Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday April 25, 2010

I have lots to write about again. I meant to update the blog several times this week. Unfortunately, Fablehaven was calling my name. Ashley loved that series. I never had the opportunity to read any of the books, but decided to start reading the first one this week. Thus, in my free time at night, insead of writing, I have chosen to read. I find it relaxes me so nicely before I go to sleep. And it makes me feel close to my angel girl. I can see why she enjoyed the books so much.

Well, it is official. Jason quit Idaho Watersports on Thursday. And yes, I support him wholeheartedly in his decision. It took a lot of faith. But Jason has never led us astray before. We have been blessed and guided with every change we have made in our lives. I know we will be blessed in our desires to make changes once again. With Ashley's passing, we are now free to leave Idaho and return to Utah. We need to leave Nampa. There are things that have happened here that need to be left in the past, bad memories that haunt us. We need to leave them behind. We had considered making changes last summer, for that exact reason. But it wasn't the right time. Ashley was very ill. She needed her nurses here. It would have been a nightmare to move at that time. But now, our situation is different. With her passing, our goals have changed. We both feel we need to get back into school to better our family situation. I don't care how long we have to sacrifice. It is 100% worth our time to finish college and earn degrees that will take us to where we want to go. Idaho Watersports is wonderful. But working there, there is no room to advance. Jason would need to work long hours for us to make ends meet. We would have to fight for insurance and retirement. He would never have Saturdays. In the summertime, when the boys are out of school, Jason would have to work long hours, as it is the busiest season for boaters. Every summer since we moved to Nampa has been like that. We don't have family time because of boat demos or whatever else has arisen. Jason doesn't want to be away from the family. There was a time when work was everything. He worked long and hard. We had a good living, but at what cost? Our family started to fall apart. I was very unhappy and always alone. We didn't attend church as a family. We became complacent in our goals and our eternal perspective became distorted. I found happiness in places that were not appropriate. No more! We are NOT going to let anything get in the way of our family, ever again! Our plan is to move to Utah. We are most interested in Logan. I will start school in the fall. I have already applied to Utah State. I will finish up my Elementary Education degree and then, if it is right, (and I am still praying about this one), pursue a degree in school counseling. I will work and then Jason will be free to finish up his degree. He is considering teaching as well. I know he would be a fine teacher. That is our goal. Education. Better jobs. Better future for our stripling warriors. I know our desires are righteous. I know Heavenly Father will bless us as we ponder carefully over our future. We will be guided.

I am also very excited to return to the temple. I am embarassed to say how many years it has been since Jason and I were in the temple together. He has been. I have been. But we have not been together for a very very long time. We need the blessings of the temple to fill our lives. We need be as close to the spirit as we can be, especially as we make all these decisions. In addition, when I am close to the spirit, I feel like I am close to my Ashley. I feel her near, and I love that feeling. I know she will be close when we are in the House of the Lord. Jason and I are planning a trip to the temple next weekend. We will go with my parents and my brother and his wife. It is going to be a joyous day for all of us!!! (0;

So now that all that business is out of the way, I need to share some of the amazing experiences I have had over the past couple of weeks. I have been volunteering like crazy in the school. In fact, I have been at the school at least four days a week, often both morning and afternoon. Thankfully, the teachers have let me come. I needed to know if I still wanted to be a teacher. And I found out, I do. I LOVE children. I love helping them, talking to them, watching them interact together. Children are amazing. I know teaching isn't the most glamourous job in the world. You certainly don't become a teacher for the pay. You do it for the kids, for the love of teaching. And I feel that. I know that is what I am supposed to do now.

Two weeks ago, I was in Austin's classroom. He was having a challenging day, and ended up sitting at the back table with me. When the bell rang for lunch, he asked me if I would take him out to lunch, so we could sit and talk. I am embarassed to say I have never done that before. I took Ashley out to lunch all the time. It was a wonderful time for us to talk and bond. I was thrilled Austin wanted to have some one on one time wtih his mom. We went to McDonald's and got sandwiches. And then sat and talked. It was so fun! I felt such a bond with my Austin son. I was so thankful I was there for him when he needed me. I always want to be there for my boys. I love them so much!

