Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Celebrating the new year with a colonoscopy!

A couple of weeks ago I decided to schedule myself for a couple of dreaded tests, a mammogram and a colonoscopy.  I was long overdue for both of them but kept putting them off for a myriad of reasons.  I hate medical procedures of all kinds, and I dislike taking the time for appointments.  This is not a good reason for avoiding these procedures!  Too many of my friends are cancer survivors, and my own father died of colon cancer at the young age of 56.  My son Ben, who is only 29 years old, had a colonoscopy last year where they found polyps but his repeat colonoscopy showed none this year, thank goodness!!!

   My father, Thiel Johnson, was just about the best person you could ever know.  When he died, people came from all walks of life to pay their respects to a man who was kind, honest and giving. At his funeral, President Harris said, "Thiel Johnson was a man without guile" and he was....
He often claimed, "he was a jack of all trades, master of none."  He could build, wire, plumb and cement just about anything you wanted done.   I always lament the fact that he probably could have helped me do just about anything around the house I needed fixed or built, but that is not why I miss him.  He was so funny, so smart and so very loving.  When I think of him, I remember his huge smile, and his talent for whistling just about any song. He would also dance a little jig in front of my friends to embarrass me.  It looked a little like a strange type of  clogging, but it was the Thiel Johnson quickstep.

 At night I would lay in my bed and listen to him play his mouth organ as he called it (harmonica).  I grew up loving the hymns because I heard them played by ear on that harmonica.   He loved the  'old' country music, and I grew up listening to the verses of songs like "down in the west Texas town of Laredo" and "Don't you listen to him, Dan, he's a devil, not a man, and he's searched the burning sand for water".  I have no idea who sang these songs, it has been much too long.  Dad died September 10, 1979 from colon cancer, and I miss him still so much. The dead seem to grow more perfect with years, and although in my mind's eye now, I see him as such...he was as human as the rest of us.  His language could be a little salty when he got mad, but he always quickly apologized and when illness took him to his bed, he became so humble and contrite.  As he grew sicker, he would take to walking the floor above my bedroom at night,  pacing back and forth with the pain, playing the hymns while I listened in bed... tears filling my eyes.

He was a very spiritual man, and the gospel of Jesus Christ was everything to him.  I grew up watching him read his scriptures, and talk to us of the Plan of Salvation.  He knew the Savior intimately because he was a true disciple of Christ. He helped just about everyone, and was the neighborhood handyman.

 Mom met Dad at Utah University and their first date was getting ice cream.  Dad had just gotten his cone, and turned around to speak to my mom, and a bird flying overhead deposited a little something right on his cone.  They always got a good laugh over that!

Dad was very tidy, a quality that I did not inherit.  I am my mother's daughter, always cooking , reading, preparing and trying vainly to organize  without cleaning up the previous mess.  The shed he built in our backyard was a beautiful thing to behold though it was tiny and humble.  Every tool, gadget, or piece of equipment to build or fix something was stored in an orderly fashion.  He kept lemon drops there in a drawer, and I would sneak in and sit on his stool, and hide out from the problems of my adolescent world.  It was a little sanctuary to me where I could spend a few minutes away from the outside world.  I was a recluse in Junior High, hated it in fact, and just wanted to be home with my books and my cats.

He went to the doctor because of some rectal bleeding, and had a colonoscopy.  He had stage 4 cancer at that point, and he had some surgery to remove what they could at the time.  He then had chemotherapy that seemed to go on for months.  At the time of his death the tumors were shrinking, but we all thought that the chemotherapy had taken its toll.  He lay in his bed in our guest bedroom , and his wife and his daughters were his hospice nurses.  Liz would lay on the floor some nights by his bedside, and I would administer the  morphine shots.  He was so skinny that he wore his wrist watch around the top of his arm, and I would have to hunt for any fat deposits on his wasted body to inject him. I remember once tripping and spilling some soup on him, and feeling so bad.  He took my hand and kissed it, saying, "you're my angel, Jane". We would hand him a plastic urinal, and he spilled it once.  I , at the tender age of 21, undressed him, and changed his bedding while he sat and cried, shivering on the chair.  "I hate you to see your  Dad like this, Jane" he wept.  "Oh, Dad" , I replied, "you changed me all the time when I was little, it's my turn now".  Then I was the one who cried all the way to college classes.

