Women Like You http://tofw.com/ Women Like You What I Want Her Birthmom to Know http://www.tofw.com/What-Want-Her-Birthmom-Know-Christianne-Green/s/635 http://www.tofw.com/What-Want-Her-Birthmom-Know-Christianne-Green/s/635 Mon, 28 Oct 2013 10:17:00 -0600 <div> by Christianne Green <br /> </div> <div style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="separator">This post was written last year by Christianne. We wanted to share it with you all again in light of the <a href="../../../Summer-Million-Gifts-Keeps-Giving/s/918" _mce_href="../../../Summer-Million-Gifts-Keeps-Giving/s/918">article</a> we shared in August about the Summer of a Million Gifts</div><div style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="separator"><br></div><div style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="separator">Click <a href="../../../Magnificent-Sophi-Full-Quiver/s/256" _mce_href="../../../Magnificent-Sophi-Full-Quiver/s/256">here </a>for another article Christanne wrote about their sweet daughter Sophi. She shares how incredible it is to see what LOVE can do to a child, a man or a woman.&nbsp;</div><div style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="separator"><hr><br></div><div style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="separator"><br></div><div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MuONfzMiPKs/UBAU8rdbgcI/AAAAAAAAArA/a3uRGMWz2tc/s1600/Reflections5.JPG" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MuONfzMiPKs/UBAU8rdbgcI/AAAAAAAAArA/a3uRGMWz2tc/s1600/Reflections5.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MuONfzMiPKs/UBAU8rdbgcI/AAAAAAAAArA/a3uRGMWz2tc/s640/Reflections5.JPG" width="640" height="426" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MuONfzMiPKs/UBAU8rdbgcI/AAAAAAAAArA/a3uRGMWz2tc/s640/Reflections5.JPG"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> Tonight has me thinking about Graci’s birthmother.<br> &nbsp; <br> Graci came running through the door a couple of hours ago from Bishop’s Youth Discussion, positively glowing with excitement.&nbsp; She knew that we were calling&nbsp; Cali tonight and couldn’t wait to talk to her. In just a few short months, Graci will be traveling to China with us to adopt Cali, and she is so excited to have a new sister that is so close to her age!As I watched them talk in Chinese, Cali with her shy, sweet ways and Graci bubbling over with personality and confidence, I couldn’t help marveling at her beauty.&nbsp; <br> <br> I found myself wondering what her birthmother looks like.&nbsp; Does she have Graci’s sparkling almond eyes?&nbsp; Her beautiful smile?&nbsp; And as I thought of her, I found myself longing for her to witness who Graci has become—an extraordinarily beautiful young woman, inside and out.<br> <br> What I would give for her to know that Graci is HAPPY! <br> <br> That she has the best medical care and is doing so much better than we could have ever hoped for. That she has so many friends who adore her. That she has brothers and sisters that fight over who gets to sit by her. That she has a mother and father who cherish her. <br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m9tGLDxL4Tk/UBAU4belkrI/AAAAAAAAAqo/H35JjeFlDOc/s1600/Reflections2.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m9tGLDxL4Tk/UBAU4belkrI/AAAAAAAAAqo/H35JjeFlDOc/s1600/Reflections2.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m9tGLDxL4Tk/UBAU4belkrI/AAAAAAAAAqo/H35JjeFlDOc/s320/Reflections2.jpg" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m9tGLDxL4Tk/UBAU4belkrI/AAAAAAAAAqo/H35JjeFlDOc/s320/Reflections2.jpg"></a>That she is LOVED.</div> <br> Watching Graci talk with Cali brought me back four years, when we were meeting Graci for the first time.&nbsp; Unlike Cali, she wasn’t shy at all.&nbsp; In fact, she was quite the handful!&nbsp; She was just this little ball of energy that could go from smiles to fits in no time at all.&nbsp; I must admit, there were many times that we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into!&nbsp; <br> <br> Reminiscing about those times brought me to her adoption website.&nbsp; As I read the entries surrounding her adoption and the few months afterward, my heart just swelled with love for this little girl.&nbsp; One entry in particular brought tears to my eyes.&nbsp; It was written the day before Graci’s first open heart surgery, and just after her baptism and sealing.&nbsp; She was nine years old and had been home for just over two months.&nbsp; <br> <br> <em>“Graci has been such a tremendous example of faith in Jesus Christ.&nbsp; She has accepted Him so readily and loves Him with all her heart.&nbsp; Her spirituality constantly amazes me.&nbsp; For example, today Graci was very upset because I told her that I wanted Jessica to come with us to the doctor for Graci’s pre-op.&nbsp; I had been spending tons of time with Graci this week because of the upcoming surgery, and I was taking her out again tonight one-on-one, so I thought it would be good for Jesi to come with us for the doctor appointment." &nbsp;</em><br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mm5jcS_aoaA/UBAU6fWch9I/AAAAAAAAAqw/ytae9Sh8kPE/s1600/Reflections3.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mm5jcS_aoaA/UBAU6fWch9I/AAAAAAAAAqw/ytae9Sh8kPE/s1600/Reflections3.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mm5jcS_aoaA/UBAU6fWch9I/AAAAAAAAAqw/ytae9Sh8kPE/s320/Reflections3.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mm5jcS_aoaA/UBAU6fWch9I/AAAAAAAAAqw/ytae9Sh8kPE/s320/Reflections3.jpg"></a><em>“Graci did NOT want her to come.&nbsp; I kept explaining how much time we had been spending together and how Jessica was going to be without her mommy for lots of weeks while I was at the hospital, but still Graci wouldn’t budge and was quite grouchy about it.&nbsp; I finally decided it wasn’t worth the tears, and told her that Jessica could stay home.&nbsp; I sent her to her room to get ready." &nbsp;</em></div> <br> <em>“Well, when I went to get Graci out of her room her eyes were puffy and she had obviously been crying.&nbsp; I told her it was time to go, and she looked up and said, ‘I want Jessica go, too.’&nbsp; I asked her why and she replied, ‘Dear Father (that’s what she calls Heavenly Father) said Jessica should go.&nbsp; I said a prayer.’&nbsp; I gave her a big hug and told her how much I loved her and how glad I was that she had prayed about it without me asking her to.”</em><br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> Reading this entry reminded me of what a special girl Graci has always been.&nbsp; She accepted Jesus Christ from the moment she learned of Him.&nbsp; Her pure testimony of Him has become even more beautiful in the last four years.&nbsp; And as I watched her dance around the room tonight and say, “Aren’t I just fabulous?!” in her fabulous little way, I find my heart full to overflowing.&nbsp; Full of love for this exquisite, quirky little girl.&nbsp; Full of love for my Savior, who led me to her and provided a way for me to be her mother forever.&nbsp; And full of love for the birthmother who gave her this life by giving her up.&nbsp; </div> <br> I think she must be pretty fabulous, too.&nbsp; <br> <br> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gzDhPJtXZTA/UBAXJqdvHAI/AAAAAAAAArM/UiFcVZla8h4/s1600/Christianne.bioshot.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gzDhPJtXZTA/UBAXJqdvHAI/AAAAAAAAArM/UiFcVZla8h4/s1600/Christianne.bioshot.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gzDhPJtXZTA/UBAXJqdvHAI/AAAAAAAAArM/UiFcVZla8h4/s320/Christianne.bioshot.jpg" width="213" height="320" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gzDhPJtXZTA/UBAXJqdvHAI/AAAAAAAAArM/UiFcVZla8h4/s320/Christianne.bioshot.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <em>Christianne Green loves camping, sunsets, BYU sports, dates with her husband, and long, hot baths. She is the mother of ten beautiful children. After losing two tiny babies to stillbirth, she and her husband began the journey of a liftetime, leading them across the seas to China and five amazing children. She finds her greatest joy in her family, her faith, and chocolate, and blogs at <a href="http://www.abeautifulroad.com/" _mce_href="http://www.abeautifulroad.com/">A Road Less Traveled.</a></em> You’ve Got More Value, Power, and Beauty Than You Could Ever Fathom http://www.tofw.com/Youve-Got-More-Value-Power-Beauty-You-Could-Ever-Fathom-Beauty-Redefined/s/943 http://www.tofw.com/Youve-Got-More-Value-Power-Beauty-You-Could-Ever-Fathom-Beauty-Redefined/s/943 Tue, 15 Oct 2013 15:47:00 -0600 <div> by Beauty Redefined <br /> </div> <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" align="center" style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td><a imageanchor="1" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DVkCZ8cp-yQ/Ul60AouNybI/AAAAAAAABYI/4nwqW2dBUZg/s1600/3372-Crop-Smaller1-1024x724.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DVkCZ8cp-yQ/Ul60AouNybI/AAAAAAAABYI/4nwqW2dBUZg/s1600/3372-Crop-Smaller1-1024x724.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DVkCZ8cp-yQ/Ul60AouNybI/AAAAAAAABYI/4nwqW2dBUZg/s400/3372-Crop-Smaller1-1024x724.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DVkCZ8cp-yQ/Ul60AouNybI/AAAAAAAABYI/4nwqW2dBUZg/s400/3372-Crop-Smaller1-1024x724.jpg" border="0" width="400" height="281" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;" _mce_style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;"><div id="attachment_4017" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="vertical-align: baseline; padding: 6px; margin: 5px 36px 5px 2px; float: left; border: 1px solid rgb(255, 255, 255); border-top-left-radius: 4px; border-top-right-radius: 4px; border-bottom-right-radius: 4px; border-bottom-left-radius: 4px; background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, 0% 100%, 0% 0%, from(rgb(242, 242, 242)), to(rgb(255, 255, 255))); -webkit-box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2) 0px 1px 3px; box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2) 0px 1px 3px; color: rgb(102, 102, 102); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; letter-spacing: 0.4000000059604645px; line-height: 20px; word-spacing: 1px; width: 440px;" _mce_style="vertical-align: baseline; padding: 6px; margin: 5px 36px 5px 2px; float: left; border: 1px solid #ffffff; border-top-left-radius: 4px; border-top-right-radius: 4px; border-bottom-right-radius: 4px; border-bottom-left-radius: 4px; background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, 0% 100%, 0% 0%, from(#f2f2f2), to(#ffffff)); box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2) 0px 1px 3px; color: #666666; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; letter-spacing: 0.4000000059604645px; line-height: 20px; word-spacing: 1px; width: 440px;"><p class="wp-caption-text" style="margin: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; padding: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; padding: 0px;"><font size="3">Lexie (L), Lindsay (R). Photo by Matt Clayton, 2012. This candid moment somehow captured Lindsay’s previously unseen “evil queen” side. She believes it has helped her fight against oppressive beauty ideals.</font></p><div><font size="3"><br></font></div></div></td></tr></tbody></table><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;" _mce_style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="letter-spacing: 0.4000000059604645px; line-height: 20px; word-spacing: 1px;" _mce_style="letter-spacing: 0.4000000059604645px; line-height: 20px; word-spacing: 1px;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3">As swimmers on a competitive team from elementary school through part of high school, we practiced intensely on a daily basis. Our favorite part was the excited, anxious, heart-racing feeling we’d get on the way to every meet and before every race.&nbsp;<em>Unfortunately, it didn't take long before that anxious, heart-racing feeling started to stem from the way we thought we looked in our swimsuits, rather than our performance.</em>&nbsp;I, Lindsay, went home from practice one day in third grade and stood in front of a full-length mirror. I noticed one dimple in the side of my little girl thigh and desperately felt the need to cover up. In a swimsuit, I vowed to remind myself to keep my left hand covering that dimple at all times.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><strong>That is when my appearance started to creep to the forefront of my every thought</strong><b>.</b><b><o:p></o:p></b></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><b><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></b></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3">For both of us, our newly heightened awareness of our looks led to a preoccupation with weight loss. Journals filled with weight-loss goals, motivating thoughts and tips, and food logs were stacked next to piles of teen&nbsp;magazines. For a long time, our weights defined our days – either successful or a waste. One step closer to happiness or another day of worthless disappointment.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3">We were active, athletic, pretty, social and smart. And we still felt this way.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3">We weren’t alone<b>.&nbsp;</b><strong>Our thin, beautiful friends suffered the same preoccupation and obsession with weight loss, but we suffered alone.</strong>&nbsp;We were all middle-class white, active LDS girls, with happy &nbsp;families, but&nbsp;<strong>we all believed the deep-seated lie that the only way to attain happiness, success, and love was to be as thin and beautiful possible.</strong><b>&nbsp;</b><o:p></o:p></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><b><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></b></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3">What we did share was easy access to media our entire lives, where Disney princesses &nbsp;and “real” girls all across media were unrealistically thin, curvaceous in all the right places, and so sought-after, while any average-sized characters were mocked, labeled as fat and often the antagonists. Male characters were valued for humor, athleticism, and&nbsp; intelligence , while female characters were valued for their beauty alone. We recognized it, but never thought to question it.&nbsp;<em>That’s just the way things work.<o:p></o:p></em></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><em><br></em></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><em><font face="inherit" size="3">It wasn’t until a required media analysis course at Utah State University that we learned to question the way things work. In a very twin-like moment freshman year, we found out we had both experienced the same heart-racing feeling when the representation of women was discussed in that class. We have no doubt that was the Holy Ghost testifying to us that we had a mission to fulfill for God’s daughters in these latter days.<o:p></o:p></font></em></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fCuZ8xtF3_U/Ul60BMGQ72I/AAAAAAAABYM/G_Bj29KkREw/s1600/Graduation-Lexie-Lindsay.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fCuZ8xtF3_U/Ul60BMGQ72I/AAAAAAAABYM/G_Bj29KkREw/s1600/Graduation-Lexie-Lindsay.jpg" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><font size="3"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fCuZ8xtF3_U/Ul60BMGQ72I/AAAAAAAABYM/G_Bj29KkREw/s1600/Graduation-Lexie-Lindsay.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fCuZ8xtF3_U/Ul60BMGQ72I/AAAAAAAABYM/G_Bj29KkREw/s1600/Graduation-Lexie-Lindsay.jpg" border="0" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: left; line-height: 14.25pt;"><em><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></em></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><font face="inherit" size="3">Today, we have both earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorates in the study of media and body image and co-founded the nonprofit Beauty Redefined Foundation, with a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.beautyredefined.net/" _mce_href="http://www.beautyredefined.net/" target="_blank">popular website</a>. Our work in school for the past decade&nbsp;has been not only an academic pursuit, but a deeply spiritual one as well. We have spoken in person and online to hundreds of thousands of people about how we can take back beauty for ourselves in meaningful ways. Though our research, writing, and most of our public speaking &nbsp;is secular, with no mention of religion, we believe our messages resonate so strongly with people because they are firmly based in&nbsp;<i>truth</i>.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><o:p><font face="inherit" size="3">&nbsp;</font></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><font face="inherit" size="3">Since we were very young, we have been taught the truth about our worth through the gospel. It always whispered the truth to us, but it was hard to hear over the shouts of the world. In the LDS gospel we believe our bodies are gifts from Heavenly parents, created in their image. That Satan does not have a body and resents that we do. That our purpose in life as women is what we contribute to this world. Our beliefs align with the gospel - that women are a powerful source for good in this world, and we are grateful that our degrees allow us to speak these gospel-centered truths in scholarly and secular settings.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><o:p><font face="inherit" size="3">&nbsp;</font></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><font face="inherit" size="3">Our years of research show us that society's fixation on appearance is a real threat to the powerful potential of females for bringing goodness and light to a world that truly needs it. We are driven by the knowledge that women hold significant value and power, regardless of whether or not they fit contemporary beauty ideals of tall, extremely thin, white “perfection.” Though the profit-driven world won’t tell us the truth about women’s ability to find real fulfillment outside of striving for unattainable appearance ideals,&nbsp;<i>we will</i>, and so will the Holy Ghost.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><o:p><font face="inherit" size="3">&nbsp;</font></o:p></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; clear: both;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-G8vawsy8gxI/Ul60Ao1OqQI/AAAAAAAABYE/cNvskerFbRk/s1600/capable-of-much-more-oval-frame-bR-small-300x287.png" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-G8vawsy8gxI/Ul60Ao1OqQI/AAAAAAAABYE/cNvskerFbRk/s1600/capable-of-much-more-oval-frame-bR-small-300x287.png" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-G8vawsy8gxI/Ul60Ao1OqQI/AAAAAAAABYE/cNvskerFbRk/s1600/capable-of-much-more-oval-frame-bR-small-300x287.png" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-G8vawsy8gxI/Ul60Ao1OqQI/AAAAAAAABYE/cNvskerFbRk/s1600/capable-of-much-more-oval-frame-bR-small-300x287.png" border="0" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><font face="inherit" size="3">Early General Relief Society President, Emmeline Wells, was a fierce advocate for women. She once quoted an anonymous person saying,&nbsp;“The Gospel breaks forth the fetters wherewith woman is bound, takes her by the hand and says, ‘Woman, know thyself.’”&nbsp;This quote means everything to our work. This gospel takes us by the hand and breaks forth the fetters that bind us – including the lies we hear about ourselves (“Get laser liposuction on your lunchbreak!” on Sabbath-focused radio; “You have insufficient eyelashes – ask your doctor for this new product”; and of course, “Get your body back!" after having babies – as if you&nbsp;<i>didn't</i>&nbsp;have a body before). Once we recognize those lies, we can work on actively rejecting them and begin to truly know ourselves.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><o:p><font face="inherit" size="3">&nbsp;</font></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt;"><br></p><div style="text-align: left;" _mce_style="text-align: left;"><font face="inherit" size="3">Like Emmeline, we too&nbsp;“desire to do all in [our] power to help elevate the condition women.”&nbsp;&nbsp;We believe our spiritually guided research in conjunction with Beauty Redefined has illuminated the path to improving the mental and physical health of women everywhere. It has made all the difference in our own lives and hopefully plays some small role in elevating the condition of all those women who read and hear it.&nbsp;</font></div><div style="text-align: left;" _mce_style="text-align: left;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><br></font></div><font face="inherit" size="3"><div style="text-align: left;" _mce_style="text-align: left;"><b>If you read this and are questioning your worth or your beauty, please know you’ve got more value, power, and beauty than you can ever fathom</b>. Satan is fully invested in making sure you hate your body and treat it accordingly, stifling your unique talents and contributions in the process. &nbsp;As you work to value your body for what it can do instead of just what it looks like, and understand who you really are in this world so desperately in need of your light, you will get goosebumps when you begin to feel those fetters that bind you loosening up a bit. You’ll begin to hear the whisperings of a power greater than you can describe reminding you who you are:&nbsp;“<u>[Insert your name here], know thyself.</u>”&nbsp;</div><o:p></o:p></font><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><o:p><font face="inherit" size="3">&nbsp;</font></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><font face="inherit">“We are engaged in a stupendous work,”&nbsp;Emmeline B. Wells&nbsp;wrote in 1874, “and the work is increasing on every side. It is impossible to define its limits or determine its magnitude.”&nbsp;</font><o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;"><o:p><font face="inherit" size="3">&nbsp;</font></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;"><b><font face="inherit" size="3">We believe it! We have a stupendous work to do. Are you with us?&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></b></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;"><b><font face="inherit" size="3">&nbsp;</font></b></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><b>Join us at&nbsp;</b><a href="http://www.beautyredefined.net/" _mce_href="http://www.beautyredefined.net/"><b>www.beautyredefined.net</b></a><b><o:p></o:p></b></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; text-align: left; line-height: 15pt;"><font face="inherit" size="3"><b>On Facebook at&nbsp;</b></font><a href="http://www.facebook.com/BeautyRedefined" _mce_href="http://www.facebook.com/BeautyRedefined" style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 11pt; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 11pt; text-align: center;">www.facebook.com/BeautyRedefined</a></p></td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;" _mce_style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;"><br></td></tr></tbody></table> We Have Been Led http://www.tofw.com/We-Have-Been-Led-Josie-Olsen/s/935 http://www.tofw.com/We-Have-Been-Led-Josie-Olsen/s/935 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 10:30:00 -0600 <div> by Josie Olsen <br /> </div> <p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ay55ZT_JU48/UkMORsNeINI/AAAAAAAABHk/TtZVDeifHmk/s1600/1.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ay55ZT_JU48/UkMORsNeINI/AAAAAAAABHk/TtZVDeifHmk/s1600/1.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><font face="inherit"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ay55ZT_JU48/UkMORsNeINI/AAAAAAAABHk/TtZVDeifHmk/s640/1.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ay55ZT_JU48/UkMORsNeINI/AAAAAAAABHk/TtZVDeifHmk/s640/1.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="640" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">&nbsp;</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">My name is Josie. Last year my husband, Rick, and I started a new chapter in our lives without even knowing it. We had moved to a new city in the summer so Rick could take a stab at teaching political science at BYU–Idaho, but after only a few months we realized that teaching, although rewarding, wasn’t his calling. We nervously turned down a second year of teaching without having another job lined up for the future. It was a huge leap of faith, especially since we were expecting our first child; however, we approached the decision prayerfully and felt like it was the right thing to do.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U_3YjAJFkRs/UkMOS_vg1lI/AAAAAAAABH4/zgKC5N3Nay4/s1600/IMG_5377.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U_3YjAJFkRs/UkMOS_vg1lI/AAAAAAAABH4/zgKC5N3Nay4/s1600/IMG_5377.jpg" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U_3YjAJFkRs/UkMOS_vg1lI/AAAAAAAABH4/zgKC5N3Nay4/s320/IMG_5377.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U_3YjAJFkRs/UkMOS_vg1lI/AAAAAAAABH4/zgKC5N3Nay4/s320/IMG_5377.jpg" border="0" width="240" height="320" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a><font face="inherit"><strong><font size="5">Our Bleeding Boy</font></strong><o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">Our son, Forrest, was born in April. About a week after he was born, we realized that something was seriously wrong. He bled constantly from his umbilical stump—through diapers, shirts, and blankets. He had dozens of visits to the hospital and received two blood transfusions. None of our doctors was able to give us definitive answers. In fact, we were told that it could be years until he received a diagnosis due to the lack of data on infants with rare blood diseases.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">&nbsp;</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">It was a difficult time, and we weren’t sure how to proceed. We desperately wanted answers.&nbsp;We had no idea what we were doing, and needless to say, it was an eye-opening introduction to parenthood.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><font size="5"><br></font></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><font size="5">India. You mean Indiana? No, India.</font></strong></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jShZS1cMESc/UkMOSvJLYJI/AAAAAAAABH0/ogLqQTxQ_uc/s1600/IMG_0516.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jShZS1cMESc/UkMOSvJLYJI/AAAAAAAABH0/ogLqQTxQ_uc/s1600/IMG_0516.JPG" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jShZS1cMESc/UkMOSvJLYJI/AAAAAAAABH0/ogLqQTxQ_uc/s320/IMG_0516.JPG" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jShZS1cMESc/UkMOSvJLYJI/AAAAAAAABH0/ogLqQTxQ_uc/s320/IMG_0516.JPG" border="0" width="320" height="320" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit"><br></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">One day, my husband got a phone call from a company that he&nbsp;<em>had</em><em>&nbsp;not&nbsp;</em>applied to. It was an old friend who was founding a new business and wanted to offer us both jobs . . . in India. For some, that might not have been an easy decision to make, but the Spirit helped us feel peace and encouragement. Believe it or not, within about ten minutes we knew that we would accept the positions. I remember feeling a great sense of awe at the Lord’s intricate way of preparing me mentally for that moment.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong><font face="inherit" size="5">&nbsp;</font></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong><font face="inherit" size="5"><br></font></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong><font face="inherit" size="5"><br></font></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong><font face="inherit" size="5"><br></font></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><font size="5"><br></font></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><font size="5">Answers</font></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">Soon after we arrived in India, Forrest started to worry us again. He began to bleed spontaneously without any type of trauma, and we became incredibly worried. We also discovered a cyst and two hematomas. We had to find answers as soon as possible.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">&nbsp;</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">Some parts of living in India have been tricky, but the medical care that Forrest has received has been incredible. Within two months of our arriving in India, we were able to receive a diagnosis of Forrest’s condition. We learned that our son has a rare blood disorder in which he is unable to produce his own fibrinogen (a protein that helps clotting).<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">&nbsp;</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">Looking back, it is impossible for me to think of that phone call from my husband’s old friend as pure luck. It was a carefully laid stepping-stone in our life by a loving Heavenly Father and the catalyst in learning what disorder our baby boy had.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit" size="5"><strong>We Have Been Le</strong></font><strong style="font-family: inherit; font-size: x-large;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; font-size: x-large;">d</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">Six months ago, I never would have imagined that I would be seeing elephants, rickshaws, and monsoons on any given day, but God helps us navigate the unknown and leads us to where we are supposed to be. Although Forrest faces extensive challenges in the coming years, we are aware that God is mindful of our needs.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">&nbsp;</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit">We’ve been led by the Lord in the past, and I know He will continue to guide us. I can’t wait to know what else He has in store!</font></p> Many Mighty Miracles: Part IV - Do It for Christy http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-IV-Do-Christy-Rachel-Mills/s/920 http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-IV-Do-Christy-Rachel-Mills/s/920 Wed, 28 Aug 2013 08:30:00 -0600 <div> by Rachel Mills <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 15.555556297302246px; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 15.555556297302246px; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;"><em _mce_style="text-align: start;" style="font-family: Times; font-size: medium; box-sizing: border-box;"><font face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><strong _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Many Mighty Miracles&nbsp;</strong>is a series that tells the story of faith, family, and a higher perspective through the eyes of a believing woman like you. Don't miss&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904" target="_blank" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none;">Part I</a>&nbsp;,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913" target="_blank" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none;"><font color="#f1563f" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><span _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(128, 140, 147);">Part II</span></font>&nbsp;</a>and&nbsp;<a href="http://tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Child-God-Rachel-Mills/s/916" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Child-God-Rachel-Mills/s/916" target="_blank">Part III&nbsp;</a>of Rachel's story!</font></em></div><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; text-align: center;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; text-align: center;"><font id="goog_115960008" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"></font><font id="goog_115960009" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"></font></p><div class="separator" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;">______________________________________________________</div><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_PK4R0JuzDk/Uh2PePojAdI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/hp8RF6In1Dc/s1600/IMG_20130826_153753.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_PK4R0JuzDk/Uh2PePojAdI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/hp8RF6In1Dc/s1600/IMG_20130826_153753.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-_PK4R0JuzDk%2FUh2PePojAdI%2FAAAAAAAAA-Q%2Fhp8RF6In1Dc%2Fs1600%2FIMG_20130826_153753.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_PK4R0JuzDk/Uh2PePojAdI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/hp8RF6In1Dc/s1600/IMG_20130826_153753.jpg" width="640" height="480" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8441bF8z2cI/Uh2QAmdCWiI/AAAAAAAAA-w/4vLTpZeKxys/s1600/Untitled1.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8441bF8z2cI/Uh2QAmdCWiI/AAAAAAAAA-w/4vLTpZeKxys/s1600/Untitled1.jpg" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-8441bF8z2cI%2FUh2QAmdCWiI%2FAAAAAAAAA-w%2F4vLTpZeKxys%2Fs1600%2FUntitled1.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8441bF8z2cI/Uh2QAmdCWiI/AAAAAAAAA-w/4vLTpZeKxys/s1600/Untitled1.jpg" width="140" height="200" style="cursor: move;"></a>My sister Christy is very special to me. Often on Saturday mornings, Christy did all her siblings’ chores for them so they would be able to play together once they awoke. Christy’s heart is big, and her love for babies surpasses all. In fact, it’s because of Christy’s mighty prayers for a baby sister that I’m even here!<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">At age 11, Christy became very sick with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. She developed a tumor in the soft part of the roof of her mouth. Too quickly she couldn’t eat, so&nbsp;<a name="Editing" class="mceItemAnchor"></a>she made a scrapbook of all the delicious foods she would eat once she was well again.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">As she grew weaker, the only thing that made her smile was baby Rachel (me). Christy kept a positive attitude. She would say, “I’ll be better tomorrow, I know.”<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">Tomorrow never came . . .<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: Times; float: right; text-align: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: Times; float: right; text-align: right; margin-left: 1em;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MF4_4vbf880/Uh2PlEA8KOI/AAAAAAAAA-o/zZgfNeXTb-U/s1600/Sony+Rachel+camera+apr+2012+1026.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MF4_4vbf880/Uh2PlEA8KOI/AAAAAAAAA-o/zZgfNeXTb-U/s1600/Sony+Rachel+camera+apr+2012+1026.jpg" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-MF4_4vbf880%2FUh2PlEA8KOI%2FAAAAAAAAA-o%2FzZgfNeXTb-U%2Fs1600%2FSony%2BRachel%2Bcamera%2Bapr%2B2012%2B1026.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MF4_4vbf880/Uh2PlEA8KOI/AAAAAAAAA-o/zZgfNeXTb-U/s1600/Sony+Rachel+camera+apr+2012+1026.jpg" width="200" height="150" style="cursor: move;"></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px; text-align: center;">Rachel &amp; Christy's Parents</td></tr></tbody></table><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">Christy slipped into a coma, but my family continued to pray with all their hearts. Their heartfelt prayers and priesthood blessings kept her alive for quite a while. On Sunday morning, just a week before Mother’s Day, my father knelt by her bed and told the Lord he wanted Christy to stay; but if it was HIS will to take her, he would let her go. Hours later, my dear sister left her earthly home and returned to her heavenly home.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">Through the years, my desire to make my angel sister smile influenced many of my decisions. I wanted to live righteously for her!<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">I ran my first marathon with Christy’s name printed across my back. When I struggled to reach the top of a long, arduous hill, somebody behind me yelled,&nbsp;<font size="5"><i>“Do it for Christy!!”</i>&nbsp;</font>I pushed harder up that hill and felt strengthened and weakened by emotion—all at the same time.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">A couple of years later, somebody asked me to direct the play,&nbsp;<i>My Turn on</i>&nbsp;<i>Earth</i>, a beautiful story about a girl’s life on earth. She doesn’t want to leave this life, but Heaven calls her back home. Because this was my sister’s favorite play and song in the world, the words “My Turn on Earth” are engraved on her headstone.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-phr7zmYwbX4/Uh2Pg0Ck0oI/AAAAAAAAA-Y/usVwTmBBo00/s1600/my+turn+2.jpeg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-phr7zmYwbX4/Uh2Pg0Ck0oI/AAAAAAAAA-Y/usVwTmBBo00/s1600/my+turn+2.jpeg" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-phr7zmYwbX4%2FUh2Pg0Ck0oI%2FAAAAAAAAA-Y%2FusVwTmBBo00%2Fs1600%2Fmy%2Bturn%2B2.jpeg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-phr7zmYwbX4/Uh2Pg0Ck0oI/AAAAAAAAA-Y/usVwTmBBo00/s1600/my+turn+2.jpeg" width="320" height="207" style="cursor: move;"></a>When I began working on the play, I sang the words of the song entitled “I’m Not Ready.” The moment I finished the first verse, a feeling that I had never felt in my entire life rushed through my whole being. I continued to sing as tears streamed effortlessly down my cheeks. I couldn’t fight the emotion, and I didn’t want to because it opened my soul so that I could breathe more freely. As a beautiful, rushing sensation passed through my soul, I knew it was not of this earth; I knew my heavenly sister was there. Oh, how she would have loved to have sung these words. I knew I had to be the one to sing this part in the play.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">Hours before our opening night, I called my bishop for a blessing because I could feel anxiety rising within me. My bishop didn’t know the source of that anxiety, yet in his blessing, my heart was immediately calmed when he said my performance would honor my sister.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ei5YBx17Kos/Uh2Pc7knSPI/AAAAAAAAA-I/MyDzSOlKwlA/s1600/DSC05809.JPG" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ei5YBx17Kos/Uh2Pc7knSPI/AAAAAAAAA-I/MyDzSOlKwlA/s1600/DSC05809.JPG" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-Ei5YBx17Kos%2FUh2Pc7knSPI%2FAAAAAAAAA-I%2FMyDzSOlKwlA%2Fs1600%2FDSC05809.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ei5YBx17Kos/Uh2Pc7knSPI/AAAAAAAAA-I/MyDzSOlKwlA/s1600/DSC05809.JPG" width="261" height="320" style="cursor: move;"></a>My mother honored my sister in her own fight against cancer<i>.</i>&nbsp;Doctors had never seen anyone like my mother. After her surgery, the doctor walked in to check on my mother only to find that she had put on a helmet and strapped a breastplate to her body. She held a sword high and shouted with great vigor, “Send me home, doctor! I’m ready to fight!<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">Because of Christy, my family fights for our physical and spiritual lives with extra vigor. Because of Christy, we live with an urgency to bear testimony of Christ! Because of Christy, we give grand good-byes to each other with songs, hugs, and kisses every time we leave each other . . . just in case.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">Because of Christy, I hope YOU will remember that this is your life and your time to live every single moment that God has given you as fully as you possibly can!!<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">I love you! God loves you!! The angels are bearing you up!! Live your life! Christy’s birthday is August 31.&nbsp;<i>Do it for Christy!!</i></p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; clear: both;"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 15pt;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(148, 191, 185); text-decoration: none; clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" height="200" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-VjKt-xNGjEM%2FUgJ-Q5kP4mI%2FAAAAAAAAAt8%2F54xwcHDCziY%2Fs1600%2FDSC02444.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="160" style="box-sizing: border-box; border-style: none; padding: 8px; cursor: move;"></a></font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;"></font></p><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Rachel Mills has a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Less than a year after returning from her mission to Cochabamba, Bolivia, Rachel married a nearly perfect man-the man of her dreams... Abe Mills. &nbsp;Rachel graduated from BYU with a broadcasting degree and worked in Dallas, TX as a sports news reporter for ABC, but she uses her education to home-school her 6 fantastic children ages 11 years to 11 months old. Rachel blogs at&nbsp;</font><a href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none;">abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com</a><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">.</font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><span _mce_style="color: #000000;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(128, 140, 147);"><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;"><span _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font face="inherit" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Every week</font></span></i><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;"><span _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font face="inherit" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">&nbsp;through the month of August, Rachel shared her findings of mighty miracles in her life on TOFW.com.&nbsp;</font></span></i></span></p></div> An Unexpected Ending to Our Sydney Trip http://www.tofw.com/Unexpected-Ending-Our-Sydney-Trip-Chrislyn-Woolston/s/919 http://www.tofw.com/Unexpected-Ending-Our-Sydney-Trip-Chrislyn-Woolston/s/919 Tue, 27 Aug 2013 13:15:00 -0600 <div> by Chrislyn Woolston <br /> </div> <p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" style="margin: 0px; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nDe4C8bSlOU/Uhz8--AYDDI/AAAAAAAAA9w/Iu-ULtHn0bU/s1600/DSC00494.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nDe4C8bSlOU/Uhz8--AYDDI/AAAAAAAAA9w/Iu-ULtHn0bU/s1600/DSC00494.JPG" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><font face="inherit"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-nDe4C8bSlOU%2FUhz8--AYDDI%2FAAAAAAAAA9w%2FIu-ULtHn0bU%2Fs1600%2FDSC00494.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nDe4C8bSlOU/Uhz8--AYDDI/AAAAAAAAA9w/Iu-ULtHn0bU/s1600/DSC00494.JPG" width="640" height="480" style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; text-indent: 0.5in;"><font face="inherit"><br></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit"><o:p>It was the Sunday morning after the Sydney Time Out for Women event.</o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit"><br></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit">We&nbsp;(the TOFW team)&nbsp;had commented on the way to church that it felt like our cups were more than full from all the stories we had heard and all the women we had met over the previous two weeks. We felt like the journey&nbsp;<a name="Editing" class="mceItemAnchor"></a>had come to a close.</font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FWOnhuGbqbw/Uhz85TPMg6I/AAAAAAAAA9Q/0ftxx-Uz95E/s1600/t2.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FWOnhuGbqbw/Uhz85TPMg6I/AAAAAAAAA9Q/0ftxx-Uz95E/s1600/t2.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><font face="inherit"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-FWOnhuGbqbw%2FUhz85TPMg6I%2FAAAAAAAAA9Q%2F0ftxx-Uz95E%2Fs1600%2Ft2.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FWOnhuGbqbw/Uhz85TPMg6I/AAAAAAAAA9Q/0ftxx-Uz95E/s1600/t2.jpg" width="200" height="166" style="cursor: move;"></font></a><font face="inherit">And then we got the phone call.</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit">There was a woman at a nearby hospital, 37 weeks pregnant, mourning her husband’s sudden death the night before. With three kids by her side, her heart was broken. Her body was weak. Her faith was tested.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit">There had been no signs that this is what their family would experience that weekend. And yet, there were so many signs that witnessed it was known by a loving Heavenly Father.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit">Terilyn Tuitupou had traveled to Sydney from Melbourne with her family in the hope that she could break away on Saturday to attend the TOFW event. That morning, however, she felt prompted to stay with her family instead of going to the event. The family were celebrating her son’s first birthday, and she felt it would be best to be together.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yLF81Q1uOCg/Uhz848FnD2I/AAAAAAAAA9I/rfR0HcRYBk8/s1600/t1.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yLF81Q1uOCg/Uhz848FnD2I/AAAAAAAAA9I/rfR0HcRYBk8/s1600/t1.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><font face="inherit"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-yLF81Q1uOCg%2FUhz848FnD2I%2FAAAAAAAAA9I%2FrfR0HcRYBk8%2Fs1600%2Ft1.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yLF81Q1uOCg/Uhz848FnD2I/AAAAAAAAA9I/rfR0HcRYBk8/s1600/t1.jpg" style="cursor: move;"></font></a><font face="inherit">That night her husband passed away in his sleep from unknown causes.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit">The call to us came from Terilyn’s Relief Society president, who had attended the TOFW event and who, through a series of miracles, was able to be by Terilyn’s side just hours after the passing of her husband. We witnessed the true definition of a Relief Society president that weekend. Through charity, the pure love of Christ, she made sacrifices, she gave love, she coordinated help, and most of all, she showed up. She was there by Terilyn’s side to assure her that she was not alone.&nbsp;</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit"><br></font></p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" style="margin: 0px; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iL8olT_Dpoo/Uhz86fzXKSI/AAAAAAAAA9g/Mp4chY8q3oQ/s1600/t4.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iL8olT_Dpoo/Uhz86fzXKSI/AAAAAAAAA9g/Mp4chY8q3oQ/s1600/t4.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><font face="inherit"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-iL8olT_Dpoo%2FUhz86fzXKSI%2FAAAAAAAAA9g%2FMp4chY8q3oQ%2Fs1600%2Ft4.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iL8olT_Dpoo/Uhz86fzXKSI/AAAAAAAAA9g/Mp4chY8q3oQ/s1600/t4.jpg" width="320" height="240" style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit">Brad and Debi Wilcox spent time with Terilyn and shared some of their own words of comfort, encouragement, and testimony with her. We knew in that very hour that the Lord had orchestrated all of this. He knew the Tuitupou family and knew how to surround them with the people that could give Terilyn strength and hope during this trial.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit">We have stayed in touch with Terilyn and are amazed at her courage and faith. We feel that there could be no better opportunity to use the strength and love that comes from the TOFW community than in a time such as this. And so, with the permission of Terilyn, we share with you&nbsp;<a href="http://tablegforever.blogspot.com.au/" _mce_href="http://tablegforever.blogspot.com.au/" target="_blank">Terilyn’s blog</a>. She will be sharing some of her journey here, and we hope that through you and your words of encouragement, she can continue to feel the strength, love, and hope that she needs.<o:p></o:p></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit"><br></font></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Aefh_9yF_W4/Uh4Y-zVp3FI/AAAAAAAAA_E/VP5HtZhr-jU/s1600/image003.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Aefh_9yF_W4/Uh4Y-zVp3FI/AAAAAAAAA_E/VP5HtZhr-jU/s1600/image003.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-Aefh_9yF_W4%2FUh4Y-zVp3FI%2FAAAAAAAAA_E%2FVP5HtZhr-jU%2Fs1600%2Fimage003.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Aefh_9yF_W4/Uh4Y-zVp3FI/AAAAAAAAA_E/VP5HtZhr-jU/s1600/image003.jpg" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="inherit"><br></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt;"><font face="inherit"><br></font></p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: left;" style="margin: 0px; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; clear: both;"><font face="inherit">You may also learn more about the Tuitupou family and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mycause.com.au/page/tuitupoufund" _mce_href="https://www.mycause.com.au/page/tuitupoufund" target="_blank">fundraiser</a>&nbsp;set up to help them be able to focus on the things that matter most at this time.&nbsp;</font></p><p _mce_style="text-align: left;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: left;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><br></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VX1z-k4lwBM/Uhz85_bHC8I/AAAAAAAAA9c/8tbbRwyPdME/s1600/t3.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VX1z-k4lwBM/Uhz85_bHC8I/AAAAAAAAA9c/8tbbRwyPdME/s1600/t3.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-VX1z-k4lwBM%2FUhz85_bHC8I%2FAAAAAAAAA9c%2F8tbbRwyPdME%2Fs1600%2Ft3.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VX1z-k4lwBM/Uhz85_bHC8I/AAAAAAAAA9c/8tbbRwyPdME/s1600/t3.jpg" width="400" height="300" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: left;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';">We will never forget our time in Australia and New Zealand and are quickly learning . . . it will never be over.</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: left;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: left;" style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><br></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ch0fD1fLS2s/Uji3T6Kf_qI/AAAAAAAABF8/D-IyDCuvtWU/s1600/baby.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ch0fD1fLS2s/Uji3T6Kf_qI/AAAAAAAABF8/D-IyDCuvtWU/s1600/baby.jpg" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ch0fD1fLS2s/Uji3T6Kf_qI/AAAAAAAABF8/D-IyDCuvtWU/s1600/baby.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ch0fD1fLS2s/Uji3T6Kf_qI/AAAAAAAABF8/D-IyDCuvtWU/s1600/baby.jpg" border="0" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font face="inherit"><font size="5"><b>UPDATE:</b></font>&nbsp;Terilyn gave birth to a beautiful baby boy,&nbsp;</font><b>Zealyn Sione Tuitupou,</b> on &nbsp;Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. He was 9lbs 2oz and continues to be healthy and strong, just like his daddy.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Terilyn shares on <a href="http://tablegforever.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://tablegforever.blogspot.com/">her BLOG</a> where his name comes from and how she is finding strength without her husband by her side.&nbsp;</p> The Summer of a Million Gifts Keeps Giving http://www.tofw.com/Summer-Million-Gifts-Keeps-Giving/s/918 http://www.tofw.com/Summer-Million-Gifts-Keeps-Giving/s/918 Fri, 23 Aug 2013 14:35:00 -0600 <div> </div> <div class="text" style="box-sizing: border-box; padding: 10px; line-height: 20px; font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; padding: 10px; line-height: 20px; font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" _mce_style="padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" style="box-sizing: border-box; padding: 6px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><tr style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><td style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qha746uYfyo/UheexGVg6OI/AAAAAAAAA7c/cHB0JlenNXo/s1600/1188889.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qha746uYfyo/UheexGVg6OI/AAAAAAAAA7c/cHB0JlenNXo/s1600/1188889.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none; clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><font face="inherit" color="#000000" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qha746uYfyo/UheexGVg6OI/AAAAAAAAA7c/cHB0JlenNXo/s1600/1188889.jpg" height="266" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-qha746uYfyo%2FUheexGVg6OI%2FAAAAAAAAA7c%2FcHB0JlenNXo%2Fs1600%2F1188889.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="400" style="box-sizing: border-box; border-style: none; padding: 8px; cursor: move;"></font></a></p></td></tr><tr style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><td class="tr-caption" _mce_style="font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 13px; padding-top: 4px;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font face="inherit" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font size="2" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">Our TOFW friend, Christianne Green with her husband have&nbsp;</font><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font size="2" _mce_style="line-height: 1.2;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 1.2;">10 kids, 7 adopted with special needs</font></font></font></p></td></tr></tbody></table><div data-blogger-escaped-style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0in;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><div _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;">Need a heartwarming story that will remind you of the goodness in the world? Deseret Book's Summer of a Million Gifts has given us plenty of great tales of generosity and friendship, but here's one that promises to round out the season of giving. &nbsp;Meet the Green Family.</p></div><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;">Jeremy and Christianne Green are the parents of nine, soon to be ten, wonderful children. Three are biological, seven are children with special needs adopted from China. These special&nbsp;<font class="textexposedshow" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">needs include blindness (three of the kids), pulmonary hypertension (a life-threatening heart and lung disease), severe autism, CLOVES syndrome, spina bifida – confining one daughter to a wheelchair – and sweet four-year-old Sophi, who was born without arms.&nbsp;</font></p></div><div _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; color: #333333; font-family: inherit, serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font class="textexposedshow" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">Some wonderful neighbors of the Green’s took it upon themselves to take action and created an organization to help raise money and awareness on behalf of the Green Family, as well as looking to upgrade their home, as their current home hinders their ability to meet the diverse needs of their children. In a short time the Green Family’s story spread and soon they raised $35,000 and a contractor also committed to donate all of his labor as he builds the Green’s a new home! In fact…they’re new home was featured Aug 2 in the Utah Parade of Homes!&nbsp;</font><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font class="textexposedshow" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">When discussing their new home, the topic of decorating came up and Christianne mentioned how much she loves Deseret Book and would love to stage her home entirely in Deseret Book products!&nbsp;Word got out and this last week, the Green’s came into the&nbsp;<a data-blogger-escaped-data-hovercard="/ajax/hovercard/page.php?id=116613871695881&amp;extragetparams=%7B%22directed_target_id%22%3A0%7D" href="https://www.facebook.com/DeseretBookFlagship?directed_target_id=0" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #3b5998; text-decoration: none; text-underline: none;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Deseret Book-Flagship Store</font></a>, went shopping, and we got to meet these great people!&nbsp;</font></font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; color: #333333; font-family: inherit, serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"></font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-D1n-8PuMttg/UheiOXis2FI/AAAAAAAAA8Y/6cED20jwFdU/s1600/IMG_2415.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-D1n-8PuMttg/UheiOXis2FI/AAAAAAAAA8Y/6cED20jwFdU/s1600/IMG_2415.JPG" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none; clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><font color="#000000" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-D1n-8PuMttg/UheiOXis2FI/AAAAAAAAA8Y/6cED20jwFdU/s1600/IMG_2415.JPG" height="320" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-D1n-8PuMttg%2FUheiOXis2FI%2FAAAAAAAAA8Y%2F6cED20jwFdU%2Fs1600%2FIMG_2415.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="240" style="box-sizing: border-box; border-style: none; padding: 8px; cursor: move;"></font></a></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font class="textexposedshow" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">We even got to spend some time with little Sophi as well! She is a sweetheart and full of joy.</font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font class="textexposedshow" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"></font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font class="textexposedshow" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">Christianne, actually blogged about her experience and you can read all about it and the items they selected here (WARNING: if you choose to continue you may get a warm fuzzy feeling):&nbsp;<a data-blogger-escaped-target="_blank" href="http://bit.ly/1aVsyz4" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #3b5998; text-decoration: none; text-underline: none;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">http://bit.ly/1aVsyz4</font></a>&nbsp;</font><o:p style="box-sizing: border-box;"></o:p></p></div><div _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><br></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;">Here's a great article from Deseret News about the Greens.&nbsp;<font face="inherit" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"><a href="http://m.deseretnews.com/article/865584600/Herriman-family-with-10-kids" _mce_href="http://m.deseretnews.com/article/865584600/Herriman-family-with-10-kids" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;">http://m.deseretnews.com/article/865584600/Herriman-family-with-10-kids</a></font></p></div></div><div><br></div><div><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px;">Luckily, the summer isn't over yet, so don't hesitate to join the gift giving with of The Summer of a Million Gifts</span></div> Many Mighty Miracles: Part III - A Child of God http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-III-Child-God-Rachel-Mills/s/916 http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-III-Child-God-Rachel-Mills/s/916 Tue, 20 Aug 2013 16:27:00 -0600 <div> by Rachel Mills <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="font-size: 15.555556297302246px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-size: 15.555556297302246px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;"><em _mce_style="text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><strong style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">Many Mighty Miracles&nbsp;</strong>is a series that tells the story of faith, family, and a higher perspective through the eyes of a believing woman like you. Click&nbsp;here to read&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904" target="_blank">PART I</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913" target="_blank"><font color="#f1563f"><span style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">Part II</span></font>&nbsp;</a>of Rachel's story!</em></div><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center;"><font id="goog_115960008"></font><font id="goog_115960009"></font></p><div class="separator" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;">______________________________________________________</div><div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Y0NlNXOuPxQ/UhTcVQYORPI/AAAAAAAAA5E/lSylUZh0eVI/s1600/PicMonkey+Collage.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Y0NlNXOuPxQ/UhTcVQYORPI/AAAAAAAAA5E/lSylUZh0eVI/s1600/PicMonkey+Collage.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-Y0NlNXOuPxQ%2FUhTcVQYORPI%2FAAAAAAAAA5E%2FlSylUZh0eVI%2Fs1600%2FPicMonkey%2BCollage.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Y0NlNXOuPxQ/UhTcVQYORPI/AAAAAAAAA5E/lSylUZh0eVI/s1600/PicMonkey+Collage.jpg" width="640" height="236" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">A voice has continuously spoken to my soul for years that adoption would bless our lives.&nbsp; We felt moved to open our home for foster care in hopes of adopting.</p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">When our first foster child was placed into my arms, my heart melted.&nbsp; The words “I Am A Child of God” took on a deeper meaning as I rocked with and sang to this gorgeous, little girl.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><b>She was HIS child! &nbsp;</b>She was a piece of Heaven… a piece of HIS love. &nbsp;<b>God placed her temporarily into my arms to love her as HE would.&nbsp;</b><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Later, two adorable kids:&nbsp; one with the blondest hair and the other with fiery, red hair temporarily came to our home. &nbsp;One evening,&nbsp;Abe spoke at a devotional and announced he was grateful his family was there. Our two little foster children waved their arms wildly with joy, saying, “Hi Dad!&nbsp; Hey!!&nbsp;We’re here!”&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Looking at all 6 children and eyeing Abe suspiciously, people asked, “Are they all&nbsp;<b>YOURS?”&nbsp;</b><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">“Yes!” I said.&nbsp;No further explanation was necessary. :)<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">My heart ached when each of our 8 foster children left. I felt frustrated because we had moved forward with faith, but we were losing every child.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">We had 5 near/failed adoptions – all with spiritual experiences attached telling my heart these children would be ours forever.&nbsp; My faith waned when each one was ripped away from our lives.&nbsp; Why had I received experiences preparing me for children who would not become mine?&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><b>I had to accept the other wonderful blessings associated with this call&nbsp;of foster care.</b><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">My hope for adoption returned when a birth mother contacted us to adopt her unborn child. &nbsp;As a family, we drove 7 hours to spend a beautiful afternoon with her.&nbsp; We kept in close contact over the next 5 months.&nbsp; The children talked about and prayed for the baby and our beloved birth mother, several times each day. Our hearts were deeply invested. &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">As we neared her date of delivery, I received a phone call from the caseworker.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Our Bishop happened to knock on our front door at the exact same time as the phone call.&nbsp; His arrival was inspired.</p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">I left the room to listen intently as the caseworker delivered the news:&nbsp; the baby was born, but the birth mother would be keeping him.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">I dropped the phone and crumbled from devastation at Abe's feet.&nbsp; I had never in my life fallen from emotional pain. I couldn’t speak-but only wail.&nbsp;&nbsp;<b>As I looked up from my fallen position, our Bishop was right there ready to provide comfort to our broken family.</b><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Even Jackson, our oldest,&nbsp;came to us sobbing and shaking uncontrollably. &nbsp;Although we had never laid eyes on this baby, we all loved him deeply.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Heartbreak caused a constant, stabbing pain in my chest.&nbsp; I decided I needed to have a serious talk with God.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">On March 15, 2012, 10 days after losing our baby, I entered my closet with great anxiety- determined to not leave the closet until I received answers as to&nbsp;<b>why&nbsp;</b>we were inspired to adopt because it seemed it would never happen.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">As I knelt and prayed aloud in that closet, undeniable PEACE rushed over my body as if it was melting me.&nbsp; The peace was miraculously dissipating my anxiety- almost against my will.&nbsp; I knew it was from God, but I pushed it away and stormed out of my closet.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">“I don’t want peace.&nbsp; I want answers!”&nbsp; I proclaimed.&nbsp;&nbsp;<b>I finally humbled myself and returned to my Heavenly Father to thank HIM for the peace I desperately needed.</b>&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TqCdD64txbc/UhTaPdQ_OkI/AAAAAAAAA4M/algTXEipu8Y/s1600/jayden+12-54.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TqCdD64txbc/UhTaPdQ_OkI/AAAAAAAAA4M/algTXEipu8Y/s1600/jayden+12-54.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TqCdD64txbc/UhTaPdQ_OkI/AAAAAAAAA4M/algTXEipu8Y/s1600/jayden+12-54.jpg" height="132" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-TqCdD64txbc%2FUhTaPdQ_OkI%2FAAAAAAAAA4M%2FalgTXEipu8Y%2Fs1600%2Fjayden%2B12-54.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="200" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Weeks later, our caseworker called to tell us about a different baby!! The day I had prayed mightily in my closet for answers, was the exact day Jayden was born!!! &nbsp;March 15<sup>th</sup>, 2012! &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--SrlHjOtIes/UhTcyeU9ayI/AAAAAAAAA5M/SRjq4PJ0Ejc/s1600/PicMonkey+Collage+hold.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--SrlHjOtIes/UhTcyeU9ayI/AAAAAAAAA5M/SRjq4PJ0Ejc/s1600/PicMonkey+Collage+hold.jpg" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F--SrlHjOtIes%2FUhTcyeU9ayI%2FAAAAAAAAA5M%2FSRjq4PJ0Ejc%2Fs1600%2FPicMonkey%2BCollage%2Bhold.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--SrlHjOtIes/UhTcyeU9ayI/AAAAAAAAA5M/SRjq4PJ0Ejc/s1600/PicMonkey+Collage+hold.jpg" width="400" height="200" style="cursor: move;"></a><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">We first held baby Jayden in our arms on April 11<sup>th</sup>.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">What exquisite joy filled my heart!&nbsp; Our waiting was not in vain.&nbsp; God was preparing the right child for our family.</p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7z-9Y9KwetQ/UhTaOnj9UGI/AAAAAAAAA4U/1yX_EpVzOWg/s1600/IMG_20130604_190201.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7z-9Y9KwetQ/UhTaOnj9UGI/AAAAAAAAA4U/1yX_EpVzOWg/s1600/IMG_20130604_190201.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7z-9Y9KwetQ/UhTaOnj9UGI/AAAAAAAAA4U/1yX_EpVzOWg/s1600/IMG_20130604_190201.jpg" height="200" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-7z-9Y9KwetQ%2FUhTaOnj9UGI%2FAAAAAAAAA4U%2F1yX_EpVzOWg%2Fs1600%2FIMG_20130604_190201.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="150" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">I have never seen a more active, funny, social, and lively child. What would we have ever done without him?&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Every night I sing,&nbsp; “I Am a Child of God” to my dear baby Jayden. &nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font size="6">He is God’s and he is mine too.</font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1G6UFMEfdF8/UhTaN0qn9iI/AAAAAAAAA34/zJ9e50zDe8Q/s1600/DSC05715.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1G6UFMEfdF8/UhTaN0qn9iI/AAAAAAAAA34/zJ9e50zDe8Q/s1600/DSC05715.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em; display: inline !important;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em; display: inline !important;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1G6UFMEfdF8/UhTaN0qn9iI/AAAAAAAAA34/zJ9e50zDe8Q/s1600/DSC05715.JPG" height="300" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-1G6UFMEfdF8%2FUhTaN0qn9iI%2FAAAAAAAAA34%2FzJ9e50zDe8Q%2Fs1600%2FDSC05715.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="400" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">No matter the journey, God is the same. HE is working mighty miracles in all our lives. TRUST HIM!!</p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">I would love to hear about your journey and your answers to prayers.&nbsp; Please share!</p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Rachel completes her Mighty Miracles series with <a href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-IV-Do-Christy-Rachel-Mills/s/920" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-IV-Do-Christy-Rachel-Mills/s/920">Part IV: Do It for Christy!</a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; clear: both;"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 15pt;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(148, 191, 185); text-decoration: none; clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" height="200" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-VjKt-xNGjEM%2FUgJ-Q5kP4mI%2FAAAAAAAAAt8%2F54xwcHDCziY%2Fs1600%2FDSC02444.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="160" style="border-style: none; box-sizing: border-box; padding: 8px; cursor: move;"></a></font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;"></font></p><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Rachel Mills has a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Less than a year after returning from her mission to Cochabamba, Bolivia, Rachel married a nearly perfect man-the man of her dreams... Abe Mills. &nbsp;Rachel graduated from BYU with a broadcasting degree and worked in Dallas, TX as a sports news reporter for ABC, but she uses her education to home-school her 6 fantastic children ages 11 years to 11 months old. Rachel blogs at&nbsp;</font><a href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none;">abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com</a><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">.</font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><span _mce_style="color: #000000;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;"><span _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(128, 140, 147);"><font face="inherit" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Every week</font></span></i><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;"><span _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(128, 140, 147);"><font face="inherit" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">&nbsp;through the month of August, Rachel shared her findings of mighty miracles in her life on TOFW.com. Make sure not to miss the next week's post!</font></span></i></span></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"></div></div> Many Mighty Miracles: Part II - As I Am http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-II-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913 http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-II-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913 Thu, 15 Aug 2013 14:27:00 -0600 <div> by Rachel Mills <br /> </div> <p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">&nbsp; &nbsp;<em _mce_style="text-align: start;" style="font-size: 15.555556297302246px; line-height: 20px; text-align: center; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; box-sizing: border-box;"><strong _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Many Mighty Miracles&nbsp;</strong>is a series that tells the story of faith, family, and a higher perspective through the eyes of a believing woman like you. Click&nbsp;here to read&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904" target="_blank">PART I</a>&nbsp;of Rachel's story!</em></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center;"><font id="goog_115960008"></font><font id="goog_115960009"></font></p><div class="separator" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;">______________________________________________________</div><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nWxf5zyhfxU/Ug06Dx3tMmI/AAAAAAAAA0U/K-NpyibbxoU/s1600/DSC02318.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nWxf5zyhfxU/Ug06Dx3tMmI/AAAAAAAAA0U/K-NpyibbxoU/s1600/DSC02318.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nWxf5zyhfxU/Ug06Dx3tMmI/AAAAAAAAA0U/K-NpyibbxoU/s320/DSC02318.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nWxf5zyhfxU/Ug06Dx3tMmI/AAAAAAAAA0U/K-NpyibbxoU/s320/DSC02318.jpg" border="0" width="240" height="320" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">My husband, Abe, wrote me a song entitled “As I Am” as part of his marriage proposal. He knelt by my side, held my hands, and began to sing. The words are tender.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><strong>Please listen before reading if you can.</strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><embed name="niftyPlayer" src="/niftyplayer2.swf?file=http://tofw.com/as_I_am.mp3" _mce_src="../../../niftyplayer2.swf?file=http://tofw.com/as_I_am.mp3" quality="high" pluginspage="http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="450" height="40" style="line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="line-height: 32px;"><span style="line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="line-height: 32px;"> </span></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;">(Disclaimer from Abe: This is not a professional recording, and I did it quickly.)</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;">(Disclaimer from Rachel: It doesn’t have to be a professional recording when you sing with a heart like this!!)</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u2oqjY2y-aA/Ug06F901rDI/AAAAAAAAA1A/dSoUEJ4LqN0/s1600/Disney+Marathon.jpeg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u2oqjY2y-aA/Ug06F901rDI/AAAAAAAAA1A/dSoUEJ4LqN0/s1600/Disney+Marathon.jpeg" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u2oqjY2y-aA/Ug06F901rDI/AAAAAAAAA1A/dSoUEJ4LqN0/s320/Disney+Marathon.jpeg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u2oqjY2y-aA/Ug06F901rDI/AAAAAAAAA1A/dSoUEJ4LqN0/s320/Disney+Marathon.jpeg" border="0" width="320" height="318" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Here is my take on his beautiful song:<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">For years Abe has said to me, “Hey! We’re on the same team! I’m not against you.”<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">All I saw were my thousands of faults, and I thought he did too. I got my hair cut and asked him if he liked it. Abe said, “How do<i>&nbsp;you</i>&nbsp;like it?” Grrr . . . It used to make me so frustrated when he answered with a safe answer! I wanted an honest opinion about my hairdo. I said, “I like it! That’s why I cut it! I just want to know if&nbsp;<i>you&nbsp;</i>like it!” He responded, “If you like it, then I do too because you’re always beautiful to me.” Sounds sweet, huh—but I couldn’t wrap my mind around a love that pure.</p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MTbHxn8zfO4/Ug06GUEEFwI/AAAAAAAAA1E/xqew7OH8woY/s1600/118.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MTbHxn8zfO4/Ug06GUEEFwI/AAAAAAAAA1E/xqew7OH8woY/s1600/118.JPG" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><br></a></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MTbHxn8zfO4/Ug06GUEEFwI/AAAAAAAAA1E/xqew7OH8woY/s1600/118.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MTbHxn8zfO4/Ug06GUEEFwI/AAAAAAAAA1E/xqew7OH8woY/s1600/118.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MTbHxn8zfO4/Ug06GUEEFwI/AAAAAAAAA1E/xqew7OH8woY/s320/118.JPG" height="320" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-MTbHxn8zfO4%2FUg06GUEEFwI%2FAAAAAAAAA1E%2Fxqew7OH8woY%2Fs320%2F118.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="213" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><b>As I have learned to accept love from my husband, I have more easily loved and accepted others.</b>&nbsp;Isn’t it beautiful how that happens? Wha if we learn to&nbsp;<i>accept&nbsp;</i>our Savior’s perfect love and acceptance of us?&nbsp;<b>Miracles will abound!</b><u><o:p></o:p></u></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="line-height: 32px;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">We have a relative who, we discovered, was homeless. We invited him into our home and gave him all the love and acceptance we could. We threw him a huge birthday party and shared the gospel with him.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">One late night, he came to us wanting to be baptized. In the process, the Spirit moved him to talk about past sins. We all cried together for his pain. Right at that moment of confession . . . in the middle of the night . . . our sweet little one-year- old Mariah woke up.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r1Kp4oHJVFw/UhJXFxi3hWI/AAAAAAAAA2A/ZjejjyeZVOo/s1600/021.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r1Kp4oHJVFw/UhJXFxi3hWI/AAAAAAAAA2A/ZjejjyeZVOo/s1600/021.JPG" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-r1Kp4oHJVFw%2FUhJXFxi3hWI%2FAAAAAAAAA2A%2FZjejjyeZVOo%2Fs1600%2F021.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r1Kp4oHJVFw/UhJXFxi3hWI/AAAAAAAAA2A/ZjejjyeZVOo/s1600/021.JPG" width="320" height="217" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">She is usually a very sound sleeper. I carried her downstairs, and for the first time ever, she pushed away</p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">from my arms and reached for him. She nestled in his arms and hugged him tight. He cried even harder, and so did I.&nbsp;</p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">The innocence of her hug was as close as one could come to the purity of Christ’s love and acceptance for him.<o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PxYSdluAC4c/Ug06D3EXF2I/AAAAAAAAA0Q/-JxW5iP2lFQ/s1600/DSC01037.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PxYSdluAC4c/Ug06D3EXF2I/AAAAAAAAA0Q/-JxW5iP2lFQ/s1600/DSC01037.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PxYSdluAC4c/Ug06D3EXF2I/AAAAAAAAA0Q/-JxW5iP2lFQ/s320/DSC01037.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PxYSdluAC4c/Ug06D3EXF2I/AAAAAAAAA0Q/-JxW5iP2lFQ/s320/DSC01037.jpg" border="0" width="308" height="320" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Early in our marriage, I asked my Heavenly Father for more opportunities to share the gospel. Abe’s lifestyle has provided more opportunity to share the gospel than any other I could have envisioned.</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">We are about to move to our tenth house in twelve years! Although I’m tempted to murmur in the packing process,&nbsp;<b>our moves have been a miracle in my life as an opportunity to share my testimony to more people.