Monday, January 31, 2011

The Catwalk

This past weekend I participated in the annual "Wedding Festival" down in SLC as a model on the runway. I know, you're probably asking yourself, "They allow a woman in her 50's on the catwalk??" I asked myself the very same question when Vickie (my agent) told me emphatically that she wanted me to do this show.

It has been about 3 years since I was in a runway show and it was for Dillards. I had a blast even though I tripped at the end of one of my sets and almost knocked the pillars at the top of the runway big surprise, I'm a TOTAL klutz and always have been. I smiled, and exited the stage as quickly as I possibly could. It was fun even though I was sure that that show was my big finale in the world of 5'9"(minimum) skinny girls with flawless skin, flowing hair and sassy attitudes.

Since my daughter, Aja, my son Tyler and one of my *Littles*, Alakina are "regulars" in the annual Wedding show, I grudgingly agreed to do it. Aja is a veteran...I think this was her 10th year and she is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. on the runway...sooooo graceful and she just glides down with grace and elegance with her willowy body and sparkling smile. Ty has done it for the past 4 years and has really mastered it. One of his sets is with all guys (in tuxes) who get out and's a showstopper and Ty is a hit! But the best is Alakina...she comes out in the third set. She was dressed in a beautiful all white dress, complete with a full petticoat (a blast from the past...) and RUNS onto the stage into the arms of a "groom" who sweeps her up, swings her around and then they watch a beautiful bride glide by...the crowd goes wild!
This is Aja in "Veil" set. All the girls wore black to showcase the veils...

So here I was...I was the MOB (Mother-of-the-Bride). My first dress was a gorgeous teal strapless gown (kinda freaked me out since I NEVER wear strapless) and the second outfit was a hideous, salmon colored suit that was too big for me, had jeweled buttons and, quite simply, if I had worn that to either of my daughter's weddings I would probably have been banned from the was horrid!! (fortunately there are no pictures of it)
I decided that in the second set (ugly salmon suit) I should have been called the FOB...Frump-of-the-Bride. It was tough to try to rock it on the runway...I tried...Awful!

So the next day, the representative from Dillards (who had the ugly suit) brought me a long flowing pink gown that pretty much resembled a night gown. But at this point, I was THRILLED to no longer play the FOB role and walked with much more ease in the pink...that set was with Alakina and it was sweet!

All in all, it was a great experience. It was fun to be up there with 2 of my 3 children and it was great to work with Alakina...I was told that I was now in it every least until I become the GOB (Grandmother-of-the-Bride)...YIKES!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ice Castles

This is what is across the street and down one block from my house:

They are magnificent and beautiful, completely made out of ice. They're Ice Castles.

My *Littles* had a blast running through them and so did Aja & my mother...
And at night they are ethereal...
If you're up this way, you might want to stop and take a look...My neighbor makes them...people are so creative!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Walk By Faith

I have lived long enough to see many great and wonderful things and to see many hurtful and sad things happen not only in my life, but in the lives of those whom I love. I have pondered greatly the magnitude of my blessings and the blessed life I have lived for the past 54, almost 55 years. It has not been without challenges and definitely not without a fair amount of pain BUT, I have observed others who seem to have lived better, more pure, humble lives than me suffer great loss and tremendous heartache. So I have posed the age-old question, "Why me?" in a manner that is contrary to the norm...

Why have I been so blessed? Why have I lead what seems to be a charmed life? Why at my age do I still have both parents and all of my siblings? Why is my health good? Why am I blessed to live in such an amazing community, in a house that is complete with all of the necessities and even comforts of life? I have not buried a child. I have never really gone without. And on and on and on.

I share all of this, not to boast. I watch the news and see the atrocities happening in our world. I ache when I see scenes of weeping mothers carrying their dead babies after a horrific natural disaster or the grieving parent who doesn't know to where their beloved child has disappeared. I shed tears for those who live in third-world countries in severe poverty and illness never even knowing the possibilities of the bounteous blessings that this amazing world has to offer.

Some turn their eyes Heavenward and lean on God to sustain them and pull them through. They allow their faith to grow and find blessings amidst the turmoil and chaos of their situations.

But I have also seen the opposite. I have seen people turn against God, their spouses, other family members and even their children as they have questioned the "Why Me?" in a more negative or dark sense.


I have shared these stories before, but it is with great reverence and respect that I share these two accounts of two unbelievable women with you again.

