30 Days of Gratitude

>> Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving and Fall have always been my favorite holiday and time of year. I love that this particular holiday is simple and pure. Gathering everyone I love around me, giving thanks to my Father in Heaven, and having a wonderful meal together! 

There are no costumes to buy, Valentine's to worry about, or wondering if I forgot someone on my Christmas list. There are no expectations or concerns the Easter Bunny is going to be late, figuring out how to stay cool in July as we try to figure out where to watch fireworks, or making New Year's resolutions that I probably won't be able to keep. LOL! Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday! :)

Every year I take the month of November and make a more concerted effort to think about the blessings in my life. I've posted them on Face Book in prior years but this year I tried to delve a little deeper into why I'm thankful for certain things..not just ramble off a list, but really give it some thought. 

When I began posting these things I'm "Thankful For", it was really for my own inventory and to acknowledge these gifts in my life and to keep a record of it. I didn't foresee the impact it would have on my family and friends. I've been extremely humbled and touched by the outpouring of positive things so many have written to me. I will share them at the end of this post.  

30 Days of Gratitude:

1&2- In the midst of everything that has been going on this week I missed the fact that yesterday was the 1st day of November. I love this time of year and this holiday season to be able to set aside time to really count my blessings and recognize all that I have to be thankful for. Since I missed yesterday I will begin with 2 blessings in my life. I'm thankful for my loving husband who despite all that has come our way in the past 20 years he leads our family with strength, love, and wisdom. I'm also thankful for modern medicine and that we have access to it when we need it.

3- Thankful for the power of prayer. It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him. My heart swells with gratitude that He loves us so much that He provided this gift to all of us to come unto Him whenever and wherever we are. He is listening.

4- Thankful for my 3 beautiful children. Each of them bring joy and light to everyone they meet. They are amazing people who work hard, strive to do what is right, and constantly teach me what is most important in life. They have a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father and know they are His children. I'm extremely blessed to be their mom and be apart of their lives. It's not always easy but it is absolutely worth it! My dream has always been to be a mother.

5- Thankful for the amazing friends in my life. Each of them help me want to strive to do better and live better. I'm humbled by their examples of strength, generosity, compassion, service, faith, and love.

6- Thankful for my home and all that it provides. A refuge from the world, a warm place to sleep, and place to gather my loved ones. It is a sanctuary of learning and growing in temporal & spiritual ways. It allows me the ability cook special meals for family & friends. My home offers me a secure place to be a mother & wife. It gives my family a retreat to create memories together. It is my little piece of heaven on earth!

7- Thankful for my awesome visiting teachers! Even though they have their own families, careers, and struggles, they never hesitate to serve me and my family. They edify the meaning of charity. They are more than fellow members of my church. They are my sisters.  BTW - Thank you for the fantastic banana splits!! ;D

8- Thankful for the Scouting Program and that it teaches my boys to put God 1st, Family 2nd, and Country 3rd. It helps them in their physical, mental and spiritual development as they learn to "Be Prepared" and to "Do a Good Turn Daily". I'm thankful for their leaders and all the time, energy, and patience as they guide my boys on their path to be good men. Today is a great example as Eli participates in his school's Veteran's Day Ceremony and honors those men and women who have served our country.

9- Thankful for the Temple. It is a sacred place where I am able to truly be removed from the noise and distractions of the world. I am able to feel the presence and love of my Heavenly Father so closely each time I enter His Holy House. The Temple refines me as an individual and helps me strive to be a better person. It helps me to love more deeply, become more selfless, and to be more teachable and humble. It is a physical reminder that He has not removed Himself from us and that He wishes all of us to come "home" to Him. It brings great blessings to my life.

10- Thankful for my trials. Even though I would never ask for them, my Heavenly Father knows me more perfectly than I know myself, and allows me to grow in ways I wouldn't be able to otherwise. As I sit in the middle of the refiner’s fire even today I know I'm being shaped and molded by His hands to become the person He wants me to be. Some days are extremely hard but through His love and His guiding hand I have been able to witness the generosity, kindness, love, prayers, comfort, and service of the angels on this earth that He has sent and continues to send as my family and I endure. I'm strengthened by these moments as they come in different times and seasons of my life. They help me to understand others struggles and pains and hopefully I can in turn support and lift them as we travel in our journey of life. Life can be hard...really, really hard... He never said it would be easy, He only said it would be worth it!

11- Thankful for the men and women who have served and continue to serve our beautiful country. I'm blessed to live in a country that is free and allows me the liberties and choices I desire. Because of their sacrifices I am given so many freedoms. I'm thankful for the right to vote, worship as I believe, marry whom I love, live where I desire, and I am able to raise all of my children. These heroic citizens allow us to live our lives with the freedoms we all expect, enjoy, and all too often take for granted. We can live the American Dream thanks to these brave men and women. I'm thankful to their families as well. What an example of strength it is to stand by their father, mother, brother, sister, wife, cousin, friend, as they are called away and know they will need to sacrifice their precious time together. I'm thankful for these amazing selfless individuals. Happy Veteran's Day!

12- Thankful for our health. It has been a little over 2 1/2 years since Jared has had a relapse and for that I'm truly grateful! Even though his illness weighs on my mind daily we are blessed that it rarely affects his daily life to the point he is unable to function. He does have good days and bad days but, we are fortunate that the good typically outweigh the bad. I'm thankful that my children are healthy and have strong minds and bodies that allow them the freedoms and joys to explore and play. I'm also grateful for my own health that enables me to take care of my family and even accomplish the most mundane chores of daily life. There have been times due to injury/illness I have yearned to make a sandwich for my daughter, walk painlessly while grocery shopping, and do my family's laundry. It's easy to take these things we easily do each day for granted until that moment when we are unable. When I was 11 years old I sat in the room with my Grandmother who was fighting an uphill battle with brain cancer and she shared words of wisdom with me I will never forget. She said, "Vanessa if you don't have your health, you don't have anything." I took to heart her words and try to live a healthy life. Things of course come our way that are beyond our control. This day however, I find my family in good health and I am deeply grateful!

13- Thankful for hope and faith. Throughout my life they have carried me through. Each has given me the strength and courage to overcome. I'm buoyed in times of trials and difficulties. They encourage me to forge ahead, as I've face unpleasant realities. I try to recognize the beauties of life around me. I recently read a quote that says, “Two men look out through the same bars: One sees the mud, and one the stars”, in spite of my trials, I cling to my faith and hope, and try to allow myself to be filled with a sense of well-being. On many occasions I'm successful and others not so much. There are certainly times my hope has faded and I've succumbed to feelings of desperation and discouragement...I'm human after all...But I've discovered that sitting in that place doesn't change my situation, it doesn't improve my well-being, it doesn't help me to move forward, so I do the best I can to put one foot in front of the other and hold fast to hope and faith. "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." D&C 123:17.

14- Thankful for my children’s teachers & leaders. It is said, “The greatest work we will ever do will be within the walls of our home.” I believe this with all of my heart. Building a strong family, community, and nation begins at home. However, we can't keep our little ones in a bubble, even though I'd really love to do that, and we must send them out into the world. It brings me great comfort to know when I do let these precious spirits leave my care, that they have wonderful adults and mentors in their life that help reiterate the lessons and ideals we try so desperately to instill in them, before the noise and distractions of the world grab hold and convince them otherwise. I appreciate the time, energy, and example they provide for my children. These selfless individuals are helping Jared and me to shape and mold these little people into productive members of society who have integrity, character, a good education, and a strong faith. Without them our job as parents would even more challenging than it already is. To know my children are surrounded by others that love and respect them for who they are and see their potential means the world to us. Thank you to each of you who have and continue to bless our children’s lives with all that you do!