&nbsp;</b>Yes!!&nbsp;<b>I accept this life.</b><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Abe did not request much for me to be his wife; he asked for me to accept him for who he was.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Those moments when I am accepted as a valuable human being—even when I know I’m irrational—are the moments that help me to become a less irrational person!! The Holy Ghost changes us!</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">It's true! I accept my husband for who he is, and I’m grateful he accepts me.</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in; line-height: 32px;"><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VaEqySllCD8/Ug06E8PMGII/AAAAAAAAA0k/z3gwEfwN3eg/s1600/Disney+Marathon+2.jpeg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VaEqySllCD8/Ug06E8PMGII/AAAAAAAAA0k/z3gwEfwN3eg/s1600/Disney+Marathon+2.jpeg" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VaEqySllCD8/Ug06E8PMGII/AAAAAAAAA0k/z3gwEfwN3eg/s320/Disney+Marathon+2.jpeg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VaEqySllCD8/Ug06E8PMGII/AAAAAAAAA0k/z3gwEfwN3eg/s320/Disney+Marathon+2.jpeg" border="0" width="256" height="320" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">My greatest discovery in life has been the love and acceptance from my dear Savior,<a name="Editing" class="mceItemAnchor"></a>&nbsp;Jesus Christ.&nbsp;<b>HIS love and acceptance are perfect, and we ALL have him.<o:p></o:p></b></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p><b>&nbsp;</b></o:p>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">As we pack up to move again, I look forward to meeting the people whom God will place in our lives and who will accept us as we are. I pray we will be instruments in God’s hands as we strive to share Christ’s gospel of love.</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><o:p></o:p>This Saturday, we’re off on another journey! God bless you on yours!&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">We are moving to&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><font size="6">Kissimmee, Florida!!&nbsp;</font></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><br></p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kqknj6-uP_U/Ug06EFP8mrI/AAAAAAAAA0c/0zmf0cpQAu0/s1600/DSC05245.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kqknj6-uP_U/Ug06EFP8mrI/AAAAAAAAA0c/0zmf0cpQAu0/s1600/DSC05245.JPG" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kqknj6-uP_U/Ug06EFP8mrI/AAAAAAAAA0c/0zmf0cpQAu0/s320/DSC05245.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kqknj6-uP_U/Ug06EFP8mrI/AAAAAAAAA0c/0zmf0cpQAu0/s320/DSC05245.JPG" border="0" width="320" height="240" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Please join me next week. I plan on sharing the story of our sweet, rambunctious miracle: baby Jayden. He finally came to us after 8 foster children and 5 failed adoptions.<br _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; line-height: 32px;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">I would LOVE to hear&nbsp;<b>your experiences&nbsp;</b>of love and acceptance too.&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Love is powerful!&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Please share!!</p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Rachel continues her Mighty Miracles series with <a href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Child-God-Rachel-Mills/s/916" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Child-God-Rachel-Mills/s/916">Part III: A Child of God</a></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; clear: both;"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 15pt;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(148, 191, 185); text-decoration: none; clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" height="200" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-VjKt-xNGjEM%2FUgJ-Q5kP4mI%2FAAAAAAAAAt8%2F54xwcHDCziY%2Fs1600%2FDSC02444.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="160" style="box-sizing: border-box; border-style: none; padding: 8px; cursor: move;"></a></font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;"></font></p><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: medium; line-height: 20px; font-family: 'Times New Roman';"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Rachel Mills has a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Less than a year after returning from her mission to Cochabamba, Bolivia, Rachel married a nearly perfect man-the man of her dreams... Abe Mills. &nbsp;Rachel graduated from BYU with a broadcasting degree and worked in Dallas, TX as a sports news reporter for ABC, but she uses her education to home-school her 6 fantastic children ages 11 years to 11 months old. Rachel blogs at&nbsp;</font><a href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(241, 86, 63); text-decoration: none;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;">abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com</a><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">.</font></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"><span _mce_style="color: #000000;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;"><span _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(128, 140, 147);"><font face="inherit" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">Every week</font></span></i><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;"><span _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(128, 140, 147);"><font face="inherit" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;">&nbsp;through the month of August, Rachel shared findings of mighty miracles in her life on TOFW.com. Make sure not to miss the next week's post!</font></span></i></span></p></div> Many Mighty Miracles: Part I - Staying Afloat! http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904 http://www.tofw.com/Many-Mighty-Miracles-Part-Staying-Afloat-Rachel-Mills/s/904 Thu, 08 Aug 2013 12:06:00 -0600 <div> by Rachel Mills <br /> </div> <div class="separator" _mce_style="font-size: 15.555556297302246px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;" style="font-size: 15.555556297302246px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;"><em _mce_style="text-align: start;" style="box-sizing: border-box;"><strong _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Many Mighty Miracles&nbsp;</strong>is a series that tells the story of faith, family, and a higher perspective through the eyes of a believing woman like you.</em></div><p _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center;"><font id="goog_115960008"></font><font id="goog_115960009"></font></p><div class="separator" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px; clear: both; text-align: center;">______________________________________________________</div><p><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cyZfDUYrMlc/UgJ7OI7qxaI/AAAAAAAAAtM/mzikWozVGlA/s1600/IMG_20130615_130523.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cyZfDUYrMlc/UgJ7OI7qxaI/AAAAAAAAAtM/mzikWozVGlA/s1600/IMG_20130615_130523.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><font color="#000000"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cyZfDUYrMlc/UgJ7OI7qxaI/AAAAAAAAAtM/mzikWozVGlA/s1600/IMG_20130615_130523.jpg" height="480" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-cyZfDUYrMlc%2FUgJ7OI7qxaI%2FAAAAAAAAAtM%2FmzikWozVGlA%2Fs1600%2FIMG_20130615_130523.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="640" style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><p><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-x-QctxBps8o/UgJ7Lk20S2I/AAAAAAAAAss/Td0yIP1FHbU/s1600/DSC06872.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-x-QctxBps8o/UgJ7Lk20S2I/AAAAAAAAAss/Td0yIP1FHbU/s1600/DSC06872.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><font color="#000000"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-x-QctxBps8o/UgJ7Lk20S2I/AAAAAAAAAss/Td0yIP1FHbU/s1600/DSC06872.JPG" height="300" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-x-QctxBps8o%2FUgJ7Lk20S2I%2FAAAAAAAAAss%2FTd0yIP1FHbU%2Fs1600%2FDSC06872.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="400" style="cursor: move;"></font></a><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;">Abe and I have 6 children:&nbsp;&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;" size="5">Jackson, 11</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;" size="5">Tyson, 9</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;" size="5">Jordan, 7</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;" size="5">Mariah, 5&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;" size="5">Juliana, 3&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;" size="5">and Jayden, 1.&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS Mincho&quot;; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-fareast;"><br></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">Busy, right?&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;"><br></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">Abe is my rock star… literally!</font><font face="Wingdings" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">J</font><font style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</font></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;"><a imageanchor="1" href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-u0J8LfmLY28%2FUgJ7O6aeiHI%2FAAAAAAAAAtg%2FgYaHtZsyE8s%2Fs1600%2FIMG_20130803_074921.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-u0J8LfmLY28%2FUgJ7O6aeiHI%2FAAAAAAAAAtg%2FgYaHtZsyE8s%2Fs1600%2FIMG_20130803_074921.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u0J8LfmLY28/UgJ7O6aeiHI/AAAAAAAAAtg/gYaHtZsyE8s/s1600/IMG_20130803_074921.jpg" height="320" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-u0J8LfmLY28%2FUgJ7O6aeiHI%2FAAAAAAAAAtg%2FgYaHtZsyE8s%2Fs1600%2FIMG_20130803_074921.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="240" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><a imageanchor="1" href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-seN_2tTSUgE%2FUgJ7VAyMlqI%2FAAAAAAAAAts%2FKCg5r8ZX_oM%2Fs1600%2F0.jpeg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-seN_2tTSUgE%2FUgJ7VAyMlqI%2FAAAAAAAAAts%2FKCg5r8ZX_oM%2Fs1600%2F0.jpeg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-seN_2tTSUgE/UgJ7VAyMlqI/AAAAAAAAAts/KCg5r8ZX_oM/s1600/0.jpeg" height="200" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-seN_2tTSUgE%2FUgJ7VAyMlqI%2FAAAAAAAAAts%2FKCg5r8ZX_oM%2Fs1600%2F0.jpeg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="150" style="cursor: move;"></a><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u0J8LfmLY28/UgJ7O6aeiHI/AAAAAAAAAtg/gYaHtZsyE8s/s1600/IMG_20130803_074921.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u0J8LfmLY28/UgJ7O6aeiHI/AAAAAAAAAtg/gYaHtZsyE8s/s1600/IMG_20130803_074921.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><font color="#000000"></font></a><a data-blogger-escaped-style="clear: right; display: inline !important; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-seN_2tTSUgE/UgJ7VAyMlqI/AAAAAAAAAts/KCg5r8ZX_oM/s1600/0.jpeg" imageanchor="1"><font color="#000000"></font></a>I would like to share some experiences I had that helped me recognize what helps me and my family stay afloat among the busyness of life.&nbsp;<font face="Times, serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">On one particular occasion, both Abe and our oldest son were away on a camp out while Tyson was at a day camp.</font></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"><br></font><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">It was a special day because it was the opening night for Jordan and Mariah’s very first play with speaking parts.&nbsp; They were ecstatic!&nbsp; Every half hour, Jordan raced into the kitchen, checked the clock, and claimed it was time to leave.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">When it was finally time for our big departure, my heart sank.&nbsp; Where were my keys?&nbsp; As we searched frantically, our dishwasher started leaking!!&nbsp; I stopped the water and&nbsp;<b>felt grateful to God that we were still home looking for the keys when the leak started</b>… but we still didn’t have the keys and needed a solution.&nbsp; I determined that our only option was to ride our bikes to the theater 4 miles away. But mid-call to the director to inform him of our troubles, I found the keys!<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Mariah shouted, “I said a prayer!”&nbsp; Jordan chimed in, “I did too!!”&nbsp;&nbsp;</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"><b><font size="5">We knew God’s hand guided us!</font>&nbsp;</b>&nbsp;Jordan offered a heartfelt prayer of gratitude.&nbsp; I dropped off Jordan and Mariah at the theater and raced to pick up Tyson to watch the show.<b><o:p></o:p></b></font></p></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5j3ozEMoGJE/UgJ7ONyizyI/AAAAAAAAAtY/bGWNyic4dew/s1600/DSC06881.JPG" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5j3ozEMoGJE/UgJ7ONyizyI/AAAAAAAAAtY/bGWNyic4dew/s1600/DSC06881.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><font color="#000000"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5j3ozEMoGJE/UgJ7ONyizyI/AAAAAAAAAtY/bGWNyic4dew/s1600/DSC06881.JPG" height="301" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-5j3ozEMoGJE%2FUgJ7ONyizyI%2FAAAAAAAAAtY%2FbGWNyic4dew%2Fs1600%2FDSC06881.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="320" style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Upon returning, I saw a mother carrying a bouquet of flowers. &nbsp;I prayed to my Heavenly Father, thanking him for helping us find the keys and telling Him how sad I was that I didn’t have flowers for this special day.&nbsp; Mariah would have loved flowers! &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Once the play started, baby Jayden lasted only 5 minutes before I had to take him out for a few minutes.&nbsp; Thankfully, Mariah and Jordan wouldn’t perform until the second act.&nbsp; I prayed hard for Jayden to sit quietly and long enough for me to watch Mariah and Jordan's small parts of the play.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Jayden and I returned to the theater, the second act started, and baby Jayden was watching happily.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="mso-layout-grid-align: none; mso-pagination: none; text-align: center; text-autospace: none;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="Times, serif">Jordan hopped on stage as a fantastic, angry, flying monkey.&nbsp;</font><font face="Times, serif">&nbsp;</font><font face="Times, serif">A moment or two later, Mariah marched on stage singing “Hi Ho” as the most adorable little dwarf.&nbsp;</font><font face="Times, serif">&nbsp;</font><font face="Times, serif">&nbsp;&nbsp;</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Baby Jayden was still silent!!<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Mariah performed beautifully and “Hi-Ho-ed” her way off the stage.&nbsp; Right at that moment, baby Jayden yelled at the top of his lungs, "Yaaaaay!!! &nbsp;Ya Ya [Mariah]!!!"&nbsp; I rushed Jayden out as he continued his shout-outs to his sister.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="Times, serif">Amazing!&nbsp; Baby Jayden kept quiet just long enough for Jordan and Mariah to finish their parts—and not a second longer.&nbsp;&nbsp;</font><b style="font-family: Times, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Times, serif;">Both his silence and then his cheers bursting from his soul were a miracle to me.</b></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vorWelUOPTY/UgJ7OYVAR9I/AAAAAAAAAtQ/Yyy97bhYdxA/s1600/IMG_20130802_203335.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vorWelUOPTY/UgJ7OYVAR9I/AAAAAAAAAtQ/Yyy97bhYdxA/s1600/IMG_20130802_203335.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><font color="#000000"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vorWelUOPTY/UgJ7OYVAR9I/AAAAAAAAAtQ/Yyy97bhYdxA/s1600/IMG_20130802_203335.jpg" height="320" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-vorWelUOPTY%2FUgJ7OYVAR9I%2FAAAAAAAAAtQ%2FYyy97bhYdxA%2Fs1600%2FIMG_20130802_203335.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="205" style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">As I watched my children mingle with the audience after the show, another mother approached me holding a rose from her daughter’s bouquet. &nbsp;She wanted to give it to Mariah.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">My heart leaped with joy for Mariah.&nbsp; How could this woman have known?&nbsp; I had to tell her about my prayer.&nbsp; We cried and embraced.&nbsp;<b>We were mere acquaintances, and yet our souls connected because of the miracle we shared.&nbsp;&nbsp;</b>This mother then found Jordan and gave him a rose as well.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"><br></font></p></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="mso-layout-grid-align: none; mso-pagination: none; text-align: center; text-autospace: none;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-no-proof: yes;"></font><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"><o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">My day was not easy, but my heart was full.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana;">What was my secret for staying afloat? &nbsp;</font><b>God was a part of my day!&nbsp;</b></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font size="5"><b>That morning</b>&nbsp;</font><b><font size="5">I started the day off with scripture study and prayer and decided to watch for God’s miracles to unfold.</font></b></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana;">On the days I claim I’m too busy to read, I wander aimlessly, struggling with anxiety and stress.&nbsp;&nbsp;</font><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Adobe Arabic&quot;;">Those days feel as if I’m swimming in a pool with jeans on! &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tgXp-liB8ro/UgJ7NFjtIDI/AAAAAAAAAtA/0LmHNJmxkwc/s1600/DSC06878.JPG" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tgXp-liB8ro/UgJ7NFjtIDI/AAAAAAAAAtA/0LmHNJmxkwc/s1600/DSC06878.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><font color="#000000"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tgXp-liB8ro/UgJ7NFjtIDI/AAAAAAAAAtA/0LmHNJmxkwc/s1600/DSC06878.JPG" height="272" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-tgXp-liB8ro%2FUgJ7NFjtIDI%2FAAAAAAAAAtA%2F0LmHNJmxkwc%2Fs1600%2FDSC06878.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="320" style="cursor: move;"></font></a><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Adobe Arabic&quot;;">Sure, I can swim with jeans on, but I'm way more effective when I take the time to properly prepare for my swim. &nbsp;Putting on the swimsuit takes a little extra time, but it's so worth it once I’m in the water</font><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana;">.&nbsp; My preparation is so worth it once I’m in the middle of the day and needing heaven’s help and guidance.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana;"><strong>I love my scripture study. It opens the door to heaven’s help for a greater marriage, too.</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></p></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="mso-layout-grid-align: none; mso-pagination: none; text-align: center; text-autospace: none;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-no-proof: yes;"></font><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana;"><o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="Times, serif">I have the original recording from Abe’s proposal, from before Jericho Road ever came to be.&nbsp; His theme, “Accept Me As I Am,” has been the source for healing, joy, and God’s miracles for the past twelve years.&nbsp; I look forward to sharing this recording and a small piece of our lives with you next week.</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="Times, serif">I know God is working miracles in your lives too. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts!&nbsp;</font><font face="Wingdings">J</font><font face="Times, serif">&nbsp; Please share!</font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;">Rachel continues her Mighy Miracles series with <a href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913" _mce_href="../../../Many-Mighty-Miracles-Am-Rachel-Mills/s/913">Part II: As I Am</a></p></div></div><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8HEKXFSCb8M/UgJ7MJa8YKI/AAAAAAAAAsw/sonX6K72l1I/s1600/DSC06822.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8HEKXFSCb8M/UgJ7MJa8YKI/AAAAAAAAAsw/sonX6K72l1I/s1600/DSC06822.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><font color="#000000"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8HEKXFSCb8M/UgJ7MJa8YKI/AAAAAAAAAsw/sonX6K72l1I/s1600/DSC06822.JPG" height="300" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-8HEKXFSCb8M%2FUgJ7MJa8YKI%2FAAAAAAAAAsw%2FsonX6K72l1I%2Fs1600%2FDSC06822.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="400" style="cursor: move;"></font></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana; mso-no-proof: yes;"></font><font data-blogger-escaped-style="color: #262626; font-family: &quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Verdana;"><o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">&nbsp;</font><font face="Arial, sans-serif" style="line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;">&nbsp;</font></p></div><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" style="line-height: 15pt;" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VjKt-xNGjEM/UgJ-Q5kP4mI/AAAAAAAAAt8/54xwcHDCziY/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" height="200" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-VjKt-xNGjEM%2FUgJ-Q5kP4mI%2FAAAAAAAAAt8%2F54xwcHDCziY%2Fs1600%2FDSC02444.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="160" style="cursor: move;"></a></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font face="Arial, sans-serif" style="line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;" _mce_style="line-height: 15pt; text-align: center;"></font></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">Rachel Mills has a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Less than a year after returning from her mission to Cochabamba, Bolivia, Rachel married a nearly perfect man-the man of her dreams... Abe Mills. &nbsp;Rachel graduated from BYU with a broadcasting degree and worked in Dallas, TX as a sports news reporter for ABC, but she uses her education to home-school her 6 fantastic children ages 11 years to 11 months old. Rachel blogs at&nbsp;</font><a href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/"><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background: white; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none; text-underline: none;">abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com</font></a><font data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">.</font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" _mce_style="color: #000000;"><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font face="inherit">Every week</font></span></i><i _mce_style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 20px;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><font face="inherit">&nbsp;through the month of August, Rachel shared her findings &nbsp;of mighty miracles in her life on TOFW.com. Make sure not to miss the next week's post!</font></span></i></span></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"></div> Conversion and Its Challenges http://www.tofw.com/Conversion-Its-Challenges-Marie-Farrell/s/891 http://www.tofw.com/Conversion-Its-Challenges-Marie-Farrell/s/891 Thu, 25 Jul 2013 16:38:00 -0600 <div> by Marie Farrell <br /> </div> <p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XxwexFltAdU/UfGqQtPyE3I/AAAAAAAAAl4/29nNcZhJCek/s1600/n641269663_278939_2251.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XxwexFltAdU/UfGqQtPyE3I/AAAAAAAAAl4/29nNcZhJCek/s1600/n641269663_278939_2251.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center; display: inline !important;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center; display: inline !important;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XxwexFltAdU/UfGqQtPyE3I/AAAAAAAAAl4/29nNcZhJCek/s1600/n641269663_278939_2251.jpg" height="212" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-XxwexFltAdU%2FUfGqQtPyE3I%2FAAAAAAAAAl4%2F29nNcZhJCek%2Fs1600%2Fn641269663_278939_2251.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="640" style="cursor: move; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;">Living in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, I have experienced the biggest challenges I have ever had to face.&nbsp;<font size="5">I was baptized into the Church at age thirty—twenty-one days after beginning a search for a church for the first time ever!</font></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></font></p></div><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jEITkqlzuuw/UfGqPzSJkOI/AAAAAAAAAl0/8YnekePWbHs/s1600/IMG_0055.jpeg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jEITkqlzuuw/UfGqPzSJkOI/AAAAAAAAAl0/8YnekePWbHs/s1600/IMG_0055.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jEITkqlzuuw/UfGqPzSJkOI/AAAAAAAAAl0/8YnekePWbHs/s1600/IMG_0055.jpeg" height="240" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-jEITkqlzuuw%2FUfGqPzSJkOI%2FAAAAAAAAAl0%2F8YnekePWbHs%2Fs1600%2FIMG_0055.jpeg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="320" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">I knew there were many churches along Cameron Road, but it was the sign that said “Jesus Christ,” written on a plate on the side of the wall of this church that caught my attention. I took a sharp right turn and drove into the parking lot of the Tauranga Stake Centre on general conference weekend in October 2010. I will never forget Thomas S. Monson’s talk on gratitude at my first church meeting.</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">It really touched my heart, and I felt that he was our living prophet. The missionaries came to my home that evening and started to prepare me for my baptism and then to prepare me to enter the Lord’s house.</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">My small nonmember family is from England.</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">&nbsp; So, as I was so&nbsp;</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">far from home, and down on my luck, I needed somewhere to stay,<font size="5">&nbsp;it was my new ward family that I turned to for help.&nbsp;</font>The bishop’s family and then the women’s Relief Society president took me into their homes while I got on my feet. Keeping my baptismal covenants gave me direction and strength through this turbulent time, and&nbsp;<font size="5">I felt the comfort and guidance that comes from having the Holy Ghost</font>&nbsp;and the support and love from the members in your life. Through attending the temple, I found peace and happiness&nbsp;among&nbsp;my challenges.</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cQGrrnKfJIk/UfGqQGH7MzI/AAAAAAAAAls/jWGdmoWyWj0/s1600/IMG_1376.jpeg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cQGrrnKfJIk/UfGqQGH7MzI/AAAAAAAAAls/jWGdmoWyWj0/s1600/IMG_1376.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cQGrrnKfJIk/UfGqQGH7MzI/AAAAAAAAAls/jWGdmoWyWj0/s1600/IMG_1376.jpeg" height="240" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-cQGrrnKfJIk%2FUfGqQGH7MzI%2FAAAAAAAAAls%2FjWGdmoWyWj0%2Fs1600%2FIMG_1376.jpeg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="320" style="cursor: move;"></a><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">In a new home, flatting with nonmembers, I began to run into problems. Once again I experienced contention in my living environment and was mocked for my beliefs.</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">&nbsp;I needed a change.&nbsp;</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">I now live next door to our ward chapel and enjoy being neighbors with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all of those who attend on Sunday.</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">At general conference in April 2011, when President Thomas S. Monson encouraged us to make a goal to go to the temple, I listened to his counsel with a greater determination to achieve this goal.</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">Having a living prophet on earth to guide Heavenly Father’s children is everything to me.&nbsp;</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">I feel the love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us as I have followed the prophet.</font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><font size="6">Attending the temple and feeling closer to my Savior have helped me face many personal challenges with a&nbsp;new found&nbsp;courage.</font></font><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><font size="6">&nbsp; &nbsp;</font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><font size="5">&nbsp;&nbsp;</font>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;">I have learned to run my own business, which is a challenge I&nbsp;wasn't&nbsp;confident I could achieve, and I have also returned to study to improve my skills. My calling in Young Women, attending Church programs such as institute to develop my understanding of gospel principles, and&nbsp;<font size="5">surrounding myself with people who live by the same standards makes me feel as though I am a part of a much bigger family.</font>&nbsp;I have found the closest friendships I have ever known because my friends love Jesus Christ, too. I met my closest friend in the temple, and we know it was the Lord who put us together at a time in our lives when we needed each other. I am looking forward to what the future holds, and I feel so blessed to have made covenants with the Lord and to have prayer, scriptures, sisterhood, priesthood, temples, callings and general conference in my life.</font></p><div><font style="text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></font></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="text-indent: .5in;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><o:p></o:p></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"></div> We Are All Destined for Success, Even If We Have Extra Help Along the Way http://www.tofw.com/We-All-Destined-Success-Even-We-Have-Extra-Help-Along-Way-Melanie-Riwai-Couch/s/886 http://www.tofw.com/We-All-Destined-Success-Even-We-Have-Extra-Help-Along-Way-Melanie-Riwai-Couch/s/886 Thu, 18 Jul 2013 12:19:00 -0600 <div> by Melanie Riwai-Couch <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: left;">As we get ready to join our women DOWN UNDER, we would like to introduce to you one of our favorite women in New Zealand, Melanie! We are excited to visit her in a few days! Make sure to follow our trip to Australia and New Zealand on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/TimeOutForWomen?ref=hl" _mce_href="https://www.facebook.com/TimeOutForWomen?ref=hl">Facebook</a>!</p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zniUfLJPAmw/UecIx0u6SUI/AAAAAAAAAjQ/v3fTEytVimw/s1600/Kura6+(1).jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zniUfLJPAmw/UecIx0u6SUI/AAAAAAAAAjQ/v3fTEytVimw/s1600/Kura6+(1).jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zniUfLJPAmw/UecIx0u6SUI/AAAAAAAAAjQ/v3fTEytVimw/s1600/Kura6+(1).jpg" height="420" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-zniUfLJPAmw%2FUecIx0u6SUI%2FAAAAAAAAAjQ%2Fv3fTEytVimw%2Fs1600%2FKura6%2B(1).jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="640" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif"><font size="6">I never felt particularly clever at school,</font></font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;and when I left at the age of fifteen, the future did not look bright. I applied for many jobs without success. I prayed about what I should do and eventually applied to university to be a teacher. Despite not having the desired prerequisites</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">,&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">I was somehow accepted into a very competitive course.<font size="3"><o:p></o:p></font></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><font face="Times New Roman, serif" size="3">No one in my family had ever attended university, and&nbsp;</font><font face="Times New Roman, serif">I found tertiary study very, very challenging.&nbsp;</font><font face="Times New Roman, serif" size="3">Completing assignments often took me much longer than they took my fellow classmates, and I would seek help from anyone who was willing to listen. I had to work to pay my way through my studies and was often exhausted. It&nbsp;</font><font face="Times New Roman, serif">wasn't</font><font face="Times New Roman, serif" size="3">&nbsp;until the final year of my undergraduate degree that I began to feel as if I might actually be good enough to be a school<a href="https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=663942446230429546" _mce_href="https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=663942446230429546" name="Editing" class="mceItemAnchor"></a>teacher.<o:p></o:p></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">When I began classroom teaching, I found that my own experience as a student helped me to relate well to students who found learning difficult or who came from challenging backgrounds. As a Māori (indigenous person from New Zealand) wom</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">an,&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">I found it concerning that many of the students who struggled were also of Māori descent.&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">Working to support these students became my passion, and I decided that I needed to learn more about how to do this better.<font size="3"><o:p></o:p></font></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444" face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">I started a master’s degree program in education almost straightaway and soon won a lectureship in training schoolteachers. Through this I was able to increase my circle of influence to help highlight the needs of Māori students in New Zealand education. This opened up many opportunities, including being appointed as a senior adviser to the New Zealand Ministry of Education.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;"><b>Eighteen years after I started teaching, I am now in my final year of an Education Ph.D.</b>&nbsp;I have returned to teaching and am based in a school where four of my five children attend. I am grateful to be able to be close to them while also contributing to the quality of their education. My research involves helping students to improve their English literacy, particularly indigenous Māori students who have English as a second language. Their success over the past two years has resulted in their participation in three national and international conferences.&nbsp;</font></font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(68, 68, 68);" _mce_style="color: #444444;">This year I took a group of fifteen students to Australia to present about their success</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(68, 68, 68);" _mce_style="color: #444444;">&nbsp;(s</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(68, 68, 68); font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="color: #444444; font-size: 12pt;">ee this article on Mormon Newsroom&nbsp;</font><a href="http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormons-around-world-country-newsroom-websites-11-july" _mce_href="http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormons-around-world-country-newsroom-websites-11-july"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormons-around-world-country-newsroom-websites-11-july</font></a><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(68, 68, 68); font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="color: #444444; font-size: 12pt;">).</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(68, 68, 68); font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="color: #444444; font-size: 12pt;"><br></font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(68, 68, 68); font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="color: #444444; font-size: 12pt;">I often reflect on the journey that I have traveled in education and the many people who helped me along the way. Now I make it my mission to help others in return, to pay forward the kindness that was shown to me, often by strangers, who took time to support me when so many of the odds were stacked against my own achievement.</font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(68, 68, 68);" _mce_style="color: #444444;"><font size="6"><br></font></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: center;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(180, 95, 6);" _mce_style="color: #b45f06;"><font size="6">I believe that we are all destined for success and that sometimes we need a little bit of extra help along the way.</font></font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="color: rgb(180, 95, 6); font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="color: #b45f06; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;"><br></font></font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">How blessed we are to be part of a plan in which we are able to grow and magnify the talents we have been blessed with as well as to be both receivers of assistance and givers of help so tha</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">t</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">&nbsp;<b>we might all reach and achieve higher than we ever thought possible.</b><font size="6"><o:p></o:p></font></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#444444"><i><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">Picture attached: The group of students from my research I took to Australia this month to present at a literacy conference (I’m at centre back row)</font></i></font></p></div></div></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><div class="MsoNormal"><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"></div></div></div> Forever Freedom http://www.tofw.com/Forever-Freedom-Samantha-Hiller/s/878 http://www.tofw.com/Forever-Freedom-Samantha-Hiller/s/878 Tue, 02 Jul 2013 15:02:00 -0600 <div> by Samantha Hiller <br /> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <div class="MsoNormal"><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;">My name is Samantha Hiller and I have been a member of the Churc<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" _mce_style="color: #000000;">h of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints my entire life. I met my husband Chris, who was not LDS, in 1999.&nbsp; We met in Pennsylvania just as he was getting ready to be stationed at Fort Bragg,which is in North Carolina. We dated for a couple years and we were married in June of 2001.&nbsp;</span></font></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></font></p><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><img border="0" height="260" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ce5mLyMF5RQ/UdM4zPOui-I/AAAAAAAAAeo/tBasBR-r6M8/s400/menchris.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ce5mLyMF5RQ/UdM4zPOui-I/AAAAAAAAAeo/tBasBR-r6M8/s400/menchris.jpg" width="400" style="float: right;" _mce_style="float: right;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 24pt; font-family: inherit; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" _mce_style="font-size: 24pt; font-family: inherit; color: #000000;">Thus I began my life as an army wife!&nbsp;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><span style="font-size: 24pt; font-family: inherit; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" _mce_style="font-size: 24pt; font-family: inherit; color: #000000;"></span><font _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;" style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 10pt;"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" _mce_style="color: #000000;">Since that wonderfu</span>l day in June we have gone through many adventures together. Some of my most precious memories are from the times when&nbsp;</font><font _mce_style="font-size: 18pt;" style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 18pt;">we adopted our three wonderful boys from Guatemala</font><font _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;" style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 10pt;">.</font></p></font></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jkb5UPJGjDo/UdMpn8rbLoI/AAAAAAAAAdw/ZjrTgvrkqhc/s640/New+Image.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jkb5UPJGjDo/UdMpn8rbLoI/AAAAAAAAAdw/ZjrTgvrkqhc/s640/New+Image.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jkb5UPJGjDo/UdMpn8rbLoI/AAAAAAAAAdw/ZjrTgvrkqhc/s320/New+Image.JPG" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jkb5UPJGjDo/UdMpn8rbLoI/AAAAAAAAAdw/ZjrTgvrkqhc/s320/New+Image.JPG" width="320" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font face="inherit"><font size="2">In 2007, Chris decided to be baptized and three years later, we were married and sealed for time and eternity in the Washington DC Temple to each other and our boys. I am so grateful for the knowledge that we will be together as a family for all eternity. It has helped me in my everyday life as an army wife and especially when my husband is deployed.&nbsp;</font><font size="5">It was especially comforting the day I learned my husband had been injured while in Afghanistan.<o:p></o:p></font></font></font></p></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ejTFVMJBRFI/UdMqI8E6TVI/AAAAAAAAAeA/BzZKFKc2AA0/s1600/chris+in+uniform.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ejTFVMJBRFI/UdMqI8E6TVI/AAAAAAAAAeA/BzZKFKc2AA0/s1600/chris+in+uniform.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ejTFVMJBRFI/UdMqI8E6TVI/AAAAAAAAAeA/BzZKFKc2AA0/s400/chris+in+uniform.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ejTFVMJBRFI/UdMqI8E6TVI/AAAAAAAAAeA/BzZKFKc2AA0/s400/chris+in+uniform.jpg" width="238" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font face="inherit"></font></font></font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></font></p><div class="MsoNormal"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></div><div class="MsoNormal"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></div><div class="MsoNormal"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;">I was at home getting the boys ready for school when the phone rang. The caller ID displayed Chris's number, so I knew it was him, but I felt something was odd because he NEVER called in the morning when he was working. When I answered the phone and heard his voice and I immediately knew there was something wrong. Chris said, "Well it looks like I am coming home early."&nbsp;</font></font></div><div class="MsoNormal"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></font></div><p><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt; color: #000000;">"Why?!" I said.&nbsp;</span></font></p><p><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt; color: #000000;"><br></span></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font size="2">"I broke my leg and I should tell you how." I wasn't sure I really wanted to k</font>now, but he proceeded to say,&nbsp;"I got shot."</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;">Right then and there I lost it. Chris tried to tell me that he was okay but I wasn't sure I could to believe him. When I got off the phone, I immediately called my mom and she drove down from Pennsylvania to help me explain the situation to my sons.&nbsp; We all said a prayer asking Heavenly Father to look after Daddy and make him okay and to bring him home to us soon.<o:p></o:p></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font face="inherit" size="6">Eight days passed before he finally came home -</font><font face="inherit" size="2">&nbsp; but during that time, my faith and the comfort of the spirit helped me know that everything would be ok</font><font face="inherit">ay. &nbsp;</font><font face="inherit">Thought it&nbsp;</font>isn't<font face="inherit">&nbsp;easy when Chris is away, I feel freedom from worry when I remember that my husband is safe and in good hands (the Lord’s hands).&nbsp;</font><font face="inherit">I kno</font><font face="inherit" size="2">w that the Lord is watching over him and us to help keep us safe while we are apart.<o:p></o:p></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ci0Z8Zd5S54/UdMqWDi11TI/AAAAAAAAAeI/CQmiciysGhk/s803/Familyphoto.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ci0Z8Zd5S54/UdMqWDi11TI/AAAAAAAAAeI/CQmiciysGhk/s803/Familyphoto.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ci0Z8Zd5S54/UdMqWDi11TI/AAAAAAAAAeI/CQmiciysGhk/s320/Familyphoto.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ci0Z8Zd5S54/UdMqWDi11TI/AAAAAAAAAeI/CQmiciysGhk/s320/Familyphoto.jpg" width="244" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;">Still today, I wake up every morning feeling truly blessed to know, that because of the Savior’s love and sacrifice for us, I can have the freedom to learn the gospel, to be with my family forever and help others to have the comfort and knowledge that I have.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></font></p></div><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"><font size="6" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">My life has been blessed in so many ways because of the Holy Ghost prompting me to do what is right.&nbsp;</font><font size="2" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">Without it I know I would not be able to deal with all that life throws at me and my family as my husband serves in the military.&nbsp;</font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"></div></div><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"> </font></div><font style="font-size: 10pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 10pt;"> <div class="MsoPlainText"> <o:p></o:p></div></font> A New Day: Tornadoes and Triumphs Part IV http://www.tofw.com/New-Day-Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-IV-Rachel-Penke/s/875 http://www.tofw.com/New-Day-Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-IV-Rachel-Penke/s/875 Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:32:00 -0600 <div> </div> <p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-v3b4Frs4DCc/Ucy85LOS-CI/AAAAAAAAAcY/5fGln7B4Ips/s506/133401960.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-v3b4Frs4DCc/Ucy85LOS-CI/AAAAAAAAAcY/5fGln7B4Ips/s506/133401960.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="428" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-v3b4Frs4DCc/Ucy85LOS-CI/AAAAAAAAAcY/5fGln7B4Ips/s640/133401960.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-v3b4Frs4DCc/Ucy85LOS-CI/AAAAAAAAAcY/5fGln7B4Ips/s640/133401960.jpg" width="640" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">This morning I awoke thinking just how grateful I am for all that I have in my life and all that I've been through these past weeks. Many hundreds of people affected by the tornadoes are still displaced in hotels, temporary apartments, extended families, and even temporary shelters while their homes are rebuilt. What a very difficult thing to endure- especially knowing though your house will be rebuilt but your belongings are gone.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><p class="separator" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></p><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vyyDkpyf-lw/Ucy5UCMtwoI/AAAAAAAAAcI/lL-S06AI7Q4/s960/942840_166966883476585_1030380554_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vyyDkpyf-lw/Ucy5UCMtwoI/AAAAAAAAAcI/lL-S06AI7Q4/s960/942840_166966883476585_1030380554_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vyyDkpyf-lw/Ucy5UCMtwoI/AAAAAAAAAcI/lL-S06AI7Q4/s320/942840_166966883476585_1030380554_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vyyDkpyf-lw/Ucy5UCMtwoI/AAAAAAAAAcI/lL-S06AI7Q4/s320/942840_166966883476585_1030380554_n.jpg" width="289" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a><font face="&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">It’s a key reminder to me, and I'm sure everyone, that we take nothing with us from this life.&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">Whether it’s tomorrow or 50 years from now, ALL possessions of mine will be taken, even my house, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Physical death will take it all.&nbsp;</font><font face="&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">I wonder if this is the same thought the thousands had in Oklahoma as they took cover, watching fearfully as the tornado came for them.&nbsp; Maybe they were feeling like, "there is nothing I can do to stop it!" It’s a good reminder that we will leave this life with only our memories, our knowledge, our experiences,&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">and our families.&nbsp;</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FCXZJA77vP8/Ucy5Ktq8fxI/AAAAAAAAAcA/kolmEWU5Rc8/s640/IMAG1242.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FCXZJA77vP8/Ucy5Ktq8fxI/AAAAAAAAAcA/kolmEWU5Rc8/s640/IMAG1242.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FCXZJA77vP8/Ucy5Ktq8fxI/AAAAAAAAAcA/kolmEWU5Rc8/s200/IMAG1242.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FCXZJA77vP8/Ucy5Ktq8fxI/AAAAAAAAAcA/kolmEWU5Rc8/s200/IMAG1242.jpg" width="150" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a><font face="&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">From the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tofw.com/Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857" _mce_href="../../../Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857">beginning of my journey</a>&nbsp;you might remember that the music festival I was planning was called off (and my investment protected) because I listened to the Holy Ghost. I did not know what I would do for work once I canceled my plans. But Heavenly Father had a plan already in place. I just needed to listen to the promptings for further guidance. A month after I canceled the festival, I was sitting in my apartment unemployed, with no leads in sight. I remember that it was 10:31 in the morning and I just sat there praying. And a very loud internal voice told me to call a specific company and ask if they were hiring a specific position, and that I needed to call immediately!<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><font face="Times New Roman, serif">I trusted, made the call, and low and behold, got an interview, and landed the job in less than 5 hours! It was a miracle that I&nbsp;couldn't&nbsp;have known about if not for the power of the Holy Ghost. I was saved yet again! I love my new job, and&nbsp;couldn't&nbsp;be happier that I had to walk through a trial of my faith to get here.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3fUKBR7tCNA/Ucy5ILsHX0I/AAAAAAAAAb4/XDKZEqwnjIc/s960/971717_164956847010922_2097877773_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3fUKBR7tCNA/Ucy5ILsHX0I/AAAAAAAAAb4/XDKZEqwnjIc/s960/971717_164956847010922_2097877773_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3fUKBR7tCNA/Ucy5ILsHX0I/AAAAAAAAAb4/XDKZEqwnjIc/s320/971717_164956847010922_2097877773_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3fUKBR7tCNA/Ucy5ILsHX0I/AAAAAAAAAb4/XDKZEqwnjIc/s320/971717_164956847010922_2097877773_n.jpg" width="320" _mce_style="cursor: move;" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">If you are out there like I was, struggling, having a difficult time picking up the pieces of whatever storms have broken your earthly plans, I know that Heavenly Father already sees the outcome, and if we pray and listen to the Holy Ghost, our moment and answer will come. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan of happiness for us all. Most importantly, I know that the Savior is mindful of our despair and is holding our hands through our trials.<o:p></o:p></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><font face="&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"><br></font></p></div><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></p><div class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;"><div class="MsoNormal"><div data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s1600/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s1600/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-blogger-escaped-_mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s200/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" height="180" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s200/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" width="200" style="cursor: move; border: 0px;"></a></p><div><div class="MsoNormal"><div data-blogger-escaped-style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><span data-blogger-escaped-style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);"><font face="inherit"><i>Rachel Penke is a happily-single, funny, creative, inventive, temple-going,&nbsp;die-hard&nbsp;entrepreneur living in Oklahoma City, OK. &nbsp;Most importantly, she's a dreamer who has&nbsp;remembered almost every dream she's had since she was two years old. &nbsp;It was a dream in 1999 that led her to find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and convert shortly thereafter. Feel free to follow Rachel's blog&nbsp;<a data-blogger-escaped-_mce_href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/" data-blogger-escaped-style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;" data-blogger-escaped-target="_blank" href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/">here</a>.</i></font></span></p></div><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><span data-blogger-escaped-style="box-sizing: border-box;" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);"><font face="inherit"><i>During the month of June, Rachel will share her &nbsp;spiritual journey on TOFW.com as she rebuilds her life and community after the devastation caused by the May 2013 tornadoes.&nbsp;</i></font></span></p><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><span data-blogger-escaped-style="box-sizing: border-box;"><br data-blogger-escaped-style="box-sizing: border-box;"></span></p><div class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="box-sizing: border-box;"><p _mce_style="margin: 0px;" style="margin: 0px;"><font data-blogger-escaped-_mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;" data-blogger-escaped-style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #808c93; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;" face="inherit" size="2">The content of websites outside TOFW.com are the sole property of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Time Out for Women.</font></p></div></div></div></div> On this Roadtrip Called Life: Late Starts and Unexpected Delays http://www.tofw.com/Roadtrip-Called-Life-Late-Starts-Unexpected-Delays-Stephanie-Sorensen/s/869 http://www.tofw.com/Roadtrip-Called-Life-Late-Starts-Unexpected-Delays-Stephanie-Sorensen/s/869 Tue, 25 Jun 2013 15:00:00 -0600 <div> by Stephanie Sorensen <br /> </div> <p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-c_XXeI1QfBk/UciiJLmJ2mI/AAAAAAAAAW0/_fTaChZJeQo/s1600/Car.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-c_XXeI1QfBk/UciiJLmJ2mI/AAAAAAAAAW0/_fTaChZJeQo/s1600/Car.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-c_XXeI1QfBk/UciiJLmJ2mI/AAAAAAAAAW0/_fTaChZJeQo/s1600/Car.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-c_XXeI1QfBk/UciiJLmJ2mI/AAAAAAAAAW0/_fTaChZJeQo/s1600/Car.jpg" width="640" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="color: #333333;"><font size="4">Right now I’m sitting in the passenger seat heading down I-80 westbound into the great beyond. Matt and I just traded places so I could be the juggling fast-food distributor and trash picker-upper. While I drove, he manned the labyrinth of DVD cables and power cords and fielded all the questions about how much time is left. (Lots.) In the first five hours of our trip,&nbsp;we've&nbsp;managed to create several pounds of garbage and make four stops. These kinds of journeys are never quite as smooth and idyllic as we dream them up to be, but once we get home and do all the laundry and remove the unidentified items shoved inside the&nbsp;seat belt&nbsp;buckles, we start looking forward to the next adventure.<o:p></o:p></font></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="color: #333333;"><font size="4"><br></font></span></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="color: #333333;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1cSgCT0fnlE/UctZl6IJafI/AAAAAAAAAbY/cRJPWrN_kKQ/s1600/steph.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1cSgCT0fnlE/UctZl6IJafI/AAAAAAAAAbY/cRJPWrN_kKQ/s1600/steph.jpg" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1cSgCT0fnlE/UctZl6IJafI/AAAAAAAAAbY/cRJPWrN_kKQ/s320/steph.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1cSgCT0fnlE/UctZl6IJafI/AAAAAAAAAbY/cRJPWrN_kKQ/s320/steph.jpg" border="0" width="320" height="256" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;">I know it’s cheesy to start in with a “life is a highway” metaphor, but trips like this mimic my own life experience in many ways. When Matt and I met and fell in love, the future&nbsp;seemed brighter and clearer than it had ever seemed before. Although naturally skeptical of children, I began to imagine myself becoming a mother and embarking on a whole new kind of life. We planned, we dreamed, we imagined, and we looked forward to that journey.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;"><br></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;">This morning I was determined to hit the road at 8:00 a.m. At about 9:10, we pulled out of the driveway, and I was already tired. Even after I got over my fear of having children, it still took almost two years before we were learned we were expecting our first child. One of the first lessons I learned on my parenthood journey is this: Try how I might, I can control neither the timing of departure nor delays along the way.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;">During my decade of dating years, I thought I had become pretty good at patience. Dating and falling in love were obviously out of my control, and I carried this quotation on a piece of paper in my purse everywhere I went:<o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;"><br></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;">“Throughout scripture we encounter the need for us to remember that the Lord has His own timetable for unfolding things; it will not always accord with our schedules or our wants. When, in our extremities, we urgently call for a divine response, there may be, instead, a divine delay. This is not because God, at the moment, is inattentive or loves us less than perfectly. Rather, it is because we are being asked, at the moment, to endure more for the welfare of our souls. The blessed meek understand that God loves them even when they may not be able to explain the meaning of what is happening [or not happening] to them or around them.” —Elder Neal A. Maxwell (<i>Meek and Lowly,&nbsp;</i>Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987, page 89).<o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;"><br></span></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; clear: both;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="color: #333333;"><a imageanchor="1" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GgJCZ3jrdgI/UctYYveH2ZI/AAAAAAAAAbI/cJ3DoDUb0KM/s1600/Lords+timetable.gif" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GgJCZ3jrdgI/UctYYveH2ZI/AAAAAAAAAbI/cJ3DoDUb0KM/s1600/Lords+timetable.gif" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GgJCZ3jrdgI/UctYYveH2ZI/AAAAAAAAAbI/cJ3DoDUb0KM/s400/Lords+timetable.gif" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GgJCZ3jrdgI/UctYYveH2ZI/AAAAAAAAAbI/cJ3DoDUb0KM/s400/Lords+timetable.gif" border="0" width="400" height="266" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a></span></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;">Really, I did carry it with me. I put a nice piece of stationery in my printer and printed it out, folded it up, and put it in my planner. I pulled it out often and reread it to remember it’s possible to be frustrated and faithful at the same. That’s probably not what Elder Maxwell really meant, but maybe he did, and it made me feel better. It was okay that I felt impatient because maybe the delays were on purpose and things would probably work out just fine.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;"><br></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;">You can imagine my surprise when I got married, started a family, and&nbsp;<i>still</i>&nbsp;had to refer to that quotation from time to time. I have a heart that loves God, and I think I desire things that are good: an eternal marriage, children, a calling where I can make a difference, the right job offer for my husband, the sale of our house so we can move where we felt prompted to go, the perfect teacher assignment for an anxious child, potty training for a toddler, or relief from sickness. The list goes on.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="font-size: 13.5pt; color: #333333;">But in this road trip called life, we get late starts and unexpected delays. Relief doesn’t always come as quickly as we’d like. The fact that we make this trip as a&nbsp;<i>family</i>&nbsp;will mean that sometimes our best-laid plans go awry, but that’s okay. President Thomas S. Monson has taught us that we should find joy in the journey. I guess that no matter how many restroom stops we have to make or how much clean-up we have to do along the way, the good news is this: The destination isn’t going anywhere. If we’re pointed in the right direction, things look promising. Sometimes we get weary and need to move into the passenger seat to let a good husband drive for a while. Of course—if you’ll let me make one more cheesy music metaphor—sometimes we just have to say, “Jesus, take the wheel.” He knows exactly how to get where we need to go. And he never spills the goldfish crackers.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-indent: 0.5in;"><br></p><div data-blogger-escaped-style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="color: #333333;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uzmqob9TNuw/UcijKkUoB-I/AAAAAAAAAXI/jMuaLQ_Yq4M/s1600/dsc_7095_2.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uzmqob9TNuw/UcijKkUoB-I/AAAAAAAAAXI/jMuaLQ_Yq4M/s1600/dsc_7095_2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uzmqob9TNuw/UcijKkUoB-I/AAAAAAAAAXI/jMuaLQ_Yq4M/s1600/dsc_7095_2.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uzmqob9TNuw/UcijKkUoB-I/AAAAAAAAAXI/jMuaLQ_Yq4M/s1600/dsc_7095_2.jpg" width="131" style="cursor: move;" _mce_style="cursor: move;"></a><font data-blogger-escaped-style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin;">Stephanie Dibb Sorensen is a mother to three children and recently published her first book&nbsp;<a href="http://deseretbook.com/Covenant-Motherhood-Stephanie-Dibb-Sorensen/i/5104107" _mce_href="http://deseretbook.com/Covenant-Motherhood-Stephanie-Dibb-Sorensen/i/5104107"><i>Covenant Motherhood</i></a>. She thinks motherhood is the hardest job in the world; therefore, it must be the most important. Stephanie also teaches as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, teaches regularly at Especially for&nbsp;</font><font style="font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-size: 12pt;">Youth, and blogs at&nbsp;<a href="http://diapersanddivinity.com/" _mce_href="http://diapersanddivinity.com/">Diapers and Divinity</a>. When she’s not busy with her various projects, she loves napping, eating out, reading books, taking long walks, and other activities that make no noise.</font></span></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" _mce_style="color: #333333;"><font face="inherit"><br></font><font face="inherit"><br></font><font style="line-height: 20px;" _mce_style="line-height: 20px;"><font face="inherit" size="2">The content of websites outside TOFW.com are the sole property of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Time Out for Women.</font></font></span></p></div> The Surprising Things I Learned On My Mission http://www.tofw.com/Surprising-Things-Learned-My-Mission-Kathy-Nelson/s/870 http://www.tofw.com/Surprising-Things-Learned-My-Mission-Kathy-Nelson/s/870 Tue, 25 Jun 2013 08:56:00 -0600 <div> by Kathy Nelson <br /> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VVKzL9DJEmA/UcmuHL7wj-I/AAAAAAAAAYA/W7iGxNuFhmo/s1600/DSCF0554.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VVKzL9DJEmA/UcmuHL7wj-I/AAAAAAAAAYA/W7iGxNuFhmo/s1600/DSCF0554.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VVKzL9DJEmA/UcmuHL7wj-I/AAAAAAAAAYA/W7iGxNuFhmo/s1600/DSCF0554.JPG" height="480" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-VVKzL9DJEmA%2FUcmuHL7wj-I%2FAAAAAAAAAYA%2FW7iGxNuFhmo%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0554.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="640" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif"><br></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="Times New Roman, serif"><font size="6">We had prayed for many years to be able to serve a mission.</font>&nbsp;We wanted to go while we still had good health, so my husband retired early from teaching high school. Coincidentally, our daughter and her family had just moved back to Cache Valley after being gone for many years while her husband went to medical school and then served in the Army. It was especially hard to leave our grandchildren when we&nbsp;hadn't&nbsp;been around them for long.</font><font class="msoIns" face="'Times New Roman', serif"><ins data-blogger-escaped-cite="mailto:Kimberly%20Watkins" datetime="2013-06-25T08:47"><o:p></o:p></ins></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="line-height: 200% !msorm; mso-prop-change: &quot;Kimberly Watkins&quot; 20130625T0847; text-indent: .5in;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cb5a6JJIeIM/UcmuEO1GL6I/AAAAAAAAAXg/RZ8fYVw9WW0/s1600/DSCF0580.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cb5a6JJIeIM/UcmuEO1GL6I/AAAAAAAAAXg/RZ8fYVw9WW0/s1600/DSCF0580.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"></a><font face="Times New Roman, serif">When I checked the senior missionary website about serving a mission, it was reassuring to read that we&nbsp;didn't&nbsp;need special skills or a second language.&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6">All we needed was just to love others.&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6">I thought, “I can do that.”</font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6"><br></font></p><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; text-align: center; clear: both;"><a data-blogger-escaped-style="clear: left; display: inline !important; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;" href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-txdX-jHj6VE%2FUcmuErZ1iNI%2FAAAAAAAAAXs%2Fc_GtucIaHoo%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0635.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-txdX-jHj6VE/UcmuErZ1iNI/AAAAAAAAAXs/c_GtucIaHoo/s1600/DSCF0635.JPG" height="300" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-txdX-jHj6VE%2FUcmuErZ1iNI%2FAAAAAAAAAXs%2Fc_GtucIaHoo%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0635.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="400" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font color="#000000"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">We were called to serve in Germany. I&nbsp;didn't&nbsp;know one word of German and was worried at first about learning another language, but we learned through our experiences with the sweet people in Germany that</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6">communicating depends on the language of the Spirit and the language of love.&nbsp;</font></font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif"><br></font></p><div><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">We learned some German to carry on conversations, but I used my smile and hugs to communicate my love for the people much more than any spoken words. We were soon assigned to serve with the Young Single Adults in Berlin, and luckily, most of them knew English, which was a great blessing to us.</font></p></div><div><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif"><br></font></p></div><div><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-JLAWvLSJnwM%2FUcmuEhZRQ9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXo%2Fm8Rw8S_wv38%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0591.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-JLAWvLSJnwM%2FUcmuEhZRQ9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXo%2Fm8Rw8S_wv38%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0591.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" imageanchor="1" style="text-align: center; clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="text-align: center; clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JLAWvLSJnwM/UcmuEhZRQ9I/AAAAAAAAAXo/m8Rw8S_wv38/s1600/DSCF0591.JPG" height="240" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-JLAWvLSJnwM%2FUcmuEhZRQ9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXo%2Fm8Rw8S_wv38%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0591.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="320" style="cursor: move;"></a><font face="'Times New Roman', serif"></font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">I really learned to love the young single adults who&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">attended family home evenings, institute classes, and other events we were involved in. We loved working with them. One of the skills I had acquired as a mother and grandmother was an ability to cook.&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="5">I taught cooking classes, and the young single adults especially loved cinnamon rolls.</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6">&nbsp;</font></p></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="line-height: 200% !msorm; mso-prop-change: &quot;Kimberly Watkins&quot; 20130625T0847; text-indent: .5in;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">It was meaningful to help provide a warm meal once a week; some got only that one warm meal each week. It is wonderful to hear from these young adults now and learn that they are serving missions and getting married in the temple. We still pray daily for those fine young people we love so much.&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6">I am grateful to have met them, served them, and built relationships that are lasting much longer than our mission did.</font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6"><br></font></p></div><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; clear: both;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-txdX-jHj6VE/UcmuErZ1iNI/AAAAAAAAAXs/c_GtucIaHoo/s1600/DSCF0635.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-txdX-jHj6VE/UcmuErZ1iNI/AAAAAAAAAXs/c_GtucIaHoo/s1600/DSCF0635.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"></a></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-cb5a6JJIeIM%2FUcmuEO1GL6I%2FAAAAAAAAAXg%2FRZ8fYVw9WW0%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0580.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-cb5a6JJIeIM%2FUcmuEO1GL6I%2FAAAAAAAAAXg%2FRZ8fYVw9WW0%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0580.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><font color="#000000"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cb5a6JJIeIM/UcmuEO1GL6I/AAAAAAAAAXg/RZ8fYVw9WW0/s1600/DSCF0580.JPG" height="300" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-cb5a6JJIeIM%2FUcmuEO1GL6I%2FAAAAAAAAAXg%2FRZ8fYVw9WW0%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0580.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="400" style="cursor: move;"></font></a><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">As I said before, I was nervous about leaving our family, but we found that we added people to our family. We met a very special couple from Egypt were formerly Muslims, but they had joined the Church. They were friendly and eventually grew very close to us. They worked hard to help the branch they lived in. They looked to us for advice on how to raise a family in the gospel as well as how to deal with the stresses of studying for graduate degrees. We continue to Skype frequently, and they have since come to visit us here in America. They will always be part of our family.<font class="msoIns"><ins data-blogger-escaped-cite="mailto:Kimberly%20Watkins" datetime="2013-06-25T08:47"><o:p></o:p></ins></font></font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" data-blogger-escaped-style="line-height: 200% !msorm; mso-prop-change: &quot;Kimberly Watkins&quot; 20130625T0847; text-indent: .5in;" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">Another young man we met and taught became very important to us and our testimonies of missionary work. We were able to attend his priesthood ordinations and his temple endowment. He is currently serving a mission in England. He emails us and calls us his grandparents. He is so special to us.&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6">I truly cannot imagine my life without having these incredible people in it.&nbsp;</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-oeJrTlMVqYo%2FUcmuFSqrmuI%2FAAAAAAAAAX4%2F9xbtZYTBbT8%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0676.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-oeJrTlMVqYo%2FUcmuFSqrmuI%2FAAAAAAAAAX4%2F9xbtZYTBbT8%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0676.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-oeJrTlMVqYo/UcmuFSqrmuI/AAAAAAAAAX4/9xbtZYTBbT8/s1600/DSCF0676.JPG" height="240" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-oeJrTlMVqYo%2FUcmuFSqrmuI%2FAAAAAAAAAX4%2F9xbtZYTBbT8%2Fs1600%2FDSCF0676.JPG&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="320" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">I am so grateful for the chance I had to serve the Lord on a mission, to meet these people, and eventually to be able to call them family.&nbsp;</font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">Another wonderful experience we&nbsp;hadn't&nbsp;anticipated before going on our mission was working with the sister missionaries. They lived about half a block from us, and we enjoyed having them come to dinner and teaching discussions with them. We were able to care for them as if they were our own granddaughters. It was kind of like being their grandparents away from home, and they appreciated it immensely.</font></p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><p class="separator" style="margin: 0px; clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-8s7nD1tcAtQ%2FUcmuBPXId9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXY%2F28q4ceyHPGo%2Fs1600%2FPicture%2B093.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-8s7nD1tcAtQ%2FUcmuBPXId9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXY%2F28q4ceyHPGo%2Fs1600%2FPicture%2B093.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-orig-src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8s7nD1tcAtQ/UcmuBPXId9I/AAAAAAAAAXY/28q4ceyHPGo/s1600/Picture+093.jpg" height="400" src="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-8s7nD1tcAtQ%2FUcmuBPXId9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXY%2F28q4ceyHPGo%2Fs1600%2FPicture%2B093.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" width="300" style="cursor: move;"></a></p><p style="margin: 0px;" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"><a href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-8s7nD1tcAtQ%2FUcmuBPXId9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXY%2F28q4ceyHPGo%2Fs1600%2FPicture%2B093.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-8s7nD1tcAtQ%2FUcmuBPXId9I%2FAAAAAAAAAXY%2F28q4ceyHPGo%2Fs1600%2FPicture%2B093.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"></a><font face="Times New Roman, serif">The hardest thing about our mission was having to leave the people we loved when it was time to return home. I cried many tears, knowing that we might never see them again. We had developed relationships and shared experiences that meant so much to us that we&nbsp;didn't&nbsp;want to leave. Some of those special people wrote in a little book they gave us: “We’ll see you in the celestial kingdom.” It was comforting to know that we would eventually be with them again, even if it&nbsp;wasn't&nbsp;in this life.</font></p></div><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif">Sometimes we don’t know what influence we have had on our family members back home. Not long after we returned home, our four-year-old grandson said,&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif"><br></font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif"></font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6" _mce_style="text-align: start;">“I am going on a mission,<a href="https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=663942446230429546" _mce_href="https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=663942446230429546" name="Editing" class="mceItemAnchor"></a>&nbsp;because you and Grandpa went on a mission.”&nbsp;</font></p><p style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;" _mce_style="margin: 0px; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; text-align: start;"><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" size="6" _mce_style="text-align: start;"></font><font face="'Times New Roman', serif" _mce_style="text-align: start;"><font size="5">That made all the sacrifices worth it!</font></font><span _mce_style="font-size: x-large; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; text-align: start;" style="font-size: x-large; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">!</span></p></div></div> Spiritual Storms - Part III of Tornadoes and Triumphs http://www.tofw.com/Spiritual-Storms-Part-III-Tornadoes-Triumphs-Rachel-Penke/s/868 http://www.tofw.com/Spiritual-Storms-Part-III-Tornadoes-Triumphs-Rachel-Penke/s/868 Thu, 20 Jun 2013 16:20:00 -0600 <div> </div> <div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"> <em _mce_style="text-align: start;"><strong>Tornados and Triumphs&nbsp;</strong>is a series that tells the story of tragedy, miracles, and rebuilding from the Moore, OK Tornadoes through the eyes of a believing woman like you. Click&nbsp;<a _mce_href="../../../Tornados-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857" href="http://www.tofw.com/Tornados-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857">here to read PART I&nbsp;</a>and <a href="http://www.tofw.com/Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-II-Rachel-Penke/s/862" _mce_href="../../../Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-II-Rachel-Penke/s/862" target="_blank">Part II</a>&nbsp;of Rachel's story!