Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hero Series: Post # 5

"For this child I prayed." -1 Samuel 1:27 I have absolutely no idea what it would be like to pray for a son as Hannah did. I have no way of knowing what it must have felt like to know that my womb was barren and that the chance of me having a child was nonexistent in this life. The scope and magnitude of this type of trial is incomprehensible to me, but I can imagine that the pain and sorrow that accompanies it must be devastating and agonizing. From a distance, I have watched my aunt and uncle experience this type of pain and I have joined many in praying for an opportunity to arise that would allow them to have a child. All though I pleaded to the Lord on their behalf, I'm sure that my prayers and pleading were nothing in comparison to the hundreds and thousands of prayers, tears, and sleepless nights they had experienced. All though it was difficult to watch my aunt and uncle go through this trial, the depth of their pain was just something I couldn't even fathom, something that probably most people cannot even fathom. A little over a year ago, Jenae entered my life. She had me at hello. :) Our friendship was easy and natural, as if we had been friends forever (actually, I'm pretty sure we have). As we began running together (just a couple weeks after we first met), her story began to unfold. It was a story of heartbreak, despiration, pleading, and agony as she and her husband found out that their chance of conceiving, without medical intervention, was impossible. I have no clue what it would be like to hear this sort of news, but I do know that Jenae, and her husband, were not about to give up on having children. Awhile later, they adopted their first son, Jamis. The story of how this came to be is nothing short of a miracle. It testifies to me of not only the power of prayer, but also that the Lord has a plan. His plan may not always look the way we think it will or should look, but in the end, I believe that we will see how perfectly it all fits together and how precisely it all plays out. Jamis may not look like Jenae and Devon but I cannot imagine him with anybody else. It is absolutely undeniable that Jamis is, and always was and will be, theirs. I have always wondered what it would be like to adopt a child. I imagined that it would be very difficult, but when I watch Jenae, I don't see difficult, I see a mother who is completely head over heels in love with her little boy. I'm sure that as she lays him in bed at night, she has found tears filling her eyes and her lips trembling as she has repeated the same prayer of gratitude and joy as Hannah did so many many years ago, "For this child I prayed." But, her story does not end there. Two years ago, Jenae found out that she the was pregnant. Again, it was nothing short of an absolute miracle (including 5 surgeries and two rounds of IVF....and A LOT OF MONEY!!!) Devon is in his seventh year of schooling as a plastic surgeon. So not only was it a HUGE amount of money (like way more than you can imagine), but even more so to a couple who has sacrificed, scrimped, and saved like crazy in order to pay for all of the financial obligations that come with medical school, internships, residency, etc. But, when you talk to Jenae about that part of it, she testifies of the Lord's tender and abundant mercies. (click here and you can read her own words...scroll down to June 30, 2010) Jaxon is an absolute modern medical miracle. He is completely head over heels in love with his mother, more so than any other child I've ever seen. I often wonder if part of that is because he knows the kind of woman he was sent to. The kind of mother who would give ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to have a child. About 17 weeks ago, Jenae called to tell me she was pregnant again. I knew that she had once again started her infertility treatments, but there is always that chance that nothing will come of it. To say that I was super excited would be an understatement. I just cried and cried. But, I'm sure that my joy was nothing compared to theirs. Without getting too personal, I'll just say that the infertility treatments and the surgery required for Jenae and Devon to have a child is more than the average infertility plan. The sacrifices and experiences they have gone through in order to conceive are not only a modern miracle but are also selfless, inspiring, and humbling. This last week, Jenae and her boys came out to visit us while our husbands were out mountain biking in Moab, Utah for a boys' trip. We had SO MUCH FUN!!! I absolutely love spending time with Jenae, but this time I was able to experience something incredible. I have seen many women pregnant. I have heard the cries and complains that come from pregnancy, in fact, I have uttered them MANY many times. I have also seen the excitement and joy that comes from being part of the incredible miracle that is taking place within. BUT.....I have never been quite so humbled as I have been as I watched Jeane. It was in the moments that she didn't know I was watching as she would gently place her hand on her belly. It was in the glow that radiated from her face as she would speak of the child within her. It was in the unspoken, unwritten, indescribable way that she would proudly walk into a room and have all eyes look at if somehow they knew that not only was she special, but that the life within her was one of the greatest miracles of our time. Jenae is my hero for many many reasons. But, the one of which I will never be the same, is for the way that she has shown me what a blessing and gift pregnancy and motherhood truly is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's for dinner?