Last week I had another special experience with Austin. The fourth graders had an aluminum can drive to earn money for their Wagons Ho Idaho History day in May. Mr. B asked me if I would take the cans to the the recycling center, which I was happy to do. Austin was able to come with me. We had such a fun time watching the men unload the cans. The kids ended up with 37 pounds of cans which earned them $18.50. Austin was the one who took the receipt to the cashier who in turn gave the money for him to take back to his class. On the way back to the school, we stopped and saw Jason at work. It was a very fun. What a blessing to have time with Austin. I appreciate him now more than ever. He is often a difficult child, as most know, and I haven't been as close to him as I need to be. I am so glad I can focus on him now. What a great kid he is!

Well, time for choir practice! I will write more later!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Special Tribute to Ashley

This special picture was given to our family last week. It was drawn by an artist who wished to remain anonymous, but wanted to give us something special to remember Ashley. I was speechless!! Jason was speechless! What a beautiful tribute to our angel! What talent in capturing her life and her couragious spirit! I wanted to send a special thank you to a very generous individual who is truly an angel!! We love you and we thank you!! Thank you for helping us to heal.

Sunday April 18, 2010

It seems like yesterday it was Valentine's day and I was worrying what to give Jason. Here we are, half way through the month of April. I can't believe how fast time flies. Before too long, it is going to be June and school will be out for the summer.

I took the time a couple of days ago to go back through some of the entries I made in November and December. It brought a whole flood of feelings rushing into my body. At that time, things seemed pretty difficult. It was only a touch of what was to come. I have to say, I was proud of how I survived. It wasn't on my own that I did. I know Heavenly Father carried me through all those dark, painful days. I have no doubt He was there with us, every awful step of the way. And I know He was with Ashley. There is no other way to explain how we all made it through the rain. Today in Relief Society, we had a wonderful lesson on the Holy Ghost. At the end of the lesson, Sis. Stokes invited the sisters to share some of their experiences when the Holy Ghost helped them or guided them. I felt impressed to share some of my experiences, but didn't get the time. I am going to share here. Over the past few months, I have had many experiences where the Holy Ghost brought comfort and strength to my heart. The most prevalent was right after Ashley's death. The months prior, I didn't know how I could let her go. I didn't want her to suffer, but I didn't want to live without her either. My heart broke every time I comtemplated life without her. I knew I couldn't let go without divine intervention. I prayed for the strength to give her back to her eternal Father. Every day since Ashley passed, in one way or another, I have felt the Holy Ghost with me. I have felt comfort in those moments of intense sorrow. I have felt joy in the new path my life is now taking. I have felt incredible gratitude for my amazing husband and boys. I have always loved them, but when the spirit is in my heart, as it has been, my feelings overflow!! I feel bonded to them in ways I never felt before. I feel peace about Ashley. I know she is alright. I know she is deliciously happy. Even though I miss her every second of every day, I have been blessed to let her go. I have been blessed with experiences where I feel her near. I have been blessed with the assurance that as long as we live righteously, she is ours forever. She is cheering us on. She wants us to be with her. I know this. I could not have survived the past month without the gift of the Holy Ghost. I want everyone to know I have a testimony of prayer. I have a testimony of the great gift the Holy Ghost is to us on this earth. His influence truly bears us up and testifies of eternal truths. When we strive to feel his presence every day, he will be with us. He will comfort us. I have so much more to write, but for now, I need to get boys ready for bed.

