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Monday, July 27, 2009

Miracles have not ceased

In the middle of the night, Matthew's panic-stricken voice rent the air. "MOMMY! MOMMY!" Leaping out of bed and brushing away mental cobwebs of sleep, I ran through the dark house to his room. He was sobbing and clambered into my arms, crying for comfort. He was gasping loudly for air and shaking. I thought at first it was a night terror, the occasional midnight episodes that have plagued this boy for years. He coughed the sharp barking sounds of a croupy cough and I noticed his loud wheezing with each breath. I realized he was sick and needed medicine.

Wrapping my arms around his shaking frame, I carried him downstairs to the kitchen so I could minister soothing medicine. When I turned on the light, I noticed his lips were tinted blue, revealing a dangerous lack of oxygen in his blood. His breathing was extremely labored and he was gasping for air, and I felt myself suddenly wide awake, starring at a medical emergency. My son couldn't breathe! I tried to look in his throat to access the problem, but my attempt only prompted the words, "Mommy help me! I feel like I'll die! Help! Please help!!" The realization of his words sent a cold fear through my body.

The depth of his situation fully upon me, I frantically searched through my bottles of medicine, searching for something--anything-- to ease his suffering. I didn't know what medicine to give him! Was it an allergic reaction or mucus or something else? How could I guess what medicines would sooth him? Should I call an ambulance? Would an ambulance even arrive before it was too late? Was my son battling for his life before my eyes? My heart wrenched at the thought!

I needed to act now, but was unsure of what exactly his ailment was. I felt a searing panic and helplessness before hearing the answer clearly whispered in my heart: "God knows all things, and He knows your situation. Turn to Him now in your need. Go quickly!"

Scooping Matthew's tormented body into my arms, I raced upstairs as quickly as I could. I burst into my room with my precious cargo, saying loudly, "Nathan! Matthew needs a priesthood blessing NOW!" Nathan was immediately awake. Matthew's labored breathing shook his body and he was full of fear and panic while he fought for each precious breath of air. Nathan's hands quickly were placed firmly on Matthew's head and a powerful blessing of comfort, healing, and peace was pronounced.

Midway through the blessing, Matthew changed. He became tranquil and relaxed, breathing slowly and steadily. Peace replaced the previous panic and fear. He relaxed in my arms and calmly listened to the rest of the prayer. Hot tears of relief and joy coursed down my cheeks as I felt him relax. My sweet child would be okay! Nathan closed the prayer and minutes later Matthew feel back asleep.

I've born my testimony many times at church of the true power of God's priesthood and the miracles I've witnessed through His power. I feel like I need to share this one here. I'm so thankful for God's gift of healing my son! I had a cabinet full of medicine, but it was no help for me tonight. I had no idea what to do to help him and ease his suffering, but the Lord knew. The severity of the situation would easily induce panic, but I felt the Spirit calm my troubled heart and bring to my mind the most potent and fast-acting medicine that would work in our emergency: the Lord's power to heal and work miracles.

I am so incredibly thankful to my husband for the priesthood power he holds and the righteous way he honors that sacred power. I am so thankful that he lives according to God's teachings, so he is worthy to call upon the power of the priesthood at any time of day or night. This gift is one I hold most precious! The peace of knowing we can call upon the priesthood in our hour of need is absolutely priceless! I am humbled to know that God loves His children enough to bless us with such power to comfort.

There are those who contend that the age of miracles ceased long ago, and I humbly- yet soundly- refute their blindness. God does work miracles today. I know he cares for us and knows each of our concerns. I know Christ lives and His power to heal is real, whether it be healing broken bodies or broken spirits. I do not doubt the reality of His power, for it's been manifested abundantly to me throughout my life. The Spirit burning in my bosom testifies to the truthfulness of Christ's gospel and His intense love for each of us. I'm so indebted to Him and I hope in all that I do, to serve Him with my might, mind, and strength!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let's not have a repeat please

My day today....