 Mom was teaching school, and we needed all the help we could get with Dad's care.
 When we were not there, the Craythornes next door came and sat with Dad.  It was all quite horrible keeping the death watch, and not knowing when it would happen.  Thank goodness we were all there when it did, and I knew the time was close when I saw Dad holding up his hand to someone unseen, yet  very near and whispering, "help me".  He searched the room just as my mother did when she died, and I know that the veil is very thin between this world and the spirit world.  I entered the room to see how he was doing, and found him motionless on the bed with his eyes open, unseeing.  I called to mom, and I remember her saying, "Oh ,Thiel, have you gone?"  We gently closed his eyes and called the mortuary, and I watched my mom weep as she said goodbye for a season to her companion of thirty years.  Just a few weeks earlier Dad had crawled from his bed adjacent to their bedroom to her bedside.  She woke to find him crying as he cradled her in her arms.  He said, "Fay, you have and always will be the most beautiful woman to me, thank you for being my wife and the mother of our children."  What a tender moment that memory holds for me, and such an example of true devotion.

I had a beautiful dream sometime later where I saw my dad enter the kitchen where I sat, and talked with me face to face as in mortality.  I had prayed that I might remember the robust, funny guy I knew as my father and not the shrunken, sick shell of a man he became.  He looked so good!  The dream was startingly vivid, and I remember seeing the scars on his forehead, and his finger.  He was dressed in snowy white clothes, and he laughed and made references to all of us, and said how happy he was.  He mentioned our neighbors, the Somervilles, and I did not want him to go when he said he must leave.
I awoke from this dream so very grateful for the knowledge I have that I will see him again, and all others who have departed this earth.  Elder Russell M. Nelson said that" death is a gift from God because death allows your body to return home to Him.  From an eternal prospective, death is only premature for those who are not prepared to meet God."

I searched for pictures of Dad as I wanted to post them, and cannot put my finger on them (big surprise).  I found this not so good one of when I graduated from high school about three years before he died, and where he looked like the man I remember.

 And so, as I stayed up all last night, "making bathroom trips" in preparation for my colonoscopy....I thought about Dad and how he might have been with us a few more years if he had had the procedure done at age fifty.  I fixed myself up two icy pitchers of crystal light and added a little Mountain Dew for good measure.  Just saying I will probably not drink either one of those for a good long time!   The prep is horrible, but the results don't last forever (although in my case it was a very long night) ... I think I  may have overdone it with the powder!

All went well, and there were no polyps, so I am good for another three years!  I hope my siblings are falling suit with their colonscopies as colon cancer is certainly preventable these days.  I can at least say that I accomplished a couple of things this Christmas holiday.

I am hoping the new year brings much joy to you all along with the trials that are part of life.  I am not even going to embarrass myself by claiming resolutions to lose weight and exercise this year....(I have to try a little) because for thirty five years my journal entries are all the same thing!  "I need to lose weight, exercise, and get healthy, clean my house, get organized, yada, yada, yada...."   For right now, I don't have cancer, and I am happy to spend another year being with the people I love, writing others whom I love, and just being "me".

That "me" was raised by two wonderful parents,  who while certainly not perfect, tried their best to love their kids and teach them.   I am so grateful to Thiel and Fay Johnson.  Love you, Mom and Dad!!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Skyping

Alex and Dakota laughing with Rachel
Carly and me talking with Sister Bethany Taylor
Matthew can't believe how big Ruby is getting!
       This Christmas season was crazy in so many ways!  I thought it would be less hectic having four kids in the mission field, but getting those packages out, and letters written was a big project for me.  I am a procrastinator by nature, but those missionary packages needed to be out by a certain date, and I , being the Mom, was the one to do it.  Now I must admit that Bethany got "two" copies of the Carpenter's CD and Rachel is good for pens the rest of her mission.  It reminds me of when I was little, and my mom would put the wrong thing or  quantity in our Christmas stockings.  It's all good!!
We really had a nice Christmas and I enjoyed some peace and quiet until two days before Christmas.

 My niece Heather and her husband, Bob, plus four daughters came for Christmas Eve.  I warned Anne that she better "forget" herself and enjoy her grandkids and children, and she was actually pretty good.  For those of you who do not know my sister....I am not being mean, just practical.  Her son Jonathan, his significant other, Cassie, and their sweet baby, Zayla,  came and ate soup and rolls with us.

