Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More To Do

These are the states I've visited. I didn't count the ones that I've only driven through. In my book, that shouldn't count. I needed to have actually done something in these states. Visited. Looks like I have a lot more to put on my to-do list!

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Monday, November 17, 2014

Back then...

We used to be young. 
We were.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recharging Hope in the Adoption Process

About a month ago an opportunity itself. I was offered a writing position at Adoption.com, one of the largest (if not the largest) adoption websites out there. They are a highly respected website that offers advice and support to birth families, adoptive families, foster families, those who have been adopted...it's an incredible resource and community. And I was offered a position as a Storyteller. I'm beyond excited about the opportunity to write weekly about one of my passions, and today, my first piece was posted.

Frequently when others ask me about adoption, it seems to have a negative tone. Let me rephrase that...not adoption, rather, the adoption process. "Ugh, that must be so hard." I brush it off normally and share the positive parts of it. But you know what? It is hard. It's REALLY hard. So, today my post discusses what I do when Happy Jenny becomes Overwhelmed Jenny. You can click the link to read what we do to Recharge Our Hope. Though I write specifically about adoption, these are things I try to do whenever I start feeling discouraged and hopeless.

Read it. Share if you think it would help others. And enjoy this beautiful November day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


On Sunday after church, I took this picture. Sammy was walking around and I was trying to capture her cute face. It wasn't working. I figured that none of them would turn out but at least I had tried. When I stopped to look at the hundreds I took in about 20 seconds time, I found this one. At first I thought it was cute and moved on. But all day I kept going back to it. I couldn't stop looking at it. And I still can't. There's something about it that I adore.

Sammy as the focal point makes sense. In many ways our family revolves around this one little girl. Everything we do is done after consideration of Sammy's needs. She's special, and that's ok. It's good. We are learning patience and compassion. Callie and Micah have both taken an especially deeper tenderness towards her lately. I'm not sure what it is, but Callie is always trying to comfort her, calm her down, hug her, play with her hair. She's sweet with Sammy. Micah has been mimicking Callie's ways and it's been beautiful to see this little toddler love his older sister so gently.

I love her hands curled upward. Well, in many ways I despise it, but those hands are precious to me. They are held upward, toward her heart. They are curled into tight fists and curled inward at her wrists. These hands don't serve her as my hands serve me. What she wants done is not accomplished with these balled up hands. They struggle to put food in her mouth properly and cleanly. They do not hold onto objects very well, and once in her hand, they don't release what is being held. For that reason, she has to use the force of her arms to fling it out of her hands. She reminds me how much I take my hands for granted. As I sit and quickly type my thoughts, she struggles to open her hand. For the past week or so, I've been giving Sammy massages before going to bed. I rub out her legs and feet. I finish by rubbing her arms and hands. She becomes so relaxed allowing her hands to unfold and remain free from pulling tight tendons. This has become a special time of day for us both. She falls asleep almost instantly after her massage and I walk away feeling the love you only feel after giving service to those you love.

I love the light that is shining in through the curtain. It creates a soft glow around her and I'm reminded of the light that only the Savior can provide. I see this light in Samantha. I wish I could say that I see it constantly. I don't. My eyes are veiled at times from my own inability to look beyond the moment. Sometimes the teeth grinding or the squeals that are so loud they pierce my ears, or the daily tasks of life get in the way of seeing the light of Christ emanate from her eyes. But occasionally I stop and see it. I stop and absorb it. I have always felt like Sammy is surrounded by angels. I believe that to my core. It's not just a belief, really. I know there is no way she could be where she is today without angels protecting her. She has a reason to be here. She has a mission to accomplish, and I feel really blessed to be a part of that. I do believe that one day, I will see her robed in so much light that I may be blinded by it. That it won't be until I'm sufficiently purified that I will be able to see her fully as who she is. Oh, I truly believe she will be among those who will usher me to my Savior. I love her so much.

