Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday September 30, 2012

I haven't written in Ashley's blog for such a long time, I thought I would post an update on our family.  We had the most wonderful summer!  We didn't take any fancy trips, but we did get to spend lots of time together as a family.  The boys were able to take swimming lessons.  I was so proud of them and their progress.  Austin passed out of all the levels three years ago.  He is a super swimmer and diver.  Spencer is moving into Level 5.  His strokes are looking beautiful!  Preston is moving in to Level 4.  He finally got the hang of diving and loves it!  (0:  His front crawl is amazing!  It makes my heart so happy to see them become powerful swimmers.  I just love swimming myself!  Now we can all hang out in the deep end and we love every second of it!

We were also blessed to spend time in Burley with my parents.  I haven't been home for a very long time.  I knew I wanted to go home for at least a week during the summer.  We went at the end of June.  It was am amazing week!  We spent time with my parents, helping them.  We got to see the grandparents.  The boys saw their cousins, which they LOVED!  (0:  While we were in Burley, we were able to get Ashley's headstone ordered.  When she died, we had the money for her headstone. But when Jason quit his job, and we moved to Logan, we thought it best to hang on to the money.  Thus, we never got her headstone put up.  My wonderful cousin and sister decided she needed her headstone.  Unbeknownst to us, they rallied the family together and presented us with the money we needed to erect her headstone.  As I said before, I have the most amazing family!!  (0:  It turned out so beautifully!  I will have to post a picture of it.  What a great blessing to finally have it done!!  Thanks so much to everyone who contributed!!  We couldn't be more grateful!

Another blessing that came this summer was Jason's promotion at work.  Sadly his promotion came because his boss was diagnosed with leukemia.  They asked Jason to step up in his absence and take over the financial part of their business.  He became the finance manager and the construction manager over Wyoming.  It has been very stressful at times, organizing and creating spreadsheets to keep track of the information given to him, but he has loved the new challenge!  It was so great to finally see them recognize the talents Jason has.  Now that we are starting to see the financial rewards of his promotion, he is doubly happy.  Like I said before, our family has been so blessed!

Given my school schedule this fall, I decided not to go back and work at Woodruff this year.  That decision was a hard one!  I loved working there!  However, I have to look to the future.  It is vital I gain the experience I need to get into the graduate program I desire.  So, at the current time, I am volunteering with two research groups.  Thankfully, it is only two!  I am also homeschooling Austin again this year.  He is with the Utah Virtual Academy, and we love it!  I spend about three hours in the morning with him before heading up to campus.  He is doing great!  I know I won't be able to homeschool him next year, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  I am hoping time and maturation will enable him to focus better in school.  Truly, it is the focusing and organizational part of school that is hard for him, due to his ADHD.  The other boys are doing wonderfully well in school.  Spencer is in 5th grade and he has a super awesome teacher.  Preston is in 4th grade and also loves his teacher.  They both have good friends and are happy.  I can't tell you how hard I prayed that my boys would be happy this year.  They are and I know it is an answer to my earnest pleadings to my Father in Heaven.

Yes, my schedule is hectic.  Between homeschool, research, keeping up with my classes, and keeping up with my family, I feel like my head is in a vice pretty much every day.  This is the cool part though.  My body doesn't handle stress very well.  When I am stressed, I start to feel sick.  Two weeks ago, I started feeling sick.  My head began giving me fits again.  Yes, I still do struggle with vertigo!  YUCK!  I was so tired, and I didn't see how I was going to do all that I need to do and remain sane! I was staying up late and getting up early, and it still wasn't enough.  I started to pray for help.  I know Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.  I can't tell you how I did it, but I was able to get through it all.  I got through the tests.  I got through the meetings, observations, and trainings.  And I am alive to tell the tale!  (0:   There is no way I did it on my own.  I was carried every step of the way!  That is the cool part!  When we ask for help, it comes.  It did for me!

Now I am in a bigger conundrum.  As I said before, I have been seriously considering the school psychology program.  I have been praying about school psych for quite a while now.  I thought I felt pretty good about it, but when I started attending the research meetings, something felt off to me.  I can't tell you what it was.  Every time I would go to a meeting, I would come away feeling dark and depressed.  I thought at first it was because I am so stressed right now.  Then, one day it hit me!  Perhaps school psych is not what I am supposed to do.  Perhaps Heavenly Father is trying to tell me something.  Well, that same day I had this thought, I was researching careers online.  One of which I was studying about was play therapy.  I heard about play therapy in my Abuse and Neglect course last year.  I never considered it before because there were no colleges close that offered this program.  Well, I found out two weeks ago that Boise State is now offering a play therapy program.  You first get a master's degree in counseling and then enter the play therapy program.  I was fascinated the first minute I discovered it!  I have been studying about it for two weeks now.  I spoke to the director and she said the best way to find out if it is for me is to attend a play therapy conference Boise State is hosting.  Jason and I are going to attend the conference which will be the first week in November.  I am not saying I am going to pursue that program, but it sounds so wonderful!!  At this point, I am going to explore every option.  I don't want to get into grad school, start a program, and then realize it isn't the right program for me.  No way!  I know there is a career out there for me that I will be good at!  I just have to find out what it is!  (0:

Life is good.  It is not easy, but I have come to love the hard times.  Those hard times have molded me into the person I am today.  I know there are many more yet to come, but with my wonderful husband, kids, and family surrounding me, I know we will survive.  (0:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Winn Family Updates

Wowzers!  It is July 16 already!  Where did the last few weeks go?  Before we know it, school will be starting again.  Crazy!  So I have had several people ask me about our family, so I thought I better write a few updates here on this blog.  (0:

We are doing great!  It has been a fabulous summer!  Just a couple of weeks ago, I took the boys up to Burley for a week.  We had such a fun time there!  I love going home.  Even though that area isn't very big in size, the people make up for it in heart.  It was fun to spend time with my parents.  We were able to help them with a few projects.  I was able to spend time with my grandparents.  Of course, we were blessed to get to see the Walquist cousins.  Spencer and Burke are two peas in a pod.  I love Annie and Alexis too.  Jessica and I were able to hang out a bit with our kids.  Overall, it was a super fun trip.

We haven't taken any exotic vacations this summer.  Honestly, we need to save up our money for tuition and rent.  But that is okay.  We have had so much fun together.  Jason and I started taking nightly walks together.  There are so many beautiful places to see here in Logan.  We have several favorite routes we walk.  It has become our special time together.  We bought our boys a larger swimming pool for the back yard.  They swim almost every day.  We also have some wonderful kids in the neighborhood our boys enjoy playing with.  Between swimming, playing with the neighbors, scouts, and cousins, the boys stay pretty busy.  Preston and Spencer started swimming lessons today and enjoy that.  Austin has taken up an interest in biking.  He and Jason have been riding nearly every day.  What a wonderful bonding experience for both of them.  (0:  We also purchased Austin a flute.  He loves music.  Since I pulled him out of Mount Logan, he hasn't been able to play.  He will start flute lessons next month.  I can't wait!  I think the music was so good for his concentration.

Jason is not loving his job, but he is surviving.  He was promoted to financial and construction manager when his boss was diagnosed with leukemia.  Thankfully, his boss continues to fight his cancer and is hanging in there.  My heart aches for him every day.  He has suffered so much!  It is a sad circumstance  in which Jason was able to be promoted.  We haven't seen a huge boost in income, but every little increase helps.

As for me, I am a pondering fool these days.  (0:  How so you may ask?  Well, I am trying so hard to figure out what in the world I am supposed to do for a career.  I am so back and forth.  There are pluses and minuses to both career paths I am considering.  I would love to be a counselor or a therapist.  At the  same time, I love education.  I want so much to continue working with kids in a school setting.  I have to admit, the education lifestyle appeals to me very much.  I was blessed to have my mother at home every summer.  I want to be there for my boys like my mom was there for me.  Pursuing a degree in school psychology would give me summers with my boys.  However, that is NOT a reason to become a school psychologist.  That is only a perk of the job.  Honestly, I want to help those kids who can't learn.  I want to help those kids who struggle with anxiety and depression.  I want to make every child feel like a winner.  As a school psychologist, I would be trained to intervene in the educational process.  I would be the one to help assess learning problems, behavior problems, and mood disorders and give kids the tools to deal with those problems.  I so wish someone would have given me the tools to deal with the anxiety I fought with for most of my years in school.  It was debilitating at times, and I thought I was crazy!  Well, I guess in a sense, I was crazy!  (0:  But what a difference it would have made to my mood, to my self-image, if I would have known I wasn't alone in my panic attacks, in my worry-some thoughts.  If I had known how to combat those problems, even after I had all my babies, I know I wouldn't have missed so many days of school or fallen into the pit of despair.  I have felt so good about the school psychology path.  I pray every day for confirmation it is the right path to pursue.  It won't be easy by any means.  But I am not afraid of a challenge!  Not one whit!  I know if this is God's plan for me, I will reach the end.  I won't fail, no matter how steep the climb becomes.  The one thing that is left to do is fast.  I hate fasting!  I know fasting works, but I feel so icky when I fast, it is hard.  However, that being said, I know I need to fast. I need that confirmation so I can move forth with faith.  Right now, I have a lot of fear in my heart.  I fear I will fail.  I fear I won't be any good at what school psychologists do.  I fear my stupid body will freak out and I won't be strong enough to handle the stress.  Fear and faith cannot exist at the same time.  It isn't possible.  I know if I have the confirmation this is what Heavenly Father wants me to do, I won't fear anymore.  I know there is a career path for me out there.  I have talents, however small they may be.  I want to make the most of my life, and the only way I will do that is by trusting in my Heavenly Father and letting him guide my life.