15- Thankful for family history. Since I was little I've always loved to take pictures, journal, scrapbook, and now blog. As I've gotten older I've come to enjoy learning about my grandparents and the lives of my ancestors. It’s very grounding to know what kind of people they were and to see if I can find any of their traits in myself. I love reading about how they came to live where they did, and why they made those choices. Some by way of their own decisions, others were called. Reading about their families and the things that weighed on their minds, their joys, friends, day to day chores, and struggles give me a better insight to their character and who they were as individuals. Some had trials beyond my comprehension. One I recall lost 11 of her 13 children...as a mother I cannot even begin to image the heartache. Some have stories of braving the West and settling “The waste places” and doing their best to make a good life for their families. I have precious love letters that my Great- Great Grandfather and Grandmother wrote to one another as they were courting. I’m thankful that my family has kept journals/records and that I have many of them at my fingertips. If I ever need a dose of perspective I just dive into those amazing lives of those who have come before me and take notes on how truly blessed I am and how far I've been able to come because of their sacrifices, hard work, and desire to do and give more to their loved ones. I’m also thankful for these entries as they came in quite handy this week as Eli had a report due today on how his ancestors immigrated to America. We easily could pick from several individuals because we had these treasured documents. In case you were wondering who he chose, he picked Samuel Fuller. He is Eli’s 11th Great-Grand Uncle. He was the doctor and surgeon on the Mayflower! 

16- Thankful for my parents. Both came from very humble homes and they are both the oldest in their families. Being the oldest siblings of large families a lot of responsibilities fell to them. They learned a great work ethic. I’m thankful to them for passing that down to me. I enjoy tackling a task and the gratification it gives me when I've attained a goal. I’m thankful to them for loving me even when I’m not so loveable and teaching me that family always comes first. They support me in my decisions even when they may not understand or necessarily agree with them. My mom has always been my soft place to fall and my dad has always been my protector. They both march to the beat of their own drum and are two of the most unique people I've ever met. I’m not a child anymore but I still need my mom and dad, I always will. I am one of the fortunate ones that was raised by both a mother and father…I know not everyone has that blessing….and I’m thankful for all of the sacrifices they've made for me over the years. I wouldn't be who I am today without them.

17- Thankful for the children in Primary. Every week I get to spend time serving in the Primary. I love the sweetness of these innocent children. They have the pure love of Christ in their hearts. It’s such a joy to see their eyes light up when they begin to understand the lessons they are taught each week. On many occasions they teach me about the simple truths instead of the other way around. I love to hear their comments, giggles, and watch them support each other when someone may be having a bad day. We have some really amazing children on our Ward and I feel that my life is blessed by knowing each and every one of them.

18-Thankful for Now. The way every moment is a new beginning. Right now is a perfect time to start over. This moment is a brand new opportunity to rebuild what I truly want. When things begin to feel overwhelming I try to not think about what might have been, and starting looking at what can be. There are three little words that release me from past struggles and regrets and guide me forward. They are: “From now on…”

19-Thankful for my hands. They are a beautiful gift that enable me to create new things, hold hands with loved ones, pray, serve those around me, make delicious meals for my family, and hold friends and family close. It’s amazing how with each set of hands everyone has their own unique fingerprints. Some hands are small, tender, and soft and others are worn, wrinkled, and seen many seasons of life. Each express the life they have been a part of. Hands enable us to carry and be carried. To touch one another’s lives. We shake hands to greet, agree, and as form of a binding contract. We reach out our hands to connect to humanity. My hands have enabled me to bless those around me and others' hands have certainly blessed my life!

20-I am thankful for seasons. I am thankful that seasons bring change. We can mark the passing of time through the passing of seasons. I can see new growth and change in myself and the world around me as I move from season to season. These seasons move me, mark me, and change me. Seasons of joy and sorrow, faith and frustration. Each high seems to have an equal low and each low an equal high. There are seasons of planting and seasons of harvest, and soon enough the time will come when I will be able to reap the amazing harvest of all that was sewn while I was diligently planting. I try and take time each day to stop, be still, and be thankful for the season I am in. In every season I try to find hope, joy, and passion. In every season there is beauty to be found.....I love fall! 