I love her little smile and long face. Quite frankly, she is one of the most beautiful children I know. Hey, I get it. People stare of her sometimes. They are surprised by her unusual looks. But she is stunning to me. I think it goes back to that light that shines from her pores. Her soft skin, her rosy lips, her honey streaked hair. She's so beautiful to me. I love all her imperfections because it's who she is.

I love Micah in the back. In his church clothes still, walking with his little Micah swagger, I love his blurred image behind her. It completes the picture for me. He's the visual reminder that in our family, we've all got each other's backs. We're there for one another. We will protect and love no matter what. We won't step out on each other. We will be there. There's a lot that could happen in this lifetime, but we'll be there for each other.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It Never Ends

Packing lunches.

It never ends. When children live in your home, this whole cleaning business never ends. You try to teach. Ohhhh you try to teach them to pick up after themselves, to make their beds, to put their dishes away. Miraculously some of these life lessons actually stick. But a vast majority of the time, Mom is cleaning up all. day. long.

Or not. And on those days/weeks, the house is a mess until Mom (me) lets out a huge exasperated sigh and decides enough is enough...and she gets to work to clean it up all.

Last week we were visited by angels. They appeared to be your average young teenaged girls. But lo, they were great with spirit and zest for life! They showed up at the door ready to work. As a part of a service challenge they were doing at church, they came to the door and were asked to be put to work! (Did I already mention they were angels?) They did the vacuuming, cleaned my windows and sliding glass door, dusted, organized the dvds and filled the empty cases with the correct video (Whaaaaat?), and picked up the toys off of Micah's floor. It was incredible. And I love them for it.

Kirsten and Eliza

Their fearless leader, Lisa
 When I went to put Micah to bed that night, what did I find? A family of stuffed animals reading together. Nice touch. It was pretty darn cute.

But remember what I said about the cleaning never ending? Well, the very next day, this is what happened.
"Me? Are you looking at me?" says the sweet little boy.
And Sammy thinks, "Don't you dare pin this on me kid!" 

Callie, the ever-willing helper, cleaned it up with me and vacuumed the room. Oh those angels were kind and thorough, but they are no match for my children!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Recently Micah's best friend, Grandpa, gave him a BYU hat. It was a nice gesture. He didn't think about it too much until, boom! One day. That hat became the most important thing in this boy's existence! We can't leave the house without his hat. He has to wear it around the house, while he plays, while he eats, while he plays hoops. The boy maaay be obsessed.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Primary Program 2014

What is my favorite Sunday of the year? It's the Primary Program. If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you'd probably say the same thing. Every Sunday we are edified by speakers in our congregation and hear great messages. We feel the Spirit and it's great. But on this Sunday, the Primary Program Sunday, the children are in charge of the day. They share the messages. They give the talks. They provide the music. They often usually also provide the comic relief.

For the third year, I've been responsible for the "script" of the program. It has become increasingly important that this is their program, not a program that we create for them. And so, this  year I asked them questions, and they answered. I recorded what they said, and boom, the script was made. What resulted with a program full of sweetness, honesty, and testimony. I sat up at the podium with the children and enjoyed every moment of it. They were all so well-prepared and excited to do the program. I know Callie had invited many friends to attend. The songs were so beautiful. They sung like angels. At the end, I couldn't even sing the closing song, Families Can Be Together Forever, because I was choking on my own emotions, tears spilling over onto my cheeks.

What was the overall message this year? Families are Eternal. They are permanent. There is no end to our family bounds after death. We can be together forever. By following the plan of our Heavenly Father, we can return and live with Him again, be wrapped in the arms of our Savior, and be sealed to our families for time and all eternity. For me, I'm not sure there is a greater message that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches. These children get it. Their purity is beautiful and their message simple and true. 

I'm grateful for my eternal family. I will do all in my power to make sure that we will be together forever. No momentary pleasure is worth sacrificing my eternity with them, because without them, my eternity would be feel empty. 

After church we tried to get some pictures of our two sweethearts who participated in the program. Let's just say, pictures haven't been the easiest lately, but we'll never stop trying to get a good one! 


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