Start off the day by completely emptying and reorganizing 2 large and cluttered closets. Then take all the 72 hour kits for a family of 5 out of the closets and completely empty them and update the contents. Try to keep all the emergency supplies organized while the boys keep stealing flashlights to play with each time I look away. Downsize the clutter throughout much of the house and make boxes of stuff to give away. Not so bad so far, right?....After 4 hours of this work add:

Go to the farm supply store and buy 18 new chicks for the new flock (try simultaneously selecting healthy chicks and pay attention to a toddler with an explorer's sense of adventure...good luck with that one!) and get them home safely. Build their home in the pasture and make it safe, then realize they can't live outside now with the current heat wave. Darn. Plan 2, make a home in the cooler garage for the now thirsty and hungry babies. Do this while 3 human 'babies' are begging nonstop for their turn to hold the chicks and tugging on my arms. Okaaay...

Find out that someone opened the yard gate and Bella the dog ran away. Run frantically through the house calling her, hoping she's still miraculously inside. Nope. Go to the streets after praying that the children will be safe at home for a (hopefully) few minutes while I find the dog. Run through the park with the leash calling for her....nothing anywhere. Pray in the heart that she didn't get hit by a car on the two major roads near our house. Find her across said major street playing with some kids. Call her, but she doesn't come to me. Instead she runs across the street right in front of speeding cars and sits on the front step waiting for me to dash across the street and join her. Okay my heart, stop racing in fear.

Make arrangements to pick up the stake wheat grinder so I can grind 100 pounds of wheat into flour tomorrow. Pack up the hungry children and snacks in the van and make the 30 minute drive to another town to get the grinder. Add pouring rain and 3 severe car accidents along the way, sprinkle in a healthy dose of intense lightning all around us and 3 kids now parched and thirsty, but keep in mind there are no stores along the route, so there's no supply for water. Anywhere. Add the two high-pitched voices asking for water over and over and over (where's the third voice? Asleep on the back bench of the van, not buckled. There's no way I'm pulling to the side of this street to buckle him myself, we'd be a prime target for out-of-control cars) So I pray that he'll be safer there than he would if I stopped in this traffic. We finally reach the destination. Success? No. The house is empty. They forgot I was coming, even though on the phone I had told her I was leaving immediately and would be there within the hour. I can't afford to make the long drive AGAIN tomorrow, so I stubbornly decide to wait in the van in the pouring rain until they come home. After exhausting my supply of stories and playing a DVD of a 1970's Little House of Prairie rerun, I finally agree with Matthew that they really aren't coming back. Sigh. Drive home in the still-pouring rain and pass 3 more accidents on one road. Make it home and dash through the rain to our home.

Go check on the chicks to make sure they've settled in well enough. Open the garage door to..surPRISE, surPRISE! All 18 chicks are running loose in the garage. The home I gave them had a hole I didn't discover until, Grit my teeth and try to catch the tiny bodies, which are rapidly scattering in all directions and peeping in terror. Grovel on the garage floor reaching under shelves, work benches, and around food containers, tying to grab the fragile bodies firmly enough so they can't wriggle away, but gently enough so I don't break bones. It's amazing how fast they can run with those tiny legs! The last chick is ALWAYS the hardest one to catch. Now they're finally safely away, go inside to find Daniel eating the food out of the 72 hour kits that have been freshly stocked. Erg!

Call my husband at work (who is working late tonight until who knows when---he certainly doesn't) and try to vent to a sympathetic ear, but the children are all tugging on my clothing saying plaintively, "MomI'mhungry, MomI'mhungry, MomI'lmhungry!" Okay, it's late, I've been too busy making freezer dinners for the school year ahead that I haven't thought about TONIGHT'S dinner. Oatmeal it is. Unfortunately the children are all (coincidentally) going through growth spurts, so they eat voraciously every 2 hours. I'm not kidding. Yesterday I fed them straight wheat trying to keep their tummies full longer than a couple hours, but they still are famished like clockwork. I've been feeding them pure protien...chicken, beans, wheat berries, etc. and they still are hungry. So now we go through the kitchen adding more food to the meal they had, in which they already ate more than I could in a single sitting. (On the other hand, I really AM truly grateful that they're all healthy and strong and growing well, I just have to remind myself of this once in a while. Especially when they're so hungry so often.)

I'm ready to laugh at the next issue that arises. I fully expect the roof to start leaking, the toilet to overflow or lightning to strike my house. I'm watching and the anticipation is building. I'm actually feeling a touch of excitement mixing with the fatigue...what will the next adventure be? I'm completely ready to laugh in its face. I think.

