Friday, May 21, 2010
Today was a beautiful day for memories. I always think of my Ashley. There isn't one day that goes by when I don't think of her often. Just when I think the pain is bearable, I will have a day when it isn't. My heart will ache and ache. In those moments, I long to have her by my side once again, to see her smile, to feel of her strength. It seems so long ago that we were praying for her to go. She was so desperately sick. I can't hardly remember what that time was like. But I know Ashley is at peace. I feel that every day. No matter how hard it was to let her go, I know she is delightfully happy. I have felt that reassurance over and over and over again. What a blessing and a comfort it has been for me to know she is at peace. Her burdens are gone. Her worries are over. She is surrounded by loved ones. She isn't lonely or scared. And someday, we will have her again.
This morning, Jason and I had the opportunity to attend the temple. To our delight, we were also chosen as the witness couple for the session we were in. The spirit was so strong. I felt Ashley so close. I know she is watching over our family. She watches over her brothers. She watches over her dad. I know this with all my heart. It was so nice to sit in the celestial room, with my dear eternal companion, basking in the spirit, escaping the cares of the world for a short time. How I love the temple!!!!! It was a beautiful start to this day.
This afternoon, we had the opportunity to attend a special ceremony at Willow Creek in honor of Ashley. A little over a month ago, the school counselor at Willow Creek called me and asked if it would be alright if the school planted a tree in Ashley's honor. In front of the tree, they wanted to place a plaque with her name and a favorite saying. We were delighted, and heartedly agreed. Today was the day the trees were planted and the plaque unveiled. The boy's classes were invited to come, as well as several other special teachers and staff members. As the ceremony began, the principal had 12 students hand Jason and I pink carnations, which symbolized each year of Ashley's life. I was so touched!! In addition to the carnations, Spencer's teacher had her students stand and recite a beautiful poem. Then the counselor and the principal spoke. I was chosen as the final speaker. Then they let the boys put dirt around both trees. It was a beautiful time for all of us. I couldn't express enough gratitude to the school and staff for such a wonderful memorial to our angel. It was amazing in every way!!!! I know Ashley was pleased today. She smiled down on us all. Her influence continues to touch lives and hearts in numerous ways, even now. What a beautiful soul!! What a little missionary!! What an angel!!!!
The Lord continues to pour blessings on our family. Just this week, Jason was blessed to have a job interview. He stands a great chance of getting a job very soon. We were able to attend the temple. Jason and I have had several special moments together, where the spirit flows between us. We are so close, and it feels so heavenly!! Our boys have been happy and content, and are all doing excellent in school. I have been blessed with several opportunities to serve, that have filled my heart with happiness and contentment. I found out this week I qualified for some awesome financial aid. YEE HAW!! I feel nothing but excitement about school. Everything has fallen perfectly into place for me to attend in the fall. Jason's back has been a little better. He is still uncomfortable, but we will take every bit of improvement we can get. I could go on and on. Who would have thought that such a horrible tragedy would have brought so many blessings into the lives of numerous people? Wow!
I am so thankful for all of my challenges. I am so thankful for the blessings our family has received. I know we are heading in the right direction. The Lord will bless us in our righteous desires. (0: May everyone have a beautiful weekend!!!
Posted by Connie at 8:57 PM
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I am not going to write a long entry tonight. But I would be so ungrateful if I didn't write about this day. It was a beautiful Sunday. In sacrament meeting, the primary children presented a beautiful program centered around prayer and how prayer helps us in our lives. The music was spectacular. The speakers were inspired. The spirit was so strong! I came away feeling like I could conquer the world. I can't express how much I love our primary leaders. I include in that not only our presidency, but also the teachers and scout leaders my children are blessed to have. All of these individuals are helping my boys to learn about their Heavenly Father, and His beloved son, Jesus Christ. They are helping them to develop their testimonies. With such valiant, strong examples, my boys could never go astray. I want to thank everyone who has been a part of our lives here in Nampa. This ward we are in is wonderful!! I can't think of anyone whom I don't love and admire. It is going to be so hard to leave. I am so thankful I was in sacrament meeting today. I heard what I needed to hear. I feel prepared and armed for another long week. (0:
Yesterday we were blessed with a visit from Jason's mom. She came for Preston's birthday, which was Friday. She brought Preston an awesome Toy Story slip and slide, as well as oodles of food. And by oodles, I mean oodles: meat, bread, fruit, treats, crackers, cheese.....etc. With Jason not working, the groceries were greatly appreciated. We are going to save a bundle over the next while. What a great, generous gift for our family. (0: I know Heavenly Father is watching out for us. There is no doubt we are blessed. Last week alone, Jason was able to sell some things, which brought a little income for us. And then the groceries from his mom. It was a testimony to me that when we pay our tithing, and we pray, we are blessed in numerous ways. We were blessed yesterday.
