Monday, March 24, 2014


I've had some sort of weird stomach bug (thanks Katy and Madi!  ;) ) since Saturday evening.  I've whined a lot.  A LOT!  A whole lot of whining about a silly little stomach ache.  A whole lot more whining about how hungry I have been.  Apparently (this is not new information) I'm a big crybaby.

As I sat here today, drinking coke and watching Criminal Minds, mentally whining yet again, I received a gentle reminder to just stop.

It's a stomach bug.  A stomach ache.  And I'm on the mend.

A reminder to be grateful.  Grateful for the many, many things that I take for granted.

To remember.  Remember with fondness the good times, the laughter, the memories.

To cherish.  Cherish my forever family, my knowledge of the gospel, and my testimony of The Atonement and love of our Heavenly Father.

And to fight.  To fight for the kids who live daily, minute by minute, with a stomach ache from chemo.  To fight for the kids who lose their hair, their childhood, their freedom as they fight to be healed.  To fight for the kids who won their battle on a much higher playing field and were called home.

This afternoon, each time I've been tempted to whine (again!), I've instead turned to a prayer of gratitude, a prayer for strength, a prayer for peace.

And I'm reminded how blessed I am to be Kenton's mom, McKayslin's mom.  They're pretty great kids.  And because of them, I learn a little more every single day.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

[missing you]

Hey, sweet boy.

I sure am missing you.  So very much.  McKayslin and Daddy are too.  It's strange to think that just two years ago life was normal.  We were all together here at home.  And one year ago, you'd been gone for two months.  And three of us were left here trying to figure out how to go on without you.  And now, here we are, still trying to figure that out.

You made us promise to keep doing fun things as a family.  To take care of McKayslin.  To do our family traditions.  We have changed a few things.  But mostly, we're doing what you asked.  

It's hard.  It's not the same.  I often wonder if you look down from Heaven and miss us as much as we miss you.  If you're sad that you're not here doing things with us.  If you're proud of us.  

Love you, my boy.

[when things don't make sense]

Lately, we've been going on bike rides.  Between 3 and 5 rides a week.  Family bike rides became a family favorite a few summers ago when we would go nearly every afternoon.  The night before Kenton was diagnosed, we were on a bike ride and Kenton couldn't keep up.  What we learned later is that the leukemia cells were so prevalent in his blood that there was no room for the red blood cells.  Red blood cells are what give your body energy.  I've told the story of that last bike ride before.  It's a painful story to remember, yet each time I do, instead of beating myself up, I try to use it as a reminder to be a little more patient, a little more understanding, a little more loving.

Tonight I'm sitting here at home, McKayslin is in bed, Luke is at a coach's meeting (McKayslin is going to play soccer again - Kenton is surely cheering loudly from Heaven for her!  But even more so, he's likely cheering loudly that his little sister is going to play softball this summer also!).  Throughout the day, the past few days, in fact, I've been kind of lost in a fog.  Lost in a place that doesn't make sense.

Spring is (nearly) here in the valley.  And with spring comes kids on bikes and in backyards and running in and out of houses.  We're in a place where that doesn't come easy any more.  McKayslin doesn't have her big brother to entertain her, tease her, help her, protect her.  We don't hear the slamming of the door a thousand times a day as they run in and out of the house.  We don't hear them giggling at their newest made up game.  We don't hear the squealing as they jump on the trampoline together.  Or see the sidewalks covered in chalk art.

This place doesn't make sense.  This place hurts.  And it's lonely.  And it's hard.

We're in a place where silence is frequent.  Where time is filled with movies instead of games and laughter.  We're in a place that we have yet to begin to understand.  A place where as hard as we try, it just doesn't make sense.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

[i feel my savior's love]

Last night was date night.  
Temple night.
Sitting in the Celestial Room this song played 
so very clearly in my head 
and resonated in my heart...

I feel my Savior’s love, 
In all the world around me 
His Spirit warms my soul 
Through everything I see.
I feel my Savior’s love 
Its gentleness enfolds me 
And when I kneel to pray 
My heart is filled with peace.
I feel my Savior’s love 
And know that He will bless me 
I offer Him my heart; 
My shepherd He will be.
He knows I will follow Him, 
Give all my life to Him 
I feel my Savior’s love, 
The love He freely gives me.
- Ralph Rogers, Jr. and K. Newell Dayley

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

[and then there's this]

I'm having a hard time this week.

Not just a hard time because I'm missing Kenton, although that does compound and deepen the level of emotion, but a hard time with everything.

This is hard.

This is hard.

This is hard.

Everything is just hard.

It used to be that Sundays were good days.  On Sundays I ended the day feeling strong, refreshed, and ready to greet the week.  

This last Sunday, I ended the day feeling beat up emotionally. Drained.  Exhausted. Overwhelmed.  And sad.

Not my normal sad.  A deep, lingering, crushing sad.  The kind of sad where you cry yourself to sleep and then wake up with a start, trying to catch your breath, and realizing that you're already crying kind of sad.

The kind of sad where instead of finding joy in memories, I'm seeing within those memories all of the things I *could* have done better or *should* have done better.  Those feelings have attached to me so strongly that I find myself lost in moments of bitterness, anger, and helplessness with a side of guilt.

It almost feels like quicksand.  Like when I try to fight, I get sucked deeper into the darkness.  I've reached for the life-saving branches that I see and am holding tight - scriptures, prayers, temple attendance - trying to let this wave, with all it's crushing grief, anger, and sadness, wash over me, accepting, understanding, and then, still holding tight to those branches, gradually, slowly, I'll be able to pull myself out.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

[a memory]

Tonight I was going through Kenton's school bag looking for something for a project that an angel dad is doing for Childhood Cancer Awareness month in September.

I didn't find what I was looking for, but what I did find were assignments that Kenton completed in December, just one month before he died.  Kenton worked so hard through his entire treatment to stay caught up with his class, to complete every assignment.  In fact, he had a 4.0 gpa for his 7th grade year.  That's pretty incredible considering what he was going through on a daily basis.

I was smiling through tears reading through his reading response log.  We never did get to finish reading The Ranger's Apprentice series together.  In fact, there is a new book, the final book of the series, that was just released not too long ago.  I actually put it in my cart at Wal-Mart and then put it back on the shelf.  I need it to finish out the collection, but that day it was just too hard.  

My memories of reading with Kenton, especially during round 1 of chemo and the count recovery phase of round 1 are tender, special, and some of my most favorite memories.

Once he was cleared for minimal out of the room time, each evening, we would head on down to the 3rd floor patio (which is no longer there!), dragging the IV pole and meds as necessary, with a book and "Duke" (Kenton's Build-A-Bear german shepherd that McKayslin had made for him), and sometimes "finger lights" if it were late at night so we'd be able to see.  Sometimes we'd take turns reading, but mostly, Kenton would sit next to me, holding my hand, head on my shoulder, and I would read out loud to him, just like when he was a little boy.  I love that we were able to have those moments - to have those memories.  

I chuckle a bit remembering when we finished reading Stone Fox...  I was in tears.  I always cry at the end of that book.  Always.  Kenton looked up and me and started laughing.  I playfully punched his arm and told him to be nice.  He laughed and said, "Mom, how many times have you read this book?!"  That was a patio night.

Other nights, if it were stormy or cold, or when Kenton wasn't allowed out of his room, we'd snuggle up in his bed, under his "Katie blanket" and read while waiting for night time meds.  

And so, tonight, finding those reading logs, I remembered.  And I cried.  And I missed my boy just a little bit more, wished for more time, for more memories.  And I said a little prayer of thanks for 12 1/2 years as his mom.  

Missing you always.  Loving you forever.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

[speaking in church]

I was asked to speak in church on Sunday, Feb. 23.  Over the past 9 days I have been asked several times for the text of the talk I gave.  I did leave a lot out when I spoke because of time.  Here it is in its entirety.  It's long.  And personal.  Please be kind.

October 8, 2013
This morning started out rough.  Rougher, in fact, than many others.  I'm not sure why.  The only thing I can think is that I've been trying so much harder over the past month or so to just be better - to forgive more freely, to love more openly, to serve more willingly, and to spend time each day reading the scriptures and in thoughtful earnest prayer.

Every time we attempt to become closer to our Heavenly Father, Satan really steps in and tries to take hold on our hearts, make us feel that we're not worthy of the love of our Heavenly Father, that we should just give up, and go back to being slothful, lazy, grumpy...

Doctrine and Covenants Section 58:
2 For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that akeepeth my commandments, whether in life or in bdeath; and he that iscfaithful in dtribulation, the ereward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
 3 Ye cannot behold with your natural aeyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the bglory which shall follow after much tribulation.
 4 For after much atribulation come the bblessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be ccrowned with much dglory;

Elder Russell M. Nelson teaches: Divine covenants help us to filter out of our minds impurities that could harm us.  When we choose to deny ourselves of all ungodliness, we lose nothing of value and gain the glory of eternal life.  Covenants do not hold us down; they elevate us beyond the limits of our own power and perspective…Ordinances of the temple relate to personal progress and to the redemption of departed ancestors as well…Service in their behalf provides repeated opportunities for temple worship…In this world smitten with spiritual decay, can individuals prepared for temple blessings make a difference?  Yes!  Those Saints are ‘the covenant people of the Lord…armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory.’ Their example can lift the lives of all humankind.

With this kind of example, we can be sure that Satan will do everything in his power to keep us from attending the temple regularly.  

A week ago Thursday I was texting with my friend Callie in preparation for her to pick McKayslin up to go to a basketball game.  As we were texting the topic of temple attendance came up and we started discussing ways to make it easier for us to attend the temple.  Our conversation ended as she left her home to come get McKayslin.

That conversation, however, continued between Luke and I as we discussed the need for us to attend the temple.  We hadn’t been since December.  I’d noticed that my temper was shorter, my patience limited, and my capacity to love unconditionally tested daily – and knew that I needed to get to the temple.

Suddenly, I found myself, phone in hand, sending a text to Dani and Cameron asking if they would be willing to watch McKayslin and a friend while Luke and I attended an endowment session.  I hit send and had a moment of panic thinking what the heck did I just do?!  No newlyweds in their right minds would want to watch 2 giggly girls for 3 hours on a school night!!!

Within seconds my phone beeped with a reply – We’d LOVE that!  Tears formed as I realized yet again just how blessed we are by our friends.  It took several texts over a few minutes until we had formed a plan.  A plan that would get Luke and I to the temple the following Wednesday.

As soon as the plan was in place, a headache began to develop behind my right eye.  Over the course of the next 4 days, it would get progressively worse each day, until Tuesday I had a full blown migraine.  I stayed home from school and spent the day feeling sorry for myself.  

Wednesday arrived and although my head still really really hurt, the migraine had passed and I went about my normal day, seriously praying to feel well enough to attend the temple that evening.  I KNEW that if I could just get to the temple, I would feel well again.  Satan works pretty hard to keep us from doing what we absolutely need to get done.

I sent another text to Dani asking if we could drop the girls off earlier than 5 – graciously she said yes.  We picked Ella up and headed to Logan.  The girls were delivered into Dani’s care, and Luke and I headed up the hill to the temple.  We pulled into the parking lot and my headache left.  Completely gone.

In place of the headache, these lyrics from  the song “In that Holy Place” by Sally DeFord, a song, interestingly enough, that Kenton sang in Sacrament meeting just about two years ago, kept playing…

Holy temple; hallowed walls;
filled with heaven's light
Where the Spirit teaches truth
and testifies of Christ
There within that holy place
our hearts are made as one
United by the power of God
in pure eternal love
House of learning; house of faith;
house of peace and prayer;
House of glory; house of God;
I’ll feel his presence there
I will stand with heart and hands
kept clean and pure each day
Worthy of the blessings found
in that holy place
Holy temple where we learn
creation’s grand design
Where our souls will be endowed
with power from on high
There we kneel, our hearts prepared
to cov’nant with our Lord
And there his Spirit binds our lives
in love forever more
House of learning; house of faith;
house of peace and prayer;
House of glory; house of God;
I’ll feel his presence there
I will stand with heart and hands
kept clean and pure each day
Worthy of the blessings found
in that holy place
Holy temple where we bless
our loved ones gone before
Where eternal ties are sealed
by sacred priesthood pow’r
There we turn our hearts to those
who gave us life and birth
How beautiful that holy place
where heaven dwells on earth 

We entered the temple and dressed to attend an endowment session.  During the session I felt different than I’ve ever felt in a session before.  Usually there is a very direct lesson that I’m being taught.  Wednesday night was different.  

I felt peace as I always do in the temple.  

I felt Kenton close as I always do in the temple.  

I felt my mind turn and my resolve focus as I always do in the temple.  

But I was unsure what the lesson was that I needed to learn that night.  

I focused on the endowment, praying to know why it had been so important for me to be in the temple THAT night.  
Why the headache?  

What was it I needed to remember?  

Toward the end of the session, in the midst of another quick prayer for understanding, only one word came to my mind.  OBEDIENCE.  

I was a little shocked.  It’s not like I’m NOT being obedient – I pay my tithing, read my scriptures, say my prayers, serve others, come to church, attend the temple, keep the commandments…. In my questioning, I heard again very clearly OBEDIENCE.  

Throughout the next 15 minutes or so, at each break in the dialogue of the session, I’d hear that word again so clearly – OBEDIENCE.  I must be a pretty slow learner, because that’s a LOT of repetition!!

Later, in the celestial room, I sat waiting for Luke and pondering that word.  OBEDIENCE…

Yes, I pay my tithing.  
Yes, I read my scriptures (but not every day) – there’s a point.  
Yes, I say my prayers (almost every morning and night) – okay, there’s another point.  
Yes, I serve others (but sometimes begrudgingly, and sometimes I pretend not to notice a need because I have too many things to do).  Yep, another point.
Yes, I come to church (but maybe I don’t pay attention as well as I should, or participate in discussion as I should).  And another.
Yes, I attend the temple (and here’s where I could almost feel as if I were being reprimanded – ouch!) – Definitely need to do better there!  And another.


President Boyd K. Packer said:
Obedience to God can be the very highest expression of independence.  Just think of giving to Him the one thing, the one gift, that He would never take.  Obedience – that which God will never take by force – He will accept when freely given.  And He will then return to you freedom that you can hardly dream of – the freedom to feel and to know, the freedom to do, and the freedom to BE, at least a thousand fold more than we offer Him.  Strangely enough, the key to freedom is obedience.

We left the celestial room, changed, and headed to pick up the girls.  In the parking lot of the temple, I pulled out my phone to take a quick picture, and noticed 2 texts from Brother Arnell… Before I could even read them, I heard, “Obedience, daughter.” And I knew this was going to end badly.

I called Brother Arnell as he had asked in the text.  Should have known better than that… long story short – here I am.  It’s kind of hard to say no when the whole lesson you were supposed to learn was being obedient.

Interestingly enough – my headache returned almost immediately upon my affirmative answer and has lingered ever since.  Any guesses that as soon as I finish this talk, it will be gone?
Over the next few hours, ideas, thoughts, impressions were brought to my mind.  

How has keeping the commandments and participating in the ordinances of the Gospel strengthened me in my trials, helped me endure, and find peace?  

July 30, 2013
This morning I went out to pick raspberries.  Again.  

I noticed something interesting.  
There are always more berries on the east side of the bushes than on the west.  
And the best berries are the ones that are tucked safely away behind branches and thorns.  

That started me thinking - when we're in direct sun - life is just cruising along with no bumps, we don't grow very well.  

When we're in complete shade - not doing the things we're supposed to be doing, we don't grow very well.  

We need both sunshine and shade to grow.  We need trials.  We need challenges.  We need a test of our faith every now and then.  Yet we need to always be facing the morning sun.  We need to read our scriptures, and say our prayers, and pay our tithing, and serve others, and just do what we're told (hmmm...that seems to be a theme with me this week!).  When we are doing those things, facing the sun, yet encounter the branches and thistles and shade, we become stronger.  

I need to quit picking raspberries.  ;)

President Heber J. Grant described the Savior's peace this way: 
"His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness."
Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life's devastating trials and tragedies.

The Savior's Atonement will overcome and compensate for all of the unfairness of mortal life and bring us peace.  Humbling ourselves before God, praying always, repenting of sins...and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ are profound examples of the righteousness that is rewarded by abiding peace.

Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior's Atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace.
These deep raspberry picking thoughts hurt my brain.  ;)
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin reminds us that receiving our own endowment and returning frequently to perform sacred ordinances for our kindred dead INCREASES OUR FAITH, STRENGTHENS OUR HOPE, AND DEEPENS OUR CHARITY.

Back to October 8…I was writing a letter to Kenton much like I’ve done many other Tuesdays…
Dad had YM early, McKayslin was playing with the littles, Grammy was reading a book, and I needed to go to town to get shampoo and conditioner.  

I had every intention of going straight to Wal-Mart and straight home.  As I was driving, thinking, praying, somehow I didn't really notice where I was going until I ended up in the temple parking lot... (pretty scary to think of, but since I'm certain I was supposed to be at the temple tonight, there were a legion of angels directing traffic and guiding my car - and pretty sure you were sitting there riding shotgun which is just downright awesome!).

I didn't have my temple clothing in the car.  But I did have my recommend.  And, interestingly enough (?!), I had worn a skirt to school today, so I was dressed in appropriate attire for temple attendance.  I sent Roma a quick text to see if she could keep McKayslin a little longer than planned, stepped out of the car, snapped a quick photo... ...and headed into the temple.  
I chose to do initiatory.  
Or, more accurately, I was told to do initiatory.  
You, my boy, are pretty persuasive.  

You knew that I needed to hear those blessings again.  
To be reminded of the promises made to me by my Heavenly Father.  
Thanks for getting me there tonight.
You know me so well.  

Over the past few weeks, things have happened and things have been said and implied, that have really knocked me for a loop, set me into a tailspin, and kicked my mom guilt into overdrive.  

As I've prayed for comfort, for peace, for understanding, for the ability to forgive, I've felt as I've gotten nowhere.  That I've been stuck in this place that hurts and threatens to break me.  Tonight, as I participated in the initiatory  two phrases were emphasized each time - "Your sins are forgiven you and you are clean..." and "...your shoulders that they may bear the burdens placed upon them..."  (those may or may not be the exact phrases, but they're close).

And I left the temple feeling as if I'd walked into a room filled with brilliant light, with the love of our Savior, and I could feel your arm linked with mine as we walked to the car together.  Forgiveness.  Strength.  Tonight was a miracle that I truly, completely needed.
“The greatest of priesthood blessings available are found in the temple.  There, we get a glimpse of heaven.  In that holy place, although we are in the world, we are not of the world.  In the temple, we see ourselves as the offspring of royalty – as a son or daughter of God.  The joys of eternity, which can seem so distant outside the temple, suddenly seem within reach.

“In the temple, the plan of salvation is explained and sacred covenants are made.  These covenants, together with the wearing of the sacred temple garments, strengthen and protect the endowed person against the powers of the adversary.” – Elder Robert D. Hales

Sometimes the adversary comes in boldly – but more often than not, he sneaks in on the coattails of depression, sadness, anxiety, grief, despair, and discouragement.  

August 27, 2013
31 weeks

Dear Kenton,

We're all a little more worn down, a little sadder, a little more lonely than we were a few months ago.  Grief is a refining process.  A painfully slow refining process.  We understand a little more, we love a little deeper, and at the same time, we feel your absence a little more profoundly as each new first approaches, arrives, and passes.

Yesterday I taught Sunday School again.  My testimony is stretched and strengthened and renewed each week as I pray, read, study, and prepare the lesson.  We just started the Gospel Principles book again.  The lesson was Our Heavenly Father.  I was reminded of the quote by President Benson... "Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us." 

We talked a lot yesterday about our loving Heavenly Father.  The longest part of the discussion was how we come to know our Father.  It's interesting to me that "the Primary answers" are exactly that.  PRIMARY!   We have to be reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, attending our meetings, paying our tithing, etc. in order for our hearts to be open and receptive to the Holy Ghost giving us the knowledge (not just the belief!) that our Heavenly Father is real, He loves us, He knows us.  Karen shared that it's when we've stopped doing those things, and begin again, we feel such a sense of relief and realize what was missing.  Isn't it crazy how easy it is to get to busy for the primary source of peace?!

Another part of the discussion was understanding and realizing that these habits (reading the scriptures, saying prayers, etc.) are in place and when we come to a difficult stage in our life, whatever that may be, we might come to our knees in a "habit prayer," yet stay on our knees as our prayer becomes that of seeking solace, answers, and comfort.  It's during those times that we REALLY learn to know our Heavenly Father, we lean on Him and the peace of Our Savior through the Atonement.  We walk on a little higher plane with a little more faith and a little more understanding.

Granted, those soul searching times of anguish have the ability to bring us to our knees in defeat just as easy, if not more so, than to our knees in prayer.  There is a fine line - that's why those habits are so critical.

Elder Russell M. Nelson taught: When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us.  His law is written in our hearts.

Sunday, August 18, 2013
"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6). 
Each day we make a series of small, seemingly insignificant choices...what time to wake up, what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, whether to open the laptop and introduce ourselves into the day electronically.
...and then there are those small, incredibly significant choices...whether to kneel by our bedside in morning prayer, or open our scriptures instead of our electronics, whether to speak kind words, to go out into our day with a cheerful countenance and a heart open and receptive and willing to serve as our Father invites.
Each of those choices is small in and of itself, yet each choice holds potentially eternal consequences.

Elder Bednar teaches:"Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results."

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6).This Sabbath morning, I recommit to living my life as I've been taught and reminded - daily prayer, daily scripture study, service, love, faith. 

“I believe many, if not all, of the most satisfying and memorable accomplishments in our homes, in the Church, in our jobs and professions, and in our communities will be the product of this important spiritual pattern—of simple and small things,” Elder Bednar said. “Brothers and sisters, we should find great comfort in the fact that ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.” - Elder David A. Bednar

Our lives are directly blessed by our obedience to and our participation in gospel ordinances.  Our lives are also very directly blessed by the obedience to and the participation of others to these gospel ordinances.

Life is never easy.  

Each station in life brings a set of unique circumstances and challenges that require active obedience to the counsel of our Heavenly Father and active participation in the ordinances of the gospel.  

Hymn 123
Oh, may my soul commune with thee
And find thy holy peace;
From worldly care and pain of fear,
Please bring me sweet release.

Oh, bless me when I worship thee
To keep my heart in tune,
That I may hear thy still, small voice,
And, Lord, with thee commune.

Enfold me in thy quiet hour
And gently guide my mind
To seek thy will, to know thy ways,
And thy sweet Spirit find.


Mosiah 18:8-9, 11-12:
And now, as ye are desirous to come unto the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.

And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.
And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. 

Each Sunday we are given the opportunity to be cleansed from sin by worthily partaking of the sacrament.  

As we willingly blend our will with our Father’s we receive peace, even in our most difficult challenges, and the strength to carry the burdens that have been placed upon our shoulders.

Sister Carole M. Stephens said: Do you see yourself in the work of salvation?  Take a moment to think of another child of God who needs encouragement.  Ask your Father in Heaven about her.  She is His daughter.  He knows her name.  He also knows you, and He will tell you what she needs.  Be patient and continue in faith and prayer on her behalf, and act on the promptings you receive.  As you act on these promptings, the Spirit will confirm that your offering is acceptable to the Lord.

As (children) in the Lord’s kingdom, we have made sacred covenants.  We are walking in what Nephi called the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.” We’re all at different places on the path.  But we can work together to help each other “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.”

Throughout Kenton’s treatment, we rarely were able to attend church.  However, because of the concern and love of our ward leaders, and the concern and love of the branch presidency at Primary Children’s, each Sunday we were given the opportunity to partake of the sacrament.

When we were home, it was usually CJ and Mitch that would arrive shortly after meetings had ended on Sunday to allow us to participate in this holy and sacred ordinance.  The first Sunday, in fact, Kenton had just been ordained a deacon, but because the majority of the scouts had come down with the flu at scout camp, we were advised to not allow him to attend Sacrament Meeting.  His heart was heavy as he had been so looking forward to passing the Sacrament.  Mitch and CJ entered our home, immediately asking Kenton if he’d like to pass the Sacrament.  With a few quick instructions out of the way, the bread and water were prepared and blessed, and Kenton was able to be part of our family’s renewal of our covenants.  Those quiet moments built our faith and gave us strength to face the next challenge.

Because THEY were actively participating in gospel ordinances, WE were given the blessing of participating as well.  

But what happens when our faith wanes.  When our hope is dimmed?  

Elder Robert D. Hales reminds us, “When additional counsel or comfort is needed, or during times of illness, (we) may receive a priesthood blessing from a father, home teacher, bishop, or other priesthood holder.”  

More than a few times we have sent a text or made a phone call to our dear friend President Acevedo asking for a priesthood blessing.  Every time, without hesitation, he has come.  More than a few times, we have called upon our dear Bishop and his counselors to do the same.  Again, every time, without hesitation, they have come.

In the very darkest hours of Kenton’s diagnosis and treatment, they were there – bringing light and understanding to our minds, and peace to our hearts.  We were never left to walk alone because we are blessed to be surrounded by those who honor and participate in gospel ordinances.

Sister Eliza R. Snow said, “Although the church does not keep a record of every donation made to help those in need, the Lord keeps a perfect record of their saving work.”

I know, that for me, when I am actively participating in ordinances of the gospel, and being very attentive to ALL of the commandments, I am more readily available to be about the Lord’s errand in serving his children.  

August 22, 2012
I was at school.  My phone beeped indicating a text.  The text said, "Check your e-mail.  It will make you smile."

I opened my e-mail to this e-mail from Luke:
This morning Kenton told me that Cream Soda sounds good, I asked the nurses where I could get some. Tracy his nurse said I have a few minutes I will power walk over to the "U" and check, a little while later she came back and said she could not find any anywhere, went on with the day. The Nurses were talking about it after I left and one of the other patients mom over heard the nurses talking about it and told them to check at the "U" and the nurse said they have and the patients mom said her dad was on the way up she will just have him bring it up. Tracy the nurse was the delivery person. He would like you to please put it on his Team Kenton page and on his blog. It totally made his day!

August 21, 2012
Dawn sent me the funniest text. . ."I'm ordering you a cheeseburger meal with no tomatoes, so unless you want something different, you'd better text me now!"
LOVE that my friends are taking care of me!!  ;)

She dropped off my lunch and took McKayslin home with her to play with the girls.

Some of us (moms in the crappy cancer club) were talking today about service.
How the phrase "let me know what I can do to help" is always the first thing people say, but is the hardest thing for us to know how to answer.

Do you remember that general conference talk?

Special Lessons by Elder Ronald A. Rasband.

Here is the part that we talked about a lot today. . .
. . . are surrounded by countless heavenly and earthly ministering angels. Some have quietly slipped in when needed and silently slipped out. Others have been at the door with food, doing the laundry, picking up the siblings, calling with encouragement, and especially praying. . . Thus another special lesson learned: If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if they need help—or would it be better to just jump in and save them from the deepening waters? The offer, while well meaning and often given, “Let me know if I can help” is really no help at all.
We continue to learn the important value of being aware of and interested in the lives of those around us, learning not only the importance of giving help but also the overwhelming joy that comes from helping others.

It's so hard to accept service.
Those of you that know me personally know that when you ask what you can do, I will tell you nothing.

No, not true.
I'll tell you to pray.
Don't ever stop praying.

But. . .I won't tell you how you can help me.

Not because I'm trying to be difficult.

But because I really don't know.

That was pretty much the consensus among the moms I was talking with.
We get so overwhelmed and exhausted (you know, the super mom syndrome) we don't know what we need.

It might not always be a meal.
But it might.
It might not always be for you to take McKayslin.
But it might.
It might not always be a Diet Coke and a candy bar.
But it might.
It might not always be a hug.
But it might.

Blake reminded me yesterday that if there were no one to receive service, there could be no service given.

And the blessings that come are often more for the one offering service than the one receiving it.

I know that.

And, dang him, for being right.  ;)

One of the moms (thanks, Megan!) today said, "On the one hand - it's totally embarrassing to ask for help, but if you think about all the blessings someone will receive for giving service to you, it's totally rude to deny them of that! ;) I've learned to just let people help unless I really feel like I can do it all. I know I'll be able to pay it forward, and I will."

One of my dear friends stopped by with a little gift to help us have a fun family date night this weekend.  It's amazing how people listen and act and bless us in such personal ways.

I went to go pick McKayslin up from Poulsens.
Dawn didn't even seem to mind.
The girls had played and swam and sang and played and swam and sang.
Oh, and tossed the chickens off the tramp, lol.
They wore themselves right out!
When I got there, they were swimming in the cold pool water.  
Silly girls!

We were getting ready to go and Dawn hands me a bag full of dinner (french dip, rolls, cheetos) and a plate full of lemon poppyseed cake.

Could she have provided any more perfect service than what she did today?!

I think not.
So blessed. 
Doesn't make it much easier to be on this side, but one day, we will be able to pay it forward!

We appreciate EVERY offer of help.

We just really don't know quite what to ask you to do when you offer.
So please don't think we're being ungrateful.

Our family goal during this whole ordeal is to learn lessons of service from those that serve so when it's our turn, we'll be ready with a list of ways we can serve those around us as directed by the Spirit.

Thank you for helping us with that goal by being so generous with your service.

Thank you for being willing to help with everything from Goose care to puppy sitting to garden weeding to lawn mowing to e-mail sending to feeding us to washing dishes. . .

And THANK YOU for the prayers.

It's been a pretty crazy ride thus far, but it would have been even MORE crazy without your constant prayers and sweet acts of service.

Saturday, October 20, 2012
Elder M. Russell Ballard, in October conference…
What about our everyday lives? What would be the cumulative effect of millions of small, compassionate acts performed daily by us because of our heartfelt Christian love for others? Over time this would have a transformative effect upon all of our Heavenly Father’s children through the extension of His love to them through us. Our troubled world needs this love of Christ today more than ever, and it will need it even more in the years ahead.

These simple, daily acts of service may not seem like much in and of themselves, but when considered collectively they become just like the one-twelfth teaspoon of honey contributed by a single bee to the hive. There is power in our love for God and for His children, and when that love is tangibly manifest in millions of acts of Christian kindness, it will sweeten and nourish the world with the life-sustaining nectar of faith, hope, and charity.

How do we make this change? How do we ingrain this love of Christ into our hearts? There is one simple daily practice that can make a difference for every member of the Church, including you boys and girls, you young men and you young women, you single adults, and you fathers and mothers.

That simple practice is: In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible.
Lately we've been blessed by many acts of service, simply offered with humble hearts.
Meals have shown up on days that I wasn't sure I could handle doing one more thing.
Gas cards have been sent in thinking of you cards. . .some signed, others blank.
Treats have been brought to school and silently handed over with a hug and a look that speaks volumes of the concern and care of the giver.
Cards, treats, books, gifts, etc. have been delivered to Kenton and Luke at the hospital.
Often by strangers that are following our story through Facebook or this blog.
Other times by dear family members and friends.
How do people know what we need at the exact moment?
They prayed to find a way to serve.
And when that prompting was given, regardless of the convenience factor, they acted on that prompting.
Blessing our lives.
Meeting our needs.

One of my favorite quotes comes from President Kimball… "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom... 

In the Doctrine and Covenants we read about how important it is to '...succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.' (D&C 81:5.) So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds!" 

One of my favorite Hilary Weeks songs is “He’ll Carry You.”
He knows your heart; He knows your pain
He knows the strength it took just to simply breathe today,
He sees the tears that you cry
He knows your soul is aching to know why
He hears your prayers, each humble word
When you said you could not face another day, he understood
He knows the path that you will find
Though you felt alone he's never left your side

He knew there'd be moments when no earthly words could take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

He'll bring you peace and leave you hope
And in the darkest night he'll comfort you until you know the sun will rise
Each new day you will have the strength to live again

And in the moments when no earthly words can take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

He hears you when you're crying in the night
He hears you when your soul longs to fight
Till the morning will come and the light of the dawn reassures

That in the moments when no earthly words can take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you
  How does He bring us peace and leave us hope?  Through daily following of commandments, and participation in the ordinances of the gospel, our hearts are turned to our Savior.  With our hearts turned, we are more able to accept His love, His peace.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Our power went out during church yesterday.  3:47 pm I believe is what they said was the exact time.  Right during Charity's incredible lesson on Peace.   

The lesson was based on the talk Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness by Elder Quentin L. Cook.  

President Harold B. Lee taught: 
There is a refining process that comes through suffering, I think, that we can't experience any other way than by suffering...we draw closer to Him who gave His life that man might be.  We feel a kinship that we have never felt before...He suffered more than we can ever imagine.  But to the extent that we have suffered, somehow it seems to have the effect of drawing us closer to the divine, helps to purify our souls, and helps to purge out the things that are not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

This was a great reminder to me of the power of The Atonement.  Once again, I needed to hear, to believe, to remember, that The Atonement is NOT just to help cleanse us of sin.  The Atonement allows us to lay our sorrows, our sadness, our hurt, our guilt, our anger, our weariness - all of that stuff - at our Savior's feet.  We are promised that if we do, even and amid life's devastating trials and tragedies, we will have peace.  

Later that evening, I went out to pick raspberries.  I'd neglected them too long, and with those crazy gusts of wind (strong enough to knock down a pole and take out Hyrum City's power for SEVEN hours), I found many of my berries had been blown right off the bushes.

I picked what was left.  Still a huge bowl full.  As I was picking the raspberries, I was thinking.  Not much else to do while picking raspberries.  Every time I finish picking the berries, my arms are scratched and my fingers are full of tiny little raspberry prickles.  One would imagine that after doing this for so many years, I would realize the importance of gloves and long sleeves...

And then I realized.  Isn't that what the lesson in RS was all about today?  The long sleeves and gloves are the righteous living that promise peace (no prickles and scratches)?!  

Simple things that allow us to hurt less.

Why is this such a difficult lesson to learn?  Why do I need reminder after reminder after reminder to just do what I've been taught?!

Sigh.  Sometimes I think the simpler things are, the harder I make them.

Today I'm putting on my long sleeves and gloves (saying my prayers, reading my scriptures, humbling myself, seeking opportunities to serve).  Today I'm trusting in my Savior.  Today I am accepting the gift of peace.  Today begins another challenge to remember the promise and gift of The Atonement.    

The Lord is my light; then why should I fear?
By day and by night his presence is near.
He is my salvation from sorrow and sin;
This blessed assurance the Spirit doth bring.

The Lord is my light; tho clouds may arise,
Faith, stronger than sight, looks up thru the skies
Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign.
Then how can I ever in darkness remain?

The Lord is my light; the Lord is my strength.
I know in his might I'll conquer at length.
My weakness in mercy he covers with pow'r,
And walking by faith, I am lead ev'ry hour.

The Lord is my light, my all and in all.
There is in his sight no darkness at all.
He is my Redeemer, my Savior and King.
With Saints and with angels his praises I'll sing.

The Lord is my light;
He is my joy
and my song.
By day
and by night
He leads,
He leads me along.

"Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life's devastating trials and tragedies."  - Quentin L. Cook

What a blessing to know that when we pray for peace, asking our Savior to take our burdens, our sadness, our heartache, our pain, our brokenness, He will.  That peace will come.  It doesn't mean that the trial will go away.  It means that we will have the courage, faith, and strength to face that trial.  

** If you have questions about our family's beliefs, please visit to find out more.  Or leave me a message here - I have some awesome friends that would love to visit with you.  **