I love my calling!  I love my husband!  I love my family!  I love my boys!  I love my pets, all seven of them.  Ha ha ha!  (0:  I feel so good about where my life is.  I never want to lose my way again.  Being on the dark side of the force is a bad place to be.  I love the feeling of light, joy, peace, and happiness.  I hope as our family continues to move forward into the future, we will keep the light we have gained.  It feels so good to be good!!  (0:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Repentent Post

I haven't posted here for such a long time.  Shame on me!  But I need to now.  We have had such wonderful experiences of late.  I need to write them down.

First of all, a couple of months ago, I went in to get my temple recommend renewed.  While I was visiting with the stake president, we discussed the reason for our move to Logan.  Of course, Ashley was huge part of that decision.  I spoke just briefly about some of the experiences we had with our amazing daughter.  At the end of my interview, the stake president told me he felt a very strong impression I needed to share Ashley's story in stake conference.  I was speechless!!  That is the best way to describe how I felt!  But I knew it was what the Lord wanted me to do.  Of course, I said I would be happy to!

I cried all the way home from the church.  You see, in Ashley's patriarchal blessing, she was told she would be a missionary to a great many people.  Her influence would bless the lives of others.  At that time, she didn't think she could help anyone.  She was too sick to get out of bed.  Since her passing, I have seen many lives change because of her extrodinary example.  Her influence hasn't stopped.  She continues to inspire and lift hearts, even beyond the veil.  I wanted to tell her in that moment just what a treasure her life was.  Her influence was so great.  She was a missionary, just by enduring to the end.  What a blessing and a privilege to share her story once again, in hopes someone, somewhere, would be blessed by her experiences on this earth.

In preparation for this talk, I wanted to do all I could to stay close to the spirit.  I wanted to take Ashley's name through the temple.  I knew that special event would bring me close to her and to the spirit.  It would focus my eyes once again on the eternal perspective.

So, Memorial Day weekend, my entire family came to Logan.  We went to the temple and I was Ashley's proxy as we took our her endowments.  The spirit was so strong that day!  I felt it the moment I walked in the front doors.  I felt it as I did her initiatory work.  I felt it as we sat in the chapel, waiting for our session to begin.  During the session, my heart burned in my chest.  I knew my beautiful angel was near.  My love for the Savior overwhelmed me!  Because of Him, and his infinite sacrifice, this beautiful girl would be ours forever!!!  That realization overpowered me!  As I looked at my siblings and their spouses, my heart filled with gratitude and love.  There is nothing in this world like sitting in the temple with those I love so dearly!!!  They have been my closest supporters.  What a blessing to have my family surrounding Jason and I on that special day!  The spirit continued to fill all our hearts as we sat together in the celestial room.  Many tears were shed.  It was one of the most spiritual moments in my life and all because of my beautiful angel!!!!

The weekend that followed was crazy, but oh so much fun!  We all sat and talked for hours!  Our children were in heaven!  There is nothing more delghtful than gathering all the grandchildren together.  They love each other so much!  I left the weekend feeling on top of the world, ready to face the world once again, the love of my family burning brightly in my heart.

Since that time, I continued to do all I could to invite the spirit into my life.  I read my scriptures.  I kept the TV off, keeping the noise of the world out of my head.  I tried hard to be patient and loving with my kids, encouraging them to keep the spirit of contention out of our home.  I listened to conference.  I listened to John Bytheway and other uplifting speakers. I played uplifting music.  Jason and I went to the temple.  I fasted and most importantly, I prayed.  I knew this talk was not mine to give.  What needed to be said only the Lord knew.  I can't tell you how earnestly I prayed and pleaded with the Lord that he would guide my every word.

Last night was a miracle!  When I arrived at the church, I was still unsure which parts of Ashley's story to share.  I had a few thoughts on paper, but I was starting to feel worried!  What if I failed!! What if I hadn't done all I could do to invite the spirit into my heart and my life?  The more I sat and thought, the more scared I got!  But when it was time to speak, the spirit filled my heart.  I have no idea what I said.  But I know last night, I was an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  The spirit was there!  The Lord knew what the saints of the Logan Stake needed to hear, and he blessed those words to flow from my mouth.  I take no credit!  What a blessing to be able to give back to my Father in Heaven!  He has given me so much!

As we sat in the session of stake conference today, the spirit continued to fill my heart.  It feels so good to be on the Lord's side.  For so long, I kept one foot in the world and one foot in the gospel.  You can't do both!  You have to pick a side.  I know which side I am on.  I never, EVER want to go back to the person I was a few years ago.  I was so lost!  I lost sight of the eternal perspective.  I will be eternally grateful my little girl helped bring that eternal perspective back into focus.  She is my greatest hero!  I champion her life.  I hope I will always live up to the amazing, valiant young lady she is.

The gospel is true!  The Lord loves us!  He hears and answers our prayers!  He fills our hearts with peace and happiness.  In our darkest hours, he comes and cradles us in the arms of his love!  With God, all things are possible!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday April 29, 2012

Wow!  I can't believe it is almost May already!  The past month has flown by like a whirlwind!  I only have one week left of school.  YEA!!  I honestly can't wait for the summer break.  This past year has been tough.