</em></div> <div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;" class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; text-align: center;"> ______________________________________________________</div> <div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;" class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; text-align: center;"> <br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rduxHCcfWUY/UcNHxRcBzWI/AAAAAAAAAWU/yojEI6ebYi8/s1600/601915_164957093677564_1176985307_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rduxHCcfWUY/UcNHxRcBzWI/AAAAAAAAAWU/yojEI6ebYi8/s1600/601915_164957093677564_1176985307_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="402" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rduxHCcfWUY/UcNHxRcBzWI/AAAAAAAAAWU/yojEI6ebYi8/s1600/601915_164957093677564_1176985307_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rduxHCcfWUY/UcNHxRcBzWI/AAAAAAAAAWU/yojEI6ebYi8/s1600/601915_164957093677564_1176985307_n.jpg" width="640"></a></div> Though it’s been almost a month since the first tornado touched down in Oklahoma, it seems like just yesterday that we watched the helicopter camera view pan over the damage from not one, but two tornadoes that hit our state of Oklahoma. I can still feel the pain in my heart, hurting for the thousands affected. <o:p></o:p><br> <br> <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="float: right; text-align: left;" _mce_style="float: right; text-align: left;"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SDUW0Xajj10/UcNHxfIlONI/AAAAAAAAAWQ/xeFe6iiHQNo/s1600/931192_4841846451072_1273960165_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SDUW0Xajj10/UcNHxfIlONI/AAAAAAAAAWQ/xeFe6iiHQNo/s1600/931192_4841846451072_1273960165_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SDUW0Xajj10/UcNHxfIlONI/AAAAAAAAAWQ/xeFe6iiHQNo/s1600/931192_4841846451072_1273960165_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SDUW0Xajj10/UcNHxfIlONI/AAAAAAAAAWQ/xeFe6iiHQNo/s1600/931192_4841846451072_1273960165_n.jpg" width="240"></a></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<span style="color: #b45f06; font-size: xx-small;" _mce_style="color: #b45f06; font-size: xx-small;">72-hour kit, helmet, watching the weather radar </span>&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></td></tr> </tbody></table> Within one week of the major cleanup in south Oklahoma City, another tornado came through; this tornado being labeled as the largest the U.S. had ever seen. It was 2.5 miles wide and an F5 force. <o:p></o:p><br> <br> As the tornado headed for downtown Oklahoma and straight for my office building, we were forced to take shelter in the hallways with people from outside, the businesses, and hotel across the street. I looked around the hall at the 150 people surrounding me and I watched many of them screaming and crying, all seeming to believe this was their end.<o:p></o:p><br> <br> However, I just sat there in silence and at peace. The Holy Ghost whispered to me that all would be fine, and that it was not my time to go. The tornado wrapped itself around the freeway, sadly taking lives of those in cars, but those of us inside were safe, and protected. <o:p></o:p><br> <br> The next day was Saturday and the Mormon helping hands crew was sent out again. We went to the areas of el Reno, where major devastation had swept through many farms. As we began helping one man and his family break down trees and load his demolished house into a dump truck, we noticed one 6x6x8 foot cement structure was standing and unharmed.<o:p></o:p><br> <br> He stated that this was a storm shelter he built himself. He had a gut feeling years ago he should build one. He explained how he created a strong structure and firm foundation for this shelter, which would protect his family from an F5 tornado. First, he dug into the ground placing steel beams encased in cement, six feet deep and reaching eight feet above ground. He then laid the entire area with cinder blocks and filled them with frame polls surrounded by cement. He was right! He built the storm shelter so firm, that it was the only thing left standing in the surrounding the mile area.<o:p></o:p><br> <br> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wc23DsCZczI/UcNHxT3dRfI/AAAAAAAAAWc/HN9zUHb0Yh0/s1600/998767_4935552753671_1964317233_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wc23DsCZczI/UcNHxT3dRfI/AAAAAAAAAWc/HN9zUHb0Yh0/s1600/998767_4935552753671_1964317233_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wc23DsCZczI/UcNHxT3dRfI/AAAAAAAAAWc/HN9zUHb0Yh0/s1600/998767_4935552753671_1964317233_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wc23DsCZczI/UcNHxT3dRfI/AAAAAAAAAWc/HN9zUHb0Yh0/s1600/998767_4935552753671_1964317233_n.jpg" width="400"></a>This made me think of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How many times do the scriptures tell us to “build on a solid foundation"? And how many times have a modern day prophets spoken to us about standing on a “firm foundation” so we may rival life’s trials and storms? We are in the last days, no question, and as it states in Helaman, 5:12, “Satan will send forth … [his] whirlwinds” to tempt us mentally and spiritually, unless we hold to the iron rod and stand in holy places. We must stand firm in our testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.<o:p></o:p><br> <br> I don't think we have seen the last of these storms where I live.&nbsp; Oklahoma has the highest incidents of tornadoes in the country.&nbsp; My advice to those reading this, and even to myself about the physical and spiritual storms of the future: &nbsp;prepare for the worst now and hope for the best. The only thing we will take with us from this world is our testimony, knowledge, and experience. Let our hearts not place priority on the objects and temporary things of this world, but in the truths Jesus Christ taught.&nbsp; That’s where our solid ground exists.&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p><br> <br> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s1600/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s1600/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s200/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" border="0" height="180" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s200/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" style="border: 0px;" _mce_style="border: 0px;" width="200"></a><br> <div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"> <div style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px;" _mce_style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px;"> <i style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><span _mce_style="font-family: inherit;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #808c93; font-family: inherit;">Rachel Penke is a happily-single, funny, creative, inventive, temple-going,&nbsp;die-hard&nbsp;entrepreneur living in Oklahoma City, OK. &nbsp;Most importantly, she's a dreamer who has&nbsp;remembered almost every dream she's had since she was two years old. &nbsp;It was a dream in 1999 that led her to find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and convert shortly thereafter. Feel free to follow Rachel's blog&nbsp;<a _mce_href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/" href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #f1563f; text-decoration: none;" target="_blank">here</a>.</span></i></div> <span _mce_style="font-size: x-small;" style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: #808c93; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: xx-small; line-height: 20px;"></span><br> <div class="MsoNormal" style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;" _mce_style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;" _mce_style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;" _mce_style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;"><i style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><span _mce_style="font-family: inherit;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #808c93; font-family: inherit;">During the month of June, Rachel will share her &nbsp;spiritual journey on TOFW.com as she rebuilds her life and community after the devastation caused by the May 2013 tornadoes.&nbsp;</span></i><br> <i style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"><span _mce_style="font-family: inherit;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #808c93; font-family: inherit;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"></span></i> </div><div class="MsoNormal" style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;" _mce_style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: black; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;"><div class="MsoNormal" style="box-sizing: border-box;" _mce_style="box-sizing: border-box;"> <span _mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #808c93; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">The content of websites outside TOFW.com are the sole property of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Time Out for Women.</span></div> </div> </div> </div> <br> Tornadoes and Triumphs: Part II http://www.tofw.com/Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-II-Rachel-Penke/s/862 http://www.tofw.com/Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-II-Rachel-Penke/s/862 Fri, 14 Jun 2013 11:30:00 -0600 <div> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><em style="text-align: start;" _mce_style="text-align: start;"><strong>Tornados and Triumphs&nbsp;</strong>is a series that tells the story of tragedy, miracles, and rebuilding from the Moore, OK Tornadoes through the eyes of a believing woman like you. Click <a href="../../../Tornados-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857" _mce_href="../../../Tornados-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857">here to get caught up with PART 1 </a>of Rachel's story!</em></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;">______________________________________________________</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iID4I6ghDJ0/UbtOBmuQ7jI/AAAAAAAAAU4/ggi5VDJb2Iw/s1600/Rachel+5.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iID4I6ghDJ0/UbtOBmuQ7jI/AAAAAAAAAU4/ggi5VDJb2Iw/s1600/Rachel+5.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><br><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iID4I6ghDJ0/UbtOBmuQ7jI/AAAAAAAAAU4/ggi5VDJb2Iw/s1600/Rachel+5.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iID4I6ghDJ0/UbtOBmuQ7jI/AAAAAAAAAU4/ggi5VDJb2Iw/s1600/Rachel+5.jpg" height="400" width="301"></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal">Without question I yearned to go and serve those whose homes and businesses were destroyed during the two days of tornadoes in the Midwest. But it was the large tornado that whipped through Moore, Oklahoma, that had our entire state holding our head in our hands, with our hearts broken. Yet at that moment in time a desire to serve and help swept across Oklahoma like a giant blanket being rolled out.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> I have never in my life felt so much unity and love from other people of all faiths and walks of life. A wonderful energy filled the air. I tell you, I could feel and see the prayers of millions of people across the world as we started to serve on day two. Because of destruction and security issues, most roads were closed leading into most tornado-slashed areas.&nbsp;</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> A big concern was feeding all those who were searching their homes for anything salvage<a href="" _mce_href="" name="Editing" class="mceItemAnchor"></a>able and also feeding first responders.<o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H6wXL9OKPI0/UbtNyiEL9_I/AAAAAAAAAUo/AXQc9mObsHQ/s1600/Rachel+2.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H6wXL9OKPI0/UbtNyiEL9_I/AAAAAAAAAUo/AXQc9mObsHQ/s1600/Rachel+2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H6wXL9OKPI0/UbtNyiEL9_I/AAAAAAAAAUo/AXQc9mObsHQ/s1600/Rachel+2.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H6wXL9OKPI0/UbtNyiEL9_I/AAAAAAAAAUo/AXQc9mObsHQ/s1600/Rachel+2.jpg" height="400" width="300"></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> A dear friend of mine organized donations of food and eating utensils at a nearby grocery store and then gathered several Oklahoma-area chefs together to jump on a food truck, head to ground zero, start cooking food, and feeding people.&nbsp;</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> I was lucky enough to be part of that effort, cooking for the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and the military outposts. We were not the only ones. When we arrived at the shut-down store parking lot, there were over 30 other tents or food trucks from local restaurants giving away yummy food.&nbsp;</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> Amidst the devastation were smiles and joy on all the volunteers’ faces. Our hearts too were filled with joy as we assisted in being the Lord’s earthly angels.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal">Then came Sunday and a bit of a surprise. Via text came the announcement: “Regular ward meetings are canceled. All area stakes are to meet at their assigned stake center at 9 a.m. for a short sacrament service. Please come dressed in rugged clothes and comfortable shoes, as we will be dividing up to go serve in the devastated areas."</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> I arrived at church and saw more than 1,000 members stuffed into the building, spilling into hallways, all dressed in yellow. It reminded me of when Brigham Young cut general conference short and sent forth rescuers to help bring in the handcart pioneers still on the plains.<o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ba8OQHgwfFQ/UbtNyJEc9pI/AAAAAAAAAUg/dneWtcO-5RE/s1600/Rachel+1.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ba8OQHgwfFQ/UbtNyJEc9pI/AAAAAAAAAUg/dneWtcO-5RE/s1600/Rachel+1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ba8OQHgwfFQ/UbtNyJEc9pI/AAAAAAAAAUg/dneWtcO-5RE/s1600/Rachel+1.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ba8OQHgwfFQ/UbtNyJEc9pI/AAAAAAAAAUg/dneWtcO-5RE/s1600/Rachel+1.jpg" height="213" width="320"></a>The Church worked with the Red Cross and local fire departments to get all Church members checked in and assigned to needed areas. In north Oklahoma City, the Church had a special mission.&nbsp;</div> <div class="MsoNormal"><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> We were sent to the small towns and communities that had been destroyed but had received no media coverage or military assistance—places that had basically been forgotten.<o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ztEHEl7sIT0/UbtOCcaQBuI/AAAAAAAAAVA/uzA1oMXsAnU/s1600/Rachel+3.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ztEHEl7sIT0/UbtOCcaQBuI/AAAAAAAAAVA/uzA1oMXsAnU/s1600/Rachel+3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ztEHEl7sIT0/UbtOCcaQBuI/AAAAAAAAAVA/uzA1oMXsAnU/s1600/Rachel+3.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ztEHEl7sIT0/UbtOCcaQBuI/AAAAAAAAAVA/uzA1oMXsAnU/s1600/Rachel+3.jpg" height="301" width="400"></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal">As chainsaws sounded, tractors revved, and the smell of sawdust and sweat filled the air, the Mormon Helping Hands went to work! In 7 hours, we cleaned up acreage that would have taken home owners months to do on their own. Truly a miracle!&nbsp;</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> The owners came by at the end of the day offering thanks and gratitude to the Church. One woman’s eyes filled with tears as she said, “This is the best sermon I have ever received from the Mormons. I won’t soon forget it. Thank you.”</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal"><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal">There are many more heartfelt stories like this—and miracles of faith, service, and protection—that I will share with you in part 3.</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_LhGQTuJ4/UbtOj2pxt1I/AAAAAAAAAVM/DTNfoqPVASw/s1600/attachment+(16).jpeg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_LhGQTuJ4/UbtOj2pxt1I/AAAAAAAAAVM/DTNfoqPVASw/s1600/attachment+(16).jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_LhGQTuJ4/UbtOj2pxt1I/AAAAAAAAAVM/DTNfoqPVASw/s1600/attachment+(16).jpeg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_LhGQTuJ4/UbtOj2pxt1I/AAAAAAAAAVM/DTNfoqPVASw/s1600/attachment+(16).jpeg" height="200" width="150"></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <i>Rachel Penke is a happily-single, funny, creative, inventive, temple-going,&nbsp;die-hard&nbsp;entrepreneur living in Oklahoma City, OK. &nbsp;Most importantly, she's a dreamer who has&nbsp;remembered almost every dream she's had since she was two years old. &nbsp;It was a dream in 1999 that led her to find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and convert shortly thereafter. Feel free to follow Rachel's blog&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.</i></div> <div> <i><br></i></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <i><span style="font-size: x-small;" _mce_style="font-size: x-small;">During the month of June, Rachel will share her &nbsp;spiritual journey on TOFW.com as she rebuilds her life and community after the devastation caused by the May 2013 tornadoes.&nbsp;</span></i><br> <i><br></i> <div class="MsoNormal"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: x-small;" _mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">The content of websites outside TOFW.com are the sole property of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Time Out for Women.</span></div> </div> Tornadoes and Triumphs: Part I http://www.tofw.com/Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857 http://www.tofw.com/Tornadoes-Triumphs-Part-Rachel-Penke/s/857 Thu, 06 Jun 2013 00:24:00 -0600 <div> </div> <div style="text-align: left;" _mce_style="text-align: left;"> </div> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">By now, you have all heard the news, watched the devastation that took place, and were maybe even affected by the tornado that struck Oklahoma on May 20th. My heart is truly broken for all who lost a home, a business, or a loved one. I would have been one of those people, but promptings from the Holy Ghost caused me to move out of harm’s way.</span><br> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;"><br></span> <br> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SaoPOjsYlOc/UbCvra-FILI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8JlyPL8pBuk/s1600/482514_10151706303557049_2035645473_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SaoPOjsYlOc/UbCvra-FILI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8JlyPL8pBuk/s1600/482514_10151706303557049_2035645473_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SaoPOjsYlOc/UbCvra-FILI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8JlyPL8pBuk/s200/482514_10151706303557049_2035645473_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SaoPOjsYlOc/UbCvra-FILI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8JlyPL8pBuk/s200/482514_10151706303557049_2035645473_n.jpg" height="200" width="193"></a><span style="font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif;">Severe weather and thunderstorms are nothing new to me. I grew up in the heart of good ol’ Nebraska, where storms and&nbsp;tornadoes&nbsp;are common. It was easy to adjust to storms growing up because I had parents who knew the signs, and told us what to do and where we needed to go. I can remember my father looking at the skies and saying, "You see those clouds? Looks like hail and a tornado coming.&nbsp; You better put your car in the garage and hide in the basement."&nbsp; I’m glad I listened to my father, because softball-sized hail fell out of the sky, and a tornado touched down just miles away. I’m so glad I listened and trusted him because it taught me lessons about following guidance that has helped me over the last two years&nbsp;I've&nbsp;lived in Oklahoma.</span><br> <span style="font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif;"><br></span> <br> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">The beginning of my tornado experience started this past February. I had taken all my life savings, my small paychecks, and a small business loan to invest in an awesome music festival in Oklahoma that would triple my investment. I hoped to locate the festival at an event center in southern Oklahoma City, and was going to need to pay for the nonrefundable use of land, PR, advertising, and food within the week.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">The night before I was to pay for everything, I had the most horrible dream! My event was a disaster; there was destruction everywhere. I awoke scared out of my mind and got on my knees to pray. The answer was clear: “Do not hold this event. You will lose everything. You must listen." The voice was ever so clear, and I could not deny it. My hands shook even as I prayed from fear. The following morning I emailed the groups and the event center and told them I would not be moving forward with the festival.<o:p></o:p></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: large;" _mce_style="font-size: large;">Two months later, I understood my dream.&nbsp; </span><o:p></o:p></span></div> <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="float: right; text-align: right;" _mce_style="float: right; text-align: right;"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7XPhGau2YIo/Ua9vhi28GoI/AAAAAAAAAO8/aAIx2C_x9Jw/s1600/Rachel+Tornado.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7XPhGau2YIo/Ua9vhi28GoI/AAAAAAAAAO8/aAIx2C_x9Jw/s1600/Rachel+Tornado.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="color: black; font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7XPhGau2YIo/Ua9vhi28GoI/AAAAAAAAAO8/aAIx2C_x9Jw/s400/Rachel+Tornado.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7XPhGau2YIo/Ua9vhi28GoI/AAAAAAAAAO8/aAIx2C_x9Jw/s400/Rachel+Tornado.jpg" height="400" width="300"></span></a></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><i><span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;">Wreckage from the Moore tornado</span></i></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">In Oklahoma there are no basements. That’s correct. We live in Tornado Alley with no basements, and costly storm shelters are available only to those who have a yard or are well-off.. I live in a three-story apartment complex.&nbsp; When we moved in, they told us, "If there is a tornado warning, you need to get in your car and leave. You live in a house of sticks!" Yikes!<br> <br> It was a bright sunny afternoon, and I decided to take a nice nap, since my roommate was away, and I was home alone. About an hour later, I woke to a weird noise coming from outside my window. I sat up, still sleepy, pulled upon my blinds and saw what no one ever wants to see: neighbors running to their cars screaming,&nbsp;</span><br> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;"><br></span> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: x-large;" _mce_style="font-size: x-large;">“Head for shelter! The tornado is on the ground!"</span>&nbsp;</span><br> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">I grabbed only what mattered -- my purse, my cell phone, and a box of genealogy-- and was in my car in thirty seconds, driving away!</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">My apartment was not harmed, as the tornado did not turn into a deadly F4 tornado until six miles past my apartment. But more was coming. An F5 tornado hit Moore, destroying and damaging more than 13,000 homes, businesses and schools, even taking the lives of people and animals. This was major devastation to our city and state.</span></div> <table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;" _mce_style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--KUDZxME5vU/Ua9vhiDHRpI/AAAAAAAAAOw/TaOGl5ANOG0/s1600/Rachel+Tornado+1.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--KUDZxME5vU/Ua9vhiDHRpI/AAAAAAAAAOw/TaOGl5ANOG0/s1600/Rachel+Tornado+1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="color: black; font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--KUDZxME5vU/Ua9vhiDHRpI/AAAAAAAAAOw/TaOGl5ANOG0/s400/Rachel+Tornado+1.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--KUDZxME5vU/Ua9vhiDHRpI/AAAAAAAAAOw/TaOGl5ANOG0/s400/Rachel+Tornado+1.jpg" height="300" width="400"></span></a></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><i><span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;">A major neighborhood completely sucked up except driveways</span></i></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">The news of my guided protection from the storm came the following day, when a friend called me. "Did you hear what happened to your event center!? Wow, you were saved. The entire place was destroyed in the tornado!" My eyes welled up with tears. &nbsp;I could barely stand. I dropped to my knees and thanked my Heavenly Father for prompting me months before and warning me that I would lose everything! My life and savings had been spared from this storm because I listened.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">The past two years living of in Oklahoma have brought a lot of suffering, many trials, financial setbacks, even great loss that only my Savior would understand. I can, however, remember being guided&nbsp;by the Holy Ghost. The still small voice has helped me avoid greater trials and find small blessings along this rocky path. Without question, my life would be far worse off had I not learned to listen to my earthly father, who taught me to heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif;">And now we begin the long process of cleaning up…</span></div> <a href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-P17DqJdQ4Zg%2FUa9vhtaA6FI%2FAAAAAAAAAOs%2F0rPGLZF5Nts%2Fs1600%2FRachel%2BPenke%2BSelf.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" _mce_href="https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-P17DqJdQ4Zg%2FUa9vhtaA6FI%2FAAAAAAAAAOs%2F0rPGLZF5Nts%2Fs1600%2FRachel%2BPenke%2BSelf.jpg&amp;container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="color: black; font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s200/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P17DqJdQ4Zg/Ua9vhtaA6FI/AAAAAAAAAOs/0rPGLZF5Nts/s200/Rachel+Penke+Self.jpg" height="180" width="200"></span></a><span style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, serif; font-size: x-small;"><i></i></span><br> <div> <i><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">Rachel Penke is a happily-single, funny, creative, inventive, temple-going,&nbsp;die-hard&nbsp;entrepreneur living in Oklahoma City, OK. &nbsp;Most importantly, she's a dreamer who has&nbsp;remembered almost every dream she's had since she was two years old. &nbsp;It was a dream in 1999 that led her to find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and convert shortly thereafter. Feel free to follow Rachel's blog <a href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.jocelynedward.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.</span></i></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <i><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">During the month of June, Rachel will share her &nbsp;spiritual journey on TOFW.com as she rebuilds her life and community after the devastation caused by the May 2013 tornadoes.&nbsp;</span></i><br> <i><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></span></i> <br> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">The content of websites outside TOFW.com are the sole property of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Time Out for Women.</span></div> </div> <span style="font-size: x-small;" _mce_style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;"><o:p></o:p></span><br></span> <span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 10.5pt;" _mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 10.5pt;"><o:p></o:p></span><br> <span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 10.5pt;" _mce_style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 10.5pt;"><o:p></o:p></span> The Dishes, the Window, and Me http://www.tofw.com/Dishes-Window-Me-Megan-Randolph/s/855 http://www.tofw.com/Dishes-Window-Me-Megan-Randolph/s/855 Tue, 04 Jun 2013 08:56:00 -0600 <div> </div> <div class="MsoNormal">Each night, as routines settle and my children are tucked into bed, I actually look forward to what any sane woman of any household tries her hardest to dodge…the dishes.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> As pans clank together and bubbles fly, I ponder on the day that I had and the little things that allowed me to LIVE HIGHER.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p><br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N9HAAlwcvR8/Ua4EEsBMi_I/AAAAAAAAAM8/l7AHcvYUifU/s1600/CROPPEDMegan+Randolph1PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N9HAAlwcvR8/Ua4EEsBMi_I/AAAAAAAAAM8/l7AHcvYUifU/s1600/CROPPEDMegan+Randolph1PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N9HAAlwcvR8/Ua4EEsBMi_I/AAAAAAAAAM8/l7AHcvYUifU/s1600/CROPPEDMegan+Randolph1PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N9HAAlwcvR8/Ua4EEsBMi_I/AAAAAAAAAM8/l7AHcvYUifU/s1600/CROPPEDMegan+Randolph1PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" height="190" width="200"></a></div> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> I smile at how my young son politely held open the back door so that I could put out the trash.&nbsp; I smile thinking of the note his teacher sent home informing me that he was the only one who said, thank you during snack time.&nbsp; I smile at the way my 11-month-old learned to clap his hands as he giggled watching his big brother dance around the house.&nbsp; I smile at the way my husband fed our animals before he left for work so I could skip that small part of my day.&nbsp; I smile after he kissed my forehead before leaving.&nbsp; I smile remembering how our neighbor kindly welcomed us into the new area.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UU_AZNO964k/Ua4Dhqo3NHI/AAAAAAAAAM0/gbNPtyYtyQc/s1600/CroppedMegan+Randolph2PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UU_AZNO964k/Ua4Dhqo3NHI/AAAAAAAAAM0/gbNPtyYtyQc/s1600/CroppedMegan+Randolph2PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UU_AZNO964k/Ua4Dhqo3NHI/AAAAAAAAAM0/gbNPtyYtyQc/s1600/CroppedMegan+Randolph2PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UU_AZNO964k/Ua4Dhqo3NHI/AAAAAAAAAM0/gbNPtyYtyQc/s1600/CroppedMegan+Randolph2PHOTOEDIT+copy.jpg" height="320" width="247"></a><br> <br> I look around and realize that the small things in life are what matter the most.&nbsp; The small things keep us going, remind us to have faith in God’s plan, give us a little bit more inspiration, and they let us know that Heavenly Father loves each of us. He knows who we are, and He knows what we need to keep going.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br> In a world full of chaos, when I feel that nothing is going right as a young mother, my daily dishes moment keeps me grounded.&nbsp; When my three-year-old dumps the laundry soap all over the floor, or my baby proceeds to find and eat the only piece of animal dander left behind (after I thought I vacuumed it all), I think about the little things that I am doing each day to help strengthen our family.&nbsp; When my husband finds a fruit loop still clinging to my shirt at the end of the day, which is when I realize everyone I was in contact with that day also saw it, I have two choices:&nbsp;I can cry uncontrollably of embarrassment, or I can laugh out loud and stick the cereal in my mouth.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br> I think about how proud I am of my imperfect family and the things that we manage to do and say in order to stay afloat and reach our goal.&nbsp;To be a forever family we want to stick together through the good and the bad or the embarrassing.&nbsp; I think we are doing pretty well thus far…it was a good day…a rough and tiresome day, but the small things make it a good one.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br> So when my husband wonders why I choose not just to load the new dishwasher, the answer is simple.&nbsp;The fanciest of dishwashers in the world is no trade for a small moment of greatness and personal prayer…a moment with the dishes, the window, and me.&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12.0pt;"> <br></div> <br> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> Through Jody's Eyes http://www.tofw.com/Through-Jodys-Eyes-Cindy-Dilg/s/852 http://www.tofw.com/Through-Jodys-Eyes-Cindy-Dilg/s/852 Tue, 28 May 2013 23:46:00 -0600 <div> </div> <div class="p1">My family has had the privilege having of an adoptive member since I was a year old. Jody Egger was just eight years old when my grandparents took him on as an angry, frustrated, foster child with Down Syndrome.&nbsp;Though the years he has become one of the most beloved members of our family. He is always happy, enjoys being with people, and loves music. The things that most people would consider simple make Jody happy.</div><div class="p1"><br></div> <div class="p1"> I have learned a lot from him over the years. His smile is contagious, and you can feel his love because the Spirit radiates from him.</div><div class="p1"><br></div> <div class="p1"> For Jody’s birthday we decided to see if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (his choir) would let him conduct for a few minutes. We knew the chances were slim but we decided to try because we knew it would bring great excitement to Jody.&nbsp;</div><div class="p1"><br></div> <div class="p1"> I contacted the Choir president and told him about Jody and the sweet spirit he has. I told him of Jody’s great love for music and especially for the Choir. After several emails and some coordination, we started off on our more than twelve-hour journey to Utah.&nbsp;</div> <div class="p1"> Jody was so excited. We had not told him the plan, but he had figured it out. All the way down he kept saying, “Choir, Choir” and waving his hands in the air.</div><div class="p1"><br></div> <div class="p1"> We met Choir president Ron Jarrett at the Tabernacle on Temple Square, and he took Jody for a tour. He played on a piano in one of the practice rooms and sat in the choir seats in the Tabernacle. Jody was glued to Brother Jarrett, just bubbling with excitement.</div> <div class="p1"> <br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U7SOFkppMx8/UaYWrkCtDvI/AAAAAAAAAK4/9rvFFZtxfqM/s1600/Cindy+Dilg2.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U7SOFkppMx8/UaYWrkCtDvI/AAAAAAAAAK4/9rvFFZtxfqM/s1600/Cindy+Dilg2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U7SOFkppMx8/UaYWrkCtDvI/AAAAAAAAAK4/9rvFFZtxfqM/s1600/Cindy+Dilg2.JPG" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U7SOFkppMx8/UaYWrkCtDvI/AAAAAAAAAK4/9rvFFZtxfqM/s1600/Cindy+Dilg2.JPG" height="265" width="400"></a></div> <div class="p1"> <br></div> <div class="p1"> We then headed over to the Conference Center, where the Choir was rehearsing. The rehearsal wasn’t open to the public, but we were granted entrance. Jody’s excitement went from bubbly to a calm reverence. He knew we were in a special place. We sat a little way from the front, and Jody was enveloped in the music and the movements of the director. </div><div class="p1"><br></div><div class="p1">One of the directors came down and talked to Jody and shook his hand. Jody’s smile lit up the room. As the choir neared the end of their rehearsal, the director had Jody stand and conduct the choir from his seat while they practiced one of their songs. Jody was so touched that not only was he brought to tears but I was too.&nbsp;</div> <div class="p1"> <br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yOKl7GhE9yc/UaYW3uaktrI/AAAAAAAAALA/5IgifaOgI4g/s1600/Cindy+Dilg1.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yOKl7GhE9yc/UaYW3uaktrI/AAAAAAAAALA/5IgifaOgI4g/s1600/Cindy+Dilg1.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yOKl7GhE9yc/UaYW3uaktrI/AAAAAAAAALA/5IgifaOgI4g/s1600/Cindy+Dilg1.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yOKl7GhE9yc/UaYW3uaktrI/AAAAAAAAALA/5IgifaOgI4g/s1600/Cindy+Dilg1.JPG" height="426" width="640"></a></div> <div class="p1"> <br></div> <div class="p1"> <br></div> <div class="p1"> It has always made me happy just to see Jody's smile, but after I saw the pure joy that listening to the Choir gave him, it really put the things of the world in perspective. So often we are caught up in the commotion of life and worldly position.&nbsp;We sometimes think we need a bigger house, a nicer car, or a newer computer. It made me really look at my life and see all the things that bring me pure joy, the kind of joy that doesn’t fade when the computer becomes outdated or the car gets scratched. It’s the joy you get when you see your kids help each other when they are hurt or when they clean their room just to surprise you. It’s the joy of your six-year-old taking notes all through general conference because she wants to know “what the true things are.” That is pure joy. Pure joy is in the moments when you look around and realize that you have a home where the Spirit of the Savior can reside, when you recognize that you have a safe refuge from the world and the stress it brings.</div> <br> <div class="p1"> Someday I hope to be able to see the world through Jody’s eyes—to be able to live every moment to its fullest and to get as much joy out of all the “little” things in life, as Jody does. It can make the difference between having an average day and deciding to have a great one.</div> Surviving Sundays http://www.tofw.com/Surviving-Sundays-Alana-Holladay/s/847 http://www.tofw.com/Surviving-Sundays-Alana-Holladay/s/847 Tue, 21 May 2013 00:37:00 -0600 <div> by Alana Holladay <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PgZo_aJ3NXA/UZpe4kkd1FI/AAAAAAAAFAA/kjyxE1mT7yU/s1600/Holladay+Family.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PgZo_aJ3NXA/UZpe4kkd1FI/AAAAAAAAFAA/kjyxE1mT7yU/s1600/Holladay+Family.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="416" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PgZo_aJ3NXA/UZpe4kkd1FI/AAAAAAAAFAA/kjyxE1mT7yU/s640/Holladay+Family.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PgZo_aJ3NXA/UZpe4kkd1FI/AAAAAAAAFAA/kjyxE1mT7yU/s640/Holladay+Family.jpg" width="640"></a></div> <br> As women, I believe we do things all the time that show our determination to live a little higher. Here’s just one experience I had – a story that could be told a million times over by moms all over the world.<br> <br> On the way to Stake Conference one morning, I found myself saying a silent prayer that I’d be able to learn something that morning. But had I forgotten what Sundays are like these days?<br> <br> On the way, my four-year-old daughter started crying really hard and yelling, “I don’t want to go to conference! All I get to do is sit and I have to be quiet!” I explained that most of the time it’s fine for her to run around and play, but when we go to places like church we need to be ready to listen and learn.<br> <br> My husband and I decided that instead of going into the chapel to watch, we’d find some secluded overflow room so the kids could have a little more space and maybe we could listen to a few words of conference. All was going well until the first speaker got up and we were joined by another couple and their kids, which increased the pressure to keep everyone really quiet.<br> <br> I ended up taking my two-year-old son out three times and had to nurse my seven-month-old twins. After her crying spell, my four-year-old was in one of her silly moods and even my 6-year-old son couldn't seem to sit still for long. The coloring books and Cheerios just weren't cutting it.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-V3vKwPSkvB4/UZpezrMMztI/AAAAAAAAE_w/2ZBeHdSMBes/s1600/Family+pic+2011.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-V3vKwPSkvB4/UZpezrMMztI/AAAAAAAAE_w/2ZBeHdSMBes/s1600/Family+pic+2011.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-V3vKwPSkvB4/UZpezrMMztI/AAAAAAAAE_w/2ZBeHdSMBes/s320/Family+pic+2011.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-V3vKwPSkvB4/UZpezrMMztI/AAAAAAAAE_w/2ZBeHdSMBes/s320/Family+pic+2011.jpg" width="219"></a></div> About a quarter way through the meeting, one of the twins had a stinky diaper, but of course we were in so much of a hurry to get there that morning that we had forgotten the diaper bag. So my husband took him out to the van and managed to find a spare diaper. Near the end of the meeting I could tell the other twin was stinky but figured she could wait till it was over. Well, pretty soon she exploded…an “everyone in the room looked at her and chuckled” kind of explosion…so I held her very carefully on my lap until it was over. When we got up to leave, the lady sitting behind us said, “Uh oh…she’s leaking!” Sure enough it was smeared on my skirt and we got out of there as fast as we could!<br> <br> This is a small sampling, just one example. But we don’t take our kids to church because it’s fun for us. We don’t do it to make them miserable, or because we like torturing ourselves. Nor do we go because we enjoy walking up and down the halls week after week in suits and dresses getting spit up on and wearing out our arms jiggling babies…trying to get them to be happy through nap times and hearing them complain that they’re hungry because church goes through lunch time. No, at this stage in life we don’t take them because we feel so spiritually refreshed when we get home. More often than not we return home with headaches, sore arms and stressed minds.<br> <br> Then why do we go?<br> <br> Because we want them to see how important it is to us, how much we love the Lord and want to do what He asks us to do – and for them to develop those desires themselves. We want them to develop good habits of Sunday worship while they are young and make it a priority throughout their lives to put God first.<br> <br> Women all over the world, in all kinds of circumstances and life stages, similarly do things that sometimes don't make sense from the outside looking in. We do what may be more difficult in the moment with the hope and trust that our efforts will make a difference later. Sometimes much later. To me, that's what living higher is all about.<br> <div> <br></div> Why I Didn't Ask Why http://www.tofw.com/Why-Didnt-Ask-Why-Stacia-Jacobson/s/825 http://www.tofw.com/Why-Didnt-Ask-Why-Stacia-Jacobson/s/825 Tue, 23 Apr 2013 00:09:00 -0600 <div> by Stacia Jacobson <br /> </div> <br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AGYRFqfzxdY/UXV5dSz2wSI/AAAAAAAAEy0/VyZOFXavZSE/s1600/stacia.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AGYRFqfzxdY/UXV5dSz2wSI/AAAAAAAAEy0/VyZOFXavZSE/s1600/stacia.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="360" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AGYRFqfzxdY/UXV5dSz2wSI/AAAAAAAAEy0/VyZOFXavZSE/s640/stacia.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AGYRFqfzxdY/UXV5dSz2wSI/AAAAAAAAEy0/VyZOFXavZSE/s640/stacia.jpg" width="640"></a></div> <br> My name is Stacia, which means Resurrection or “one who will walk again.”<br> <br> That’s ironic because I’ve been paralyzed twice in my life.<br> <br> At 10-years-old I was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disease where your immune system attacks your nervous system. I was completely paralyzed and weak from head to toe, my lungs collapsed (diaphragm was paralyzed), I couldn’t swallow (those muscles didn’t work) and had double vision (eye muscles wouldn’t focus). I spent two months in ICU and two years recovering.<br> <br> I relapsed at 33 in February 2011. At its worst I had weakness and paralysis in my legs, hands and double vision. I was diagnosed with CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy), the chronic form of GBS, meaning this would always be there.<br> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vu7xENIYzRM/UXV7ZIlZepI/AAAAAAAAEy8/Gad-2-9x85o/s1600/Me,+Hyrum+and+my+walker_9.3.11.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vu7xENIYzRM/UXV7ZIlZepI/AAAAAAAAEy8/Gad-2-9x85o/s1600/Me,+Hyrum+and+my+walker_9.3.11.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vu7xENIYzRM/UXV7ZIlZepI/AAAAAAAAEy8/Gad-2-9x85o/s320/Me,+Hyrum+and+my+walker_9.3.11.JPG" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vu7xENIYzRM/UXV7ZIlZepI/AAAAAAAAEy8/Gad-2-9x85o/s320/Me,+Hyrum+and+my+walker_9.3.11.JPG" width="213"></a><br> I’d felt gradually weaker during our visit to my parents’ house Christmas 2011 in Texas. At the airport as I got off the escalator on our way home to California, I tripped, falling to my knees as I held our 2-year-old son in my arms. I looked up at my husband in horror and cried, “I can’t feel my legs!” I was terrified to realize I was numb from the waist down. This could not be happening again.<br> <br> My sweet husband, Layne was left solely to care for me, including bathing and dressing me as well as caring for our son and the house. He even flew in my mother to help that first week. Later after working all day in Long Beach, he would drive to Irvine to pick me up from work, an hour and half round trip. Other family helped as well, but Layne shouldered most of it. I was worried he would hate me for the burden I’d become. When I asked him about it, he confided that his love for me had deepened BECAUSE he’d had to care for me. In turn, I learned that I could trust and love this man even deeper than before.<br> <br> While still coping with my disability, I was devastated to learn that I’d miscarried our second child at 14 weeks. When I returned to work the next day, a celebrity, Bethany Hamilton, was visiting our corporate office. She was very kind to me, pausing to talk longer than she had the rest. I didn’t even notice that she was missing an arm. Later I learned she was the person the movie, “Soul Surfer,” was based on, a surfer from Hawaii who went on to become a pro surfer after losing her arm in a shark attack. Meeting her that day was a reminder that triumph could come from loss and that my journey wasn’t finished.<br> <br> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1-8q0TIQWVk/UXV7Z-1j5GI/AAAAAAAAEzI/T6_0lyBj6Gk/s1600/2012+Family+Photo.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1-8q0TIQWVk/UXV7Z-1j5GI/AAAAAAAAEzI/T6_0lyBj6Gk/s1600/2012+Family+Photo.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1-8q0TIQWVk/UXV7Z-1j5GI/AAAAAAAAEzI/T6_0lyBj6Gk/s320/2012+Family+Photo.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1-8q0TIQWVk/UXV7Z-1j5GI/AAAAAAAAEzI/T6_0lyBj6Gk/s320/2012+Family+Photo.jpg" width="213"></a>After I’d lost my baby, my dad called to check on me. He wondered if I’d asked the Lord why all this was happening. I told him no because asking why wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t heal my body and it wouldn’t bring my baby back. I thought asking why would tell the Lord that I didn’t trust Him, that I didn’t feel secure in His care. I trusted Him then and I still do. I know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, who has plans for me and who can perform miracles.<br> <br> Two years later as I write this, I am almost entirely better. I still have some limits, but I can do most of the things I could before. The Lord has healed me twice and though a relapse always looms, I know He could heal me again. I have the most beautiful husband and son, and we’re trying for more. Although I was laid off from that job in February 2012, I literally received a job offer the very next day, making more money closer to home. The Lord is always aware of us. He knows our pains and sorrows more acutely than anyone, and no one is better at caring for us than He. Perhaps now I’ll be better at recognizing the enormous blessing our trials really are.<br> <br> <br> <br> Rain in the Desert http://www.tofw.com/Rain-Desert-Alicia-Hawks/s/823 http://www.tofw.com/Rain-Desert-Alicia-Hawks/s/823 Tue, 16 Apr 2013 09:38:00 -0600 <div> by Alicia Hawks <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_58BAyhhYgo/UW1uxK-zMvI/AAAAAAAAEx0/coRzwdNbPmk/s1600/kernriver.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_58BAyhhYgo/UW1uxK-zMvI/AAAAAAAAEx0/coRzwdNbPmk/s1600/kernriver.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_58BAyhhYgo/UW1uxK-zMvI/AAAAAAAAEx0/coRzwdNbPmk/s1600/kernriver.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_58BAyhhYgo/UW1uxK-zMvI/AAAAAAAAEx0/coRzwdNbPmk/s1600/kernriver.jpg" height="424" width="640"></a></div> <br> It's been raining here.<br> <br> I think most of the world would scoff at our idea of rain out here in the middle of this California desert. But really, we got a good two or three inches over the last few days.<br> <br> The parking lot in front of our apartment is very worn. My guess is that it's still the original lot that was put in when the complex was built 40 years ago. It's been very well used and is now filled with pot holes, cracks and divots that make driving out of the lot at 5 miles an hour feel like you're off-roading in an action film. These defects become the most noticeable during and after the rare rainstorm we get. The entire northern region of the lot fills with water that - if you dare to wade through it- would reach your ankles at least. My husband and I have had a few fun sloshes through the crater to get to our car. Once, we even created make-shift galoshes out of plastic shopping bags. The idea was solid; the bags were not.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jtbWM0VAJaw/UW1vcVQZ1UI/AAAAAAAAEyE/oxmGy4OIJ9c/s1600/pothole.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jtbWM0VAJaw/UW1vcVQZ1UI/AAAAAAAAEyE/oxmGy4OIJ9c/s1600/pothole.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jtbWM0VAJaw/UW1vcVQZ1UI/AAAAAAAAEyE/oxmGy4OIJ9c/s1600/pothole.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jtbWM0VAJaw/UW1vcVQZ1UI/AAAAAAAAEyE/oxmGy4OIJ9c/s1600/pothole.jpg" height="212" width="320"></a></div> The analogy of rain washing away imperfections and leaving beautiful, clear skies is especially profound to me since I live in this valley who's air quality has several times qualified as the worst in the nation. After rain, everyone in Bakersfield is in awe of how beautiful this valley is. We all 'wake up' for a few days and basque in the splendor of breathing fresh air, seeing blue skies and being surrounded on all sides by beautiful, I-never-knew-they-were-so-close mountains. The remainder of the year, we are completely unaware of how beautiful this place is. And the only cure is two or three days of gloomy, wet, blustery weather in which virtually none of us can drive.<br> <br> Lately, I've been experiencing a few storms in my personal life: Many whom I love are choosing things that are contrary to the teachings of the church. Many are wandering; lost. Some of these people are not only close to me, but actually helped me form and grow my own testimony. They all present questions and skepticism which have, on occasion, shaken my once very solid foundation. In addition to these trials, there have been financial struggles and mental health crises and our latest blow: we've been told that my husband is going to have to find another job as his boss is closing up shop.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B5VEZ4D7idA/UW1vDorkxHI/AAAAAAAAEx8/LDKvi5eD6J4/s1600/IMG_1059.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B5VEZ4D7idA/UW1vDorkxHI/AAAAAAAAEx8/LDKvi5eD6J4/s1600/IMG_1059.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B5VEZ4D7idA/UW1vDorkxHI/AAAAAAAAEx8/LDKvi5eD6J4/s1600/IMG_1059.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B5VEZ4D7idA/UW1vDorkxHI/AAAAAAAAEx8/LDKvi5eD6J4/s1600/IMG_1059.JPG" height="213" width="320"></a></div> From the outside, our little rain storms really don't look like much, but I'm afraid that I'm a lot like the worn-out parking lot in front of our complex, in that you can see where I am the weakest while the rain is falling. I flood very easily. Just a few inches of rain could very easily render me completely useless.<br> <br> I'm so blessed to have a loving Father in Heaven who knows only too well that all I really need to be able to endure it all, is to see a little slice of blue sky through all of the clouds. Very frequently during my storms, He'll grant me the tender mercy that I need in order to continue pursuing that beautiful, clear day that He has promised will come.<br> <br> Through our small trials- and through the big ones- the Lord has blessed me endlessly with slices of blue sky: a husband who's faith and logic quell all doubts that have ever been presented to us; a faithful mother who's prayers have kept a family spiritually fed; a hard-working husband and father who's thrift and industry has kept his family physically fed; prayers offered by friends on our behalf which have granted us peace, strength, and countless job opportunities; and a beautiful, sunny day after our three days of gloom in which my 18-month-old son gleefully jumped in left-over puddles while I happily noticed the picturesque mountains and remembered how beautiful this valley really is.<br> <div> <br></div> Wings to Fly http://www.tofw.com/Wings-Fly-Tara-Bowen/s/819 http://www.tofw.com/Wings-Fly-Tara-Bowen/s/819 Thu, 11 Apr 2013 10:29:00 -0600 <div> by Tara Bowen <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LU4-WWE4128/UWbjYyunXWI/AAAAAAAAEwc/5qm-TByOWcQ/s1600/068.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LU4-WWE4128/UWbjYyunXWI/AAAAAAAAEwc/5qm-TByOWcQ/s1600/068.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LU4-WWE4128/UWbjYyunXWI/AAAAAAAAEwc/5qm-TByOWcQ/s1600/068.JPG" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LU4-WWE4128/UWbjYyunXWI/AAAAAAAAEwc/5qm-TByOWcQ/s1600/068.JPG" height="426" width="640"></a></div> <br> Yesterday, I ran fast. On a treadmill at the Apple Athletic Club, I pushed the "up" arrow repeatedly, and let the speed settle at &nbsp;8.2. My legs flew and my arms pumped as I watched a little red dot on my screen. The little red dot started making its way around a race track. The dot was me, and I needed to get around the track four times to complete my mile.<br> <br> Marathon training for the past two months prepared me for this mile. I knew I could run at least thirteen miles, so a mile should be easy. I suspected I could run fast, but I did know how fast. My mind balked at the 8.2 pace, and I realized I needed some cheerleading. As is often the case in mortal experience, I got to be my own cheerleader.<br> <br> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gjWumhBA2Yk/UWbjgITUDXI/AAAAAAAAEwk/kyr7HTpI84E/s1600/007.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gjWumhBA2Yk/UWbjgITUDXI/AAAAAAAAEwk/kyr7HTpI84E/s1600/007.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gjWumhBA2Yk/UWbjgITUDXI/AAAAAAAAEwk/kyr7HTpI84E/s1600/007.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gjWumhBA2Yk/UWbjgITUDXI/AAAAAAAAEwk/kyr7HTpI84E/s1600/007.JPG" height="240" width="320"></a><br> If my thoughts were audible, the people running and lifting around me would have heard, "Tara, you got this! Keep going! Halfway through! Look how fast you're going! Don't give up! Goooooooo, Tara!" Thanks to the cheerleading and training, I ran my fastest mile in years.<br> <br> I had time for that one experience on the treadmill, but I don't logically have time to train for a marathon. I have three small children (6, 4, and almost 2), and I teach English classes for BYU-Idaho online. I already wake up early to work, and work during nap time. During heavy grading weeks, I work after the kids go to bed at night. In addition to teaching, I volunteer in my son's kindergarten classroom, serve in the Young Women's organization, and work in the childcare facility at my gym once a week (which pays for my gym membership). I cook, I clean, I launder, I lather. Above all else, I want "quality" family time. So how does marathon training fit into my life?<br> <br> Simply, it fits right now because it is important to me, and because my family supports me. Sister Marjorie Hinckley told President Gordon B. Hinckley, "You have always given me wings to fly, and I have loved you for it" (Hinckley, Oct. 2004, General Conference). My husband gave me wings to fly when he "gave me" my marathon training, and I am making the most of it by racing self-doubt and comparison. <br> <br> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-88Zn3-iQnCo/UWbjpX7w9iI/AAAAAAAAEws/moRkDatwqgs/s1600/weeklygem4.10.13.png" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-88Zn3-iQnCo/UWbjpX7w9iI/AAAAAAAAEws/moRkDatwqgs/s1600/weeklygem4.10.13.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-88Zn3-iQnCo/UWbjpX7w9iI/AAAAAAAAEws/moRkDatwqgs/s1600/weeklygem4.10.13.png" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-88Zn3-iQnCo/UWbjpX7w9iI/AAAAAAAAEws/moRkDatwqgs/s1600/weeklygem4.10.13.png" height="320" width="274"></a>Racing self-doubt is not easy or fun. Self-doubt has been my companion in sports, in academics, and even in parenting. It was no surprise when self-doubt joined me on my runs. Self-doubt peppers me with questions as we dodge cars and maneuver around ice: "How on earth are you going to run 20 miles on a Saturday? Don't you realize you want too much? Will you really be able to prepare for your marathon? Can you do this?" I keep running. Every week, I check off all the runs I accomplish, and I am amazed. I beat self-doubt by doing what I need to do, one mile at a time.<br> <br> Racing comparison is harder. I know too many great runners, and they are faster than me. But after years of being told not to compare, I am finally glomming onto the truth that I am training for my best race. My husband, the lawyer, says I am casting away "non-productive thinking." I set new personal records for longest runs and fastest miles, and I do my very best.<br> <br> It will be impossible to ignore the other runners in my marathon, or my own self-doubt, but I will keep in mind that, "All of us are in the middle of a very personal mortal experience" (Julie Beck, Oct. 2010, General Conference). &nbsp;I will cheer us all on, and pray that our training and cheerleading give us wings to fly.<br> <br> <br> <br> <br> The Making of the Hair Fairy http://www.tofw.com/Making-Hair-Fairy-Kim-Martin/s/813 http://www.tofw.com/Making-Hair-Fairy-Kim-Martin/s/813 Wed, 03 Apr 2013 00:05:00 -0600 <div> by Kim Martin <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_vYTeRrfgP0/UVn5ANBLDgI/AAAAAAAAEuQ/bMdAUJyqeBo/s1600/Brandon%252CNolan%252CbabyAndrea.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_vYTeRrfgP0/UVn5ANBLDgI/AAAAAAAAEuQ/bMdAUJyqeBo/s1600/Brandon%252CNolan%252CbabyAndrea.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_vYTeRrfgP0/UVn5ANBLDgI/AAAAAAAAEuQ/bMdAUJyqeBo/s1600/Brandon%252CNolan%252CbabyAndrea.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_vYTeRrfgP0/UVn5ANBLDgI/AAAAAAAAEuQ/bMdAUJyqeBo/s1600/Brandon%252CNolan%252CbabyAndrea.jpg" height="422" width="640"></a></div> <br> Nineteen years ago, our son Nolan died of cancer at age seven. After Nolan died, I hurt deeply and thought, WHAT am I going to do with myself?! - the grief was so intense…As soon as I formed the question I heard the reply, “Go back to school and become a teacher.” While at school, I, along with my classmates, were each asked to write a book. I ended up writing a book to Nolan...the book I wish I had had for him during his treatment struggles. A fun book of encouragement called, H is for Hair Fairy, An Alphabet of Encouragement and Insight, for Kids (and Kids at Heart) With Cancer. The Hair Fairy is like the Tooth Fairy and comes on the day children lose their hair from chemotherapy and puts money under their pillows.<br> <br> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IyHBMbNh_Ds/UVn5V1NwsHI/AAAAAAAAEuk/dGXX_ErcT7c/s1600/tn_book_cover.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IyHBMbNh_Ds/UVn5V1NwsHI/AAAAAAAAEuk/dGXX_ErcT7c/s1600/tn_book_cover.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IyHBMbNh_Ds/UVn5V1NwsHI/AAAAAAAAEuk/dGXX_ErcT7c/s1600/tn_book_cover.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IyHBMbNh_Ds/UVn5V1NwsHI/AAAAAAAAEuk/dGXX_ErcT7c/s1600/tn_book_cover.jpg" height="320" width="254"></a>Years before I wrote the book, I had a clear impression that I would win the top prize at a software event at my children’s school. My boys didn’t want to go, but I told them excitedly, “We’re going because I’m going to win the top prize!” I did win top prize--a software package including publishing software. For the next few years I wondered why God had made me know I would win the top prize. The night I began illustrations for the Hair Fairy book I finally understood. I typed the main idea of each page into the publishing software, and up popped cute, funny cartoon animal illustrations. I knew instantly these cute characters would make a difficult subject approachable, that this would make the book successful, and that I would not have thought of it on my own.<br> <br> After creating the book but before it was published, our daughter, Andrea was diagnosed with bone cancer. We were stunned. I felt like a bear with my paw caught in a trap and could not get free. I was mad. I did not want to watch another child suffer, and I felt certain nothing good would come of it for her. However, over time, I witnessed her testimony of God’s love grow strong – which was the greatest blessing I could hope for. I watched her strength as she reached out to comfort others who were suffering too and will never forget the look of joy on their faces. Witnessing other's joy amidst sorrow was a very powerful experience, and Andrea’s example caused me to have a paradigm shift.<br> <br> If she could make a difference in her circumstances, surely I could make a difference in mine.<br> <br> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G1U94dTaBgE/UVn5Fu4e3xI/AAAAAAAAEug/Op41u-p3RWM/s1600/DSCN0076.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G1U94dTaBgE/UVn5Fu4e3xI/AAAAAAAAEug/Op41u-p3RWM/s1600/DSCN0076.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G1U94dTaBgE/UVn5Fu4e3xI/AAAAAAAAEug/Op41u-p3RWM/s1600/DSCN0076.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G1U94dTaBgE/UVn5Fu4e3xI/AAAAAAAAEug/Op41u-p3RWM/s1600/DSCN0076.jpg" height="320" width="240"></a>My thoughts turned back to my book, and I made a firm commitment to do whatever it took to get it published. An illustrator moved into our ward who volunteered to ready the book for publication. I submitted my manuscript to many publishers and persevered through rejections by all. Unable to see a way forward, I went to bed worrying about what to do next. That night in a dream I was shown that all would be provided if I did everything non-profit. I woke up knowing what to do, and within a short time my book was published.<br> <br> With a lot of help, I founded a non-profit organization for children with cancer called The Hair Fairy Project, Inc. We give H is for Hair Fairy free of charge and provide Hair Fairy visits to kids in Indiana--Small coin bags for the youngest, $50 for tweens, and $100 for teens put under their pillow on the appropriate day. I've had many spiritual experiences around the writing of the book and the founding of the organization--I call it God's project because He brought it about. He showed me how to proceed when I could not find a way, and showed me in a dream that helping families living with cancer was a calling from God just as if I had been taken into a room at church and extended a calling.<br> <br> After Nolan’s first cancer, I knelt in prayer and asked the Lord to help me make a difference in someone’s life like others had made in mine. My desire was to help one, but God took my desire and multiplied it into a bigger plan than I could dream for myself.<br> <br> <br> (Note: To date we’ve provided Hair Fairy visits to over 450 ‘tweens, teens and young adults, and delivered over 1500 books. My favorite part is talking one-on-one to families and hearing their stories of courage. You can learn more at <a href="http://www.hairfairy.org/" _mce_href="http://www.hairfairy.org/">www.hairfairy.org</a>)<br> <br> <div> <br></div> The Steps of Chichen Itza http://www.tofw.com/Steps-Chichen-Itza-Susan-Westra/s/802 http://www.tofw.com/Steps-Chichen-Itza-Susan-Westra/s/802 Mon, 18 Mar 2013 13:43:00 -0600 <div> by Susan Westra <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1ceiTy4sejQ/UUdsKql3xWI/AAAAAAAAEnw/L2Q2wOGGwDA/s1600/View+From+the+Top.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1ceiTy4sejQ/UUdsKql3xWI/AAAAAAAAEnw/L2Q2wOGGwDA/s1600/View+From+the+Top.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1ceiTy4sejQ/UUdsKql3xWI/AAAAAAAAEnw/L2Q2wOGGwDA/s1600/View+From+the+Top.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1ceiTy4sejQ/UUdsKql3xWI/AAAAAAAAEnw/L2Q2wOGGwDA/s1600/View+From+the+Top.jpg" height="428" width="640"></a></div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> Several years ago, a girlfriend and I traveled to Cancun, Mexico for vacation. While there I wanted to see the Chichen Itza pyramid but she wasn't interested. So one day, she stayed behind at the hotel and I headed out on my own. I found a day-tour group that I could join and off I went.<br> <br> I didn't know anyone else on the tour and it was a BIG deal for me to venture out on my own in a foreign country.<br> <br> Most everyone else on the bus was with another person or a group but luckily I stumbled on Dave. &nbsp;He was on his own for the day as well.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-P66uqBM2HMw/UUdsL91yVSI/AAAAAAAAEoE/orTjPuLbjt0/s1600/Dave.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-P66uqBM2HMw/UUdsL91yVSI/AAAAAAAAEoE/orTjPuLbjt0/s1600/Dave.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-P66uqBM2HMw/UUdsL91yVSI/AAAAAAAAEoE/orTjPuLbjt0/s1600/Dave.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-P66uqBM2HMw/UUdsL91yVSI/AAAAAAAAEoE/orTjPuLbjt0/s1600/Dave.jpg" height="320" width="218"></a></div> After stopping for lunch along the way and shopping at a local flea market, we arrived at the Chitchen Itza grounds. Dave and I kept each other company during the tour as we learned about the Mayan and Aztec cultures. <br> <br> At the end of the tour, our guide said that we could climb to the top of the pyramid. He pointed to one side where there was a rope and a stair rail. He said that many people climbed that side of the pyramid but they went straight up, and that was the hardest way to go. <br> <br> There are 91 steps up each side of the pyramid and they are fairly narrow and steep, so taking steps straight up was exhausting for most people. He said most thought it would be easier because there was both a railing and a rope to hang onto going up.<br> <br> However, our guide said, the best way to get to the top was to take another side where you could zig-zag or 'snake' the steps from one side to another. He said it was much easier physically and, since we wouldn't need to stop and rest so frequently, it could actually be a quicker route.<br> <br> Dave and I decided to climb to the top. I asked him which way we should go and he replied, "We should follow the tour guide’s advice, don't you think?" I agreed.<br> <br> We snaked our way from left to right with Dave in the lead. On the ascent I was entirely focused on my feet and the steps. After a short while I was thinking to myself that maybe I needed a break. I paused to look towards the top and to see how much further Dave was ahead of me. To my surprise he had already reached the top and it was only a few steps away! I was elated so I quickly finished my climb to the top. <br> <br> We took photos and walked around the top of the pyramid enjoying the view. As I looked down the stairs at others from the tour I was surprised that many of them had not followed the counsel of our guide. They were coming straight up the steep steps and having a difficult time. Many of them could only go a few steps before stopping to rest. And by the time they reached the top they were exhausted.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_30zFcFmElA/UUdsJYZUV9I/AAAAAAAAEns/bkRBV5FVmGU/s1600/Steep+Steps.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_30zFcFmElA/UUdsJYZUV9I/AAAAAAAAEns/bkRBV5FVmGU/s1600/Steep+Steps.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_30zFcFmElA/UUdsJYZUV9I/AAAAAAAAEns/bkRBV5FVmGU/s1600/Steep+Steps.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_30zFcFmElA/UUdsJYZUV9I/AAAAAAAAEns/bkRBV5FVmGU/s1600/Steep+Steps.jpg" height="215" width="320"></a></div> I have often thought about that experience and wonder why it is we don’t trust our "guides": the Prophet, our leaders, our family, our friends. We have trials and challenges in life that have to be climbed, yet we have people who love us and have guidance and counsel for us. They have seen the paths we may take and are eager to give us direction as to how we can make our journey in life less strenuous. But if we do not follow their counsel, we often find ourselves spiritually, mentally, and emotionally worn down.<br> <br> I learned that day to listen to the words of an experienced guide. It makes life easier when you know you can trust the leadership of those who have gone before you. &nbsp;I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has placed so many guides in my life.<br> <div> <br></div> My Life As a 41-Year-Old High School Senior http://www.tofw.com/My-Life-41-Year-Old-High-School-Senior-Lauri-Mackey/s/801 http://www.tofw.com/My-Life-41-Year-Old-High-School-Senior-Lauri-Mackey/s/801 Thu, 14 Mar 2013 22:38:00 -0600 <div> by Lauri Mackey <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NB5syf4P3dY/UUKkUawV72I/AAAAAAAAEmk/6wSNjp0wvoc/s1600/attachment+%25284%2529.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NB5syf4P3dY/UUKkUawV72I/AAAAAAAAEmk/6wSNjp0wvoc/s1600/attachment+%25284%2529.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NB5syf4P3dY/UUKkUawV72I/AAAAAAAAEmk/6wSNjp0wvoc/s1600/attachment+%25284%2529.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NB5syf4P3dY/UUKkUawV72I/AAAAAAAAEmk/6wSNjp0wvoc/s1600/attachment+%25284%2529.jpg" height="320" width="214"></a></div> In May of 2007, my middle daughter was struggling to get enough credits to graduate High School.<br> <br> We ended up at a local adult school to help her finish. The good news is that she graduated!<br> <br> While at the school I reflected on not earning my high school diploma. Due to life choices I had taken my GED after my Sophomore year and had never returned. It was a regret of mine and I felt that being at the adult school was a sign.<br> <br> After meeting with the counselor, I was 10 classes short to get my diploma. Most of them were math and I am horrible at math!! Over the next few years, I tinkered around getting a class done here and there around my busy schedule. In 2011 I had hit my limit. It was time to finish this!<br> <br> I mapped out a plan to go to school once per week, homework either before the kids woke up or after they went to bed. I was determined to graduate in June 2012. I even hired my friend who was a tutor to help me with my math.<br> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KkdWTz8G11M/UUKkVpp8vVI/AAAAAAAAEnI/oxE-lLiTLlo/s1600/attachment+%25287%2529.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KkdWTz8G11M/UUKkVpp8vVI/AAAAAAAAEnI/oxE-lLiTLlo/s1600/attachment+%25287%2529.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KkdWTz8G11M/UUKkVpp8vVI/AAAAAAAAEnI/oxE-lLiTLlo/s1600/attachment+%25287%2529.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KkdWTz8G11M/UUKkVpp8vVI/AAAAAAAAEnI/oxE-lLiTLlo/s1600/attachment+%25287%2529.jpg" height="320" width="240"></a><br> <br> There was no such thing as the CAHSEE test when I went to high school. It stands for the California High School Exit Exam and I had to pass it if I wanted to get my diploma. Half the test is english and the other half was my nemesis - math. Thank goodness for caring teachers and a really long time to finish your exam. I passed and continued working on the rest of my classes.<br> <br> I learned about Finland which is where my husbands family is from because I needed a report on a country. I did math and history in the car on trips to visit family 4 hours away. I did homework while my middle school daughter did hers. We actually had some of the same math problems! I listened to books on cd’s with giant earphones that were seriously outdated. I went to class with kids less than half my age. Sometimes it was scary - even daunting, but I became brave.<br> <br> When I was at the end of the school year I met with the counselor to make sure all was in order to graduate. They had miscounted my credits and I needed one more English class! I was devastated. Thanks to my family, teachers, and work, I was able to spend a good part of the week only taking this last class. I had done it. I had my graduation pictures taken. I sent out graduation invites. I spoke at my graduation and walked with my class (of much younger students!). My husband bought me a class ring and I received my diploma.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s3jlzi13fnU/UUKkVuQ_C_I/AAAAAAAAEnA/BBlQrdo07hU/s1600/attachment+%25288%2529.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s3jlzi13fnU/UUKkVuQ_C_I/AAAAAAAAEnA/BBlQrdo07hU/s1600/attachment+%25288%2529.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s3jlzi13fnU/UUKkVuQ_C_I/AAAAAAAAEnA/BBlQrdo07hU/s1600/attachment+%25288%2529.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s3jlzi13fnU/UUKkVuQ_C_I/AAAAAAAAEnA/BBlQrdo07hU/s1600/attachment+%25288%2529.jpg" height="320" width="240"></a></div> Going back to high school was hard. Graduating at age 41 was an interesting and tough journey.<br> <br> Looking back, I gained a lot of patience and even more of that much needed confidence I needed. I feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I aimed higher...if I can do it...anyone can. A Night With the Authors: What We Learned http://www.tofw.com/Night-Authors-What-We-Learned-Christie-Black-Book-Club/s/793 http://www.tofw.com/Night-Authors-What-We-Learned-Christie-Black-Book-Club/s/793 Fri, 01 Mar 2013 00:12:00 -0700 <div> by Christie Black and Book Club <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CH_nVCv739g/US-WV7MNUbI/AAAAAAAAEfE/1-9nr_GNeHI/s1600/bookclubcollage.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CH_nVCv739g/US-WV7MNUbI/AAAAAAAAEfE/1-9nr_GNeHI/s1600/bookclubcollage.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CH_nVCv739g/US-WV7MNUbI/AAAAAAAAEfE/1-9nr_GNeHI/s1600/bookclubcollage.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CH_nVCv739g/US-WV7MNUbI/AAAAAAAAEfE/1-9nr_GNeHI/s1600/bookclubcollage.jpg" height="494" width="640"></a></div> <i><br></i> <i>Last year in the fall, we held a Book Club Contest centered on <a href="http://deseretbook.com/Beginning-Better-Days-Divine-Instruction-Women-Prophet-Joseph-Smith-Sheri-L-Dew/i/5078230" _mce_href="http://deseretbook.com/Beginning-Better-Days-Divine-Instruction-Women-Prophet-Joseph-Smith-Sheri-L-Dew/i/5078230">The Beginning of Better Days</a>.&nbsp;</i><br> <i><br></i> <i>The contest?&nbsp;</i><br> <i>Create anything that shares your group's three most meaningful themes from the book.&nbsp;</i><br> <i>The prize?&nbsp;</i><br> <i>A visit from the authors, Sheri Dew and Virginia Pearce.</i><br> <i><br></i> <i>These ladies from Gilbert, Arizona put together a digital magazine that absolutely inspired us. You can click <a href="http://tofw.com/story/719-beginning-of-better-days-book-club-contest-winner" _mce_href="../../../story/719-beginning-of-better-days-book-club-contest-winner">here </a>to find a sample of what they did! This article shares their experience with the authors and the big and little lessons they learned.</i><br> <br> I have never won a contest or anything like it . You can imagine my surprise when our book club won The Beginning of Better Days for Women contest from TOFW. We were thrilled! What better prize than to have the authors visit our book club? We laughed—a lot—but also had an enriching discussion about the divine role of women. I left feeling both privileged and humbled to be a daughter of God. Here are some thoughts from the other women in attendance that night:<br> <br> <b>Susan</b>: I learned that “living up to our privileges” means making the spirit an integral part of our lives. &nbsp;To me it also means enjoying the privilege of sisterhood that I feel as I participate in Relief Society and that I felt as I associated with my sisters tonight. &nbsp;It was great to see Sister Pearce and Sister Dew be just as much a part of that sisterhood as the rest of the women who attended. &nbsp;I hope that the things I learned tonight will be evidenced in my renewed commitment to strengthen our Relief Society and the sisters in it.<br> <br> <b>Anna</b>: It was a wonderful experience. We had discussions on temple attendance and the power of the Holy Ghost. We also talked about how our experiences, lead to our beliefs, which lead to actions and ultimately change the results or outcomes in our lives. It was one of those times in my life that I hope to never forget. The power of the great teacher, the Holy Ghost, was abounding at this meeting and I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to have this experience. I'm sure this experience will ultimately change the results in my life. <span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;" _mce_style="white-space: pre;"> </span><br> <br> <b>Stacee</b>: The anticipation of gathering to discuss the thoughts of Joseph Smith on the Relief Society was gnawing away at me; do I understand what was given, can I express my thoughts adequately, am I spiritually ready to be taught? I decided the best way to prepare would be to attend the temple because it was a focal point in the book. I didn't have time to do a session, but spent precious moments in the initiatory. It was perfect!<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KLBhbkfLZvU/US-PTwYBBYI/AAAAAAAAEeA/lwf-6imE9X0/s1600/group+1.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KLBhbkfLZvU/US-PTwYBBYI/AAAAAAAAEeA/lwf-6imE9X0/s1600/group+1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KLBhbkfLZvU/US-PTwYBBYI/AAAAAAAAEeA/lwf-6imE9X0/s1600/group+1.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KLBhbkfLZvU/US-PTwYBBYI/AAAAAAAAEeA/lwf-6imE9X0/s1600/group+1.jpg" height="266" width="400"></a></div> <br> We are all grateful we had the opportunity to learn from the book, each other, and of course the authors. What an experience to remember. Personally, I will most remember the strong but peaceful feeling of power I experienced. We talked about the Priesthood being God’s power and how women are equally blessed in opportunity to access that power. With that power we can do so much! We can show love as daughters, mothers, sisters, neighbors, and friends. I wish I could say that I always remember how much God loves me as His daughter, but I can say that I remembered it intensely that night. I think the more I do remember, the better my days will be.