21-Thankful for the ability to read. I read recently that, only about one third of the world’s population has internet access. And there are roughly 774 million people in the world who aren’t educated enough to read. I feel privileged and blessed to be counted among the number of people that have had the gift of a good education and the ability to read. Learning to read changes your life forever. You gain immediate access into the world of make-believe and a front row seat to new discoveries. It is empowering and uplifting. I spent a few years as a Teacher’s Assistant in a Resource classroom. The students I worked with had reading levels all across the board and I can tell you that no one understands the importance of reading more than those who can’t read yet. I am grateful that not only can I read, but that I can teach others to as well. Being a mother the ability to read has taken on yet another dimension. Reading to and with my own children is wonderful…and having them read to me brings me so much joy!

22-Thankful for my life. This life gives me the chance to experience all that I’m experiencing and will be experiencing in time to come. I feel blessed at the unique privilege to be me. I embrace my individuality…however, it hasn't happened overnight, it’s a lifelong process. I have the sense of sight, letting me see the colors of life, and the ability to read anything I choose. The sense of hearing, letting me hear the trickle of rain, the voices of my loved ones, and the harmonious chords of music. Sense of touch, letting me feel the texture of my clothes, the breeze of the wind, and the hands of those around me. The sense of smell, allowing me breathe in the warm aroma of baking desserts, scrumptious dinners, and beautiful flowers. Sense of taste, letting me savor the sweetness of fruits, the saltiness of seawater, the sourness of pickles, the bitterness of a walnut, and the spiciness of chili. My speech, for giving me the outlet to express myself. My heart, for pumping blood to all the parts of my body every second since I was born (this is especially important to me since I have heart issues now); for giving me the ability to feel. Even though sometimes I think I feel too much. My lungs, for letting me breathe so I can live. My hands, so I can photograph the beauty I see around me, flip the pages of books, and hold the hands of my family and friends. My feet, for letting me walk (even though it still isn't as far as I would like). I can walk further than 3 years ago. My mind, for the ability to think, to store memories, and to create new solutions. Being blessed with one more day on earth is not one everyone is afforded. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be someone or something we aren't. Every one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when we accept everything we are, and aren't, that we will truly find the happiness and fulfillment we seek. Life is good!

23- Thankful for mistakes. I am grateful for the blunders I’ve made and the faults I have, as they are what make me stronger physically and mentally. They prepare me for the next obstacle. I’ve been able to gain insight and knowledge through each experience. I have failed over and over in my life, and I’m sure I will continue to. However, I will also continue to get up, pull up my boot straps, and try again. If I never made mistakes I would never learn anything new. Mistakes stretch me as a person. They help me to uncover what works and what doesn’t. The greatest classroom is our own experiences. The pain from some of my mistakes will definitely prevent me from making them in the future, which enables me to become the individual I aspire to be. Some say there are no failures or mistakes…only lessons learned.

24- Thankful for forgiveness. Although forgiveness is something we give to a person, in the end it is a gift to ourselves. Without forgiveness, one can become hard and bitter, not just toward the person who has done the wrong but to many around us because bitterness doesn’t have boundaries. I’m thankful for forgiveness because it allows me to let go of the vengeances and makes room for love, compassion and the understanding that my life is not defined by hurt. Forgiving doesn’t justify the wrong. However, I also don’t need my offenders to “pay” for what they did. There is power in forgiveness. It relieves me of my selfishness and pride. Once I release control, which I really have no control over anyway, I am able to grow and be unchained.  When I don’t forgive others, I become captive to unforgiveness, and it affects many aspects of my life and robs me of joy. Many times, the offender never even knows they have offended me, and they go on living their lives free from worry and bitterness. This took me a long time to realize. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" And Jesus replies, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!" And no, that does not mean on the 491st time they are out of luck. I am to always forgive. I'm also thankful for the unconditional forgiveness I receive from the Lord - all I have to do is ask. To be forgiven is absolutely liberating when I am guilty of something I have done or said. I'm thankful that although I am far from perfect, all my sins are forgiven because Christ died on the cross for me. And because I'm forgiven, there's a promise of eternity. I'm also thankful for friends and family that believe in forgiving "seventy times seven," and have forgiven me over the years. Because I have been forgiven, this allows me to forgive others, and I must.  I admit it, some things are not easy to forgive, but the Lord helps me during these times. With Jesus Christ as my lawyer, arguing on my behalf, bestowing His righteousness on me, I don’t have to live under constant guilt and condemnation for my sins. That is a great blessing!! 