   Then it was time to cook up three breakfast casseroles, sticky buns, chop up fruit, and clean up the mess from the peanut brittle and fudge.  As I cook like a maniac, I remember the words of one of my ESL students, Eduardo, who upon hearing that I cook a lot at Christmas...said, "no wonder you're fat, Mrs. Taylor!"  Those words still pierce my heart as I furiously whip up way too much food.  My mother showed love that way, and I am afraid that I am much the same way.  Unfortunately, little Eduardo is probably wiser than his years!!

   Christmas morning was wonderful because we had the anticipation of FOUR phone calls/skyping from our missionaries.  Mark called about 11:00 a.m.  Bethany skyped with us at noon, Rachel followed at 1:00 p.m. and Matthew skyped with us at three o'clock.  It was so much fun to see their faces that I must admit to feeling a little gypped when it came to Mark.  His mission does not skype, but we had a good conversation.
  They all looked so good, and sounded wonderful.  It was so good to see their faces, and to hear that they are doing well, and enjoying their missions for the most part.  I am so proud of their diligence in keeping the commandments and can certainly see their progress in so many areas.

  The missionary moms of our ward were asked to speak in Sacrament meeting today.  Alisa got out of it because she was in St. George, but Melodee, Vickie and I spoke about Mitchell , Paige and my four. Drake is in Russia, where Alisa just reported that a bomb went off in Volgograd, not too far from him.  He is so positive and doing so well despite the problems there.  The support for our missionaries from our ward has been phenomenal, and we are so blessed!!  It is my fervent hope that they are all safe and happy in the next year and that that the desires of their hearts are fulfilled.  Paige and Rachel will be home this next year, and the boys and Bethany will soon follow.  Best wishes for a Happy New Year!!!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

"tis the season to be jolly" even if you only have nine forks

My last post was sort of whiny, so I wanted to wait and  write when I was not feeling cold and anxous.  Hmmm...that will not happen until Spring, so I decided to write about my gratitude for my life, for things cold and dark, and for things sunny and warm. I am listening to Adam play the piano,  and I think about the reason my kids are on missions.  He  stopped in to have some dinner after working late at the Hospital, and now he is playing the piano.  It happened to be "O Holy Night", a song which has always been the epitomy of what Christmas is all about.  I feel such reverence for the Savior when I hear this song, and it never fails to bring me to tears.  Adam was always one of my kids who loved to play, and I am grateful he still enjoys it.  I am so fortunate to have about 42 kids make their way into my house weekly to have piano lessons.  It is hard at times when I am tired from a day at school, but I am so lucky to have had music in my home.  It elevates my mood and makes me so happy.
   I got a call from Sister Vallinga, who is Matthew's mission mom.  She related a story where they recently had a zone conference where Matthew was to play a solo on his violin for the musical number.  A visiting general authority was there, and Matthew was pretty nervous.  As he drew his bow to commence playing, an audible "PING' resounded in the room.  His G string had broken, and he looked helplessly at the men sitting on the stand.  His mission president arose, and said, "Elder Taylor, if you can continue to play, we would love to hear it, but if you cannot make it work, that is okay!"  Matthew  said a silent prayer and pulled  his bow across the violin and begin to play very gently the hymn  "Be still My Soul".  He made it through the number and everyone exclaimed that it was beautiful.  Matthew later wrote me that he had a "little" help and also that the number had very few notes played on the now-absent string.  

  I could not help but muse about the many times that I  cannot accomplish something, but that lack thereof is often made up by the Savior.  At this time of year, we think of Christ, we rejoice in His birth and in his ministry.   He can make up the difference, and I am so thankful for the Atonement.

