Friday, August 8, 2014

Alaska Fun

I'm still blogging about our Alaska adventure on an alternate blog at

Saturday, January 11, 2014

And the Years Roll By

I stayed up late the other night reading all of my posts on this blog all the way back to 2010. While reading, I realized how much I missed this blog. I originally started this blog as a way of 1. keeping a family journal 2. sharing deep personal and often spiritual insights that only a handful of people would probably read. While reading, I was also very grateful for the record that I had kept. Some of the experiences that we have been through over the last five years have been very, very difficult. At the time, I didn't know how we would make it through some of those ordeals. Looking back, I never would have imagined how it all would have played out.
After we lost our home, we lived in Adam's grandma's vacant house for two years. It was sad and depressing going through several major job rejections, losing our home and then feeling like the family charity case. We went into a spiritual slump and it was hard to watch Adam lose faith in himself and a little bit of hope in God. He was despondent for a long, long time. I don't think it was that noticeable to anyone else but it was challenging to watch him go through that, him feeling like Heavenly Father wasn't helping us and that he was a total loser and failing as our provider. Man, that was hard. And nothing I could really say or do could snap him out of it.
Then one day, the call came that would change our lives forever. That same company who had toyed with us four-five times before, had lifted our hopes and dreams only to crush them into a million pieces, called to ask Adam if he would be interested in taking a job in Alaska. It had been a full year of zero contact with Adam's main contact. That bridge was burned like the bridge over the River Kwai. KA-BOOM!! Well, maybe that man had a conscience after all. Maybe it was burning within him that he had, in fact, screwed us over more than one time. Or maybe he just wanted to feel like the big hero and pat himself on the back. Who knows. But here we are in Alaska getting our big break. Finally!
I hear a lot of people in the church talk about how trials bring them closer to the Lord. When they are going through something really difficult, they feel even more close to heaven. I have to admit that over the last couple of years, heaven felt pretty distant. It felt like we were getting no direction as to where we should go or what we should do.
I neglected my scripture study quite a bit those two years at grandma's because of pregnancy, a new baby, laziness, depression, and a crazy busy job.
My job has now changed and life for me has dramatically simplified while Adam's workload is usually around 60 hours a week. With the advent of 2014 approaching, I made only two New Year's resolutions--I wouldn't lay my head down at night until I had read at least a partial chapter from the scriptures and 2. I would make a devoted effort at saying my morning prayers (evening prayers have never been a problem).
Already I've noticed a difference. I feel more peaceful, more content, more happy, more grateful. I feel like I can manage my time better and that I have enough time in the day now for everything that I need to accomplish. If I make time for the Lord everyday, the negative voices are tamed and my ability to cope is increased, and I feel as if I can see more clearly. There is a quiet power found in daily study of the scriptures.
I have always loved Elder Holland's talks. Adam and I both found a lot of comfort in many of his talks over the last few words. The following quote is from his talk Broken Things to Mend (the full talk can be read here )

 [Christ] is saying to us, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,” He promises. “I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.”
 Soon, with that kind of love, we realize our days hold scores of thoroughfares leading to the Master and that every time we reach out, however feebly, for Him, we discover He has been anxiously trying to reach us.
 I testify that the Savior’s Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair.
There can and will be plenty of difficulties in life. Nevertheless, the soul that comes unto Christ, who knows His voice and strives to do as He did, finds a strength, as the hymn says, “beyond [his] own.”15 The Savior reminds us that He has “graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands.”16 Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.

 Life is easier when I am focused on the Savior, when I'm consistently reading my scriptures and uttering heartfelt prayers. It's not easy. I don't think life is ever really easy, at least not for long periods of time. But it's easier and it's happier and that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nauvoo August Trip

Aquarium inside the Mall of America.

Inside the Mall of America.

Hyrum and Joseph. This statue is a depiction of their final departure from Nauvoo. They stopped at the temple on the bluff overlooking Nauvoo and Joseph looked at the temple and then gazed lovingly at the Nauvoo and said, "This is the lovliest place and the best people under the heavens. Little do they know the trials that await them." Love this memorial.

Carthage Jail, where Joseph and Hyrum were shot and killed by a mob.

Our hotel/cabin.

A view of all of the hotel cabins. They are actual pioneer cabins rescued from various areas (Wyoming, Utah, etc) and transported back to Nauvoo, restored and modernized. Each cabin has a history of it's original pioneer inhabitants. Pretty cool. James loved it!

A little road trip loopiness. He thought it was hysterical that the DQ had never heard of fry sauce.

John Deer Museum in Moline, Illinois.

Inside our little cabin. Not sure how this photo got out of order.
When Adam was officially offered the job in Alaska, I started thinking about a last minute trip to Nauvoo for just James and I. James had been asking me to take him to Nauvoo since he was toddler. I had a bunch of points with my job that I could use for airline tickets. I had been craving some Nauvoo time myself, as the last time I had been back was in 2004 with Adam. (I believe this year's trip marked my tenth trip to Nauvoo). I knew once we were in Alaska, the prospects of getting to Nauvoo anytime in the near future would be pretty slim. I ran the idea past Adam and he told me to go for it.
So, I ordered the tickets for James and I, reserved the rental car, booked a hotel for a couple of nights, and made arrangements to stay with some friends who had recently retired to Nauvoo.
I didn't utter a word about our impending trip. The day before our departure, he started asking questions when he noticed me packing a couple of bags. I finally told him he was going with me to Nauvoo and he was excited. His reaction surprised me a little when he said, "It would actually be a little more fun if the whole family was going." I agreed.
We left early the next day, fully expecting James to be antsy, irritating, bored, and obnoxious on the long, long flight and two hour drive but he was amazing! He was like a completely different child without dad and his siblings. He was so mature and kept thanking me for taking him on the trip. Even when he was really tired, he was amazingly calm and so grown up. It was such a wonderful trip as I was able to see my son in a totally different setting.
We stayed a total of four nights in Nauvoo, the first two with an older retired couple from our old ward who built their dream home across the street from the temple. The last two nights we stayed in an original pioneer cabin which James absolutely loved!
I love Nauvoo for many reasons and it's an area that's very close to my heart. It really is my second home. It was fun watching James discover the magic of Nauvoo. It's very kid-friendly and all of the attractions are free (double bonus!). He loved going on the wagon and ox-cart rides, learning about candle making, rope making, going to school in the 1840's, pulling a handcart, and, of course, the blacksmith was his favorite. He also really enjoyed all of the musical performances in the afternoons and evenings. They are cheesy good fun.
He especially loved the temple and we enjoyed our evening walks around the temple, admiring it's beautiful facade. It was wonderful staying with our friends, the Palmer's, who live across the street, and waking up to the massive, beautiful temple outside our window. It was a great experience to attend the temple with my friend Rosemary, while her husband took James to see some of the sights. The interior of the temple is just as beautiful (see photos here) and, to me, possesses an added feeling of peace and spiritually given the history of that beautiful place and the sacrifices made in order to build the original edifice. As I sat in the temple that day, I was struck by the thought that the covenants the pioneers made were very literal to them-- they were, in deed, willing to sacrifice all that they had, even their own lives, for the gospel's sake.
On the last day in Nauvoo, I asked James to tell me his favorite part of the trip. He looked at me very seriously and, by the look on his face, I was expecting to hear something spiritual or whatever, but he said, "When we were at the temple...and we saw that bird...and I got super close to it...That was awesome." Indeed it was.
It was a great a trip and I look forward to returning again but with all of our children next time.
We flew in and out of Moline, Illinois and Nauvoo was a two hour drive from the airport. On our way out, we stopped at the John Deer Museum in Moline, which was free (yay!) and James LOVED it. Talk about a boy's dream coming true. The museum was basically just a huge room filled with all sorts of John Deer equipment, old and new, that people could climb all over. It was pretty cool and James is still asking me about when we can go back. Boys and their trucks/combines/tractors/anything with tires.
The trip was a much needed spiritual boost in preparation for our big move to the great white North. Love, love, love Nauvoo. If you ever have the opportunity, go see it. And if you do go see it, let me know and I will be happy to offer lots of tips and advice.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Alaskan Life

I started a new blog specifically to document our time in Alaska. I will continue to post on this blog more personal and spiritual insights. You can see the other blog here

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Emma Lesson

Amazing--I was literally in the middle of typing this post when Adam walked in from church and told me a member of the bishopric wanted to meet with me about a calling. As it turned out, that calling was Gospel Doctrine teacher. CRAZY!

"Every four years, I have a deep inner struggle each week in Gospel Doctrine as I sit through a discussion of the Doctrine and Covenants. Church history is one of the few interests in my life of which I am very passionate about and a subject which I feel I actually know a little something about. It is my dream to teach Church History and I know that one of my only chances at actually making that dream come true, is to teach Gospel Doctrine every four years. A person can not teach institute without a master's degree in education and, even then, it's very difficult to obtain a teaching job. My one chance comes around every four years. I didn't get that chance this year, although the year is not over. Mind you, I don't think I'm a master teacher or the leading authority on church history; I just really, really love to talk about it, the little known facts, how it has effected the modern church, why it's interesting and important. I love it and my passion translates into my teaching, or so I think.
Today's lesson was on section 25, Emma's revelation."

Then Adam interrupted me.

As much as I love preparing and teaching this subject, I find that it's also a source of discouragement for me. After every time I teach, I go home and rethink everything that I said in class, nitpicking at all of my comments and feeling like I failed. I should have said this, I shouldn't have said that, the way I phrased this was wrong, people seemed bored, were they bored? I want to be a good teacher but not because I want people to think that I'm amazing but because I want to be an instrument through which the Spirit can do His thing, without me causing a distraction. I love teaching because it is always a constant challenge. It's never easy but maybe I feel that way because I'm doing something right. I hope. 

To Alaska and Beyond

A couple of months ago, my phone rang. I read Adam's name and quickly answered. He wanted me to guess who had just called me and, gauging the tone of his voice, I knew the caller was someone that I would never guess--the man who had rejected him twice for a surgical sales position. I almost fell off my chair. Namely, because the last time Adam had contact with this man a year and a half ago, that bridge had been blown to smithereens, or so we thought. He asked Adam if he was still pursuing a career in medical sales. Adam wasn't really sure how to respond as we had basically given up on that dream and he was staying pretty busy running his own business (unhappily, I might add). This man asked him how far he was willing to move to which Adam said, "Anywhere." "How about Anchorage?" Thus began our journey to what will be our future destination.
Movers are coming to pack up our house next weekend but it's being sent via container which means our stuff won't actually arrive in Anchorage for at least 30 days. We decided to stick around here living in very sparse conditions and then fly out all together October 7. Reality is setting in that we are, in fact, moving to the sub-Arctic!
It's strange how things happen in our lives seemingly out of the blue. I'm still not sure why we had to go through five years of hardship and suffering only to arrive at, what feels like, basically where we wanted to end up in the first place. Granted, Anchorage was NOT our first choice but a career-path was our first choice. I'm not going to lie, it's been HARD.It's a very difficult thing to accept that a righteous desire is not being fulfilled even though it feels like you're doing everything mostly right in your life. That is hard. I was struggling with a private pain that made me withdraw. I didn't want to make new friends in our new ward because I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to leave our home. I never wanted to leave our old ward in the first place and it was all happening outside of my control. MY control. It's a difficult process slowly letting go and accepting the fact that I'm not in control. Not really. I can't force something to happen if it's not supposed to happen, as much as I want it to. But sometimes the Lord surprises us and those surprises can be pretty amazing.
It's been an wonderful blessing to live in Adam's vacant family home rent-free for over two years. The time has flown by and, as much as I hated to move initially, I see now the hand of the Lord in that move and how it saved us financially. Sometimes, it takes years of perspective before we can see clearly why things happen to us. And a lot of times, I don't think we'll really know or understand until the next life. But I've learned to better trust in the Lord that He does take care of those who wait upon Him. And it's usually not in ways that we want or expect. 
We're excited for our new adventure. We'll only be in Anchorage up to 24 months and then we will relocate somewhere in the lower 48, depending where there are openings with the company. Of course, our dream is to come back to Boise but maybe the Lord has other plans for us. Guess we'll see!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cruise Feb 2013

Adam and I have been very spoiled by my employer over the last few years. I started working as a coordinator for EF when Ruby was a newborn (2008) and since that time we have enjoyed all-expenses-paid vacations to the following places: Bermuda, Chicago, Boston, LA/Disneyland, Disneyworld, Las Vegas, and two cruises to the Bahamas. The above photos are from our latest jaunt to the Caribbean with a short stopover in Miami. We were gone five full days and the weather was depressingly cold and rainy for most of those days. I never would have imagined as I packed my bags that I would not use a drop of sunscreen or even get to wear shorts. That was a bummer. Adam and I were pretty bored most of the time as we didn't have our entourage with us on this voyage. (We were lucky enough to have my sisters and brother join us last time). It was a long time to be away from the kids and, in the end, wasn't worth all of the stress and anxiety involved with the preparation of leaving the kids for that long. But it was nice spending alone time with Adam and the absolute BEST part was getting to sleep all night and wake ANY TIME we wanted! Oh, and my awesome SIL sleep-trained Archie while we were gone. Best welcome home present ever!