Kenton.  
Every.single.day I wish that we could have kept him here on earth.  
Every.single.day I pray for understanding and peace.  

And still, every.single.day I find that there are dozens of moments of grateful.

President Uchtdorf said:
We can choose to be like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, while a prisoner in miserable conditions in Liberty Jail, penned these inspired words: “Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”

We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.
This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.
When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

[facing the crazy]

Some days (weeks, months, years??) I find myself in a whirlpool of crazy that doesn't seem to have an exit.  A whirlpool of sad, and scared, and angry, and alone.  When I hit the center of that whirlpool, spinning in dizzying circles of grief and anger and loneliness, I'm not myself.  I'm just an awfully confused person trying to figure out whether it's safer to ride out the whirlpool or shut this crazy down as quickly as possible.

Yesterday, particularly, was one of those days.

I felt the whirlpool begin last Sunday morning, and throughout the week, the tug and pull and dark just kept getting stronger, darker, scarier.  

After Jason's funeral yesterday, I just had nothing left with which to fight.  I was done.  Ready to come home, succumb to the crazy and just ride it out at home in my pajamas with a healthy dose of Diet Coke and chocolate, knowing that today I wouldn't feel much better, but not knowing what else to do.

And then Luke said that Taylor's game had been moved from 11 to 2.  It was 1:30...and we needed to eat lunch.  After a few texts from Cia, and a very kind offering from President, and a delicious lunch at Juniper Take Out, we found ourselves on the benches at Logan High watching Taylor play.  And just like that, I realized, again, that it takes friends to hold me up when I face the crazy.

It was a good game.  The sun was shining.  McKayslin loved being there with Dani and Cameron and President and Cia and watching her biggest brother play ball.  I loved being there with friends that just stand with us as the crazy rolls on through - no judgment, no backing down, no expectations.  (And now, dang it, my good make-up day was just ruined as the tears course down my cheeks yet again!).

Did I mention that the sun was shining?  It was a very warm day.  I loved it.  Everyone else said it was so very hot.  Nothing quite like baking your brains out on metal bleachers watching baseball.  :)

After the game, we headed home.  Our plans for home were interrupted by another text (and then a phone call, ha, ha!) insisting that we come boating...

I hate water.  Let me clarify... I HATE WATER! I'm terrified of being in large open bodies of water.  McKayslin, not so much.  Luke, maybe a little bit.  But our Acevedo family was pretty insistent, and within the hour we were on the lake.  
McKayslin loved being on the water.  In the water.  She jumped in and swam around and loved being loved by her other family.  Her safe place.

I loved watching the tenderness and care that those big boys use with her.  They tease her like crazy, but every once in a while, when they think no one is watching, there's a hand on a shoulder, a gentle smile, and sometimes even a hug.  

I'm sure it's frustrating altering plans and the normal way of doing things to accommodate other people.  I know it is.  But not once in the whole day with our Acevedo family, did we feel that we were frustrating to them.

Bubs would have loved yesterday.  He would have loved being there to show love and support for our dear Wiberg friends as they said good-bye to Jason, because Kenton KNEW and understood the Plan of Salvation.  

He would have loved cheering for Tay. Because watching baseball is almost as good as playing baseball!

And he absolutely would have LOVED being on the water!!  Some of my favorite pictures of Kenton are from his one and only scout camp (circa 2011) down at Peterson Beach.  He spent nearly the whole camp in the water...

But most of all, just like the rest of us, he would have loved being with his Acevedo family.  His safe place.  

Oh how we miss our boy!

We came home, just a little more pink than we started the day, but in a whole lot better place.  The night came, and we slept.  Soundly.  Well.  Not haunted by the whirlpool that only 12 hours earlier had threatened to shatter me.

This morning, I woke up, laced up my shoes, and headed up to see my boy.  I love Sunday morning sunrises with Kenton.  I love spending time up there, feeling him close.  Talking to him.  There are always tears.  But sometimes there are smiles, too.

This morning the tears were sad tears, missing Kenton tears, but they were also tears of gratitude.  

Gratitude for friends that step into the crazy and face it with me.  
I have many that do.  
I am so blessed.