I just found out there's a midweek church activity tonight, and for once I'm not even interested in going. I just want to curl up in bed with a great book. Please, PLEASE let's have a less adventurous day tomorrow!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Carlsbad, New Mexico

You can't tell much scale in the picture, but the cave entrance is far behind us. It's large enough for a plane to fly through. The floor of the cave holds the enormous rocks that caved in, leaving behind the opening. Those rocks are bigger than my house!

Our children looking into the cave entrance. It's amost overwhelming.
One of the beautiful views inside the caves. The huge scale in the cave always makes me feel like a teeny ant. It's simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. It brings to mind the words of Moses regarding the nothingness of man. I truly feel like a tiny dot, inconsequential in the physical universe. But then I recall the words of Apostle Neal A Maxwell, that when we contemplate the incomprehensible longevity of the stars in the night sky, we should keep in mind that they are not immortal. Stars will eventually die, but I am an immortal creation. I am more important than the grandest star. It gives me chills.
The cave trail was a couple miles long and we hiked for 3 hours straight. The children were such troopers and Nathan carried both boys at the same time when they were exhausted. Poor Daniel fell asleep in Nate's arms before we reached the end! He missed out on the best parts! We loved seeing the formations that looked like fairy towns and goblin was all so beautiful!

A 5-generation picture with Great Grandma Jean. She's our children's Great-great-grandma. Incredible, isn't it? We had a delightful time visiting them and it was such fun meeting Great-Aunt Carol for the first time.
This is Great-Aunt Carol's dog. We felt immediate affinity to the sweet girl. She's a Great wonder we felt such friendship!

Back through Utah...

We visited some cousins in Nephi, Utah. It was great fun to see their lovely home. The children all played together very well and really enjoyed their time. DJ and Tabitha took our kids to meet all the elderly neighbors on the street and they were given candy, so that made their day. Sarah and Matt were very disappointed when we had to leave, and they begged to come back another day.
Another cousin in Utah hosted us one night. The Beachams were so fun to stay with! A definite highlight was their pet Fizzy, a sugar glider. I had always wanted to own a suger glider, so it was great fun to play with him.
Sarah loved watching Fizzy whenever he was awake. It was SO fun to play with him!
We really loved their gigantic beanbag...I think it's called a LoveSac. I slept in it with Daniel and *boy* was it cozy! If I had an appropriately large area to put one in, I'd buy one.
We detoured to visit my Aunt Shirleen and her family. While there, I taught them how to use FDA-approved face paints. It was great fun to play with them for the morning, and Uncle Shawn made our traditional pull-aparts for a treat. It's been a couple years since we've had this childhood favorite because they don't sell cook and Serve butterscotch pudding mix here. It was so thoughtful of Shawn to bake them for us, and it was very appreciated. We wished we had more time to spend there, and they invited us to stay overnight next time we come to Utah. We're surely looking forward to it!

It was great to house-hop and visit so much family, but it was terribly sad to leave each family after only one day. I wished so much that we could linger longer iwth each family and it was so hard to tear ourselves away. Saying good bye was so sad, but there was the balm of looking forward to the next family on our route. It was very bittersweet.

Idaho pictures

We arrived in Idaho in the middle of the night July 3rd, just in time for Independence Day celebrations. We watched the Rexburg parade and enjoyed seeing relatives at the Nelson reunion. Matthew caught a chocolate milk being handed out form one of the parade floats and shared it all with Daniel. He's such a nice brother. Throughout the entire parade he's give all his treats to Sarah, Daniel, or other little kids near us. What a rare boy!