<br> <br> <br> <br> Riding Higher with Wonder Woman http://www.tofw.com/Riding-Higher-Wonder-Woman-Suzanne-Waters/s/791 http://www.tofw.com/Riding-Higher-Wonder-Woman-Suzanne-Waters/s/791 Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:47:00 -0700 <div> by Suzanne Waters <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oGcjRkIntbo/USvK-ED4EHI/AAAAAAAAEX4/cVHPIx_4K-Q/s1600/379.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oGcjRkIntbo/USvK-ED4EHI/AAAAAAAAEX4/cVHPIx_4K-Q/s1600/379.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oGcjRkIntbo/USvK-ED4EHI/AAAAAAAAEX4/cVHPIx_4K-Q/s1600/379.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oGcjRkIntbo/USvK-ED4EHI/AAAAAAAAEX4/cVHPIx_4K-Q/s1600/379.jpg" height="480" width="640"></a></div> <br> I am Suzanne Waters. I turned 40 on September 3, 2012. I am a mother of five. I am overweight. I am happy. I love to ride my bicycle. My nieces asked me to do a 30-mile bike ride with them and I said SURE! &nbsp;Then, they said they wanted to do the 70-mile bike ride instead. So, I said to myself, well, you can be 40 and do a 70 mile bike ride or JUST BE 40. <br> <br> So, donning my padded bike shorts and mounting my favorite orange Trek hybrid bicycle, with my niece, who's half my age, at my side, we definitely began a “higher” climb. <br> <br> In Payson, Utah on a beautiful September day, we embarked on the Wonder Woman 70 mile bike ride. &nbsp;I was amazed at the stunning scenery and felt amazingly good, empowered and I was really enjoying myself. &nbsp;We had a snack/bathroom stop. Then we hit the road again into rolling hills and some winding canyons. We were there met by a fabulous cheering section of our families with signs and all!! So so fun! We smiled and just kept riding! At lunch, we enjoyed a little stretching and food and family time. Again, feeling happy and doing well. (Now, the furthest I had ever ridden before this was 35 miles, just the week before.)<br> <br> Happily riding along after a great lunch break, we chatted and my niece talked about how nice it was to have her newly installed pedal cages so she could pedal more efficiently. Along the way, we smiled and cheered each other on along with all the other participants. <br> <br> I specifically remember coming to a T in the road, a stop sign no less. I saw smiling bicycle-riding babes coasting down a hill to what I (foolishly) thought was a VERY close finish line. Well, I didn’t get to turn right and go down the hill smiling, I found out I got to turn left and CLIMB that long, “gentle” hill. So, with some grit deep down, I turned left...and started up the hill. At the steepest part, I literally stopped. So, I got off my bicycle and pushed it and myself up the hill. Then, I got back on and kept going up the hill.<br> <br> As we kept going and kept going, smiling women (going downhill) yelled, “You’re almost there!”<br> <br> And I thought to myself, “Almost where?”<br> <br> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6o6h-GC-7i4/US6NjQk73oI/AAAAAAAAEcg/YqEzfZn4tm0/s1600/week02_25_13.png" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6o6h-GC-7i4/US6NjQk73oI/AAAAAAAAEcg/YqEzfZn4tm0/s1600/week02_25_13.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6o6h-GC-7i4/US6NjQk73oI/AAAAAAAAEcg/YqEzfZn4tm0/s1600/week02_25_13.png" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6o6h-GC-7i4/US6NjQk73oI/AAAAAAAAEcg/YqEzfZn4tm0/s1600/week02_25_13.png" height="320" width="274"></a>It was quite a bit later (maybe 7 LONG minutes) when we arrived at a sign that told us to turn slightly and go downhill into a parking lot by a beautiful lake. So, enjoying the downhill ride for a second, I coasted into a shelter area full of snacks and beverages. &nbsp;As I had that break, my mind reeled with questions and doubt, “How much longer?” &nbsp;“Can I really finish this “race”?”<br> <br> After a beautiful picture together with the shining lake behind us, we rode away from the oreos dipped in peanut butter and went up that steep little hill and then got to “cruise” down that previously-long-hill and smile and tell the others coming our way “you’re almost there!” &nbsp;Later, we glided by the T in the road straight down the hill, again, smiling. <br> <br> The next miles (don’t know how many) were amazingly and unexpectedly grueling for me. I literally had to just look down at the ground and think “I can go this far” which was the perfect example of “baby-stepping” through it. I am more of a “glass half-full” girl, so as I hit “THE WALL," it was kind of shocking when I could not just climb over it.<br> <br> I did stop when I just didn’t think I could pedal one more time. I stretched and took a deep breath, I looked around me, I got back on and pedaled some more. My sweet niece by my side encouraged and stayed with me this whole time! As we turned onto another long, never-ending straight road, doubt drained my energy. &nbsp;But with that cute little voice and person by my side saying, “We can do this!” we slowly saw the city of Payson come into view…….ahhhhhhh! &nbsp;I had absolutely no kick at the end, but I did come to the end. I did come to the end of the “race” which I always, always call the “ride”, never the “race”. <br> <br> This reminds me of something President Hinckley once said:<br> <br> “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.<br> “[The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise...<br> “Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.<br> “The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”<br> <br> So, I do thank the Lord for this ride of life and for the bicycle ride of my life, to remind me to just keep going and be thankful for the ride!!<br> <br> An Unlikely Miracle http://www.tofw.com/Unlikely-Miracle-Rachel-Mills/s/785 http://www.tofw.com/Unlikely-Miracle-Rachel-Mills/s/785 Wed, 13 Feb 2013 00:53:00 -0700 <div> by Rachel Mills <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nKuNxp-JqsI/URrUUVle5RI/AAAAAAAAEOM/QMx6nXes-Gs/s1600/DSC05715.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nKuNxp-JqsI/URrUUVle5RI/AAAAAAAAEOM/QMx6nXes-Gs/s1600/DSC05715.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nKuNxp-JqsI/URrUUVle5RI/AAAAAAAAEOM/QMx6nXes-Gs/s1600/DSC05715.JPG" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nKuNxp-JqsI/URrUUVle5RI/AAAAAAAAEOM/QMx6nXes-Gs/s1600/DSC05715.JPG" height="480" width="640"></a></div> Before I tell what happened at the store, I need to preface with what happened a few weeks ago.<br> <br> It was Sunday, and my husband, Abe, and I were finally relaxing when we got a phone call at 8:30pm from some missionaries. They were asking us if we would help some strangers move in from a city an hour away...that night...around 10pm. The missionaries knew hardly anything about them- just that they were outside packing their moving van and were in need, so they knew just the person to call... Abe. <br> <br> Abe called the man whose family was moving and convinced him to wait to unpack the moving van until the next morning, so that Abe would have time to get him more help. The family could only do that if they could get someone to drive him back to their old home that night to get their baby and their other vehicle. Abe arranged for several men and a bunch of missionaries to help the next morning, and then he offered to drive this stranger back to their old home that night. <br> <br> Abe drove this man he knew nothing about and would probably never see again an hour each way. Abe arrived back at home at 2am and left for work the next morning by 5:30am. He never once complained but served because that is what Jesus wanted him to do.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-POILRjwnY_g/URrUrgUiCbI/AAAAAAAAEOo/1S-gufr3jQw/s1600/IMG-20121027-00154.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-POILRjwnY_g/URrUrgUiCbI/AAAAAAAAEOo/1S-gufr3jQw/s1600/IMG-20121027-00154.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-POILRjwnY_g/URrUrgUiCbI/AAAAAAAAEOo/1S-gufr3jQw/s1600/IMG-20121027-00154.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-POILRjwnY_g/URrUrgUiCbI/AAAAAAAAEOo/1S-gufr3jQw/s1600/IMG-20121027-00154.jpg" height="246" width="400"></a></div> Now to tonight... &nbsp;My 3 older boys (11, 9, &amp; 7) ran a half-marathon (13.1 miles) in October, and I had promised them I would buy them something special for their great accomplishment. Tyson wanted to buy something at the Christian book store. &nbsp;He chose something really special with a beautiful message about being strong for Jesus Christ. <br> <br> On our way to the check-out I noticed a pamphlet for sale. It was an anti-Mormon&nbsp;pamphlet teaching people how to stand up to the Mormons and why the teachings are so flawed. Our family is Mormon- the correct name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.<br> <br> I went right up to the front desk and asked them why they had this pamphlet at their store.<br> <br> "Do you know the real name of our church?" I asked. One worker said, "Yes... latter day saints?" &nbsp;I said, "You missed it. You missed the most important part." Then she said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."<br> <br> There were no customers there, only two workers. <br> <br> I asked them both to come together because what I had to say was very important, and I wanted them both to hear it. <br> <br> I then began to shake and spoke with power from on high. &nbsp;To the best of my knowledge, this is what I said with tears streaming down my face,<br> <br> "Because I will never be shopping here again, I need to speak to you both to tell you exactly what I do believe. I need you to know of my testimony of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is my Savior. &nbsp;I love HIM dearly. &nbsp;HE is the same Jesus Christ that you worship. HE died on the cross for us and even more HE suffered for all of our sins at the Garden of Gethsemane. I want you to never forget what I am telling you because I want you to share this experience with all those you come in contact with that are speaking of my religion. You have the opportunity to clarify with them that we believe in Jesus Christ. I love HIM with all my heart, and I want everyone to know that HE is the center of our lives. We have a picture of Jesus Christ in every one of our rooms... the kitchen, family room, and all of our bedrooms. We came here to your store because it was a safe place to find uplifting messages about our Savior, and we are so hurt that you would sell things that tear us down. There is no need for this here. Please remember and know that we believe in Jesus Christ. &nbsp;When people question my faith in Jesus Christ, it hurts me deeply."<br> <br> Tyson was standing by my side, and he too shared his testimony of Jesus's sacrifice and his testimony of our church. <br> <br> The manager, with the most sincere look on her face said, "Thank you so much for sharing what you feel. &nbsp;You spoke with a fire and conviction within that I just don't see... thank you." &nbsp;She encouraged us to write to the corporate office to help make changes. <br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6kRS_POCUhY/URrUWVJzUpI/AAAAAAAAEOY/kJ8TMVgnXJk/s1600/Mills+0004.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6kRS_POCUhY/URrUWVJzUpI/AAAAAAAAEOY/kJ8TMVgnXJk/s1600/Mills+0004.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6kRS_POCUhY/URrUWVJzUpI/AAAAAAAAEOY/kJ8TMVgnXJk/s1600/Mills+0004.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6kRS_POCUhY/URrUWVJzUpI/AAAAAAAAEOY/kJ8TMVgnXJk/s1600/Mills+0004.jpg" height="266" width="400"></a></div> Then, the other worker, with a softened heart said, "Well, when we moved here, nobody-not even from our church- came to help us, but a bunch of Mormons showed up." I then told her about my husband helping a family move when nobody came to help. I shared how he did it just because even though he was tired, he knew that's what Jesus would want him to do. <br> <br> The worker looked at me strangely and said, "Is your husband a missionary?" &nbsp;I said, "No." &nbsp;A little hesitant, she said, "Is he black and a singer?" I said, "Yes!" Then she said, "We are the family your husband helped that night." She proceeded to tell me the whole story of how they were praying that he would continue to wait for them at their house as they were running almost an hour late, and that they were so grateful for his service. She came around the counter and gave me the biggest hug.<br> <br> Can you believe the miracles? Out of the thousands of people in Kalamazoo, I would have the opportunity to bear testimony to the same family that my husband had recently served. I would have the opportunity to bear testimony so strong that the Spirit confirmed to the ladies working that night that there was a fire with which I spoke. I would have the opportunity to proclaim my love for my Savior so strong that it weakens me still at this moment.<br> <br> The other miracle... my sweet son Tyson... As we walked out of the store, he began to cry because he couldn't believe people thought that we were a cult-that people who sold such beautiful things of Christ could think such negative things about us. &nbsp;I told him that God had given him a gift tonight. God allowed Tyson to bear testimony so that he could be strengthened within. God is preparing this young man to be stalwart in HIS Kingdom.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cB2tvu7ruko/URrUUC5XrFI/AAAAAAAAEOI/9JuYXv-Pa4I/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cB2tvu7ruko/URrUUC5XrFI/AAAAAAAAEOI/9JuYXv-Pa4I/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cB2tvu7ruko/URrUUC5XrFI/AAAAAAAAEOI/9JuYXv-Pa4I/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cB2tvu7ruko/URrUUC5XrFI/AAAAAAAAEOI/9JuYXv-Pa4I/s1600/DSC02444.JPG" height="200" width="160"></a></div> Rachel Mills has a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Less than a year after returning from her mission to Cochabamba, Bolivia, Rachel married a nearly perfect man-the man of her dreams... Abe Mills. &nbsp;Rachel graduated from BYU with a broadcasting degree and worked in Dallas, TX as a sports news reporter for ABC, but she uses her education to home-school her 6 fantastic children ages 11 years to 11 months old. Rachel blogs at&nbsp;<a href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com/" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;">abeandrachelsbeautifullife.blogspot.com</a>.<br> <div> <br></div> Being the Birth Grandma http://www.tofw.com/Being-Birth-Grandma-Janet-Mangum/s/770 http://www.tofw.com/Being-Birth-Grandma-Janet-Mangum/s/770 Thu, 24 Jan 2013 00:01:00 -0700 <div> by Janet Mangum <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FMlWn1-ww-o/UQBzFbx6FYI/AAAAAAAADto/-dsoCF24GLU/s1600/Chel+after+birth.tiff" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FMlWn1-ww-o/UQBzFbx6FYI/AAAAAAAADto/-dsoCF24GLU/s1600/Chel+after+birth.tiff" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FMlWn1-ww-o/UQBzFbx6FYI/AAAAAAAADto/-dsoCF24GLU/s1600/Chel+after+birth.tiff" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FMlWn1-ww-o/UQBzFbx6FYI/AAAAAAAADto/-dsoCF24GLU/s1600/Chel+after+birth.tiff" height="460" width="640"></a></div> <br> In June of 2009, when my 19-year-old daughter came to my husband and I and told us she was pregnant, we were understandably shocked. Even though I had been worried about her for a long time, I still wasn't prepared to hear this. She then told us that she had already decided that she was going to choose adoption. We were immediately supportive, and told her we loved her and would support her decision and help her anyway we could. I couldn't sleep that night thinking of everything she was about to face. There were many more sleepless nights to come.<br> <br> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xBNeN3i-Lzg/UQBzJtgiQCI/AAAAAAAADuI/uxZ4gz0mSew/s1600/Hug+Chel+and+I.tiff" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xBNeN3i-Lzg/UQBzJtgiQCI/AAAAAAAADuI/uxZ4gz0mSew/s1600/Hug+Chel+and+I.tiff" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xBNeN3i-Lzg/UQBzJtgiQCI/AAAAAAAADuI/uxZ4gz0mSew/s1600/Hug+Chel+and+I.tiff" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xBNeN3i-Lzg/UQBzJtgiQCI/AAAAAAAADuI/uxZ4gz0mSew/s1600/Hug+Chel+and+I.tiff" height="279" width="320"></a>From that moment on I was by her side every step of the way. Even though I seemed strong on the outside, I was very torn up on the inside. This was my very first grandchild. I had so looked forward to being a grandma. Now, my grandchild was going to be given to another family? In my heart I knew it was the right thing for both my daughter and the baby, but I still struggled with my feelings. However, I never told these feelings to my daughter. I didn't want to influence her one way or the other. I knew it had to be her decision. My daughter was much stronger than me. She never doubted or&nbsp;wavered. She was so courageous.<br> <br> I spent a lot of time on my knees, praying for my daughter, and for the little girl she was carrying. I prayed for guidance for my daughter to find the right family to adopt her child. But, most of all, I prayed for strength and for comfort for all of our family. I often felt peace and the feeling that everything was going to be okay.<br> <br> Months went by, and my daughter still had not been able to find a couple she felt good about. She had looked at hundreds of couples on the online profiles, but none of them seemed to “feel” right. As we were looking one day, I saw a couple that we had previously looked at. I was drawn to many things about them. I suggested that she email them. That email turned into many emails back and forth and finally a face to face meeting.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3CKSUn0HxNM/UQBzINFGknI/AAAAAAAADuA/fa7z6jtf4ss/s1600/Family+after+placement.tiff" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3CKSUn0HxNM/UQBzINFGknI/AAAAAAAADuA/fa7z6jtf4ss/s1600/Family+after+placement.tiff" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3CKSUn0HxNM/UQBzINFGknI/AAAAAAAADuA/fa7z6jtf4ss/s1600/Family+after+placement.tiff" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3CKSUn0HxNM/UQBzINFGknI/AAAAAAAADuA/fa7z6jtf4ss/s1600/Family+after+placement.tiff" height="227" width="320"></a></div> The couple flew to Utah and met with my daughter, my husband and me. We ended up spending a lot time with them that weekend. By the end of the weekend, after receiving one of many blessings given to her by her father, my daughter had a calm and happy feeling and knew they were the couple that was supposed to raise her daughter. I know that it was the Spirit manifesting this knowledge to her.<br> <br> That night she told them that she wanted them to adopt her little girl. My whole family, including my husband and my other four children were there. The Spirit was so strong, and there was not a dry eye in the room. All my fear and doubt and dread left, and I had no doubt that our Heaven Father had lead my daughter to this couple. I had no doubt that my granddaughter was supposed to be raised by them.<br> <br> On December 16, 2009, my daughter gave birth to a perfect little baby girl. Forty-eight hours later, after spending every possible second in the hospital with her sweet baby, she signed the adoption papers and placed her in the loving arms of her new parents.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qo4Fb_EqZaQ/UQBzG_ZUjDI/AAAAAAAADt4/RHCS8j137HQ/s1600/Chelsea%252C+tom%252C+angie%252C+abbie+temple+sealing.tiff" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qo4Fb_EqZaQ/UQBzG_ZUjDI/AAAAAAAADt4/RHCS8j137HQ/s1600/Chelsea%252C+tom%252C+angie%252C+abbie+temple+sealing.tiff" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qo4Fb_EqZaQ/UQBzG_ZUjDI/AAAAAAAADt4/RHCS8j137HQ/s1600/Chelsea%252C+tom%252C+angie%252C+abbie+temple+sealing.tiff" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qo4Fb_EqZaQ/UQBzG_ZUjDI/AAAAAAAADt4/RHCS8j137HQ/s1600/Chelsea%252C+tom%252C+angie%252C+abbie+temple+sealing.tiff" height="209" width="320"></a></div> Besides being the hardest thing I have ever gone through, this experience was the most spiritual one of my life. I saw and felt the Lord's hand in the entire adoption process.<br> <br> Since the adoption almost three years ago, we continue to stay close to the adoptive couple and to our granddaughter. We visit them, and they come to Utah often to visit us.<br> <br> I feel so blessed to have gone through this difficult, but wonderful experience. I have grown so much closer to my Heavenly Father and have learned to trust in His plan for my family.<br> <br> Janet blogs about her family's journey with open adoption at <a href="http://birth-grandma.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://birth-grandma.blogspot.com/">The Birth-Grandma Chronicles</a>.<br> <br> <div> <br></div> Pictures of Angels http://www.tofw.com/Pictures-Angels-Terra-Cooper/s/763 http://www.tofw.com/Pictures-Angels-Terra-Cooper/s/763 Thu, 17 Jan 2013 09:53:00 -0700 <div> by Terra Cooper <br /> </div> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-c84BeKQLbNo/UPgowixM6xI/AAAAAAAADho/yjy_AEQlKrY/s1600/briggs2.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-c84BeKQLbNo/UPgowixM6xI/AAAAAAAADho/yjy_AEQlKrY/s1600/briggs2.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-c84BeKQLbNo/UPgowixM6xI/AAAAAAAADho/yjy_AEQlKrY/s1600/briggs2.jpg" width="640" height="424" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-c84BeKQLbNo/UPgowixM6xI/AAAAAAAADho/yjy_AEQlKrY/s1600/briggs2.jpg"></a></div> <br> As a professional photographer, I have had many opportunities to use my talents to help those around me. I feel like when Heavenly Father gives us a gift, we are responsible to share it with others. My journey began seven years ago when I met Kathryn. Kathryn's new baby boy, Briggs, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and the life expectancy is usually less than a year. Her baby boy and my son were only a month apart. My son was just released from the NICU and was getting healthy and strong, while her son was starting his journey back to his Heavenly Father. Melani, a mutual friend of ours, asked me to do some family pictures of this sweet family and some of Briggs. We did a couple of sessions with "Briggers" and the day after his six month birthday party, he passed away. Kathryn has many of the pictures that I took in her home. I didn't realize how precious these pictures were to her until after he was gone. I still get emotional every time I think about him and how he has changed my life. Since then I have tried to help others in these situations have these priceless memories of their children.<br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zlPKaxH_Mzo/UPgrLKKm0qI/AAAAAAAADjA/RUUZmZJjlMg/s1600/briggs+family.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zlPKaxH_Mzo/UPgrLKKm0qI/AAAAAAAADjA/RUUZmZJjlMg/s1600/briggs+family.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zlPKaxH_Mzo/UPgrLKKm0qI/AAAAAAAADjA/RUUZmZJjlMg/s1600/briggs+family.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zlPKaxH_Mzo/UPgrLKKm0qI/AAAAAAAADjA/RUUZmZJjlMg/s1600/briggs+family.jpg"></a></div> One day a few years ago we took our family to a pizza place. While the kids were playing I noticed a family that had a baby that looked like he may also have SMA. I felt prompted to go and talk to the mom and even though it was scary just walking up to a stranger, I honestly knew I would be physically sick if I didn't, the feeling was so strong. I started talking to the mom and found out he did have SMA. I offered to do some family pictures for them and gave them my information. I didn't hear back from the mom, so I called her a couple days later. She said she didn't call because she didn't want to bother me. I told her I wouldn't offer if I didn't want to help them. So we set up an appointment that week to do pictures. My mom and I went out and got them new clothes and some other things they were in need of. I did their family pictures and some of their baby, Desmond. Just few weeks later, he passed away. &nbsp;If I hadn't followed the Spirit, they never would have had a family picture together. The pictures I took of him are on his headstone.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zV1wCXyqCII/UPgrMaCP8aI/AAAAAAAADjI/znikQbUVNxE/s1600/camry.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zV1wCXyqCII/UPgrMaCP8aI/AAAAAAAADjI/znikQbUVNxE/s1600/camry.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zV1wCXyqCII/UPgrMaCP8aI/AAAAAAAADjI/znikQbUVNxE/s1600/camry.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zV1wCXyqCII/UPgrMaCP8aI/AAAAAAAADjI/znikQbUVNxE/s1600/camry.jpg"></a></div> One of the organizations I have become involved with recently is Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. This organization provides remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby. This helps the family's healing process by honoring their child's legacy. The photographs are also proof of their child's existence. I never knew how many women lose their babies. I found out that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, infant loss, or stillbirth. I am hoping to also bring more attention to this issue that affects so many families. Doing this has changed me as a mother, wife, friend, and photographer. <br> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dT6jG9xKj6E/UPgrN2kN_vI/AAAAAAAADjQ/J174hm-B8KE/s1600/desmond+parents.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dT6jG9xKj6E/UPgrN2kN_vI/AAAAAAAADjQ/J174hm-B8KE/s1600/desmond+parents.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dT6jG9xKj6E/UPgrN2kN_vI/AAAAAAAADjQ/J174hm-B8KE/s1600/desmond+parents.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dT6jG9xKj6E/UPgrN2kN_vI/AAAAAAAADjQ/J174hm-B8KE/s1600/desmond+parents.jpg"></a></div> I started last February with&nbsp;Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep,&nbsp;and have photographed over twenty angel babies. Every time I am at the hospital with these families, my problems seem so little. I hug and kiss my kids a lot more and take more pictures of them too. &nbsp;A picture may seem like such a small thing, but when you lose your child, they become one of the most precious things to you. I feel so blessed to have been given this talent and use it to help others in their darkest hour. I didn't know that the day I met sweet angel Briggs would change my life so much. &nbsp; <br> <div> <br></div> Raising My Brother http://www.tofw.com/Raising-My-Brother-Katie-Carleski/s/744 http://www.tofw.com/Raising-My-Brother-Katie-Carleski/s/744 Thu, 13 Dec 2012 12:53:00 -0700 <div> by Katie Carleski <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W1TT2xcq7HQ/UMoqnPKOVlI/AAAAAAAAC9k/h9I776dT0qw/s1600/28.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W1TT2xcq7HQ/UMoqnPKOVlI/AAAAAAAAC9k/h9I776dT0qw/s1600/28.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W1TT2xcq7HQ/UMoqnPKOVlI/AAAAAAAAC9k/h9I776dT0qw/s1600/28.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W1TT2xcq7HQ/UMoqnPKOVlI/AAAAAAAAC9k/h9I776dT0qw/s1600/28.jpg" width="640"></a></div> <br> Ten years seems like a lifetime ago, and yet as I reflect on the events that shaped our family,that day, I realize that in the eternal shape of things, it was little more than a blink of an eye.&nbsp; I was a very young bride in July of 2002, just 19 years old when my husband and I were sealed in the Portland Temple.&nbsp;School, work, and newly wedded bliss were all that I had on my horizon for several years as far as I could see. My life leading up to that point had been a roughly traveled road. At 16, I decided it was best if I left home to remove myself from a toxic&nbsp;environment. At 17, I agreed to learn more about my best friend's religion and in doing so found something I never knew I’d been missing in the gospel.&nbsp;Miraculously, I managed to make it to a university and so as my dashing RM husband and I looked at the road behind us compared to what lay in store, everything seemed like it was smooth sailing. Then one summer afternoon, a phone call would not only change what we had imagined for ourselves, but what we would become as a family forever. <br> <br> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-b8LfTvfLQzY/UMoxOrtJs0I/AAAAAAAAC_w/9vjlWEHmGTw/s1600/photo+%25281%2529.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-b8LfTvfLQzY/UMoxOrtJs0I/AAAAAAAAC_w/9vjlWEHmGTw/s1600/photo+%25281%2529.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-b8LfTvfLQzY/UMoxOrtJs0I/AAAAAAAAC_w/9vjlWEHmGTw/s320/photo+%25281%2529.JPG" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-b8LfTvfLQzY/UMoxOrtJs0I/AAAAAAAAC_w/9vjlWEHmGTw/s320/photo+%25281%2529.JPG" width="240"></a>I remember listening to my mother sobbing on the phone about how my younger brother—just 14 years old at the time—could no longer live with my father and his wife. My step mother had given the ultimatum of, "him or me" and my father had opted to stay married. Likewise, my mother, who was living life in an abusive relationship, was, in her eyes unable to take him back into her home, for fear of losing her husband. "What am I going to do?" she asked me over and over as I sat parked in our apartment parking lot, not quite understanding how either of them could honestly even question raising their child over their spouse. My little brother was amazing, a straight-A student, talented trombone player, and nationally awarded young academic.&nbsp;I hung up the phone with my mother, and called my husband, reduced to my own tears over the thought of my innocent younger brother being forced into the same situation I’d once travelled.&nbsp;“It’s simple,” my young husband of six months said. “He has to come and live with us.”<br> <br> <div style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> From that moment on, everything changed. At just 19 and 22, my husband and I found ourselves becoming parents—to a teenager, no less—overnight. As I reflect upon it, I realize the hand of the Lord was so heavily at play in our lives at that moment, and that it was not my younger brother who was being saved but my young family that was being blessed. Because of our new life as a family, my husband and I decided to start our biological family right away. It was often times a struggle to provide as normal a life as possible for a teenage boy while being poor university students who quickly added two baby boys to the mix, but the blessings afforded to us were great. Having Doug in our home enriched the lives of our children in ways that most kids never experience.&nbsp;The lessons we learned through our unconventional family are too numerous to list in such a short space, but I credit the Lord for all that was good in our life at that time.</div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IKWrkjstLyQ/UMoxLIQ61FI/AAAAAAAAC_o/3mRdJU1UOMM/s1600/218061_824299061108_4907786_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IKWrkjstLyQ/UMoxLIQ61FI/AAAAAAAAC_o/3mRdJU1UOMM/s1600/218061_824299061108_4907786_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IKWrkjstLyQ/UMoxLIQ61FI/AAAAAAAAC_o/3mRdJU1UOMM/s320/218061_824299061108_4907786_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IKWrkjstLyQ/UMoxLIQ61FI/AAAAAAAAC_o/3mRdJU1UOMM/s320/218061_824299061108_4907786_n.jpg" width="320"></a></div> Doug lived with us, as a member of our family, through his time in high school. After graduating from high school with honors, he attended the local university. There too, he remained a part of our family, always coming home to visit and making sure my boys (by that point 4 of them) remembered who their best uncle was! And now, as I reflect on&nbsp;the 10 years that have passed&nbsp;since that young boy came to our equally young, new family, I marvel at my brother, a newly minted Lieutenant stationed in Germany; studying to get his masters in political affairs. He brings light and good to all he meets.&nbsp; My heart is saddened for what my parents both gave up a decade ago, yet, I wonder at the change one phone call has made in the lives of my entire family for the last 10 years because we are able to call Doug one of our own. That I am able to call him mine, in a sense, and have been able to walk in this journey to adulthood with him, has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. Life with Quads http://www.tofw.com/Life-Quads-Lydia-Taggart/s/739 http://www.tofw.com/Life-Quads-Lydia-Taggart/s/739 Thu, 06 Dec 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Lydia Taggart <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WW8_D6enIZU/UL_NoZ2a-bI/AAAAAAAACy4/QAiX0Seqqjc/s1600/Marek,+Stephen,+Evan,+Steve,+Lily,+Lydia,+Brenden,+and+Dallas+Taggart.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WW8_D6enIZU/UL_NoZ2a-bI/AAAAAAAACy4/QAiX0Seqqjc/s1600/Marek,+Stephen,+Evan,+Steve,+Lily,+Lydia,+Brenden,+and+Dallas+Taggart.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WW8_D6enIZU/UL_NoZ2a-bI/AAAAAAAACy4/QAiX0Seqqjc/s1600/Marek,+Stephen,+Evan,+Steve,+Lily,+Lydia,+Brenden,+and+Dallas+Taggart.jpg" width="640" height="426" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WW8_D6enIZU/UL_NoZ2a-bI/AAAAAAAACy4/QAiX0Seqqjc/s1600/Marek,+Stephen,+Evan,+Steve,+Lily,+Lydia,+Brenden,+and+Dallas+Taggart.jpg"></a></div> <br> We always joked about how many kids to have. He wanted six. I said, “Six? That’s a lot of kids. Let’s take them one at a time and see how it goes.” Famous last words? Not quite.<br> <br> He was the youngest of four and I was the oldest of… well more. It’s hard to define since it was a blended family. Maybe I wasn’t the oldest. Anyway, given our history, we agreed. We didn’t want three children because of possible friendship dynamics.<br> <br> Sure enough, child one and two were less than two years apart and proving to be best friends when the third pregnancy came.<br> <br> My husband asked again, “How many should we have? I think we should have six.”<br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-a57ppJuWSKY/UL_NwkBUykI/AAAAAAAACzE/i-vyUmClvkY/s1600/family+september+2005.JPG" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-a57ppJuWSKY/UL_NwkBUykI/AAAAAAAACzE/i-vyUmClvkY/s1600/family+september+2005.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-a57ppJuWSKY/UL_NwkBUykI/AAAAAAAACzE/i-vyUmClvkY/s1600/family+september+2005.JPG" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-a57ppJuWSKY/UL_NwkBUykI/AAAAAAAACzE/i-vyUmClvkY/s1600/family+september+2005.JPG"></a>In my heart I whispered, I hope that it’s twins or something. I would rather not do this again. &nbsp;I was already having a hard time bending over. I expressed my concerns that there was too much baby in the way at my first doctor appointment. The doctor said I was just bloated but agreed to check anyway. The ultra sound revealed more than water retention.</div> <br> Learning I was about to give birth to quadruplets was unnerving, but I knew the Lord would provide for us if He trusted us with this challenge. Our prayers had been answered. We were having six children, and we were not getting pregnant again. I accepted it as part of Heavenly Father’s plan. <br> <br> Having faith in the Lord was not hard for me. Laundry was never a worry either. Neither were the dishes, meal preparation, or cleaning the house. I didn’t do any of it because the doctor had ordered bed-rest. Others taught, entertained, and disciplined my two boys. I felt like a helpless sap on society. Yet, I smiled and said thank you to every new “friend” I saw, because I knew this was the Lord’s plan.<br> <br> Finally the quads were born and I sank further into my fuzzy role of nothingness. Others fed, changed, cooed at, and loved the babies. I was grateful for the help, but I couldn’t help wondering if they were only helping because it was quadruplets. If it were less newsworthy would anyone care? I silently doubted it.<br> <br> Somewhere between being the Stake Service Project and having the miracle of birth times four, I found a kind of depression that was elusive and dismal. It crept up subtly so that I didn’t recognize it until it had completely enveloped my spirit.<br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dc3HY9BSnlM/UL_OgOOREjI/AAAAAAAACzM/cmdwZG8qia4/s1600/IMG_0538.JPG" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dc3HY9BSnlM/UL_OgOOREjI/AAAAAAAACzM/cmdwZG8qia4/s1600/IMG_0538.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dc3HY9BSnlM/UL_OgOOREjI/AAAAAAAACzM/cmdwZG8qia4/s1600/IMG_0538.JPG" width="240" height="320" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dc3HY9BSnlM/UL_OgOOREjI/AAAAAAAACzM/cmdwZG8qia4/s1600/IMG_0538.JPG"></a>One Sunday while at church, one of the babies whimpered and was whisked away in a blur by an unknown helper. My heart ached to be the mother. I wanted to love and cuddle my babies. Feelings of inadequacy and jealousy nibbled at my soul.</div> <br> Mother’s Day brought endless praise, but after spending months in bed, and clearly not being good enough to care for my children as a mother should, it was my least favorite day of the year. I pretended to enjoy it.<br> <br> I was often introduced as "the one with quadruplets." &nbsp;One introduction was followed with, “You tended her kids.” My throat tightened as I blinked away the tears. I had lost my identity as well as my ability to contribute to society.<br> <br> Then the response came. “Oh, probably. I tend for lots of people.” &nbsp;Her demeanor was so nonchalant, like she just helped people whenever she could and it was nothing more for her.<br> <br> A sudden realization washed over me. I needed more than faith in the plan. Heavenly Father provided these sisters for me, not just because I needed their help, but because they were willing and able to help. Because I am His daughter. Because He loves me for who I am and what I can become. Because He wants me to be happy.<br> <br> I blinked again and took a deep breath. I silently thanked the Lord and asked for forgiveness for not recognizing my blessings. I swallowed the lump in my throat and smiled before I sincerely thanked, and met, another new friend. <br> <div> <br></div> <br> Finding Faith http://www.tofw.com/Finding-Faith-Brenda-Spearin/s/733 http://www.tofw.com/Finding-Faith-Brenda-Spearin/s/733 Thu, 29 Nov 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Brenda Spearin <br /> </div> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DC2Gt4fc0iQ/ULVHdjR3lMI/AAAAAAAACow/b0A4R9H29M8/s1600/04.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DC2Gt4fc0iQ/ULVHdjR3lMI/AAAAAAAACow/b0A4R9H29M8/s1600/04.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DC2Gt4fc0iQ/ULVHdjR3lMI/AAAAAAAACow/b0A4R9H29M8/s1600/04.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DC2Gt4fc0iQ/ULVHdjR3lMI/AAAAAAAACow/b0A4R9H29M8/s1600/04.jpg" height="420" width="640"></a></div> <br> Growing up, I can remember always wondering if there was a God. Religion just wasn't a part of the home I was raised in. I used to envy my friends who went to church and took classes during the week, and I always knew I wanted to belong to a church when I grew up. This desire to know about God eventually led me to the restored gospel.<br> <br> As I began searching in earnest, I happened to attend church with some friends, along with my husband and two year old son. That Sunday, the Young Women were sharing their testimonies. One after another, they spoke about their faith in God and how it affected their lives. I was very touched and impressed that these girls could have such solid faith, when at 21, I was still so unsure of what I believed. I knew at that moment though, that I wanted my children to be brought up with faith, and I renewed my efforts to find a church to join. I continued to attend the different churches in my town, but nothing ever felt right.<br> <br> Having not grown up with, or in, a faith, I had created my own picture of what church should be like. I always thought when you went to Church, you belonged to it. It was a part of your life. You knew everyone, they knew you. You loved and served each other, and it was a big part of your life. It was not a Sunday only thing. Most of all, it should bring into your life a strong faith, that you built your life upon. After I had attended the local churches a few times, I was bothered that I still wasn't sure if there really was a God. Was He really there? Did He really care about me? Feeling kind of awkward to ask someone such a personal question, I kept it to myself for a few months.<br> <br> One night however, while talking to the neighbors I had attended church with months earlier, the opportunity to ask, "How do you have faith?" came up. I mentioned those girls I had seen as an example. How did they know? How did my neighbors know? After a great discussion, they sent me home to read a few verses in the Book of Mormon, which talked about how faith is like a seed. I read about how you need to plant the seed and how it grows as you act upon it. I read not only those verses, but the entire Book of Mormon over the next five days. That was the beginning of my testimony that God lives, He loves us, and He restored His gospel to us. I found the faith I was seeking, and the church I had always envisioned. I was baptized four weeks later.<br> <br> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yT9FLfYZyRk/ULVHg2vv7dI/AAAAAAAACo4/Po1KWWRQQeQ/s1600/27.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yT9FLfYZyRk/ULVHg2vv7dI/AAAAAAAACo4/Po1KWWRQQeQ/s1600/27.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yT9FLfYZyRk/ULVHg2vv7dI/AAAAAAAACo4/Po1KWWRQQeQ/s1600/27.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yT9FLfYZyRk/ULVHg2vv7dI/AAAAAAAACo4/Po1KWWRQQeQ/s1600/27.jpg" height="320" width="212"></a>Though not interested at first, my husband slowly gained a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was baptized on Father’s Day, almost two years later. We were sealed in the temple a year later while expecting our third child. That was 17 years ago. We are now the parents of nine children – ages 19 down to 8 months. We remain the only members in our family on both sides.<br> <br> Since joining, we have tried to pass on our faith to our children. They are the first generation to be brought up in the gospel. We struggle sometimes, in raising them completely different from the way that we were raised – to incorporate the scriptures into teaching moments, to remember to have family prayer, and how best to engage the children in scripture study. We have fun introducing and building what will hopefully be family traditions – Family Home Evenings, General Conference weekends, and having the missionaries over for “breakfast for dinner” nights. We enjoy tender moments as my husband is able to give the children blessings for their health and for comfort.<br> <br> One especially touching moment was a few weeks ago when I was able to listen to my daughter, age 16, bear her testimony in Sacrament meeting with all the other Young Women. In that moment, it felt like a circle had been completed.<br> <br> <br> Waffles and Willpower http://www.tofw.com/Waffles-Willpower-Heather-Murphy/s/727 http://www.tofw.com/Waffles-Willpower-Heather-Murphy/s/727 Fri, 16 Nov 2012 10:07:00 -0700 <div> by Heather Murphy <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B7uiMc-YMH8/UKZxC6BHvBI/AAAAAAAACjE/dPFWKO39bLA/s1600/morning.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B7uiMc-YMH8/UKZxC6BHvBI/AAAAAAAACjE/dPFWKO39bLA/s1600/morning.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B7uiMc-YMH8/UKZxC6BHvBI/AAAAAAAACjE/dPFWKO39bLA/s1600/morning.jpg" width="640" height="608" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B7uiMc-YMH8/UKZxC6BHvBI/AAAAAAAACjE/dPFWKO39bLA/s1600/morning.jpg"></a></div> <br> I am not a morning person.&nbsp;I know that.&nbsp;My kids know that.&nbsp;My husband knows that.&nbsp;My neighbors even know it.&nbsp;Maybe it's not even that I'm not a morning person - it's just that I'm so much a night person.&nbsp;I need some time to decompress after the day.&nbsp;I love the stillness of the house after everyone has gone to bed.&nbsp;It finally feels like I can turn my brain off and just....be.&nbsp;Sure, I have quiet during the day while the kids are at school, but I'm supposed to be doing stuff.&nbsp;At night, though, when all is quiet and my family has drifted off, I feel like I can allow myself a few hours of nothingness.&nbsp;I might play a word game.&nbsp;I might catch up on an episode or two of my favorite show.&nbsp;Or, I might just sit and do nothing.&nbsp;To me, those few hours of silence are magical. <br> <br> This habit of mine, however, has made it nearly impossible for me to wake up at any sort of respectable hour in the mornings.&nbsp;Especially during the summer, there were many times that the kids would wake up before I did.&nbsp;I told myself that it was fine.&nbsp;It was summer after all!&nbsp;But deep down, I knew I could do better - that I could be so much more productive if I could just drag myself out of bed.&nbsp;Every other week or so, I would promise my husband that I'd do better.&nbsp;That I would be better.&nbsp;And so he would do his best to wake me before he left for work.&nbsp;And I would grumpily beg for a few more minutes.&nbsp;I had a hard night.&nbsp;The kids woke up.&nbsp;The wind kept me awake. I just needed a little more sleep and then I would get up.&nbsp;I promised.&nbsp;Of course, those few minutes turned into an hour or more, and my husband would stop trying to "help" me out of my snuggly cocoon.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-i38CeUQw71M/UKZw8x4CQMI/AAAAAAAACis/qhKbIlrQssg/s1600/Kids.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-i38CeUQw71M/UKZw8x4CQMI/AAAAAAAACis/qhKbIlrQssg/s1600/Kids.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-i38CeUQw71M/UKZw8x4CQMI/AAAAAAAACis/qhKbIlrQssg/s1600/Kids.jpg" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-i38CeUQw71M/UKZw8x4CQMI/AAAAAAAACis/qhKbIlrQssg/s1600/Kids.jpg"></a>So, when I decided to sit my family down on the eve of the first day of school to make a ginormous (that means REALLY big) promise, I wasn't sure what to expect.&nbsp;Would they laugh me out of the room?&nbsp;Would they roll their eyes in disbelief that their sleepy mom could pull off such a feat?&nbsp;I was a little anxious about the whole thing.&nbsp;Turns out, my kids have more faith in me than I have faith in myself.&nbsp;I told them that I had a deal to make with them.&nbsp;I promised that I would make breakfast - a hot, homemade breakfast - every morning for them.&nbsp;Immediately, I was greeted - not with laughter, not with eye-rolling disbelief - but with little cheers and smiles.&nbsp;Mission accomplished - almost.&nbsp;I hadn't yet told them what their part of the bargain would be.&nbsp;"All I want in return," I said, "is for you guys to read scriptures with me before school."&nbsp;I cringed.&nbsp;Would the excitement from moments before fade into mumbles and grumbles and murmuring?&nbsp;To my pleasant surprise, all five of the school-age kids readily agreed.&nbsp;I was ecstatic! </div> <br> As the kids left our little family council and scattered to finish last-minute preparations for the next day, I glanced over at my husband.&nbsp;He had a look on his face that said to me, "Oh honey, here we go again."&nbsp;I knew what he was thinking.&nbsp;It had been a few weeks since my last attempt at perfection, and I was due for a little self-improvement sprint.&nbsp;I gave him a hug and thanked him for not laughing at me in front of the kids.&nbsp;He hugged me back and said in his most convincing voice, "Well, it should be interesting."<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jfCW1cW44zw/UKZxFGT5NpI/AAAAAAAACjM/E1_ZmDgUCco/s1600/Scriptures.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jfCW1cW44zw/UKZxFGT5NpI/AAAAAAAACjM/E1_ZmDgUCco/s1600/Scriptures.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jfCW1cW44zw/UKZxFGT5NpI/AAAAAAAACjM/E1_ZmDgUCco/s1600/Scriptures.jpg" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jfCW1cW44zw/UKZxFGT5NpI/AAAAAAAACjM/E1_ZmDgUCco/s1600/Scriptures.jpg"></a>And so it began. I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., and when it rang, I rolled out of bed...even though I had only climbed into it a few short hours before.&nbsp;I heated up the waffle-maker, mixed the batter and started waking the kids.&nbsp;They got up and got dressed with very little nagging (which probably had more to do with the excitement of starting a new school year than the smell of my sub-par waffles) and we were sitting together on the sofa, scriptures open, by 6:15. We took turns reading a few verses at a time until we finished the first chapter of 1 Nephi.&nbsp;We had done it!<br><br>We have had three weeks of scripture-reading mornings since that first day, and every one has been better than the last.&nbsp;The kids wake up, curious to know what I'm fixing.&nbsp;We've had french toast and breakfast burritos and sausage and eggs and hashbrowns.&nbsp;We've had scrambled egg sandwiches and waffles.&nbsp;I find myself scouring the internet for new and fun breakfast ideas.&nbsp;Not once have the kids grumbled about having to be up earlier than usual.&nbsp;In fact, during our post-reading prayer, each child has thanked Heavenly Father for the opportunity to read scriptures before school. They thank me for making them breakfast, but it is them I am grateful for.&nbsp;I am thankful that I have the kind of kids who will humor the wishes of a far from perfect mom. I am grateful for God's tender mercies, for I know that it is with His help that I am able to make this change.</div> Same Goal, Different Story http://www.tofw.com/Same-Goal-Different-Story-Cami-DeWitt/s/721 http://www.tofw.com/Same-Goal-Different-Story-Cami-DeWitt/s/721 Thu, 08 Nov 2012 00:52:00 -0700 <div> by Cami DeWitt <br /> </div> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WbfnzpuoY-Q/UJrIkLVCrsI/AAAAAAAACV4/77XoWuQe3Hg/s1600/Kids+%2526+Tawni.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WbfnzpuoY-Q/UJrIkLVCrsI/AAAAAAAACV4/77XoWuQe3Hg/s1600/Kids+%2526+Tawni.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WbfnzpuoY-Q/UJrIkLVCrsI/AAAAAAAACV4/77XoWuQe3Hg/s1600/Kids+%2526+Tawni.jpg" width="640" height="212" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WbfnzpuoY-Q/UJrIkLVCrsI/AAAAAAAACV4/77XoWuQe3Hg/s1600/Kids+%2526+Tawni.jpg"></a></div> <br> Earlier this year I was talking with a few of the young women in my ward. One in particular was telling me about her extreme case of “Senior-itis." &nbsp;I laughed thinking back to my high school Senior year and memories of feeling the same thing . . . ready to "move on" with my goals. After all, I WAS going to graduate from college, meet an incredible returned missionary that loved my family and who I had so much fun with. My goals included getting married in the Mesa Temple, and by the time I was 35 we would be done having our four or five children. I would be a fun mom with adorable kids in our darling home that was paid for. My husband would love his job and we would be the "fun parents." Sounds attainable, right?<br> <br> In March this year, I turned 36. I have thought about the past 18 years that seem to have flown by. &nbsp;I’ve thought about the goals I was going to accomplish before now . . . And I haven't hit a single oneof them. I didn't graduate from college; I haven't met an incredible returned missionary whom I have married in the Mesa Temple. I don't have kids or the perfect little family. I don't own my home, nor am I the "fun parent" I had imagined myself being. I was sad as reflected on the things I haven't done and all of the goals I haven’t reached. Talk about feeling like a failure.<br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8_wbhYt4amM/UJrIkxAlDGI/AAAAAAAACV8/Dxa3hSFDzXI/s1600/mission.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8_wbhYt4amM/UJrIkxAlDGI/AAAAAAAACV8/Dxa3hSFDzXI/s1600/mission.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8_wbhYt4amM/UJrIkxAlDGI/AAAAAAAACV8/Dxa3hSFDzXI/s1600/mission.jpg" width="400" height="132" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8_wbhYt4amM/UJrIkxAlDGI/AAAAAAAACV8/Dxa3hSFDzXI/s1600/mission.jpg"></a></div> <br> BUT tonight as I flip through my pictures, read recent journal posts and now&nbsp;write this, I am so grateful for the path I have wandered, stumbled, ran and at times slid down. I DID go to college and made amazing friends. I HAVE served a full time mission and meet incredible people that have changed my life. I DO live in a fantastic neighborhood that I love. I HAVE owned (and lost) homes. I DO have amazing friends who have helped shape my life to higher expectations of how I should be treated. I am not married but I HAVE been through the Mesa Temple many times and I love the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have there and in other temples I have been able to attend. &nbsp;My "husband" may not love his job because, well I still don’t have one, but I DO love mine! I am grateful to work with loving people who strive and pray every day to help other people.<br> <br> I do NOT &nbsp;have children to call "mine" but I DO have nieces and nephews and neighbor kids that I love more than a "single" heart can imagine. I truly find joy in them, they make me a better person. I AM the "Fun Aunt" and love every minute of it. So...am I too far "off" from the goals I set when I was 18?<br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ovemz_BkrjM/UJrIlrJa0AI/AAAAAAAACWE/H6C1BXl7izU/s1600/My+littles.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ovemz_BkrjM/UJrIlrJa0AI/AAAAAAAACWE/H6C1BXl7izU/s1600/My+littles.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ovemz_BkrjM/UJrIlrJa0AI/AAAAAAAACWE/H6C1BXl7izU/s1600/My+littles.jpg" width="400" height="132" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ovemz_BkrjM/UJrIlrJa0AI/AAAAAAAACWE/H6C1BXl7izU/s1600/My+littles.jpg"></a></div> <br> I don't think so - I think that I am doing every single one of them, just&nbsp;in a different way than I planned. And I am happy. <br> <div> <br></div> Led By a Little One http://www.tofw.com/Led-Little-One-Natasha-Dansie/s/707 http://www.tofw.com/Led-Little-One-Natasha-Dansie/s/707 Thu, 18 Oct 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Natasha Dansie <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pOYpvqdTcE4/UH8dFnROEiI/AAAAAAAAB-0/lO8V1F3oWpM/s1600/14+copy.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pOYpvqdTcE4/UH8dFnROEiI/AAAAAAAAB-0/lO8V1F3oWpM/s1600/14+copy.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pOYpvqdTcE4/UH8dFnROEiI/AAAAAAAAB-0/lO8V1F3oWpM/s640/14+copy.jpg" width="640" height="424" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pOYpvqdTcE4/UH8dFnROEiI/AAAAAAAAB-0/lO8V1F3oWpM/s640/14+copy.jpg"></a></div><p> It all started as a result of a prompting.&nbsp; Not the warm fuzzy make-you-feel-good kind.&nbsp; It was more of the shot-in-the-arm, you’ve-got-work-to-do kind.&nbsp; I was studying in Moroni chapter 7, reading about charity when the Holy Ghost pointed out to me that I was not as charitable as I should be, and that in order to become more like my Savior, I needed to develop more of this Christ-like love.&nbsp; So my journey began.<br> <br> As Mormon instructs, I made my quest for more charity a central part of my prayers.&nbsp;I pray during my morning runs, and I began to explain to my Heavenly Father my sincere desire.&nbsp;I asked Him what specific things I could do to practice charity in my life.&nbsp;One morning just as the sun was dawning, I was running again&nbsp;and praying again and asking for guidance.&nbsp;That particular morning, my question became:&nbsp;What is one specific thing I can do to teach my children the principle of charity?&nbsp;Now, I already had a few ideas in mind.&nbsp;I was thinking of all sorts of small acts of service we could do together.&nbsp;Take cookies to the neighbor.&nbsp;Go visit the widow.&nbsp;These were the kind of simple things I knew my children could help me with. <br> </p><div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PHRi9pw89ak/UH8dOfAyLBI/AAAAAAAAB_I/tynEuZEqsN4/s1600/P1050985.JPG" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PHRi9pw89ak/UH8dOfAyLBI/AAAAAAAAB_I/tynEuZEqsN4/s1600/P1050985.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PHRi9pw89ak/UH8dOfAyLBI/AAAAAAAAB_I/tynEuZEqsN4/s320/P1050985.JPG" width="301" height="320" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PHRi9pw89ak/UH8dOfAyLBI/AAAAAAAAB_I/tynEuZEqsN4/s320/P1050985.JPG"></a>“What would Thou have me do, Lord?” I asked that morning.&nbsp; </div> <br> The Holy Ghost prompted me in a different direction.&nbsp;“Go volunteer at the care center.”&nbsp; <br> <br> I immediately tried to push the prompting aside.&nbsp;I did not want to go to the care center.&nbsp;I had something a little more comfortable in mind.&nbsp;But because I could not deny that I had received a specific answer to my prayer, I decided to do my part, have some courage, and follow through.&nbsp; <br> <br> With forced enthusiasm I informed my children that we were going to go to the local care center to visit people who might be lonely and need a friend.&nbsp;As we drove there I was silently praying for courage, but I was secretly hoping that they would turn us away.&nbsp;We would likely need to complete an extensive background check, right?&nbsp; Children were too germy to be around elderly people, right?<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_NMfuXvmW4s/UH8dQmsOqyI/AAAAAAAAB_Q/pdT0BQsDc1U/s1600/P1050987.JPG" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_NMfuXvmW4s/UH8dQmsOqyI/AAAAAAAAB_Q/pdT0BQsDc1U/s1600/P1050987.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_NMfuXvmW4s/UH8dQmsOqyI/AAAAAAAAB_Q/pdT0BQsDc1U/s320/P1050987.JPG" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_NMfuXvmW4s/UH8dQmsOqyI/AAAAAAAAB_Q/pdT0BQsDc1U/s320/P1050987.JPG"></a>Turns out I was dead wrong.&nbsp;When I walked in and informed them that my children and I were interested in volunteering, they ushered us right in.&nbsp;“The residents just love children,” they exclaimed.&nbsp;“We are so happy to have you,” they gushed.&nbsp; So I swallowed hard and tried to smile.&nbsp;Trusting my experience that when a prompting is followed, things work out.</div> <br> That was three summers ago when the youngest of my three children was just a year old.&nbsp;And we're still there. We volunteer at the care center once a week each summer.&nbsp;This last summer, the directors asked if we would spend our time there in the lockdown unit of the facility.&nbsp;We had never even been over to that side of the care center.&nbsp;They explained that the residents there got very few visitors.&nbsp;One would think that by this time, I would be comfortable at the care center, but I am not. I look forward to going because of the feeling and insight I receive, but each time I still have to step out of my comfort zone.&nbsp;Being asked to spend our time in the lockdown unit took me to a whole new level of apprehension.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HVkJ2UNtvbU/UH8dSCczAnI/AAAAAAAAB_Y/zatyvdVRM78/s1600/P1050989.JPG" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HVkJ2UNtvbU/UH8dSCczAnI/AAAAAAAAB_Y/zatyvdVRM78/s1600/P1050989.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HVkJ2UNtvbU/UH8dSCczAnI/AAAAAAAAB_Y/zatyvdVRM78/s320/P1050989.JPG" width="320" height="242" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HVkJ2UNtvbU/UH8dSCczAnI/AAAAAAAAB_Y/zatyvdVRM78/s320/P1050989.JPG"></a>When we are asked to do things that are not easy for us, it causes us to dig a little deeper, reach a little higher, become more than we currently are.&nbsp;Each week we would plan songs to sing and activities to do with the residents.&nbsp;Each week as we went to volunteer, the words of Isaiah would echo in my mind, “and a little child shall lead” (Isaiah 11:6.)&nbsp; My children, in their “submissive, meek, humble, patient, and full of love” state (Mosiah 3:19) saw things in the residents that I might have missed, and they simply did not see the things that may have been uncomfortable or divisive.&nbsp; When they walked into the care center to spend time with the residents, their childlike eyes did not see the frailties of men.&nbsp;They only saw other children of God whom they sat with, sang with, talked with, and loved.</div> <br> I set out to teach my children charity, but it turns out they are the ones who are teaching me.&nbsp; I still have not arrived at this perfect charity-I think that's a lifelong process-but I have come to know some very important things along this sweet journey.&nbsp;I know that the Spirit will prompt me to become more like my Savior.&nbsp;I know that God hears and answers my prayers. I know He will provide a way for me to become the person He wants me to be.&nbsp;And I know that as we become as little children, we will be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4.)&nbsp; The Blessing of a Coma http://www.tofw.com/Blessing-Coma-Natalie-Marti/s/700 http://www.tofw.com/Blessing-Coma-Natalie-Marti/s/700 Thu, 11 Oct 2012 00:14:00 -0600 <div> by Natalie Marti <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-refhdw-ypCg/UHXDnrXkTdI/AAAAAAAAB2E/DCgjRa2MgDI/s1600/nm1.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-refhdw-ypCg/UHXDnrXkTdI/AAAAAAAAB2E/DCgjRa2MgDI/s1600/nm1.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-refhdw-ypCg/UHXDnrXkTdI/AAAAAAAAB2E/DCgjRa2MgDI/s640/nm1.jpg" width="640" height="510" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-refhdw-ypCg/UHXDnrXkTdI/AAAAAAAAB2E/DCgjRa2MgDI/s640/nm1.jpg"></a></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> &nbsp;</div> I sometimes drive by the spot on the highway where the accident happened with my family.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br> <br> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zlt8uZZvy7Y/UHXEu5sbs2I/AAAAAAAAB2M/SnBLGzG_nME/s1600/nm2.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zlt8uZZvy7Y/UHXEu5sbs2I/AAAAAAAAB2M/SnBLGzG_nME/s1600/nm2.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zlt8uZZvy7Y/UHXEu5sbs2I/AAAAAAAAB2M/SnBLGzG_nME/s320/nm2.jpg" width="211" height="320" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zlt8uZZvy7Y/UHXEu5sbs2I/AAAAAAAAB2M/SnBLGzG_nME/s320/nm2.jpg"></a>Even after nine years, this awful stretch of road always seems to reopen the scars made by losing my husband Shawn and our daughter Sage.&nbsp;Thankfully my memory of the event is still clouded, perhaps an effect of the coma or traumatic brain injury I incurred, but I like to think it was a blessing from God, protecting me from mentally reliving the horrific experience over and over again.&nbsp;Many questions have flooded my mind since the experience. How would my life be different if we had chosen to drive a different way home that night the accident happened? Would our dreams of having a big family be fulfilled? What would our children look and be like? Would we be as happy and as in love as we were then? Why couldn't I have passed with them? Why was I chosen to survive to live this torment and would I ever find happiness again?<br> <br> Recovery was a long difficult process and was a war on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I had many injuries that required surgeries and therapy to recover from.&nbsp;The brain damage in the initial stages of healing, created memory loss resulting in constant confusion, and after recovery still many mental barriers affect my short term memory.&nbsp; <br> <br> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ewtVq7MDKvU/UHXFtdiAKhI/AAAAAAAAB2U/92b5peO3V6c/s1600/nm3.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ewtVq7MDKvU/UHXFtdiAKhI/AAAAAAAAB2U/92b5peO3V6c/s1600/nm3.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ewtVq7MDKvU/UHXFtdiAKhI/AAAAAAAAB2U/92b5peO3V6c/s320/nm3.jpg" width="320" height="214" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ewtVq7MDKvU/UHXFtdiAKhI/AAAAAAAAB2U/92b5peO3V6c/s320/nm3.jpg"></a>The darkness of the hole created in my life made me desire death to ease the burden of existing without them. Sometimes the memories of our brief time together and the dashed hopes of the future were too difficult to bear. Even being surrounded by my family and others who cared for me, I felt that no one was there who understood what I was feeling.&nbsp;Beyond that I couldn't understand my purpose for being alive.<br> <br> People have asked me many times how I overcame such awful trials. Just as climbing a mountain does not happen in one step, I have decided that it was not one independent act that made recovery possible.&nbsp;It it was many little decisions, many little actions, and many little blessings that helped me accomplish it.&nbsp;But the healing process always begins and ends with understanding one's power to control their choices.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5UFTFJAv8jA/UHXFvWI2-sI/AAAAAAAAB2c/emEhyGqnCbw/s1600/nm4.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5UFTFJAv8jA/UHXFvWI2-sI/AAAAAAAAB2c/emEhyGqnCbw/s1600/nm4.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5UFTFJAv8jA/UHXFvWI2-sI/AAAAAAAAB2c/emEhyGqnCbw/s320/nm4.jpg" width="212" height="320" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5UFTFJAv8jA/UHXFvWI2-sI/AAAAAAAAB2c/emEhyGqnCbw/s320/nm4.jpg"></a>When I remember the account of Christ being crucified by his own people, and his declaration on the cross before his death, “Father Forgive them for they know not what they do," I am humbled. It gives me a new perspective of my condition and the way I view the man responsible for Shawn's and Sage's deaths. I knew I had to follow the Savior’s example and choose to forgive him.&nbsp;I cannot express the joy in surrendering the weight of the negative emotions that could have enveloped my life and offering him what he wanted most—my forgiveness. </div> <br> Sometimes I see the scars left by the accident and I am reminded of not only the journey I have been forced to walk, but the great lessons I have learned and the deeper relationship to God that I never would have had without this experience.&nbsp; I have chosen to see the good in it because there is good in it.&nbsp; These defining moments in our lives are meant to teach us not only about our own abilities to overcome, but to teach us to call on God, to remember Christ's infinite sacrifice in our behalf, and to remember His immense love available to each of us.&nbsp; Sidney's Legacy http://www.tofw.com/Sidneys-Legacy-Kathy-Gustad/s/697 http://www.tofw.com/Sidneys-Legacy-Kathy-Gustad/s/697 Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Kathy Gustad <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jHz_N2hpeGI/UGy-KkFPhaI/AAAAAAAABvw/qTOs7oY5AAQ/s1600/ambulance.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jHz_N2hpeGI/UGy-KkFPhaI/AAAAAAAABvw/qTOs7oY5AAQ/s1600/ambulance.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jHz_N2hpeGI/UGy-KkFPhaI/AAAAAAAABvw/qTOs7oY5AAQ/s640/ambulance.jpg" width="640" height="426" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jHz_N2hpeGI/UGy-KkFPhaI/AAAAAAAABvw/qTOs7oY5AAQ/s640/ambulance.jpg"></a></div> <br> When everyone else in the family walked away with bruises, Sidney didn’t walk away at all. She was taken by ambulance to the small local hospital and then by helicopter to Primary Children’s in Salt Lake City. What started out as a family road-trip to Utah and then to Oregon, ended with the loss of a beautiful 12-year old girl.<br> <br> My family has cried with Sidney’s family. We have laughed and grieved with them, but we know that we can never understand what it is like to wake up each morning and be them. We know that no amount of good can ease the pain of Sidney’s death; no amount of good can change what happened that day.<br> <br> But maybe there is something that can be done to remember the goodness of a 12-year old girl. A small gesture to remind everyone of the young woman that Sidney was.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--rylqZ5hvQ8/UGy-NTTOjcI/AAAAAAAABwA/jLF1VGEuBLE/s1600/graduation.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--rylqZ5hvQ8/UGy-NTTOjcI/AAAAAAAABwA/jLF1VGEuBLE/s1600/graduation.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--rylqZ5hvQ8/UGy-NTTOjcI/AAAAAAAABwA/jLF1VGEuBLE/s320/graduation.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--rylqZ5hvQ8/UGy-NTTOjcI/AAAAAAAABwA/jLF1VGEuBLE/s320/graduation.jpg"></a>This year Sidney would be a junior in high school. She would be a junior at my high school. Chances are I would have been her English teacher, but at the very least, I would have watched as Sidney’s beautiful smile brightened the hallway. That is who she was, a young woman who always spread joy to everyone around her.</div> <br> As I prepared my seniors for graduation last May, my thoughts were drawn to Sidney. I felt the Spirit so strong in the idea that was taking root. What if there was a way to let Sidney be a part of her graduating class: The Brighton High School Class of 2014? What if there was a way to let her goodness be a gift to one of her classmates?<br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <br></div> I decided that I wanted to help bring some hope to the tragedy that was Sidney’s death.<br> <br> As a high school teacher, I see many students who need help paying for college and many more who end up not going because they simply cannot afford tuition or books. There are many types of scholarships available, but one type in particular is lacking. There is very little scholarship money for any student who wishes to pursue an art degree. This is exactly the type of scholarship that Sidney herself would have pursued.<br> <br> The plan began with an idea: The Sidney Weber Memorial Scholarship. Sidney was an artist, she painted, she baked, she sculpted, and she created.<br> <br> Before getting too excited, Sidney’s parents needed to be on board with the scholarship in memory of their oldest daughter. They are. They love the idea of one of Sidney’s classmates being able to go to college with a scholarship bearing Sidney’s name. They love the idea of the scholarship going to an extremely under-funded discipline: the arts. Perhaps most importantly, they love the idea of presenting the scholarship to a classmate of their beautiful daughter. They love the idea of Sidney being a part of her graduating class. Their only request was that this scholarship go to a student who intends to attend college to pursue a type of art degree.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xY36UkA6laU/UGy-L0CrZtI/AAAAAAAABv4/H95jYA287a8/s1600/artstudent.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xY36UkA6laU/UGy-L0CrZtI/AAAAAAAABv4/H95jYA287a8/s1600/artstudent.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xY36UkA6laU/UGy-L0CrZtI/AAAAAAAABv4/H95jYA287a8/s320/artstudent.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xY36UkA6laU/UGy-L0CrZtI/AAAAAAAABv4/H95jYA287a8/s320/artstudent.jpg"></a>My promise to them was that I would organize, create, and manage the scholarship. They would choose the selection committee and present the scholarship to the winning candidate. That is just the beginning of the good that will come from this idea.</div> <br> The process is far from complete. There are accounts to create, criteria to establish, and fundraisers to be done. The first of those will be done by the end of the year. The last, and most critical aspect, the fundraising, will happen between now and May 2014.<br> <br> There is a need to seek good in the world, and there is also the need to remember those who have already done good in this world. Sidney Weber was one of those truly good people who brought goodness everywhere she went. She may have been young when she left this life to do the work that Heavenly Father called her home to complete, but the good she left in this life can live past her. My hope is that this scholarship will continue on after her graduating class, bringing not only hope, but the opportunity for others to pursue their own artistic dream.<br> <br> <br> <em>For more information about the Sidney Weber Memorial Scholarship, please email: </em><span style='font-size: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language: EN-US;' _mce_style='font-size: 12pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language: EN-US;'><a href="mailto:sidneywebermemorialscholarship@gmail.com" _mce_href="mailto:sidneywebermemorialscholarship@gmail.com"><span style="font-weight: normal;" _mce_style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="color: blue;" _mce_style="color: blue;">sidneywebermemorialscholarship@gmail.com</span></span></a></span><br> <br> Climbing Waterfalls http://www.tofw.com/Climbing-Waterfalls-Heidi-Kreitlein/s/684 http://www.tofw.com/Climbing-Waterfalls-Heidi-Kreitlein/s/684 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Heidi Kreitlein <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jjzq-Oz0uiQ/UFeh4f7eKQI/AAAAAAAABjg/jEY3hoCtT4E/s1600/dunns_riverfalls.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jjzq-Oz0uiQ/UFeh4f7eKQI/AAAAAAAABjg/jEY3hoCtT4E/s1600/dunns_riverfalls.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jjzq-Oz0uiQ/UFeh4f7eKQI/AAAAAAAABjg/jEY3hoCtT4E/s640/dunns_riverfalls.jpg" width="640" height="426" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jjzq-Oz0uiQ/UFeh4f7eKQI/AAAAAAAABjg/jEY3hoCtT4E/s640/dunns_riverfalls.jpg"></a></div> <br> I was born with two left feet.&nbsp; Though not literally, I have always felt awkward and clumsy. This has kept me from trying lots of things, things I would love to do but have always told myself that I couldn’t. <br> <br> So I’m usually the one on the sidelines, watching others experience life. <br> <br> My family recently spent the day in Jamaica. My husband booked an excursion to an attraction called Dunn’s River Falls. This is a breathtaking 600 foot waterfall that people take tours to climb. Tourists start at the beach and hold hands to form a human chain and climb the waterfall to the top.<br> <br> I didn't want to do it! <br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Z1VTS6UeBk/UFeickALXzI/AAAAAAAABj0/aHT9j9hlDik/s1600/IMG_6160.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Z1VTS6UeBk/UFeickALXzI/AAAAAAAABj0/aHT9j9hlDik/s1600/IMG_6160.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Z1VTS6UeBk/UFeickALXzI/AAAAAAAABj0/aHT9j9hlDik/s320/IMG_6160.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Z1VTS6UeBk/UFeickALXzI/AAAAAAAABj0/aHT9j9hlDik/s320/IMG_6160.jpg"></a>Every time my husband talked about Dunn's River, I felt sick to my stomach. I didn't want to talk about it.&nbsp; I didn't want to think about it.&nbsp; I don't like adventure and I am not coordinated. But I tried my very best to push the thoughts out of my head as the day approached. </div> <br> The moment we arrived, fear gripped my soul. <br> <br> Our family was placed in a tour group. I wanted to lag behind and be forgotten. Our tour guide looked at me and put me at the front of the line so that he would be holding my hand and Scott, my husband, would be holding the other. I wanted to vomit. Everyone in the group would see me for what I am: an out of shape, uncoordinated, pale fool. I would be the laughing stock of this tour group.<br> <br> A calm feeling suddenly washed over me. I became uncharacteristically excited and almost thrilled for the trek up the falls. I realized that I had the safest spot on the tour!&nbsp; I was holding the hand of the man who knew the falls better than anyone. I would be able to follow his footsteps. <br> <br> I became emotional as I realized the how similar it was to my everyday, seemingly less adventurous life.&nbsp; I hold my Savior’s hand, assured he knows the way. He leads me safely through my earthly journey. <br> <br> The trail up the falls was terrifying and wonderful at the same time. There were moments when the guide let go of my hand and told me the path to take. There was a time he sent me down a rock slide and I had to trust that I would enjoy it. There was even a moment where Scott and I had to hold hands and take a "leap of faith" as we fell backwards into the water. I wanted to skip this part of the tour, but I realized I was traveling a path that he knew was safe.<br> <br> We climbed and reached the biggest rocks of our journey. We witnessed people playing around in areas that weren’t safe, even though the guides had warned them to stay on the path or they would get hurt. <br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dVCo1lz0cdo/UFeiN5Y1fsI/AAAAAAAABjo/wts3Zfc9SGk/s1600/IMG_5726.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dVCo1lz0cdo/UFeiN5Y1fsI/AAAAAAAABjo/wts3Zfc9SGk/s1600/IMG_5726.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dVCo1lz0cdo/UFeiN5Y1fsI/AAAAAAAABjo/wts3Zfc9SGk/s320/IMG_5726.jpg" width="320" height="213" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dVCo1lz0cdo/UFeiN5Y1fsI/AAAAAAAABjo/wts3Zfc9SGk/s320/IMG_5726.jpg"></a>Reaching the top of the waterfall was exhilarating!&nbsp; It felt amazing to accomplish something that had terrified me! I felt peace when I looked back to see my husband and children safely finish the climb.<br><br>Never have I ever felt so free to enjoy myself, because I felt safe. And never have I felt such a strong parallel to our journey on Earth. I could feel the spirit teaching me eternal truths. If I am holding Christ's hand, I can succeed in this life.&nbsp; </div> <br> I am grateful for this teaching moment. I am especially grateful that my Savior and holds my hands and guides me on my journey. I know if I follow in his footsteps he can teach me and my family the safest way to return to our heavenly home. <br> Watermelon Promptings http://www.tofw.com/Watermelon-Promptings-Lynnette-Black/s/683 http://www.tofw.com/Watermelon-Promptings-Lynnette-Black/s/683 Thu, 13 Sep 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Lynnette Black <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YQ68QG4DCDY/UFD_CmQMFLI/AAAAAAAABhY/u12gPBKEKEM/s1600/sunset.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YQ68QG4DCDY/UFD_CmQMFLI/AAAAAAAABhY/u12gPBKEKEM/s1600/sunset.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YQ68QG4DCDY/UFD_CmQMFLI/AAAAAAAABhY/u12gPBKEKEM/s640/sunset.jpg" width="640" height="424" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YQ68QG4DCDY/UFD_CmQMFLI/AAAAAAAABhY/u12gPBKEKEM/s640/sunset.jpg"></a></div> <br> I have been, at times, apathetic on my journey, looking inwardly instead of outwardly.&nbsp; As a mother of six boys and twin girls, I have sometimes felt lost in Cheerios and Sesame Street.&nbsp; But when I try to see through spiritual eyes, I see the things my Savior would have me do and I feel joy.<br> <br>I remember a time driving home from a meeting while I was in the Stake YW Presidency in Los Angeles at the ripe age of 23. I was a wife of a dental student and a mother to two small boys.&nbsp; I had been worried that I was not progressing forward…that I was stuck in a rut and that the Stake President had called the wrong person.&nbsp; That day as I listened to an inspired YW President and watched her magnify her calling, she helped me see what I did to help influence the YW for good. She told me that my Heavenly Father loved me and that I was doing HIS work.