I have so many things to write about, I am not sure where to begin.  I need to write little bits more often so when I do catch up, I am not writing a novel.  Ha ha ha!  (0:  I had the most amazing past couple of weeks at school.  At the end of March, I volunteered to have one young student added to my power hour group.  This particular student has Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and he was struggling in the enrichment group.  Wanting the experience of interacting with such a student, I was thrilled when they placed him in my group.  At first, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I was a little scared of him.  I had heard he could be extremely stubborn and often refused to cooperate.  I decided to take a totally different approach to the situation.  I prayed about this boy and specifically asked for help in working with him.  What followed was nothing short of a miracle.  This boy thrived in my group!  He participated.  He smiled.  He was great!  I did see, but only a little bit, the ODD aspects of his personality.  What really made my whole year was when he asked me if I could be his teacher next year.  I think he felt my belief in him and my concern for his well being.  I hope he did.  I love all of my students, and I want them all to feel good about who they are and what abilities they have.  What else was funny about this student was how much he reminded me of Austin.  The mannerisms, the hyperactivity, the impulsivity: just like my son.  That also made it easier to work with him.  When he got fidgety, I sent him for a walk.  I do the exact same thing for Austin.  When this boy was irritated and frustrated, I cut down the amount of work he had to complete.  I do the same thing for Austin in home-school.  These are the kinds of kids I want to help.  I want to be the one who steps in and gives them the tools to be successful in school and in life.  I guess in a way I kind of relate to the underdogs.  I was one of them.  School was tough for me.  I struggled with anxiety many, many times.  I wish I would have had someone who could have helped me understand my body and the way my mind worked.  I would have had a much easier time in school.  As it was, I spent a lot of time worrying if I would be okay.  At times, the symptoms of anxiety severely interfered with my ability to learn.  I don't want other students to struggle like I did.

I had another cool experience this week.  My temple recommend expired at the end of March.  I haven't been to the temple for couple of months, so I didn't realize it was time to renew it.  I was able to get an interview with the bishop last Sunday.  I went in for my Stake Presidency interview on Tuesday night.  President Maughan, our stake President, was the one who interviewed me.  He asked me, after looking at my former recommend, what brought our family to Logan, so I mentioned a little about Ashley and school.  There was a very strong spirit in the room while I spoke to this wonderful man about my sweet daugher.  After the interview, he asked me if I believed in impressions of the spirit.  Well, of course I said yes.  I know the Holy Ghost whispers to our hearts.  When the Holy Ghost whispers, we listen.  (0: He preceded to tell me he felt impressed that I should share Ashley's story at the upcoming stake conference.  I promptly fell over on the floor!!!!!  (0:  Or at least I felt like falling over!  I had such a burning feeling in my heart.  I knew it was what Heavenly Father wanted me to do.  Then of course, I was emotional for the rest of the night.  Ashley continues to bless our lives.  I see more and more blessings all the time.  My testimony has grown so much!  Even though speaking in stake conference scares the hee-bee gee-bees out of me, I feel so humbled to have the chance to speak about my amazing angel.  Somewhere out there is someone who will benefit from her experiences, and mine.  Now I need the spirit with me more than ever!!  What a wonderful opportunity to draw myself even closer to my Heavenly Father!!  (0:  I know, if I trust in Him, I will be blessed to be an instrument in his Hands and fulfill this assignment to the best of my ability.

Because of this speaking assignment, we are also going to complete Ashley's temple work.  The plan was to do that anyway, but now we have a set date to attend the temple as a family.  I can't wait!!  Jason completed the necessary paperwork so all that needs to be done is to take that paperwork to the temple.  My whole family is coming with us.  I know it will be a day to remember for ever and ever!!  (0:  I wish I could tell Ashley just what a blessing she was to us.  I hope she knows it was because of her that so many hearts have changed, so many lives are better, stronger.  We needed that little girl.  I pray every day I can be worthy to be with her again someday.  (0:

I just plain feel good about where I am in my life.  I love having the spirit with me every day.  I have worked hard so I am worthy to have the spirit as my guide.  Life is so scary!  You never know from one moment to the next what may come your way.  The trick is to be prepared ahead of time for the stormy times.  Jason and I spoke in sacrament meeting today about trials.  My topic was how to stay positive during the rough times.  The one thing that has kept me moving forward, that has helped me to see the positive side of the dark times, is my testimony of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation.  Jesus Christ lives!  He atoned for our sins so that we can return to our Father in Heaven.  Death is not the end.  We will be resurrected someday.  We will be a family forever!  These truths have helped me to keep the eternal perspective always in my sights.  I haven't always been strong.  I wish I could say I was.  But I wasn't.  I almost lost the most important thing in my life.  I had to repent, and the way back was nothing short of hell on earth.  I am SO glad I am not that person anymore.  I will NEVER be that person again.