    I am pretty much inept at a lot of things and it causes feelings of inadequacy and self pity.  I have always been able to put together a meal, however, but tonight it went south.  We were having the missionaries, and I was having chicken parmesian, (thanks Megan Eborn) .  It usually is quite delicious, and I was going to put together some garlic bread with cheese (usually yummy, a nice green salad, jello salad, peas and carrots with chocolate chip cookies for desert.  Ben and Jess, Layne and Emily, Alex and Daniel and Elders Chalk and Holman were coming.  At the last minute, I forgot the bread in the oven---burned the edges---couldn't find the rest of the spaghetti---killed the peas and carrots---and put the croutons in the salad too early (mushy).  Ben ran around trying to clean up after me as I sawed burnt edges from the garlic bread, dripped some sauce on the chicken  and tried to find the missing spaghetti noodles.  Ben is a neat freak, and it pains him greatly to see spaghetti sauce everywhere, and pans and pots piled as I tried to rescue dinner.  I start feeling anxous, and then the missionaries arrive.  I throw up my hands, and tell everyone to sit, whispering to Jerry, "don't eat any spaghetti".  We sat down to dinner, and I felt like we were ready to partake of the "five loaves and fishes" because of the small quantity of spaghetti.  I did find the noodles after searching one more drawer, and Ben had them on to cook.  Now, for the most embarrassing part of the dinner.  Unbeknownst to me, a knife thief has entered our home and we have none save nine forks!!!!  Seriously folks, who only has nine forks?   Jerry was the one assigned  to set the table, and I guess he thought we could make do with a spoon and a knife.  When I saw Daniel trying to eat balance spaghetti on his knife, I washed mine and gave it to him.  How pathetic is that?  
    Then, as we sat and talked with our missionaries and listened to their message, it occured to me that we were in a very warm place with people that we loved and that we had food to eat.  So many people
  cannot say that, and I feel blessed that I am comfortable when it is cold outside.   I have friends, family and a testimony of Jesus Christ.  I don't think the fact that I don't have enough forks can alter that fact.  Things often disappear from our house, and I don't have an answer for it.  I have no talent for organization, but I can keep trying.  In the meantime I will try to remember what I have to be grateful for and not berate myself for the things I am not....and they are many!! 
 I will listen to my kids play Christmas songs, rejoice in the season and continue to find the things in life that make me happy.   I know that there are people  who are suffering right now, and I will try to remember that while they have trials, I have minor annoyances.  I hope to focus more on what is right with my life, and to let the little things go.  I am so grateful for a loving Savior who knows us , and that someday all will be made right.  I believe it was President Gordon B. Hinckley who said, "have patience for the small trials in your life, and courage for the big ones, and when you go to bed at night, remember that God is in charge."

Adam Michael Taylor

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winter Wonderland? I don't think so....

Well, it's that time of year.  No, I am not thinking of the holidays, but rather the dark, cold days that lay ahead.  There are those times that I find beauty in the new fallen snow, or watch in awe as the street lights illuminate the falling snowflakes.  I love the way the trees look that first morning after a snowfall as their bare, heavily laden branches sparkle when the sun comes up.  Mostly, however, I just try to tough it out until Spring comes.  The night falls, and I find myself wanting to just crawl in bed.  I miss the sounds of kids playing outside in the summer evening,  and the sprinklers wetting down the freshly mown grass.  I like seeing little sprouted things coming up through the earth, and soo  do not like the demise  of the many beautiful flowers I nurtured all summer.  Clearly, I am not a winter person.  I hate being cold.  Don't even get me started on the driving conditions.  I come home white-knuckled after driving in a winter storm. Are there fun sports in winter?  I feel too old to personally like doing any of that now, although I love watching the Olympics.  People laughed at me when I tried ice skating.  Can I help it that my family has genetically weak ankles?   I really tried to like skiing, but was no good at it at all. I have no athletic abilities, but thought I could have a go at it.   I quit altogether when I fell off the ski lift and tore up my knee badly (the same knee I am having surgery on this Thursday, by the way.  For the last thirty years the pain has reminded me that snow is , indeed, my enemy.

  I feel guilty for my bad attitude.  I know we need the snow.  I realize that it will bring us much needed water and that we need plenty of it to enjoy the many pleasures of summer.  Still, I endure much of it and scoff at my friends who insist they enjoy the winter.  Robin loves to cuddle up in her spotless house and cross stitch away all comfy and cozy.  I don't have a spotless house, and I don't cross stitch.  The darkness closes in and I don't even feel like cleaning.  I eat more because I feel anxious, and that is never good.  I believe I suffer from SAD, (seasonal affective disorder).  I feel my best in the light of day, and tend to want to hibernate when it is dark and cold.  I do feel a little sad, and sometimes very sad! I am very excited for December 21 not because it is right before Christmas, but because the days will start getting longer.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas.  I love the lights, the music, the feelings of goodwill toward men, but Christmas comes during winter.  I am ashamed that even in the celebration of our Savior's birth, I whine about the darkness and cold.

This winter I have vowed to try to be more positive.  I have four kids serving LDS missions in the states.  Matthew and Rachel are in Ohio and Michigan and will, no doubt, be cold the next few months.  Mark does not think he will be in temperatures any colder than 50 degrees, and Bethany, well...she is in paradise.  The San Fernando Valley does not experience much in the way of winter.
I really do not want to equate happiness with summer even though I rejoice when spring starts to creep between the cold cracks of winter.  I know that I appreciate spring more because of the winter.  It is more miraculous, more beautiful and enjoyable because of the harshness of winter.

I like the scripture in the Book of Mormon where Lehi says "it must needs be that there was an opposition" talking about all things that are created.  We cannot fully appreciate the good without the bad.  Not that winter is all bad, but spring is so sweet because it follows winter.   When you live in Utah, you have the beauty of all the seasons, and each one is truly miraculous.  I happen to like some more than others, but I know my enjoyment would wane just a bit if I had spring all year long.

So...bring on the snow, the cold, the ice and scary driving conditions.  I will be grateful for a warm house that shields me from the cold, and a bed to lie down at night.  I know that many people in the world do not have this luxury.   When I see the devastation in the Phillippines and the people who have suffered at the hands of a typhoon, I am humbled and more than  disgusted with myself.  I have food , clothing and my family and friends are safe.   The coming of a different season seems a very trivial thing to be concerned about. I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves his children and mourns with them.

I believe that much good can be found in every day, and that a little quiet contemplation about how to help other people will alleviate a lot of the seasonal depression I experience.  I  am hoping that we might all realize our blessings and rejoice in the arrival of another new year.

The morning Bethany leaves Utah for a year and a half to dwell in Sunny California.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Missionaries are a busy blessing

Writing and sending packages to four missionaries can be difficult for anyone let alone someone as unorganized as myself.  Okay, I will admit it......letters and pictures from my four kids are stuffed in various drawers.  They are not in beautifully scrapbooked pages with clever headings and quotes.  I am hoping to unearth some of them this summer with Dorma's help.  She is very talented when it comes to organizing, and maybe I can get some semblance of a recording of their time in the mission field.
I write regularly to them, and should have files of different subjects that can be addressed should a topic arise....but I have to rely on my brain which is quickly fading.  I have had to send letters that should be filed under:

     How to feel good about yourself when you seem to be a failure.
     How to get along with people who bug you.
     How to fight frustration when no one wants to hear your message.
     How the Atonement can help you with feelings of inadequacy.
     How to be humble when you know more than your companion.
     How to be teachable when you realize you know nothing.
     How to accept the fact that your mother always knew more than you thought she did.

Lately, I wish I had more time to learn the things that my kids are learning.  I want to take the time to ponder the scriptures, to think about the things they are thinking, and to be teachable as well.
I have cut way back on the TV watching, and try to find time to study the Gospel every day.  I have scriptures on CD in my car, and that helps a great deal in bringing the Spirit.  Still, I have to go to school and teach piano every day and find myself too tired many nights.  I tell them all the time how lucky they are to have the time to immerse themselves in the Gospel.

Rachel is still with Sister Heywood, Matthew is awaiting a new companion , Mark is with Elder Guzman, who is from Mexico, and Bethany is with Sister Cameron.  Bethany is in Sunny Burbank where she talks about "sun-kissed people" and swaying palm trees and the cute red door of her apartment.  She sounds like she is on vacation.  She is two blocks away from Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, and NBC.
 Rachel and Matthew are preparing for a cold, wet winter where they say the bitter wind from the lakes cuts to the bone.  Mark is in Texas where they will probably have a fairly mild time of it.

I will now attempt to add some photos.  This may or may not work.  Yay!!!, It did!  Maybe
I can organize their letters!!
Rachel and Sister Heywood

Bethany and Sister Cameron

Matthew with Thomas and Rachel (a recent convert)

Matthew and some of his district members

Matthew riding his bike in Cleveland

Mark with a cow?

Mark and his companion, Elder Guzman

Rachel and Sister Heywood looking cute

Hey!!!  It did work!
Rachel and her hand-me-downs
hat, scarf, and coat from ward member
skirt from companion.


Sunday, October 27, 2013


You know that song, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world?"  Yep, well, I am one of the lucky people in the world.  I need people, and I have great friends.  Nothing makes me happier than to talk to someone, and if you know me, I can talk a lot!  I like different people---let's use a few antonyms here....young people, old people, funny people, serious people, intense people, laid back people...they are all my friends and I am so grateful for each one of them.   I have a sign that hangs over my back door that says it all for me, "Friends are the family that one finds along the way".  I have found a lot of people who are like family to me.  I am sure that I am irritating at times because I once surmised that if I stood back, and thought about "me" as my own friend, I would be irritating.  I would also be kind and funny and interesting in an odd sort of way.  So, it's all good, and I am happy being me.

   I love my own company, but after awhile I crave a little more stimulating conversation. I have been told that I hum when I am alone, so I must be in touch with my inner self.   I can go downtown and stop in just about anywhere and talk to people.  I know people from the grocery store, the music store, and even got invited to a wedding reception from a lady who hands out samples at Sam's Club!    I don't just know their names, I know all about their families, their likes and dislikes, and some pretty deep feelings.   I can carry on a conversation with just about anybody and do so on a regular basis.  I suppose that some might find me nosy, but others appreciate my friendliness and open up about all kinds of things in their lives, (some I'd rather not know about):D  I would not have it any other way and only wish I had more time to connect more.    Yeah, I also wish I were thinner and younger, but I like that I can be friends with just about anybody.

   I have been friends for a very long time with a group of friends who know me about as well as anyone else does.  Probably more than Jerry:D   MaryAnn, Dorma, Lori, Debbie and I get together a couple of times a year to play.  Yes, we are old and we still play.    We travel, laugh and mostly make each other laugh.   We have been through it all with each other.  The birth of our children,  miscarriages, divorces , our parent's deaths , surgeries, cancer, and a lot more.  These events have sealed us for life, and I can't imagine having survived trials without them.  I have countless friends and to name just a few:

 SueAnn, who took me to her house when I broke my collarbone and elbow.  I ran over myself with my car, but I digress (another story) and nursed and showered me.  I stayed at her house for three days, and she had her son Jeff rig up a call button as I lay in the kid's bottom bunkbed.  Now that is friendship!!   We have been friends for almost forty years, and I could make pages and pages of the things she has done for me and my family.   Robin and Vickie who take me for rides where we eat Lay's potato chips and  swig coke  and solve the problems of the world.  Kathy , Elaine, Debbi and Suzanne whom I have loved since college days.  Gayle, you are the best when I can talk to you about anything and everything!  We tried to lose weight when we were skinny and in college, and now we are grandmas and still talk about the same thing!! Alisa, what would I possibly do without you in my life?  I have never know anyone more Christlike and giving.  What an example you are to me!!   Michelle, my book friend, who always enlightens me  with the best of literature.  Laurie, who is always just a phone call away and who came and bought me dresses when Adam was getting married and Jerry was out of work. Karen , who taught me to make banana cream pie, and who is the best friend/ boss ever.

  Donna, Fern and Barbara, my "old lady" friends who were my dear, dear friends for over a decade while they were in their eighties, I learned so much from you!  I mourned each one as you passed from this life and remember our good times together.  You were funny, smart and so very wise.  You were such a support system to me, and I loved you so, so much.

 Amy Herrick, my friend who has taught me not only about teaching,  but about selflessness and family.  So many more out there who know who they are and how special they are to me.  I rarely go a day when I am not encouraged or inspired by one of many people I see daily.  My co -workers are the greatest, and I am so fortunate to work with children every day of my life.

To all the friends in my neighborhood and ward who care about me and my family:  You know who are and how important you are to my life.  All friends past and present have enriched my life so much!!
   I hope that my children who are out in the world are meeting people and making that connection of friendship.  You cannot teach anyone anything until you care about them.  It is a wonderful thing to become friends with your children, and see them emerge into adults.  Jerry and I are learning to be friends again after co-parenting, and I told him he would have to be my buddy.  Friendship takes a little work, but it is so worth the effort.  It has enriched my life in countless ways, and I am beyond blessed for all of the people I care about and who care about me.  I am thankful to be friends with Jerry's mom, Joann and with his sisters, Jackie and Jan who welcomed me into the family from the start. I love my daughter-in-laws Jess and Carly, and hope I do not appear to be the strange mother-in-law, but their friend.  Layne, I hope you find me a little less strange as time goes on:D

   Fay Johnson, you are never far from my heart and will continue to be my greatest friend and advocate.  When she lay dying, I laid my head on her heart, and asked, "Oh, Mom, have I ever made you proud?"  I selfishly wanted her approval even at the end of her life.  She struggled to whisper, "always".  She was a friend to all, and I try to emulate her in her love for people.  When Dad died, people from all walks of life came to pay tribute to Thiel Johnson, a man who loved and served others.  What a great legacy I have, and what choice friends!  Sorry that this is such a gushy blog, but I am feeling blessed tonight!!
                                       gotta go, my favorite nephew, Brian,  and his fiancee, Cadie, just stopped in
                                      and I am making them chocolate chip cookies!