Grandpa and Aunt Rachael drove the children down to the horse pasture to see their horses. It was so fun to ride the four wheeler and see all their beautiful horses!
The grandkids all loved watching the ice cream maker churn. Television can't touch this! :)

We all had fun making ice cream with Grandpa Austin. Thanks Dad! Homemade ice cream is so delicious! We all had so much fun with the Muir family! Thanks for everything you all did to make our stay wonderful! We loved playing games, doing fireworks, playing with animals, sitting by the fire, etc!
The tree house in the backyard at Grandmas was very fun. Matthew LOVES to climb trees, so he was in heaven in the tree house. Grandpa Austin and Uncle Brian started it together. There are no walls yet, so we couldn't' stay up there long, much to Matthew's disappointment.
Aunst Rachael took the kids around on her horse, Strawberry. They had a blast. They alwasy look forward to riding the horses and Grandma and Grandpa Muir's! They talk about it all year long. Thanks, Rachael!
I loved this picture! After leading the horse around for some time, Rachael rode int eh saddle with Sarah and taught her how to ride the horse on her own. Sarah loved it so much and really appreciated Rachael's lesson. She was so proud of herself!
At Aunt Tami's home Sarah rode the horses alone. She was immensely pleased to be in charge of her own animal. She never wanted to come off. I don't blame her, I feel the same way. It's always with great reluctance that I climb down off the horses.
My cousin Marissa was so nice to take the kids for walks on the horses. They didn't want to stop riding, so Marissa walked and jogged the horses for over an hour. We really loved it and really appreciated her time!

Daniel riding a horse with Aunt Tami. Isn't the horse just beautiful? We had so much fun staying with their family!
Our first night at Tami's home, Marissa took the kids for rides on the lawn mower. She taught them how to steer and let them play around with the controls. They had so much fun and were laughing so hard I was surprised they could still breathe. They sure enjoyed playing with Marissa. Sarah and Matthew loved Marissa's doll house and dolls. Thanks for sharing!Cousin Terrance was another favorite with the kids. He was so fun to play with. He pushed the boys on the big rope swing all evening. What a neat memory. I've always wanted a rope swing in a big tree. I love this picture!
I had a go on the horses very gingerly. My toe was still swollen and bruised from the Utah reunion a few days before, so I didn't ride long. Daniel had a lot of fun riding with me.
After leaving Tami's home we went to visit my brother's family in American Falls, Idaho. All the cousins had a slumber party downstairs. It was such a treat! They really had fun with each other.
My brother Randy took all the children for rides on the four wheelers. They had this little child-sized model in addition to the 'normal' ones. My kids thought is was so cute!
Everyone piled on together for rides through the fields near the Nelson home. They'd go up and down big hills and we could hear the children's squeals of delight from a block away. They had so much fun!
This is all the Nelson cousins in American Falls. We spent a day swimming in the hot springs pool, played at the parks, played games, had late night talks, enjoyed their pets, and learned how to play video games. Our kids sure had a blast! Nathan also enjoyed making jerky with Randy. Thanks again, Randy and Steph, for letting us visit!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Utah pictures

Daniel and his cousin Isaac were fast friends and stuck together whenever possible. This was the first time they met since Isaac lives in Alaska. They were so sweet to watch...both of them are just really nice boys. They really enjoyed the slumber parties together!

The annual hike this year took us to the top of some mountains to a hidden lake. The trail crossed a stream, so the dads and uncles all made a chain of 5 men across the rocks to pass the little ones in our group. I believe they passed 20 children over this stream. It was so neat to watch them all working together to keep our children safe and dry! What cool dads we have!
This is at the top of the mountain we climbed. The lake was crystal clear and made from snow-melt water. It was breathtakingly beautiful! I'm so thankful we were able to see this place! It made me say a silent prayer in my heart to thank the Lord for this beautiful Earth he blessed us with.