There is so much more I could write.  I have had so many wonderful spiritual experiences this week.  Unfortunately, time, and upcoming finals this week, are preventing me from spending any more time here.  (0:  The gospel is true!  I am so happy I have the gospel in my life!  (0:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I actually have a little time this afternoon, and so I felt I should write a few of my thoughts down in my blog. It has been a beautiful Sunday. I LOVE Sundays!! (0: I absolutely adore my new calling. Leading primary music is so much fun. I find myself coming away from church feeling uplifted and happy. Even though I am still learning, I know Heavenly Father is helping me to do the best job I can. It feels so good to serve! I have so many wonderful blessings in my life, and I love knowing I can give back at least a little of what I have been given.

The past week was a tough one for our family. Jason was super depressed all week long. He isn't feeling well. His stomach is giving him fits. He can't ever sleep. He has a mouth full of canker sores, (10 to be exact), so he hasn't been able to eat. He does not like his job, and desperately wants to make a career change. He is looking for other options, but nothing has come along. He needs and wants to go back to school, but the right time hasn't come yet. His schedule is too demanding for much. In addition, I have to study every free second I can get. It is so helpful to have him take care of things in the evenings so I can study. If I didn't have his help, I would be so stressed out! He keeps me sane. However, that being said, I would NEVER discourage him from enrolling in school. If that helped lift the awful depression that has overtaken him, it would be so worth it. We would find a way to make it work. I have felt so beside myself knowing what to do for him. There has to be an answer out there. We just need to find it.

I haven't felt very good this past week either. I have been struggling with vertigo again. I haven't had any room spinning eposides, thank goodness. But when I lay down in bed at night, and roll over from one side to another, the room will rock violently from side to side. I will feel off balance periodically throughout the day. I think that is part of the reason I was so tired all last week. When my body has to work hard to correct my balance, I do get tired. The ENT doc told me that was a side effect of the vertigo. Not fun at all! I wanted to exercise a little last week in hopes the exercise would help me to have more energy but I didn't feel like it. In addition, I felt down most of last week. I have no idea where that came from. That is the stupid thing with depression: you never know when it will come on. When it does, it is hard to pull yourself back up. Part of my problem is that I get hyper-sensitive to what people say. I had three experiences last week where something was said to me that made me feel bad about myself. You know what they say, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Well, I consented. When I block out the negative thoughts, I am happy with myself. I feel like I am putting my heart and soul into my job. I am working hard in school, and my grades reflect my dedication. Jason and I are doing well. I grumped at him a bit last week, but he still loves me, so I guess my apology was alright. (0: I feel I have a great relationship with my sons, especially Austin. I love my new calling. I think part of my problem last week came from the notion that I still don't really belong. That sounds so trite! But that is one of my internal struggles. I want people to like me. I sometimes feel like I am a square in a room full of circles. I realized last week, my apparent "squareness" and I let it bother me. I shouldn't have. In those moments, I have to step back and appreciate who I am. Not who I am not.

Well, homework calls my name. I have tried to ignore it for some time now, but it isn't working! Ha ha ha! I hope everyone has a wonderful coming week! (0:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Heart Full of Peace

My heart is so full this morning. What a great time to live in this earth! What a great place I am at in my life. I feel like I am in the calm after the storm, when the sun finally shines again. The past few years have been so full of challenges for our family. I know we aren't through yet. I have to say, I really enjoy the challenges given to us. When we struggle, that is when we grow and become closer to our Father in Heaven. I know I have said this many, many times before, but I thank Heavenly Father every day for my angel girl, for every struggle we had with her, for the privilege of being her mother. My heart has changed in so many ways, and it is because of the experiences with her. I miss her every day. I can't wait for the day when I can hold her in my arms again!!! She is my inspiration. All my kids are my inspiration. I want to be the best I can be in every way so we can all be together forever someday. What a glorious day that will be!!! (0:

Our family has had numerous blessings come into our lives over the past few months. Jason is selling homes. My boys have been happy, healthy, and peaceful. They are all doing well in school. Austin is doing great in the Utah Virtual Academy. He enjoys it very much, and also enjoys hanging out with his friends. I am so grateful for the good friends in his life right now. They are exceptional young men who are good examples to my very impressionable son. I am glad he has such good friends to enrich his life.

Jason and I have had such a fun time together. Our time is very limited, between his schedule and mine, but we make a conscious effort to spend time together every week. I am so glad I have such a supportive, loving husband. I couldn't survive without him! There is no way I would! He is always there with a loving hug, an encouraging smile, or simply a gentle touch to remind me, I will be alright. We are a great team! (0: I love the closeness between us. It keeps us both pressing forward.

