Friday, July 13, 2018

Who Says Friday The Thirteenth Is Unlucky?!

Brigham's birthday fell on a "Friday the Thirteenth" and it was anything but unlucky for him.  Well, maybe except for when we went to the virtual reality place and the ones they wanted to use weren't working.  But I still say it was good because they told us to come back later and we would get 50% off.  So.....this cheap Mom says it was definitely lucky!
 So we went to Lunar Golf instead and David will take them back to the VR place after work.

So I need to explain this picture.  Brigham gets right by the tiger's rear end so he can look something like poop and then has to do the "hole game" with his hand.  If you don't know that game, if someone is caught looking at it, the person making the hole gets to hit the person looking at the hole.  So he and Levi LOVE taking any group picture with that dang hole!  As you can see Levi in this picture is doing the same thing but with his golf ball in the middle.
I would say this is another "hole game" picture but it wouldn't count because it's over the shoulder (one of the rules) so I'm sure he was just giving the bird an eye...but look at Levi's hand.  Got you!!!!
Yesterday Brigham, Hyrum and I went to White Water.  I got a picture of Brigham teaching Hyrum how to swim.  By the time we left, Brigham had taught Hyrum a new swimming move.  And it was all Brigham's idea.

That is my 14 year old for you.  He can be real patient with his younger brothers when he isn't playing on electronics.  In fact, I would say that he is real patient with them during these moments.  

Yes, at 14 Brigham is still very much into anything electronic.  He LOVES the game Fortnite.  If he watches tv, it seems to be The Flash.  He loves memes and puns.  I actually really love hearing his giggles as he is on his phone looking them up.  He loves bacon but don't put it in anything because he only likes it by itself.  He probably has a cheese tortilla every other day.  And just like little boys do, he is growing up and isn't really a little boy at all anymore.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Another Level of Peace

The journal entry before this one was an article that was written about Michael McLean.  April sent it to me a few days ago and I can't stop reading it.  Especially this part:

"“My father suffered from Alzheimer’s, so when he was asked to give a 17-minute talk at an Easter sacrament meeting, I was nervous he would go a little bit off track. In fact, I stood close by so I could come up and rescue him,” McLean recalls. “Every scripture, every reference, was about God the Father’s greatness, wisdom, and intelligence. And I was getting embarrassed because it was Easter Sunday, and he wasn’t talking about Jesus.”
But then, with two minutes left, McLean’s father surprised him by posing a series of profound questions. “My father said, ‘Isn’t it interesting that the Greatest Intelligence in the Universe abandoned His Son at the most pivotal moment in His plan? Could it be that it was at this moment that the Greatest Intelligence of All bore witness to the universe that He had put His faith in Jesus? That He knew Jesus would choose Him no matter what? And could it be that when you think He has abandoned you that He is actually saying, ‘I have faith you will choose me even when I’m not there’?”
And that is exactly how McLean overcame his faith crisis—by choosing God even when he felt abandoned by Him."

I needed that.  I've been in a good place for a few weeks now and it has been wonderful.  But I would be lying if I said that when I think back to what happened that I didn't cry.  It is still so very close to the surface for me.  Even though I have found peace in who I am now, when I think back to who I was I still hurt.  I hurt for the person I was that couldn't control what was going on around her.  That person that felt so very alone.  The person who couldn't understand a Higher Power that would allow such pain, pain felt ALONE, for so long without answers.

Reading what Michael McLean said in his father's words about not only NOT being alone, but that my Father in Heaven has faith in ME...well, how do you put a price on that knowledge?  A part of me has a hard time comprehending it but the bigger part of me just finds a whole other level of peace.

Michael McLean's 9 year fail crisis and how he found his testimony agian

It all started about 10 years ago when McLean’s youngest son told his family that he was gay.
“He was hoping that if he was good enough, prayed hard enough, served faithfully as a missionary, and kept the commandments that he’d somehow experience a miracle and become straight,” says McLean. “It’s tough enough to be a gay kid in a straight world, but being the son of the songwriting icon of the Mormon Church was impossible for him. The pain was so deep that he’d considered suicide.”
To make matters more difficult, McLean and his wife, Lynne, were living in Malibu, California, when Church members in the state were campaigning to pass Proposition 8—which would only legally recognize marriages between a man and a woman.
“I would hear from the pulpit that faithful Christians needed to save the family and the future of our country and campaign for votes for this proposition,” he recalls. Meanwhile, his son was planning to marry his partner at McLean’s home if the proposition failed.
“This would have been tough for any parent, but for the songwriting apologist filmmaker for the Church, this was simply an impossible spot to be in,” he says. “I needed answers to save my family. I prayed like I had never prayed before.”
Nothing.
“It was like somebody decided to bolt heaven shut,” McLean explains. “I started to wonder, What if I’ve gotten it all wrong? What if I got the church thing wrong? What if I got Heavenly Father wrong? I kept thinking this would end—that there would be some peace that would come or some answers that would start trickling down. But they didn’t. I couldn’t believe I was saying it out loud, but I was thinking about an exit strategy. It was so painful.”
In the midst of his faith crisis, McLean came across a book called Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, which was published years after her death. As he read about her secret 49-year faith crisis, which she confessed through a series of letters to her spiritual advisors and closest confidants, he related to her struggle.
“She asked, ‘Why has Heavenly Father abandoned me? Why can’t I hear Him or feel His spirit? And I can’t tell anybody this is happening.’ I understood. What was I going to say? ‘Hey, all of you who bought my records, just kidding! You are alone. Quit holding on—the light’s not coming.’”

Will He Really Answer Me?

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Soon after reading her book, McLean had a dream about Mother Teresa that changed how he approached his crisis.
In the dream, the Catholic nun sang about her life while McLean accompanied her on the piano. He recalls, “It was her song about why she hadn’t just thrown in the towel, given up on faith, and confessed that believing and following a faith tradition was all too much, too difficult, too foolish. In my dream she sang:
I choose to pray to one who doesn’t hear me
I choose to wait for love that He conceals
And though God’s chosen now not to be near me
I’m keeping promises my heart no longer feels
“So here’s a Mormon songwriter having a dream about a dead Catholic nun who sings a song that begs the questions: Am I willing to keep the promises I’ve made to God even when I feel nothing in response to my deepest yearnings? In the most difficult trial of my faith journey, would I hold on to faith or give in to despair?”
Like Mother Teresa, McLean would ultimately choose to hold on—no matter what.
“I decided to recommit,” he says. “I’d wait on the Lord and look for answers that satisfied both my heart and mind. I’d attend church and not escape to the parking lot when I’d hear things that broke my heart or just made me feel like I was not where I truly belonged. I’d show up and shut up and listen and wait.”
He would listen and wait for nine years. Then something suddenly changed.

Hold On, the Light Will Come

“A couple years ago, I was in my little studio office where I write songs when, for a 10-day period, it was like I received a download of songs from heaven,” he recalls. “They were coming so fast—songs from the perspectives of people who had different encounters with Jesus, such as the money changer, the guard whose ear got cut off, and the leper.”
But it was the perspective of John the Baptist that especially impacted McLean. “John the Baptist had a faith crisis that goes beyond anything I’ve experienced,” he says. “While he’s locked in prison, about to be executed, he tells some of his disciples to find Jesus and ask Him, ‘Are you the one who was to come? Or should we look for another?’ He’s wondering if, after all he had done, he had gotten it all wrong.”
McLean continues, “John’s disciples find Jesus, and He says, ‘Watch me.’ He doesn’t race to the dungeon to comfort John the Baptist. He starts performing miracles. Then He tells the disciples to go back and tell John the miracles they saw, in the order they saw them. John realizes that his question is being answered perfectly because 700 years earlier, Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would perform these miracles, and they would happen in the order that the disciples saw them. John is getting the perfect answer that is designed perfectly just for him.”
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McLean realized that God had sent the answers to the questions that had plagued him for nine years in the lyrics to the songs he had just written. “The answers were perfect,” he says. “But even more incredible to me than their perfection was that they came to me in a language only I would understand. It was so personal. He sent songs to the songwriter.”
He affirms, “You’ll know when God answers you because it will be perfect and personal in every way.”

It’s Real

McLean’s experience with a faith crisis has given him deep compassion and a unique perspective that couldn’t have been developed any other way. But one of the greatest epiphanies he had, which still impacts him today, came from a memory of his deceased father:
“My father suffered from Alzheimer’s, so when he was asked to give a 17-minute talk at an Easter sacrament meeting, I was nervous he would go a little bit off track. In fact, I stood close by so I could come up and rescue him,” McLean recalls. “Every scripture, every reference, was about God the Father’s greatness, wisdom, and intelligence. And I was getting embarrassed because it was Easter Sunday, and he wasn’t talking about Jesus.”
But then, with two minutes left, McLean’s father surprised him by posing a series of profound questions. “My father said, ‘Isn’t it interesting that the Greatest Intelligence in the Universe abandoned His Son at the most pivotal moment in His plan? Could it be that it was at this moment that the Greatest Intelligence of All bore witness to the universe that He had put His faith in Jesus? That He knew Jesus would choose Him no matter what? And could it be that when you think He has abandoned you that He is actually saying, ‘I have faith you will choose me even when I’m not there’?”
And that is exactly how McLean overcame his faith crisis—by choosing God even when he felt abandoned by Him.

You’re Not Alone

Today, rather than being ashamed of his experience, McLean is using it to share a message of hope with others who might be struggling.
“John the Baptist, Joseph Smith, and even Christ himself have felt abandoned by God,” he says. “If any of us have ever felt abandoned and wondered where He is, then we’re in good company.”
McLean says songwriters really only write one song, and his is “You’re Not Alone.” Though the lyrics and melodies are always different, the message remains the same.
“Name one of my songs that, at its core, wasn’t trying to tell somebody, ‘This is what I went through. You’re not the only one who’s felt this way. You’re not the only one who’s scared. You’re not the only one who’s wondering if there’s a God in heaven who loves you. You’re not alone.’”
He adds, “I know what the darkness is like. He’s always there— even when we can’t see it.”

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Reminder of What Family Means To Some

It may have been the shortest visit ever for our family but it was still worth it.
Stephen and the girls (except for Rachel...she is on a mission) drove from South Carolina to Utah just to help move a distant family member.
It was the perfect reminder of why I miss this family so very much.  They are kind. They are serviceable.  And I love them so much for it.

They couldn't stay long at all because they had to get back on the road to go home but it meant a lot that they stopped by and reminded us just how important family really is. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Little Blue Days

We went to Little Blue twice during our week stay in Jay.
 I think I may have gotten some of the spray-on sunscreen on my photo screen because all the pictures from Monday seem to be sun-blurred.
 Hyrum found this wreath like thing in the water and immediately saw Jesus' crown when he saw it.

 Some of the Robert Family (and friend) joined our family.
Niki and her family joined us at Little Blue on Thursday.
Sadly, they weren't enjoying it as much as I always do so we went back to Niki's parents house and they played in the pool.  But they LOVED the pool so it was definitely worth it.



Niki finally got her "40-ish" birthday gift from me even though her birthday was in January.  The class that I graduated high school with all turned 40 this year, and even though Niki was in a grade above me, I couldn't leave her out!
As always, I loved going to Little Blue.  But I can tell the fun is running out for my older boys.  I'm really grateful they had Niki's kids and later Laura's son, JT, to play with to offset that.  I had to leave early because Grandma is in the hospital and I wanted to spend some time with her.  So Niki and Laura kept my boys while I did that.  I'm so grateful that I have friends with kids their age as well as being able to trust them completely.  I knew they could have fun and were safe.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The 4th of July 2018

Today has been a relaxing day.  Not a whole lot to do, for me, but making cards and indexing for the Church (temple work) on my computer.  It was nice.

At around 3 p.m. most of the family came over to Nanny and Poppy's house to have an early dinner.  
 Brigham saw this shirt at Wal-Mart a few months ago.  He immediately thought of Poppy (and his love for all things Americana) and wanted to get it.  So we waited until the 4th of July for Brigham to wear it.  But it was Nanny who ended up having a very similar shirt!  "I'm sorry I can't hear you over the sound of my freedom!"
 Allie, Layne, and Eden all wore the same adorable dresses.
 Uncle Elton was the grownup in charge this year.  This was the first year that Dad sat back and let others take over.  I was proud of him for doing that.  I know he's loved being a part of lighting things in the past but he was ready this year to just watch.
Uncle Elton let the older boys and Shaylee light quite a few fireworks off.



 Levi stood in front of the smoke bombs and said, "I am Zeus!"
Eden did not like the loud noises so she had some noise canceling headphones on.  And she was pretty dang cute doing it!

The 3rd of July....A day of blessings

Yesterday felt like a day of blessings.
 Mom and I got to go over to Grandma's house, for her birthday, in the afternoon.  Grandma turned 77.  I hope she knows how much she is loved and NEEDED.  We all have our reasons to love someone.  There are obvious reasons, like being related to someone.  But then there are those reasons that are just between you and the person.  One reason, when I think of my Grandma, is that she can almost always sense when I am struggling emotionally...even at hundreds of miles away.  It never fails that I get a text or phone call on those dark days.
For dinner, Ronald, April and I went to Grove and ate at Okie Smokies BBQ.  It was hot and humid inside but amazingly enough, I did well.  I'm sure it was because I was with my siblings and having fun.  Afterwards, we just drove around and talked.  It is fun getting older with my siblings.  I love feeling close to them.
 AND this is the picture you get when your nasty brother burps on you!


I. Love. My. Niki.  I could just leave it at that because it is that obvious by our actions every time we get to be together.  She lives on the East coast and since we move around so much, Niki and I are rarely visiting Oklahoma at the same time.  So we really don't get to see each other very often.  It has been years since I have seen her in person.  

I haven't known Niki as long as some of my other friends but she is one my very dearest of friends.  We have a different connection than my other friends.  We have the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we have a true admiration for each other.  I just, plain and simple, love my Niki.