The first is a lovely lady, Ms. C whom I have grown to love and adore. Her husband and father of two of her children, was accused (he claims falsely and I tend to agree after hearing and seeing all that I have) of sexual abuse of his daughter from a previous marriage that ended badly with a lot of animosity. He was thrown in jail a little over 8 years ago and would be out by now of only he would plead guilty and take the required sex offenders class. Yes, he would be a registered sex offender, but wouldn't that be better than being away from your wife and other two children? Not if you listen to the humble grace of this amazing woman when she speaks adoringly of her love, faith and commitment to her husband and also her God!

She has stated numerous times that she and her husband are actually GRATEFUL for this entire ordeal! Can you imagine?? Grateful because they have grown in their love and faith in their Heavenly Father who, for whatever reason, has allowed this attrocity to transpire in their once peaceful and calm lives. Their love for each other as husband and wife has grown in a way that she testifies would never have been possible any other way. She is happy! He is happy! Certainly they are working on proving his innocence, but in the meantime (and let's face it, that's where we almost always live) they are finding ways to, not only cope, but to grow, thrive and really live during their unfortunate circumstances. I am in awe...

Then there's Ms. A. Her husband and father of her children has suffered tremendous the point of complete despair that has ended him up in psyche wards of mental institutions and heavy medication to aid in the prevention of something unmentionable. She has worked day and night to provide a realitively stable and "normal" home for her precious children while keeping a positive attitude about the hopeful outcome of her marriage. He, on the other hand, in his darkened state, has wanted out. He has felt smaller than small and unworthy of anything even resembling "good". He wanted to end his marriage. But her love for him as well as her faith in who he REALLY is, gave her the strength to endure and remain by his side. She has spent endless hours sitting with him just "being" with him, showing her support, faith and total unconditional love for the cherished union they entered into many years before. She has seen beyond the "now" and has looked into the "future". She knew the honorable man and son of God her husband really truly is and has focused all of her time and energies into helping him to come back and see his true potential as a man worthy of great love. During this entire crisis, she has attended her church meetings, serving in whatever capacity she was called to, and praised the Lord for all of the goodness and blessings that have come into their lives...He's now home and beginning to thrive in the real world...Again, I am in awe!

I look upon these two beautiful women and those I love who have suffered enormous challenges with great respect. I have been uplifted, inspired and edified by their ability to endure such trials with so much grace and dignity. Their growth and strength is awe-inspiring and I have actually felt a touch of envy, not in their sufferings, but in their class and elegance of receiving divine insights as a result of their immense pain and suffering because they have truly become "women of God".

So as I reflect on my life, I can see that the challenges and trials that I have endured were custom made for me! Some seemed to be unbearable at the time, and some came and went in a blur. I have beat myself up so many times for not always handling them in a gracious and dignified manner. I have felt small and insignificant as compared to these two previously mentioned women, but I came through them and that's good.

I found this from "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis:

We are perplexed to see misfortune falling upon decent, inoffensive, worthy people—–on capable, hard-working mothers of families or diligent, thrifty, little trades people, on those who have worked so hard, and so honestly, for their modest stock of happiness and now seem to be entering on the enjoyment of it with the fullest right. How can I say with sufficient tenderness what here needs to be said? It does not matter that I know I must become, in the eyes of every hostile reader, as if I were personally responsible for all the sufferings I try to explain……But it matters enormously if I alienate anyone from the truth.

Let me implore the reader to try to believe, if only for a moment, that God, who made these deserving people, may really be right when He thinks that their modest prosperity and the happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed: that all this must fall from them in the end, and that if they have not learned to know Him they will be wretched. And therefore He troubles them, warning them in advance of an insufficiency that one day they will have to discover. The life to themselves and their families stands between them and the recognition of their need; He makes that life less sweet to them. I call this a Divine Humility because it is a poor thing to strike our colors to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up “our own” when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is “nothing better” now to be had.

I have no idea why wonderful, hard-working and deserving people are challenged in such seemingly monumental ways. Why the women in the two stories I have shared have been tried and tested as they have, but I do know this; they are both strong, vital, loving and humble women who have taught me more about strength than I ever realized was possible. They have stood as witnesses of God's divine love for them. They are examples of women of faith. They are the women I hope to one day become.

Whatever lies ahead for me is just that...for me! I only hope and pray that I will cultivate a love and respect for my Father in Heaven that will sustain me through anything I am asked to endure.