I recently received a new calling. I was in cub scouting, but at the end of February, I was called to serve as the primary chorister. At first I was very scared. I have never served in this capacity before, and it seemed extremely intimidating. The more I prayed, the more peace I felt. I knew I would be blessed to do the best job I could. I had big shoes to fill, but I knew with constant prayer, I would be blessed to do my best. Amazingly, the more time I spent planning and working on the primary songs, the less pressure I felt from my school work. As I have mentioned before, school this semester has been tough. I have had lots to do and not enough time to do it. After I accepted this calling, my capacities to manage all the dealings in my life increased. I have felt the powers of heaven carrying me along. My burdens were lifted off of my shoulders. In addition to that, I feel so happy and full of peace. I feel the spirit with me every day, and it is such a wonderful blessing to have the Holy Ghost as my costant companion. (0: I never want to lose this feeling I have now. I know life is not going to be easy. It was never meant to be easy. But when we know where to go when we are sad, angry, hurt, discouraged, or just plain weary from this crazy journey through life, it is such a blessing to know God is always there. He helps us. He carries us when we can't walk anymore. He helps us to see the light shining brightly after the storms have raged around us for so long.

Life is wonderful. We have food to eat. We have jobs that provide for our family. We have a great house to live in. We have a wonderful ward and loving neighbors who watch over us. Most importantly, we have peace. Our children have peace. (0: I hope I can treasure up this time in my life and remember the peace I feel. I know the storms will come again, but how grateful I am for the increased capacity to deal with these storms. As Richard G. Scott said in the afternoon session of conference yesterday, those who are beyond the veil are always there, loving us, cheering us on, helping us. They are ever near. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the knowledge that my little angel is always near, that Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, will hear and answer my prayers. In the darkest of times, they carry me along. They comfort my heart. They heal my wounds. We can see our girl again someday through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I pray I will be always stay worthy to partake of these wonderful blessings!!! (0:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What a Special Weekend! (0:

I can't believe it has been two years since we lost our special angel. It doesn't seem like it has been that long. It seems like yesterday she was a tiny baby, struggling to begin her life in this crazy world. In the blink of an eye, she was a elegant, generous, loving, compassionate 12 year old, eager to enter the grown-up world. It was so fun to start the journey into womanhood with her. On her 12th birthday, she was so excited to start wearing makeup. I told her I would teach her after she turned 12. We had so much fun buying makeup and experimenting with it on her. She was such a beautiful little gal. (0: I am so glad I had that last summer with her, before she really started going downhill. She and I had so many fun times, doing mommy-daughter things. I realize now, that time was such a blessing from Heavenly Father. It was a peaceful time, the calm before the storm. But what a great gift to be given those few weeks when she was able to smile, laugh, shop, and talk with her mommy! (0: I miss that so much now! I will lock those beautiful memories forever in my heart!!

Her very last stay at Primary Children's was quite an experience. At that time, she had a double lumin PICC line put in. She was fighting with protein losing enteropathy, and was very sick. They were trying hard to do all they could for her, but we knew her life would not go on for much longer. I remember learning how to change her IV bags and learning how to care for her PICC line. It was so scary at first! But she and I became quite a team. I learned how to care for my little girl, and I feel so privileged that I was the one who cared for her every moment of every day until she passed. I look back on that time, and I treasure every single second. I never left her side. I can say I have no regrets. I loved her the very best I could. Her dad loved her the best he could. Our family survived together. We stood by her and loved her until her last breath. I know she left this life knowing she was a gift to us. She left knowing how much her family, her extended family, and her friends loved her. I will be eternally grateful to everyone that helped and supported us through that awful dark time. It was so hard, but with great faith and loving friends and family, we were able to keep moving forward. We continue to move forward, looking ahead to each new and exciting day. Ashley would want that. She would want us to smile and laugh, to enjoy every moment of being alive. I know she watches over us, and over all those she loved so much. She is never far away. Sometimes I long to cuddle her in my arms just for one more second. I long to run my fingers across her cheeks and through her soft hair, just like she always liked me to do when she was suffering so. She is truly my inspiration to live the best life I can. I want to be where she is someday, with my sweet boys and my amazing husband, reunited eternally, never to be separated again. What a glorious day that will be!!!

So this weekend, in honor of our beautiful angel, we were blessed to travel to Salt Lake. We let our boys choose out what they wanted to do that their sister would have done if she were alive. We ended up going to the Hill Air Force Base Airplane museum. We took her there one time, and it was so fun. (0: We also went up to Primary Children's and walked around the hospital, remembering all the times we spent in various places. We went to cardiology. We ate lunch in the cafeteria. We also donated some toys to cardiology in her memory. It was so wonderful to be back in that amazing hospital. I know there are angels who walk those halls. When you walk inside, you can feel them. I know they are real. They watch over the precious children there. I felt them as we were walking around. I know they watched over Ashley numerous times over the years. I know they are there still. Primary Children's is truly a bit of heaven on earth. It will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

After the hospital, we went to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. The boys had a blast there. I will say though, it is not a place for older children. It is mostly activities for children 8 and younger. Despite that, it was fun, and we all had a great time. (0:

After the museum, we ended up in Murray at the Fashionplace Mall. My sister, Tammy and I ended up a Build-A-Bear and decided to build a bear in Ashley's honor. We chose out the perfect pink diva bear and decked her out in the most darling outfits. We found the perfect sparkly shoes Ashley would have LOVED! We also found the most darling crown and wand to complete her diva ensemble. It was so much fun! (0: What a great way to remember our Miss Sassy Pants! (0:

We were going to go eat at Chuck-A-Rama after the mall, but it was so crowded, we decided to go for IHOP. We had to pick one of Ashley's favorite eating destinations. Thankfully, IHOP wasn't busy. We had a wonderful dinner, laughing and talking, enjoying the time as a family. Of course, the boys were eager to get to the motel. We stayed at a fantastic Fairfield Inn, with a perfect swimming pool. The rest of the evening, we swam and swam and swam. I think they boys would have been happy swimming for the entire day! (0: They truly loved that the most. After swimming, it was ice cream and bed for all of us. We were beat!

This morning, we were blessed with the opportunity to go to Temple Sqauare and see the tablernacle choir. Our boys have never had that experience. It was the perfect Sunday to be at the broadcast. The orchestra performed with the choir, as did the bell choir. What a magnificient program! We left feeling uplifted and full of peace. We spent some more time, walking around Temple Square before leaving for home.

I am eternally grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it is true, with every fiber of my being. I am so thankful for temples, and for the sacred work that goes on in the temple. I am so thankful for my eternal companion, who makes every day worth living. I am so thankful for our temple marriage, for the knowledge that as long as we live the best life we can, we will be a family forever! Ashley will be ours! Someday we will see her again. We will hold her and cuddle and love her. We will know every single struggle in this life was worth it. We lived a good life. We fought a good fight, and we can finally rest from our cares and troubles, never to be separated again. I am so thankful for a living prophet who leads and guides us today. I always feel the spirit so strongly when I listen to him speak. He is such a wonderful man!! I love the Book of Mormon. It is true!! The peace I feel when I read it keeps me going each and every day. I am so thankful for my family. I have the best family EVER! My parents and siblings mean everything to me. I love them all! I am so glad we all get along so well and we are always there for one another. I would be lost without my family! What a blessing to have the parents I do. They are the best examples of Christ-like living that I know. Most of all, I am so grateful for the opportunity to have had one of heaven's most valiant spirits. I learned so much from Ashley. She was truly patient in her many afflictions. Her testimony was rock solid. Her heart was as good as a heart can be. She filled our lives with blessings. I continue to see more blessings as time goes on. She forever changed my heart and my life. I will never be the same person I once was. I am stronger. I am more humble. She gave me the valiant testimony I longed to have. She made us all appreciate our eternal family. I hope in her heavenly sphere, she knows just how loved she is!! I hope she knows what a difference her life made to so many lives, not just her immediate family.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Beautiful Sunday

I am not going to write much today. But I have had so many blessings come my way this week, I wanted to write about them all. Last weekend, I knew this week would be busy. We had several activites on the calendar. When I looked at my school schedule, and all that was due, I felt instantly sick. Seriously, five tests, a geology assignment, a stats assignment, 6 chapters to read to prepare for those tests, 8 lectures and two videos to watch. I looked at the available time to complete those tasks and didn't see any way I would survive. As menitoned previously, I have to get high grades so I can get into graduate school. Honestly, even if I wasn't going on to grad school, I would want to get as good of grades as I was capable of. It's just now, I know I need A's. I prayed so hard last Sunday. I told Heavenly Father I was maxed out. I was trying hard to make every moment of the day count. I tried hard not to waste any time. I asked him to help me get through this week, without losing my mind. (0: I was given my own miracle. My geology assignment that normally takes me three to four hours to complete, took just under and hour, reading time included. I was able to get everything done for my abnormal psychology class. Even given the limited study time I had for the chapter, I remember what I needed to on both the quiz and the test. That was not a coincidence. I finished up the six chapters for my Abuse and Neglect class and was able to take the test without hours of additional study time. I remember what I needed to. What a miracle that was! We ended up with no school on Friday and again, tomorrow, (Monday). My wonderful sister took Austin and Preston to Burley. Without all my kids here, I have flown through my stats readings, lectures, and assignments. I still have to complete two tests for that class, but I don't feel the all encompassing panic I felt last Sunday night. Heavenly Father heard my prayers. He helped me climb all the mountains this week. Now I am in the valley on the other side, and even though there are hurdles left, they don't seem so big. With God, NOTHING is impossible. But we have to do our part. We have to ask for the help we need and then we have to trust in Him, nothing wavering. We have to do all in our power so he can help us. I tried so hard to do that! I did! I read, I worked, I prayed. And he answered! I am so thankful I know he is always there for us and that he hears and answers our prayers!!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finally a second to write! (0:

Wow! Today is February 1! I can't believe how quickly time has flown! I wanted to update my blog a long time ago, but I haven't had time. As it happens, I am really sick today. I got a stupid cold, which has decided to attack my entire body. YUCK!!! I didn't want to stay home today, but I felt so awful, I didn't have the strength to go to work. Not only that, but I have a full week. Life doesn't stop when you feel like dirt! (0: I figure I have one day to rest and then I have to hit my work load hard again!