Thanks again to everyone for everything!! We continue to miss our angel, but we are moving forward with faith.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday April 11, 2010

I have written for so long, I have lots of catching up to do. It was a wonderful week last week. I can't complain one bit. I was busier than I have been in a very long time. Thankfully so. I didn't have much time left over to be consumed by my sadness. There were still moments when my heart ached for Ashley. Those moments will never go away. There will always be an empty space, but it does help to stay busy, helping others. When you think your situation is not very good, all you have to do is put yourself in someone else's shoes for a while and very soon you will discover how very blessed you are. Jason and I have many many blessings to be thankful for. I hope and pray that I will always be properly grateful for all we have been given.

I never look forward to Mondays. Even when I was younger, Mondays were hard. Looking at the start of another week is sometimes frightening, sometimes exciting, sometimes discouraging. I have felt all of those emotions over the past few months. I didn't know what to expect at the first of last week. Sunday was a difficult day for me. I was really missing my angel girl. General conference was very uplifting and inspirational. I was thankful for all of the words spoken, the testimonies born. But at the end of the day, I was feeling pretty empty inside. Thinking can be a bad thing for me. I allowed myself to ponder too much on who I am, on what talents and strengths I have. I came up feeling very inadequate, in every way. I have to fight those feelings. I knew I had to fight them, to dig into my heart and find faith in myself, in what I can add to this world. I spent a lot of time on my knees, pleading with my Father in Heaven for help to beat off the depression and dispair that overtook me. It was a miracle what happened.

On Monday, I had the opportunity to take a meal to my friend. I spend the afternoon with Jason in Boise. We had some lovely family time Monday evening. Monday turned into a good day, despite my hesitation that it would be.

Tuesday I started volunteering in Austin's classroom. I was nervous at first, wondering if I would really be helpful and not wanting to be in the way. When I left, I truly knew in my heart I was helpful. I know first hand, from watching my own parents, who are teachers, how much busy work is involved in the classroom. I was able to help with that, and it felt very good to know I contributed at least a little something to someone's day. (0:

That afternoon, I originally thought I would need to go spend the afternoon with my friend, helping her with her two year old daughter while she rested. She ended up not needing me to come, so I went with Jason to Lucky Peak for a boat demo. I have never been to Lucky Peak before. It was fun to be there, riding on a boat, watching Jason explain the ins and outs of boating. We had a blast. And Jason sold the boat. (0: Another plus! Ha ha ha!

Wednesday morning I was blessed to get to be chapperone for Spencer's fieldtrip to the Nampa Civic Center. It was another bonus that the performance the second graders watched was by the Idaho Dance Theater. That is one thing I am very passionate about: dancing! I grew up dancing and had the opportunity in college to be on the Folk Dance Team at BYU-Idaho. The Idaho Dance theater presented a wonderful show for the kids. I loved the opportunity to be around the other children in Spencer's class. Now I can put faces with names.

When I got back from the performance, Jason and I went to lunch and then I had an appointment for a massage with Sara Hodges. Sara is a wonderful massage therapist. I would recommend her to everyone. I have had so many aches and pains and it helps so much to have the knots worked out. I have never had a massage before, and man, I have really been missing out!! So relaxing!!

Wednesday night was scouts for both boys, and of course, completeing homework. I also took another meal to my friend. By the time I got the boys to bed, I literally crashed. I was so tired. It was an extremely busy day.

Thursday I went back to the school for a few hours to help Austin's teacher. Then it was out to Caldwell for a haircut by the talented Tasha Johns. Then it was home again, to get the boys. Austin had a counseling appointment. Then home again to finish up the meal I took to my friend. Then back home to make dinner for my own troopers. I was beat by the end of the night. I seriously didn't even have time to listen to my meditation music, like I do every day.

Friday was a little quieter. Jason and I went to Boise in the morning. I spent the afternoon cleaning my house and running errands, preparing for the weekend. I couldn't have been more grateful for all of the things Heavenly Father blessed me to be a part of over the week. I felt happy and useful. Most of all, I felt like Ashley was so proud of me. I was given the help I needed to beat the blues and serve those around me. I know that wasn't an accident. I asked for help and the help was given to me.