Tonight Jason and I sat and talked about our future plans. We really feel good about Brigham City. I want to live there SO BAD. Whenever we visit Brigham, we feel like we are home. There is nothing like that feeling. I found out I can finish up my elementary ed degree on that campus, as well as the psychology minor. I can also pursue a master's degree, on that campus, in school counseling. Initially, I thought I would have to be in Logan to get my masters, but not so. Oh it would be so perfect if we could land in Brigham!! The town is perfect. Not too big and not too small. We would be close to family. They are building a temple there too!! It is perfect!! Of course, our desires are only one thing. The Lord has a plan for our family. We have to trust in Him in all things. I am willing to go where ever the Lord needs us to go. He will direct our path. (It would be nice if that path included Brigham ha ha ha!) I know this with all my heart!! It is going to be a wonderful time for our family: moving on, setting goals and achieving them. I want nothing more than to go where the Lord wants me to be. To do what He needs me to do. To develop my talents and strengths and encourage my husband and sons to do the same.
Isn't the Gospel of Jesus Christ the most amazing thing!!!!!!!! Where would I be without prayer? Where would I be without the Book of Mormon? Where would I be without the temple? Where would I be without so many wonderful people who have been placed in my life? I feel nothing but gratitude for the life I have been given, for every trial, for every heartache, for every pain. I am stronger now than I ever thought I could be. Miracles do happen today. God lives and speaks to his children through His prophet on the earth. Jesus is the Christ. He died for us so we can return to our Father in Heaven someday, to be reunited with our loved ones. I know this is true with every fiber of my being!! May everyone have peace this week!!
Posted by Connie at 11:16 PM
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Tonight my heart is aching terribly! I just finished reading the carepage link of a good friend whose only child was recently diagnosed with osteosarcoma, bone cancer. Her daughter is only in the fourth grade. The daughter is currently a patient at Primary Children's Hospital where she started her chemotherapy just last night. My goodness that takes me back. It breaks my heart to see such a lovely young girl suffering so greatly, and to watch her parents stand helplessly by, not able to bear her burdens. I can't think of anything worse than watching a child suffer like that. I pray for this wonderful family. I hope their daughter can beat this terrible illness that has overtaken her body. My heart is with them every horrid step of the way.
The past couple of days have been difficult. Monday morning Spencer turned up with the stomach flu. He stayed home, and by Tuesday was feeling better. Tuesday morning I woke up feeling off. By Tuesday night, I knew I was sick too. Poor Jason, who has had trouble with his back for a few weeks now, simply bent over to pick up something off the floor, Tuesday morning, and threw his back out so badly, he couldn't walk. He has spent the past couple of days in horrid pain. We have iced his back, hoping that would offer at least some relief. But not so. Jason also went to the chiropractor, but was hurting so greatly after the adjustment, was unable to get off the table. I wasn't with him at the time, as I had to take Austin to a counseling appointment. I wish I would have been. It was all he could do to get himself home. I am at a loss how to help Jason. I am so worried he has an injury bad enough he may need to see a bone doctor. But no insurance, so of course, he won't go. We aren't exactly in a position to afford a huge hospital bill. It is an extremely frustrating situation. I am worried out of my mind.
I have also been struggling with dizziness this week. There are certain times for me when I feel worse, and this week has been one of those times. I do need to see a doctor. I always dread that because when I go to doctors, they tell me I am fine. No one seems to find anything wrong when I feel sick. Then it becomes a huge waste of time and money. I am so scared I will go and they will tell me I am fine. I can't bear that!! I know I have a problem. I need to get it taken care of before I get into school. I can't live like I am now, always fighting dizziness and feeling off balance. Yuck! Man, the poor Winn family is a mess of complaints at the present time.
On the good side, I received a letter from Utah State just yesterday accepting me as a student for the fall semester. I was thrilled!! I can't wait to begin school. Now we have to apply for financial aid and figure out where in the world we are going to live. I can finish my degree at the Brigham City campus or at the main campus in Logan. I won't be able to register for any classes until we figure out where it is we will officially move. We want to live in Brigham. I would prefer that. Jason would prefer that. But I am not sure finding work and a place to live in Brigham will be as easy to do as it would be in Logan. The unknown is driving me crazy!! I don't like living in limbo. It stresses me out. With Jason injured like he is, I am super worried he will not feel like moving everything. And I know he won't want anyone to help. He may have to swallow his pride for this move. His health is so important!!!! I can't bear to see him hurting like he is now. It is so awful, and I can't do a thing to help him feel better. All the things I have done don't offer any relief. I need him to be at his best. I need to be at my best as well. The stress is not going to get any better.