&nbsp; <br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_HzqBg1LAYw/UFD_d9ncsgI/AAAAAAAABhg/1nKMIdiegSY/s1600/86492263.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_HzqBg1LAYw/UFD_d9ncsgI/AAAAAAAABhg/1nKMIdiegSY/s1600/86492263.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_HzqBg1LAYw/UFD_d9ncsgI/AAAAAAAABhg/1nKMIdiegSY/s320/86492263.jpg" width="320" height="218" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_HzqBg1LAYw/UFD_d9ncsgI/AAAAAAAABhg/1nKMIdiegSY/s320/86492263.jpg"></a>On my way home, I remember rolling down my window to look at a brilliant sunset.&nbsp; While the smoggy air whipped past me, tears rolled down my cheeks as I felt joy as I had not felt it ever before.&nbsp; I felt a strong impression that my Heavenly Father loved me!!!&nbsp; He was counting on me to look past the diapers and the drudgery and see brilliant colors around me. That decision so many years ago to strive for joy has blessed my life to such a great extent!&nbsp; I WANT to see the good things and I want SO much to BE a good thing in the lives of others!&nbsp; I cherish sunrise and sunsets still, as they fill my joy tank to the top when I look at one! (Lucky for me- this is a blessing that as an early morning seminary teacher I can see most every morning!)</div> <br>I believe that joy comes as I follow the promptings of the Spirit-even when those promptings don’t seem entirely logical. <br> <br>Not too long ago, I was at a store watching a mother with several children trying to check out and arguing with the cashier about a watermelon.&nbsp; I was in a different line and was thinking “Doesn’t this woman care that she is yelling at the checker in front of her kids?&nbsp; Why is she making such a fuss?”&nbsp; <br>The woman left the store in a huff, because she didn’t get what she wanted.&nbsp; “Kids, because of that lady – you only get one watermelon!”&nbsp; <br> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g9L1uitfYAk/UFEARgKSehI/AAAAAAAABho/RkZoLIyxvzg/s1600/watermelon.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g9L1uitfYAk/UFEARgKSehI/AAAAAAAABho/RkZoLIyxvzg/s1600/watermelon.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g9L1uitfYAk/UFEARgKSehI/AAAAAAAABho/RkZoLIyxvzg/s320/watermelon.jpg" width="245" height="320" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g9L1uitfYAk/UFEARgKSehI/AAAAAAAABho/RkZoLIyxvzg/s320/watermelon.jpg"></a><br>I had a watermelon in my cart. “Give it to her,” said the voice in my head.&nbsp; “But she is cranky and rude and a bad example to those kids!” I answered. “You know – I am going to win…stop arguing and be the example those kids need today”.&nbsp;<br> &nbsp; <br>I took the fought-over fruit to her car.&nbsp; “I want you to have this,” I said.&nbsp; “I hope you can have a happy Memorial Day!”&nbsp; <br> <br>I started to walk away and the mom said to her kids, “Thank the nice woman kids…she did something very nice for you.”<br> <br>&nbsp;I felt elated- I felt like I could glimpse a little bit at what our Savior does every day!&nbsp; Look beyond the outside to see the child of God under the sometimes rough edges.&nbsp; <br> <br>I have since made an effort to look for ways to bring smiles to others’ faces.&nbsp; I will get an extra pizza and drive around until I see someone in need of a meal. I offer to give a ride to that person walking home from a store with several plastic bags on each arm.&nbsp;I have had day after day of happiness as I complete my personal challenge to look for the “least of these” and serve as He would.&nbsp; <br> Healing Stitches http://www.tofw.com/Healing-Stitches-Ashley-Mommy-Day-Crafter-Night/s/677 http://www.tofw.com/Healing-Stitches-Ashley-Mommy-Day-Crafter-Night/s/677 Thu, 06 Sep 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Ashley from Mommy By Day Crafter By Night <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SIqmFP0aiuw/UEd7pbcXMnI/AAAAAAAABXQ/zKDzvV3rRc4/s1600/Family+Picture+with+Tanner.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SIqmFP0aiuw/UEd7pbcXMnI/AAAAAAAABXQ/zKDzvV3rRc4/s1600/Family+Picture+with+Tanner.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><span style="font-family: inherit;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SIqmFP0aiuw/UEd7pbcXMnI/AAAAAAAABXQ/zKDzvV3rRc4/s640/Family+Picture+with+Tanner.jpg" width="640" height="428" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SIqmFP0aiuw/UEd7pbcXMnI/AAAAAAAABXQ/zKDzvV3rRc4/s640/Family+Picture+with+Tanner.jpg"></span></a></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: inherit;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">I think all of us can agree as women, that at the end of a day of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of kids- sometimes we just need a little time to ourselves to unwind and relax. Up until a few years ago, I spent this much-needed time sitting on a couch watching an episode or two (or 4) of my favorite show on TV.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">One night I was feeling like I wanted to have something to show for my time instead of just sitting. I got thinking of what I could do and realized that I really didn’t have any hobbies that I felt like I was good at. I had a list of things that I hoped to be able to do, but had deemed myself as one of the few people that just hadn’t been blessed with <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;" _mce_style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">any </i>talents. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">On my list was sewing, but with the exception of sewing a windsock in home ec in the 7<sup>th</sup> grade, I had really never touched a sewing machine. I had been thinking of learning to sew for a while so I got up the nerve to tell my husband that I thought we should buy a sewing machine for me to learn on. My sweet hubby was all for it, knowing that I needed something to do for myself, but I could see a bit of skepticism in his eyes. Who knew if I was even going to be able to figure out how to thread it- let alone sew something.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">It arrived on my doorstep and sat unopened in the box for over a week. I was so scared to open it and figure out where to start. After reading the manual front to back, I felt qualified enough to plug the machine in. I threaded the needle and started sewing. Now I admit… it wasn’t pretty in the start. The first project that I made was a dress for my daughter, which actually ended up fitting her build-a-bear.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" _mce_style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>It was a little bit of a learning curve at first, but I told myself the day I ordered the machine that I was going to give it a valiant effort. As the time went on, I learned more and more.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" _mce_style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>My stitches got a little less wonky and my confidence grew. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">As the months passed, I often wondered at the timing of that <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;" _mce_style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">inspired t</i>hought to start something new and learn to sew. Now- over a year later I can pinpoint why it was <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;" _mce_style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">right then</i>.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7wn4LsbhDeg/UEd7o83vxLI/AAAAAAAABXI/eqFOqIbbhrM/s1600/Birch+Kids+Photo.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7wn4LsbhDeg/UEd7o83vxLI/AAAAAAAABXI/eqFOqIbbhrM/s1600/Birch+Kids+Photo.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7wn4LsbhDeg/UEd7o83vxLI/AAAAAAAABXI/eqFOqIbbhrM/s320/Birch+Kids+Photo.jpg" width="320" height="256" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7wn4LsbhDeg/UEd7o83vxLI/AAAAAAAABXI/eqFOqIbbhrM/s320/Birch+Kids+Photo.jpg"></span></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">5 months ago, I experienced something that I could have never imagined having to go through: my little brother took his life. My shining, bright, happy, cheerful, talented, handsome brother made a split second decision and my family was left to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and forced to live <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;" _mce_style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">this</i> life without him here physically.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" _mce_style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">It’s hard to explain suicide and its horrible aftermath to someone t<a class="mceItemAnchor" href="" name="_GoBack" _mce_href=""></a>hat has never experienced it. I myself couldn’t understand or empathize until it happened to someone in my life. It felt like life, as I knew it, was over. How in the world was I going to live each day knowing that my favorite cowboy was not here to smile and give me a hug when I needed one from him? How could anyone understand exactly what I was feeling? The loss I felt? How was I going to heal and be ok? And honestly- I have no answers to these questions- other than lots of prayers and living the gospel. It’s just something that my family will think about and struggle with <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;" _mce_style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">everyday </i>until we get the chance to be with him again. I now have an even bigger appreciation for eternal families and I am so thankful for the blessing that I have of being sealed to my little brother.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" _mce_style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XeqXhzYHOiM/UEd7qu_9KGI/AAAAAAAABXc/ZX_A3dM85DE/s1600/Squares+for+the+quilt.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XeqXhzYHOiM/UEd7qu_9KGI/AAAAAAAABXc/ZX_A3dM85DE/s1600/Squares+for+the+quilt.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XeqXhzYHOiM/UEd7qu_9KGI/AAAAAAAABXc/ZX_A3dM85DE/s320/Squares+for+the+quilt.jpg" width="320" height="214" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XeqXhzYHOiM/UEd7qu_9KGI/AAAAAAAABXc/ZX_A3dM85DE/s320/Squares+for+the+quilt.jpg"></span></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Once I got home from the funeral and things were settled a bit, I started to sew again. It was my little time out from the reality of heartbreak in my life. Working with fabric and making sure that each stitch was perfectly straight was something I <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;" _mce_style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">could</i> control, when it felt like my emotions were something I couldn’t.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" _mce_style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Realizing that sewing was bringing me joy in a time of sadness, I tried to think of a way that I could use my sewing to pay tribute to my brother. I wanted whatever I made to be special. After brain storming a bit, I decided to make quilts with my brother’s clothes for my parents and siblings so that when we were missing him, we could wrap the quilts around us and feel closer to him. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" _mce_style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RnqQgFE5iVQ/UEd7qPu9YcI/AAAAAAAABXU/DAsO94EDZvQ/s1600/Granny+Square+made+with+shirt-1.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RnqQgFE5iVQ/UEd7qPu9YcI/AAAAAAAABXU/DAsO94EDZvQ/s1600/Granny+Square+made+with+shirt-1.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RnqQgFE5iVQ/UEd7qPu9YcI/AAAAAAAABXU/DAsO94EDZvQ/s320/Granny+Square+made+with+shirt-1.jpg" width="320" height="214" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RnqQgFE5iVQ/UEd7qPu9YcI/AAAAAAAABXU/DAsO94EDZvQ/s320/Granny+Square+made+with+shirt-1.jpg"></span></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">It’s still a work in progress but working with my brother’s clothes is soothing in a way and I know that he is watching over me while I sew. It’s comforting and feels good to work on this project made up of lots of love- love for my brother, love for my family, and love for my Heavenly Father. I KNOW without a doubt that he knows each of us. He knows our struggles, our heartbreaks, our pains, and our sorrows. We all go through hard trials in this life. They make us strong. They help us to grow to our full potential. &nbsp;Heavenly Father has a plan for us. As silly as it sounds, I know that I was inspired to learn to sew for a reason. &nbsp;Being able to do this small act of love for my family during this hard time is helping to heal my broken heart- one stitch at a time. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div style="margin: 0px;" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"> <span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); line-height: 19px;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="color: #333333; line-height: 19px;"><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br></span></span></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-16LW3Hqafx0/UEd7rm1lDYI/AAAAAAAABXs/VefCB0TyUuc/s1600/Tied+with+a+Bow+Profile+Pic.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-16LW3Hqafx0/UEd7rm1lDYI/AAAAAAAABXs/VefCB0TyUuc/s1600/Tied+with+a+Bow+Profile+Pic.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-16LW3Hqafx0/UEd7rm1lDYI/AAAAAAAABXs/VefCB0TyUuc/s200/Tied+with+a+Bow+Profile+Pic.jpg" width="200" height="200" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-16LW3Hqafx0/UEd7rm1lDYI/AAAAAAAABXs/VefCB0TyUuc/s200/Tied+with+a+Bow+Profile+Pic.jpg"></a></div> <div style="margin: 0px;" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"> <span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); line-height: 19px;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="color: #333333; line-height: 19px;"><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">My name is Ashley. I love anything crafty... making my own decor, scrapbooking, crafts, sewing, photography, DIY projects... you name it and I wanna try it!&nbsp;</span></span><span style="line-height: 19px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19px;">I am a stay at home mommy of 2 girls and a wife to the best husband in the world. I love being a mom! When I was growing up, whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always answered "A mom." I love being able to stay home with my girls everyday and teach them all they need to know about life. It's a big job, but I am so glad that I get to be the one for job! I</span><span style="line-height: 19px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19px;">n my spare time I love reading, watching movies, bargain shopping, and crafting of course! Ashley blogs at:</span></div> <div style="margin: 0px;" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"> <span style="line-height: 19px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19px;"><br></span></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://www.mommybydaycrafterbynight.com/" _mce_href="http://www.mommybydaycrafterbynight.com/"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lltUS0m-VQE/UEd9yrYXehI/AAAAAAAABX4/6g5Yhmma7Ds/s1600/e47d861f.png" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lltUS0m-VQE/UEd9yrYXehI/AAAAAAAABX4/6g5Yhmma7Ds/s1600/e47d861f.png"></a></div> <div style="margin: 0px;" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="margin: 0px;"> <span style="line-height: 19px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19px;"><br></span></div> <br> <br> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <br> <span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="color: #333333;"><div style="text-align: center; line-height: 20px; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; line-height: 20px; text-align: center;"> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <div style="line-height: 20px; font-family: Georgia, serif; font-size: 13px;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia, serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 20px;"> <span style='line-height: 19px; font-family: "Courier New", Courier, FreeMono, monospace;' class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: 'Courier New', Courier, FreeMono, monospace; line-height: 19px;"><br></span></div> </span></span><br> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: inherit;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div style="text-align: center; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); clear: both; font-size: 13px;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; color: #333333; font-size: 13px; text-align: center;"> <span style="line-height: 19px;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="line-height: 19px;"><br></span></div> <div> <span style="line-height: 19px;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="line-height: 19px;"><span style="font-family: inherit;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></span></span></div> <br> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br></div> <!--EndFragment--> A Woman and Her Harley http://www.tofw.com/Woman-Her-Harley-Andrea/s/585 http://www.tofw.com/Woman-Her-Harley-Andrea/s/585 Thu, 30 Aug 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Andrea <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ATwpyBp4cjs/T8eOBxncoXI/AAAAAAAAAKY/QM16gIhS-P0/s1600/CA_on%2Bbike.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ATwpyBp4cjs/T8eOBxncoXI/AAAAAAAAAKY/QM16gIhS-P0/s1600/CA_on%2Bbike.jpg"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ATwpyBp4cjs/T8eOBxncoXI/AAAAAAAAAKY/QM16gIhS-P0/s400/CA_on%2Bbike.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ATwpyBp4cjs/T8eOBxncoXI/AAAAAAAAAKY/QM16gIhS-P0/s400/CA_on%2Bbike.jpg" border="0" height="343" width="489"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> I was fifteen years old the first time I climbed on the back of a motorcycle. When the engine roared to life and we sped off down the road, I felt a thrill race through my stomach. It was like flying! I knew that very moment that I loved to ride motorcycles. <br> </p><p> Luckily, that was not the end of my motorbike love affair. Years later when I got married, my husband was the proud owner of a few motorcycles, including a small one just my size, and I learned to ride my own bike. In time, my husband and I parted ways, and the motorcycles went with him. But I missed the thrill of riding, so I bought a used Harley Davidson and found friends to ride with. Often I was the only woman in the crew, but that never bothered me much—I just loved to ride.</p><p><br> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ceSrW6frhM0/T8ePfRHEX4I/AAAAAAAAAKw/_mIm7DyGK-U/s1600/CA3.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ceSrW6frhM0/T8ePfRHEX4I/AAAAAAAAAKw/_mIm7DyGK-U/s1600/CA3.jpg"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ceSrW6frhM0/T8ePfRHEX4I/AAAAAAAAAKw/_mIm7DyGK-U/s320/CA3.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ceSrW6frhM0/T8ePfRHEX4I/AAAAAAAAAKw/_mIm7DyGK-U/s320/CA3.jpg" border="0" height="214" width="320"></a>In 2003, I read about a group of Vietnam veterans that rode to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC every year. This annual event, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend, is called “Run for the Wall.”&nbsp; Since I grew up during the 60’s and experienced the tragedies and triumphs of the war, I wanted to show support by joining the ride. Shortly after I learned about it, I read that the World War II Memorial was scheduled to be dedicated that same Memorial Day weekend. My father had served during World War II, so I asked my parents to fly to Washington, DC.&nbsp; I would ride my motorcycle with the group and join my parents at the dedication when I arrived.&nbsp; <br> <br> But just two months before that special Memorial Day weekend, on Easter morning, my father passed away at age eighty-four.<br> <br> With my mind filled with thoughts about my father’s honorable life and my heart filled with grief at his passing, I determined to re-plot my route. Instead of joining the 350,000 “Run for the Wall” riders, I would make the ride solo, and dedicate every inch of it to my father. On the way I would visit several temples between Salt Lake City and Washington, DC. I left a week before Memorial Day weekend and rode to the temples at Winter Quarters, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Palmyra (before the temple was dedicated), and Washington, DC.&nbsp; <br> <br> As I pulled into each temple’s parking lot, I exchanged my dusty leather coat, chaps, helmet, and gloves for a clean blouse and skirt. Out of respect, I would ask for an area to change my clothes before I actually entered the temple. (One of the temples didn’t have a bathroom in the lobby, so the janitor’s closet worked just fine!)</p> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XioN2rumnxs/T8ePyrTLBzI/AAAAAAAAAK8/E2I93w_hjL4/s1600/CA_temple.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XioN2rumnxs/T8ePyrTLBzI/AAAAAAAAAK8/E2I93w_hjL4/s1600/CA_temple.jpg"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XioN2rumnxs/T8ePyrTLBzI/AAAAAAAAAK8/E2I93w_hjL4/s320/CA_temple.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XioN2rumnxs/T8ePyrTLBzI/AAAAAAAAAK8/E2I93w_hjL4/s320/CA_temple.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="210"></a>Having left my road-weary things in the bustle outside, I entered the quiet, brightly-lit rooms of each temple, filled with love and gratitude for my father. In the stillness of each room, I prayed for those men and women who had served alongside him in whatever decade, those who had fought or were fighting for my freedom.</div><p> When I arrived at the war memorial pavilion in Washington, DC, I was humbled to see so many veterans there, many the age of my own father.&nbsp; As groups of soldiers who had served together gathered around the memorial, I felt strongly that my father was among their ranks in spirit. I stood at the World War II Memorial for Michigan (my home state) and bowed my head, silently thanking those who served, those who never made it home, and those families that sacrificed everything—for me.&nbsp; <br> <br> Five thousand miles, two and a half weeks, and eleven temples later, I pulled into my own driveway in Salt Lake City. I thanked the Lord for watching over me as I completed my ride, and for letting me honor my father. I offered thanks for those who lived and died for me during the wars, and for all those who sacrificed to build the temples I visited. And most of all, I expressed gratitude for the knowledge that their love and sacrifice had paved the way for my life’s journey—so that I could enjoy the ride.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br></p> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <br _mce_bogus="1"></div> Changing My Theme Song http://www.tofw.com/Changing-My-Theme-Song-Lara-Neves/s/661 http://www.tofw.com/Changing-My-Theme-Song-Lara-Neves/s/661 Wed, 22 Aug 2012 09:30:00 -0600 <div> by Lara Neves <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KBVCwkpHyY/UDT1XmL5PYI/AAAAAAAABGI/AuhR8sGQpwg/s1600/busymom.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KBVCwkpHyY/UDT1XmL5PYI/AAAAAAAABGI/AuhR8sGQpwg/s1600/busymom.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KBVCwkpHyY/UDT1XmL5PYI/AAAAAAAABGI/AuhR8sGQpwg/s640/busymom.jpg" width="640" height="424" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KBVCwkpHyY/UDT1XmL5PYI/AAAAAAAABGI/AuhR8sGQpwg/s640/busymom.jpg"></span></a></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br></div> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">I am not very good at saying no.&nbsp; Need me to babysit?&nbsp; &nbsp;Sure!&nbsp; Want me to serve on the board of the organization in which my children are involved?&nbsp; No problem!&nbsp; Do you want to take voice lessons from me even though my studio is bursting at the seams?&nbsp; I can fit you in somehow.&nbsp; Will I organize a benefit concert for your charitable organization?&nbsp; Absolutely!&nbsp; Yes, yes, yes.</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">It’s really too bad I’ve never been in the musical Oklahoma!, because I Cain’t Say No is pretty much my theme song.&nbsp; (Want me to star in your production of Oklahoma!?&nbsp; I am so there.)</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">A couple of weeks ago I had so many plates spinning that I finally had to let go of some of them and I really let a few people down.&nbsp; I’m generally pretty good at pretending to be in total control even while I am barely keeping it together, but this time I totally dropped the ball (or plates, as it were), and it really upset me.</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">As I contemplated how I could fix the mess in which I found myself, I realized that I’m actually very good at saying no to some people.&nbsp; Unfortunately, those people are the ones who matter the very most: my husband and my children.&nbsp; </span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-011kQ-tWOTA/UDT6M6FXt9I/AAAAAAAABHE/xOmY3MzyQwU/s1600/my+husband+and+daughters.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-011kQ-tWOTA/UDT6M6FXt9I/AAAAAAAABHE/xOmY3MzyQwU/s1600/my+husband+and+daughters.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-011kQ-tWOTA/UDT6M6FXt9I/AAAAAAAABHE/xOmY3MzyQwU/s320/my+husband+and+daughters.jpg" width="213" height="320" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-011kQ-tWOTA/UDT6M6FXt9I/AAAAAAAABHE/xOmY3MzyQwU/s320/my+husband+and+daughters.jpg"></span></a><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">While I am busy attending board meetings so that my daughters will have more quality preschool or violin instruction, I am away from them.&nbsp; When I take on a new student that I really don’t have time for, that is time I am taking from helping my own children in their musical endeavors.&nbsp; Whenever I say yes to something, no matter how good a cause it is, I have to say no to something else.&nbsp; And, all too often, the something else is my family.&nbsp; Or the laundry.&nbsp; Which basically leaves me with a bunch of neglected people who are also wearing dirty underwear.</span></div> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">One of my favorite hymns is Have I Done Any Good? (Hymns, 223)</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <div style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">“Doing good is a pleasure,</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">A joy beyond measure,</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">A blessing of duty and love.”</span></div> <div style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">&nbsp;</span></div> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">Those words are why I don’t say no.&nbsp; Unfortunately, the stress I bring upon myself by saying yes to ALL the good things means that there is no longer any pleasure or joy or love in it.&nbsp; </span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">But these last couple weeks I have tried to be more aware of the sacrifices that come with each yes I say.&nbsp; To remember the “Good, Better, Best” principles that Elder Dallin H. Oaks talked about in General Conference a few years ago.&nbsp; To make sure that the things I agree to do are in line with my priorities.&nbsp; To finally learn to say no, and not feel bad about it.</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">I came across a quote shortly after Stephen R. Covey passed away, and it stated beautifully all of the things the Spirit had been whispering to me.&nbsp; I made a sign which I will place in a spot where I can see it often and be reminded that it is okay to say no.</span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wB05a5-_3Ak/UDT5_ggzzvI/AAAAAAAABG8/HPU8g9RlmCQ/s1600/Covey+quote+for+TOFW.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wB05a5-_3Ak/UDT5_ggzzvI/AAAAAAAABG8/HPU8g9RlmCQ/s1600/Covey+quote+for+TOFW.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wB05a5-_3Ak/UDT5_ggzzvI/AAAAAAAABG8/HPU8g9RlmCQ/s320/Covey+quote+for+TOFW.jpg" width="320" height="320" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wB05a5-_3Ak/UDT5_ggzzvI/AAAAAAAABG8/HPU8g9RlmCQ/s320/Covey+quote+for+TOFW.jpg"></span></a></div> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">So go ahead and ask me to babysit for you.&nbsp; The answer will be no.&nbsp; Except for when it is yes.&nbsp; Because it is all about finding balance.&nbsp; Saying no sometimes doesn’t mean that I must abandon all hope of ever doing good in the world.&nbsp; It just means that I will make sure that my family is getting all of the burning yeses before other things get a yes of any kind.</span></div> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">Because I kind of like my family.&nbsp; I want to say yes to them for eternity, and eternity begins now.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"></span><br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ge_mhHgHCtc/UDUtPwP-5oI/AAAAAAAABIM/UrAk-YSPYVs/s1600/lara.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ge_mhHgHCtc/UDUtPwP-5oI/AAAAAAAABIM/UrAk-YSPYVs/s1600/lara.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ge_mhHgHCtc/UDUtPwP-5oI/AAAAAAAABIM/UrAk-YSPYVs/s200/lara.jpg" width="133" height="200" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ge_mhHgHCtc/UDUtPwP-5oI/AAAAAAAABIM/UrAk-YSPYVs/s200/lara.jpg"></a></div> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif";' _mce_style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><span _mce_style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">Lara is the mother to three amazing daughters and wife to a musical genius. When she is not working on her mother-of-the-year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching other people how to sing, taking hundreds of photographs, reading a good book, finding a great deal on groceries, or maybe even scrapbooking (that is, if she's not blogging).&nbsp; <br><br>You can read all about her adventures at </span><a href="http://lalakme.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.lalakme.blogspot.com/"><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">Overstuffed</span></a><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;">.</span></span><span style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> &nbsp; </span></span> The Princess Dress I Never Saw http://www.tofw.com/Princess-Dress-Never-Saw-Ashley-Sullenger/s/655 http://www.tofw.com/Princess-Dress-Never-Saw-Ashley-Sullenger/s/655 Wed, 15 Aug 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Ashley Sullenger <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1FfF9Zk69Ok/UClUshCDPBI/AAAAAAAAA9w/jDsFFI3L1EY/s1600/AshleyS.milestones3.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1FfF9Zk69Ok/UClUshCDPBI/AAAAAAAAA9w/jDsFFI3L1EY/s1600/AshleyS.milestones3.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1FfF9Zk69Ok/UClUshCDPBI/AAAAAAAAA9w/jDsFFI3L1EY/s640/AshleyS.milestones3.jpg" width="640" height="424" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1FfF9Zk69Ok/UClUshCDPBI/AAAAAAAAA9w/jDsFFI3L1EY/s640/AshleyS.milestones3.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <br> Not long after my daughter died, I remember expressing to my mom how painful it was to watch everyone else reach different milestones with their children. I wanted so desperately to celebrate a second birthday, experience potty training, or just feel like a mom again. It felt like salt rubbed into a big open wound, being forced to watch other people's children accomplish what I longed to do with my own daughter. <br> <br> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DKJvv7_2i4Q/UClUwVHhSdI/AAAAAAAAA94/m4YcOL2HvVY/s1600/AshleyS.milestones1.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DKJvv7_2i4Q/UClUwVHhSdI/AAAAAAAAA94/m4YcOL2HvVY/s1600/AshleyS.milestones1.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DKJvv7_2i4Q/UClUwVHhSdI/AAAAAAAAA94/m4YcOL2HvVY/s320/AshleyS.milestones1.jpg" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DKJvv7_2i4Q/UClUwVHhSdI/AAAAAAAAA94/m4YcOL2HvVY/s320/AshleyS.milestones1.jpg"></a>My mom answered in a very loving way, expressing that she felt the milestones I longed to experience with Preslee weren't of great importance to her right now. Dressing up in a Halloween costume wasn't on the top of her list, because she was busy accomplishing much greater things on the other side. As different events and holidays rolled around, I tried to focus on my mom's words instead of the pain I felt.<br> <br> Now, two years later, I realize my daughter Preslee and I are still reaching different milestones together, just in a different way than I would have ever expected. Our roles are now reversed, and she is the one cheering and guiding me on as I reach different milestones in my adult life.<br> <br> She's helped me learn the importance of forgiveness, love at a deeper level than I knew existed, and recognize promptings from the Spirit—something I wasn't always too sure about before. <br> <br> She’s helped me understand the importance of temple work and the fact that there are very few things more important than enabling others to have the same blessing I do—being with their family forever. <br> <br> She’s helped me realize that a big part of having faith is having faith in the Lord's timing.&nbsp; <br> <br> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dy-AtsTwLzI/UClUzusikjI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/ikn4buzRh3k/s1600/AshleyS.milestones4.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dy-AtsTwLzI/UClUzusikjI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/ikn4buzRh3k/s1600/AshleyS.milestones4.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dy-AtsTwLzI/UClUzusikjI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/ikn4buzRh3k/s320/AshleyS.milestones4.jpg" width="320" height="212" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dy-AtsTwLzI/UClUzusikjI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/ikn4buzRh3k/s320/AshleyS.milestones4.jpg"></a>And she’s helped me, her prideful mama, learn that it’s impossible to overcome difficult trials without Christ. In order to receive help, I need to step into Christ's yoke, and allow Him to lift the majority of my heavy burdens (Matthew 11:28-30).<br> <br> Though I don't know what it’s like to listen to my child speak in sentences, attend dance class, or sleep in a toddler bed, I'm beginning to understand what my mom really meant. I don't think dressing up in a princess costume is as important to Preslee as it is me. She's too busy cheering on her parents and little brother, rejoicing as we reach each milestone together.<br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <br></div> I now pray that the milestones I have reached, and the many more that lay ahead of me, will prepare me to be able to step back into the role my daughter and I both knew for a short eighteen months—letting me be the one to encourage and cheer her on. The day Preslee is placed back into my arms, and I'm able to teach her whatever is left for her to learn at that point, will mean more to me than you know.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MTI_LKGvyzE/UClUxiep73I/AAAAAAAAA-A/gHIp7Lr7Z30/s1600/AshleyS.milestones2.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MTI_LKGvyzE/UClUxiep73I/AAAAAAAAA-A/gHIp7Lr7Z30/s1600/AshleyS.milestones2.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MTI_LKGvyzE/UClUxiep73I/AAAAAAAAA-A/gHIp7Lr7Z30/s400/AshleyS.milestones2.jpg" width="265" height="400" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MTI_LKGvyzE/UClUxiep73I/AAAAAAAAA-A/gHIp7Lr7Z30/s400/AshleyS.milestones2.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <br> Because with all the work she's put in during my life time, I'm going to have a lot to repay.<br> <br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EoKI37zXvRY/UClXYx-hywI/AAAAAAAAA-k/7fF2m6345UE/s1600/ashley.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EoKI37zXvRY/UClXYx-hywI/AAAAAAAAA-k/7fF2m6345UE/s1600/ashley.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EoKI37zXvRY/UClXYx-hywI/AAAAAAAAA-k/7fF2m6345UE/s1600/ashley.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EoKI37zXvRY/UClXYx-hywI/AAAAAAAAA-k/7fF2m6345UE/s1600/ashley.jpg"></a>Ashley and her husband met during their first semester of college. A year later, they were married and shortly after were expecting their first child, a little girl whom they named Preslee. They were blessed with 18 wonderful months with their daughter, when she unexpectedly fell into a canal. She was airlifted to Primary Children's Medical Center, where she later passed away. Eleven months after burying their daughter, they welcomed a little boy into their family. Ashley recently graduated from BYU-Idaho with a major in Elementary Education. She currently is a stay at home mom and cherishes every minute she gets being a mother again.&nbsp; Ashley blogs at:</div> <br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://patrickandashley.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://patrickandashley.blogspot.com/"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dXo0GXL_SQ0/UClW6rs7TkI/AAAAAAAAA-c/0JjBqmFrqHw/s320/thesullengersheader3.jpg" width="320" height="107" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dXo0GXL_SQ0/UClW6rs7TkI/AAAAAAAAA-c/0JjBqmFrqHw/s320/thesullengersheader3.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <br> <br> <br> Christmas in....August? The Secret to Year-Round Gifting http://www.tofw.com/Christmas-inAugust-Secret-Year-Round-Gifting-Lindsey-Rietzsch/s/649 http://www.tofw.com/Christmas-inAugust-Secret-Year-Round-Gifting-Lindsey-Rietzsch/s/649 Tue, 07 Aug 2012 23:59:00 -0600 <div> by Lindsey Rietzsch <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bkzmj8wy1QQ/UCKQD3x8_bI/AAAAAAAAA4I/cun1Vf9tnbk/s1600/gifts.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bkzmj8wy1QQ/UCKQD3x8_bI/AAAAAAAAA4I/cun1Vf9tnbk/s1600/gifts.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bkzmj8wy1QQ/UCKQD3x8_bI/AAAAAAAAA4I/cun1Vf9tnbk/s640/gifts.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bkzmj8wy1QQ/UCKQD3x8_bI/AAAAAAAAA4I/cun1Vf9tnbk/s640/gifts.jpg" border="0" height="640" width="446"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <br> Do you ever get the urge to jump up and help the world, but feel like your efforts fall flat? Well, I do. And a few months ago, I realized why I felt that way, and what I could do about it. <br> <br>The problem was that sometimes I focused so much on the big things and what I could do to influence the world for good, that I often missed out on smaller opportunities for good happening right under my nose. But through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, I not only learned that I wasn’t using my gifts to their full capacity, I was also led to where my gifts and talents were most needed—even if they weren’t in situations that seemed to help the whole world at once.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HP4c9CdTM1M/UCKQUR5mCCI/AAAAAAAAA4Q/v_1dnNUKtvc/s1600/listen.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HP4c9CdTM1M/UCKQUR5mCCI/AAAAAAAAA4Q/v_1dnNUKtvc/s1600/listen.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HP4c9CdTM1M/UCKQUR5mCCI/AAAAAAAAA4Q/v_1dnNUKtvc/s320/listen.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HP4c9CdTM1M/UCKQUR5mCCI/AAAAAAAAA4Q/v_1dnNUKtvc/s320/listen.jpg" border="0" height="200" width="320"></a>I learned that I needed to start with the small things. So I took the time to meet one-on-one with friends, family, and acquaintances and listen to them, smile at them, cheer them up with some humor and encouragement. And the more I did, the more I recognized what gifts the Lord has given me, and the more those gifts were strengthened. As the Lord saw that I was willing to spend my time helping those He placed in my path, He began to bless me with other opportunities to be a tool in His hand.</div><br> As busy women, we sometimes forget that it’s not always the large, extraordinary experiences for which we should seek to use our talents and gifts. I know many women who feel discouraged when their plans to do good things don’t turn out as they had intended. “I was going to help so many people,” they say. “It was a righteous desire, I felt good about it, and I thought the Lord would have wanted that for me as well. Why didn’t it happen?”<br><br> But when we’re too focused on our setbacks, we fail to notice the lonely neighbor next door who could use some company, or the friend down the street who desperately needs a reminder that things are going to be okay. It’s important to remember that to the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world—and it’s usually the small opportunities where our gifts and talents are needed most. <br><br> We are all given gifts from the Lord, but as D&amp;C 46:11 and 32 explain, “All have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts…and ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with.”<br><br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fTBEGbv4PrM/UCKQbJRAbAI/AAAAAAAAA4Y/3Oif0W4i2Sw/s1600/tally.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fTBEGbv4PrM/UCKQbJRAbAI/AAAAAAAAA4Y/3Oif0W4i2Sw/s1600/tally.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fTBEGbv4PrM/UCKQbJRAbAI/AAAAAAAAA4Y/3Oif0W4i2Sw/s320/tally.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fTBEGbv4PrM/UCKQbJRAbAI/AAAAAAAAA4Y/3Oif0W4i2Sw/s320/tally.jpg" border="0" height="213" width="320"></a>So let’s find out what talents and gifts the Lord has blessed you with and how you can use them to build the kingdom. Take a blank sheet of paper and write down all of the things you are good at. This could be anything from being a good listener to being a great paper airplane folder (which I am not).</div> <br> List as many items as you can and then place this list where it can be in your view often. Throughout the week, put a tally mark next to the talents and gifts that you listed, each time you use them to help someone. This is a good way to see which talents you are using, and which ones need your nurturing. It never hurts to keep a journal of the experiences you have while doing this. You’ll be surprised at how often you do use your talents and gifts to help others. It’s a great attitude booster! <br><br> I challenge you to tune in to your gifts and ask the Lord to guide you to places and people that need your gifts and talents. The more we use our talents, the more we can help those around us in ways we can’t even imagine—doing good for the whole world by doing good for just one person.<br> <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cWIyyWzRSkM/UCKQ7MRXnFI/AAAAAAAAA4g/-nI9LmPbRds/s1600/lindsey+bio+pic.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cWIyyWzRSkM/UCKQ7MRXnFI/AAAAAAAAA4g/-nI9LmPbRds/s1600/lindsey+bio+pic.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cWIyyWzRSkM/UCKQ7MRXnFI/AAAAAAAAA4g/-nI9LmPbRds/s200/lindsey+bio+pic.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cWIyyWzRSkM/UCKQ7MRXnFI/AAAAAAAAA4g/-nI9LmPbRds/s200/lindsey+bio+pic.jpg" border="0" height="200" width="160"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <span _mce_style="font-size: small;" style="font-size: x-small;">Lindsey Rietzsch is the author of How to Date Your Spouse and the inventor of Hydroheel, a pedicure treatment sold in spas and salons that heals dry feet. Featured as a guest on FOX &amp; Friends for her book, Lindsey taken her message of preserving marriage and family nationwide. She enjoys the many different hats that she wears which include entrepreneur, business owner, motivational speaker, relationship coach, workshop presenter, online food guru, writer (of three blogs), author, inventor and her most favorite - being a mom. She resides in Layton, Utah with her handsome husband (of 11 years) Manuel, and three amazing children - Gabe 5, Paisley 3, and Cambrey 1. She graduated from Weber State University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Integrated Studies in Communication, Family Studies and Social Work. Honored as Wasatch Woman Magazine's "Mother of the Year"in January 2010 and "Mom Who is Making It" at the Mom's Who Make It Conference July 2009, Lindsey carefully strives to balance being a stay at home mom and wife, with all her many projects. She enjoys family history, creating recipes, decorating and serving her friends and family. Lindsey is currently finishing up her second book, Successful Failures - her personal story of divine insight as to how we can find successes amongst our failures and see the Lord's hand in all things. <br></span> <span _mce_style="font-size: small;" style="font-size: x-small;"> </span> <span _mce_style="font-size: small;" style="font-size: x-small;">Lindsey blogs at <a _mce_href="http://allstandtall.blogspot.com/" href="http://www.blogger.com/goog_170389771"></a></span><a href="http://allstandtall.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://allstandtall.blogspot.com/">Stand a Little Taller</a><span _mce_style="font-size: x-small;" style="font-size: xx-small;"><i><br>&nbsp;</i></span><br> <span _mce_style="font-size: x-small;" style="font-size: xx-small;"><i>&nbsp;TOFW on occasion will link to relevant external blogs and websites; however, the views expressed in these blogs reflect the opinions of the blogger and in no way that of TOFW.&nbsp; TOFW is not affiliated with or responsible for the content of these external sites. </i></span><br> You're Never Too Old-26.2 http://www.tofw.com/Youre-Never-Too-Old-262-Angie-Webb/s/642 http://www.tofw.com/Youre-Never-Too-Old-262-Angie-Webb/s/642 Wed, 01 Aug 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Angie Webb <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-M3mnk6vvyW0/UBb3cIj7ImI/AAAAAAAAAuY/pPkQbQ-boRk/s1600/Shirlee.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-M3mnk6vvyW0/UBb3cIj7ImI/AAAAAAAAAuY/pPkQbQ-boRk/s1600/Shirlee.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-M3mnk6vvyW0/UBb3cIj7ImI/AAAAAAAAAuY/pPkQbQ-boRk/s640/Shirlee.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-M3mnk6vvyW0/UBb3cIj7ImI/AAAAAAAAAuY/pPkQbQ-boRk/s640/Shirlee.jpg" border="0" height="606" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> Thirty years ago my mother, Shirlee Oscarson Webb, weighed more than two hundred pounds. If you had told her she would be running marathons at age sixty, she would have laughed in your face. In fact, even running a mile seemed impossible.<br> <br>As the mother of five children, my mom needed a stress reliever, and that outlet came when some women invited her to go walking. She loved getting out of the house with them and doing something active. One night, her friend, who was part of the walking group, invited her to go jogging. At first she just laughed, but then she realized that she really wanted to give it a try. On that first run her lungs were burning, her muscles were aching, and her feet were blistering—all of this from only running once around the block.<br> <br>When her friend suggested that they get up at 6:00 a.m. and go jogging for the next two weeks, my mother’s first response was, “NO WAY! I’ve got a newborn baby, and there is no way I can do it.” But she had a feeling inside her that this was something she really wanted to do. And after those two weeks she was hooked.<br> <br> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fRfEsqXqbI4/UBb3lCG1faI/AAAAAAAAAug/i1PkQEnU2sc/s1600/Shirleeatairport.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fRfEsqXqbI4/UBb3lCG1faI/AAAAAAAAAug/i1PkQEnU2sc/s1600/Shirleeatairport.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fRfEsqXqbI4/UBb3lCG1faI/AAAAAAAAAug/i1PkQEnU2sc/s320/Shirleeatairport.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fRfEsqXqbI4/UBb3lCG1faI/AAAAAAAAAug/i1PkQEnU2sc/s320/Shirleeatairport.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="240"></a>Three kids later, at age forty-five, Mom ran her first marathon. After hearing about the St. George Marathon, she decided to give it a try. It seemed like a real challenge, and she said, “I knew that if I could do this I could do anything.”&nbsp; As a fifteen-year-old, I watched my mother cross the finish line, and tears filled my eyes when I saw the struggle, determination, and strength it took her to complete that race.&nbsp; </div> <br>Once that marathon was over, the flood gates opened. Over the past fifteen years she has run seven more marathons, seventeen half marathons, and numerous other races. She loves the challenge and feeling of success and satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something hard—something she wants to do. <br> <br>In 2010, Mom qualified for the Boston Marathon, and in 2012, at the age of sixty, she was ready to run. The Boston Marathon had become a dream of hers, and now it was about it come true. To send her off, her eight children, their spouses, and ten grandchildren gave her a T-shirt with all of their handprints on it that said, “If you ever feel like you can’t go on, picture all of us pushing you.”&nbsp; We were all there in spirit cheering her on.<br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WE2H-_8xK90/UBb30xwohkI/AAAAAAAAAuo/KpRmSeR8wNg/s1600/marathonshirt.JPG" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WE2H-_8xK90/UBb30xwohkI/AAAAAAAAAuo/KpRmSeR8wNg/s1600/marathonshirt.JPG" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WE2H-_8xK90/UBb30xwohkI/AAAAAAAAAuo/KpRmSeR8wNg/s320/marathonshirt.JPG" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WE2H-_8xK90/UBb30xwohkI/AAAAAAAAAuo/KpRmSeR8wNg/s320/marathonshirt.JPG" border="0" height="320" width="240"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> The day of the Boston Marathon there was a heat wave going through the city and the temperature was expected to be more than ninety degrees. Officials encouraged people not to run, and hundreds dropped out, but Mom was determined to finish no matter what. She had been getting ready for this event for more than eighteen months and was not about to quit.<br> <br>The race began and the temperature quickly shot up to ninety degrees. From the first step, to the very last, it was a painful race for Mom. Around mile thirteen, her legs began to cramp up, and those cramps moved up into her hips, side and back. It was pure agony. The last half of the race she mostly walked to help alleviate the pain from the cramps. And when the pain became nearly unbearable, she remembered her family and knew their hands were helping to push her forward. That day, 2,550 runners quit, 2,000 got medical attention, 150 ended up in the hospital—and Shirlee Webb, age sixty, crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 20 minutes.&nbsp; <br> <br>To sum it all up, Mom said, “If all the things I hoped would happen in the Marathon would have happened, it would have been a fun and exhilarating experience. I would have felt like I was a winner, maybe pridefully so. But the experience I actually had taught me far greater things than I could have learned if I had had an easy run. To do what was hard, really hard, to dig deep to find strength I didn't know I had, helped me know that anything is possible.” 365 Ways to Say Thanks http://www.tofw.com/365-Ways-Say-Thanks-Christine-LeBaron/s/629 http://www.tofw.com/365-Ways-Say-Thanks-Christine-LeBaron/s/629 Wed, 18 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Christine LeBaron <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YYGC3LH5eiY/UAcPtMINntI/AAAAAAAAAoI/LAUhS-zcWrA/s1600/thanks1.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YYGC3LH5eiY/UAcPtMINntI/AAAAAAAAAoI/LAUhS-zcWrA/s1600/thanks1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YYGC3LH5eiY/UAcPtMINntI/AAAAAAAAAoI/LAUhS-zcWrA/s640/thanks1.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YYGC3LH5eiY/UAcPtMINntI/AAAAAAAAAoI/LAUhS-zcWrA/s640/thanks1.jpg" border="0" height="426" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> I’d heard it said that gratitude lifts us toward our Heavenly Father, especially when we express that gratitude to him. But when I lost both of my parents before I was forty and within a few years of each other, I admit that even feeling grateful was a challenge. I missed them.<br> <br>But my mother raised us with a vision of making lemonade out of lemons. She was a cockeyed optimist, and her joyful outlook was contagious. So after her passing, I started thinking there must be some way to turn my sorrow to joy, my grief to gratitude. Attending a 2011 Time Out for Women event made me even more determined to choose to become grateful. And when they announced the 2012 theme, "Seek the Good," my plan took form.<br> <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CbWBQVpQtv4/UAcS0e1JWHI/AAAAAAAAAog/Ts8r9UtBfow/s1600/thanks3.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CbWBQVpQtv4/UAcS0e1JWHI/AAAAAAAAAog/Ts8r9UtBfow/s1600/thanks3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CbWBQVpQtv4/UAcS0e1JWHI/AAAAAAAAAog/Ts8r9UtBfow/s320/thanks3.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CbWBQVpQtv4/UAcS0e1JWHI/AAAAAAAAAog/Ts8r9UtBfow/s320/thanks3.jpg" border="0" height="213" width="320"></a>I named my plan The Butterfly Project, and I resolved to write a total of 365 letters of gratitude this year. If expressing gratitude to God can bring us closer to Him, I thought to myself, couldn’t expressing gratitude via pen and paper draw me closer to those I love? </div> <br>I sent one of my letters to my younger brother, an amazing man who tends to be too hard on himself. In the letter, I included reflections of our years of growing up and expressed how much I love him. Then I thanked him for the brother he is to me. <br> <br>Such a small thing it is to write a letter, but since I sent it I’ve noticed an increase in our communications. He has always been better than me at calling consistently, and I’ve always appreciated his efforts to reach in around my chaos and remind me he cares. However, the letter has made me realize what’s important and how much I need to be an active part of his life too. Since then, I’ve tried to do better at staying in contact with him, checking on his sweet family, and being present in his life even though we’re 700 miles apart. <br> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZUXHjCq5eD0/UAcS4zuB-hI/AAAAAAAAAoo/ALd2kkc61gE/s1600/thanks4.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZUXHjCq5eD0/UAcS4zuB-hI/AAAAAAAAAoo/ALd2kkc61gE/s1600/thanks4.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZUXHjCq5eD0/UAcS4zuB-hI/AAAAAAAAAoo/ALd2kkc61gE/s320/thanks4.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZUXHjCq5eD0/UAcS4zuB-hI/AAAAAAAAAoo/ALd2kkc61gE/s320/thanks4.jpg" border="0" height="281" width="320"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> Gratitude has given me wings. It has elevated relationships in ways I never imagined, and I’ve learned that miles cannot separate hearts determined to be knit together. Likewise, the only distance that can keep us from our Heavenly Father is the distance we deliberately put between us and him. My heart overflows in praise and gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father that inspired me in a way that I believe He knew would change and strengthen me. Gratitude is healing my broken heart from the inside out. It’s changing my life. It’s giving me wings. <br> <br>I’m still in the process of completing that grand endeavor, but I’ve already been amazed by what my efforts have done. Many times my loved ones have thanked me for the letters and expressed their mutual feelings of gratitude for me. But the greatest discovery has not been how the letters changed anyone else; it’s been how the letters are changing me.<br> <br>I’ve extended a similar challenge to all my loved ones to write twelve letters of gratitude in 2012, and I invite you to join us. It’s only July! Plenty of time to love, write, and be changed. A Time Out and a "Toodle-oo!" http://www.tofw.com/Time-Out-Toodle-oo-Jennifer-Shumway/s/621 http://www.tofw.com/Time-Out-Toodle-oo-Jennifer-Shumway/s/621 Wed, 11 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Jennifer Shumway <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KM7pDDKTqbQ/T_s9s1pvgQI/AAAAAAAAAhg/4TjWSS5ShAU/s1600/Time+Out.JPG" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KM7pDDKTqbQ/T_s9s1pvgQI/AAAAAAAAAhg/4TjWSS5ShAU/s1600/Time+Out.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KM7pDDKTqbQ/T_s9s1pvgQI/AAAAAAAAAhg/4TjWSS5ShAU/s640/Time+Out.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KM7pDDKTqbQ/T_s9s1pvgQI/AAAAAAAAAhg/4TjWSS5ShAU/s640/Time+Out.JPG" border="0" height="480" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> When my grandma was ninety years old, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and given three months to live. A month later, soon after her husband of seventy years passed away, she decided that her last wish was to reunite all the girls in her family—every daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. When she learned about the Time Out for Women program, she decided it would be the perfect excuse for her to see all her female posterity gathered together, and she insisted on paying for everyone’s ticket to make sure we would all be there. <br> <br>Grandma got to Salt Lake City on a Friday afternoon after a long drive with my aunt Monte, and even though her frail ninety-year-old body was tired, she met all her girls with warmth and joy, hugging each one of us and calling us by name. When it was time to go to the first Time Out for Women meeting, we bundled her up and took her across the street. She was in a wheelchair and hooked up to an oxygen tank, but she had a huge fan club of adoring women fawning all over her. When we arrived, we all sat together, eagerly awaiting the first speaker and basking in the excitement of being together again. Because Grandma was going blind, she couldn’t see the stage or screens, but when I looked over at her during the event, I saw that even though she often had her eyes closed, she wore a peaceful smile on her face, just happy to be with everyone. <br><br> After a while, her daughters decided to take her back to the hotel to rest. On the way out, they heard her speaking in her soft, barely audible voice. They stopped and asked her what she wanted, and she said softly, “Sheri Dew—I want to hear Sheri Dew.” So they brought her back in, and our little, loving group felt complete again.<br><br> The next morning, we all gathered in her room for breakfast and prayer, eager to start another edifying day. Since she was the oldest, we let her pick who would offer the prayer, and she decided she wanted to do it. In her quiet little voice she offered the sweetest prayer. It was so simple yet so sincere, thanking our Heavenly Father for letting us be together. There was not a dry eye in the room. <br><br> Before Time Out for Women was over, Aunt Monte decided that she and Grandma had better leave so they wouldn’t be traveling through bad weather in the dark. With tears in our eyes, we gathered around her wheelchair, gave her a group hug, and told her how we much we loved her. Grandma hugged us again and told us she loved us. They wheeled her into the elevator and we all waved. Grandma never said “goodbye”; she always said “toodle-oo.” So instead of saying goodbye, we blew her kisses and called, “Toodle-oo!” The doors shut and we all shed a few tears, knowing that this would be the last time we saw her. <br><br> This morning I got a call that Grandma had passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was a remarkable woman who served so many people through her life, and I’m thankful for the time I had to be with her at Time Out for Women. I know that she hung on because she wanted so much to see all her girls at the sisters’ reunion; Grandma always cherished her family more than anything else in this world. Time Out for Women helped make her last few weeks even sweeter, and helped us make memories that can never be erased from our minds and hearts. And thinking about my grandma now, finally reunited with my grandpa and her loved ones, I treasure the life-changing moments we spent together that weekend. <br> Shaken But Standing: Living in an Earthquake Zone http://www.tofw.com/Shaken-Standing-Living-Earthquake-Zone-Melanie-Riwai-Couch/s/616 http://www.tofw.com/Shaken-Standing-Living-Earthquake-Zone-Melanie-Riwai-Couch/s/616 Thu, 05 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Melanie Riwai-Couch <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uX8yoOJvWCs/T_MN_1HMvmI/AAAAAAAAAdw/apCv3jWiKVk/s1600/house.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uX8yoOJvWCs/T_MN_1HMvmI/AAAAAAAAAdw/apCv3jWiKVk/s1600/house.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uX8yoOJvWCs/T_MN_1HMvmI/AAAAAAAAAdw/apCv3jWiKVk/s640/house.jpg" width="640" height="426" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uX8yoOJvWCs/T_MN_1HMvmI/AAAAAAAAAdw/apCv3jWiKVk/s640/house.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> <br> The other night I woke to an earthquake. <br> </p><p>It was the sort of earthquake that you can hear as well as feel, and I vaguely remember opening my eyes, thinking, “I can’t hear anything breaking.” So I went back to sleep. <br> </p><p>This is the norm for many people living in Christchurch. Earthquakes occur so often that the threshold for when we finally take earthquake action is now significantly higher. We live with it because, for now, it is our reality. <br> <br> We haven’t always been this way. Before 2010, Christchurch was not known as an earthquake-prone city, and we didn’t even know that there were fault lines beneath it. But at 4:35 a.m. on September 4, 2010, the people of Christchurch had a brutal awakening. People were thrown from their beds, and most huddled in doorframes and under tables for the rest of the morning. In all the confusion, many suburbs lost electricity and were flooded with liquid, muddy sand. <br> </p><div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> At that point, no one knew how many aftershocks would follow, and no one would have guessed that there would be more than ten thousand of them in only two years. </div><div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> </div> <div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HZCoT5R-Gow/T_MYCBC02iI/AAAAAAAAAek/fEdQGKl1ArM/s1600/collapsedbuilding.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HZCoT5R-Gow/T_MYCBC02iI/AAAAAAAAAek/fEdQGKl1ArM/s1600/collapsedbuilding.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HZCoT5R-Gow/T_MYCBC02iI/AAAAAAAAAek/fEdQGKl1ArM/s320/collapsedbuilding.jpg" width="320" height="214" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HZCoT5R-Gow/T_MYCBC02iI/AAAAAAAAAek/fEdQGKl1ArM/s320/collapsedbuilding.jpg"></a>One of those aftershocks happened on February 22, 2011. It was not as large as the first big one, but its location and shallowness made it particularly vicious. One hundred eighty-three people died that day. One hundred sixteen of them were in one building—the building had simply pancaked, collapsing in twenty seconds.</div> <br> But the ground isn’t the only thing experiencing aftershocks. Each individual continues to experience the aftermath of the shakes, struggling with the grief and trauma of living in such difficult conditions. Thousands have been forced to leave their broken homes and thousands more continue to struggle with insurance companies. One family I know had their home filled with that sandy, muddy stuff five times. Imagine it: your house knee-deep in mud in the middle of the night, and there are a thousand other people with the same problem, so help isn’t coming any time soon.<br> <br> As for my personal aftershocks, I’m continually exhausted with the relentless preparations required for a shake, and constantly concerned for the well-being of my children. For me, the shakes have meant a daily routine of being aware of exactly where my children are, discerning the quickest way to get them if there is a large shake, knowing how I will communicate if phone lines go down, and having enough food and warmth in case shops are closed and I lose electricity. This is the dilemma of having to go on with life while living in a city that can change from being warm and friendly to something akin to a war zone in seconds.<br> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ih8PpXrD96M/T_MYLTXRo8I/AAAAAAAAAe0/LrQf-_8TTHk/s1600/family%2Bfull%2Bpic.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ih8PpXrD96M/T_MYLTXRo8I/AAAAAAAAAe0/LrQf-_8TTHk/s1600/family%2Bfull%2Bpic.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ih8PpXrD96M/T_MYLTXRo8I/AAAAAAAAAe0/LrQf-_8TTHk/s320/family%2Bfull%2Bpic.jpg" width="320" height="214" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ih8PpXrD96M/T_MYLTXRo8I/AAAAAAAAAe0/LrQf-_8TTHk/s320/family%2Bfull%2Bpic.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> I have had moments when I genuinely feared for the lives of my children. I have offered silent prayers of gratitude for having had them with me for their short lives. I have wondered if I can cope with the ongoing demands, if I am strong enough to carry on when it seems so hard, and if I can go another night without sleep on top of everything else.<br> <br>But even with these challenges there have been numerous blessings and opportunities for personal and community growth. One way our family has grown is through Family Home Evenings. We practice emergency drills to make sure the children can actually carry their survival packs, and teach the children to navigate road crossings to emergency shelters so they could find their way if they needed to. As a family, we have prepared welfare packs for displaced children living in welfare centres, and helped dig mud and loose sediment out of people’s homes. Together with other Church members, we have helped with welfare efforts, and it has made both our family and ward family stronger. <br> <br> In moments of relief, I have pondered what we can do to protect our families when crises hit. But I’ve come to realize that even though we cannot control nature or the frightening events occurring all around us, we can control ourselves. We can make sure that our relationships are in good order, we can live Christ-like lives of compassion and integrity, and we can honour our temple covenants. There is always someone worse off than us, and helping them can be the balm for our own wounds. Then, after we have done all that we can, we receive the trial of faith—times that shake us will come, but we must leave the rest up to the Lord. A Divorce and a Friendship: How Same-sex Attraction Led One Couple to Both http://www.tofw.com/Divorce-Friendship-How-Same-sex-Attraction-Led-One-Couple-Both-Yvonne-Miller/s/604 http://www.tofw.com/Divorce-Friendship-How-Same-sex-Attraction-Led-One-Couple-Both-Yvonne-Miller/s/604 Wed, 27 Jun 2012 01:04:00 -0600 <div> by Yvonne Miller <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dO-uVVRVVlQ/T-ik6l2yyDI/AAAAAAAAAZs/YD6b0EoPEOQ/s1600/famsilhouette.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dO-uVVRVVlQ/T-ik6l2yyDI/AAAAAAAAAZs/YD6b0EoPEOQ/s1600/famsilhouette.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dO-uVVRVVlQ/T-ik6l2yyDI/AAAAAAAAAZs/YD6b0EoPEOQ/s400/famsilhouette.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dO-uVVRVVlQ/T-ik6l2yyDI/AAAAAAAAAZs/YD6b0EoPEOQ/s400/famsilhouette.jpg" border="0" height="340" width="509"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> After reading some blogs I decided I should write something because I never see blogs about what I am going through. And I know there are other women like me, women who have lived for years keeping a secret with no one to talk to about it.<br> <br> I was married for almost 35 years to a man who I loved and who loved me but finally chose to divorce me because he was gay. And yes I knew. For 30 years I knew. He knew he was different at a young age. At 16 he joined the church and did everything he could to live the commandments. He was told that if he went on a mission, married in the temple and did everything he could to be obedient this “feeling” would go away. Well he did all those things, and after 5 years of being married and 3 children later, he felt it wouldn’t “go away” and he told me.<br> <br> Devastated, confused, scared, alone—these are just a few of the feelings I had. But he was a good man, a wonderful father, a worthy priesthood holder and we had been sealed in the temple and made covenants so I saw no reason to break up a family. In fact we had 2 more children.</p><p>So how did I deal with this secret for all these years? I talked a lot to the Lord. He was the only one I talked to about this and He is a good listener.</p><p>But after 35 years my husband couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t keep who he was a secret and so he, or I should say we, told our children. I was terrified. There was no going back. No second chance if things didn’t go well. No way to know what the next steps would be. A leap of faith into the dark pretty much sums it up. And it’s been a leap. No small hop, and it didn’t work out the way I thought it would. It led to divorce. Me divorced? I would drive around and say that word in my head and feel bewildered, baffled, and so very sad. This wasn’t how I pictured my life. None of it. I had been the beehive who did what she was asked. The laurel president who loved always attending young women and the college student who prayed and felt guided to marry a righteous man. This wasn’t supposed to happen to someone like me.</p><div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> Some days I would pray that the Lord would just lift me so I could get to work, and make it through the day. And then at night I would realize that He completely carried me that day. He was and is constantly by my side. He sends angels to comfort and lift me. He sends blessings….buckets of them so that my life is overflowing with goodness. He healed my heart and most importantly brought me peace.</div><p> My former husband and I are friends now. How could we not be? Remember, he is a good man. I promised myself not to let anger ever divide my family or make my children feel like they had to choose. And great blessings have come because of that—like being able to come together for holidays and events and feel peace and harmony.<br> <br> Christ begs us all to “come”. Who am I to say, “not you.” He is the healer, our Savior and in Him I can find joy. And I know whatever road my life takes, it will be good because He is there.</p><p>He has always been there.</p><p><br></p><p><em>For any other questions about this topic, feel free to contact Yvonne Miller at </em><a href="mailto:ymiller@mail.gotobai.com" _mce_href="mailto:ymiller@mail.gotobai.com">ymiller@mail.gotobai.com</a>.<font face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font></p> Surviving on Sips http://www.tofw.com/Surviving-Sips-Annette-Webster/s/593 http://www.tofw.com/Surviving-Sips-Annette-Webster/s/593 Wed, 13 Jun 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Annette Webster <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EMetzvPIs08/T9Jf-09ezII/AAAAAAAAAQE/YnFCDtD30pU/s1600/operating%2Broom.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EMetzvPIs08/T9Jf-09ezII/AAAAAAAAAQE/YnFCDtD30pU/s1600/operating%2Broom.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EMetzvPIs08/T9Jf-09ezII/AAAAAAAAAQE/YnFCDtD30pU/s400/operating%2Broom.jpg" width="546" height="343" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EMetzvPIs08/T9Jf-09ezII/AAAAAAAAAQE/YnFCDtD30pU/s400/operating%2Broom.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> In December of 2009, I learned that I had severe sleep apnea. Soon afterward I received a second piece of alarming news: If I left the problem untreated, there was no question about whether I’d have a stroke or a heart attack, just when. Unfortunately, the shock of this news was not eased by the solution my oral surgeon presented. I would need extensive jaw surgery to open my airway and allow room for my tongue. Frightening as this extreme and upsetting procedure seemed at the time, the Spirit whispered that this was the course to take. <br> <br> I felt the Spirit testifying to me that my upcoming surgery was an opportunity for me to become better acquainted with my Savior and to become more like Him. I felt deeply that this experience would be another chance to learn and to take another big step toward becoming the daughter Heavenly Father wanted me to be.<br> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3jxZeiyxTkI/T9JdCfwEuCI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8OMSUB8if20/s1600/Me%2Bin%2Bthe%2Bhospital.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3jxZeiyxTkI/T9JdCfwEuCI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8OMSUB8if20/s1600/Me%2Bin%2Bthe%2Bhospital.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3jxZeiyxTkI/T9JdCfwEuCI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8OMSUB8if20/s320/Me%2Bin%2Bthe%2Bhospital.jpg" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3jxZeiyxTkI/T9JdCfwEuCI/AAAAAAAAAPk/8OMSUB8if20/s320/Me%2Bin%2Bthe%2Bhospital.jpg"></a> After almost twelve hours of surgery, I was released into the ICU with a tracheostomy tube in my throat to help me breathe. My memories of the ICU are hazy, but what stands out the most is the pain. The nights were the worst, since I could sleep only an hour or two before the pain woke me up again. When it became excruciating, I prayed for comfort, pleading with the Lord to ease my burden. I felt the Savior with me during those long, agonizing nights, soothing me with balm of Gilead. <br> <br> Twice during my stay in ICU, the trache tube clogged. The first time was a bit scary, but the staff cleared it fairly quickly. The next night was worse. The airway clogged and closed off completely. There was no air coming in or going out, and I woke up choking for air.&nbsp; Miraculously, the respiratory therapist “had a feeling” something was wrong and stopped by my room unexpectedly. As I struggled for air, I offered a simple prayer: Please help me breathe. The clog didn’t miraculously vanish, but what did happen was a miracle to me. As the doctors manipulated the trache tube, little bits of the clog shifted and I could get what I can only describe as little “sips” of air. They weren’t much, but they were enough to keep me alive, and I knew that the Lord was giving me the strength to get through the agony, sip by sip.<br> <br> I had been home from the hospital for a few weeks when I started having difficulty breathing. Every test they ran showed nothing wrong, but the problem didn’t go away.&nbsp; One night during my personal prayers, after struggling for enough air just to get from the family room to my bedroom; I felt myself surrender to the Lord’s will. “Heavenly Father,” I said, “I don’t feel like it’s my time to die. I don’t feel as though You’ve been telling me it’s my time to go. I feel like I have so much more to accomplish on this earth. However, if it is my time, and You want me home; I’ll go. Not my will, but Thine, be done.” In that moment, I felt my will truly surrender to His, and I realized that was what He wanted from me all along.<br> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BkgKhgqDolA/T9JdJczld2I/AAAAAAAAAPw/QnCr3V-uI0Y/s1600/paramedics.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BkgKhgqDolA/T9JdJczld2I/AAAAAAAAAPw/QnCr3V-uI0Y/s1600/paramedics.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BkgKhgqDolA/T9JdJczld2I/AAAAAAAAAPw/QnCr3V-uI0Y/s320/paramedics.jpg" width="320" height="214" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BkgKhgqDolA/T9JdJczld2I/AAAAAAAAAPw/QnCr3V-uI0Y/s320/paramedics.jpg"></a><br> The next morning, Kevin had to call the paramedics and I was rushed to the ER, where the doctors finally discovered the problem. While clearing the trache tube during my first stay in the hospital, they had damaged my trachea, allowing scar tissue to block my airway. That day, they performed surgery to stretch the scar-tissue out of the way and open my airway. But since this was only a temporary fix, I’ve returned to the hospital for four more surgeries. <br> <br>Needless to say, it was a challenging year for our family, and even though we’re hoping that this last surgery I had will really be the last, we understand that the trial may not be over. If it’s not, we’ll trust in the Lord and deal with whatever hardships come. I’ve learned to rely on Heavenly Father and have developed a willingness to accept whatever lessons He trusts me to learn from my challenges. After all, I know He is uniquely and perfectly qualified to succor us in our times of need—and I trust him with my life.</p> After You Lose it All http://www.tofw.com/After-You-Lose-All-Kristie-Michaelson/s/560 http://www.tofw.com/After-You-Lose-All-Kristie-Michaelson/s/560 Mon, 21 May 2012 23:08:00 -0600 <div> by Kristie Michaelson <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div> <p><br><a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OerPfp8_uW8/T6l2sI2A2GI/AAAAAAAAAd0/zuFUnCVNZKM/s1600/The+fight+agianst+Lymes+disease+001.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OerPfp8_uW8/T6l2sI2A2GI/AAAAAAAAAd0/zuFUnCVNZKM/s1600/The+fight+agianst+Lymes+disease+001.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OerPfp8_uW8/T6l2sI2A2GI/AAAAAAAAAd0/zuFUnCVNZKM/s640/The+fight+agianst+Lymes+disease+001.jpg" width="640" height="490" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OerPfp8_uW8/T6l2sI2A2GI/AAAAAAAAAd0/zuFUnCVNZKM/s640/The+fight+agianst+Lymes+disease+001.jpg"></a>After 12 very difficult years, 6 blood transfusions, hundreds of iron infusions, home health care, and many other difficult challenges, I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Lyme’s Disease. Through this I lost my marriage, my ability to take care of my young children, my independence, and the freedom to serve, my world came crashing down.&nbsp;<br><br>I felt like Job.&nbsp;<br><br>I spent most of my life serving and reaching out to others; this is what gave me joy. I was no longer able to do the things I loved, the people I loved were gone and I was left alone fighting for my life.<br><br>I was devastated.<br><br><a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XdBRal8lqp8/T6l2qgcbzEI/AAAAAAAAAdg/OuEVOTysO1c/s1600/DSCN0248.JPG" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XdBRal8lqp8/T6l2qgcbzEI/AAAAAAAAAdg/OuEVOTysO1c/s1600/DSCN0248.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XdBRal8lqp8/T6l2qgcbzEI/AAAAAAAAAdg/OuEVOTysO1c/s320/DSCN0248.JPG" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XdBRal8lqp8/T6l2qgcbzEI/AAAAAAAAAdg/OuEVOTysO1c/s320/DSCN0248.JPG"></a>Caring for my self was difficult; I became homeless &amp; felt helpless.&nbsp; My only anchor was what was planted inside my heart so many years ago. A convert at the age of 14, I knew God loved me &amp; that through Him I could do all things. I anchored my trust completely in his tender love &amp; mercy. I surrounded myself with favorite scriptures &amp; positive thoughts to give me comfort and strength.<br><br>Embracing my new life, reality of what was, was a hard road.