Matthew and cousin Grace were the first ones in our group to the lake. We actually were there first by mistake. Grace was too hot and tired to hike much, so we were the 'cabooses' of the group, and we became lost. Luckily the rest of the group were hiking around the other side of the lake and met us here later.
What a beautiful place! I'm so happy for the quiet moments to enjoy God's creations! How generous of Him to give us grand beauties like this!
This is a family art project we did at the reunion. It's a canvas 4 yards long that everyone painted on to make one giant piece of art. It was really fun to see everyone's creativity come out. There were lots of clever ideas!
More circle painting. Leif Skarstedt, a cousin aged 10, said, "This is the best part of the reunion!"
Matthew working on his circle. I love the variety of colors he uses. He always incoporates a rainbow of colors in his art work. I love it so much!
We visiited the Provo paleontology museum for fun. There were large windows where you could watch the paleontologists at work cleaning fossils fresh from the field. Matthew delighted in the sharp teeth on every giant skull. He begged me to take a dozen pictures of him posing with big teeth.
Aunt mary Anns home has a rock climbing wall in the front entry (isn't that a COOL idea?!) Nathan's brother, Andy, harnessed all the little kids one at a time and let them try to climb the wall. What a cool uncle! It was fun to watch them!
Matthew loved the climbing until he was about 4-5 feet off the ground. But as soon as he was unbuckled, he begged to go again.
The children loved helping Aunt MaryAnn stone cherries in preperation for jams and other preserving methods. They stoned cherries for hours! It was definately a trip highlight for them all. It was like a game for them.
The cherry tree had low branches that the children could harvest without help. They really loved picking hte berries. It's much funner than harvesting hte blackberries full of thorns or the wild grapes full of biting bugs. This was a breeze to do and they'd run outside giggling in anticipation of the waiting harvest.
On our trip we saw the world's largest Van Gogh painting. In the middle of Kansas....we stumbled across it on accident. We were just looking for a bathroom and a park to play in. The kids thoguht it was awesome. Look at the bottom right corner of the picture...there's Nathan and the van to give you a sense of scale.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Trip highlights-

The Grand Canyon really DOES defy all description, so I won't even attempt it. Suffice it to say, a million pictures still don't prepare you to experience the real thing. I could happily spend several days there, if we didn't have the children with us. I'd love to hike it and explore more of the canyon than just the rim. That will be for a future day. I did really enjoy the time we spent there with our family, however brief it seemed.

The Junior Ranger programs at the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest were a big hit with the kids. Sarah was very serious about finishing her assigned tasks and carried her papers everywhere, studying the flora and writing notes. The story time on the Grand Canyon rim was very fun. The park ranger read a fun story about nature's yucky secret defenses for prey. Matthew really loved learning about the lizards that squirt blood out of their eyes.

Sarah said the Grand Canyon made her feel excited like a butterfly. They went on rock hunts to find various rocks with different features, animal hunts, and drew pictures of the Grand Canyon. We were all surprised to learn that the Colorado River actually isn't visible from most of the rim viewpoints. Sarah and Matthew had been so excited to see the Colorado River after learning about it for school. We succeeded in seeing one tiny sliver of river. Matthew looked and looked for that sliver of blue, but couldn't find it anywhere.

Another highlight was when Nathan spotted some California condors. One of them flew very close to Nathan and Matthew and they marveled over the enormity of the bird's wingspan. Matthew loved seeing red-tailed hawks.

Daniel was too little to earn an official Junior Ranger badge even though he did his paperwork alongside the older kids. He was so sad when he was given a sticker instead of a badge. Matthew promptly pinned his own badge on Daniel's shirt and consoled him by promising to let him keep the badge forever. I'm so thankful Matt's generosity, he's such an amazing big brother!

The National Petrified Forest was really neat. The Rainbow forest was incredibly beautiful. Each petrified log had a dozen colors swirling throughout the layers of rock. For the Junior Ranger program here, the children hunted for different types of petrified wood, measured long logs of stone, searched for animal life in the desert, and drew petroglyph's.

I never knew the Petrified Forest also contained spectacular petroglyphs and ancient pueblo dwellings. What a delightful surprise! The petroglyphs were surprisingly numerous and fun to discover. We enjoyed looking through telescopes to the rocks where the art work was laboriously chiseled into the giant boulders. The painted desert was also was beautiful vistas full of vivd red and purple cliffs as far as I could see. What an amazing palette of color brilliantly displayed! Daniel was awarded a badge at this park, along with Sarah and Matthew. They were all so serious when they took the Junior Ranger oath. They were all pleased and positively glowing when they walked out with their badges and patches. Another plus was the squashed-penny machine we discovered in the gift store. We collect squashed pennies anytime we find them, so it was fun to add the Petrified Forest and Route 66 to our book of pennies.

We've been following Route 66 for much of our journey. The towns look overwhelmingly like the town Radiator Springs from the Pixar movie Cars. We even saw a motel with giant teepee's for rooms! It's been a lot of fun to cruise Route 66 and see the old buildings and out-dated businesses. It's an adventurous and nostalgic reminder of days gone by.