There are still lots of moments when sadness grips my heart. Life just isn't the same without Ashley here with us. But at the same time, I know we are beginning a new chapter in our lives. We can't look back now. We have to look forward, with heads held high, trusting in our loving Father in Heaven to guide us into the future. I know He will. He will help us, walk with us, lift us when we fall. In the words of one of my favorite songs, "There will be miracles when you believe."

May everyone have a beautiful Sunday filled with peace!! (0:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday April 5, 2010

Just a brief entry tonight. Today has been a much better day. I woke up early this morning and made sure I took the time to study and pray. I can't even describe the strength and peace that I felt flow into my person. It was amazing! From that point on, I felt my a lightness in my heart that I haven't felt for a few days now. I love that feeling. It makes me feel closer to my little girl. I miss her so much, and I want to make her proud. I want her to know I am doing all I can, so one day, I can hold her in my arms again. There are times when my heart just aches to hold her hand, to caress her cheek, or to simply tell her how much I love her. I am richly blessed to have so many wonderful memories to look back on. We had a wonderful mother/daughter relationship that I will treasure forever!!

The other reason today was uplifting for me was that I was blessed with an opportunity to serve. One of my dear visiting teaching sisters had her baby on Saturday afternoon, via C-section, and she came home today. Over the next while, she will need lots of attentive care and help while she recovers from this painful operation. I am now in a position where I can help her. I can be in her home, and I know how to care for the injured. I feel very confident in my ability to do that. (0: I have had 12 years experience. I am not writing about this to boast or to shout to the world what I get to do. Just to simply state what a blessing it is to humbly serve others. There is no greater blessing than taking care of those around us. I am honored to give back what others have so generously given to me. I am confident Heavenly Father will guide me in my desires to be the hands of heaven on earth.

How grateful I am for prayer. How grateful I am for the Book of Mormon, and the spirit that fills my heart when I read and study it. How grateful I am for a charming, wonderful husband who treasures me. I never doubt for one second that he loves me, despite my feelings of inadequacy. He took the time last night to hold me, to cuddle me, to reassure me that I was important. That I would find my place again. That my heartache would subside with time. I love him so!!!

I wish everyone a wonderful evening.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday April 4, 2010

Do you ever wish you could bottle up the feelings that come with General Conference, to save them for later so you could always carry them with you? That is my wish this evening. I have struggled so much over the past few days. I am sure being sick hasn't helped. I still feel pretty darn yucky. But it isn't that. I am so worried about so many things. I miss my little girl desperately! The past two days have been the worst. I long to have her snuggled up to me. I long to be able to sit on the bed next to her and hold her hand in mine, stroking her wrist and arm. She took such comfort from those mommy touches. I long to have her with me as I run errands. She loved to go with me. We would put on her jam music and off we would go. I went to the store the other day and it was like pulling teeth to get one of the boys to come with me. They were caught up in their own little world, and going with mom was like a punishment. It made me deeply sad inside because I knew if Ashley was there, and she wasn't so awfully sick, she would have been with me. Gladly so.

I need to make a decision about school in the fall. I know I said before that I wanted to attend cosmotology school. I have always wanted to do that. But now I am totally second guessing myself. I have three years of elementary education under my belt. Three years! It is so hard to turn my back on that time I invested. And I love children and teaching. Teachers get awesome insurance benefits and retirement. I would always have the same breaks as my children. I am already worried about the times I would be in school and my boys would be at home. Who would take care of them? Jason will help. I know he will. But his job won't allow him to be home when I am at school. That is a big concern. I want to be there for my boys when they get home from school. My mom always was. Even when she and my dad were teaching, they were there for us. It was the best time to sit and talk. I long for that with my boys. I also want to know our family has insurance to cover our needs. I hate the fact that we don't. I don't feel like we can give our kids as good of care as they deserve. Plus, I don't want to be one of those people who have to work until they are 80 because they don't have a decent retirement. That is very important for Jason and I. We want to serve a mission together someday. We want to travel and serve and be there for our grandkids. So much to think about. I wanted to fast today. I tried, but my stupid antibiotic caused my stomach enough grief I had to abandon that idea. I did keep a constant prayer in my heart. I will have to fast this week. I need to make a decision now. I can't wait or I won't be able to get into school in the fall. AWWWW decisions can be the worst!