Yes, I am feeling discouraged tonight. And I miss my little girl!!! Thinking about moving, leaving this house we have lived in for so long, makes me sad. I know it is right to move, but it still hurts. My heart still hurts. I didn't get to go to the temple today, which didn't help. But there wasn't any way I could go. I wasn't feeling the best and Jason was hurt. Austin turned up sick. I needed to be home with Jason and Austin. I used the time to take care of Jason and Austin, to help at the school, and to prepare for Preston's birthday tomorrow. It wasn't a wasted day per se, but I feel so empty tonight. I hope I am up to the challenges that lie ahead for our family. Lots of faith and prayers are needed still!!!!
Posted by Connie at 10:34 PM
Sunday, May 9, 2010
I am in a very pondering mood today. I have had so many wonderful experiences over the past while. I know the blessings of heaven are upon our family. I was so worried when we first lost Ashley, how I would fill my time. I felt so lost!! Desperately lost!! I knew what I wanted to do, but wanting and doing are two different things. I jumped in whole heartedly at the school, volunteering as much as possible. Being at the school has been such a delight to my heart. I feel home when I am in the classroom. No doubt about it. (0: I have also been blessed to attend the temple, not once, but four times over the past week. I had forgotten what a blessing the temple is. I won't say how many years I went without attending the temple. I never should have stayed away for so long. There is a spirit in the temple like no other. I come out feeling totally uplifted and full of light. I will never, EVER take the temple for granted again. I know where true strength comes from, and I know where to go to escape the burdens of this world. What a blessing to have a temple so close!!
Last week was difficult for me. I found myself missing Ashley at every turn. I found myself longing to hold her in my arms. Everything reminded me of her. I found myself feeling sad for all the things she won't get to do. I would hear about other girls her age, and things they were participating in. I was deeply saddened for the things I will never get to do with my Ashley. I wanted to sit and cry many many times. I did. On Thursday, when I was in the temple, I was sitting in the celestial room, pondering over the last few months of my life. I thought about Ashley, and how very much I missed her. I thought about the temple, and what blessings the temple has brought to our family. I was overcome with gratitude for my temple marriage. I was overcome with gratitude for my wonderful husband, whom I love with all my heart. I was overcome with gratitude for my sons, who make every day worth living. I was most grateful for the privilege of having Ashley given to us. She will never know how much she gave to Jason and I. She will never know how her life changed our hearts forever. I am not the same person now. I will never be the same again. I have a fire inside that will never be quenched. I have a determination to live better than I have ever lived before. I have strength to fight Satan like I never could before. I feel a new excitement for the future. And it was because of her life, and death, that I am becoming the person I always knew I could be. The person I have wanted to be for several years now, but was not strong enough to become. The most amazing part that day, I felt my angel. I felt her like she was right next to me. I felt her saying, "You see Mom, all the struggles weren't in vain. I understand now, and you should too. My life was part of God's plan. God gave me to you for a reason. Now go forth, and LIVE! Live like you never lived before. I will always be close. Someday we will be together again. I love you and Dad and my brothers forever!!" I did not want to leave the celestial room. I felt if I did, I would lose my connection to her. But I was wrong. When you lose someone you love, you always carry them in your heart. In the temple, we are closer to the veil than ever, and it gives us the opportunity to be so close to our dearly departed ones. You do feel them near. But even after I left the temple, I felt her close. I knew she was still with me, cheering me on. I won't ever forget her. Sometimes, when the memories begin to fade a bit, like the sound of her voice, or the feel of her skin, I get scared I will forget part of her. Then I realize, we were blessed with the opportunity, and time, to make many memories of her. We have pictures and videos galore. A couple of weeks ago, I found some videos she made on the computer in our kitchen. I never knew those videos existed, but what a gift to have them now. They were from a time when the sparkle was still in Ashley's eyes, when you could see her spunk and zest for life. What a blessing to have those treasures! I would not have been able to deal with Ashley's death as well as I have without having all those pictures, videos, and fond memories. They keep her bright in my mind. They help me remember the little things I don't want to ever forget.
And so we keep moving forward. I am so glad for this life I have been given. The grief is ever present, but through our Savior, Jesus Christ, I can face the future with faith, hope, and the knowledge, we are NEVER alone. Because of His atonement, death is not the end. He lives still, and our Ashley will too. She will be resurrected and have a perfect body. We will be a family forever!! All because of Him. He is always there!! ALWAYS! He will bear us up when we think we can't take another step. I know this to be true with all my heart and soul. Because of this faith, we are moving forward to the next stage in our lives, righteous desires in our hearts!! Heavenly Father and Jesus will be with us. And now I know, I am worthy in every way, to hear His voice and to fulfill the purpose of my existence. And I am holding tight to those convictions I hold dear, that someday, with unspeakable joy, we will be reunited as an eternal family, in the beautiful world above, rejoicing together, knowing we have done our part. We have lived well. How I long for that day!!! How grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ!!!! It is true!!!!!!
Posted by Connie at 2:42 PM