My schedule this semester is tough. All my classes are involved classes. Usually there is at least one class per semester that is easier than the rest. This semester, that isn't the case. My biggest problem is that I have so many other things to do, I don't get a good run at my homework until late evening. By that time, I am tired and ready to crash. It doesn't make for a good study session for sure. That being said, I LOVE school! I LOVE psychology! I am learning so many fun things. I thank Heavenly Father every day for the wonderful opportunity to be in school. It isn't easy, but I will definitely say it has been worth every second! (Ok, so ask me that after five nights in a row of late night study sessions and early morning study sessions!) I feel in my being I am on the right career path. There is certainly a time and a season in everyone's life for education, family, etc. This happens to be my time and season for education. My kids are in school. Without Ashley, I don't have a reason to be home anymore. It helps me so much to be busy. I love my job!!! The kids I work with at school are amazing! I also work with amazing people. They are such a big help to me when I am planning my weekly lesson plans.

I am actually grateful I am sick today. I have been running so hard for the past couple of weeks, my body was wearing thin. My scripture time has been pathetic. My prayers haven't been sincere, especially when I say them as I fall exhausted into bed at midnight after a long night of studying! (0: Being sick has given me the chance to slow down and examine my priorities, to look at all the wonderful blessings that are in my life. I am certainly humbled to the dust, feeling as sick as I do, and it is such a great reminder of my dependence on my wonderful Father in Heaven, and His mercy and love that have been poured upon me and upon my family in the past year.

So what is new with the Winn Family? Well, last month Spencer ended up having surgery on his knee. That is the most exciting event I have to report. Spencer's knee had been hurting for a while. I knew something was wrong with it, but we didn't have insurance. I had applied for CHIP, but it seemed like every time we turned around, some little thing held up our application process. Fortunately, we were so blessed that CHIP came at the right time. I got Spencer in to a specialist, and we discovered he had a growth under his knee cap. They removed the growth and now, Spencer is doing great. His surgery went well. He was in minimal pain. He has gone to therapy one time, and his knee is moving almost normally now. I couldn't have asked for a better experience with surgery. Compared to what we went through with Ashley, this was a breeze! (0: Jason's wonderful dad and Kimberly sacrificed their entire day to come to the hospital on the day of Spencer's surgery. As usual, Grandpa and Grandma spoiled Spencer rotten! (0: They came bearing gifts for all the boys, and for Jason and I too. We were soooooo thankful to have Grandpa and Grandma Winn with us. Grandma Bell and my parents kept in close contact the entire day. All of my siblings called to check in on us. My ward brought us food. We were so blessed to be surrounded by angels who made a hard time easy to bear. (0:

I feel so richly blessed over the past couple of months. As mentioned previously, December was a very difficult month for me. My emotions were all over the board. I was stressed, tired, depressed, and anxious. Over Christmas Break, I made a conscious effort to really stay close to Heavenly Father. I read some amazing books that really touched my heart. I was able to go to the temple, which filled my heart with peace. I made an effort to make my prayers as meaningful as possible. All of those things helped me so much. I also had several opportunities to serve those around me. I can't tell you how strongly I feel the spirit when I am helping others. We have had so many people do nice things for our family over the past several years. I want so much to pay it forward and to be close enough to the spirit to know what I can do to pay it forward. I have listened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and I have been the beneficiary of oodles of blessings that have come from listening and acting on those promptings.

Life is a raging storm for sure. You never know from one moment to the next what may happen, what trial may come, what stumbling block may trip you on your journey back to Heavenly Father. I know one thing for sure, I want to be worthy in every way to one day be enfolded in the arms of our Savior!! I want to stand before Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and be able to tell them I did my part. I lived the best I could. I served the best I could. I endured the temptations of Satan, and became a better person because of what I learned from those experiences. Most of all, I want to be able to hold my little girl again! I miss my Ashley every second! She was such an angel! I wish everyone could have known her. She was such a happy, sparkly young lady. She taught me so much. Someday, I am going to write a tribute to her life. Mark my words, it will be done! (0: I want everyone to know what an angel she was. Her influence can be felt to this day. She changed my heart. She made me realize what was truly important. I am by far, NOT a perfect person. I have made so many mistakes in my life. But being blessed with such a valiant, perfect spirit makes me want to overcome all my weaknessess. It makes me want to be a little better every day. It gives me the strength to keep moving forward, even when the dark storms of life seem to overtake my whole body and soul. Faith in every footstep! That is my motto! One day at a time. One minute at a time. Sometimes, one second at a time. We will make it thorugh this life and then what wonderful blessings will await!!! (0: