Friday, December 31, 2010

Reading for Miracles

When I first heard that my dear friend, Becca, was doing a Book of Mormon reading challenge I was all in! I just thought it would be a great chance to track reading, have others reading with me, and for me to have someone there to hold me accountable for reading my scriptures every day. It was an excellent addition to my "to do" list (I have a weakness for lists- I love them!).

Becca started listing the participants of her challenge on her blog. The list got so long, and the entries of the readings were so detailed, she moved everything to a separate blog! Something that stood out to me was over the names of the people who had signed up, she had written something to the effect of, "Reading to see Miracles." That made me stop for a moment. I thought about it, and when I decided to link the info on my own blog, that is what I decided to tittle her challenge as. At the time, we had absolutely no worries or cares in the world. We had just moved, we were living in a beautiful home, we were surrounded by family- all healthy and happy.

What I didn't know was just how important seeing those miracles would be. What I didn't know was all of the challenges that would come for our family, like waves upon waves in a typhoon. What I didn't know was that through everything, although I would feel unsure, frightened of the future, and stressed about the situation- that because of this scripture reading, I would have a deeper feeling of peace than I have ever felt before. I would feel more comfort than I had in my life. I would grow closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior than ever.

Heavenly Father always has a plan for us. I love Him. The Lord does not abandon us. He does not forget us. Yes, there have been times, during my darkest moments, that I felt alone and frightened, but every time that I ASKED for help, it was given. I hope that my children notice that I did not type: "every time I NEEDED help" - because that is not the same thing. When I was reading to see miracles, I saw that throughout the scriptures there were times of joy and times of sorrow. Times where things were pretty good, and times where things were pretty bad. The difference was in how the people ACTED. I read time after time of a humble servant of the Lord, doing all that he could to do the Lord's work, and then, after exhausting his own resources and energies, calling upon the Lord for help. In order to knock, we must show Him that we are willing to set aside our personal desires and allow him to carry us in a direction that will truly lead us to everlasting happiness. Sometimes our answers will take us to unexpected destinations, but time after time, with hard work, and faith- we are given situations that end up being better for us than we could have realized. Our time here on Earth is not a time to work to acquire stuff- it is a time to learn, share, and grow.

Becca has expressed desire to continue to read scriptures like this, and invited people to join her. Her faith, inspired actions, and her desire to help others find peace is so inspirational to me. Her story is so amazing- right now her family is experiencing its own real miracle, and I couldn't be happier for them! I am so extremely lucky to have gotten to know her!

I pray that the New Year brings a feeling of renewal and hope to our hearts. I pray that my children continue to grow in their love of their Savior and their Father in Heaven. I pray that we continue to remember who we are, and strive to return with honor when we are once again in the presence of our Father above. Things on Earth are not perfect, but the Lord and His teachings are. As 2011 greets us, I am going to keep my thoughts and actions centered around my theme word: Present. I will work harder to really be present- fully present- when dealing with my faith, family, and home. I am going to continue reading with Becca, and when I read I am going to be present in the reading, and absorb everything the Lord would have me see. I am going to be present with my family- and remember that it is the little moments that make memories: the candy-mouthed kisses, and sticky-handed hugs. I will be present with my husband, and I will work hard be the woman that completes him. I will strive to be more present in my life, so that my eyes are more open to opportunities to serve The Lord.

May the blessings of God be upon all of us, and may 2011 be a truly wonderful year =)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cold hands, warm hearts!

The boys are so cute in their new snowsuits! Grandma Joyce gave them to the kids for Christmas!

Carter is such a sweet snow angel =) He loves to feel the snow touch his face.

Carter throws snow, Harrison hides!

Harrison gives us his charming smile.

The boys play together!

Kurt takes a break from snapping photos to toss a few snowballs! Harrison swings, lol! Sean gets his snowball ready!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas! Our Christmas was really wonderful. Christmas Eve was spent with Brian, Sean, and our little family. It was great! Brian had the day off work, so we all hung out, and we got ready for Grandma and Grandpa Smith to stay the night! Grandma made a yummy lasagna (gluten free! YAY!) dinner, bread, and dessert! After we were full, and the dishes were done, we all piled into Grandpa's SUV and we drove around looking at Christmas lights! SO PRETTY! Kurt stayed home, he was feeling better, but didn't want to overdo it. We were thrilled to see him up and around!

Kurt and I woke up really early, and we saw that Santa had visited! (We went back to bed, it was too early!) I was the first one up on Christmas morning. Kurt and I were up at 7am. The sun was coming up, it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. The colors were fantastic! I woke up Brian, and then my parents. We all gazed at the sunrise, and then started the day. The kids woke up and were THRILLED to see the presents under the tree, and LOVED that Grandma and Grandpa were here already! Sleepovers are the BEST!!!!!!

We opened Christmas Crackers and then started with a few small gifts. We then enjoyed cinnamon rolls- Harrison and I shared a gluten free one! MMMmmm! We moved on to bigger gifts, and when it came time to open the gifts that Santa brought the kids were thrilled beyond expression. We started with the youngest child first, and Harrison was SOOOO happy to get his Buzz Lightyear with Utility Belt ("Sir-Dah-Hoes" Buzz, instead of "Servos Buzz"). Sean went next, and literally shouted for joy when he saw that he didn't just get Ironman Hands (like he asked for), but he got an Ironman helmet and chest thingie (sorry, I don't really know Ironman very well) too!!! Carter was last.... he was so amazing to watch. He was literally buzzing with anticipation. When he opened the first gift, it was Polar Express posable figures. He didn't really understand that they were a part of a set, but was happy to get them nonetheless. When he opened his next gift, a Polar Express diorama, he went NUTS. He started jumping up and down, screaming, "POLAR EXPRESS!!!!!" His excitement flooded the room, and a few of us were teary eyed at how excited little Carter was just for a cardboard cutout! I wont lie... pretty sure that we could have just put that up over one of his existing train sets, and he seemed like he would have been thrilled. He opened his next gift, and it was train tracks. He looked a little confused, and then hopeful, when he realized he had one more gift to open, and the tracks that he just opened didn't fit any of his current trains. Then, he opened his last gift. He went CRAZY. He was jumping all around and telling all of us to look at his Polar Express Train! He wanted to hold it. He wanted to see it. He wanted to just gaze! HE WAS SO EXCITED! It was great!

All the kids enjoyed their gifts, while I made a breakfast casserole. Grandpa Russ and Kurt helped Carter set up his Lionel Polar Express Train. Grandma Joyce and Brian helped Sean put together his awesome Lego set (a gift from Brian to Sean). We had breakfast, and Brian had to go to work. We all watched Grease, a new Blu-Ray movie that Brian and I got for our mom, and snacked on homemade goodies. The kids played with their toys all day. A few games were played (Toy Story Memory, a gift from Grandma and Grandpa Lyle to Harrison, and R2D2 Star Wars Trouble, last year's gift from Carter to Kurt). What fun!!!

We finished the evening with a ham and cherry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, mixed veggies, and baked beans. Everyone enjoyed the meal, and we had great conversation.

There never was such a Christmas =) We pray that other families had as wondrous a day as we did. May the joy of the Savior, and the love and atoning sacrifice He gave to all, bring all of us peace =)

Our tree, late at night after Santa came!

Christmas morning!

Kids are ready for gifts!

Harrison needs a bit of help from Daddy, they are opening Harrison's gift from Santa!

Harrison tries REALLY hard to unwrap his gift!

Dang. Not in focus. Oh well, Harrison is so excited to get his Buzz Lightyear with Servos!

Sean's turn to open his gift from Santa!

He is so excited!

IRONMAN HANDS!!! AND... MORE?! He is so happy!!!!

Carter's turn!

He is SO happy!!!!

This is the only pic I captured of his face- I couldnt take pics fast enough! He was SO THRILLED!

Carter shows us all the glitter on his feet! LOL! Looks like Santa likes glittery ribbons!

Grandma and Brian help Sean put together his new Legos!

Daddy and Carter put together tracks!

Grandpa helps unpack Carter's new train!

Grandpa, Kurt, Harrison, and Carter love putting the train together! (Maybe it reminds the older men of being kids, and playing with their own Lionel trains?)

This is where Carter was. All day. LOL!

Lionel Polar Express train! Carter LOVES it!

Harrison is excited. Daddy gave him a REAL Anti-Gravity Servos belt, he matches his new Buzz!!!!

Sean, is IRONMAN! Seeing him in this little outfit makes me giggle, he is so cute! LOL

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My wall.

There are so many sayings about walls. "I was backed into a wall!" "I should have seen it, the handwriting was on the wall." "That was off the wall." "The kids are driving me up the wall!" Lately I feel like I have my own personal pet wall- perhaps it is attached to my shadow, or maybe it hangs around me, like some kind of invisible cloud. Not sure... but it is there, and today I ran straight into it.

Christmas is a special time of year. I love Christmas. I start celebrating in July. No, really, I do. Ask my husband about my "Christmas in July!" holiday movie marathons, and the hours of Pandora Christmas music I will play while I bake a small turkey breast and buy cranberry jelly. Yeah, crazy I guess, but something about the holidays is so wonderful- I just want to soak it in! The holidays really start for me in October. I love Halloween and I work hard to make sure my kids have cute little costumes, there are a few decorations, and that I am well stocked with yummy candy. Things heat up for us in November, we put up at least one tree and start picking out cards. As the weather gets colder I get more cheery, I love snow. So, by the time December rolls around I am usually giddy and always smiling.... so, why do I have a pet wall?

Well, yeah, we have had some hardships, but through them I have kept my heart on the real reason for this amazing holiday, and I have been able to keep myself together. However, any "excitement" this year can really be credited to my children, something about seeing the discovery of holidays through the eyes of two 5 year olds, and one 4 year old, really make holidays shine! The kids were spooked on Halloween, were thankful on Thanksgiving, and are now joyful at Christmas. They love all of it- from Christ to Santa they want to take it all in. I am grateful for that. However, I should have realized that just as no man can live by another man's faith in God, I could not get by with just my children's excitment in Christmas. No, it wasn't enough. Insert wall.

My husband is still sick. I have been cleaning, taking care of the kids, making the meals, doing the shopping, and doing all the Christmas stuff (baking, shopping, wrapping, projects) by myself. At first I know my list looks small, and I know that compared to other families my list is tiny, but to me, it is huge. I was a career student just 4 months ago, being home again is new to me. Within just a month of being home, we added my brother and his son to the family. I am not used to taking care of 6 people- it is hard! Anyway...

Today, I ran into my wall. I ran into my limit. I ran into the worst within myself. There is only so much cleaning, cooking, and childcare I can do... and after weeks and weeks without a break (or help!) I lost it. We always have dinner at 5:00pm. Always...

Somehow today, I overestimated how much I could accomplish around the house. I glanced at the clock, half way though a project, and saw that dinner was already late. It was just after 5! Dinner hadn't even been started!!! I tried to calm myself by coming up with a fast dinner option. Wait... the table was COVERED in half decorated cookies drying on parchment paper. Great... where would the kids eat? I cant have them eating spaghetti on the microfiber couch! UGH. The kids started screaming. My husband's snoring (he was in bed most of the day) and coughing, echoed through the house. My brother was napping too. I lost it.

I went into the living room. It was dark. The only lights were from the dim glow of the Christmas bulbs outside, and from the tiny tree on my desk. I cried. I cried hard. I couldn't help but pray. I felt forgotten. I poured my heart out to God, and I begged for help: I am out of options. I don't know who our Visiting Teachers or Home Teachers are. My husband cant help, he is sick. My brother cant help, he is depressed- and he, too, is pushed to his limit. I cried and I cried. I just need some help. I just need to feed my family!
With tears streaming down my face, the doorbell rang. Great. I had decided not to answer (after all, I was in a dark room, so maybe whoever it was would just assume we weren't home). The kids had other plans. Sean raced from the back of the house to the door, and before I could protest, he was working with the lock. Ugh. Well, awesome. Whoever is at the door knows we are home. I wiped the tears, comforting myself that we never have company over, so it is probably just a salesman. My heart fell when I saw it was my LDS neighbor. This is not how I want to be seen.

She saw me- dirty clothes, unwashed hair, no makeup, teary eyed, in a dim room. Kids who were still in PJ's, hair messy, candy cane smudges on their faces. She didn't judge me. She didn't ask questions. She simply smiled at me, and explained that she was supposed to have Missionaries over to her home for dinner, but due to illness they were unable to make it. She hoped that our family would come and join her and her husband- there was no way they would be able to eat the 4lb roast she had made. I stared in disbelief. I started to tear. She probably thought I was crazy, but she didn't say a word. I apologized for the state of myself and the children (for those who know us, you know the kids and I are usually "put together"). She waved her hand and laughed, she explained that we could just come in pajamas- it wouldn't bother her at all. Her warmth was overwhelming. I told her we would be there in 15 minutes.

When I closed the door, and the kids ran off, I was overcome. There are no words. In my time of need, I had my very own Christmas miracle. When I had hit my wall. When I felt like I couldn't do a single thing more for another person. When I had literally given all that I could- I knocked, and I was sent help. I was literally instantly helped. I cried more. But this time, I was crying with gratitude for such a fast response, from someone who obviously had been open to a prompting.

I got the kids dressed, and went to the bathroom to wash my face and do a little make up. I had been so amazed by such a fast dinner invitation that I didn't stop and think about what was going to be served, and I found myself rehearsing explanations as to why Harrison and I wouldn't be eating some of the things in the meal- not being able to eat gluten can appear to be rude, and the LAST thing I ever want to do is insult my hosts! My small etiquette worry was gone as soon as I arrived. Dinner was gluten-free. My neighbor has a gluten allergy and his wife makes gluten-free meals.............. amazing.......... like.......... wow.

Really. No words. I have no words. I have only awe.
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" Matthew 7:7
I am so thankful for my neighbors. I am so thankful for their willingness to be instruments in the hands of God. I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father for demonstrating his love for me, yet again, in such a very profound way. I am so thankful for this day, because even though it was one of the worst beginnings, it was the best end. No matter what happens, I know Heavenly Father is there for me, and I am so grateful for that. I am so thankful for the chance I had to have dinner with my wonderful neighbors- the food was great, the conversation was delightful, and I am renewed!

The Savior said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). My soul feels rest. I feel peace. I feel the joy, and the miracle, that is Christmas. I am so comforted to now know, that yes- I do have a pet wall... but that wall, has a door, and all I need to do is knock.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Seeing the light in the darkness.





And now...


There has been heartache in Provo, Utah over the recent fire that engulfed the Provo Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a beautiful and historic building, not only for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but also for the state of Utah. This tragic event has made me do a lot of reflecting, especially when this came at such a sacred time of year.

With so much going on in the world: environmental issues, political problems, economic troubles, and rampant immorality, we were always thankful for the peace in our home. Sure, our home had its ups and downs, but on a whole our little family felt safe, sheltered, secure. Our home and family felt like the Provo Tabernacle. The Spirit of the Lord was present. We were humble, thankful, reverent, and giving. And then... just as the fate of the gorgeous Tabernacle... all was lost.

Brian's wife took off. Grandpa got cancer. Kurt lost his job. The house is up for short-sale, and we pray daily the bank doesn't foreclose. There has been rampant illness affecting everyone in the home, repeatedly. No health insurance. Water-heater broke today, needs a repairman. What happens if we get evicted? Where will we go- with no income? How could this happen? We did everything right... we just wanted to come and help... we prayed about everything... why is this happening?... what will we do?

Yes. I can see parallels in our life and the Tabernacle. Sure, the Tabernacle had a few paint chips, there were a few loose screws, it took daily maintenance and upkeep- just like our home and family. But there is something about Church buildings. Something about our favorite places. Something about them makes me feel like they are immune. Naive, I know. But something in me always thought, "They are buildings dedicated to God's work- they serve righteous purposes, therefore, no harm can come to them!" Yes. Naive. This same naivete applied to my family. Our family works hard. We are trying to do God's work. We try tirelessly to give to our neighbors. We sacrifice for the betterment of our family. We pray. We are so thankful. We put our family first. We are honest. We are faithful. I thought we would be immune from severe hardships. Yes, totally naive, I know- but I thought that some things, like, my husband's job- would be safe. Our lives feel like they are crumbling all around us. And the thickness of our tribulations grows and is slowly suffocating the light that once radiated from our hearts. We ache, and then feel guilty that we are not more faithful, so then we fester in our guilt, which is pretty depressing. We seek comfort, through scriptures, and inspiration through meditation and prayer. But as each day passes, our light grows dimmer.

Yes, when I first saw pictures of that beautiful Tabernacle on fire, I thought, "Great. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is safe." And I was almost numb. That amazing piece of history gone- so quickly- and nothing anyone could do to stop the destruction. It felt like it paralleled my life.

And then..... I saw this.

Amazing. This was taken from a portion of the building that was completely burned... and yet, there He is. Our Savior. Perfect. Strong. Brilliant. Welcoming.

This picture (to take the term someone else had used) is both unbelievable, and totally believable at the same time.

So often during times of very serious turmoil it is difficult to be able to seek out our blessings- jobless, almost homeless, with illness affecting everyone- it is SO hard to find Christ. But, I am so thankful. I am so thankful that we had already had him preserved in our hearts and minds, so that during these fires in our lives, we can see that He is real, and that He is in control. And yes, it is alright for us to mourn the loss of our stability and security. It is alright for us to feel sad. It is alright for us to want a job and home again! I just need to remember, that even though the way is difficult, He is here.

I am thankful for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am thankful for my husband, and my children. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for my brother, and his wonderful son. I am thankful for my parents! I have so many things to be thankful for, and I have had SO MANY amazing experiences where I have witness the hand of The Lord in my life- I KNOW he is here with us, I just need to look a little bit deeper in my heart, and I need to remember that He has a plan.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Carter's Snowday

Carter LOVES snow. If he had his way, it would always snow, and he would be able to play in the snow anytime he wanted! Most days, if there is snow on the ground, Carter asks to go outside and enjoy it- he doesnt need company, or toys, he just wants the white fluff! We managed to snap a few pictures of him messing around in the cold. What a goofball!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Temple

Reno Nevada Temple

I love this picture. This picture says at least 1000 words. I love that the Temple is above the lights and chaos that is the rest of the world, because the Temple is truly not a place of the world. Today I was supposed to post about something that makes me happy- the Temple and its blessings make me happy. I love the Temple. I love that there are so many different Temples, and yet, they are all the same. I am so thankful for the Temple!!!!!

To learn more about my beliefs on Temples and Temple Worship, click here- There are really neat pictures, and explanations on Temples!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


What do I want for my birthday? I want to see Tangled!!! Kurt took the kids and me to breakfast, then to Barnes and Noble (I just love bookstores!), and then we saw Tangled! What a great day! It was the perfect way to spend a birthday! After the movie we went home and Kurt read the kids a bedtime story. Fun times!

The boys are looking at the menu- I loved them in their matching outfits!!! (They loved them even more than I did, too!)

Carter took this picture of Kurt and me =)

Harrison enjoys a shake! He got a shake because he was dry all night! YAY!

Harrison and Sean are waiting to get into the movie theater!

The boys are ready to see Tangled!

Carter makes sure that "Baby Zebra" and "Pony Horse" have a great view of the book.

Harrison snuggles with Thomas The Train during storytime!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Santa...

The boys wrote their letters to Santa!

Sean is thrilled! "Dear Santa, I would like Ironman Hands. From Sean Smith." Nice!

Carter can barely sit still!!!! "Dear Santa, I would like a Polar Express Train. From, Carter."

Harrison tried really really hard to write his own letter, but in the end he requested some help. "Dear Santa, I would like Buzz Cirvos Buzz. From, Harrison" (I have no idea how to spell Cirvos... but Harrison didn't seem to mind.)