25- Thankful for Insight and clarity. Grateful for those opportunities I’m able to look back at something that has been bothering me and suddenly I am able to see it in a different light. Or when I manage to make a really good decision in the middle of chaos. I’ve found these opportunities come more often when I turn off the TV, limit social media, and make a slow and deliberate effort to find balance in my life. I’m sure I might be equally (or better) served by simply turning down “the noise & distractions” in a more permanent way, as opposed to simply tuning it out at intervals. When I get stuck in the daily routine and lose connection with everything else I find those moments for insight and clarity far removed from my grasp. Prayer and meditation greatly move me forward to finding insight and clarity to those things that weigh on me. Mindful planning and assessment help in my ability to move towards worthy goals. Sometimes to find what I have been searching for, a radical and comprehensive honesty is required first. While trying to achieve clarity and insight, if I have not put everything out on the table and have not been truly (not brutally, but authentically) honest with myself then the clarity and insight I hope to gain will evade me. Honesty can be challenging, uncomfortable, sometimes downright confronting – but it’s also a release, and life after honesty is a better place!

26- Thankful for memories. I’m ridiculously nostalgic. I love taking photographs, blogging, watching home movies, and remembering the past. Jared teases me that our family is probably the most well documented family on earth. I’m “that mom” that always has the camera ready at a moment’s notice. It’s not uncommon to find me on a Sunday afternoon watching old vacation videos on the couch by myself, because the rest of the family has seen them a 100 times already and they love me enough to let me do it anyway..LOL! I affectionately call it Virtual Vacation Day. I adore revisiting those days when my children were learning to walk, talk, and finding ‘trouble’. Keeping these records either written or visual fill in the gaps of my “mom brain” that I’ve long forgotten. I’ve made scrapbooks for each of my kids for the 1st 2 years of their lives and they ask me often to pull out those books and we sit together and they ask me to tell them stories about the funny little things they used to do. It connects us and has brought many laughs and good times. I enjoy sharing memories with them about when I was a kid too. They of course don’t always believe mom was ever a little girl. On holidays I enjoy bringing out my Grandmother’s silver and as I open the box I think of all the things I remember about her. How she used to love to collect rocks, the mean peacocks’ that would run loose in her backyard and chase us Grandkids, the weeping willow tree in her orchard I used to love to climb, and how her pantry was full of canned peaches she canned herself. Memories are sort of like hugs from the past…always ready to welcome me in their arms. Too cheesy??? Probably…but never the less true! :P

27- Thankful for joy! I love the word joy. To me it conveys more than happiness. Joy to me is when I have one of those moments where all of a sudden my heart just feels so full that I can’t stand it, where the smile on my face is so big that it makes my face hurt a tiny bit and the joy is leaking out of my eyes. It fills me up and keeps me energized in a way nothing else can. It enables me to see the beauty in everything. Life has a way of making troubles seem urgent and encourage procrastinating joy. Waiting for the “to do’s” to be done, or for this crisis to pass before enjoying life is a trap.  After this crisis passes another one will be right on its tail.  I try very hard not to allow my circumstances dictate my joy.  Even when I have setbacks, delays, or disappointments I try the very best I can to not let them prevent me from taking the time to give thanks. In the scriptures I’ve learned a deeper understanding of joy. I recently read a blog post that summarized it perfectly, “We’re not just to have joy like His; we are to have His joy. What was this joy Jesus had and wanted us to have? First, He had an abounding joy. He said, “…that your joy might be full.” His joy was not half-hearted joy, not maybe-so joy, but it was joy that was abounding and supernatural. Not only an abounding joy, but Jesus also had an abundant joy. Abounding speaks of the quality of the joy, and abundant speaks of the amount of joy. Even through His tears and even through His agony, His was an abundant joy. And He had an abiding joy. He said, “… that My joy might remain in you …” It was not joy that came and went. We need to realize that Jesus taught us this lesson about joy as He faced dark Calvary. We too are to have joy in the good times, the bad times, the nighttime, the daytime, the rainy day, and the sunny day. We’re to rejoice in the Lord always.” There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding joy everywhere and leaving it behind them when they go. - Faber . It is my hope that I can be a person like this. “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11.

28- Thankful for the “little things”. I’m thankful that in each day there are things I can appreciate. I’m thankful for chocolate…if you could taste heaven, I think that’s what it would taste like! :P A smile from a stranger when I’m having a down day. Giggles from my children’s bedrooms as they play. Sunshine through my window that reminds me of God’s love for me. Getting the best parking spot. Sleeping in fresh clean sheets warm and right out of the dryer. Gorgeous Fall days. Finding a pair of jeans that fit just right…this should probably be under the heading of “miracles” instead of “little things”...lol! Snuggling with my family on the couch watching a movie and munching freshly popped popcorn. Hearing Jared’s and my song playing on the radio as I drive my 500th carpool with the kids. Enjoying my mom’s breakfast potatoes and homemade bean burritos…NO one makes them the way she does!! Having all the right coupons and getting the perfect deal! Breaking out into a jig & Jared catching me in the act and then he joins in!!!!! Finding sweet notes from one of my children they have made for one of their siblings. Hitting all the green lights on the way home. Baked goods….mmmm! This list is truly endless…there are so many things to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

29- Thankful for love. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life to love and be loved. I’m grateful that I’ve had the courage to be vulnerable and put my heart out there for others and that others have done the same for me. As I’ve grown up I’ve experienced the love of my parents, my brother and sister, and friends. As a young adult I came to know what it feels like to find the love of my life…my High School Sweetheart… He has in turn showed me how to love myself. As we began a family I’ve been blessed with the understanding of unconditional love as I held my beautiful babies in my arms. There is nothing in life that is more pure. As my children grow I’ve come full circle and have heard them utter the most treasured words in my life, “I love you mom.” What joy this sweet sentence gives! Love enables me to feel what it truly means to be alive!!

30- Thankful for Gratitude. Gratitude doesn’t make problems and threats disappear. We can lose jobs; we can lose a loved one, and we can get sick. I’ve experienced all of those things. I remember those harrowing times at unexpected moments, and through those experiences, I’ve found so much encouragement, happiness, and love from focusing on what I’m grateful for rather than what I don’t have. Gratitude is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life. It’s a bright red paintbrush we apply to otherwise-invisible blessings. Gratitude is known to be good for us and those around us. It is a conscious effort to get into the habit of being grateful. Gratitude is important for how good I feel mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. This action is simple but incredibly powerful. As I come to the end of this month long posts of things I’m “Thankful for”, I’ve felt a deeper sense of peace in my life. I’m a grateful person, and I do count my blessings each day, but taking the time to really consider all that I have been given has made me take a deeper look at each element in my life and consider how it has been a gift to me. When I began this month’s posts I never imagined it would have the impact that it has on those who have read them. It warms my heart to know in some small way I was able to brighten or lift someone’s day. I’m grateful for the opportunity to recognize all that I have been blessed with, big and small. God is good!!! 

Below are some of the comments that just filled my heart!

Wow...Vanessa you really have a way expressing what is in your heart. I have enjoyed your thoughts each day, but this one hit home. Thanks for sharing.

I'm going to save everyone of these 'thankful' posts of yours and read them when I need a lift.

Seriously, Vanessa, I agree with whoever it was that said you need to compile these into a book (so that those that can read can enjoy them). These are fantastic!! 

Very poetic!! Have you thought about writing??

Thank you for posting each day, reminding me of my many blessings. This is truly touching. Now I have to redo the makeup.

See why you are my hero?!
I told them you were my anchor while I was bedridden. You could bake, I couldn't. You could cook, I couldn't. You are just amazing! I told them I needed a WWVD bracelet...what would Vanessa do! I'm still not back to what I was able to do before. I never will be. But, you can, so I don't have to beat myself up because I can't. 
You are an amazing woman. You are so very Christlike and talented. You ooze joy and sweetness, no matter what. Your children are well-prepared spiritually and grounded in gospel principles.

You are such a strong person and I am amazed at how you show everyone that you are holding strong to the rod. You are such a great example to me.

 My brother (terminal cancer) sends out a daily devotional via e-mail to a group of about 50 friends. I am now sending him your daily thoughts of gratitude. It gives him strength too. Thank you.

Your faith is an example to us all, Vanessa.

I am so inspired by reading your posts every day. Keep the faith. 

Wow...just wow..*shudders with cold chills*

LOVE!! Joy is one of my favorite words...one of the most living, aspiring and inspiring words. Lovely :) <3


 I'm thankful for you, Vanessa, You're an inspiration. Have a great day!

See what I mean??? Truly humbling....It's been a wonderful experience and I highly recommend that everyone try it. Of course not everyone needs or wants to do it in the form I chose, but to keep a Gratitude Journal at home and each day writing down those things you witnessed as a blessing or joy  that day will greatly impact your life for the positive!! I have a strong testimony of that! :)


Halle Heart Center

>> Friday, November 22, 2013

Jared went with Eli and his class to the Halle Heart Center in Tempe. Visitors to the museum find out how the heart works, alone and with other parts of the body, as part of the circulatory system, and how to protect the heart from disease.

Eli is in one of the hands on displays showing an artery of the heart!

It was an informative and interesting fieldtrip!


The Mayflower

>> Saturday, November 16, 2013

Eli had a school project this week on explorer ships and how his ancestors immigrated to the United States. Thankfully I've tried to gather as many documents, files, pictures, and charts as I could over the years for our family history and it made the essay portion of the project so much easier. 

Jared and Eli worked for many hours on the model portion and it turned out awesome!!

Below is his report and a family tree showing the relationship. 

Dr. Samuel Fuller

My ancestor is Dr. Samuel Fuller he is my 11th great grand uncle. He was born on January 1, 1580, and he died between August 9 and September 26, 1633. He was born in England and later moved to Holland. He was the doctor and surgeon on the Mayflower. There were many injuries if you were on a ship, and he was such a good doctor and surgeon that he only lost one passenger on the voyage. I think he was important because every ship needs a doctor and surgeon or else more people would die of sicknesses or injuries. He left Holland because he wanted freedom of religion and later on became a respected deacon for the Plymouth Colony. This is my ancestor, I hope you enjoyed learning more about my ancestor.

One thing I should mention...John Fuller's wife says "Mrs. Fuller" her actual name is Dorcas Fuller but Eli was worried the kids might make fun of her name so we went the safe route! :)


I Would Walk 100 Thousand Miles...I Would Walk 100 Thousand More...Or Drive...

>> Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ok so I know those aren't the actual lyrics to the song but it's what popped into my head..LOL!

Today as we were pulling out of the garage to go to church Jared noticed the odometer was exactly at 100,000 miles! 

We bought the van back in 2001 brand new...it's actually a 2002 model... and it's been a great vehicle. She's definitely in need of some TLC here and there but for the most part she's been great. Her nickname is Big Red. :P

Today also happens to be 11/10 and that's just a lot of 1's and 0's in a day. Hehehe!

We are crossing our fingers Big Red will continue to get us to the places we need. I mostly drive her in town to go shopping, taking the kids to/from school, practices, scouts, church, and running a million errands. We've taken her to New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah, and my favorite place California..or maybe I should clarify...Disneyland!!! :D 

She's the perfect size, seating 7 passengers comfortably and still plenty of room for all the coloring books, games, and toys that inevitably find there way in on trips. 

Here's to another 100,000 more miles Big Red!!!



>> Monday, November 4, 2013

Since Jared had been in & out of Urgent Care and in & out of the E.R. this week Halloween was sort of a hot mess. We had already planned on it being a low key celebration anyway since funds are limited as Jared is still looking for work. The kids did a GREAT job coming up with recycled costumes or using their imaginations coming up with new ones!!

Alayna as a Hobo.

Eli as the Mad Hatter once again! 

Walker as a "Cereal" Killer. :P

A better view of his creativity.

Alayna is such a little actress. The look on her face looks so genuine!! LOL!!!

 We decided to warn our neighbors about the situation in our house. It seemed to work. Not a single person came a knockin'...LOL! ;)

Our wonderful friends The Wright's took Alayna and Eli Trick or Treating and Walker went with his buddy Chase as has become tradition for him. Jared was able to get some rest and we were so grateful for sweet friends who helped us out and took away one more thing off of our list that we had been worrying about. 


Urgent Care & The Emergency Room

>> Saturday, November 2, 2013

 Last Sunday Jared started getting a sore throat and Monday he had signs of the stomach flu. By Tuesday things got progressively worse and by Wednesday he become so dehydrated he had lost 8 lbs., couldn't swallow, and could hardly hold himself up. He had become extremely lethargic and wasn't able to keep anything he ate or drank in or down. 

That evening I took him into Urgent Care. We were there almost 3 hrs. They gave him 2 I.V. bags with electrolytes, a hefty dose of Zofran, and then sent us home. He was able to get a little sleep that night but still wasn't feeling great and fighting a fever. The Urgent Care doctor really wanted us to follow up with the Neurologist the next day to make sure things with his new MS rx wasn't playing a factor. He started taking a new prescription called Tecfidera. It's an oral medication which Jared loves cuz he doesn't have to do daily injections. However, it hasn't been out on the market very long, and it does have some significant side affects like, nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, and it can affect his white blood cell count. So we needed to follow up with his Neuro. to make sure this wasn't related to his medication. 

Look at how sad that poor guy looks. :(

We called his Neuro. the next morning, and she let me know that since Jared has M.S. that I should always take him to the Emergency Room not the Urgent Care when he gets ill like this. The E.R. is just better equipped and can run more tests and give him the full measure of care he needs. So... I guess I know for next time. :P

She also sent an order to the lab for him to get blood work done (which she was shocked they didn't do that night at Urgent Care) to get a white blood cell count and check for other underlying factors that can show up in a blood test. 

We got the results Thursday and they were all normal. His white blood cell count was in the normal range and nothing else appeared in his panels to give us any further concern. She did mention however, that since his body has undergone such a tremendous strain to watch him carefully for signs of a relapse. I have to admit I lost it a little when I got off the phone with her after she said that. We've had some stressful things for 2 months now, and I think I just couldn't handle one more thing, and I had to have a good cry over it. 

As God always does he sent his angels to my aid, and my sweet Visiting Teacher called and asked me if I needed anything and immediately arranged meals to come for the next few days and offered to make arrangements for the kids to go Trick or Treating, and I just felt so much weight lifted. It meant the world to me!!

Friday Jared was doing better but still having stomach flu issues. Which after consulting the Neurologist again she recommended that I take him in to the E.R. 

By this point Jared was pretty tired of being a pin cushion. They gave him more I.V.'s, more Zofran, and some Hydrocodone for pain. They ran his blood work and did an abdominal CT. They ran tests on his urine as well. They wanted a stool sample, but I think the thought of that terrified Jared so much it might have been the very thing he needed to cure his "issues". LOL!!!

Initially the E.R. doctor thought he might have Colitis. His intestines upon examination seemed to be inflamed. After the blood work & CT came back they ruled that out. They came to the diagnosis of severe stomach flu. However, he needs to follow up with his Primary Care Doctor to make sure he's back to 100% this week. 

He's gaining his strength back and it's so good to see him able to keep food and liquids down now. I don't know what kind of flu bug this is that's going around but it's no joke!! Wash those hands people!


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