&nbsp; I felt like a burden to those around me. I was in need of everyone’s help. I often felt weighed down with no purpose.&nbsp; On one occasion my aid took me to a public pool for therapy. I noticed a lady in the pool she appeared troubled. I went to her and asked if she was okay.&nbsp; She smiled, replied, “I need help to my chair."&nbsp; I was touched by her genuine plea for help. I learned that she had MS.&nbsp; I felt compassion for her. I forgot my struggles and helped her to her chair.&nbsp; She was so gracious about allowing me to help her. She gave me a gift--a heart filled with joy.<br><br>I had a new outlook.<br><br><a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-epYCtoAGcfE/T6l3aS7cufI/AAAAAAAAAeE/D4KM0Z_0mHs/s1600/DSCN9936.JPG" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-epYCtoAGcfE/T6l3aS7cufI/AAAAAAAAAeE/D4KM0Z_0mHs/s1600/DSCN9936.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-epYCtoAGcfE/T6l3aS7cufI/AAAAAAAAAeE/D4KM0Z_0mHs/s320/DSCN9936.JPG" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-epYCtoAGcfE/T6l3aS7cufI/AAAAAAAAAeE/D4KM0Z_0mHs/s320/DSCN9936.JPG"></a><a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-pbRrEabM6xg/T6l2pzEtFZI/AAAAAAAAAdQ/6JlJ_GGDWZs/s1600/DSCN0124.JPG" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-pbRrEabM6xg/T6l2pzEtFZI/AAAAAAAAAdQ/6JlJ_GGDWZs/s1600/DSCN0124.JPG"></a>I realized that there must be a receiver to every giver. Each one is needed.&nbsp; God knew we would need each other, one to lift the other. He wants us to love each other no matter what side of the wheel we may find ourselves on.&nbsp; It takes both sides to move us forward. When I first was stricken with illness, I recall one morning feeling as if I was dying not just physically but emotionally. I had lost the ability to take care of my children &amp; they were going to leave and live with their father 6 hours away.&nbsp; My heart was broken, my spirit felt shattered. As I laid there my soul ached. My three year old son at the time had gotten out of his bed &amp; crawled up into mine. He sat next to me as if he had an important message to share. I will never forget the intent in his eyes, “Mommy, I saw Jesus &amp; Heavenly Father He wore white with red on it”.&nbsp; I pictured the Savior in his white gown &amp; red robe. “He told me to give you...”what he described as a gold chain with a heart hanging from it, then he burst out, it said “LOVE Mommy! He said to love everyone around you." Tears filled my eyes as I realized HE knew what my heart needed.&nbsp; HE sent his love through my three year old son’s pure heart to remind me that I was loved and to love others. This became the great healing balm in my life. Perhaps not to heal me in the way I had desired but to help me heal in the ways he knew I needed.<br><br></p> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IGEzsxAYEFw/T6l2qdOx_1I/AAAAAAAAAdY/6Q9CZeKQQ_s/s1600/DSCN0173.JPG" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IGEzsxAYEFw/T6l2qdOx_1I/AAAAAAAAAdY/6Q9CZeKQQ_s/s1600/DSCN0173.JPG"><br></a></div> <p><br><br><a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TaNbf89ABKQ/T6l3aA3CZVI/AAAAAAAAAd8/POiMeOiTkoo/s1600/DSCN0251.JPG" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TaNbf89ABKQ/T6l3aA3CZVI/AAAAAAAAAd8/POiMeOiTkoo/s1600/DSCN0251.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TaNbf89ABKQ/T6l3aA3CZVI/AAAAAAAAAd8/POiMeOiTkoo/s320/DSCN0251.JPG" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TaNbf89ABKQ/T6l3aA3CZVI/AAAAAAAAAd8/POiMeOiTkoo/s320/DSCN0251.JPG"></a><a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EhN8DjEEm8A/T6l2q92YDmI/AAAAAAAAAds/Fudm3icJ74U/s1600/DSCN0796.JPG" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EhN8DjEEm8A/T6l2q92YDmI/AAAAAAAAAds/Fudm3icJ74U/s1600/DSCN0796.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EhN8DjEEm8A/T6l2q92YDmI/AAAAAAAAAds/Fudm3icJ74U/s320/DSCN0796.JPG" width="320" height="240" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EhN8DjEEm8A/T6l2q92YDmI/AAAAAAAAAds/Fudm3icJ74U/s320/DSCN0796.JPG"></a>Like Job I did suffer indescribable pain on every level,&nbsp; I tried to follow his example of endurance, forgiveness, love, patience, long suffering, sacrifice, I trusted God &amp; clang to hope.&nbsp; My life today has been so richly blessed. I still struggle with many health difficulties &amp; challenges but I am happily married, I am raising my children, &amp; finding opportunities to serve.<br><br>A willow statue of a little boy holding a gold heart in his arms remains in my home to remind me that God’s love never fails.</p> Angels and a Car Wreck http://www.tofw.com/Angels-Car-Wreck-Jenny-Duce/s/555 http://www.tofw.com/Angels-Car-Wreck-Jenny-Duce/s/555 Mon, 30 Apr 2012 23:29:00 -0600 <div> by Jenny Duce <br /> </div> <P><A style="MARGIN-LEFT: 1em; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1em" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XYe0fFErSsw/T58hJki909I/AAAAAAAAAbM/52HU-mh2yNk/s1600/99450599.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XYe0fFErSsw/T58hJki909I/AAAAAAAAAbM/52HU-mh2yNk/s1600/99450599.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><IMG height=352 src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XYe0fFErSsw/T58hJki909I/AAAAAAAAAbM/52HU-mh2yNk/s320/99450599.jpg" width=607 border=0 _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XYe0fFErSsw/T58hJki909I/AAAAAAAAAbM/52HU-mh2yNk/s320/99450599.jpg"></A></P> <P>Life was going great. </P> <P>I had just finished splits with the sister missionaries and was driving home to be with my husband who was recovering from cancer surgery. It had been a beautiful spring and sun filled day, but as the day progressed a sudden change in weather occurred and the air began turning cold…fast! Before I realized it everything around me went black. It was just that sudden! I thought to myself, “I must have been in an accident”. I said a quick prayer that I would remain calm. </P> <P>Next thing I knew a woman approached the vehicle advising that she was a paramedic off duty driving from Spokane on her way to Montana. She found me hanging upside down, my head smashing into a bed of crushed glass on the only part of the roof still attached to the vehicle. This sweet woman sat with me, supporting my body weight as I waited for the ambulance. As she visited with me, trying to keep me calm, I discovered the miracle of her being with me. There hadn’t been much room left in the car she was traveling in, but being of small frame, they made room for her to come. And while they had gotten a late start on their trip, it put her at the scene when I needed someone most. </P> <P>Truck drivers called 911 and helped keep myself and others around the scene safe by blocking both lanes of oncoming traffic. When the ambulance staff arrived, they could hardly walk on the road, the black ice was so slick.</P> <P>&nbsp;My husband soon arrived at the scene and was able to crawl into the vehicle just enough to lay his hands on me and give me a priesthood blessing that I could remain calm until I could receive necessary medical treatment. </P> <P><A style="CLEAR: left; FLOAT: left; MARGIN-BOTTOM: 1em; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1em" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--kkkttzDVo8/T5_8-FRyEOI/AAAAAAAAAbY/m-FMgbd2UQ0/s1600/halo.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--kkkttzDVo8/T5_8-FRyEOI/AAAAAAAAAbY/m-FMgbd2UQ0/s1600/halo.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><IMG height=228 src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--kkkttzDVo8/T5_8-FRyEOI/AAAAAAAAAbY/m-FMgbd2UQ0/s320/halo.jpg" width=320 border=0 _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--kkkttzDVo8/T5_8-FRyEOI/AAAAAAAAAbY/m-FMgbd2UQ0/s320/halo.jpg"></A>&nbsp;I left the scene that day with a broken neck and a scratch on my hand. A halo would soon be attached to me and would remain attached for the next 3 months, keeping my neck, back and head healing properly. I did my best to work and live a “normal” life as difficult as it was. But as I look back on that situation, the accident, the scene, the emotions, I am grateful to have been blessed by MANY incredible angels which He sent to my path of life that day to help support me through such a difficult time.</P> <P><A style="MARGIN-LEFT: 1em; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1em" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--kkkttzDVo8/T5_8-FRyEOI/AAAAAAAAAbY/m-FMgbd2UQ0/s1600/halo.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--kkkttzDVo8/T5_8-FRyEOI/AAAAAAAAAbY/m-FMgbd2UQ0/s1600/halo.jpg" imageanchor="1" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></A></P> Beyond Imagination http://www.tofw.com/Beyond-Imagination-Written-Joy-Winn/s/535 http://www.tofw.com/Beyond-Imagination-Written-Joy-Winn/s/535 Tue, 10 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Written by Joy Winn <br /> </div> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v20lJtL3jOY/T4NUvEyfGJI/AAAAAAAAGXs/Hp3wjmJeNJY/s1600/Familyatbeach.2011.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v20lJtL3jOY/T4NUvEyfGJI/AAAAAAAAGXs/Hp3wjmJeNJY/s1600/Familyatbeach.2011.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v20lJtL3jOY/T4NUvEyfGJI/AAAAAAAAGXs/Hp3wjmJeNJY/s640/Familyatbeach.2011.jpg" width="640" height="438" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v20lJtL3jOY/T4NUvEyfGJI/AAAAAAAAGXs/Hp3wjmJeNJY/s640/Familyatbeach.2011.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> I will never forget the day our inspired Bishop knocked on our door one Sunday after church.&nbsp; He explained that during church that day, he felt a strong impression that he needed to visit our home and give each family member a blessing.&nbsp; We were a little surprised and unsure of what this meant, but we welcomed him in.&nbsp; He gave each of our children and my husband beautiful blessings that promised them strength and guidance in their lives.&nbsp; I was the last one to receive a blessing.&nbsp; I clearly remember the words, “You and your family will have trials and tribulations that will be beyond your imagination.”&nbsp;&nbsp; I also remembered the words that followed were filled with promises of strength, help and protection to endure the trials.&nbsp; After the Bishop left, I found myself grateful for his inspiration but also very confused as to what this could mean.&nbsp; After all, things were going well for our family.&nbsp; We had three beautiful children and were expecting our fourth, a little girl we would name Sarah. <br><br>After 10 years and several miscarriages, we were thrilled to be expecting again; however, a few weeks after receiving the blessings from our Bishop, I noticed that our baby was not moving.&nbsp; It was April 7th, 2007, the day before Easter.&nbsp; I needed peace of mind and decided to go in for a check-up.&nbsp; The doctor could not detect a heartbeat.&nbsp; Eight hours later, our daughter was stillborn.&nbsp; We were given time to hold our sweet baby girl and to say goodbye.&nbsp; The loss of our baby girl was heart breaking. </p><p><a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Nbk7lfozOT0/T4NV3VIHJSI/AAAAAAAAGYM/qIqfdazox50/s1600/wynn+family.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Nbk7lfozOT0/T4NV3VIHJSI/AAAAAAAAGYM/qIqfdazox50/s1600/wynn+family.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Nbk7lfozOT0/T4NV3VIHJSI/AAAAAAAAGYM/qIqfdazox50/s320/wynn+family.jpg" width="320" height="300" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Nbk7lfozOT0/T4NV3VIHJSI/AAAAAAAAGYM/qIqfdazox50/s320/wynn+family.jpg"></a>The following months were dark and lonely and I felt crushed.&nbsp; My pain was so intense, my heart broken and shattered. One evening I cried inconsolably to my husband and He comforted me by saying that sometimes our Heavenly Father has to stretch out our hearts, possibly even break them, in order for our hearts to have more room to give and receive. <br><br>And receive we did!&nbsp; Three months later I became pregnant with our fifth child.&nbsp; We found out we were having a boy and his due date was on April 7th, 2008, exactly one year after we lost Sarah.&nbsp; Logan was born healthy and strong and has been a complete joy to our family. <span id="goog_105087232"></span><span id="goog_105087233"></span><br><br>This trial had been unimaginable, but our story does not end there.&nbsp; Shortly after Logan turned one, I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma in my left breast.&nbsp; A whirlwind of tests and appointments revealed that the cancer was in both breasts.&nbsp; I started chemotherapy right away.&nbsp; The treatments made me very ill, but I was given so much help to endure.&nbsp; Family and friends selflessly left their homes and traveled to take care of our family.&nbsp; Friends cleaned our home, cooked meals, took care of our children and drove me to appointments.&nbsp; Through each trial we were strengthened by our family, friends, and ward family.&nbsp; <span id="goog_105087246"></span><span id="goog_105087247"></span> <span id="goog_105087234"></span><span id="goog_105087235"></span> <span id="goog_105087236"></span><span id="goog_105087237"></span></p> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="margin-right: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sMPSmPcihtk/T4NYIhm5BiI/AAAAAAAAGZE/cYaPjkX9C-k/s1600/joy+horizontal.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sMPSmPcihtk/T4NYIhm5BiI/AAAAAAAAGZE/cYaPjkX9C-k/s1600/joy+horizontal.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sMPSmPcihtk/T4NYIhm5BiI/AAAAAAAAGZE/cYaPjkX9C-k/s640/joy+horizontal.jpg" width="595" height="362" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sMPSmPcihtk/T4NYIhm5BiI/AAAAAAAAGZE/cYaPjkX9C-k/s640/joy+horizontal.jpg"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> <span id="goog_105087239"></span><span id="goog_105087240"></span> Four<span id="goog_105087248"></span><span id="goog_105087249"></span> months of chemo was followed by a bi-lateral mastectomy and weeks of unbearable pain.&nbsp; Numerous complications required emergency surgery which nearly took my life and was followed by still more complications.&nbsp; My body was completely worn out and I was having a very difficult time fighting to stay alive.&nbsp; Thankfully, an inspired priesthood holder was there again in the moment I needed strength. </p><div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OhZQmF1WHdY/T4NYyrI94uI/AAAAAAAAGZM/IDAdsaGXMC4/s1600/JOy+tall+2.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OhZQmF1WHdY/T4NYyrI94uI/AAAAAAAAGZM/IDAdsaGXMC4/s1600/JOy+tall+2.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OhZQmF1WHdY/T4NYyrI94uI/AAAAAAAAGZM/IDAdsaGXMC4/s320/JOy+tall+2.jpg" width="261" height="365" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OhZQmF1WHdY/T4NYyrI94uI/AAAAAAAAGZM/IDAdsaGXMC4/s320/JOy+tall+2.jpg"></a> One of my doctors was LDS and stopped by my hospital room to see how I was doing.&nbsp; He offered to give me a blessing with my husband.&nbsp; I felt a renewed sense of strength and comfort from this priesthood blessing, and within two weeks, I was back home.&nbsp; The following year was filled with more reconstructive surgeries and recoveries.&nbsp; As if the cancer was not enough, my husband has been laid off twice during the past two years and I managed to total our mini-van!&nbsp; <br><br>Yes, these trials were beyond our imagination, but not one time were we left alone.&nbsp; We were always blessed beyond our imagination!&nbsp; We were loved through these trials and the support of family and friends strengthened and sustained us.&nbsp; We will be forever grateful for the strength, faith and love that were given to us by a very loving Heavenly Father.&nbsp; He has always known exactly what we have needed and has shown us His love through priesthood blessings and dear family and friends.<br><br><br><br></div> The Miracle of "Pigs in a Blanket" http://www.tofw.com/Miracle-Pigs-Blanket-Written-Michele-Nigliazzo/s/530 http://www.tofw.com/Miracle-Pigs-Blanket-Written-Michele-Nigliazzo/s/530 Tue, 03 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Written by Michele Nigliazzo <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mIcMFoLHabU/T3otTCnFkkI/AAAAAAAAGSk/i8FPrtap-d4/s1600/michele+horizontal.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mIcMFoLHabU/T3otTCnFkkI/AAAAAAAAGSk/i8FPrtap-d4/s1600/michele+horizontal.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mIcMFoLHabU/T3otTCnFkkI/AAAAAAAAGSk/i8FPrtap-d4/s640/michele+horizontal.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mIcMFoLHabU/T3otTCnFkkI/AAAAAAAAGSk/i8FPrtap-d4/s640/michele+horizontal.jpg" border="0" height="390" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UEl-Htsky40/T3os4EQ9bQI/AAAAAAAAGSU/JBHyr551_ZI/s1600/pigs+in+a+blanket.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UEl-Htsky40/T3os4EQ9bQI/AAAAAAAAGSU/JBHyr551_ZI/s1600/pigs+in+a+blanket.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PQnu80lXEB0/T3otW7PTlCI/AAAAAAAAGSs/_lLsUfuqh_c/s1600/callie+and+mom+cropped.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PQnu80lXEB0/T3otW7PTlCI/AAAAAAAAGSs/_lLsUfuqh_c/s1600/callie+and+mom+cropped.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PQnu80lXEB0/T3otW7PTlCI/AAAAAAAAGSs/_lLsUfuqh_c/s320/callie+and+mom+cropped.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PQnu80lXEB0/T3otW7PTlCI/AAAAAAAAGSs/_lLsUfuqh_c/s320/callie+and+mom+cropped.jpg" border="0" height="240" width="313"></a>We were told at the five month ultrasound that the baby girl I was carrying would die at birth. We were blessed to carry her to term, all the while preparing for her funeral.&nbsp;&nbsp; Our sweet Callie, born on March 28, 2002, lived eight minutes after birth, but we had enjoyed months of getting to know her beautiful, courageous spirit while I carried her.&nbsp; Holding her was a privilege.&nbsp; <br><br>The support in our community was amazing. It seemed that daily people let us know they were praying for us.&nbsp; Friends and family came and did laundry repeatedly.&nbsp; Meals were brought in—even when we felt too much grief to eat.&nbsp; I remember my mortification when my dear friend brought some of her homemade soup which I, in grief, did not eat.&nbsp; She then came a week later to help me clean house, and cleaned out her own beautiful soup with a smile and without even saying a word. <br><br>It was miraculous love from special friends that made things bearable, particularly when we had no more to give.&nbsp; I will always remember one particular day when I was sick and had to go to the store. My two boys, both under four years old, were also not feeling well.&nbsp; I was carrying a child who was dying. One of my little boys kept saying, "Mom, I just want pigs in a blanket" (hot dogs wrapped in biscuits). In my rush to get in and out of the store quickly, I forgot the key ingredients of pigs in a blanket. <br><br>When we got home, my young son began to cry over the misfortune. I felt so small. This was the straw that broke this camel's back.&nbsp; I was tired and overwhelmed.&nbsp; I had nothing left to give. I knew my son would survive a meal without pigs in a blanket, but I couldn't handle the weight of it all anymore.&nbsp; I felt alone. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <span id="goog_1381579300"></span><span id="goog_1381579301"></span><span id="goog_1381579307"></span><span id="goog_1381579308"></span> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-68HMAq1PB_E/T3ouKLWUCPI/AAAAAAAAGTM/pZxshyz9ARA/s1600/pigs+cropped.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-68HMAq1PB_E/T3ouKLWUCPI/AAAAAAAAGTM/pZxshyz9ARA/s1600/pigs+cropped.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-68HMAq1PB_E/T3ouKLWUCPI/AAAAAAAAGTM/pZxshyz9ARA/s320/pigs+cropped.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-68HMAq1PB_E/T3ouKLWUCPI/AAAAAAAAGTM/pZxshyz9ARA/s320/pigs+cropped.jpg" border="0" height="201" width="220"></a>A few hours later, the doorbell rang.&nbsp; The church had set up a schedule of meals to come in and there was no one scheduled for this night, so we weren’t expecting company. When I opened the door, an elderly couple serving a mission in our area was there and brought us dinner. The sister handed me a platter and said, "I made you some lasagna."&nbsp; Then, her husband passed another foil covered bowl to my sons and said, "These are for you."&nbsp; When the kids eagerly asked what it was that was for them, he replied, "Pigs in a Blanket." <br><br>I about fell to my knees.&nbsp; How could they have ever known?&nbsp; NO ONE had ever brought us pigs in a blanket before.&nbsp; Not until this day, the day when I had had too much. Where I was not enough.&nbsp; <br><br>Those pigs in a blanket were manna that night, especially since this loving elderly couple had lost a child of their own many years earlier.&nbsp; They had felt a tender prompting of the spirit to come that night and bring something only God himself could know we needed. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-olYofqkr8Sg/T3ouchbtgRI/AAAAAAAAGTk/oKo21dBZNfA/s1600/senior+couple.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-olYofqkr8Sg/T3ouchbtgRI/AAAAAAAAGTk/oKo21dBZNfA/s1600/senior+couple.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-olYofqkr8Sg/T3ouchbtgRI/AAAAAAAAGTk/oKo21dBZNfA/s320/senior+couple.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-olYofqkr8Sg/T3ouchbtgRI/AAAAAAAAGTk/oKo21dBZNfA/s320/senior+couple.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="319"></a>I share this small miracle because I want you to know you do not need to know WHAT to do to help someone else.&nbsp; God knows what is needed, and if you will follow those promptings (no matter how silly they may seem), He can and will direct you to the needs of families you love.&nbsp; Pigs in a blanket did not change the fact my daughter would die, but they did change my perspective and gave me knowledge that I was definitely not alone.&nbsp; We cannot "fix" every problem, but we can always show we care.&nbsp; In small, yet important ways, our acts of kindness will be perfect for those we love because our Father in Heaven knows what we do not, understands what we cannot, and sees what we may never see.&nbsp; In His perfect love, He uses angels, like this elderly couple and the many friends and family members who prayed for us, to show us that He was always with us.&nbsp; <br>We were never alone. <br><br><br><br><b>About the Author</b> <br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--gTpqya_BHw/T3oujypz8HI/AAAAAAAAGTw/Nz90AMYyFEw/s1600/michele+bio.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--gTpqya_BHw/T3oujypz8HI/AAAAAAAAGTw/Nz90AMYyFEw/s1600/michele+bio.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--gTpqya_BHw/T3oujypz8HI/AAAAAAAAGTw/Nz90AMYyFEw/s320/michele+bio.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--gTpqya_BHw/T3oujypz8HI/AAAAAAAAGTw/Nz90AMYyFEw/s320/michele+bio.jpg" border="0" height="227" width="171"></a>Michele Nigliazzo is an attorney and mom who recently started an advocacy center for families helping kids with attachment disorder:&nbsp; <a href="http://www.nigliazzoadvocacycenter.com/" _mce_href="http://www.nigliazzoadvocacycenter.com/">Nigliazzo Advocacy Center</a>.&nbsp; She and her husband, Luke, are the parents of four living children, two through the miracle of birth and two through the miracle of adoption.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div> Because of Him http://www.tofw.com/Because-Him-Written-Saundra-Gates/s/520 http://www.tofw.com/Because-Him-Written-Saundra-Gates/s/520 Tue, 27 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Written by Saundra Gates <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-18QC_dNKxAw/T3D231jLM4I/AAAAAAAAGO4/HnTTcsKeMeo/s1600/hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-18QC_dNKxAw/T3D231jLM4I/AAAAAAAAGO4/HnTTcsKeMeo/s1600/hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-18QC_dNKxAw/T3D231jLM4I/AAAAAAAAGO4/HnTTcsKeMeo/s640/hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-18QC_dNKxAw/T3D231jLM4I/AAAAAAAAGO4/HnTTcsKeMeo/s640/hero.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="384"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pHwmCAtlxt4/T3D3YWWjJdI/AAAAAAAAGPI/xJAFXOWED0U/s1600/square.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pHwmCAtlxt4/T3D3YWWjJdI/AAAAAAAAGPI/xJAFXOWED0U/s1600/square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pHwmCAtlxt4/T3D3YWWjJdI/AAAAAAAAGPI/xJAFXOWED0U/s200/square.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pHwmCAtlxt4/T3D3YWWjJdI/AAAAAAAAGPI/xJAFXOWED0U/s200/square.jpg" border="0" width="157" height="157"></a>I desperately needed a break from my world of non-stop child care and could not pass up an opportunity to just gab with other women, so I decided to attend our mid-week Relief Society meeting. We were doing a craft that entailed putting a metallic film over pictures of Christ and framing them to give them a beautiful “old world” feeling.&nbsp; There were a variety of pictures to choose from and I casually selected one and got to work.&nbsp; It was great stress relief. Feeling rejuvenated, I took my finished my project home and set it on the piano where it stayed for a while.&nbsp; Later I transferred it to my bedroom to cover up a large nail that could not be removed from the wall.&nbsp; I could not have known at that time how important and literally lifesaving that little picture of Christ on my bedroom wall would become to me.<br><br></div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mDXY5P8KLNw/T3D3A-A24oI/AAAAAAAAGPA/ev1ubulW8cQ/s1600/Family.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mDXY5P8KLNw/T3D3A-A24oI/AAAAAAAAGPA/ev1ubulW8cQ/s1600/Family.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mDXY5P8KLNw/T3D3A-A24oI/AAAAAAAAGPA/ev1ubulW8cQ/s320/Family.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mDXY5P8KLNw/T3D3A-A24oI/AAAAAAAAGPA/ev1ubulW8cQ/s320/Family.jpg" border="0" width="236" height="320"></a>Life went on, and as everyone else in this world, I trudged through my share of trials.&nbsp; Mine revolved around raising four boys (one with special needs diagnosed as Asperger’s Syndrome) and taking care of a husband who was busy over the years being Bishop of our Ward, in the Bishopric of the Single’s Ward or on the Stake High Council. We experienced a heartbreaking trial called “miscarriage,” followed by the realization that I was going through menopause and we were done having children. <br><br>As the years passed, my heart was filled with concern for my children who struggled with school and experienced serious health issues. I served as the Relief Society president of our ward and my anxiety for the sisters only intensified my stress. Unbeknownst to me, all of this stress had taken a toll on my health and I ended up in the emergency room in severe pain and paralysis on the right side of my face. It was the start of a life changing experience for me.&nbsp; After several weeks the diagnosis was clear: I had “Ramsey Hunt’s Syndrome,” a rare form of Bells Palsy Syndrome caused by the shingles virus and unleashed by stress. The disease affected the nerves in my brain stem and inner ear.&nbsp; In light of my diagnosis and the challenges I faced, I expected to be leased as Relief Society president, but Heavenly Father knew I needed that experience a little longer. It was that busy calling that sustained me and caring for others got me through my own problems.&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L1clAXFGkpA/T3D3t9BB7VI/AAAAAAAAGPQ/TIegOcuK8CE/s1600/My+Healer2.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L1clAXFGkpA/T3D3t9BB7VI/AAAAAAAAGPQ/TIegOcuK8CE/s1600/My+Healer2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L1clAXFGkpA/T3D3t9BB7VI/AAAAAAAAGPQ/TIegOcuK8CE/s320/My+Healer2.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L1clAXFGkpA/T3D3t9BB7VI/AAAAAAAAGPQ/TIegOcuK8CE/s320/My+Healer2.jpg" border="0" width="250" height="334"></a>There were several times during this ordeal where I honestly thought I was going to die. During one particular moment, when I felt the pain was just too much to bear, I actually wished that I could die.&nbsp; In this moment I caught a glimpse of my picture of Christ, hanging on that one lone nail on my bedroom wall, and I vocally expressed to the feelings of my heart as I lay in bed. I cried out and asked how it was possible that the Savior could have suffered for the sins, pains and agonies of ALL the people who have ever lived, when I did not think it was possible to suffer my own intense pains anymore.&nbsp; In that moment I heard a voice say, “That was my mission, and this is yours.”&nbsp; Eight simple words, but so very powerful to me.&nbsp; I knew then that if it was MY mission I could endure because HE had endured. &nbsp;</div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <br>Remembering HIM brought me hope.&nbsp; He most definitely is MY Healer.<br><br><br><br></div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> Without Warning: A Stroke at 29 http://www.tofw.com/Without-Warning-Stroke-29-Written-Heather-Russon/s/507 http://www.tofw.com/Without-Warning-Stroke-29-Written-Heather-Russon/s/507 Tue, 20 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Written by Heather Russon <br /> </div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <strike></strike></div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Kvbz7Ha1-kI/T2epP381eVI/AAAAAAAAGMc/wdnnOwfWIdU/s1600/heather+russon+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Kvbz7Ha1-kI/T2epP381eVI/AAAAAAAAGMc/wdnnOwfWIdU/s1600/heather+russon+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Kvbz7Ha1-kI/T2epP381eVI/AAAAAAAAGMc/wdnnOwfWIdU/s640/heather+russon+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Kvbz7Ha1-kI/T2epP381eVI/AAAAAAAAGMc/wdnnOwfWIdU/s640/heather+russon+hero.jpg" border="0" height="384" width="640"></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> One Sunday after church, I vividly remember standing in the kitchen and my husband saying to me, "I love you Heather."&nbsp; That was nothing new, he told me that every day.&nbsp; But at that moment, the Holy Ghost whispered, "Listen to what he is saying, you may not hear it for a while." &nbsp; Within an hour or two my husband, at the age of 29, had a massive stroke.</div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7SvAAzWVhHk/T2e4cEMI_QI/AAAAAAAAGM8/WbyNNaOZBto/s1600/heather+and+neal.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7SvAAzWVhHk/T2e4cEMI_QI/AAAAAAAAGM8/WbyNNaOZBto/s1600/heather+and+neal.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eiB7Lo0YHoI/T2e5FjJf2fI/AAAAAAAAGNU/gFUZ9RykyyI/s1600/doctor+rushing.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eiB7Lo0YHoI/T2e5FjJf2fI/AAAAAAAAGNU/gFUZ9RykyyI/s1600/doctor+rushing.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eiB7Lo0YHoI/T2e5FjJf2fI/AAAAAAAAGNU/gFUZ9RykyyI/s320/doctor+rushing.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eiB7Lo0YHoI/T2e5FjJf2fI/AAAAAAAAGNU/gFUZ9RykyyI/s320/doctor+rushing.jpg" border="0" height="206" width="320"></a>The next 24 hours were a blur.&nbsp; I remember the doctors telling me that he could be a vegetable.&nbsp; I remember priesthood blessings.&nbsp; I remember feeling numb and confused.&nbsp; But most of all I remember sitting by my husband’s bed in the ICU and praying—praying for my husband to be healed, praying to know what to do, and praying that our four children would not be scared.&nbsp; While I poured out my soul to my Heavenly Father I clearly heard the words, "let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."&nbsp; At that moment I felt at peace.&nbsp; I knew that my husband’s life and our families’ lives were in the Lord’s hands.&nbsp; And I knew that I could trust him! &nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> Members of our ward rallied around us to help our family through this difficult time. Priesthood holders brought the sacrament to my husband in the ICU. He was not allowed to eat or drink anything unless he was tube fed.&nbsp; Our sweet nurse allowed Neal a crumb of bread on his tongue, and one drop of water.&nbsp; As the Sacrament prayer was said, we wept.&nbsp; I listened to the promise "that ye may always have his spirit to be with you."&nbsp; That is a true promise.&nbsp; <br>&nbsp; </div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MXcIhkVdO78/T2e42w3dQfI/AAAAAAAAGNE/0z3Cm0oaiY4/s1600/ward+members+pray.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MXcIhkVdO78/T2e42w3dQfI/AAAAAAAAGNE/0z3Cm0oaiY4/s1600/ward+members+pray.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MXcIhkVdO78/T2e42w3dQfI/AAAAAAAAGNE/0z3Cm0oaiY4/s400/ward+members+pray.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MXcIhkVdO78/T2e42w3dQfI/AAAAAAAAGNE/0z3Cm0oaiY4/s400/ward+members+pray.jpg" border="0" height="241" width="234"></a><br>Ward members and family members prayed hard for Neal and I, and I felt those prayers carrying me through those first few months.&nbsp; If you have ever doubted that your prayers really make a difference, I promise that they do.&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> The Elders Quorum President visited Neal in the hospital and taught him about Joseph Smith and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, because Neal had lost that part of his memory.&nbsp; Neal learned to read again using the Book of Mormon.&nbsp; I watched him relearn the gospel and saw the light return to his eyes as he learned the truths that his soul never lost.&nbsp;</div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <br>One day the Bishopric came to visit and as they left, the Bishop left a special blessing on our home.&nbsp; He prayed that angels would stand at each corner of our home.&nbsp; After that day, there was not a single person that entered our home that did not comment on the spirit that they felt there.&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PRbpSKge2PM/T2e4_hE8hkI/AAAAAAAAGNM/b7dkutXfBys/s1600/heather+and+neal.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PRbpSKge2PM/T2e4_hE8hkI/AAAAAAAAGNM/b7dkutXfBys/s1600/heather+and+neal.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PRbpSKge2PM/T2e4_hE8hkI/AAAAAAAAGNM/b7dkutXfBys/s320/heather+and+neal.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PRbpSKge2PM/T2e4_hE8hkI/AAAAAAAAGNM/b7dkutXfBys/s320/heather+and+neal.jpg" border="0" height="192" width="238"></a>Since that time in our lives, we have had three more children.&nbsp; My husband has made remarkable progress.&nbsp; His body and brain never completely healed but he has been healed exactly the amount that his Heavenly Father wanted him to heal, which is just the right amount to live a wonderful life!&nbsp; <br>&nbsp;</div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> I have learned that my Heavenly Father knows me.&nbsp; He is in control and when we put our trust in Him, we need never fear.&nbsp; He has been by our sides every day of our lives and surrounded us with tender mercies, blessings and miracles.&nbsp; This experience has taught me that the gospel and family are what matter most in life.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> We all have our trials and tests, and we each have the opportunity to come to know our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ.&nbsp; They are always there and always blessing us if we just open our eyes.</div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <br>Months after Neal’s stroke, still unable to speak, but finally able to write again, the first thing he printed was, "Heather, I love you."&nbsp; That same message, from a loving, Heavenly Father, has been written in my heart again and again, with many miracles and blessings as evidence.&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KXNAQK8AewU/T2e4XSj1BXI/AAAAAAAAGM0/SvxQcyqYyYc/s1600/neal+wrote.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KXNAQK8AewU/T2e4XSj1BXI/AAAAAAAAGM0/SvxQcyqYyYc/s1600/neal+wrote.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KXNAQK8AewU/T2e4XSj1BXI/AAAAAAAAGM0/SvxQcyqYyYc/s640/neal+wrote.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KXNAQK8AewU/T2e4XSj1BXI/AAAAAAAAGM0/SvxQcyqYyYc/s640/neal+wrote.jpg" border="0" height="416" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> What Do We Do Now? http://www.tofw.com/What-Do-We-Do-Now-Written-Timalee-L/s/504 http://www.tofw.com/What-Do-We-Do-Now-Written-Timalee-L/s/504 Tue, 13 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0600 <div> by Written by Timalee L. <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3LTQzt_jXfE/T1488mAVXeI/AAAAAAAAGK8/grGYD0J3paw/s1600/timmalee+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3LTQzt_jXfE/T1488mAVXeI/AAAAAAAAGK8/grGYD0J3paw/s1600/timmalee+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3LTQzt_jXfE/T1488mAVXeI/AAAAAAAAGK8/grGYD0J3paw/s640/timmalee+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3LTQzt_jXfE/T1488mAVXeI/AAAAAAAAGK8/grGYD0J3paw/s640/timmalee+hero.jpg" border="0" height="458" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lgcUpvHcT00/T146z758msI/AAAAAAAAGKc/iODNad669p0/s1600/ImG_2499.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lgcUpvHcT00/T146z758msI/AAAAAAAAGKc/iODNad669p0/s1600/ImG_2499.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lNqiamlmR54/T1466In4G8I/AAAAAAAAGKk/ZHIVmTR_a5w/s1600/ImG_2365.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lNqiamlmR54/T1466In4G8I/AAAAAAAAGKk/ZHIVmTR_a5w/s1600/ImG_2365.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lNqiamlmR54/T1466In4G8I/AAAAAAAAGKk/ZHIVmTR_a5w/s320/ImG_2365.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lNqiamlmR54/T1466In4G8I/AAAAAAAAGKk/ZHIVmTR_a5w/s320/ImG_2365.jpg" border="0" height="281" width="217"></a>There are moments in life that time does not seem to fade.<br><br></div></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> I remember perfectly the moment I was told that I had cancer. The doctor looked so concerned, but I had been prepared to hear those words. That week had been filled with waiting rooms, doctor appointments and tests.&nbsp;&nbsp;It had also been filled with a growing sense of peace and strength. As I prayed, I felt impressed that a difficult time was ahead and the knowledge that with whatever came, I would be alright.<br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> I was twenty three and other than having cancer I was healthy. My doctors chose an aggressive treatment plan: chemotherapy every week for thirteen weeks followed by radiation.&nbsp;&nbsp;The first eight weeks went smoothly. The treatment was working well and my cancer, who my roommates and I named “Herby,” shrank considerably.&nbsp;&nbsp;However, with the success of the treatment also came the weakening of my body. I was hospitalized several times, received multiple transfusions and was giving myself shots each day to help my cell count recover. By the end of chemotherapy my cancer was gone and a tumor of scar tissue was all that remained.<br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> The plan was to start radiation after a few weeks of rest, but I took a turn for the worse. &nbsp;Early one morning my oncologist entered my hospital room. He held my hand and explained that there was nearly nothing left that they could do for me; my body was not recovering. Privately he told my mother that she needed to gather our family members to the hospital. When he left, I remember asking my mom, “Well, what do we do now?” She replied, “Now we have faith.” <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> Miraculously, the next morning my blood work showed signs of marked improvement and in few days I was released from the hospital. <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2YLHSNWg7Mc/T147AYd2zTI/AAAAAAAAGKs/0dq0jL0qydM/s1600/188908_10150150665351660_648161659_8134139_6807288_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2YLHSNWg7Mc/T147AYd2zTI/AAAAAAAAGKs/0dq0jL0qydM/s1600/188908_10150150665351660_648161659_8134139_6807288_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2YLHSNWg7Mc/T147AYd2zTI/AAAAAAAAGKs/0dq0jL0qydM/s320/188908_10150150665351660_648161659_8134139_6807288_n.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2YLHSNWg7Mc/T147AYd2zTI/AAAAAAAAGKs/0dq0jL0qydM/s320/188908_10150150665351660_648161659_8134139_6807288_n.jpg" border="0" height="240" width="320"></a>Eleven years later I found myself in a similar moment with my own daughter, Emma, who was very ill.<br><br></div></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> Emma was born ten weeks early and weighed three and a half pounds. She was small but strong and my husband and I recognized the many tender mercies of the Lord.&nbsp;Skilled doctors and nurses cared for Emma and we felt physically sustained by the prayers offered on our behalf. We knew that the next two months would be long, but were hopeful that at the end of that time we would be able to bring Emma home. For twenty eight days we watched Emma grow. She gained weight and learned to eat. The doctors were so happy with her progress that they were nearly ready to let us take her home, but Emma developed a serious bowel disease and quickly everything changed. <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> I remember being led to a small room where I could collect myself. When I returned to the NICU Emma was surrounded by doctors. One of them explained that she needed to be put on life support and that her condition might continue to worsen. That was when I fell apart. I was overcome with fear until I remembered my own mother's faith. The thought came that&nbsp;<i>I needed to choose faith not fear</i>. I knew that I could trust Heavenly Father. <br><br>The following days and months proved to be a roller coaster ride. Emma initially recovered without needing surgery. Then three weeks after coming home from the hospital she needed emergency surgery, followed days later by another surgery. My husband was unwavering in his trust of the Lord. He recognized the blessing that Emma had been given time to gain weight and strength.Our family was surrounded by friends that were fasting and praying. Our son learned that prayers are answered.<br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iyENnUp6zFM/T147Ma8Vr9I/AAAAAAAAGK0/lm8k4IO_qYk/s1600/IM_2311.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iyENnUp6zFM/T147Ma8Vr9I/AAAAAAAAGK0/lm8k4IO_qYk/s1600/IM_2311.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iyENnUp6zFM/T147Ma8Vr9I/AAAAAAAAGK0/lm8k4IO_qYk/s320/IM_2311.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iyENnUp6zFM/T147Ma8Vr9I/AAAAAAAAGK0/lm8k4IO_qYk/s320/IM_2311.jpg" border="0" height="296" width="198"></a><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br>Today Emma is a beautiful, happy and healthy toddler!<br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> In <a href="http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/2-tim/1.7?lang=eng#6" _mce_href="http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/2-tim/1.7?lang=eng#6">2 Timothy</a>, the Apostle Paul recalls the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Paul writes, <div style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"> <b><br>“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”</b></div> </div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <br>I am grateful for the love and power of the Savoir Jesus Christ that I have felt during difficult moments in my life.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><br></div> My Happy Soul Is Witness http://www.tofw.com/My-Happy-Soul-Witness-Richard-E-Turley-Jr-Brittany-Chapman/s/497 http://www.tofw.com/My-Happy-Soul-Witness-Richard-E-Turley-Jr-Brittany-Chapman/s/497 Wed, 07 Mar 2012 16:00:00 -0700 <div> by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brittany A. Chapman <br /> </div> <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bHiXPMChaDI/T1Usb5oXMEI/AAAAAAAAGHk/o1dYXI9uzsU/s1600/hero+laura+owens.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bHiXPMChaDI/T1Usb5oXMEI/AAAAAAAAGHk/o1dYXI9uzsU/s1600/hero+laura+owens.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bHiXPMChaDI/T1Usb5oXMEI/AAAAAAAAGHk/o1dYXI9uzsU/s640/hero+laura+owens.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bHiXPMChaDI/T1Usb5oXMEI/AAAAAAAAGHk/o1dYXI9uzsU/s640/hero+laura+owens.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="384"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></td></tr> <tr style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Courtesy of Church History Library</span></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GDoEfQ3qUVA/T1UekahXniI/AAAAAAAAGG0/8iPjG_o1A7E/s1600/LauraOwens_Intro_CHL+MS1048.tif" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GDoEfQ3qUVA/T1UekahXniI/AAAAAAAAGG0/8iPjG_o1A7E/s1600/LauraOwens_Intro_CHL+MS1048.tif" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EuVfdowSWOM/T1UsiTL7RGI/AAAAAAAAGHs/J1bQTzAbc_Q/s1600/women+of+faith.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EuVfdowSWOM/T1UsiTL7RGI/AAAAAAAAGHs/J1bQTzAbc_Q/s1600/women+of+faith.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EuVfdowSWOM/T1UsiTL7RGI/AAAAAAAAGHs/J1bQTzAbc_Q/s200/women+of+faith.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EuVfdowSWOM/T1UsiTL7RGI/AAAAAAAAGHs/J1bQTzAbc_Q/s200/women+of+faith.jpg" border="0" width="118" height="179"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <b> </b> <em>Throughout the history of the Church, faithful Latter-day Saint women have faced tremendous challenges with courage and hope. We are excited to share with you a collection of their compelling stories, many in their own words, that will be published in a seven-volume series: Women of Faith in the Latter Days. And just in case you think history isn't your thing, we challenge you to give this a try. These women are like us: Diverse. Authentic. Inspiring. So what are you waiting for? Enjoy a sneak peek inside this incredible book!&nbsp; <br><br>The following is an excerpt from TOFW's March </em><em><a _mce_href="../../../club" href="../../../club">Book Club</a> selection, <a href="http://deseretbook.com/Women-Faith-Latter-Days-Volume-1-1775-1820-Richard-E-Turley-Jr/i/5063017" _mce_href="http://deseretbook.com/Women-Faith-Latter-Days-Volume-1-1775-1820-Richard-E-Turley-Jr/i/5063017">Women of Faith in the Latter Days: Volume One 1775-1820</a>. </em><br><em><br></em><br><em>The story of Laura Farnsworth Owen (1806-1881)</em><br><br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vFUjF1ih8zM/T1UrZCV11NI/AAAAAAAAGHc/XJmdOKYLOdM/s1600/migration+sepia.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vFUjF1ih8zM/T1UrZCV11NI/AAAAAAAAGHc/XJmdOKYLOdM/s1600/migration+sepia.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Gh-u3SITuSQ/T1Uqwo_QsLI/AAAAAAAAGHE/edoa9Vz9cTg/s1600/child+sepia.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Gh-u3SITuSQ/T1Uqwo_QsLI/AAAAAAAAGHE/edoa9Vz9cTg/s1600/child+sepia.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Gh-u3SITuSQ/T1Uqwo_QsLI/AAAAAAAAGHE/edoa9Vz9cTg/s320/child+sepia.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Gh-u3SITuSQ/T1Uqwo_QsLI/AAAAAAAAGHE/edoa9Vz9cTg/s320/child+sepia.jpg" border="0" width="164" height="190"></a>Laura Farnsworth Owen is perhaps something of an anomaly among nineteenth-century Latter-day Saint women. She was abandoned by her first husband and then divorced him, and she may have divorced the second.&nbsp; With her baptism, she became a fierce and feisty defender of the restored gospel in print and in her daily actions. Laura’s life included much privation to endure—often at the hands of her two abusive husbands—and many difficult and heart-rending decisions to make. Despite trials, her belief in the gospel was unyielding, and she was constantly in “defence” of it. <br><br>Laura Farnsworth was born in Milton, Vermont, on January 11, 1806. She was the eldest of ten children. Her parents, Reuben and Lucinda Kent Farnsworth, were Congregationalists who “Strove to bring their children up in the fear of the Lord.” <br><br>She married her second husband, Mr. O. A. Owen, in 1837. <br><br>Laura was baptized shortly thereafter, but Mr. Owen “could not think of joining them.” Though he had initially persuaded her to listen to the gospel message, they were never in the same place spiritually. <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;" _mce_style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j41KHERFFp0/T1UrPGDLCuI/AAAAAAAAGHU/refW_7V0Jko/s1600/LauraOwens_1stPage_CHL+MS1048.tif" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j41KHERFFp0/T1UrPGDLCuI/AAAAAAAAGHU/refW_7V0Jko/s1600/LauraOwens_1stPage_CHL+MS1048.tif" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j41KHERFFp0/T1UrPGDLCuI/AAAAAAAAGHU/refW_7V0Jko/s400/LauraOwens_1stPage_CHL+MS1048.tif" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j41KHERFFp0/T1UrPGDLCuI/AAAAAAAAGHU/refW_7V0Jko/s400/LauraOwens_1stPage_CHL+MS1048.tif" border="0" width="255" height="400"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></td></tr> <tr style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Courtesy of Church History Library</span></td></tr> </tbody></table> <span id="goog_1756456683"></span><span id="goog_1756456684"></span><br><br>Laura swiftly became an ardent proponent of the restored gospel and wrote a popular “Defence” of the Church in which she also defended herself against accusations of heresy from local ministers. <br><br>Her husband soon cut off Laura and the children from any support beyond “just enough to keep body and soul together.” She maintained faith that the Lord would take care of her. She made new friends to whom she taught the gospel, and they in turn aided her and her children. After a time Mr. Owen started to care for them again. He offered Laura anything she wanted if she would renounce the Church. <br><br>He would provide her with “all the comfort and happiness that money [could] purchase” if she would leave the Church, but he could no longer “live with a Mormon.” She had to choose. <br><br>Laura decided to “go trusting in the Lord,” knowing that He “will not require more of me than he will give me strength to perform.” Mr. Owen promised to send their children to her when they could care better for themselves, though he “hindered them in every way possible.” Laura and her son William—from her first marriage—left her other sons with her husband so she could join with the Saints in 1848. She later remembered, “I started in delicate health and with a&nbsp; heavy heart and felt that it was a great undertaking to go into the wilderness with [William], who was buy a boy, <i>alone</i>. But I firmly believed the Lord required it of me and that he would give me strength according to my day, and I found him a present help in every time of need.” <br><br>In 1852, Laura and William crossed the plains, arriving in Utah on August 11. Laura felt she was finally “home.” She taught school, contributed to the temple fund, and participated in temple ordinances. Laura later lived with William and his family. Her two other living sons never traveled to Utah.<a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vFUjF1ih8zM/T1UrZCV11NI/AAAAAAAAGHc/XJmdOKYLOdM/s1600/migration+sepia.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vFUjF1ih8zM/T1UrZCV11NI/AAAAAAAAGHc/XJmdOKYLOdM/s1600/migration+sepia.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vFUjF1ih8zM/T1UrZCV11NI/AAAAAAAAGHc/XJmdOKYLOdM/s640/migration+sepia.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vFUjF1ih8zM/T1UrZCV11NI/AAAAAAAAGHc/XJmdOKYLOdM/s640/migration+sepia.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="272"></a> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;"><br><br><strong>Contribute to an upcoming volume of <em>Women of Faith in the Latter Days</em>:<br></strong><br>Do you know an incredible woman, past or present, who needs her story of faith to be told? <i>Women of Faith in the Latter Days</i> is currently accepting proposals for faithful Latter-day Saint women to be included in Volumes 3-7. The series aims to enhance awareness of these women through inspirational vignettes from a woman’s personal writings—such as journals, autobiographies, correspondence—however, stories of women without personal writings are welcomed. Each chapter must be well-documented and well-researched. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;"><br>The series is divided into seven volumes separated by birth year:<br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;" _mce_style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Volume 3: Women born between 1846 and 1870</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;" _mce_style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Volume 4: Women born between 1871 and 1895</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;" _mce_style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Volume 5: Women born between 1896 and 1920</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;" _mce_style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Volume 6: Women born between 1921 and 1945</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;" _mce_style="line-height: normal; margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Volume 7: Women born between 1946 and 1970</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;"><br>Each volume will contain 35 ten-page chapters on different women from all walks of life—both famous and little-known. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;"> <br>We invite anyone interested in contributing to Volumes 3-7 to submit a one-page proposal. Please include (1) a paragraph about yourself and your writing experience (2) a brief biographical sketch about the woman you will feature (3) a brief outline of your prospective chapter, including experiences from her life that you plan to share (4) Sources you will use to obtain your information. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;"> <b><br>One-page proposals for Volume 3</b><b> are due by June 1, 2012</b>. For additional details see <a href="http://ldswomenoffaith.org/" _mce_href="http://ldswomenoffaith.org/">http://ldswomenoffaith.org</a>.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;"> <br>Email proposals and inquiries to <a href="mailto:womenoffaith@deseretbook.com" _mce_href="mailto:womenoffaith@deseretbook.com">womenoffaith@deseretbook.com<br><br><br></a> </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> Healing the Scars of Suicide http://www.tofw.com/Healing-Scars-Suicide-Written-Kathy-Burrow/s/486 http://www.tofw.com/Healing-Scars-Suicide-Written-Kathy-Burrow/s/486 Tue, 28 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Written By Kathy Burrow <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PooZqCSXxVc/T0wZ1M1SzRI/AAAAAAAAF_4/lfJem298bp8/s1600/healing+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PooZqCSXxVc/T0wZ1M1SzRI/AAAAAAAAF_4/lfJem298bp8/s1600/healing+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PooZqCSXxVc/T0wZ1M1SzRI/AAAAAAAAF_4/lfJem298bp8/s640/healing+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PooZqCSXxVc/T0wZ1M1SzRI/AAAAAAAAF_4/lfJem298bp8/s640/healing+hero.jpg" border="0" height="356" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">As mothers we worry about so many things. With small children we worry about proper nutrition, safety in our neighborhood, and preventing illness. As our children grow the focus of our fears may change, but we still have them. We hope they choose good friends, do well in school and make wise decisions. But of all the things a mother worries about, perhaps the greatest of fears is losing a child. <br></span><br><br> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DMI5OZnxwgw/T0wZ-xAFuBI/AAAAAAAAGAI/meoP1TtkGJI/s1600/new+baby.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DMI5OZnxwgw/T0wZ-xAFuBI/AAAAAAAAGAI/meoP1TtkGJI/s1600/new+baby.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DMI5OZnxwgw/T0wZ-xAFuBI/AAAAAAAAGAI/meoP1TtkGJI/s320/new+baby.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DMI5OZnxwgw/T0wZ-xAFuBI/AAAAAAAAGAI/meoP1TtkGJI/s320/new+baby.jpg" border="0" height="212" width="320"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">More than thirty seven years of being a mother has taught me that it is never an easy task. Being a mother means joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. <br><br>The first time I held my youngest son, Christopher, a quiet voice whispered to me: “Hold on tight because he may not be with you in this life forever.” He was born with Schizoaffective disorder and the symptoms include hallucinations, paranoia, bizarre delusions and disorganized speech. As the disorder affects cognition and emotion, it brings about significant social and occupational dysfunction. <br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zVuuofnp53s/T0waSwSAPXI/AAAAAAAAGAQ/C1RgMURAy_g/s1600/boy+and+horse.JPG" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zVuuofnp53s/T0waSwSAPXI/AAAAAAAAGAQ/C1RgMURAy_g/s1600/boy+and+horse.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zVuuofnp53s/T0waSwSAPXI/AAAAAAAAGAQ/C1RgMURAy_g/s320/boy+and+horse.JPG" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zVuuofnp53s/T0waSwSAPXI/AAAAAAAAGAQ/C1RgMURAy_g/s320/boy+and+horse.JPG" border="0" height="211" width="320"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">I used to sleep next to Christopher at night to be there when he awoke from recurring nightmares. I was his advocate at school and his caretaker at home. He spent several years in a residential treatment home where he received needed help with his illness. During that time I visited him often and loved him always.&nbsp; When my son was eighteen, the State discontinued support and Christopher was turned out from the home where he had felt so safe. He turned to drugs to quail the voices in his head. During those years he either lived on the street or was in jail.&nbsp; I loved him, provided him with warm coats when the weather was cold and I allowed him to make his own choices.&nbsp; My heart ached, my soul cried, my friends did not understand, but I had to be the kind of parent Heavenly Father wanted me to be: loving yet stern and unbending in the wind.&nbsp; <span id="goog_2052866980"></span><span id="goog_2052866981"></span><br><br>Over the next four years I watched Christopher suffer the consequences of his mistakes and poor choices.&nbsp; The child I loved was still there behind the drugs and turmoil in his head.&nbsp; Once in a while I would catch a glimpse of the son I had raised, the son I knew I had been blessed with.&nbsp; At the age of twenty two, desperate to be free from the pain in his life and the voices in his head, my son took his own life.&nbsp; My heart ached; my tears flowed.&nbsp; My son who had been so ill was now free from the pain he had suffered while on this earth.&nbsp; His mortal trials were over.&nbsp; Mine are still with me today.&nbsp; Trials can make us strong and bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. My trials with Christopher helped me become the person I am. <span id="goog_2052866983"></span><span id="goog_2052866984"></span></span></div></div><p> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xZb-ZWIQgS4/T0wa4JL6zYI/AAAAAAAAGAo/cOvwdYfc62M/s1600/chris+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xZb-ZWIQgS4/T0wa4JL6zYI/AAAAAAAAGAo/cOvwdYfc62M/s1600/chris+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xZb-ZWIQgS4/T0wa4JL6zYI/AAAAAAAAGAo/cOvwdYfc62M/s320/chris+tall.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xZb-ZWIQgS4/T0wa4JL6zYI/AAAAAAAAGAo/cOvwdYfc62M/s320/chris+tall.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="227"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Today I work with Disabled Adults in a 24-hour care facility.&nbsp; I can look through their pain and see the special spirit that dwells in their body. I find joy in writing poetry and letting my feelings flow through the pen on the paper. I have learned to look for the goodness in those around me and to take solace in the quietness of a prayer or a still small voice that whispers peace to my soul.&nbsp; I have learned to love a home teacher who never judged and who always stood close by my family’s side.&nbsp; I have learned that each of us needs to listen to the pain of others and be more compassionate and less judgmental.&nbsp; <br><br> I will always be grateful for the joy and the experience of raising one of Heavenly Father's special children.&nbsp; I am grateful that he felt I could handle a son like Christopher. My son is well now. Although I do not worry about him anymore, I will always be proud to be his mother.</span><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; font-size: 11pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; font-size: 11pt;">&nbsp; <br><br><br></span></p> At the Crossroads http://www.tofw.com/Crossroads-Kristen-Toone/s/473 http://www.tofw.com/Crossroads-Kristen-Toone/s/473 Tue, 21 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Kristen Toone <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-l5Bh3b9DlmY/Tz7fduovt7I/AAAAAAAAF6w/vfRCH_yS7Og/s1600/P5240121.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-l5Bh3b9DlmY/Tz7fduovt7I/AAAAAAAAF6w/vfRCH_yS7Og/s1600/P5240121.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-l5Bh3b9DlmY/Tz7fduovt7I/AAAAAAAAF6w/vfRCH_yS7Og/s640/P5240121.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-l5Bh3b9DlmY/Tz7fduovt7I/AAAAAAAAF6w/vfRCH_yS7Og/s640/P5240121.JPG" border="0" width="640" height="480"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UZEK7_dqHrk/Tz7fm8r4l3I/AAAAAAAAF64/aVoTUErqbtM/s1600/kristen+pregnancy.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UZEK7_dqHrk/Tz7fm8r4l3I/AAAAAAAAF64/aVoTUErqbtM/s1600/kristen+pregnancy.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UZEK7_dqHrk/Tz7fm8r4l3I/AAAAAAAAF64/aVoTUErqbtM/s320/kristen+pregnancy.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UZEK7_dqHrk/Tz7fm8r4l3I/AAAAAAAAF64/aVoTUErqbtM/s320/kristen+pregnancy.jpg" border="0" width="240" height="320"></a>My crossroads of faith and fear began with a dream – a dream so vivid and real that I could almost feel the flickering warmth and fading light of the infant in my arms and the shredding pains of a broken heart. The dream left a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t escape. Although, I was only a few weeks along in my pregnancy, I knew my unborn child was a boy and that something was dreadfully wrong. <br><br>I survived the next few months of worry with lots of prayer. However, the reality of my dream was confirmed during a routine ultrasound as I watched the technician’s face – her smile was gone, the conversation had ceased. She excused herself and left the room. I turned to my husband, “Something is wrong with our baby. I’ve known it all along.” My husband had known it too. The Lord conditioned my emotions for the painful realization of this news and I was surprisingly calm as we learned about our son’s diagnosis of a potentially life threatening defect in his lung. <br><br> I held my emotions in check for a few days (without shedding a single tear), but then doubt and worry crept in. I felt as though the Lord had given my family more than we could bear: my husband was without work, there were bills to pay and deductibles to meet, a larger vehicle to purchase, three young children to care for, not to mention the stress and uncertainty with our son. I felt overwhelmed and defeated. Finally, I gave in. The dam broke and the tears spilled down my cheeks. I sought refuge in my husband’s arms and found solace in his words, “We can only worry about the things that are in our control – turn the rest over to the Lord.” </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;">It was then that I found myself at the crossroads of faith and fear. I had to choose which of these polar forces would govern my future course. I petitioned the Lord in prayer for direction and comfort, searched the scriptures for answers, had a long therapy session with my journal, and received a priesthood blessing. My mind became enlightened, and I began to recall the countless blessings in my life and how the Lord has provided a way for me in every trial. With renewed strength and fortitude, I chose faith – faith in the Lord’s plan for me, my family, and our son – regardless of what the outcome would be. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3hAsLf8POxQ/Tz7gXuEKldI/AAAAAAAAF7A/FLsnca7vuk0/s1600/P1120286.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3hAsLf8POxQ/Tz7gXuEKldI/AAAAAAAAF7A/FLsnca7vuk0/s1600/P1120286.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><br><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3hAsLf8POxQ/Tz7gXuEKldI/AAAAAAAAF7A/FLsnca7vuk0/s400/P1120286.JPG" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3hAsLf8POxQ/Tz7gXuEKldI/AAAAAAAAF7A/FLsnca7vuk0/s400/P1120286.JPG" border="0" width="300" height="223"></a>Faith and hope sustained me through the darkest part of the storm when our son showed the early signs of heart failure while in-utero. Family, friends and ward members united in prayer and fasting. The Lord, in His infinite goodness and mercy, revealed His matchless love with a miracle. Our son’s condition dramatically improved within a week. His heart returned to its normal position and the cysts began shrinking in his lung. I cried, but this time with tears of joy and gratitude. I felt as though the Lord had opened the windows of Heaven and was showering my family with blessings as our burdens were made light. <br><br> More trials came our way with our son’s birth and complications with his heart and lungs. Yet, I was continually sustained with faith and a feeling of peace that everything would be okay. We found it fitting to give our son Cole the middle name of Ishmael – which in Hebrew means “God hears.” Cole is a living testament that God hears and answers prayers and that miracles still occur in our day. And the miracles have not ceased with Cole. He underwent surgery at seven months to remove half of his left lung and has experienced a rapid recovery to everyone’s amazement. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Z_tHWdn32l0/Tz7g33mE0pI/AAAAAAAAF7I/if-92bTo3L4/s1600/P1200369.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Z_tHWdn32l0/Tz7g33mE0pI/AAAAAAAAF7I/if-92bTo3L4/s1600/P1200369.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Z_tHWdn32l0/Tz7g33mE0pI/AAAAAAAAF7I/if-92bTo3L4/s640/P1200369.JPG" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Z_tHWdn32l0/Tz7g33mE0pI/AAAAAAAAF7I/if-92bTo3L4/s640/P1200369.JPG" border="0" width="640" height="480"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div style="text-align: left;" _mce_style="text-align: left;"> <br>Each time I hold my son in my arms, I am truly grateful that when I found myself at the crossroads of faith and fear, I chose faith. Faith allowed me the opportunity to drink from a well of spiritual strength I never knew I possessed and to seek for the good in the midst of my trials. I know the Lord sustained me and will continue to come rain or shine. <br><br></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dIP1zZQVPXg/Tz7hGYGB9oI/AAAAAAAAF7Q/YMP8y5bbyC0/s640/PC140057.JPG" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dIP1zZQVPXg/Tz7hGYGB9oI/AAAAAAAAF7Q/YMP8y5bbyC0/s640/PC140057.JPG" border="0" width="375" height="564"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div><p></p><p></p><p></p> The Power of Pink http://www.tofw.com/Power-Pink-Desirae-Ogden/s/469 http://www.tofw.com/Power-Pink-Desirae-Ogden/s/469 Tue, 14 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Desirae Ogden <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UNKX-SJJpGc/Tzl4lI7ffSI/AAAAAAAAF30/1n0CvWBkK5A/s1600/Power+of+Pink.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UNKX-SJJpGc/Tzl4lI7ffSI/AAAAAAAAF30/1n0CvWBkK5A/s1600/Power+of+Pink.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UNKX-SJJpGc/Tzl4lI7ffSI/AAAAAAAAF30/1n0CvWBkK5A/s640/Power+of+Pink.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UNKX-SJJpGc/Tzl4lI7ffSI/AAAAAAAAF30/1n0CvWBkK5A/s640/Power+of+Pink.jpg" border="0" height="426" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YBZGgih11mw/Tzl4rhcwfWI/AAAAAAAAF38/EFv2ExuwSOc/s1600/heartattack.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YBZGgih11mw/Tzl4rhcwfWI/AAAAAAAAF38/EFv2ExuwSOc/s1600/heartattack.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YBZGgih11mw/Tzl4rhcwfWI/AAAAAAAAF38/EFv2ExuwSOc/s400/heartattack.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YBZGgih11mw/Tzl4rhcwfWI/AAAAAAAAF38/EFv2ExuwSOc/s400/heartattack.jpg" border="0" height="217" width="327"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> I woke up this morning to a heart attack... so to speak.&nbsp; My sweet, amazing neighbors got together and made enough love notes to fill our porch.&nbsp; This little gesture of love was one of many that gave me the strength that I needed to face the very difficult road ahead.<br><br></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> I was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 19, 2011.&nbsp; I was 33 years old with no history of breast cancer in my family.&nbsp; To say that the diagnosis came as a shock would be the understatement of the year.&nbsp; After finding a lump, having an ultrasound, and a mammogram, I just knew that it would be a cyst or fibroid that would easily be taken care of.&nbsp; I didn't have time for cancer in my life.<br><br></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> After the initial diagnosis, there was a whirlwind of doctor's visits all filled with words like: <br><br></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" align="center"> Grade 2 Tumor”</div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" align="center"> “Stage 3 Lobular breast cancer”</div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" align="center"> “Chemotherapy”</div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" align="center"> “Radiation”</div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" align="center"> “Mastectomy”</div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" align="center"> Reconstructive surgery” <br><br></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> What?&nbsp; These are not words that I should be hearing!&nbsp; I'm too young!&nbsp; I have 4 kids to raise and a husband that I want to grow old with.&nbsp; I have a bucket list filled with things I haven't done yet!&nbsp; These are words that you hear other people talk about in regards to a friend or relative - not in regards to yourself. <br><br></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-I3yi_JaunqQ/TzmenYJ9vcI/AAAAAAAAF4s/eUuC-dnTheA/s1600/girls+2.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-I3yi_JaunqQ/TzmenYJ9vcI/AAAAAAAAF4s/eUuC-dnTheA/s1600/girls+2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-I3yi_JaunqQ/TzmenYJ9vcI/AAAAAAAAF4s/eUuC-dnTheA/s400/girls+2.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-I3yi_JaunqQ/TzmenYJ9vcI/AAAAAAAAF4s/eUuC-dnTheA/s400/girls+2.jpg" border="0" height="372" width="372"></a>Nevertheless, I found myself starting an unexpected journey.&nbsp; One that has been filled with ups and downs, good days and bad days.&nbsp; A journey that has already taught me so many things, including the true meaning of Christlike love and service. <br><br>When I was first diagnosed, I knew that this would not be a “private disease.”&nbsp; I knew that I needed a ton of support if I was going to make it through this battle.&nbsp; So I used the best tool I could think of - my blog.&nbsp; It was the fastest way to spread the word, and spread it did.&nbsp; I could not believe the immediate outpouring of love and support from my family and friends.&nbsp; I had no idea that so many people cared so deeply about me.&nbsp; It was overwhelming at times. <br><br>When I went in for my first surgery, I issued a little challenge to anyone who was willing to participate.&nbsp; Lumpectomy Friday became Pink Friday.&nbsp;&nbsp; I asked my family and friends if they would send me a picture of them wearing pink.&nbsp; I was expecting a few pictures.&nbsp; I ended up with over 100.&nbsp; It blew my mind to think that so many people cared enough about me to support me in this battle. </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-n1Tdu1POa-g/Tzl5BGN4OXI/AAAAAAAAF4M/xQWy1dKNgYs/s1600/school.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-n1Tdu1POa-g/Tzl5BGN4OXI/AAAAAAAAF4M/xQWy1dKNgYs/s1600/school.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-n1Tdu1POa-g/Tzl5BGN4OXI/AAAAAAAAF4M/xQWy1dKNgYs/s640/school.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-n1Tdu1POa-g/Tzl5BGN4OXI/AAAAAAAAF4M/xQWy1dKNgYs/s640/school.jpg" border="0" height="426" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XY010lrDDd4/Tzme44UWB9I/AAAAAAAAF40/EIDMC58do-s/s1600/hairshave.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XY010lrDDd4/Tzme44UWB9I/AAAAAAAAF40/EIDMC58do-s/s1600/hairshave.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"> <br><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XY010lrDDd4/Tzme44UWB9I/AAAAAAAAF40/EIDMC58do-s/s400/hairshave.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XY010lrDDd4/Tzme44UWB9I/AAAAAAAAF40/EIDMC58do-s/s400/hairshave.jpg" border="0" height="205" width="309"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> The day I started chemotherapy was surreal.&nbsp; I could not believe that this was going to be my life for the next little while.&nbsp; As I was sitting in the recliner at the cancer center with the chemo med running through my veins, I received a text message.&nbsp; What I saw on my phone brought a fresh bout of tears as I looked at a picture of the entire student body and staff of the elementary school where I had just served as PTA president for 2 years.&nbsp; Most of them were wearing pink and they were all making the “I Love You” sign.&nbsp; As I sat there with tears streaming down my face, I felt an overwhelming sense of love.&nbsp; I felt the love of every single person who had sent me a picture, made a comment on my blog, said a prayer for me, thought about me, or had called me with words of encouragement.&nbsp; Not many people get to experience such an outpouring of love and support, and I feel incredibly lucky to be counted among those that have. <br><br>My journey continues, and I know that I will hit rock bottom a few more times before I win the battle.&nbsp; However, the good news about being at rock bottom is - the only way to go is up.&nbsp; I will be able to make that climb up because my Heavenly Father has blessed me with a massive support system who will love me and lift me to the top. <b><br></b></div><p><br></p><p> <b>About the Author</b></p> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: large;" _mce_style="font-size: large;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EGdVLp6ZmBw/TzmhK7GGRRI/AAAAAAAAF48/h14RpfCgbL0/s1600/IMG_4297.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EGdVLp6ZmBw/TzmhK7GGRRI/AAAAAAAAF48/h14RpfCgbL0/s1600/IMG_4297.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EGdVLp6ZmBw/TzmhK7GGRRI/AAAAAAAAF48/h14RpfCgbL0/s400/IMG_4297.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EGdVLp6ZmBw/TzmhK7GGRRI/AAAAAAAAF48/h14RpfCgbL0/s400/IMG_4297.jpg" border="0" height="142" width="215"></a></span></div> <div class="Standard" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> As difficult as her journey has been, Desirae Ogden is thankful for the lessons she has learned and the opportunities fighting cancer has given her. She absolutely loves being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and the opportunities it has given her to serve others and to be happy. She enjoys music, a good crafting session (sewing, wood crafts, digital scrapbooking, etc.) and just starting to dabble in songwriting. Desirae taught preschool for about 10 years and&nbsp; currently serves on the Stake Young Women Camp Committee. She and her husband, Mark, were married in the Salt Lake Temple and have 4 amazing kids. <br><br> Desirae blogs at <a href="http://www.markanddes.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.markanddes.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">One Day at a Time<br><br><br><br></a> </div> Depression: Catch the Light http://www.tofw.com/Depression-Catch-Light-Written-Jill-Bowers/s/465 http://www.tofw.com/Depression-Catch-Light-Written-Jill-Bowers/s/465 Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Written By Jill Bowers <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-b2cx9dn4Cp8/TzFRP_LBRCI/AAAAAAAAF0U/DRMtPGxH1No/s1600/light.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-b2cx9dn4Cp8/TzFRP_LBRCI/AAAAAAAAF0U/DRMtPGxH1No/s1600/light.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-b2cx9dn4Cp8/TzFRP_LBRCI/AAAAAAAAF0U/DRMtPGxH1No/s640/light.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-b2cx9dn4Cp8/TzFRP_LBRCI/AAAAAAAAF0U/DRMtPGxH1No/s640/light.jpg" border="0" height="384" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qKzN-66KPe0/TzBtuQReTDI/AAAAAAAAFz4/4jxVrMfzb4s/s1600/two+footprints.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qKzN-66KPe0/TzBtuQReTDI/AAAAAAAAFz4/4jxVrMfzb4s/s1600/two+footprints.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-G8UVTkEVcv8/TzBmObu870I/AAAAAAAAFzY/Km1Z2vWqr4w/s1600/clicker+counter.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-G8UVTkEVcv8/TzBmObu870I/AAAAAAAAFzY/Km1Z2vWqr4w/s1600/clicker+counter.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">My left side presses heavily against the floor, and my arms clasp my legs to my chest. Everything is falling apart, and I feel I should be able to fix things. I should be well enough to stand up and continue my life. Instead, my face contorts as my jaw stretches open, and I finally let out a hoarse scream. I hurt too much to keep all the pain inside, and the scream echoes my agony. My voice is nearly gone when the screaming dies, and as I bury my face into the coarse brown carpet, I whisper. <br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rixy4tFGIW0/TzBuJQgzknI/AAAAAAAAF0A/A0xQCotHg-A/s1600/in+pain.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rixy4tFGIW0/TzBuJQgzknI/AAAAAAAAF0A/A0xQCotHg-A/s1600/in+pain.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rixy4tFGIW0/TzBuJQgzknI/AAAAAAAAF0A/A0xQCotHg-A/s200/in+pain.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rixy4tFGIW0/TzBuJQgzknI/AAAAAAAAF0A/A0xQCotHg-A/s200/in+pain.jpg" border="0" height="200" width="199"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">“Please.” <br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> When no other sound comes, my thoughts plead to the heavens, <i>let it stop</i>.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">I wait, and eventually my arms relax their grip on my legs. I inch out of the fetal position and my breathing begins to slow. My mind grows weary, and I welcome the respite. I lie on the floor a while longer, grateful that the pain is, at last, beginning to fade.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> In this world, many people believe that depression is an illusion of the mind and can be cured through willpower. Not many understand that depression is an illness, and not a matter of choice.<br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> Those who have never suffered from depression can’t fathom the never-ending pit of despair with which I have constantly struggled. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> <br>I can’t choose how I feel, but I can choose to rely on the Lord. It hasn’t been easy. Part of this mental illness is feeling alone. While I’ve always known that God lives, it’s often hard to reach out to Him when I feel stranded, wading through this dark abyss called chronic depression. But I know that Christ has been here. He bled from each pore and trembled in unimaginable agony so He could carry me through my personal Gethsemane. Relying on the arms of Jehovah has brought me more relief than anything else. Sometimes, just living day-by-day is overwhelming, yet with everything I have gone through, I’m grateful that God loves me enough to keep me alive.<br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> So I turn to the Lord. </span></div><p><br></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mXxDc_p8LO0/TzBs5CjFjGI/AAAAAAAAFzw/sNre0iYT_HA/s1600/jill+bowers+scriptures.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mXxDc_p8LO0/TzBs5CjFjGI/AAAAAAAAFzw/sNre0iYT_HA/s1600/jill+bowers+scriptures.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mXxDc_p8LO0/TzBs5CjFjGI/AAAAAAAAFzw/sNre0iYT_HA/s320/jill+bowers+scriptures.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mXxDc_p8LO0/TzBs5CjFjGI/AAAAAAAAFzw/sNre0iYT_HA/s320/jill+bowers+scriptures.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="320"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> Nightly scripture study, constant prayer, asking worthy priesthood holders for blessings, and attending the temple helps me stay strong. Some people are surprised that I get up each day. <br><br>Those who see past my walls and catch glimpses of the awful pain I somehow endure are amazed that I work, attend college, go to church, and participate in choir and service activities. <br><br></span><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">“How can you keep going,” they ask, “when you are so miserable?” They say it’s because I’m strong, and they think I have courage. I say it is because of the Lord. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><br>Still I am plagued by doubt. I have frequently thought that I must have done something wrong to be going through this. But if I allow myself to listen to the voice of my Savior, I am reminded of these words: </span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><br><br><br>Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God…I am the light that shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. Verily, verily, I say unto you…cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart... Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? (<a href="http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/6.21-23?lang=eng#20" _mce_href="http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/6.21-23?lang=eng#20">Doctrine and Covenants 6:21-23</a>)<a href="http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=676847012085473268#_ftn1" _mce_href="http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=676847012085473268#_ftn1" title=""><b><span style="color: blue;" _mce_style="color: blue;"> </span></b></a><a href="http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=676847012085473268#_ftn1" _mce_href="http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=676847012085473268#_ftn1" title=""><b><span style="color: blue;" _mce_style="color: blue;"> </span></b></a></span></i></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-p1f1LZgw9_U/TzBwbM1DgDI/AAAAAAAAF0I/4-cf9DE1rr0/s1600/Jill+Bowers.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-p1f1LZgw9_U/TzBwbM1DgDI/AAAAAAAAF0I/4-cf9DE1rr0/s1600/Jill+Bowers.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-p1f1LZgw9_U/TzBwbM1DgDI/AAAAAAAAF0I/4-cf9DE1rr0/s1600/Jill+Bowers.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-p1f1LZgw9_U/TzBwbM1DgDI/AAAAAAAAF0I/4-cf9DE1rr0/s1600/Jill+Bowers.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qKzN-66KPe0/TzBtuQReTDI/AAAAAAAAFz4/4jxVrMfzb4s/s1600/two+footprints.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qKzN-66KPe0/TzBtuQReTDI/AAAAAAAAFz4/4jxVrMfzb4s/s1600/two+footprints.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qKzN-66KPe0/TzBtuQReTDI/AAAAAAAAFz4/4jxVrMfzb4s/s640/two+footprints.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-qKzN-66KPe0/TzBtuQReTDI/AAAAAAAAFz4/4jxVrMfzb4s/s640/two+footprints.jpg" border="0" height="376" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <div style="text-align: left;" _mce_style="text-align: left;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><br>My eyes are blurry from the tears that have streamed down my face. I am so very tired, but I’m glad that, for now, the pain has finally stopped.<br><br></span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ljaSJoagAKw/TzBsyLczOMI/AAAAAAAAFzo/4zcbeBwdcWc/s1600/Jill+Bowers.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ljaSJoagAKw/TzBsyLczOMI/AAAAAAAAFzo/4zcbeBwdcWc/s1600/Jill+Bowers.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ljaSJoagAKw/TzBsyLczOMI/AAAAAAAAFzo/4zcbeBwdcWc/s200/Jill+Bowers.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ljaSJoagAKw/TzBsyLczOMI/AAAAAAAAFzo/4zcbeBwdcWc/s200/Jill+Bowers.jpg" border="0" height="278" width="176"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Slowly, I lift my head from the floor. My body complains about moving; I have been tense and still for too long. Eventually, I manage to sit up. Exhausted from the emotional attack I just survived, I lean against the table. While I’m grateful no one saw me break down, I don’t feel ashamed about what I just endured. Despite the intense pain, I’ve learned a great lesson. My God has just reminded me that He loves me enough to send His Son to bleed for me. I close my eyes, and a small smile flickers across my face.&nbsp; <br><br>I am not alone.<br><br><br></span></div> Blending a Family http://www.tofw.com/Blending-Family-Maryann-Potter/s/445 http://www.tofw.com/Blending-Family-Maryann-Potter/s/445 Tue, 31 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Maryann Potter <br /> </div> <p style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </p> <p class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-k45e_cF_0N8/TycWYr_sPmI/AAAAAAAAFwo/3z86r_YXSh8/s1600/Disneyland+2011+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-k45e_cF_0N8/TycWYr_sPmI/AAAAAAAAFwo/3z86r_YXSh8/s1600/Disneyland+2011+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-k45e_cF_0N8/TycWYr_sPmI/AAAAAAAAFwo/3z86r_YXSh8/s640/Disneyland+2011+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-k45e_cF_0N8/TycWYr_sPmI/AAAAAAAAFwo/3z86r_YXSh8/s640/Disneyland+2011+hero.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="390"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 14pt;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 14pt;"> It felt like I walked into an action-packed movie, the intensity at its peak. I was a main character, but I did not know my lines or how to play my role. How did I get to this point?&nbsp; Well, it all began with the “D” word…</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 14pt;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 14pt;"> My goal from the time I was a girl was to meet someone, fall in love, marry in the temple and live happily ever after. &nbsp;I met a man who treated me well and we seemed like best friends who could talk about anything.&nbsp; We were married in the temple, but over time our relationship lacked depth, especially in the spiritual sense. This was not what I wanted, but I accepted it. However after thirteen years of marriage and two children, he told me that he did not feel connected to me.&nbsp;And then I faced that ugly “D” word: Divorce. Words&nbsp;cannot describe how my heart ached.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 14pt;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 14pt;"> </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eMdCSTp_dWE/TycWdz-JflI/AAAAAAAAFxA/9Z0s-qtxvUs/s1600/roller+coaster.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eMdCSTp_dWE/TycWdz-JflI/AAAAAAAAFxA/9Z0s-qtxvUs/s1600/roller+coaster.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eMdCSTp_dWE/TycWdz-JflI/AAAAAAAAFxA/9Z0s-qtxvUs/s320/roller+coaster.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eMdCSTp_dWE/TycWdz-JflI/AAAAAAAAFxA/9Z0s-qtxvUs/s320/roller+coaster.jpg" border="0" width="253" height="168"></a>Where had I failed?&nbsp;&nbsp;I had always attended church and lived a good life. &nbsp;I had married in the temple.&nbsp; But where was my happy ending? &nbsp;I longed to feel peace. <br><br>There were times I wanted to close my eyes, as if on&nbsp;a roller coaster, and hold my breath&nbsp;until&nbsp;the ride came to a stop.&nbsp; But I had two children who needed me. I turned to Heavenly Father and He became my anchor.&nbsp; This&nbsp;was the beginning of the healing process. <br><br>Peace came as I attended the temple and through the healing power of Christ.&nbsp; As painful as it was, this trial allowed me to feel an overwhelming love from my Savior that I had not experienced before.</div><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ToLAL6Af0T0/TycWdT49jjI/AAAAAAAAFw4/UEL_aBbnMYo/s1600/maryann+and+husband.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ToLAL6Af0T0/TycWdT49jjI/AAAAAAAAFw4/UEL_aBbnMYo/s1600/maryann+and+husband.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ToLAL6Af0T0/TycWdT49jjI/AAAAAAAAFw4/UEL_aBbnMYo/s400/maryann+and+husband.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ToLAL6Af0T0/TycWdT49jjI/AAAAAAAAFw4/UEL_aBbnMYo/s400/maryann+and+husband.jpg" border="0" width="302" height="226"></a>Unless you have been there, it is hard to understand what it is like to be single again after a divorce. I started the dating experience again and it felt strange.&nbsp; I thought it might be easier to date someone without children. I had read about wicked stepmoms in fairy tales and I certainly did not want that label! However, I met a wonderful man who had five children. I did not think I could handle that many kids, especially teenagers. I was intimidated, but that sweet guy won my heart. I was thrilled, but the minute that beautiful engagement ring hit my finger, the roller coaster ride I had been on sped up, and I had to tighten my seatbelt!&nbsp;Being a mom and stepmom is not a ride for the faint of heart. </div><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Xzow5SxIDO4/TycWcXocA7I/AAAAAAAAFww/qCuTsQvkfs0/s1600/ellie.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Xzow5SxIDO4/TycWcXocA7I/AAAAAAAAFww/qCuTsQvkfs0/s1600/ellie.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Xzow5SxIDO4/TycWcXocA7I/AAAAAAAAFww/qCuTsQvkfs0/s400/ellie.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Xzow5SxIDO4/TycWcXocA7I/AAAAAAAAFww/qCuTsQvkfs0/s400/ellie.jpg" border="0" width="259" height="202"></a>Over the last four and a half years we have experienced a little of everything from blending our families, to dealing with teenagers, becoming grandparents, working with ex-spouses and having a baby! In the beginning, I woke up every day with anxiety because I did not know what to expect.&nbsp; <br><br>Being in a blended family is like managing a small corporation and making sure all the puzzle pieces fit together. Over time, piece by piece, we have come to love this new adventure. </div><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> It has been such an intense ride, but I would not trade my experience for anything.&nbsp; I have grown so immensely from this situation and have learned to love beyond measure. <br><br>Maryann blogs at: <a _mce_href="http://thenewblendedbunch.blogspot.com/" href="http://thenewblendedbunch.blogspot.com/">The New Blended Bunch </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></p> Give Up? http://www.tofw.com/Give-told-Brooke-Benton/s/448 http://www.tofw.com/Give-told-Brooke-Benton/s/448 Tue, 24 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by As told to Brooke Benton <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-paD4r0Y7EZc/Tx3un8OiOSI/AAAAAAAAFsY/ht5or5zwIBE/s1600/give%2Bup%2Bhero.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-paD4r0Y7EZc/Tx3un8OiOSI/AAAAAAAAFsY/ht5or5zwIBE/s1600/give%2Bup%2Bhero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-paD4r0Y7EZc/Tx3un8OiOSI/AAAAAAAAFsY/ht5or5zwIBE/s640/give%2Bup%2Bhero.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-paD4r0Y7EZc/Tx3un8OiOSI/AAAAAAAAFsY/ht5or5zwIBE/s640/give%2Bup%2Bhero.jpg" border="0" height="482" width="640"></a></span></div> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 12pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sGm_2zDZbHw/Tx3xaicsyfI/AAAAAAAAFso/GNpFBWpb-KA/s1600/piano+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sGm_2zDZbHw/Tx3xaicsyfI/AAAAAAAAFso/GNpFBWpb-KA/s1600/piano+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sGm_2zDZbHw/Tx3xaicsyfI/AAAAAAAAFso/GNpFBWpb-KA/s320/piano+tall.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sGm_2zDZbHw/Tx3xaicsyfI/AAAAAAAAFso/GNpFBWpb-KA/s320/piano+tall.jpg" border="0" height="252" width="180"></a></span></div> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><br>I could have quit a long time ago. It certainly would have saved me a lot of embarrassment! Yet every time someone asked me to play the piano or organ, I found myself saying “yes.” <br><br> Once during a Christmas concert, I accidentally knocked all the piano music onto the floor while accompanying the stake choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.&nbsp; After the music was picked up I could not find the right place and they finished the song without any accompaniment. I was <i>very </i>embarrassed.&nbsp; </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 12pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Another time I started playing the wrong Sacrament song. The chorister didn't stop me during the introduction and started leading the music as if nothing was wrong. However, as soon as a confused few started singing, I realized it was the wrong song but didn't know what to do, so I just kept playing. Amazingly, the words fit the music so I thought maybe I'd get away with it. But the music ran out before the words did and as the conductor continued to wave her arm, I started playing the song a second time. Then everyone completely stopped singing and the chorister just stared at me. I started to laugh and said "I know I'm playing the wrong song. What do you want to do?" She then laughed and said to the congregation, "One day we'll have to sing a melody with different words, but now let's start with the second verse." Everyone in the congregation laughed and I had a hard time becoming serious again. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most reverent hymn ever sung. <br><br>After church the following Sunday, the Bishop shook my hand and congratulated me on successfully playing the correct music for all congregational hymns. </span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-x1TsuhiSNFo/Tx336jScCXI/AAAAAAAAFsw/VEJr5mAsjBM/s1600/organ.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-x1TsuhiSNFo/Tx336jScCXI/AAAAAAAAFsw/VEJr5mAsjBM/s1600/organ.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-x1TsuhiSNFo/Tx336jScCXI/AAAAAAAAFsw/VEJr5mAsjBM/s320/organ.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-x1TsuhiSNFo/Tx336jScCXI/AAAAAAAAFsw/VEJr5mAsjBM/s320/organ.jpg" border="0" height="176" width="226"></a></span></div> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Several years later I was asked to play the organ for another meeting and realized several measures into the introduction to the hymn that the organ had been set to transpose the music to a much higher key.&nbsp; I knew the members could never sing the hymn in that key, but wasn’t sure how to proceed since I had already begun playing.&nbsp; So I held a chord and turned the transposing knob which made the tones of the organ descend by half steps to the proper key.&nbsp; It sounded ridiculous and everyone laughed—even those who did not understand what had happened.&nbsp; I laughed and said to the conductor, “Shall we try again?”&nbsp; <br><br></span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><br>While it would have been easy to give up, there are several reasons why I kept on playing. First, I love our Heavenly Father very much and want to serve Him any way I can to show my love.&nbsp; I know he understands when we make mistakes and will help us improve. Second, I knew I would become a better piano player if I kept trying.&nbsp; No one is very good at anything at first. And finally, I want to report back to my Heavenly Father when I return to Him that I have at least tried to develop my talents.<br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MCYL1LL9ido/Tx3xae3SVII/AAAAAAAAFsg/-Q6lp468M18/s1600/piano+lesson.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MCYL1LL9ido/Tx3xae3SVII/AAAAAAAAFsg/-Q6lp468M18/s1600/piano+lesson.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img alt="Mary giving a piano lesson to a grandchild." style="border: 0pt none;" _mce_style="border: 0;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MCYL1LL9ido/Tx3xae3SVII/AAAAAAAAFsg/-Q6lp468M18/s320/piano+lesson.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MCYL1LL9ido/Tx3xae3SVII/AAAAAAAAFsg/-Q6lp468M18/s320/piano+lesson.jpg" border="0" height="189" width="284"></a></span></div> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> So no matter what talents you have or how much practice they need, don’t be afraid to share them! Sure, you may make some mistakes, but over time your talents will become a great blessing in your life and the lives of those you share them with.<br><br><br> </span></div><p><br><br><br><br><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s1600/brooke+benton.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s1600/brooke+benton.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s200/brooke+benton.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s200/brooke+benton.jpg" border="0" height="156" width="125"></a><strong>About the Author</strong></p><p></p><p> <i><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Brooke Olsen Benton is the wife of one, the mother of four, and the curator of a thousand to-do's. Originally from California, she now makes a home in the mountain west. Her writing has appeared in The Mother in Me and Dance with Them and on <a href="http://segullah.org/" _mce_href="http://segullah.org/">segullah.org</a>. More of her can be found at <a href="http://brookebenton.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://brookebenton.blogspot.com/">brookebenton.blogspot.com</a>.</span></span></i></p> Finding Grace http://www.tofw.com/Finding-Grace-Written-Holly-Tuttle/s/426 http://www.tofw.com/Finding-Grace-Written-Holly-Tuttle/s/426 Tue, 10 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <div> by Written by Holly Tuttle <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UvPqkaVSXeE/TwuAD91BusI/AAAAAAAAFlA/LtaceN0ZNUA/s1600/crying+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UvPqkaVSXeE/TwuAD91BusI/AAAAAAAAFlA/LtaceN0ZNUA/s1600/crying+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UvPqkaVSXeE/TwuAD91BusI/AAAAAAAAFlA/LtaceN0ZNUA/s640/crying+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UvPqkaVSXeE/TwuAD91BusI/AAAAAAAAFlA/LtaceN0ZNUA/s640/crying+hero.jpg" border="0" height="384" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fwHCyhs8eyY/Twt20JGUJEI/AAAAAAAAFk4/aSte77uN7F8/s1600/grace+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fwHCyhs8eyY/Twt20JGUJEI/AAAAAAAAFk4/aSte77uN7F8/s1600/grace+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> In the wake of the early morning, as the sun rays hit my face, I can barely see. <br>My eyes are swollen shut. <br>I have been crying in my sleep. <br><br>As I struggle to open my eyes, they fill with tears. <br> I am angry. <br>I am hurt. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AIfmUioFBFY/TwuDXXPRbnI/AAAAAAAAFlQ/xStBCTu6JjE/s1600/family.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AIfmUioFBFY/TwuDXXPRbnI/AAAAAAAAFlQ/xStBCTu6JjE/s1600/family.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AIfmUioFBFY/TwuDXXPRbnI/AAAAAAAAFlQ/xStBCTu6JjE/s320/family.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AIfmUioFBFY/TwuDXXPRbnI/AAAAAAAAFlQ/xStBCTu6JjE/s320/family.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="212"></a>We were planning to move somewhere new to start over, to be a real family, together forever, just as I had always wanted. I would look past what my husband told me three days earlier—that he had been unfaithful and was living a double life. But he leaves and says the children and I will not be coming with him. <br><br> We were a family of five; now I am a family of four. <br> How many lies did he tell me? <br>I can barely breathe, eat, or speak. <br>My heart is near destruction. <br><br>Three days later, still deep in emotion, I take a pregnancy test. <br>It is positive. <br><br>I am alone with three young children and pregnant, without a home, very little food or gas, and no money. <br>I cry harder. <br>I am worried my emotional stress will cause me to lose this baby. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fwHCyhs8eyY/Twt20JGUJEI/AAAAAAAAFk4/aSte77uN7F8/s1600/grace+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fwHCyhs8eyY/Twt20JGUJEI/AAAAAAAAFk4/aSte77uN7F8/s1600/grace+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> It is the month of March; cold and snowing. <br>We have nothing now. <br>I have to help my family survive. <br>I ring the buzzer to the women’s shelter and ask for help. <br></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-W1YktJRhrns/TwuDlTOa6CI/AAAAAAAAFlY/WOIzfGadaGE/s1600/children+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-W1YktJRhrns/TwuDlTOa6CI/AAAAAAAAFlY/WOIzfGadaGE/s1600/children+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-W1YktJRhrns/TwuDlTOa6CI/AAAAAAAAFlY/WOIzfGadaGE/s200/children+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-W1YktJRhrns/TwuDlTOa6CI/AAAAAAAAFlY/WOIzfGadaGE/s200/children+square.jpg" border="0" height="200" width="200"></a>We have food. <br>We have warmth. <br>We are together, my three children and I. <br><br> I cry every day for four months. <br> I had been a stay-at-home mother; now I leave my children to go to work, so I can afford a home for us again. <br><br>I lean heavily on God to get me through each day. In the wake of a storm, He is all you have. My children and I start attending church again every Sunday. <br><br>I am getting stronger. <br>I am learning to recognize that I have so many beautiful blessings each day. <br>I realize that the Lord has never left me. <br>He is there, always by my side, wiping away every tear. <br><br>I grow an amazing testimony. <br> I find Grace. <br><br>It is the end of June, and I am able to get into an apartment we now call “home.” A family makes a home, no matter where you are. A family is forever. I have my own family now. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vvNrqRqMGzA/TwuDOatFK_I/AAAAAAAAFlI/K4YHMEN-Em8/s1600/daughter+born.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vvNrqRqMGzA/TwuDOatFK_I/AAAAAAAAFlI/K4YHMEN-Em8/s1600/daughter+born.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vvNrqRqMGzA/TwuDOatFK_I/AAAAAAAAFlI/K4YHMEN-Em8/s640/daughter+born.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vvNrqRqMGzA/TwuDOatFK_I/AAAAAAAAFlI/K4YHMEN-Em8/s640/daughter+born.jpg" border="0" height="424" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> It is November and my daughter is born. <br>Now I have two boys and two girls. <br>It’s perfect. <br>My family is perfect, just the five of us. <br><br>During my journey, I set goals for myself and my family. As the Lord has served and blessed me, I now serve and bless through Him. I couldn’t be happier. <br><br><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T-lD73ug3Gs/TwuEk3nUg3I/AAAAAAAAFlg/17wrlHhNWE4/s1600/ocean+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T-lD73ug3Gs/TwuEk3nUg3I/AAAAAAAAFlg/17wrlHhNWE4/s1600/ocean+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T-lD73ug3Gs/TwuEk3nUg3I/AAAAAAAAFlg/17wrlHhNWE4/s320/ocean+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T-lD73ug3Gs/TwuEk3nUg3I/AAAAAAAAFlg/17wrlHhNWE4/s320/ocean+square.jpg" border="0" height="219" width="219"></a>I waited. <br>I learned. <br>I trusted. <br>I stood firm. <br>I learn to forgive. <br><br>I am loyal. <br>I am blessed. <br>I am strong. <br>I am healed. <br><br>God blessed me with a gift. It was grace.</p> Facing Pornography http://www.tofw.com/Facing-Pornography-Written-Jennifer/s/404 http://www.tofw.com/Facing-Pornography-Written-Jennifer/s/404 Mon, 19 Dec 2011 10:41:00 -0700 <div> by Written by Jennifer <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m5creYI4hrs/Tu99bullaSI/AAAAAAAAFbQ/AqBMOJwTD4Q/s1600/family+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m5creYI4hrs/Tu99bullaSI/AAAAAAAAFbQ/AqBMOJwTD4Q/s1600/family+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m5creYI4hrs/Tu99bullaSI/AAAAAAAAFbQ/AqBMOJwTD4Q/s640/family+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-m5creYI4hrs/Tu99bullaSI/AAAAAAAAFbQ/AqBMOJwTD4Q/s640/family+hero.jpg" border="0" height="386" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fn9r8sN3ifg/Tu90m1pfFvI/AAAAAAAAFa4/MJefHkMNsUo/s1600/man+on+computer.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fn9r8sN3ifg/Tu90m1pfFvI/AAAAAAAAFa4/MJefHkMNsUo/s1600/man+on+computer.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> I could not have been more shocked to discover my husband’s twenty-year addiction to pornography. I was devastated to learn this had been going on throughout our entire marriage and a million painful thoughts raced through my mind: “But, he served a mission!”, “He just baptized our daughter!”, “How could he lie to me for 10 years!?”, “What else has he lied about?”, “Does he even love me?”, “Had I made a mistake when I married him?”, “I have lived a righteous life and this isn’t fair”, and on and on. <br><br>My husband and I met with our Bishop that same day. Soon my husband was meeting with our bishop weekly and attending the <a href="http://www.providentliving.org/content/list/0,11664,4177-1,00.html" _mce_href="http://www.providentliving.org/content/list/0,11664,4177-1,00.html">LDS Addiction Recovery</a> meeting for sexually addicted men in our area. He finally felt like his burden was being made light, but I felt like mine was more heavy than ever. I worried about my husband and was afraid of the decisions I would have to make if he were to relapse. We got rid of the computer and cable TV. I went through all of our movies and books and threw out anything that was remotely questionable. I felt safe in our home and at the temple, but going out in public where women do not always dress modestly was a concern, and I watched him closely whenever we left the house. <br></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;">As time <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c2jF7YebC3M/Tu90tYLI2JI/AAAAAAAAFbA/YrhMxJWfjgs/s1600/dvd+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c2jF7YebC3M/Tu90tYLI2JI/AAAAAAAAFbA/YrhMxJWfjgs/s1600/dvd+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c2jF7YebC3M/Tu90tYLI2JI/AAAAAAAAFbA/YrhMxJWfjgs/s320/dvd+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c2jF7YebC3M/Tu90tYLI2JI/AAAAAAAAFbA/YrhMxJWfjgs/s320/dvd+square.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="320"></a>went on I felt increasingly more isolated. It seemed unfair that my husband had a support group to attend but I did not. I read the scriptures and prayed daily, attended the temple regularly and served others. I even read articles to help me understand the nature of addictions, but I still felt angry, sad and hopeless. I also began to doubt my ability to receive inspiration. <br><br>I started meeting with an LDS Family Services Counselor and a Women’s 12 Step PASG (Pornography Addiction Support Group) started in my area. I was nervous but so relieved to attend my first meeting, where I learned that as a consequence of my husband’s addiction I was suffering from a fatal form of “survival mode” known as “co-dependency” or “destructive dependency.” I thought that there was something I could do to save my husband from his addiction when in fact, no effort on my part could change him and trying to do so was only making my life crazy. I learned an important truth for women in my situation: “he has his recovery and I have mine.” I needed to “let go and let God.” <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-e4iT1XiTogY/Tu93Gb3JQrI/AAAAAAAAFbI/Nt0hIDwnZpI/s1600/shadows.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-e4iT1XiTogY/Tu93Gb3JQrI/AAAAAAAAFbI/Nt0hIDwnZpI/s1600/shadows.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-e4iT1XiTogY/Tu93Gb3JQrI/AAAAAAAAFbI/Nt0hIDwnZpI/s400/shadows.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-e4iT1XiTogY/Tu93Gb3JQrI/AAAAAAAAFbI/Nt0hIDwnZpI/s400/shadows.jpg" border="0" height="400" width="285"></a>As I have worked toward my own recovery, I have come to see the role that Satan plays in my life. He knows my weaknesses (co-dependency, doubt, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem) and he tries to sneak thoughts that lead to and feed those weaknesses into my mind every chance he can get! Over months of counseling and studying the 12 Steps, I have learned to recognize the thought patterns that Satan uses on me. As I’ve recognized these patterns, I’ve been able to make the conscious choice not to listen to him. <br><br>The <a href="http://ldsrecovery.org/12steps.html" _mce_href="http://ldsrecovery.org/12steps.html">LDS 12 Step</a> Recovery Program has become my guide to putting my faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ into action. I have learned that in order for me to be happy, I have to focus on ME, the one person I have control over! I have learned to invite His healing power into my life by praying and reading my scriptures daily. And I have learned that my Heavenly Father knows exactly what experiences I need. He is sure to take me down more paths of breath-taking sorrow and beauty throughout my life, but I feel peace in knowing that although I may not know what my future holds, Heavenly Father does and he does not make mistakes.<br><br><br><br></div> Learning to Let Go http://www.tofw.com/Learning-Let-Go-Written-Vilate-Nielsen/s/396 http://www.tofw.com/Learning-Let-Go-Written-Vilate-Nielsen/s/396 Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:38:00 -0700 <div> by Written by Vilate Nielsen <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i9JxP8qnD48/TueHIjwcX8I/AAAAAAAAFZc/skQbxVA9Ndg/s1600/vilate+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i9JxP8qnD48/TueHIjwcX8I/AAAAAAAAFZc/skQbxVA9Ndg/s1600/vilate+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-e8HhH3ocNFY/TueECMQNFPI/AAAAAAAAFY8/Q3iQbtMesfc/s1600/hannah%2Bat%2Bwedding.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-e8HhH3ocNFY/TueECMQNFPI/AAAAAAAAFY8/Q3iQbtMesfc/s1600/hannah%2Bat%2Bwedding.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-e8HhH3ocNFY/TueECMQNFPI/AAAAAAAAFY8/Q3iQbtMesfc/s640/hannah%2Bat%2Bwedding.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-e8HhH3ocNFY/TueECMQNFPI/AAAAAAAAFY8/Q3iQbtMesfc/s640/hannah%2Bat%2Bwedding.jpg" height="480" border="0" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> Hannah was lying in the sand, her legs sprawled at crazy angles and a smudge of blood next to her face. She wasn't moving. She wasn't breathing. My only thought was that I couldn't do this. I couldn't lose my little sister and especially not like this. We had been enjoying an afternoon of family fun, testing our courage on the rope swing until things had gone terribly wrong. My mind wandered in circles desperately wishing this would all go away and my life would be OK again.<br><br> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pxgTM90vTV0/TueEID0gFtI/AAAAAAAAFZE/Dehmd_nevmU/s1600/rope+swing.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pxgTM90vTV0/TueEID0gFtI/AAAAAAAAFZE/Dehmd_nevmU/s1600/rope+swing.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pxgTM90vTV0/TueEID0gFtI/AAAAAAAAFZE/Dehmd_nevmU/s320/rope+swing.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pxgTM90vTV0/TueEID0gFtI/AAAAAAAAFZE/Dehmd_nevmU/s320/rope+swing.JPG" height="320" border="0" width="240"></a>Finally the ambulance came barreling down the long dirt road. Calmly, and what seemed to my panicked heart too slowly, the medical team loaded Hannah onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. <br><br>The three hour drive to the hospital was filled with some very deep, soul-searching moments for me. As we drove in silence I wondered where God was and what I could possibly say or do change the situation. I felt so helpless as I realized I could not keep Hannah alive and dreaded the long, lonely days, weeks, and possibly years ahead of me. And then I wondered why I even try. If so much of life is outside of my control, why do I try so hard to hang on to things? <br><br>My brain scrambled to find its footing and to have something concrete to hang my framework of life on. Then I found it in the following idea. <br><br>Heavenly Father is in control and He has a plan. While this life is a series of events meant to teach us and help us grow, it is not a random series of events. Life is a well-planned, well- prepared-for series of events that was custom made for us. The plan of our loving and all-knowing Heavenly Father is perfectly tailored to our needs. While I can not control what happens in many of life's situations, He can and He will. <br><br> I thought of all the times that I had seen his hand in my life and knew that against all odds he had been with me, protected me, prepared me and guided me, and I knew that he would not leave me now. <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_wt0V_pUI/TueES-Dka3I/AAAAAAAAFZM/VaGoK1w8sAg/s1600/hannah+in+the+hospital.JPG" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_wt0V_pUI/TueES-Dka3I/AAAAAAAAFZM/VaGoK1w8sAg/s1600/hannah+in+the+hospital.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><br><br><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_wt0V_pUI/TueES-Dka3I/AAAAAAAAFZM/VaGoK1w8sAg/s320/hannah+in+the+hospital.JPG" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1V_wt0V_pUI/TueES-Dka3I/AAAAAAAAFZM/VaGoK1w8sAg/s320/hannah+in+the+hospital.JPG" height="240" border="0" width="320"></a><br><br>That was the one thing I knew without a doubt and that was my foundation. Knowing that I could rely on Him no matter what happened to Hannah allowed me to let go of trying to control the situation and move forward one step at a time. <br><br>In spite of the seriousness of her condition, (a broken neck, back and femur, 16 broken ribs, two collapsed lungs, a punctured heart, ruptured bladder, a head injury, paralysis on the entire left side of her body, and numerous other injuries), Hannah walked from the hospital to the car on the day she was released-just one month and two days from the day she arrived in a helicopter on deaths door. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YiZQPPvo3lE/TueG0j7NX3I/AAAAAAAAFZU/9xt5SQ28Dtk/s1600/hannah+compare.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YiZQPPvo3lE/TueG0j7NX3I/AAAAAAAAFZU/9xt5SQ28Dtk/s1600/hannah+compare.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YiZQPPvo3lE/TueG0j7NX3I/AAAAAAAAFZU/9xt5SQ28Dtk/s640/hannah+compare.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YiZQPPvo3lE/TueG0j7NX3I/AAAAAAAAFZU/9xt5SQ28Dtk/s640/hannah+compare.jpg" height="456" border="0" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> I thank Heavenly Father for this miracle daily. As I had let go of trying to control, to keep her there with me, she had been allowed to live. Sometimes things will go the way that we want them to and sometimes they won't, but regardless of what happens, God is in control. <br><br><br><br><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Mb9jKcVmYVQ/TueH8hAjmTI/AAAAAAAAFZk/KJCT0ttwUoI/s1600/vilate.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Mb9jKcVmYVQ/TueH8hAjmTI/AAAAAAAAFZk/KJCT0ttwUoI/s1600/vilate.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Mb9jKcVmYVQ/TueH8hAjmTI/AAAAAAAAFZk/KJCT0ttwUoI/s1600/vilate.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Mb9jKcVmYVQ/TueH8hAjmTI/AAAAAAAAFZk/KJCT0ttwUoI/s1600/vilate.jpg" height="196" border="0" width="130"><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> 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SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]--> <mce:style></mce:style></a><b>About the Author</b> <br></p><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="margin-bottom: 12pt;">Vilate Nielsen was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints on May 8, 2004. She attends Utah Valley University and is studying Communications. Vilate loves reading, writing, playing the piano, rock climbing, swimming, and long talks with good friends. She will be forever grateful that the Lord saw a plan for her life that was so different from her own and that he plucked her up and sustained her through life choices that will ultimately lead to eternal joy.</div><p> Vilate blogs at <a href="http://vilatenielsen.blogspot.com/2011/12/in-blind-spot.html" _mce_href="http://vilatenielsen.blogspot.com/2011/12/in-blind-spot.html">Didda's World</a><br _mce_bogus="1"></p> <div style="font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="font-family: inherit;"> <i><span style="color: black;" _mce_style="color: black;"><br></span></i><i><span style="color: black;" _mce_style="color: black;"></span></i><span style="font-size: large;" _mce_style="font-size: large;"></span><span _mce_style="font-size: x-small;" style="font-size: xx-small;"><i>TOFW on occasion will link to relevant external blogs and websites; however, the views expressed in these blogs reflect the opinions of the blogger and in no way that of TOFW.&nbsp; TOFW is not affiliated with or responsible for the content of these external sites.<br><br> </i></span></div> Fostering Love http://www.tofw.com/Fostering-Love-Written-Lara-Neves/s/391 http://www.tofw.com/Fostering-Love-Written-Lara-Neves/s/391 Mon, 05 Dec 2011 13:02:00 -0700 <div> by Written by Lara Neves <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CiaFhXi5JIE/Tt0G8UVqd4I/AAAAAAAAFTU/prDgf1DRfuA/s1600/wly+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CiaFhXi5JIE/Tt0G8UVqd4I/AAAAAAAAFTU/prDgf1DRfuA/s1600/wly+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CiaFhXi5JIE/Tt0G8UVqd4I/AAAAAAAAFTU/prDgf1DRfuA/s640/wly+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CiaFhXi5JIE/Tt0G8UVqd4I/AAAAAAAAFTU/prDgf1DRfuA/s640/wly+hero.jpg" border="0" height="384" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <b> </b><i><br></i></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;" _mce_style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R8g2uaoz6-I/Tt0HDAgz2-I/AAAAAAAAFTc/Z5GwpO58FPc/s1600/bright+family+before+fostering.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R8g2uaoz6-I/Tt0HDAgz2-I/AAAAAAAAFTc/Z5GwpO58FPc/s1600/bright+family+before+fostering.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R8g2uaoz6-I/Tt0HDAgz2-I/AAAAAAAAFTc/Z5GwpO58FPc/s320/bright+family+before+fostering.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R8g2uaoz6-I/Tt0HDAgz2-I/AAAAAAAAFTc/Z5GwpO58FPc/s320/bright+family+before+fostering.jpg" border="0" height="221" width="320"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;">Bright Family in 2009, prior to fostering</td></tr> </tbody></table> <div class="MsoNormal"> After my fifth child was born, I was diagnosed with a disorder that prevented me from having any more children. I had already been given five beautiful children and yet I felt strongly that there were still some missing. I have always wanted a large family, and it was difficult to accept that I might be done. I remembered a former Bishop of ours who had fostered children in his home, and it seemed like a good way for us to continue growing our family. When I mentioned it to my husband, he was thrilled—fostering children was something he had always wanted to do.&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;" _mce_style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GMTtffKUtFk/Tt0HMKb6N9I/AAAAAAAAFTk/zLCxUeHTEpU/s1600/Valerie%2527s+baptism+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GMTtffKUtFk/Tt0HMKb6N9I/AAAAAAAAFTk/zLCxUeHTEpU/s1600/Valerie%2527s+baptism+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GMTtffKUtFk/Tt0HMKb6N9I/AAAAAAAAFTk/zLCxUeHTEpU/s320/Valerie%2527s+baptism+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GMTtffKUtFk/Tt0HMKb6N9I/AAAAAAAAFTk/zLCxUeHTEpU/s320/Valerie%2527s+baptism+square.jpg" border="0" height="319" width="320"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div class="MsoNormal"> We were licensed as foster parents in August 2009 and we received our first long-term foster child in January 2010. Valerie was a 12-year-old girl, older than our eldest daughter, and much older than the 3- or 4-year-old we had anticipated fostering. We were uncertain at first, but after praying about it we welcomed her into our home with open arms. By September, we had been appointed her permanent legal guardians in order to make her life more stable. (Legal guardianship is similar to adoption, but does not sever the birth parents’ rights.) </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>None of the children we have fostered have come from LDS homes, but we haven’t changed the way we do things in our own home. The younger children come to church with us, and the birth parents haven’t minded. Valerie attended her own church with another family for the first 6 months that she lived with us. When that family moved, we told her that she would need to continue attending church, whether that be at the LDS church with us, or with another family at her current church. She decided to begin attending with us and in September 2011 she made the choice to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.&nbsp; </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>We hope that any child who comes through our home leaves knowing 3 things: 1) That they are special, 2) That they are loved by us, and 3) That they are loved by their Heavenly Father.&nbsp;I'm not sure how much we affected the kids that were here for only a few days, but I hope that we were a good example in the short time they were with us.</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>Of the six children we have fostered, three are still in our home and will be a part of our family forever. We were able to finalize the adoption of our 19-month-old daughter in October 2011 and are hoping to finalize the adoption of our 11-month-old by the end of this year. Going into foster parenting, we had hoped we would be able to love these children and send them back to their birth parents, but sometimes people make decisions that don’t allow that to happen. We certainly never thought we would adopt any of our foster children, but life, love and the Lord have changed all of our preconceived notions.</div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6SuQ4-zwq38/Tt0HV2m7K6I/AAAAAAAAFTs/UsCVD15a9qw/s1600/All+8+children.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6SuQ4-zwq38/Tt0HV2m7K6I/AAAAAAAAFTs/UsCVD15a9qw/s1600/All+8+children.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6SuQ4-zwq38/Tt0HV2m7K6I/AAAAAAAAFTs/UsCVD15a9qw/s640/All+8+children.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6SuQ4-zwq38/Tt0HV2m7K6I/AAAAAAAAFTs/UsCVD15a9qw/s640/All+8+children.jpg" border="0" height="428" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> It has been a huge blessing to us to serve these children by giving them a better home than they would have otherwise had.&nbsp; It has not been without its sacrifices, but even though my home isn’t as clean as I would like, it is full of happy children whom I love and cherish, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div><p> <span _mce_style="font-size: small;" style="font-size: small;"> </span></p> <div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;" class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span _mce_style="font-size: small;" style="font-size: small;"><a _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s1600/Lara+square.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s1600/Lara+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s200/Lara+square.jpg" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s200/Lara+square.jpg" border="0" height="200" width="200"></a></span></div><p> <span _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><span _mce_style="font-size: small;" style="font-size: small;"><b>About the Author</b> Lara is the mother to three amazing daughters and wife to a musical genius. When she is not working on her mother-of-the-year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching other people how to sing, taking hundreds of photographs, reading a good book, finding a great deal on groceries, or maybe even scrapbooking (that is, if she's not blogging).&nbsp; <br><br>You can read all about her adventures at <a _mce_href="http://www.lalakme.blogspot.com/" href="http://www.lalakme.blogspot.com/">Overstuffed</a>.<br><br><br><br></span></span></p> Make Everyday a Payday http://www.tofw.com/Make-Everyday-Payday-Written-Michelle-Newman/s/379 http://www.tofw.com/Make-Everyday-Payday-Written-Michelle-Newman/s/379 Wed, 30 Nov 2011 11:44:00 -0700 <div> by Written by Michelle Newman <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5iugfEW1hVg/TtZrmxTDCKI/AAAAAAAAFQQ/jtV_Gh3wUxU/s1600/michelle+with+teddy+bear.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5iugfEW1hVg/TtZrmxTDCKI/AAAAAAAAFQQ/jtV_Gh3wUxU/s1600/michelle+with+teddy+bear.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5iugfEW1hVg/TtZrmxTDCKI/AAAAAAAAFQQ/jtV_Gh3wUxU/s640/michelle+with+teddy+bear.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5iugfEW1hVg/TtZrmxTDCKI/AAAAAAAAFQQ/jtV_Gh3wUxU/s640/michelle+with+teddy+bear.jpg" width="640" border="0" height="426"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> I had been depositing faith into my spiritual bank account for twenty-three years. I earned my faith through obedient living, and I seemed to have enough faith in my account to buy anything I wanted. If I needed a miracle, I certainly could afford it, because I had been such a diligent saver of faith. Year after year I made deposits and no withdrawals because I had a really good life, the kind of life that made it easy to believe in God. <br></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bDTEOCRjPXA/TtZrxCcz76I/AAAAAAAAFQY/G_x354FIB2M/s1600/james+in+suit.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bDTEOCRjPXA/TtZrxCcz76I/AAAAAAAAFQY/G_x354FIB2M/s1600/james+in+suit.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bDTEOCRjPXA/TtZrxCcz76I/AAAAAAAAFQY/G_x354FIB2M/s320/james+in+suit.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bDTEOCRjPXA/TtZrxCcz76I/AAAAAAAAFQY/G_x354FIB2M/s320/james+in+suit.jpg" width="236" border="0" height="320"></a><br>Then on April 20, 2006, my faith bank account was sucked dry. That day my living breathing angel James stopped living and breathing after a tragic fall from our second story window. It seemed pointless to save now, after I had gone through so much work only to discover my faith did not have any real value when it counted. I found myself scrambling for answers and consumed with anger. I had diligently deposited faith for many years, saving up to purchase a miracle if I ever needed one. I wanted my son to live. Why didn’t my faith buy what I wanted? <br><br>Lots of kids fall from windows—14,000 per year in fact. Of those 14,000 falls, only 17 are fatal. That means 13,983 people got a miracle. Why wasn’t my balance enough? Had my faith been counterfeit all these years? <br><br>For the next four years I made daily withdrawals from my spiritual bank account with my anger. I wrote spiritual checks with insufficient funds and got further into spiritual financial ruin. Unwilling to let go of my anger, which is quite expensive, I remained in spiritual debt. <br><br>I wished I could die so I could be with my baby again, but I couldn’t. And I knew it. I begged God, pled even: “God, I’m about to claim spiritual bankruptcy. I am about to give up because I have nothing left in my faith bank account to keep me going. I'm going in spiritual debt every day. I can't gain here; I'm only losing ground. I can't find a way to get ahead of this spiritual debt." <br><br> As an answer I received the most magnificent deposit ever made into my account. He said, “Daughter, remember that I Iove you beyond words or description. My love for you is unconditional and insurmountable. You are cherished and watched over. The debt you are in has already been paid through the atonement of my son, and your brother, Jesus Christ. When no one else understands what it feels like to be in such spiritual ruin, He does. You are not paying this spiritual debt off alone. While you believe your faith bank account has been withdrawn, it has only grown. Understand that I had to make a temporary withdrawal to make an investment that would only increase the value of your faith. Your faith isn’t gone at all; it’s just been on reserve. You are ready to have access to your bank account again. The way you make deposits though is not just through obedient living; it’s through gratitude living.“ <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4-8QI3jca6Q/TtZwnrkvYsI/AAAAAAAAFQo/vSnDEbLm-8k/s1600/michell+with+other+children.JPG" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4-8QI3jca6Q/TtZwnrkvYsI/AAAAAAAAFQo/vSnDEbLm-8k/s1600/michell+with+other+children.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4-8QI3jca6Q/TtZwnrkvYsI/AAAAAAAAFQo/vSnDEbLm-8k/s320/michell+with+other+children.JPG" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4-8QI3jca6Q/TtZwnrkvYsI/AAAAAAAAFQo/vSnDEbLm-8k/s320/michell+with+other+children.JPG" width="213" border="0" height="320"></a>When I realized how valuable a gratitude bank account was, I was able to go forward with a service attitude. Through service I gained gratitude, through gratitude I gained faith. Through faith I let go of my anger. By letting go of my anger, I stopped overdrawing my accounts. <span id="goog_14582205"></span><span id="goog_14582206"></span><br><br>My life is far from perfect, but in my heart I know my adversity was exactly what I needed to see how many blessings God has poured upon my life. Everyday I’m astounded at how much laughter, joy, contentment, smiling and true genuine happiness my gratitude currency buys me. I’m grateful to be grateful. It’s what happiness is. <br><br><em>Michelle Newman, James’ Momma.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br> </em> </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mYhpfs7tQwY/TtZrcvu_QDI/AAAAAAAAFQI/p-qZ7WffTwM/s1600/michelle+profile+pic.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mYhpfs7tQwY/TtZrcvu_QDI/AAAAAAAAFQI/p-qZ7WffTwM/s1600/michelle+profile+pic.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mYhpfs7tQwY/TtZrcvu_QDI/AAAAAAAAFQI/p-qZ7WffTwM/s200/michelle+profile+pic.JPG" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mYhpfs7tQwY/TtZrcvu_QDI/AAAAAAAAFQI/p-qZ7WffTwM/s200/michelle+profile+pic.JPG" width="133" border="0" height="200"></a>Michelle is the mother of three beautiful children, two of which she is raising as a single mother with the her oldest son James being their guardian angel. James passed away tragically in April of 2006. Michelle has been a professional photographer for six years and is grateful everyday for the opportunity to give to others what she wished she could give to herself, the gift of memories. Along with being a photographer, she is an author and inspirational speaker encouraging those around her to face their adversity with courage. She enjoys many hobbies and loves anything adventurous. Her hobbies include wake boarding, snow boarding, hiking, rock climbing, playing the piano and guitar, knitting and baking. <br><br>Michelle blogs at: <a href="http://www.daysofmichelleslife.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.daysofmichelleslife.blogspot.com/">Michelle's Days</a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;" class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <br></div><div _mce_style="font-family: Times,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;" style="font-family: Times,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;"><span _mce_style="font-size: x-small;" style="font-size: x-small;"><i>TOFW on occasion will link to relevant external blogs and websites; however, the views expressed in these blogs reflect the opinions of the blogger and in no way that of TOFW.&nbsp; TOFW is not affiliated with or responsible for the content of these external sites. <br><br><br></i></span></div> <div _mce_style="font-family: Times,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;" style="font-family: Times,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;"> <span _mce_style="font-size: small;" style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> Electing to Make a Difference http://www.tofw.com/Electing-Make-Difference-Carrie-Adams/s/367 http://www.tofw.com/Electing-Make-Difference-Carrie-Adams/s/367 Tue, 15 Nov 2011 11:28:00 -0700 <div> by Carrie Adams <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UORy_C1Ug_8/TsKqw59hEAI/AAAAAAAAFHU/RjjxAg_YuxU/s1600/katie%2Bwitt%2Bhero.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UORy_C1Ug_8/TsKqw59hEAI/AAAAAAAAFHU/RjjxAg_YuxU/s1600/katie%2Bwitt%2Bhero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UORy_C1Ug_8/TsKqw59hEAI/AAAAAAAAFHU/RjjxAg_YuxU/s640/katie%2Bwitt%2Bhero.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UORy_C1Ug_8/TsKqw59hEAI/AAAAAAAAFHU/RjjxAg_YuxU/s640/katie%2Bwitt%2Bhero.jpg" height="456" border="0" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-f5cutTW2st4/TsKq7el4BOI/AAAAAAAAFHc/BpdmDuZC2Y4/s1600/stripey+triangle+.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-f5cutTW2st4/TsKq7el4BOI/AAAAAAAAFHc/BpdmDuZC2Y4/s1600/stripey+triangle+.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-f5cutTW2st4/TsKq7el4BOI/AAAAAAAAFHc/BpdmDuZC2Y4/s400/stripey+triangle+.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-f5cutTW2st4/TsKq7el4BOI/AAAAAAAAFHc/BpdmDuZC2Y4/s400/stripey+triangle+.jpg" height="400" border="0" width="266"></a>I was not very far into my experience as a foreign exchange student in South Africa before I knew I was hooked on politics. When I returned home, I started pursuing a degree in Political Science, but before completing school I met my future husband and my energy turned to him and raising a family. Little by little I continued my schooling and, although it took fifteen years to finish my last two years of college, I did it! That achievement would not have been possible for me without the support of my loving husband and three great kids. <br></div><p>I had worked so hard for that degree and was anxious to put it to good use. I started out by serving on community boards and volunteered my time to help resolve issues in the community where I lived. I stayed actively engaged as a volunteer and made a run for county commissioner a few years ago. Although I lost the election, I learned a lot about myself and found Friedrich Nietzsche's famous quote "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" to be totally true! I was able to take that public failure and learn from it. I saw my weaknesses and worked on them. I learned more and continued to grow and mature as a person. Although being involved with many organizations and juggling my time as a stay at home Mom was difficult at times, it always was worth it. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oQcdXNK2BpU/TsKrGLMFJTI/AAAAAAAAFHk/NnG3VTtPN_s/s1600/KatieW3.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oQcdXNK2BpU/TsKrGLMFJTI/AAAAAAAAFHk/NnG3VTtPN_s/s1600/KatieW3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oQcdXNK2BpU/TsKrGLMFJTI/AAAAAAAAFHk/NnG3VTtPN_s/s640/KatieW3.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oQcdXNK2BpU/TsKrGLMFJTI/AAAAAAAAFHk/NnG3VTtPN_s/s640/KatieW3.jpg" height="360" border="0" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> Through this process, I decided the City Council would be a great fit for me and I ran again for public office. The race was difficult and challenging, but in the end I was elected to serve a four year term. I am currently in the middle of my term and I am loving it. It is certainly not easy, but I am learning so much and truly enjoy representing the citizens of my community on important issues. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aggtiKpfrmY/TsKrXGkQKWI/AAAAAAAAFHs/r4Q0c470V6s/s1600/swearing+in+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aggtiKpfrmY/TsKrXGkQKWI/AAAAAAAAFHs/r4Q0c470V6s/s1600/swearing+in+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aggtiKpfrmY/TsKrXGkQKWI/AAAAAAAAFHs/r4Q0c470V6s/s320/swearing+in+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aggtiKpfrmY/TsKrXGkQKWI/AAAAAAAAFHs/r4Q0c470V6s/s320/swearing+in+square.jpg" height="320" border="0" width="320"></a>I know politics is not for everyone. It's not easy to put yourself out there and deal with the public criticism, hurtful comments and other things that are associated with a political office. But I believe we all have an obligation to be involved and be active stewards in our society. Service is a major part of our experience as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We volunteer our time teaching Sunday School, working with Cub Scouts, making meals for each other and in thousands of other ways. We may feel that there are not enough hours left in the day to volunteer in our communities; however, our communities desperately need solid citizens to lead the way. <br></div><p>I hope we can each find meaningful ways to serve both inside and outside the Church. There are boards, committees and agencies that need our help. Just find something you’re passionate about and start small. I'm so grateful for the chance I to serve. I have learned so much and have been able to make a difference by seizing my opportunity to serve and I know you can too!</p><p> </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" border="0"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoPlainText"> <b>About the Author</b> <i><br><br>Carrie Adams is a divorced mom with five kids and three amazing grandchildren. To pay the bills she runs a program teaching leadership skills at a local high school.&nbsp; For fun she&nbsp; collects sand from beaches all around the world, hangs out with her elderly father watching old westerns, rides her pink cruiser bike and drinks orange soda. Carrie is a popular EFY (especially for youth) speaker and you can follow her blog at <a href="http://www.onerandomwoman.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.onerandomwoman.blogspot.com/">www.onerandomwoman.blogspot.com</a></i> </div><p></p> Playing to Differences: Raising a Child with Special Needs http://www.tofw.com/Playing-Differences-Raising-Child-Special-Needs-Written-Kathy-Burrow/s/355 http://www.tofw.com/Playing-Differences-Raising-Child-Special-Needs-Written-Kathy-Burrow/s/355 Tue, 08 Nov 2011 12:15:00 -0700 <div> by Written By Kathy Burrow <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ST2jO2OXLQw/Trl2HLf1eFI/AAAAAAAAFDo/QTG0VeDeHwY/s1600/Gyer+Family+Hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ST2jO2OXLQw/Trl2HLf1eFI/AAAAAAAAFDo/QTG0VeDeHwY/s1600/Gyer+Family+Hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ST2jO2OXLQw/Trl2HLf1eFI/AAAAAAAAFDo/QTG0VeDeHwY/s640/Gyer+Family+Hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ST2jO2OXLQw/Trl2HLf1eFI/AAAAAAAAFDo/QTG0VeDeHwY/s640/Gyer+Family+Hero.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="506"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> <i> </i>Having two special needs children is not anything I planned on in life. There are days when I wonder how I am going to possibly make it through, but somehow I always do. Each day can be exhausting and overwhelming, but life is full of sweet moments and little milestones that have made it all worth it. No, this is not an experience I would have chosen, but it is one I would not trade for anything. <br><br>When Jake and I were married, I was comfortable in my testimony and knowledge of the gospel. Jake was everything I had always hoped for in a husband. Our first two children were beautiful, healthy and perfect. I felt I was well on the way to obtaining everything I desired for my life. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mmO2kKhHO7M/Trl4ZahmjrI/AAAAAAAAFDw/XAdNd17alYE/s1600/newborn.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mmO2kKhHO7M/Trl4ZahmjrI/AAAAAAAAFDw/XAdNd17alYE/s1600/newborn.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mmO2kKhHO7M/Trl4ZahmjrI/AAAAAAAAFDw/XAdNd17alYE/s320/newborn.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mmO2kKhHO7M/Trl4ZahmjrI/AAAAAAAAFDw/XAdNd17alYE/s320/newborn.jpg" border="0" width="320" height="219"></a>Our third child, Mitchell, was born with pulmonary hypertension and several other health problems. After three weeks in intensive care he was transferred to a children’s hospital 80 miles from our home for open heart surgery. I moved with our first two children into the Ronald McDonald House while Jake stayed home to work, driving back and forth when possible. We learned that the survival rate for Mitchell's condition was less than 10 percent and those who survived would not live past the age of two, but the Lord helped us feel at peace. Things were tough, but after fasting, prayer and several surgeries Mitchell was finally able to come home. <br><br>During this time our two-year-old son, Jansen, was diagnosed with autism. He was a rough, strong child and because he could not speak, he expressed himself by constantly screaming. Mitchell on the other hand was extremely sensitive to loud noises and required a soothing, quiet atmosphere. I’ve spent many difficult days trying to balance the competing needs of both our sons as well as our young daughter. <br><br> Mitchell is now two and he is slowly progressing. Although he has a feeding tube, he can eat puree foods and drink from a bottle. He used to cry 14 hours a day, but now he cries less than 6. He has only slept through the night a dozen times. At age two he has the skill level of a four-month-old. Jansen has started to speak and is constantly improving. He loves to smile, laugh and play, and he brings us great joy. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XUQ9wDGTsSs/Trl5BWl-X3I/AAAAAAAAFEI/mCRMslX1DUQ/s1600/kelly+and+older+son.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XUQ9wDGTsSs/Trl5BWl-X3I/AAAAAAAAFEI/mCRMslX1DUQ/s1600/kelly+and+older+son.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XUQ9wDGTsSs/Trl5BWl-X3I/AAAAAAAAFEI/mCRMslX1DUQ/s640/kelly+and+older+son.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XUQ9wDGTsSs/Trl5BWl-X3I/AAAAAAAAFEI/mCRMslX1DUQ/s640/kelly+and+older+son.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="428"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Y6OR0SV-LoU/Trl5m3wVwVI/AAAAAAAAFEQ/JGvA7KJnmIs/s1600/autism+therapy.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Y6OR0SV-LoU/Trl5m3wVwVI/AAAAAAAAFEQ/JGvA7KJnmIs/s1600/autism+therapy.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><br><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Y6OR0SV-LoU/Trl5m3wVwVI/AAAAAAAAFEQ/JGvA7KJnmIs/s200/autism+therapy.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Y6OR0SV-LoU/Trl5m3wVwVI/AAAAAAAAFEQ/JGvA7KJnmIs/s200/autism+therapy.jpg" border="0" width="200" height="200"></a><br>Life is never what we think it should be. I can choose to feel sorry for myself or I can look for the joy in my life; I choose to find joy in the face of adversity. My list of trials is long. Our family spends over forty hours each week in some type of therapy and sometimes I feel like I can’t give anymore. Then I remember the wonderful blessings that have come through having children with so many needs. <br><br>I won't lie; I cry almost every day. Sometimes my five-year-old daughter volunteers to help take care of the boys for me. I am amazed that at such a young age she has learned to help and care for others. I believe my children are here on this earth to allow others the opportunity to serve and I find joy in the friends and neighbors who are always there to help me. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Fb5huoVj6Fo/Trl43h2wQLI/AAAAAAAAFEA/YmbKo62VEkQ/s1600/kelly+gyer+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Fb5huoVj6Fo/Trl43h2wQLI/AAAAAAAAFEA/YmbKo62VEkQ/s1600/kelly+gyer+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Fb5huoVj6Fo/Trl43h2wQLI/AAAAAAAAFEA/YmbKo62VEkQ/s320/kelly+gyer+tall.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Fb5huoVj6Fo/Trl43h2wQLI/AAAAAAAAFEA/YmbKo62VEkQ/s320/kelly+gyer+tall.jpg" border="0" width="227" height="320"></a><br>I have often felt overwhelmed by the challenges I face, but I know I do not face them alone. My life’s experiences, though tremendously difficult at times, are full of purpose and have taught me that the Lord is with me. No matter how difficult a day seems, I have the Lord on my side and I will not give up. <br><br> Life is not easy for any of us, but I find joy in the knowledge that we have a loving a Heavenly Father who knows who we are and what we need to help us to return home.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br></div> Was My Depression REAL? http://www.tofw.com/Was-My-Depression-REAL-Written-Lara-Neves/s/345 http://www.tofw.com/Was-My-Depression-REAL-Written-Lara-Neves/s/345 Tue, 01 Nov 2011 13:59:00 -0600 <div> by Written By Lara Neves <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kmEjwVxVTaI/TrFnCVV6EvI/AAAAAAAAE58/BAznioDgDSM/s1600/marianne+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kmEjwVxVTaI/TrFnCVV6EvI/AAAAAAAAE58/BAznioDgDSM/s1600/marianne+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kmEjwVxVTaI/TrFnCVV6EvI/AAAAAAAAE58/BAznioDgDSM/s640/marianne+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kmEjwVxVTaI/TrFnCVV6EvI/AAAAAAAAE58/BAznioDgDSM/s640/marianne+hero.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="456"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-SBq3oRTEKxM/TrFnArEgKQI/AAAAAAAAE5s/3DuarQmw27w/s1600/Marianne+in+hospital.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-SBq3oRTEKxM/TrFnArEgKQI/AAAAAAAAE5s/3DuarQmw27w/s1600/Marianne+in+hospital.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NtR23augZuQ/TrFnDB_e0uI/AAAAAAAAE6A/hN6LHZ2H_I4/s1600/Braeden%2527s+Birth+001.JPG" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NtR23augZuQ/TrFnDB_e0uI/AAAAAAAAE6A/hN6LHZ2H_I4/s1600/Braeden%2527s+Birth+001.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NtR23augZuQ/TrFnDB_e0uI/AAAAAAAAE6A/hN6LHZ2H_I4/s320/Braeden%2527s+Birth+001.JPG" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NtR23augZuQ/TrFnDB_e0uI/AAAAAAAAE6A/hN6LHZ2H_I4/s320/Braeden%2527s+Birth+001.JPG" border="0" width="286" height="220"></a>Several weeks after my second child, Braeden, was born, I found myself still spending most of my days on the couch while my two-year old watched TV and the baby slept. I rarely showered and did little outside of the bare necessities of caring for my children. It was a good day if I could find the energy to go grocery shopping or run another small errand. I knew I could no longer blame the baby blues, but I also didn’t want to admit I might be suffering from full-blown depression, so I blamed it on stress—the stress of having two children to care for, a husband who was in grad school full-time and also held a demanding church calling, and just plain lack of sleep. I would surely be back to normal when things calmed down a little bit. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-y_8s9IM-UvA/TrFnBBKxa5I/AAAAAAAAE50/4zbb98css1M/s1600/Marianne+%2526+baby.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-y_8s9IM-UvA/TrFnBBKxa5I/AAAAAAAAE50/4zbb98css1M/s1600/Marianne+%2526+baby.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-y_8s9IM-UvA/TrFnBBKxa5I/AAAAAAAAE50/4zbb98css1M/s200/Marianne+%2526+baby.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-y_8s9IM-UvA/TrFnBBKxa5I/AAAAAAAAE50/4zbb98css1M/s200/Marianne+%2526+baby.jpg" border="0" width="200" height="199"></a><br>But I was shutting down. I couldn’t take care of myself or my children. Things that I had once thought of as enjoyable had become stressful instead of fun. All I wanted to do was sleep, but thoughts of having to wake up and face the next day kept me from sleeping well. My husband, who was working on his doctorate in Marriage &amp; Family Therapy, voiced his concerns that I might be suffering from post-partum depression (PPD), but I refused to hear it. The notion that I would need the sort of help that my husband was qualified to give was unthinkable to me. But I finally heeded his advice. I tearfully called my OB and got on an anti-depressant. <br><br>Braeden is now five years old and I have had to come to grips with the fact that I am suffering from Chronic Depression rather than PPD. While I still don’t have everything figured out, I have been blessed to find ways to make my life manageable, whether that be different medications, counselors, dietary changes or group therapy. I am blessed that my husband is a therapist and can help talk me through many things. My faith has played a large role in my fight with depression and I have learned to rely on the Lord in my trial in many ways. <br><br> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dOg728MVSXA/TrFnk4opS4I/AAAAAAAAE6U/pNhTPJRTKcQ/s1600/Marianne+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dOg728MVSXA/TrFnk4opS4I/AAAAAAAAE6U/pNhTPJRTKcQ/s1600/Marianne+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dOg728MVSXA/TrFnk4opS4I/AAAAAAAAE6U/pNhTPJRTKcQ/s200/Marianne+tall.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dOg728MVSXA/TrFnk4opS4I/AAAAAAAAE6U/pNhTPJRTKcQ/s200/Marianne+tall.jpg" border="0" width="142" height="200"></a>In 2007, Henry B. Eyring urged us to find the little ways that the love of the Lord is apparent in our lives. I put this to the test and was amazed by all of the little things I could find to be thankful for each day. I realized that in spite of my depression—and even sometimes because of it—the Lord sends tender mercies to me on a daily basis. I learned to recognize many moments of happiness and joy that light up my life even during my darkest hours. <br><br>Sometimes people around me believe that depression is just laziness, or even a result of sinning, but I know that isn’t the truth. And while I am often tempted to compare what my life is like now to what it used to be, that isn’t helpful—I may as well compare myself to an entirely different person. Instead, I find hope in the fact that depression is a temporal disease and someday, even if it isn’t until the next life, I will be whole and complete. For now, the Lord is by my side and together we can do anything.<br><br></div> <p><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></p><p></p> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s1600/Lara+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s1600/Lara+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s200/Lara+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s200/Lara+square.jpg" border="0" width="200" height="200"></a></span></div><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><strong>About the Author</strong><br><br>Lara is the mother to three amazing daughters and wife to a musical genius. When she is not working on her mother-of-the-year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching other people how to sing, taking hundreds of photographs, reading a good book, finding a great deal on groceries, or maybe even scrapbooking (that is, if she's not blogging).&nbsp; <br><br>You can read all about her adventures at <a href="http://www.lalakme.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.lalakme.blogspot.com/">Overstuffed</a>.<br><br></span></span></p> Against the Odds http://www.tofw.com/Against-Odds-Cindy-Rose-Keel-White/s/333 http://www.tofw.com/Against-Odds-Cindy-Rose-Keel-White/s/333 Tue, 25 Oct 2011 10:00:00 -0600 <div> by Cindy Rose Keel-White <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; color: black; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; color: black; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sswWJd5raIw/TqbWFAZbYUI/AAAAAAAAE3E/1OyNsiDej_4/s1600/cindy+and+son.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sswWJd5raIw/TqbWFAZbYUI/AAAAAAAAE3E/1OyNsiDej_4/s1600/cindy+and+son.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sswWJd5raIw/TqbWFAZbYUI/AAAAAAAAE3E/1OyNsiDej_4/s640/cindy+and+son.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sswWJd5raIw/TqbWFAZbYUI/AAAAAAAAE3E/1OyNsiDej_4/s640/cindy+and+son.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="384"></a></span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 13pt;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 13pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><i>The story of Cindy Rose Keel-White</i></span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> <br><br>As a normal fifteen year-old my thoughts revolved around&nbsp; friends, getting my driver’s license, and wondering whether or not someone was going to ask me to prom.&nbsp;I felt pretty normal. And then I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease.</span></div><div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">I spent the next year visiting doctors and receiving chemotherapy&nbsp;and radiation treatments.&nbsp;That year was also filled with the love and support of a family that never &nbsp;let me give up on myself, even when I felt my worst.&nbsp;Thanksgiving of 1987 I had so much to be thankful for.&nbsp;I had completed my last&nbsp;round of chemotherapy and was given&nbsp;a diagnosis of remission.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br></span></div><table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="color: black; float: left; font-family: inherit; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;" _mce_style="color: black; float: left; font-family: inherit; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v6vvVNcPrsM/TqbWEwX7DRI/AAAAAAAAE28/p_322B-mU6c/s1600/cindy+and+parents.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v6vvVNcPrsM/TqbWEwX7DRI/AAAAAAAAE28/p_322B-mU6c/s1600/cindy+and+parents.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v6vvVNcPrsM/TqbWEwX7DRI/AAAAAAAAE28/p_322B-mU6c/s320/cindy+and+parents.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v6vvVNcPrsM/TqbWEwX7DRI/AAAAAAAAE28/p_322B-mU6c/s320/cindy+and+parents.jpg" border="0" width="320" height="213"></a></span></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Cindy and her parents</span></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">For 23 years</span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> I</span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> did very well and had no recurrence of the Hodgkin's.&nbsp;&nbsp;Then in the summer of 2009, I began suffering symptoms of a heart attack during a family camping trip.&nbsp;Thanks to&nbsp;the "stubbornness"&nbsp;of one family member, we&nbsp;ended up at the local ER. After&nbsp;several tests and blood work it was confirmed; I had </span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">had </span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">a heart attack and within 24 hours I was in emergency bypass surgery. </span></div><div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><br><br><br><br><br></span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; color: black; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; color: black; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aSs2inkYQss/TqbWFRi0w5I/AAAAAAAAE3M/BrWKzWF2nPI/s1600/cindy+in+hospital.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aSs2inkYQss/TqbWFRi0w5I/AAAAAAAAE3M/BrWKzWF2nPI/s1600/cindy+in+hospital.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aSs2inkYQss/TqbWFRi0w5I/AAAAAAAAE3M/BrWKzWF2nPI/s320/cindy+in+hospital.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aSs2inkYQss/TqbWFRi0w5I/AAAAAAAAE3M/BrWKzWF2nPI/s320/cindy+in+hospital.jpg" border="0" width="320" height="320"></a></span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">I was shocked to learn that the radiation treatment that saved my life as a young girl had caused severe damage to my arteries and heart. It became the family joke that I was going to write a book of hospital reviews because I&nbsp;was in a different hospital at least once a&nbsp;month.&nbsp; I had been diagnosed with 90% stenosis of the arteries, restrictive cardiomyopathy, constrictive pericarditis and diastolic heart failure.&nbsp; <br><br></span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Because these conditions were progressively worsening, I was told that my own heart would last another 6 - 18 months, and my only option for survival was to receive a heart transplant.&nbsp;I was put on the bottom of the waiting list and anxiously waited for any news.</span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit; text-indent: 0.5in;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit; text-indent: 0.5in;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">The months that followed were difficult as I was often far away from my husband and teenage children. I spent my time in an</span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">d</span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> out of hospitals, visiting with specialists, praying for a much needed miracle.&nbsp; <br><br></span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">I had an appointment scheduled at Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles, a transplant facility 3000 miles away in California, but where I would have a greater chance of receiving a new heart. After much prayer and thoughtful consideration I packed my bags and my parents drove me from Odessa to Los Angeles in their motor home. <p></p><div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="color: black; float: left; font-family: inherit; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;" _mce_style="color: black; float: left; font-family: inherit; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZBOSHyFhjB8/TqbY2rZ8ImI/AAAAAAAAE3k/bzYjxCEzYMs/s1600/surgery+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZBOSHyFhjB8/TqbY2rZ8ImI/AAAAAAAAE3k/bzYjxCEzYMs/s1600/surgery+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZBOSHyFhjB8/TqbY2rZ8ImI/AAAAAAAAE3k/bzYjxCEzYMs/s200/surgery+tall.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZBOSHyFhjB8/TqbY2rZ8ImI/AAAAAAAAE3k/bzYjxCEzYMs/s200/surgery+tall.jpg" border="0" width="141" height="200"></a></span></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">On her way to surgery</span></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 13pt;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 13pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><br>I’ll never forget the phone call I received on Friday, March 25. They had found a heart for me and I would be going into surgery that very day!&nbsp; I laughed, I cried, I shook uncontrollably; every emotion that a person can feel went through my body.&nbsp;I immediately began calling family and friends, doctors and nurses, and everyone who had been with me on this journey to share my joyful news. I knew they would be praying for me now more than ever before. <p></p><br><br></span></div><p> <br><br></p> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DwR8ZqxZld8/TqbWCjW6M5I/AAAAAAAAE2k/UzMp1joHbVE/s1600/after+surgery.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DwR8ZqxZld8/TqbWCjW6M5I/AAAAAAAAE2k/UzMp1joHbVE/s1600/after+surgery.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DwR8ZqxZld8/TqbWCjW6M5I/AAAAAAAAE2k/UzMp1joHbVE/s640/after+surgery.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DwR8ZqxZld8/TqbWCjW6M5I/AAAAAAAAE2k/UzMp1joHbVE/s640/after+surgery.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="480"></a></span></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">After surgery</span></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 13pt;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit; margin-bottom: 13pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><br>The surgery was successful and once I was moved from ICU, life really began to change.&nbsp;I had to adjust to pain, learning new medications and sterile precautions, and even had to relearn how to stand and walk again.&nbsp; I had been so weak from heart failure before the surgery, all my muscle had atrophied.&nbsp; I used to mountain bike, swim, and river raft; Now it was a big deal for me to be able to walk 1000 feet and make it up 7 steps!</span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; color: black; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; color: black; font-family: inherit; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6H1fp5ah1q8/TqbWCzDXiBI/AAAAAAAAE2s/CJIk6DQD16Y/s1600/cindy+and+daughter.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6H1fp5ah1q8/TqbWCzDXiBI/AAAAAAAAE2s/CJIk6DQD16Y/s1600/cindy+and+daughter.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6H1fp5ah1q8/TqbWCzDXiBI/AAAAAAAAE2s/CJIk6DQD16Y/s400/cindy+and+daughter.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6H1fp5ah1q8/TqbWCzDXiBI/AAAAAAAAE2s/CJIk6DQD16Y/s400/cindy+and+daughter.jpg" border="0" width="389" height="389"></a></span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">I hope my story will make other survivors of Lymphoma aware of the possible cardiac damage before it becomes fatal. But this is not just my story; it’s my family’s story.&nbsp; It is very difficult on everyone when a family member is in need of a transplant.&nbsp; Emotionally. Physically. Financially. &nbsp;When I was discharged from the hospital, my sister accepted the invitation to stay with me for the next 6 months while I rehabilitated. For a mother who had spent so many years as a caretaker to her children, it’s quite a humbling thing to need constant care and companionship.<br><br></span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">I’m especially grateful to my friends, family, and everyone who has supported me during this difficult time. Above all I am thankful to my Father in Heaven for helping me realize every day of life is precious and for giving me more blessings than I can count. </span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div style="color: black; font-family: inherit;" _mce_style="color: black; font-family: inherit;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><i><br>To learn more about heart disease and funding available for patients and their families, visit </i></span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://www.heart.org/" _mce_href="http://www.heart.org/">American Heart Association</a>, <a href="http://www.lls.org/" _mce_href="http://www.lls.org/">the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society </a><i>, and </i><a href="http://www.helphopelive.org/" _mce_href="http://www.helphopelive.org/">HelpHopeLive</a>.</span></div></span></div> Not Just a Trickle... http://www.tofw.com/Not-Just-Trickle-Maria-Mickiewicz/s/315 http://www.tofw.com/Not-Just-Trickle-Maria-Mickiewicz/s/315 Mon, 10 Oct 2011 22:57:00 -0600 <div> by Maria Mickiewicz <br /> </div> <div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style=""> </div><div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ttCbyAPNMv0/TpPGByU0K_I/AAAAAAAAEt0/fajEFYV8p6g/s1600/house+2.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ttCbyAPNMv0/TpPGByU0K_I/AAAAAAAAEt0/fajEFYV8p6g/s1600/house+2.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img style="cursor: move;" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ttCbyAPNMv0/TpPGByU0K_I/AAAAAAAAEt0/fajEFYV8p6g/s640/house+2.jpg" _mce_style="cursor: move;" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ttCbyAPNMv0/TpPGByU0K_I/AAAAAAAAEt0/fajEFYV8p6g/s640/house+2.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="466"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style=""> <i>The story of Melinda Lascurain</i> </div><div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="">&nbsp;</div><div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="">Next to my house&nbsp;there is a trailer parked on the side of the street piled high with branches, weeds, and other debris collected from my yard. As I peek through the front door, I can already sense a vast improvement has been made to my landscaping. Outside, Harrison (7) and his dad, Andy, are busy laying a bed of rocks next to my house. I asked Harrison what his favorite part of WaterStone Community Church’s Day 2 Serve was, and he said “Raking the rocks up really high!” The stones they are raking are sharpening the appearance of both my house and my family who lives inside. Prior to the new rocks, we were dealing with weeds, tree and bush overgrowth, and a generally unsafe yard in which our daughter Reyna couldn’t play. </div><div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style=""> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; float: right;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-n_Vw-imt9mU/TpPGXmm73-I/AAAAAAAAEt8/sgYIG8pjO5c/s1600/girl+with+bottle.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-n_Vw-imt9mU/TpPGXmm73-I/AAAAAAAAEt8/sgYIG8pjO5c/s1600/girl+with+bottle.jpg" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-n_Vw-imt9mU/TpPGXmm73-I/AAAAAAAAEt8/sgYIG8pjO5c/s320/girl+with+bottle.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-n_Vw-imt9mU/TpPGXmm73-I/AAAAAAAAEt8/sgYIG8pjO5c/s320/girl+with+bottle.jpg" border="0" width="240" height="320"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> It didn’t start out like this. Seth and I bought this home with every intention of making improvements to it. But then Seth lost his job, I found out I was pregnant with our second child, and then at my 20-week ultrasound we discovered it was a boy and he would be born with a cleft lip and palate among other developmental problems. Once Logan was born, our home improvement projects took a backseat to caring for our family and learning about and working with Logan’s special needs. As a result, our yard became terribly overgrown and we were reported to our neighborhood’s HOA.</div><div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="">&nbsp;</div> <div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style=""> Seth and I are like two ships passing in the night. Seth thankfully has found another job and now works nights while I work days as a teacher, but&nbsp; our opposite schedules leave little time for yard work. Logan requires constant care and we worry about how his demands are affecting Reyna. We worry about medical bills and future surgeries. </div><div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style="">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div><div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style=""> </div><div style="text-align: left; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="text-align: left; clear: both;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mdqmr8Oyuzs/TpPKqS7m6mI/AAAAAAAAEuc/jH94uocTMfc/s1600/logan.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mdqmr8Oyuzs/TpPKqS7m6mI/AAAAAAAAEuc/jH94uocTMfc/s1600/logan.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mdqmr8Oyuzs/TpPKqS7m6mI/AAAAAAAAEuc/jH94uocTMfc/s200/logan.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mdqmr8Oyuzs/TpPKqS7m6mI/AAAAAAAAEuc/jH94uocTMfc/s200/logan.jpg" border="0" width="199" height="200"></a> The hardest thing for us is the unknown and the fear that comes along with not knowing what the future holds for Logan and his development. It was also difficult for us to accept the help that WaterStone Community Church was offering. We are used to doing everything for ourselves. Our families live out of state and we are our own independent support system. It makes such a big difference when someone offers to help before we have to ask for it. When Seth and I learned we had been suggested for this Day 2 Serve project, the amount of gratitude we felt was phenomenal. </div> <div style="" class="MsoNormal" _mce_style=""> <div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TyBwD37f_iU/TpPG1RoVLZI/AAAAAAAAEuE/wuZ07ccL06E/s1600/swing.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TyBwD37f_iU/TpPG1RoVLZI/AAAAAAAAEuE/wuZ07ccL06E/s1600/swing.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TyBwD37f_iU/TpPG1RoVLZI/AAAAAAAAEuE/wuZ07ccL06E/s320/swing.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TyBwD37f_iU/TpPG1RoVLZI/AAAAAAAAEuE/wuZ07ccL06E/s320/swing.jpg" border="0" width="312" height="320"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> In addition to the landscaping work, a member from WaterStone had a coworker donate a swing set to our family. Several church members were in the backyard setting it up. It was almost complete, and Reyna was already trying to play on the slide that was laying flat on the ground waiting to be attached to the rest of the swing set. You could tell she was excited as she ran up and down the length of the bright yellow plastic; it symbolized the new rays of hope our family was soaking up as we watched all these people in our yard who were busy doing anything and everything that needed to be done.</div> <div style="" _mce_style=""> <div class="MsoNormal"> <b><span style="font-weight: normal;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-weight: normal;"> </span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="font-weight: normal;" class="Apple-style-span" _mce_style="font-weight: normal;"></span></b>&nbsp;</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> Devastation can disguise blessings.&nbsp; From our little Logan to even the details of my marriage, my eyes have seen blessing not just trickle but pour down.&nbsp; </div><div class="MsoNormal">And I stand in awe.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br></div><div class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center; clear: both;" class="separator" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a style="clear: left; margin-right: 1em; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left;" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R9fNfKjPvt8/TpO4KhhNgmI/AAAAAAAAEts/LdZqYVkeRRQ/s1600/tn+cousin.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R9fNfKjPvt8/TpO4KhhNgmI/AAAAAAAAEts/LdZqYVkeRRQ/s1600/tn+cousin.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" imageanchor="1"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R9fNfKjPvt8/TpO4KhhNgmI/AAAAAAAAEts/LdZqYVkeRRQ/s200/tn+cousin.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R9fNfKjPvt8/TpO4KhhNgmI/AAAAAAAAEts/LdZqYVkeRRQ/s200/tn+cousin.jpg" border="0" width="133" height="200"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><div class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><b>About the Author</b></span> </div><div class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Maria Thomas-Mickiewicz</span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">&nbsp;is a bibliophile and a fan of the lost art of letter writing. She is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and suffers from the medical condition known as hyperhidrosis. You can also find her blogging about her life as a puddle (and other adventures) at&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="https://pigeon.deseretbook.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://mylifeasapuddle.com/" target="_blank" _mce_href="https://pigeon.deseretbook.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://mylifeasapuddle.com/">www.mylifeasapuddle.com</a></span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">.</span></div> </div> Living in Tornado Alley: The Story of Joplin, Missouri http://www.tofw.com/Living-Tornado-Alley-Story-Joplin-Missouri-TOFW/s/308 http://www.tofw.com/Living-Tornado-Alley-Story-Joplin-Missouri-TOFW/s/308 Mon, 03 Oct 2011 15:50:00 -0600 <div> by TOFW <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2g8a3HhYnmU/ToovjpB6rsI/AAAAAAAAErk/5QDu8jgt7F4/s1600/Joplin%2Bhero.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2g8a3HhYnmU/ToovjpB6rsI/AAAAAAAAErk/5QDu8jgt7F4/s1600/Joplin%2Bhero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2g8a3HhYnmU/ToovjpB6rsI/AAAAAAAAErk/5QDu8jgt7F4/s640/Joplin%2Bhero.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2g8a3HhYnmU/ToovjpB6rsI/AAAAAAAAErk/5QDu8jgt7F4/s640/Joplin%2Bhero.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="428"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <span class="Apple-style-span"><i>The Story of Tiffany Wright<br><br></i></span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <span class="Apple-style-span"> </span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <span class="Apple-style-span">All I could focus on was my two daughters, Grace and Olivia. They were just babies and too young to understand what was happening. I wanted to make sure they weren’t scared and so I tried not to react for their sakes. As I held them close I closed my eyes and thought, “Is this the end? What if we are trapped? How will anyone find us down here?” I didn’t want my children to suffer. As my mind reeled with questions the world above me was being violently torn apart.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>We had seen the black wall of clouds coming toward us at a terrifying rate as we ran next door to take shelter in the basement of my parent’s home in Joplin, Missouri. I had heard the sirens as I prepared dinner that Sunday evening—a meal we would never get to eat—but I hadn’t taken them seriously. We always heard those sirens this time of year. Severe weather warnings were just part of living in Tornado Alley, the most tornado-prone region of the country. But this time the danger was real and things were unraveling very quickly. Once inside my parent’s home the windows began to crash in and we knew we needed to take cover—fast!</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>The next two minutes felt like forever. We could hear the wind ripping through our home and listened in disbelief as things crashed above us. The earth shook. All that I had heard and felt told me that if I lived through this, I would be walking up to devastation. I later learned that the vortex of the tornado had been directly over us as we clung to each other in the shelter of that basement. <br><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vv-Ys_MDTpY/Toqh0pflP3I/AAAAAAAAEr0/9HlTz270ifQ/s1600/joplin+missouri.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vv-Ys_MDTpY/Toqh0pflP3I/AAAAAAAAEr0/9HlTz270ifQ/s1600/joplin+missouri.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vv-Ys_MDTpY/Toqh0pflP3I/AAAAAAAAEr0/9HlTz270ifQ/s640/joplin+missouri.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vv-Ys_MDTpY/Toqh0pflP3I/AAAAAAAAEr0/9HlTz270ifQ/s640/joplin+missouri.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="286"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> We waited about forty-five minutes before making the ascent into a world of unfathomable destruction. What we saw was almost indescribable. There was stuff everywhere, dogs were barking, and people were running around searching for anyone who had been hurt. Rain was still falling and the downed power lines were creating sparks among the debris. The odor in the air indicated that there was a gas leak. There was broken glass and metal and danger everywhere we stepped. It was pure chaos.<br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eTsRQRQC1PI/ToqeUVNJDJI/AAAAAAAAErs/4xxW07IKCKA/s1600/choas.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eTsRQRQC1PI/ToqeUVNJDJI/AAAAAAAAErs/4xxW07IKCKA/s1600/choas.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eTsRQRQC1PI/ToqeUVNJDJI/AAAAAAAAErs/4xxW07IKCKA/s640/choas.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eTsRQRQC1PI/ToqeUVNJDJI/AAAAAAAAErs/4xxW07IKCKA/s640/choas.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="426"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>The dark and dreary skies matched our somber moods as we discovered that our house was completely gone. I used to be able to look out my window and see the nearby elementary school. Now, the town had been leveled in all directions and I could see ten blocks away. The street we lived on was completely unrecognizable.<br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4jqMF0Bc18A/ToqeFVm04jI/AAAAAAAAEro/KI8704YS6rE/s1600/wedding+ring.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4jqMF0Bc18A/ToqeFVm04jI/AAAAAAAAEro/KI8704YS6rE/s1600/wedding+ring.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4jqMF0Bc18A/ToqeFVm04jI/AAAAAAAAEro/KI8704YS6rE/s400/wedding+ring.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4jqMF0Bc18A/ToqeFVm04jI/AAAAAAAAEro/KI8704YS6rE/s400/wedding+ring.jpg" border="0" width="300" height="400"></a>My husband and I wanted to find a few things on our lot. Miraculously, we found my wedding ring, a backup hard drive, and my daughter’s favorite blanket. Being there was sad and we didn’t have any interest in going through the rest of our old belongings. We just wanted to move forward.</div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>With everyone in town essentially in the same situation, help from outside poured in and was there for months and months after the devastation occurred. People came from all over with food, water, and other supplies. So many had been left homeless that there weren’t enough homes available to rent. The community pulled together and good Samaritans outside made sure our needs were met. They helped us rebuild. </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <br>People I knew in high school but hadn’t seen for years started a donation fund for us. Members of&nbsp;<a href="http://mormon.org/" _mce_href="https://pigeon.deseretbook.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://mormon.org/eng/" target="_blank">The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints&nbsp;</a>in the surrounding towns offered rent-free homes and RVs. They helped us get our young men and young women to youth conference. We stayed with some wonderful friends, the Dunnam family, for several months while our new house was being built. This outpouring of love helped us stay positive.<br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> As a community we had lost much, but the world didn’t come to a halt. We just made adjustments. When Adam and I were first married, we had a whopping $500 between the two of us. We slept on an air mattress, ate with plastic utensils, and watched TV on a box set someone had donated to us. We had very little then, but we had the things that mattered. Family is what matters. We are grateful to be alive and grateful to have each other.<br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ca4XeSP_lc4/ToqfBLY7HxI/AAAAAAAAErw/Wm6c4N1xJq0/s1600/family.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ca4XeSP_lc4/ToqfBLY7HxI/AAAAAAAAErw/Wm6c4N1xJq0/s1600/family.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ca4XeSP_lc4/ToqfBLY7HxI/AAAAAAAAErw/Wm6c4N1xJq0/s320/family.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ca4XeSP_lc4/ToqfBLY7HxI/AAAAAAAAErw/Wm6c4N1xJq0/s320/family.jpg" border="0" width="320" height="262"></a>The tornado took nearly everything that was near and dear to me: my marriage certificate, my wedding dress, photographs, and so many other things with special sentimental value. Those things are completely gone now. Some would consider this a tremendous loss, but I don’t feel that way. This experience has taught me a priceless lesson: We can find joy in life no matter what situation we are in through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Losing everything you own is certainly stressful. We had to start all over again and things were difficult as we tried to piece our lives back together. But Heavenly Father was there to pick us up and strengthen us. I found joy in being with my family, in being alive. And so to anyone who may feel like their world is crashing in and their life is being torn apart, I say, “Cling to the gospel. It’s there to bring you joy, no matter what situation you’re in.”<br><br></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> I’m really looking forward to attending&nbsp;<a href="http://deseretbook.com/timeout/event/155" _mce_href="https://pigeon.deseretbook.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://deseretbook.com/timeout/event/155" target="_blank">Time Out for Women</a>&nbsp;in Kansas City and have already started to prepare myself spiritually so that I will get something out of the experience. Any opportunity where we can gather as sisters, be uplifted, and draw closer to Heavenly Father is an opportunity you don’t want to pass up. It’s easy to get lost in all the busyness and emotional stress of life and motherhood, but we need to be spiritually fed. This is an opportunity to be taught and uplifted and to bring that back into our homes. I’ll be there with pen and paper asking, “What can I learn, what can I take?” and I’ll be ready to be taught.<br><br><br></div> Poland: My New Life http://www.tofw.com/Poland-My-New-Life-Written-Lara-Neves/s/298 http://www.tofw.com/Poland-My-New-Life-Written-Lara-Neves/s/298 Tue, 27 Sep 2011 17:11:00 -0600 <div> by Written By Lara Neves <br /> </div> <table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tzYhQvdE7iE/ToJSl4f4vkI/AAAAAAAAEqU/PIF1Y_p5OTw/s1600/lisa+pawlik+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tzYhQvdE7iE/ToJSl4f4vkI/AAAAAAAAEqU/PIF1Y_p5OTw/s1600/lisa+pawlik+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tzYhQvdE7iE/ToJSl4f4vkI/AAAAAAAAEqU/PIF1Y_p5OTw/s640/lisa+pawlik+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tzYhQvdE7iE/ToJSl4f4vkI/AAAAAAAAEqU/PIF1Y_p5OTw/s640/lisa+pawlik+hero.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="426"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;">The Pawlik famly at Krzysztopór castle in Ujazd, Poland.</td></tr> </tbody></table> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s1600/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s1600/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s1600/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s1600/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> </div> <div style="text-align: left;" _mce_style="text-align: left;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><em><br>The story of Lisa Pawlik</em><br><br>Before I ever met my husband, he made a promise that would bring me to a place I never dreamed I’d call home. Greg grew up in Poland where he was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day and baptized as a young man. He eventually served a mission in the United States. Prior to leaving on his mission, he was told by his branch president that one of the main reasons he had been called to serve in the United States was to learn how the Church should function and to use that knowledge to bless and teach the members in Poland. &nbsp;He promised to someday return and help build the Church there. And so, years later, when we were offered a job in his native Poland, we knew we needed to take it.<br><br></span> </div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s1600/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s1600/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s320/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FPJheHobvwU/ToJIH30VOJI/AAAAAAAAEqE/5t-eTiPT_vM/s320/lisa+pawlik+tall.jpg" border="0" width="203" height="286"></a><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Although we knew it was right for our family, the change was abrupt. With only nine days to relocate, I didn’t have much time to be nervous. In fact, I was so busy with preparations that I didn’t have time to think about <i>anything</i>! (After all, a little more than a week is pretty short notice for a move halfway around the world.) Once we were on the long flight to Warsaw, I was able to gather my thoughts and realized how excited I was about the new adventure we were embarking on. I knew things would be very different, but I was confident we would love our new life. <br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> Being a member of the Church definitely made my transition to living here much easier. Knowing there was a group of people who shared my beliefs and lived the same standards helped me connect to the culture and the people more easily. &nbsp;I also looked forward to meeting with my own “countrymen”—the missionaries—every Sunday! <br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Still, being a member of the Church is very different in Poland than it is in the United States. On Sundays we attend a group, which is smaller than a branch, with just our family and five other members! To get to church we must travel two hours each way, and the long distance makes things like visiting teaching difficult. We often visit over the phone or in the chapel after Sunday meetings. Latter-day Saints are a minority in this land, but we show up at church each Sunday eager to serve and hope that we are sharing the gospel through our example. <br><br></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vagOmpfN8Q8/ToM7N83U2fI/AAAAAAAAEqc/Mp3mmlIuAAg/s1600/Lisa%2BPawlik-daughter%2527s%2Bbaptism.png" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vagOmpfN8Q8/ToM7N83U2fI/AAAAAAAAEqc/Mp3mmlIuAAg/s1600/Lisa%2BPawlik-daughter%2527s%2Bbaptism.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vagOmpfN8Q8/ToM7N83U2fI/AAAAAAAAEqc/Mp3mmlIuAAg/s640/Lisa%2BPawlik-daughter%2527s%2Bbaptism.png" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vagOmpfN8Q8/ToM7N83U2fI/AAAAAAAAEqc/Mp3mmlIuAAg/s640/Lisa%2BPawlik-daughter%2527s%2Bbaptism.png" border="0" width="640" height="512"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;">The baptism of the Pawlik's eldest daughter took place at gymnasium lap pool, located in the same building as the Kraków chapel</td></tr> </tbody></table>&nbsp; <br></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;" _mce_style="line-height: normal;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Like Church members all over the world, I want to be sure that my children are learning the gospel in our home. I sing Primary songs to the kids at bedtime and while I'm working around the house. With the younger children, I talk about the words and what they mean. With the older ones, we often use experiences they have with friends to talk about their world from a gospel perspective.<br><br>We attend the temple regularly, but “regularly” now means once or twice a year since it is nine hours from where we live. We make the most of our attendance by staying in the temple hostel for a few days and participate in&nbsp;every session available while we are there. It is truly a wonderful and intense experience. <br><br></span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">I spent the first four years here telling everyone we would be in Poland for the next year or two. After eleven years, I’ve realized we may be here indefinitely. And although I sometimes get homesick and wish my children could grow up closer to my family, I am at peace and happy to be in Poland.</span><br><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Elpahcopk6w/ToJIIGHbpBI/AAAAAAAAEqI/YdON66KS9fo/s1600/lisa+pawlik+poland.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Elpahcopk6w/ToJIIGHbpBI/AAAAAAAAEqI/YdON66KS9fo/s1600/lisa+pawlik+poland.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Elpahcopk6w/ToJIIGHbpBI/AAAAAAAAEqI/YdON66KS9fo/s640/lisa+pawlik+poland.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Elpahcopk6w/ToJIIGHbpBI/AAAAAAAAEqI/YdON66KS9fo/s640/lisa+pawlik+poland.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="480"></a><br><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-t1ZDhcL2bnE/ToJIIduOH-I/AAAAAAAAEqM/QO7CIfAr0gE/s1600/lisa+pawlik+family.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-t1ZDhcL2bnE/ToJIIduOH-I/AAAAAAAAEqM/QO7CIfAr0gE/s1600/lisa+pawlik+family.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-o4jLPxrwLkk/ToJIJAFA7zI/AAAAAAAAEqQ/tme6ZArIwAM/s1600/Lisa+Pawlik-daughter%2527s+baptism.png" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-o4jLPxrwLkk/ToJIJAFA7zI/AAAAAAAAEqQ/tme6ZArIwAM/s1600/Lisa+Pawlik-daughter%2527s+baptism.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div> <div class="MsoNormal"> </div><p><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></p><p></p> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s1600/Lara+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s1600/Lara+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s200/Lara+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l5pPzccYpZE/TkqRM_b6nAI/AAAAAAAAEaA/babZmQPxbZA/s200/Lara+square.jpg" border="0" width="200" height="200"></a></span></div><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><strong>About the Author</strong><br><br>Lara is the mother to three amazing daughters and wife to a musical genius. When she is not working on her mother-of-the-year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching other people how to sing, taking hundreds of photographs, reading a good book, finding a great deal on groceries, or maybe even scrapbooking (that is, if she's not blogging).&nbsp; <br><br>You can read all about her adventures at <a href="http://www.lalakme.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.lalakme.blogspot.com/">Overstuffed</a>.</span></span></p> The Hardest Thing http://www.tofw.com/Hardest-Thing-Written-Carrie-Adams/s/286 http://www.tofw.com/Hardest-Thing-Written-Carrie-Adams/s/286 Mon, 19 Sep 2011 17:00:00 -0600 <div> by Written By Carrie Adams <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bX4053IZcKY/TnfJw4bPqOI/AAAAAAAAEnk/n79PM_2HdrI/s1600/liz+nelson+hero+shot+new.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bX4053IZcKY/TnfJw4bPqOI/AAAAAAAAEnk/n79PM_2HdrI/s1600/liz+nelson+hero+shot+new.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oH2m9lRFDnI/Tnit6Fc9B9I/AAAAAAAAEn0/Aq71t3lMeM4/s1600/liz+nelson+hero+shot+new.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oH2m9lRFDnI/Tnit6Fc9B9I/AAAAAAAAEn0/Aq71t3lMeM4/s1600/liz+nelson+hero+shot+new.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fbH7XBTcUGY/TniuNlEjLUI/AAAAAAAAEn8/X64ffKU92oc/s1600/liz+nelson+HERO+SHOT.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fbH7XBTcUGY/TniuNlEjLUI/AAAAAAAAEn8/X64ffKU92oc/s1600/liz+nelson+HERO+SHOT.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fbH7XBTcUGY/TniuNlEjLUI/AAAAAAAAEn8/X64ffKU92oc/s640/liz+nelson+HERO+SHOT.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fbH7XBTcUGY/TniuNlEjLUI/AAAAAAAAEn8/X64ffKU92oc/s640/liz+nelson+HERO+SHOT.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="472"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> <i>The Story of Liz and Eric Nelson </i><br><br>Any parent dreads a phone call at midnight. Panic filled our hearts when we heard our son’s mission president on the other end of the line. Our son, Eric, who was serving in the Anaheim Spanish Mission, had been in an accident. He was not doing well, and we needed to make arrangements to fly to California ASAP. We hurriedly made plans to be on the first flight out in the morning. <br></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><img _mce_src="../../../images/stories/general/178.jpg?1316533593" style="float: left;" _mce_style="float: left;" alt="178" src="../../../images/stories/general/178.jpg?1316533593" width="179" height="179"><br>We arrived at the hospital and were taken to the intensive care unit. The mission president sat with our son. Eric was in a coma. Doctors initially thought Eric had suffered head trauma after a bike accident, but after many tests, they determined he had AVM (Arteriovenous malformation), which is an abnormal connection between the arteries and the veins in the brain. Eric had probably had this condition since birth, but with no symptoms. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y3gYBI8vVLw/TnfCtIGezFI/AAAAAAAAEnI/-oxYuFkhDGs/s1600/P1010035-3.JPG" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y3gYBI8vVLw/TnfCtIGezFI/AAAAAAAAEnI/-oxYuFkhDGs/s1600/P1010035-3.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y3gYBI8vVLw/TnfCtIGezFI/AAAAAAAAEnI/-oxYuFkhDGs/s640/P1010035-3.JPG" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y3gYBI8vVLw/TnfCtIGezFI/AAAAAAAAEnI/-oxYuFkhDGs/s640/P1010035-3.JPG" border="0" width="640" height="480"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <p> My mind recalled pinning my son’s missionary name badge on him. Now he lay in a hospital bed, motionless. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-775OzZBG5MQ/Tnitr2I2qRI/AAAAAAAAEnw/75jpF_5xXH8/s1600/eric+la+temple+200407.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-775OzZBG5MQ/Tnitr2I2qRI/AAAAAAAAEnw/75jpF_5xXH8/s1600/eric+la+temple+200407.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-775OzZBG5MQ/Tnitr2I2qRI/AAAAAAAAEnw/75jpF_5xXH8/s320/eric+la+temple+200407.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-775OzZBG5MQ/Tnitr2I2qRI/AAAAAAAAEnw/75jpF_5xXH8/s320/eric+la+temple+200407.jpg" border="0" width="213" height="320"></a>After five days, my husband needed to return home to tend our other children and get back to work. I stayed behind in California. As I sat holding Eric’s hand in the ICU, my mind was whirling. I thought of my testimony. I had never wavered, and I would not now. Eric needed me. I knew my Heavenly Father would be there for me. He always had been. Now was the time for me to show how deep my roots were. I needed to be focused, in tune with the Spirit and ready to listen and obey. I knew that the Lord was keenly aware of my missionary son. Eric was His son first, and the Lord would take care of him. I was comforted daily. <br><br>Meanwhile, my ward family was busily taking care of things at home. From meals to house cleaning to matching the basket of socks, the ward encircled my family in the arms of love, allowing me to focus on helping Eric. Prayers and good will surrounded our family. We knew we were loved. <br><br>Four weeks after the accident, we were able to take Eric to another hospital closer to home in hopes we might be able to begin the rehab process. He took a surprising turn for the worse and died days later. When he passed, he was surrounded by his family. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zBpFVd8xSHM/Tniuqi5T0nI/AAAAAAAAEoE/ZvvvxOCKHLA/s1600/liz+MTC+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zBpFVd8xSHM/Tniuqi5T0nI/AAAAAAAAEoE/ZvvvxOCKHLA/s1600/liz+MTC+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zBpFVd8xSHM/Tniuqi5T0nI/AAAAAAAAEoE/ZvvvxOCKHLA/s640/liz+MTC+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zBpFVd8xSHM/Tniuqi5T0nI/AAAAAAAAEoE/ZvvvxOCKHLA/s640/liz+MTC+square.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="638"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> More than nine hundred people attended my son’s funeral. The Spirit was amazingly strong that day. Eric touched the lives of many. I am grateful for the twenty years Heavenly Father allowed him to be in our home. Words cannot express the love I have for my Savior, and His sacrifice and the gift of the atonement. He broke the bonds of death, and because of that, I will see my son again. Christ wipes away my tears and reminds me that someday I will wrap my arms around Eric and let him know how much I love him and how very proud I am of him. I do not doubt that families are forever.</p><p> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hRxls1TgXH4/TnfHgDeEwQI/AAAAAAAAEnU/10qVbTFwyQo/s1600/liz+family+horizontal+2.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hRxls1TgXH4/TnfHgDeEwQI/AAAAAAAAEnU/10qVbTFwyQo/s1600/liz+family+horizontal+2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hRxls1TgXH4/TnfHgDeEwQI/AAAAAAAAEnU/10qVbTFwyQo/s640/liz+family+horizontal+2.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hRxls1TgXH4/TnfHgDeEwQI/AAAAAAAAEnU/10qVbTFwyQo/s640/liz+family+horizontal+2.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="456"></a><br><br><br _mce_bogus="1"></p> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qKcbiYlW6ns/Tnirwgw5D4I/AAAAAAAAEno/z7QHKxgOUxM/s1600/carrie+adams+square.jpg" border="0"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoPlainText"> <b>About the Author</b> <i><br><br>Carrie Adams is a divorced mom with five kids and three amazing grandchildren. To pay the bills she runs a program teaching leadership skills at a local high school.&nbsp; For fun she&nbsp; collects sand from beaches all around the world, hangs out with her elderly father watching old westerns, rides her pink cruiser bike and drinks orange soda. Carrie is a popular EFY (especially for youth) speaker and you can follow her blog at <a href="http://www.onerandomwoman.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://www.onerandomwoman.blogspot.com/">www.onerandomwoman.blogspot.com</a></i> </div> The Choice for Survival http://www.tofw.com/Choice-Survival-Written-Jill-Clark/s/278 http://www.tofw.com/Choice-Survival-Written-Jill-Clark/s/278 Tue, 13 Sep 2011 09:58:00 -0600 <div> by Written By Jill Clark <br /> </div> <div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;" class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gppms-pdBhU/Tm92XXu0s0I/AAAAAAAAElE/l5yX01BfckM/s1600/Danette+square+large.jpg" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gppms-pdBhU/Tm92XXu0s0I/AAAAAAAAElE/l5yX01BfckM/s1600/Danette+square+large.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gppms-pdBhU/Tm92XXu0s0I/AAAAAAAAElE/l5yX01BfckM/s640/Danette+square+large.jpg" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gppms-pdBhU/Tm92XXu0s0I/AAAAAAAAElE/l5yX01BfckM/s640/Danette+square+large.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> <i> The story of Danette Hafen</i> <br><br> Before being tested, I knew having the BRCA 1 gene mutation, the gene responsible for hereditary breast cancer, was a strong possibility. I watched my grandmother and aunt both fight breast cancer and knew that I too, might carry the gene that gave me a considerable chance of developing breast cancer. I decided before receiving the results that if I were a carrier of the gene, I would take measures to greatly lower my risk by having a preventative mastectomy. I spent time researching the procedure and looking for reliable, experienced doctors who performed the surgery. I went through each scenario, poured over the pros and cons and knew, for me, the right thing to do.<br><br> <a _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xR8jZ6e3d6I/Tm939wMsLYI/AAAAAAAAElI/ksxJUlt1FZQ/s1600/danette+gene+tall.jpg" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xR8jZ6e3d6I/Tm939wMsLYI/AAAAAAAAElI/ksxJUlt1FZQ/s1600/danette+gene+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xR8jZ6e3d6I/Tm939wMsLYI/AAAAAAAAElI/ksxJUlt1FZQ/s200/danette+gene+tall.jpg" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xR8jZ6e3d6I/Tm939wMsLYI/AAAAAAAAElI/ksxJUlt1FZQ/s320/danette+gene+tall.jpg" border="0" width="169" height="240"></a>I went to the doctor to finally hear the result of the test. I was being proactive and taking what control I could of my health. But that feeling of control dissolved as the doctor confirmed that I am a carrier of the gene. I instantly felt overcome with fear and anxiety. The "What Ifs" and the uncertainty of the situation began to take over my every thought. At night when the kids were in bed and I had my thoughts to myself, I crumbled. <br><br>In a moment of contemplation, The 2010 Young Women’s theme, Joshua 1:9, came to mind. “ Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.” <br><br><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HGmK2BqeAAQ/Tm-cvL-ga4I/AAAAAAAAElY/mKjqq44BOZE/s1600/danette+family.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HGmK2BqeAAQ/Tm-cvL-ga4I/AAAAAAAAElY/mKjqq44BOZE/s1600/danette+family.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HGmK2BqeAAQ/Tm-cvL-ga4I/AAAAAAAAElY/mKjqq44BOZE/s400/danette+family.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HGmK2BqeAAQ/Tm-cvL-ga4I/AAAAAAAAElY/mKjqq44BOZE/s400/danette+family.jpg" border="0" width="266" height="400"></a>I continued carrying the burden, praying for strength and acting with courage. But it wasn’t easy. Along with the worry over my cancer risk, I felt anxious about the mastectomy. I knew more than ever that I had made the right decision to go ahead with the procedure. But what would it be like after the surgery? Would I feel like I was less of a woman? Would I feel whole?<br><br>In November, I was listening to a talk during a Time Out For Women session. The speaker reminded the audience that it doesn’t matter what package we come in, we are all daughters of God. These truthful words brought peace to my heart and mind. Who we are begins with our spirit, not our body. Even if my physical body was imperfect, I did not have to feel incomplete. The following January, I had a successful surgery and I’m now grateful to share my experience with other women. When I look back I can see the Lord guided me every step of the way. I was continually surrounded by hope. <br></p><div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Today I am healthy and happy. Whatever the future might hold for my health, I know that with the help of my Heavenly Father, fear won’t stand a chance.</div><p> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-z5vjB09B-YM/Tm-ciPl3MzI/AAAAAAAAElU/SjvF-y3i9Z8/s1600/danette+disney.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-z5vjB09B-YM/Tm-ciPl3MzI/AAAAAAAAElU/SjvF-y3i9Z8/s1600/danette+disney.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-z5vjB09B-YM/Tm-ciPl3MzI/AAAAAAAAElU/SjvF-y3i9Z8/s640/danette+disney.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-z5vjB09B-YM/Tm-ciPl3MzI/AAAAAAAAElU/SjvF-y3i9Z8/s640/danette+disney.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="402"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></p> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xdaQrzdGwt8/Tm-cWnBBiwI/AAAAAAAAElQ/KCTkwOgpFlw/s1600/jill+clark.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xdaQrzdGwt8/Tm-cWnBBiwI/AAAAAAAAElQ/KCTkwOgpFlw/s1600/jill+clark.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xdaQrzdGwt8/Tm-cWnBBiwI/AAAAAAAAElQ/KCTkwOgpFlw/s200/jill+clark.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xdaQrzdGwt8/Tm-cWnBBiwI/AAAAAAAAElQ/KCTkwOgpFlw/s200/jill+clark.jpg" border="0" width="125" height="167"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <xml>Jill </xml><span _mce_style="">Clark is married with five children, including a set of twins. &nbsp;She spends most of her time trying to outsmart her two toddlers and finds great satisfaction in successfully removing pen marks from the wall. Jill&nbsp;was raised under the sun of the Hawaiian Islands and now makes a home under the southern sun of Louisiana. </span></div> <div _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;" class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> </div> Miracle on Stinson Way http://www.tofw.com/Miracle-Stinson-Way-Written-Carrie-Adams/s/267 http://www.tofw.com/Miracle-Stinson-Way-Written-Carrie-Adams/s/267 Tue, 06 Sep 2011 16:33:00 -0600 <div> by Written By Carrie Adams <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GwEodbNFDdM/TmaaWrbeshI/AAAAAAAAEj8/M67RpdzaEQY/s1600/Showers+kids.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GwEodbNFDdM/TmaaWrbeshI/AAAAAAAAEj8/M67RpdzaEQY/s1600/Showers+kids.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GwEodbNFDdM/TmaaWrbeshI/AAAAAAAAEj8/M67RpdzaEQY/s640/Showers+kids.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GwEodbNFDdM/TmaaWrbeshI/AAAAAAAAEj8/M67RpdzaEQY/s640/Showers+kids.jpg" border="0" height="426" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> <i>The Story of Christy Showers</i></p> <div class="Body1"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DzXT9lgFFp8/Tmaaw92O1wI/AAAAAAAAEkA/kP1fN8iT8_8/s1600/rebecca+tall.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DzXT9lgFFp8/Tmaaw92O1wI/AAAAAAAAEkA/kP1fN8iT8_8/s1600/rebecca+tall.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DzXT9lgFFp8/Tmaaw92O1wI/AAAAAAAAEkA/kP1fN8iT8_8/s320/rebecca+tall.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DzXT9lgFFp8/Tmaaw92O1wI/AAAAAAAAEkA/kP1fN8iT8_8/s320/rebecca+tall.jpg" border="0" height="320" width="227"></a>I loved my 4 year old daughter, Rebecca, with all my heart. That little girl was truly the only thing right <span class="msoDel"><del cite="mailto:Lorelie%20Sander" datetime="2011-09-06T11:27"></del></span><span class="msoIns"><ins cite="mailto:Lorelie%20Sander" datetime="2011-09-06T11:27"></ins></span>in my life at that moment. I was a single mother, staying at my parent's home, and living a less than desirable lifestyle.&nbsp; Amid all of that chaos, an overwhelming concern for my daughter's spiritual well-being was at the top of my list.&nbsp; My own religious upbringing persuaded me to worry that my sweet, blue-eyed child was headed for eternal doom because she had not yet been baptized.&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> Finally, one day as I sat all alone, not knowing who to turn to, I offered up this prayer: "Jesus, I don't care what happens to me, but tell me what church to take my daughter to so she can get baptized and live with God again." I ended my prayer and went outside to smoke a cigarette.&nbsp; <br><br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="Body1"> As I opened the garage door two young men in white shirts and ties were at the end of the driveway. They came up to talk to me, introducing themselves as Elder Walters and Elder Wright, missionaries from <a href="http://lds.org/?lang=eng" _mce_href="http://lds.org/?lang=eng">The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints</a>. I sat with them and listened to their message. They talked about a "<a href="http://mormon.org/book-of-mormon/" _mce_href="http://mormon.org/book-of-mormon/">Book of Mormon</a>" and invited me to read it. Then Elder Walters offered a prayer and they left.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="Body1"> I wondered, "Was this my answer? Did God send me these missionaries?" </div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--H5kTFSMaKk/Tmab0RvRZ-I/AAAAAAAAEkE/lJ5JUp59w9Y/s1600/christy+scripture.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--H5kTFSMaKk/Tmab0RvRZ-I/AAAAAAAAEkE/lJ5JUp59w9Y/s1600/christy+scripture.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--H5kTFSMaKk/Tmab0RvRZ-I/AAAAAAAAEkE/lJ5JUp59w9Y/s320/christy+scripture.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--H5kTFSMaKk/Tmab0RvRZ-I/AAAAAAAAEkE/lJ5JUp59w9Y/s320/christy+scripture.jpg" border="0" height="174" width="320"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="Body1"> That night I read the Book of Mormon, but the questions about baptizing my sweet Rebecca still whirled around my head. As I continued to read, I found <a href="http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/moro/8.8,%2010?lang=eng#7" _mce_href="http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/moro/8.8,%2010?lang=eng#7">Moroni 8:8</a> and read: "little children are whole, and are not capable of committing sin." The words hit me like a brick. It was not my daughter that needed baptism. It was <i>me</i>. </div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="Body1"> <br>The Elders continued to teach me as I made big changes in my life. I was baptized into <a href="http://lds.org/?lang=eng" _mce_href="http://lds.org/?lang=eng">The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints</a> one month after that first meeting. <br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1t4buWMrdwo/TmaaVfkSj5I/AAAAAAAAEjs/GGxisic-Lok/s1600/Christy+showers+baptism.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1t4buWMrdwo/TmaaVfkSj5I/AAAAAAAAEjs/GGxisic-Lok/s1600/Christy+showers+baptism.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1t4buWMrdwo/TmaaVfkSj5I/AAAAAAAAEjs/GGxisic-Lok/s640/Christy+showers+baptism.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1t4buWMrdwo/TmaaVfkSj5I/AAAAAAAAEjs/GGxisic-Lok/s640/Christy+showers+baptism.jpg" border="0" height="424" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="Body1"> While The Lord was helping prepare me to hear the gospel, he was also preparing faithful missionaries who prayed daily for guidance in their work. The elders later told me that as they prayed for direction they had felt strongly that they needed to proselyte in the neighborhood I lived in. The day we met, the word "Stinson" kept coming to their minds. <br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="Body1"> I lived on Stinson Way.<br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="Body1"> I am grateful for missionaries who did not doubt and knew how to follow the Spirit's gentle guidance.<br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="Body1"> I marvel when I look at Rebecca now. She's a happy teenager, currently serving as the president of her Young Women group at church, and has a powerful testimony of her own. <br><br></div> <div class="Body1"> </div> <div class="Body1"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5jdyvnO07gI/TmaaWHGwSZI/AAAAAAAAEj0/aBapfjsTtgs/s1600/Christy+showers+wedding+with+Rebecca.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5jdyvnO07gI/TmaaWHGwSZI/AAAAAAAAEj0/aBapfjsTtgs/s1600/Christy+showers+wedding+with+Rebecca.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5jdyvnO07gI/TmaaWHGwSZI/AAAAAAAAEj0/aBapfjsTtgs/s400/Christy+showers+wedding+with+Rebecca.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5jdyvnO07gI/TmaaWHGwSZI/AAAAAAAAEj0/aBapfjsTtgs/s400/Christy+showers+wedding+with+Rebecca.jpg" border="0" height="400" width="266"></a>I married my husband, Stan, in the <a href="http://lds.org/church/temples/oakland-california?lang=eng" _mce_href="http://lds.org/church/temples/oakland-california?lang=eng">Oakland LDS temple</a> 18 months after I joined the church and three sons have since<span class="msoIns"><ins cite="mailto:Chrislyn%20Barnes%20Woolston" datetime="2011-09-06T11:25"></ins></span> joined our family. <br></div><div class="Body1"><br></div><div class="Body1">I didn’t expect my prayer to be answered so quickly, and I know prayers aren’t always answered that quickly, but I’m grateful this time it was. God knows each of us and loves us. He hears and answers our prayers. Even through hard times, I will never doubt that because I have seen miracles in my life. <br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br></div> Embracing Your Body Image http://www.tofw.com/Embracing-Your-Body-Image-Written-Brooke-Benton/s/262 http://www.tofw.com/Embracing-Your-Body-Image-Written-Brooke-Benton/s/262 Thu, 01 Sep 2011 12:22:00 -0600 <div> by Written By Brooke Benton <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7eHRMA_S09I/Tl_KCZpyG1I/AAAAAAAAEig/v8wVyjGYSOM/s1600/hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7eHRMA_S09I/Tl_KCZpyG1I/AAAAAAAAEig/v8wVyjGYSOM/s1600/hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7eHRMA_S09I/Tl_KCZpyG1I/AAAAAAAAEig/v8wVyjGYSOM/s640/hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7eHRMA_S09I/Tl_KCZpyG1I/AAAAAAAAEig/v8wVyjGYSOM/s640/hero.jpg" border="0" width="640" height="428"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gHLxu-zvMCg/Tl_NcghYE7I/AAAAAAAAEik/lX9lvr2MGNU/s1600/P1000065.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gHLxu-zvMCg/Tl_NcghYE7I/AAAAAAAAEik/lX9lvr2MGNU/s1600/P1000065.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> <em>The story of Sara Henderson.</em><br><br>I’ve struggled with my weight most of my life. I wanted to look like the girls in magazines so badly that I would do almost anything to achieve that. But the crash diets and unhealthy eating left me more than just hungry—I was completely unfulfilled. I knew there had to be something better than chasing after an unattainable dress size or body type and so I decided to do something drastic: I let go of the vanity associated with weight loss and decided to love the body I had been given. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mkz8kfgmRUY/Tl_NuwCRkwI/AAAAAAAAEio/DKT06ZrsAlE/s1600/20+years+old.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mkz8kfgmRUY/Tl_NuwCRkwI/AAAAAAAAEio/DKT06ZrsAlE/s1600/20+years+old.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mkz8kfgmRUY/Tl_NuwCRkwI/AAAAAAAAEio/DKT06ZrsAlE/s320/20+years+old.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mkz8kfgmRUY/Tl_NuwCRkwI/AAAAAAAAEio/DKT06ZrsAlE/s320/20+years+old.jpg" border="0" width="225" height="320"></a><br>Part of loving my body meant respecting it enough to live a healthy lifestyle. There is a seemingly endless amount of diet and exercise information and to add to the confusion, experts often give conflicting advice. Sifting through it all can be more daunting than stepping on the scale. Because my body is a gift from God I wanted to become healthy in a way He would approve. I immediately turned to the Word of Wisdom, scripture that is meant to benefit the health of our bodies. I began to study it, understand it, and make changes in my lifestyle based on its principles. As I did, I realized what a gift this law of health is to us today. How had I overlooked it all of my life? Here we have in plain, written text, a heaven-approved guide on how to feed our bodies! <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7zptvZAeLVI/Tl_J-0XWeYI/AAAAAAAAEic/xcLi1ahQdVY/s1600/sara.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7zptvZAeLVI/Tl_J-0XWeYI/AAAAAAAAEic/xcLi1ahQdVY/s1600/sara.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><br><br><br><br><br><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7zptvZAeLVI/Tl_J-0XWeYI/AAAAAAAAEic/xcLi1ahQdVY/s200/sara.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7zptvZAeLVI/Tl_J-0XWeYI/AAAAAAAAEic/xcLi1ahQdVY/s200/sara.jpg" border="0" width="133" height="200"></a><br><br><br><br><br><br>Dieting can be so discouraging and the results disappointing, but the Word of Wisdom was “Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak,” (D&amp;C 89:3). That means the blessings promised in the Word of Wisdom are attainable, even for me. I read that verse a lot, especially on hard days. <br><br>That dramatic lifestyle shift happened three years and 45 pounds ago. <br><br>My appearance is the seemingly big deal—the obvious change in me. But the bigger changes are those that others can’t see, the daily blessings. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gHLxu-zvMCg/Tl_NcghYE7I/AAAAAAAAEik/lX9lvr2MGNU/s1600/P1000065.JPG" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gHLxu-zvMCg/Tl_NcghYE7I/AAAAAAAAEik/lX9lvr2MGNU/s1600/P1000065.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gHLxu-zvMCg/Tl_NcghYE7I/AAAAAAAAEik/lX9lvr2MGNU/s640/P1000065.JPG" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gHLxu-zvMCg/Tl_NcghYE7I/AAAAAAAAEik/lX9lvr2MGNU/s640/P1000065.JPG" border="0" width="640" height="480"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> Those who obey this law of health are promised they “shall run and not be weary and shall walk and not faint” (D&amp;C 89:18, 20) and I know that is a true promise. Every day, ALL DAY, I am faced with the choice to follow or ignore the principles of health I believe in. I’m still a little shocked when I crave broccoli instead of sugar (the result of worthy goals and prayer!), but thinking about the food that I am about to eat, the role that it will play in my day, and how it is helping support my body really helps me make good decisions. And good choices give me the energy to be ther person I want to be. <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5w2NYVQ0AmQ/Tl_J-WLecMI/AAAAAAAAEiU/QxD0V8E8fsk/s1600/Henderson%252BFamily%252BReunion%252BPhoto%252B20%255B1%255D.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5w2NYVQ0AmQ/Tl_J-WLecMI/AAAAAAAAEiU/QxD0V8E8fsk/s1600/Henderson%252BFamily%252BReunion%252BPhoto%252B20%255B1%255D.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><br><br><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5w2NYVQ0AmQ/Tl_J-WLecMI/AAAAAAAAEiU/QxD0V8E8fsk/s200/Henderson%252BFamily%252BReunion%252BPhoto%252B20%255B1%255D.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5w2NYVQ0AmQ/Tl_J-WLecMI/AAAAAAAAEiU/QxD0V8E8fsk/s200/Henderson%252BFamily%252BReunion%252BPhoto%252B20%255B1%255D.jpg" border="0" width="147" height="223"></a><br><br></p><p>Living a healthy lifestyle impacts more than just food choices. I have noticed such a difference in how often I feel the Spirit in my life. When I eat properly throughout the day my mind and body are more in tune to the whisperings of the Spirit. I feel that our physical bodies were created by Heavenly Father to feel the spirit and that if I give into physical indulgence, my ability to feel the Spirit will be lessened.</p><p>Some days I do great, some days I slip up a little, and other days it’s like my kitchen is the convenience store! But whatever happens, I know that the next morning I’ll start the day off fresh, reading and being encouraged by the Word of Wisdom again, and that the blessings will come just as promised. <br><br><br><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s1600/brooke+benton.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s1600/brooke+benton.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s200/brooke+benton.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VkyrQz2RdTk/Tl_CQ0hA_dI/AAAAAAAAEiQ/26wc9oZ8EPQ/s200/brooke+benton.jpg" border="0" width="125" height="156"></a><strong>About the Author</strong></p><p> <i><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;">Brooke Olsen Benton is the wife of one, the mother of four, and the curator of a thousand to-do's. Originally from California, she now makes a home in the mountain west. Her writing has appeared in The Mother in Me and Dance with Them and on <a href="http://segullah.org/" _mce_href="http://segullah.org/">segullah.org</a>. More of her can be found at <a href="http://brookebenton.blogspot.com/" _mce_href="http://brookebenton.blogspot.com/">brookebenton.blogspot.com</a>.</span></span></i></p> A Dream Not Forgotten http://www.tofw.com/Dream-Not-Forgotten-Written-Kathy-Burrow/s/248 http://www.tofw.com/Dream-Not-Forgotten-Written-Kathy-Burrow/s/248 Thu, 25 Aug 2011 13:38:00 -0600 <div> by Written By Kathy Burrow <br /> </div> <div style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vvB9jJFgcoE/TlagDFcDc2I/AAAAAAAAEeY/39TMZz4uyFQ/s1600/miranda+child+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vvB9jJFgcoE/TlagDFcDc2I/AAAAAAAAEeY/39TMZz4uyFQ/s1600/miranda+child+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;"> <span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;"> </span><div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--yjK5_xVBZ0/TlagDsEtFyI/AAAAAAAAEeg/ZZ1ONR3kr7U/s1600/miranda+family+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--yjK5_xVBZ0/TlagDsEtFyI/AAAAAAAAEeg/ZZ1ONR3kr7U/s1600/miranda+family+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--yjK5_xVBZ0/TlagDsEtFyI/AAAAAAAAEeg/ZZ1ONR3kr7U/s640/miranda+family+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--yjK5_xVBZ0/TlagDsEtFyI/AAAAAAAAEeg/ZZ1ONR3kr7U/s640/miranda+family+hero.jpg" height="512" border="0" width="640"></a></span></div> <span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a stay at home mom with the perfect husband and lots of darling little children who all looked like us. I would have a clean, organiz</span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">ed home and my well-behaved offspring wo</span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">uld eagerly await the return of their handsome, hard-working father each evening. I would bake, sew, chauffeur, grow a garden and always be busy doing something in Church. I was convinced nothing could be more wonderful than for this childhood dream to become a reality.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;"> <span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">I found the perfect husband and we worked hard preparing our home for all those little feet. We waited with eager anticipation for the day when we could announce to our parents in a most imaginative way that we would be pre</span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">senting them with a beautiful grandchild. Then we waited some more. Finally after numerous doctor appointments and tests and even more years of waiting, I acknowledged that my dream wasn't going to happen the way I had hoped. So, without hesitation the adoption process and talks began.</span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aH6BrTn2b1U/TlagCzQvlMI/AAAAAAAAEeU/P9QqAdn1ZyA/s1600/logan.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aH6BrTn2b1U/TlagCzQvlMI/AAAAAAAAEeU/P9QqAdn1ZyA/s1600/logan.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aH6BrTn2b1U/TlagCzQvlMI/AAAAAAAAEeU/P9QqAdn1ZyA/s320/logan.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aH6BrTn2b1U/TlagCzQvlMI/AAAAAAAAEeU/P9QqAdn1ZyA/s320/logan.jpg" height="236" border="0" width="166"></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;"> <span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">The days were long and our constant prayer was to be chosen as adoptive parents. Someone finally did choose us. Someone loving and selfless. Someone who will always hold a special place in our hearts. We adopted Logan 6 years ago and I will forever cherish the moment when my son’s birthmother placed her precious child in my arms and blessed us with the greatest gift she could possibly give. Many tears were shed that day. Te<a class="mceItemAnchor" href="http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=676847012085473268" _mce_href="http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=676847012085473268" name="_GoBack"></a>ars of joy for the wondrous gift we had been blessed with, and tears of sorrow for the loss this sweet daughter of God was experiencing as she performed one of the most selfless acts imaginable.<br><br>As Logan grew older we began the adoption process again, but the waiting list was long and we tried other means as we</span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">ll. We had the privilege of having several small foster children in our home whom we also hoped to adopt, but to no a</span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">vail.&nbsp;&nbsp; Foster Care was rewa</span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">rding and heart breaking at the same time.&nbsp; Each time the children left, I knew that I had helped them be happy and provided a good home for them and hoped they would each be a better person for having been in our home a short while.<br><br></span><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"></span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">After many years of unsuccessful procedures and failed foster care placements, we felt impressed that we needed to try one last time to have a child. So, with much prayer and guidance from heaven, we tried embryo adoption. To our great excitement, the procedure was successful!&nbsp; A nurse told me the news over the phone as Logan and I pushed a shopping cart around store and it was everything I could do to hold back the tears of joy.&nbsp; <br></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; margin-bottom: 12pt;"><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"></span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">We were blessed &nbsp;just a few short months ago with our second beautiful </span><span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lit27_XIT38/TlagD4Ot33I/AAAAAAAAEek/OXMPZfXFB1w/s1600/miranda+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lit27_XIT38/TlagD4Ot33I/AAAAAAAAEek/OXMPZfXFB1w/s1600/miranda+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lit27_XIT38/TlagD4Ot33I/AAAAAAAAEek/OXMPZfXFB1w/s200/miranda+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lit27_XIT38/TlagD4Ot33I/AAAAAAAAEek/OXMPZfXFB1w/s200/miranda+square.jpg" height="121" border="0" width="121"></a></span><span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">son. The day he was born, I watched my husband hold him for the first time and thought about the long journey which had led us to this place in our lives. At that moment, I was overjoyed with the love I had for our children, the love I had for a Father in Heaven who had blessed us with this sweet little spirit, and the love of a husband who had never questioned our doubted God’s plan for us.</span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;"> <span style="color: black; font-size: small;" _mce_style="color: black; font-size: small;">As I look back over the years, I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who knew me better than I knew myself. He knew I was capable of handling such hardships and disappointments and ultimately learning the value of patience. He allowed my husband and I time to cement an eternal relationship as we endured numerous heartbreaks. He has blessed us with the opportunity to help other children who needed love and care when their lives were in tumult. And most importantly, he has greatly blessed us with the opportunity to love and care for two special little spirits who we call our own. Heavenly Father knows and loves us individually. If we have faith in and trust in Him, we will be blessed with so much more than we can imagine. When all is said and done, I may not be the perfect wife, mom, seamstress or cook, but I have definitely been blessed with more happiness than I ever dreamed.<br><br></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal" style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;" _mce_style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"> </span></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: small;" _mce_style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uG2UgRKY0tY/TlagDYkAJMI/AAAAAAAAEec/KOUzsA37jL8/s1600/miranda+family+2.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uG2UgRKY0tY/TlagDYkAJMI/AAAAAAAAEec/KOUzsA37jL8/s1600/miranda+family+2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uG2UgRKY0tY/TlagDYkAJMI/AAAAAAAAEec/KOUzsA37jL8/s640/miranda+family+2.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uG2UgRKY0tY/TlagDYkAJMI/AAAAAAAAEec/KOUzsA37jL8/s640/miranda+family+2.jpg" height="390" border="0" width="640"></a></span></div><p><em>Miranda Haymore is a stay at home mom with two children of her own. She graduated from Sacramento State College with a degree in Business. Shortly thereafter she met her husband Kerry and they have been married for over 11 years.</em></p> Just a Drop in the Bucket http://www.tofw.com/Just-Drop-Bucket-SaraJoy-Pond/s/237 http://www.tofw.com/Just-Drop-Bucket-SaraJoy-Pond/s/237 Wed, 17 Aug 2011 11:28:00 -0600 <div> by SaraJoy Pond <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QOt90DMRVYU/Tkv5T6RLp1I/AAAAAAAAEaw/Ievdoo2Plsc/s1600/kids.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QOt90DMRVYU/Tkv5T6RLp1I/AAAAAAAAEaw/Ievdoo2Plsc/s1600/kids.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B84gVDSmToc/Tkv5TcR5zvI/AAAAAAAAEas/YqBNFtH-Ku4/s1600/capeflats.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B84gVDSmToc/Tkv5TcR5zvI/AAAAAAAAEas/YqBNFtH-Ku4/s1600/capeflats.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B84gVDSmToc/Tkv5TcR5zvI/AAAAAAAAEas/YqBNFtH-Ku4/s640/capeflats.jpg" _mce_src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B84gVDSmToc/Tkv5TcR5zvI/AAAAAAAAEas/YqBNFtH-Ku4/s640/capeflats.jpg" border="0" height="494" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div><p> It was a sunny April afternoon in 1994 in the library at the middle school in Berthoud, Colorado when I first heard the reporters arguing about the word “genocide” and saw the footage of twisted black bodies covered by shreds of brightly colored clothing, lying in pools of blood on the television screen mounted above the circulation desk. The misty streets, the bulldozers, and the sound—I will never forget that sound—of machetes scraping across paving stones. I remember backing away from the television and turning my face into a shelf of bad young adult horror novels, taking them down one by one and pretending to flip through them, hot tears streaming down my face. <br><br>The Rwandan genocide broke my heart. And it opened my eyes to the world outside my sheltered farm-girl life. I cried and sobbed and beat my pillow through that whole summer. I wrestled with God about love and justice, about His place (and mine) in such a world. I still don’t understand it all and I’ve learned I don’t need to. But since that day some 15 years ago, I have kept my promise to do something—to never be one of the people who just stands by and lets suffering happen. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nP3hlUj3uIA/Tkv6fK_tLVI/AAAAAAAAEa4/LqnGpdQHyno/s1600/drop+of+water.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nP3hlUj3uIA/Tkv6fK_tLVI/AAAAAAAAEa4/LqnGpdQHyno/s1600/drop+of+water.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nP3hlUj3uIA/Tkv6fK_tLVI/AAAAAAAAEa4/LqnGpdQHyno/s320/drop+of+water.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nP3hlUj3uIA/Tkv6fK_tLVI/AAAAAAAAEa4/LqnGpdQHyno/s320/drop+of+water.jpg" border="0" height="230" width="306"></a>Most of the things I did were small--"drops in the bucket," you might say. <span id="goog_1413076142"></span><span id="goog_1413076143"></span>And coming to realize more and more how huge and complex these problems are made those drops seem even smaller. Meanwhile, the resources needed to make a real difference just seemed further and further out of my reach. <br><br> Until one November morning after a particularly frustrating and sleepless night, I literally woke up to hear the Spirit whisper “No, SaraJoy, you are not one person with half a million dollars. But you are connected to half a million people with $1.” <br><br> That realization changed everything. By December I had a business plan. In April the idea won a social venture competition. And less than a year later, we were launching <a href="http://www.tippingbucket.org/" _mce_href="http://www.tippingbucket.org/">TippingBucket.org</a>, a place where everyday people with as little as $1 could come together to make a difference in their own backyards and around the world. <br><br>We put up our first “bucket” (to provide solar power to a school in the DR Congo) and, to my surprise and delight—it tipped! <br><br> It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. I’ve accidentally charged donors 100x what they had pledged, gone months without a paycheck, had major deals come in to save the day and then evaporate overnight, let all our employees go (twice), crashed the website (more times than I care to count), and found out I had cancer. <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7XgqHxeR8EI/Tkv5UXmL_oI/AAAAAAAAEa0/0fVGweHLpR8/s1600/sj_belize.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7XgqHxeR8EI/Tkv5UXmL_oI/AAAAAAAAEa0/0fVGweHLpR8/s1600/sj_belize.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7XgqHxeR8EI/Tkv5UXmL_oI/AAAAAAAAEa0/0fVGweHLpR8/s640/sj_belize.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7XgqHxeR8EI/Tkv5UXmL_oI/AAAAAAAAEa0/0fVGweHLpR8/s640/sj_belize.jpg" border="0" height="470" width="640"></a> <br>But we've also provided cataract surgeries in Uganda, rescued victims of sex trafficking in India, dug dozens of wells in Cambodia, started an art therapy program at a women’s shelter in Utah, helped a 10-year-old boy fill a library with books in Malawi, built schools and clinics and more. More than 40 projects in 20+ different countries totalling more than $125,000 from literally thousands of people just like me, and just like you. <br><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QOt90DMRVYU/Tkv5T6RLp1I/AAAAAAAAEaw/Ievdoo2Plsc/s1600/kids.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QOt90DMRVYU/Tkv5T6RLp1I/AAAAAAAAEaw/Ievdoo2Plsc/s1600/kids.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QOt90DMRVYU/Tkv5T6RLp1I/AAAAAAAAEaw/Ievdoo2Plsc/s320/kids.jpg" _mce_src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QOt90DMRVYU/Tkv5T6RLp1I/AAAAAAAAEaw/Ievdoo2Plsc/s320/kids.jpg" border="0" height="220" width="320"></a>I know my work with Tipping Bucket won’t wipe out poverty, disease and injustice in one fell swoop. But I also know it will make a difference. <br></div><p>A loving Heavenly Father responded to my pain (in time) with a perfectly tailored opportunity to use the gifts and talents He blessed me with to do something in the world. And I am so grateful. </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-O8nBGbyBwcA/Tkv5BARjxEI/AAAAAAAAEao/2V1zSR-XEQo/s1600/sj_belize.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-O8nBGbyBwcA/Tkv5BARjxEI/AAAAAAAAEao/2V1zSR-XEQo/s1600/sj_belize.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"> </a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> A Navy Wife http://www.tofw.com/Navy-Wife-Carrie-Adams/s/229 http://www.tofw.com/Navy-Wife-Carrie-Adams/s/229 Thu, 11 Aug 2011 09:48:00 -0600 <div> by Carrie Adams <br /> </div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vM31izC_0M0/TkP4GIGd6YI/AAAAAAAAEY0/i-Z1Helh_to/s1600/wendy+hero.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vM31izC_0M0/TkP4GIGd6YI/AAAAAAAAEY0/i-Z1Helh_to/s1600/wendy+hero.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vM31izC_0M0/TkP4GIGd6YI/AAAAAAAAEY0/i-Z1Helh_to/s640/wendy+hero.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vM31izC_0M0/TkP4GIGd6YI/AAAAAAAAEY0/i-Z1Helh_to/s640/wendy+hero.jpg" height="458" border="0" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Hz5UBMx1CWE/TkPz-U-UmFI/AAAAAAAAEXk/CNdlRJ9ZasA/s1600/Wendy+and+Derek+1.jpg" _mce_href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Hz5UBMx1CWE/TkPz-U-UmFI/AAAAAAAAEXk/CNdlRJ9ZasA/s1600/Wendy+and+Derek+1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W0DrvYIkdas/TkPz-MqcGpI/AAAAAAAAEXg/APLlUPy_H7Q/s1600/flat-tire.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W0DrvYIkdas/TkPz-MqcGpI/AAAAAAAAEXg/APLlUPy_H7Q/s1600/flat-tire.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W0DrvYIkdas/TkPz-MqcGpI/AAAAAAAAEXg/APLlUPy_H7Q/s200/flat-tire.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-W0DrvYIkdas/TkPz-MqcGpI/AAAAAAAAEXg/APLlUPy_H7Q/s200/flat-tire.jpg" height="150" border="0" width="200"></a><br>It’s 6 P.M. Tuesday evening in the long-term parking lot at the San Diego International Airport. Wendy returns home from a quick getaway to see her nieces and nephews in Colorado to find her car has a flat tire. Her first thought is to call her husband, Derek, to help. But Wendy can’t call Derek—he is on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Middle East. This Navy wife tackles another situation on her own by calling a close friend to help out. It’s all part of having your husband serve in the military! </div> <p> <br>Wendy met Derek online several years ago. After her father, a retired FBI agent, checked out that Derek was indeed, who he said he was, she met him face-to-face accompanied by a couple of friends. They hit it off and were married seventeen months later in the San Diego Temple. Since then, Derek has spent much of their married life deployed serving his country. </p><table class="tr-caption-container mceItemTable" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody> <tr><td style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_bvRY7pzpMI/TkP0ry84MHI/AAAAAAAAEYM/BbdyQoKrgxM/s1600/san+diego+temple.jpg" _mce_href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_bvRY7pzpMI/TkP0ry84MHI/AAAAAAAAEYM/BbdyQoKrgxM/s1600/san+diego+temple.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" _mce_style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_bvRY7pzpMI/TkP0ry84MHI/AAAAAAAAEYM/BbdyQoKrgxM/s640/san+diego+temple.jpg" _mce_src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_bvRY7pzpMI/TkP0ry84MHI/AAAAAAAAEYM/BbdyQoKrgxM/s640/san+diego+temple.jpg" height="425" border="0" width="640"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></td></tr> <tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;" _mce_style="text-align: center;"></td></tr> </tbody></table> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-woG7IRxH-u8/TkPz_N4HiiI/AAAAAAAAEXs/PgoBNdz4tYk/s1600/Wendy+family+2.jpg" _mce_href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-woG7IRxH-u8/TkPz_N4HiiI/AAAAAAAAEXs/PgoBNdz4tYk/s1600/Wendy+family+2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br _mce_bogus="1"></div> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gTNvpyZSyGk/TkP2YYL7ngI/AAAAAAAAEYk/Jw5XYr4hl6Y/s1600/Wendy+family+square.jpg" _mce_href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gTNvpyZSyGk/TkP2YYL7ngI/AAAAAAAAEYk/Jw5XYr4hl6Y/s1600/Wendy+family+square.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" _mce_style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gTNvpyZSyGk/TkP2YYL7ngI/AAAAAAAAEYk/Jw5XYr4hl6Y/s200/Wendy+family+square.jpg" _mce_src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gTNvpyZSyGk/TkP2YYL7ngI/AAAAAAAAEYk/Jw5XYr4hl6Y/s200/Wendy+family+square.jpg" height="200" border="0" width="198"></a><br>Like all of us, life is not without its trials for Wendy. She struggled as a single sister, marrying much later than she had wished. Her mother passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. They were very close and her death was difficult. Derek and Wendy have gone through the frustration of wanting children, and them not coming as they would like. However, none of this deters Wendy from living the gospel to the fullest and being happy. <br><br><br><br>“My mother taught me to love life, to appreciate this beautiful world He blessed us with, and I do find joy in the little things,” Wendy said. “I love my drive to work in the morning past the pretty mountains; I love hearing the laughter of children, smelling cookies being baked, and all the simple things we often take for granted. I just try to think of all the wonderful things we have all around us everyday and I feel love surrounding me.” </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;" _mce_style="clear: both; text-align: left;"> <a href="http://3