On top of all this decision making, I feel horribly depressed. I am not trying to sound like a baby. I know I have lots to be thankful for. I really do. But I miss my daughter and I still have hurt feelings about some things. I feel so lost when it comes to my life. I don't know where to go. I don't feel very confident in my talents, in what I can offer others in the way of service. I could go on and on about how inadequate I feel these days. It won't help, so I won't. I need to know Heavenly Father really does have a place for me in this world. He has a plan for my life, for my family. I know He does. I have to find it again. I want to serve and love and be of use to my family and my friends. It is going to take lots of prayer and fasting and scripture study to gain my confidence back. To not feel like a weakling. Man I feel like one.

Okay, enough of the self pity thing. As you can tell, I am not happy. I am struggling in every way. I feel sick. I feel depressed. I feel lonley. I feel inadequate. But I know I will find my place again. Jason has been so loving to me. I know he is probably feeling beside himself knowing how to help me. Bless his heart, he is such a great man and a fabulous husband. And I truly adore my boys. They are energetic and happy and so full of life. I thank Heavenly Father every day for this truly wonderful family that I have. And not only my family, but my extended family as well. I have so many elite examples to look up to. People who have gone through heart wrenching trials and survived. In fact, I just remembered something I can't ever forget: Merrill Grit!! When we were young, my mother's parents, Grandma and Grandpa Merrill, would remind us all the time how tough we were because we had the Merrill Grit. When we were hurt or down, they would remind us to pull out our Merrill Grit. That meant being tough, having lots of faith, and keep moving forward. I have relied on that grit many times over the course of my life. I can't let my ancestors down by letting a few bumps in my road stop my earthly progression. Anyway, I have lots and lots of work to do on myself. It isn't an easy road, but the end will be better than the beginning. (0:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursday April 1, 2010

I have so much catching up to do, I am not sure where to begin. We had a lovely spring break. We ended up spending a couple of days in Burley, and then later heading to Salt Lake for three days. The only bummer part, I ended up with a cold. I have been blessed with good health for a while now. The dang cold just got the better of me. It is now a full blown sinus infection. My ear has been hurting as well. Of course when my head feels like a pressure chamber, and when my ear isn't very good, my balance issues become a problem. Not that they have ever gone away, but tonight I feel awful. Fortunately, I was able to get to the doctor this afternoon. I now have medicine, so hopefully I will feel better soon.

We left last Saturday after Jason got off work and headed to Burley. The orginal plan was to attend church with my parents. I was feeling sick enough on Sunday morning, we stayed home from church. We spent the remainder of the day visiting with my parents, my brother and his family, and my grandparents. I always love going home. There is nothing like sitting around, talking and laughing, remembering the good times. Those are happy pills for me. When I am feeling sad, thinking about something happy or special knocks the sadness away. My heart still hurts so much. It was nice to have the opportunity to talk about all the good memories we have all made over the years.

Monday morning, we took our troops and headed to Salt Lake. We stopped in Brigham City for lunch with Jason's grandma. It was so nice to see Grandma and Gene. After lunch, we hit the road again. Our first stop: temple square. We wanted to tour the visitor's centers, as well as the Beehive house. Unfortunately, we only had time for a tour of the Beehive house. My wonderful sister then met us and took the boys for the rest of the night. She took them to the movies and out for dinner. Jason and I were able to spend Monday night in the Anniversary Inn. What a blessing for Jason and I to have some quality time alone in a romantic place. MMMMMM! That is all I have to say!! (0:

We met up with Tammy and our boys on Tuesday morning and then headed to the Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy. My cousin, Nathan, met us there with his sister's two boys. Jason's dad, bless his heart, also took the time to meet us. The kids all loved the aquarium. I had no idea it would end up being as fun as it was. I am so glad we decided to meet there.

After the aquarium, we went over to my cousin, Tara's home for a while. We sat around, lauging and visiting. It was a blast!! Tara had a baby not long ago, so we were fortunate to see her new little guy. He is so darling! I was sick so I didn't dare hold him. But what a beautiful family Tara has! (0:

After Tara's house, we drove back to Salt Lake to Chuck a Rama. We had to eat there. That was Ashley's favorite place. I can't even count the number of times we went there with our angel. It was a tribute to her for us to have lunch there. After lunch, we went back to temple square. We have been going to Salt Lake for many years now, and we haven't had many opportunities to take our kids through the visitor's centers or to see the new movie in the Joseph Smith memorial building. We felt like it was important for us to spend some time, focusing on the spiritual things that would truly help us as a family. Especially right now, as we are missing our angel so very much. It turned out we made a perfect choice. There is no place on earth like temple square. The spirit was there. We all felt it. We had several choice experiences while we were there. One happened while we were in the Beehive house. Austin had been quiet for most of the tour. Right before we left the house, he looked at Jason and said, "I sure love this house. I feel the spirit so strongly here." Jason and I were speechless. There was a feeling of peace in that beautiful historic home. No doubt about it. I was deeply touched that my 10 year old son was able to feel it too.

While we were in the north visitor's center, two sister missionaries pulled our little group aside and asked us if we wanted to watch a special presentation on God's plan for us. I know it wasn't an accident they chose us. It was inspired. As we watched each video clip, we were all reminded of the importance of eternal families and the importance of missionary work. The knowledge that we have has been such a comfort in our time of loss. It is the only thing that keeps me going each day. I know someday I will see my beautiful little girl again. I have been blessed with that knowledge. I was reminded when I was in that movie with my family of how important it is to share the gospel message with others.

Later in the afternoon, we took our kids to see the new movie, "Joseph Smith" in the Joseph Smith memorial building. All I can say is WOW! What an inspiring movie! For those of you who haven't seen it, this movie follows the life of the prophet Joseph Smith and the early saints of the church. But it is different from any other movie I have seen on the prophet Joseph. When the movie finished, I was overcome with emotion. The only thought I had was why in the world do I whine or get depressed. Compared to the early saints of the church, I have a life of comfort and luxury. In our times, we are not called upon to move our families in the dead of winter, so we can worship as we please. Our church leaders are not wrongly imprisoned or beaten. Our homes are not destroyed. Our families are not mocked in the streets by mobs of angry men. Our children have the best in medical care, helping ease their pain when they become desperately ill. I can't imagine burying my angel in the middle of a prarie or some other awful place like the early saints were called upon to do. So many of them died for their faith. They were thrown from their homes. They suffered unspeakable wrongs. Emma Smith herself lost many of her children. I found myself asking how they did it. How did they keep their faith after so much hardship? Then I realized how they survived. They saw the eternal perspective. They knew what awaited them. They were converted heart and soul to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their roots of faith ran deep. They comforted and cared for one another. They worked hard and gave their all each and every day. What would our world be like if everyone were like those people? What if we all took care of one another like they did? What if we served as faithfully as they did? How I wish I was more like them. I have wasted so much of my life on the stupid things of this world. I have allowed myself to be distracted. I have not served as well as I could have. I have not reached out to others like I could have. I have so much to learn, so much to teach my children about gospel living. I am so thankful my eyes were once again opened, and I was able to be reminded of the wonderful blessings that await the faithful, humble followers of god. I want to be one of the true followers of Christ. I want my life to be His. I want nothing more than to fulfill the measure of my creation. I know there are people I can help. I can be so much better than I am now. I pray, and continue to pray, I will never forget the legacy of faith left to us by our ancestors. I pray I will always live my life like they did and teach my children to do the same: serving, loving, working, teaching, growing.
I am so thankful for my family. I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel to Utah. I have so much to be thankful for.