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." ~Isaiah 41:10

Need I say more?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smart Kids

I get such a kick out of my *Littles* and how smart they are.

Alakina who's 4 said to me today:
"Nana, I can speak Spanish...BUENO, dos, tres, quatro, cinco!"

I said something to little Stella today that made her laugh...she said, "Nana, that's HYSTERICAL!"...she's 3!

Pretty smart if you ask me!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Remember Not The Former Things

As I reflect back on 2010, I have come to the conclusion that it can either be remembered as one of the worst years or one of the best years of my life. It was full of challenges that are just typical challenges of life but others totally blindsided me. It's the blindsided ones that seemed to post the biggest frustrations but ultimately provided the greatest lessons and blessings...I guess that's how life works!

I came across a couple of scriptures that just LEAPT off the page...these are scriptures I have read hundreds of times in the past but considering where my heart and head were that particular day, they gave new meaning to what I was going through.

Isaiah 43:18-19...
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness , and rivers in the desert."

This was an "Ah Ha Moment" at its finest for me!! I felt great comfort in these precious words knowing that the Lord really does know me and that He has my best interest at heart. To "remember not the former things" struck me like a bolt of lightening. Brad and I encountered many changes in 2010...some were to be expected, some were wonderful, some were painful and some were unexpected...again, that's just life! But it isn't always easy to endure changes. It seemed, at times, that we "lost" some things that seemed so precious. At times it seemed as though we had no direction. In all reality, it brought us to our knees and we found more direction and more blessings than we could ever have imagined! This has served as a real testimony of the Lord's immense love for us and it shows me that, without any doubt, HE KNOWS US...HE KNOWS ME! He really knows who we are and He loves and cares for us.

As we have worked on remembering NOT the former things and KNOWING that He will do a NEW thing, the Windows of Heaven have opened and showered us with blessings that might not have come our way had we focused on what we "seemed" to have lost. Answers to prayers seemed, at times, to fall on deaf ears but ultimately came with great promises of new blessings.

Someone's sweet pastor said, "The Lord doesn't offer explanations, He offers promises!" (another Ah Ha Moment for me...)

Life has moved forward and so have we! New business ventures for my hubs, while at times challenging, have proved to be lucrative and very rewarding. New church callings have provided great blessings and opportunities for personal growth and new friendships have fostered life-long relationships with endless support and love.

The changes we have been faced with have at times have seemed unbearable and even impossible, but in the end, they were a "new thing" that sprang forth and a "way in the wilderness" was plotted out as well as "rivers in the desert" were provided.

How blessed we are! I can never begin to express enough gratitude for all that I have been so immensely blessed with. The peace of mind and comfort in knowing that we have a "new thing" is worth more than all the gold in the world!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Problem With Pain

If you see any of my Facebook posts, you'll see that lately I have sounded a bit whiny with this miserable sinus infection that I have had for over a week now. I really don't mean to whine, I guess I am just one of those ridiculous *sick* people.

I went through 2010 without going to the doctor once...well, almost. On Dec.30th my hubs took me in because I was, well, miserable and insisted that I be attended to! I had been running a fever, had body aches, chills and just plain wanted to die (I told you, I'm a terrible sick person). As I sat in the exam room, Carol the nurse came in immediately and took my blood pressure...I was still alive. Then the doc came in and started asking me questions...I was sitting in a chair and was ready to pass out so he moved me to the exam table to finish checking me out. "You have a good case of the CRUD", he said...huh?!? Is that a Utah disease? I have never heard of that before...He sent me into the other room for a head x-ray (sinuses) and when I went back to my trusty exam table to wait for the results, I seriously wanted to jump out of my skin.

The overhead lights were more than I could handle so I laid there with my head under my jacket, curled up in the fetal position shivering from fever. I was M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E...I mentioned this several times to Brad who just sweetly said, "you're not going to die, you'll be fine!"

I started to think about my sweet daddy who has suffered for almost 30 years with bad health. I thought of the times when I have seen him in the hospital writhing in pain but keeping his cute sense of humor and keeping the nurses giggling. I thought of people I have know who have struggled with horrible chronic ailments like cancer and who have endured torturous chemo/radiation treatments and have still managed to smile through it all. And then my mind wandered to the Savior and what He suffered and endured in Gethsemane...on my behalf...for  my sins.

I can't even begin to imagine the magnitude of what He went through in that garden. How the sins and pains of the world were thrust to Him and how He sweat blood from every pore throughout the entire ordeal. I will never be able to fully comprehend the depth of pain and agony He experienced that night. It's impossible, because I am so human.

A few days ago I came across a beautiful blog written by an amazing young woman named Edie. A few days before Christmas she lost her house to fire...please read her story, it will change you! I have taken the liberty of posting something that a friend of hers posted after the fire by C.S. Lewis (he's a favorite of mine)...It has inspired and lifted me unmeasurably.

From C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain–chapter 6

“The human spirit will not even begin to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are, the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked , unmistakable evil, every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt…..And the pain is not only recognizable evil, but evil impossible to ignore. We rest contentedly in our sins and stupidities…..and can even ignore our pleasures, but pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of pain threatens serious disease, or a tragedy that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world, and my only real treasure is Christ.

And perhaps by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources.

But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys; I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me but for forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over—I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed.

And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless. ”

In a weird way, I am thankful for the "suffering" I had to endure on Dec. 30th (in a doctor's office, receiving help and medication...) It has served as a reminder of how incredibly blessed I am and thankful for all of the beauty that has come my way. I guess pain is important after all. It's learning how to still rejoice in it and remember our blessings that really creates the balm of healing, ultimately through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so blessed!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Simple Baking Lessons

For Christmas, I gave Alakina an Easy Bake Oven. She is now 4 and every time she comes to my house she wants to it was a no-brainer for me!

Easy Bake Ovens came out in 1963...I remember well seeing the commercial on TV and so desperately wanting one just knowing that I would become a "master baker" if I could only have one of these precious little appliances of my very own...I would have to wait until Christmas and HOPE that I was good enough to receive one...I was, and I did!!

Miss Ali has never asked for one...maybe she had never seen it advertised and just plain didn't know about them. I don't think she even knew the "power" it held until a few days after Christmas when I had her bring it over to my house.

We decided to make the white cake with chocolate frosting that came with the kit. I let her do it all...she opened the package, dumped it in the bowl (I measured the water) she added it to the mix and she did all the stirring...I even let her spray the "Pam" into the tiny pan. She was SO proud and loved each moment of creating her very own little cake.

She placed it into the oven and let it "bake"...(it's heated by a 100w light bulb) and the waiting was torture for her. After a few minutes, it was done and she popped it out...It was torture for her to wait for it to cool enough to frost and eat, but she was a trooper and she survived. She mixed the was a bit lumpy, but I controlled my urge to take control and just let her do it her way. She frosted it then GLADLY shared it with her little sister (I opted out and let them devour the 1st creation).

It was the MOST beautiful cake she had ever seen!! I was so touched to see this precious *little* of mine become a little closer to womanhood as she learned some basic cooking skills that day. She didn't see it as any kind of "chore" she just loved every moment of the experience. When all was said and done, I even let her clean-up! After all, that's part of real life. She loved it and didn't see it as anything other than part of the entire experience of baking.

The joy on the faces of those 2 little girls that day taught me a simple lesson of finding joy in all that we do. What we as adult women can tend to look at as "drudgery" or "duty" is really a blessing of creativity and fun if we change our perspective. I have always loved to bake. But now I look at it as a blessing of being able to create something lovely to share with others. It inspires me to bake more often and challenge myself with new and different recipes. Silly, I know, but it's true. So I thank my precious Ali for allowing me to be a part of her very first Easy Bake experience. I relived one of my childhood passions and will never forget the pride and joy on her face that day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas 2010

Christmas has come and gone, but I did want to post about Christmas 2010. It was AWESOME! And it was awesome, not because of all of the fabulous,  fun-filled gifts, but because of the spirit of the season that permeated our lives.

Brad and I had decided to really cut back this year. I admit, I tend to go WAY overboard and overload these poor *Littles* with so much "stuff" that they hardly know what to do with it all. So I happily agreed and put more thought into what I actually gave to each of my loved ones...and it was amazing!

We tried to focus more on the life of Christ and what His life has meant to us. We read more scriptures, read the biblical accounts of His birth and other accounts of His life and ministry upon the earth. I can't believe what a difference that really made to us. Don't get me wrong, every year we read about Him and remember Him, but this year we made it our primary focus and THAT made a difference.

I was finished with my shopping in November and my house was decorated shortly after Thanksgiving. We made time for friends and neighbors and took time to just relax and enjoy the pressure!

Of course, on Christmas morning, we HAD to go over to Aja's and watch the *Littles* open their gifts. It was mayhem (in a great way) and the excitement and enthusiasm was the best gift ever! Alakina was completely over-the-top with her excitement and squeals at each gift that was opened...whether it was hers or not...didn't matter. Stella was more subdued, just happy to be there.
Natalie and Tyler came up from SLC in the morning so they were able to spend some time with us. We had a nice breakfast and watched the kids play with a few things before we left to visit my parents in the valley.

My brother, Paul and his family came over to mom & dad's. In fact, Paul deep-fried a turkey that was D.E.L.I.S.H!! His kids are adorable and were so excited to see us (it melted my heart). We had a nice day and after Paul's family left, we hung out with my parents and just relaxed. It was a nice day!

After all was said and done, it was a beautiful Christmas! It was filled with so much love and appreciation, way too much food, and the best was reconnecting with family and friends that we tend to get too busy for during the year. I missed Britt, Evan and their 2 *Littles* which would have made it a completely perfect day. I did talk to them and the animation in Anthony's voice still makes me laugh! He was so darling and thanked me for the specific gifts that I sent. It's difficult to not share that day with them, but they were with me in my heart!

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Day at a Time

I wanted to post an update on my sweet boy, Tyler. I mentioned that he entered drug rehab a couple of months ago of his own accord and this is what has been happening.

1. HE calls ME every few days...I used to never hear from him unless he needed money.

2. He attends group meetings almost every night: CA (Cocaine Anonymous) HA (Heroin Anonymous) and an outpatient support group through one of our local hospitals that takes up 3-4 of his nights.

3. When I talk to him, I can actually understand what he is more slurring or ghetto talk.

4. His skin is clear and healthy looking.

5. We actually carry on a "normal" conversation about normal things!

6. His entire countenance has changed...he has a sweetness that has been long-time lacking.

7. He talks about a future with real plans and with hope!

It has only been a few months and I know that anything can happen, but I am very proud of him for taking a different course this time. In the past, he would get out of rehab and generally start using the very day he got out! He would make new "drug" friends while in rehab (sort of ironic, don't you think?!?) and he just simply fell into the same old traps that he had previously fallen into.

At Christmas, he actually drove up to Midway (Christmas morning) and was here by 8:30 AM!! This was HUGE! He also came bearing gifts for my 3 *Littles*...again, huge...and gave me a card with a very heart-felt letter that he made me cry and was the BEST thing he has ever given me!

I have never prayed so hard for anyone in my entire life! This is a kind-hearted, sweet natured, loving and selfless boy...when he's clean...when he's using, not so much!!

I can only continue to pray for him and stay close to him. It's difficult to let my guard down, but I am trying and so far it's working out well. I actually enjoy hearing from him where in the past my heart sank when I saw his number pop up on my phone. I don't know how many days he has been clean. Numbers don't matter. But what does matter is that he finds the skills to combat this monster that has so plagued his life for the past 7 years. He is starting to love himself again and see his worth. And he is finding God. That is the only way he will win this battle!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome 2011

Here it is, a brand spanking new year for us to do with whatever we please!

As Brad and I ushered in 2011 with some very dear friends, I tried my hardest to feel great and be chipper, but...I was sick...and I mean REALLY sick.

I never get sick but when I do, I tend to do it in a big way. I had been fighting a sore throat for several days and finally, on Thursday, Dec 30th, Brad took me to the doc...first time ALL YEAR! I was examined and it was concluded that I had one very miserable sinus infection. I was ready to just check out for a few days but knew that life had to go on. So armed with antibiotics and a FABULOUS cough syrup with codeine {{sigh}} I ventured out for our festive celebration...we made it until 10:00 PM!

No matter...after all, that's not what really counts. What matters is how I live 2011 and what I choose to do with each and every blank day in my calendar.

As I look back on 2010, I can recall blessings that came my way that I truly stand in awe of. The Lord has been so gracious to me and to my family and loved ones. We have been blessed with challenges that have given us opportunities to grow and we have been tried and tested at times when we wondered if we would be strong enough to endure. We did! We endured and we grew and we are happier and more fulfilled.

I look forward to this new 2011 year. I am anxious to see what new adventures await us and even what challenges we get to work through. We are blessed to have amazingly great friends and family and know that we will all be there to support and sustain each other through whatever comes our way. Life is beautiful and each and every new year presents a clean slate for each of us.

May God bless us all!