I have really been putting forth a huge effort the last couple of months to meal planning and trying new things. Some nights are more successful than others, but at least my family is fed every day right? Last night I made the most delicious creamy chicken noodle soup along with some really easy, delicious, and FAST dinner rolls. Of course almost all of my recipes are from my favorite food blog EVER The Sisters' Cafe. My really good friend, Melanie, and her sisters started it and I have loved everything I've ever tried on it (and I've tried A LOT on it). Here is another one I tried recently that I love...Frank's Red Hot Chicken Salad and another one...Frozen Burritos (I actually make this and keep them in my freezer for the girls to take to lunch, Cory to take to work, or for nights when that's all we have time for. They are so delicious!!! You'll never want to eat a store bought frozen burrito again.) For some reason the links aren't all showing up in gray, but if you click on the name of the meal it will link you over to the recipe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Some little girls like to play pretend with their kitchen...

But my little girl just uses it as another way to climb higher.

My Running Story

I started running about seven years ago in the fall of 2005. My very first 5k was a Turkey Trot two years later on Thanksgiving Day. Since then I have ran 3 5ks, soon to be 3 half-marathons (my race is in less than 2 weeks), and 1 marathon. Running was not something that I have always loved. When I was in junior high, I decided that I wanted to be on the track team. I'm not really sure why, other than the fact that I was all about trying and doing everything. I was not very good. I ran the mile (which I remember being very disappointed about because I REALLY wanted to run the hurdles...which is pretty funny considering the fact that I hardly ever jumped over one without knocking it down). I remember my very first and last track meet. I ran the mile and I came in dead last. Yep, I was officially done with my running career...or so I thought. When I was in high school, I was on the tennis team. For our work-outs, we would have to run a mile lap around our school. I thought it was absolute torture. Occasionally in high school, I would go "running" in my neighborhood, but I'm pretty sure I would only go about 1/2 mile before calling it quits. Now fast forward to 2005. I had just had Cloey and I was desperate to get my baby weight off. So, I decided to start "running" again. I was very slow and I'm pretty sure that I walked way more than I ever ran, but before too long, I was actually starting to enjoy it. Once we moved to Asheville, I got a little more serious about it. I started regularly running in the mornings and I would usually go about 2-3 miles at a time. I loved running in Asheville. It was absolutely gorgeous and with two small children at home, it became my escape. Then my grandpa (who was the greatest and most dedicated runner ever) got sick with leukemia, it was in our very last phone conversation before he passed away that I made an absolutely crazy promise to him. I told him that since he couldn't run anymore that I'd run for him, in fact, I'd even run a marathon for him someday. I couldn't believe the words had escaped my mouth, but they did and because they did I knew that I had a new goal. It was a little while later that I became good friends with Austyn, who was and always had been a serious runner. We started running together. I love the memories I have of running with her. We decided to run a half marathon together. A couple of weeks into our training, she found out that she and her husband would be moving to New York City for a job. I was so disappointed. She would be gone before the date of our half-marathon, so we decided to do one in Asheville right before she moved. We mapped out the course and made it all official. We even got matching shirts to wear. Her husband video-tapped the whole thing. He would drive to a location, shoot some video, give us gatorade and water, and then drive to the next spot and wait for us there. It was so sweet. Austyn sent me the video a little while after she moved. I love that video, it brings back so many great memories. Once Austyn moved, I found out I was pregnant with Clairisa so my running was put on hold. A little while later, we moved to Chattanooga. I didn't start running after losing Clairisa. In fact, I didn't start running again until after I had Makayla. I walked some in between Hailey and Makayla, but I never really got into running during that short time. After Makayla was born, I knew it was time again. I needed to get into it and I needed a friend to run with. Jenae had just moved into our ward and somehow (total inspiration) I knew that she was going to be my new running buddy. I asked her, she said yes, and our 5:30 am running adventure began. We started training for a half and then decided to go ahead and go all out and do a marathon. Stephanie joined in on our fun and the rest is history. Moving to Texas was hard for many reasons but one of the biggest reasons was losing my running partners. I really missed them and I hated running alone. But I did. I have continued running and I've even found some new great friends to run with here. Just last Wednesday, for our laurel activity, we began training as a class for a 5k that we are running together in December. The girls are so excited about it but they all have quite a ways to go. None of them are runners and they are all beginning at square one. As I ran with them, I realized how far I have come. I remember being where they are. I remember running 60 seconds and thinking I was going to die. I remember counting down the seconds until I could start walking again. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by three miles. But, now here I am seven years later. I love running (except for recently because I've had HORRIBLE shin splints...I'm waiting for new shoes to come in the mail any day). I love the whole experience. I even enjoy running by myself. I listen to conference as I run, I listen to upbeat music, I think, I pray, I ponder, I do whatever it is I want to do. I love being a mother, but somedays are just plain hard, frustrating, monotonous, and never-ending. But, when I start my day out with a morning run, everything seems so much easier and much more manageable. It is my escape. It's funny how something that I used to think I could never do or never wanted to do, has become one of the things that I don't know how I could ever do without. So I'll continue running...running for my Grandpa, running for my children, and running for me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hero Series: Post #4

Today Cory came home from ward choir practice and told me that they were singing one of my favorite songs, "Each Life that Touches Ours For Good". I love this song because I feel SO INCREDIBLY blessed and grateful for the opportunity I have had to live in so many places where so many people have touched my life and left me a better person. One of those people is a lady named Carolyn. I have actually written about her before on my blog. I was her visiting teacher for a little under a year. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this woman, or how much my children love her. When I first started visiting teaching her I felt a little nervous because I wasn't sure how she was going to feel about me brining two little ones into her home each month. Well, my nerves were quickly pushed away as she openly embraced them and got so excited to have little children in her home once again. Carolyn is full of life and love. She has gone through some very hard and lonely times as she lost her husband and son to cancer. Her daughter and her grandchildren live over seas. As I learned more and more about her, I realized how important it was for me to be a faithful visiting teacher because she needed me. She needed someone to check in on her every week. She needed someone close by that she knew she could count on. She needed someone to frequently wrap their arms around her and tell her that they loved her. But the funny thing is that the longer I knew her the more I realized that it was actually me that needed her. She taught me so many things. Here are a few.....1. She taught me to enjoy my children. She would always be so patient, loving, and kind to my children. My older girls LOVED to go visit her. I swear that every time I went over there she had something for me to take home to my girls. She loved them. She would frequently remind me to treasure them and enjoy each day with them. 2. She taught me to value what may seem invaluable. Having a big family means that you are constantly trying to get rid of stuff and clean out the clutter that seems to continually build. I have become very picky about the things that I let my girls have/or keep because it just means one more thing that I'm going to have to clean up/wash/or try and get rid of without them noticing. One day when we were visiting, the girls were commenting on some decorative straw hats that Carolyn had hanging on her wall. She immediately took them off her wall, dusted them off, and told them to take them home and play dress up with them (she supplied MANY dress-up items to my girls). I tried to talk my girls out of taking them but she (and they) insisted. So I gave in. As I was packing up to move to Texas, I almost threw those hats away, but there was just something in me that couldn't do it. As I was putting away the dress up stuff the other week, I pulled out those hats and felt so grateful that I hadn't thrown them out, because they remind me of her. I shed a tear or two as I gently placed them back in the dress-up bin and thanked my Heavenly Father for those old straw hats that will always remind me of my dear sweet friend. 3. She taught me about charity. Carolyn would often hear of things on the news or on commercials that she would call and tell me about, things that she thought I would be interested in. One day she called me and told me of a big consignment sell on the other side of town that had all sorts of children's clothing. I really did not need any clothing, or anything else for that matter, but she was so excited to tell me about it and I thought it would be fun to take her with me, so I told her that I'd love for her to go with me. So we did. It is one of my favorite memories with her. I have lived far away from all of my grandmas my whole life. But riding in the car with her that day and going shopping together, made me feel like I was with my grandma. I was loving every minute. She helped me sort through all sorts of clothes. Honestly, I thought she was going to pick stuff out for her own grandchildren but I soon realized that she was entirely there for me. She has such an eye for fashion and she found some BEAUTIFUL dresses for my girls that are still my very favorites. When I went to the cashier to check out, I knew that there was no way I could afford to buy all the items that I had picked up. I told her that I was going to sort through them and just choose my very favorites. But, she quickly turned to the cashier and told her to just add them all up so I could see the total. I told her there was no need for that and we went back and forth about it for some time (she is quite a stubborn little lady). Finally, I decided to just let her have her way but there was no way I was going to buy them all. After all the clothes were wrung up, she then told the cashier to also add in the double stroller that she knew I had my eye on at the front of the store. Again, I told the cashier that there was no need for that because I would not be buying it, but again, she insisted. Well, to make a long drawn out argument short, she ended up paying for $100 worth of the $130 total. I couldn't believe it. She was SO STUBBORN and she just kept insisting. The cashier just laughed and said, "dear, that's what grandmas are for." I then explained to her that she wasn't even my grandma. She was my friend. The entire way home, I tried to take Carolyn out for lunch and continue to thank her and tell her that she shouldn't have done that, but all she would do was smile. I felt so horrible as I drove home because I felt so badly about her spending so much money. But, I'm pretty sure that to her the money was not important. What was important was that on that rainy cold day, she had taught a young mother what it meant to have charity. You can't put a price or value to that kind of love. Every time I pull out that double stroller (almost every day), I think of her and smile. I think of how much it meant to me and then I think of how much it must have meant to her. 4. About a month before we moved, I got a new visiting teaching companion. At the time, her husband was not a member of the church. As she explained this on our visit, Carolyn got very serious and somber and she told her of her late husband who was also not a member of the church. She told my companion about the decision she had made to stop going to church because of how hard it was to go alone. She got very emotional as she told us that it was the biggest regret of her life. She then went on to bear testimony and express concern and love to my companion. It was such a sweet moment. Another time, I brought Alison with me to visit Carolyn. Again, she spent her time offering sympathy, concern, and love for her. Carolyn has a heart of gold and she has a very special gift and ability to offer comfort and love in the most incredible and touching way. I love Carolyn so very much. Just last week, I found out that her cancer has returned. She has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and her time is running very short. I don't think there is anyway that she could possibly know how much she means to me and my family. We all love her. We pray for her in every one of our prayers every single day. I will forever be grateful for her example and influence on me and my children. I don't think I will ever be able to get rid of those old straw hats. In my girls dress-up bin, they have many costumes. Most of them are princess costumes others are ballerina, cheerleader, or fairies. But, none of them are as beautiful on my girls as the ones that were given by my friend Carolyn, the woman who taught me how to love.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Hero Series: Post #3

It's funny how four years can pass, two more children are born, and life continually moves forward, and yet....there are still moments when it seems like it was just yesterday that I was saying goodbye to Clairisa. That moment hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. On Saturday, we celebrated Cory's 34th birthday. Since I didn't want to leave his side all day, I chose to not go to the Relief Society broadcast. He was totally supportive of me going, but I knew that I could listen to it online later and I knew that if the roles were reversed I definitely would not want to be left alone on my birthday. So on Monday morning, as I ran, I listened to almost all of the broadcast. It was perfect. I was running in the most beautiful weather on the most perfect day with monarch butterflies and leaves flying all around me on a trail that I LOVE to run on while listening to some of the most beautiful talks ever! `As I finished up my run, I paused the broadcast right before President Eyring's talk. I took the day off of running on Tuesday since I had done 10 miles on Monday, so I was very anxiously awaiting this morning's run so that I could finish listening. I had talked to my mother-in-law the previous day and she had kindof told me that his talk had mentioned a story that would remind me of Clairisa, but there are many talks that I listen to that will remind me of her so I didn't think that much of it. As the story began to be told and the similarities continued to unfold, my emotions started to overcome me. Before too long, I had stopped running and was on the side of the road sobbing. There was a high school boy waiting for the bus on the side of the road, whom I'm sure was wondering what the heck was going on with this crazy sobbing woman. But, I couldn't help emotions were so fresh and raw and completely unexpected. I was crying because the pain washed over me once more and then because I felt hurt. Hurt that no one had warned me of the emotions that were sure to come as I listened (other than my mother in-law). After I somewhat gained control, I ran home to Cory and continued to cry in his arms. I am so glad that I didn't go to the broadcast on Saturday night because nobody around me would've known or understood why I was the crazy sobbing woman in the pew. I am so grateful for a husband who completely understands me, loves me, and supports me. Wrapped in his arms he said all the right things. All the things I need to hear and more. Years ago, when I was asking Cloey what Cory should be for Halloween, she said, "superman because he always saves the day". She was exactly right. He is not just my best friend, nor is he just my hero, he is and always will be my superhero.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Only in Texas...

There are so many statements that could follow that title, but in this case I am referring to the roadkill that I constantly see along the roads as I'm running. It's CRAZY!!! I have seen dead raccoons, possums, cats, dogs, turtles, frogs, skunks, snakes, and armadillos. I have ran in lots of different places. Texas definitely does not compete in the beautiful scenary category (although I have seen some beautiful sunrises), but it definitely wins in the interesting roadkill category. Which is one of the reasons why I choose to run in the morning. Who knows what I would trip on in the dark.

Love this girl!!!

Why I'm exhausted at the end of the day...

By the way, my daughter does wear clothes each day I promise). :)

Little Mommy

Whenever Hailey gets in trouble (which is way too much), she has to put her nose on the wall. Well the other day I walked into the room to find Hailey putting her baby doll's nose on the wall. When I asked her why her baby was in trouble, she said "pushing".

Hailey vs. broccoli

A couple of weeks ago, we had broccoli for dinner (not just broccoli...although I think a huge pile of steamed broccoli with cheese on top would be a delicious dinner). Anyways, Hailey was refusing to eat it. She wouldn't even let me put it near her mouth . So, I told her she had to stay in her chair until she ate it. After AN HOUR, I finally decided that all she had to eat was one little bite (at this point I was desperate but I was not caving). After TWO HOURS, I finally decided to force a little bit in her mouth and call it good. I'm pretty sure she would've slept there in her seat. She is such s stubborn and determined little thing. But, oh so cute!!

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