                                          They were pretty good!

Dorma, Debbie, Me, MaryAnn and Lori


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Last of the Four to Go

Bethany Anne Taylor departed our home Wednesday, October 9 to arrive at the Mission Training Center at 2:45 p.m.  This kind of sounds like an obituary!  We are not grieving, but rejoice in the adventure soon to be hers in the San Fernando, California Mission.  I did shed a tear when I found her size 10 converse shoe beside my chair".  Usually, I would have pitched it downstairs while yelling, "Bethany...take off your shoes in your own room!"  Instead, my eyes misted over.   I quickly recuperated and it hasn't been too bad.  I think my initial tears last year when the boys were preparing to go were for the demise of childhood.  I am feeling old!  I was always the mom of young children, and now as I am forced to concede that they are grown; I had to admit my own advancing age.  My brain is a bit fuzzy, my knees are bad, and I hate seeing pictures of myself because I am viewing someone who doesn't look like me.
   I told myself that when Bethany left, Jerry and I were to start our own new adventure.  No kids, no one baking cookies well into the night for kids who were laughing and shrieking downstairs.  Thank goodness for piano kids who fill my life with fun and purpose. I have to have a little noise!!
    Bethany spoke on the 29th of September, and did an awesome job.  I think the word "awesome" is overused, but it was a great talk.  She was assigned  to speak on spreading the Gospel to "every kindred, tongue and people".  She spoke about Camp Bartlett, and Philmont Ranch and her associations with the people there.  She told us how every person we come into contact with can be affected by the way we live.  She gave examples of great people in her own life who had impacted her own way of living, and of others she had watched with great admiration.  Bethany has worked in an after school program at Club Heights Elementary School, and she loved it so much.  She also taught school in a highly scrutinized Title one school and learned so much about what people needed in their lives.  They need love and hope, and she will be able take that to the people she meets in California.
   We had the usual "non-farewell mormon buffet" at our house and Bethany was able to share her special day with Ruby.  Ruby's dad was in Missouri for five months following her birth, and he was able to finally bless her so it was truly a great day.  Layne's Mom and Dad came, of course, as did his brother Spencer  and sister-in-law Megan.  Ruby's Great Grandma and Grandpa, Donna and Layne.  We served pulled pork, Bethany's favorite, and I have the best friends in the world who brought salads and cookies.  The weather sort of cooperated, and most people ate outside.
    Bethany is larger than life, and her presence is so missed at our house.  She is a passionate person.  Passion was one of our third grade vocabulary words last week, and when I introduced it, I thought of her. When she was little, she drove me crazy because she was so stubborn and driven.  Now I see it as a wonderful attribute that will take her far in life.   She loves people with an intensity that is overwhelming at times, yet I know that the people in the mission field will return that love.  She and I are so very close, because I think that she is the most like me out of all my children.  She knows me better than Jerry does!!
She knows I like orange Tootsie Pops, and will buy me several when she goes out.  She brings me Dirty Diet cokes "just because".  She is in tune with all my mannerisms , and knows what I am thinking and why I am thinking it.  I can't help but remember her as a
misbehaving toddler, and marvel that she has become one of my best friends!  What a treasure she is, and how I miss her!!
   I feel so blessed, and privileged that Heavenly Father would send me such choice spirits to raise. Frankly, I often think that Jerry and I were so incapable of harder trials that He sent us pretty good kids. We would not be very good at dealing with much more than we were given.  The Taylor kids are not perfect, but we are sure grateful for their choices thus far in life.
   I will try to blog more, but find it hard to turn on the computer without anyone to help me:D  Seriously, we will see how this adding "pictures" thing goes!  Anyone out there have extra time for a tutorial?  I tried to have the kids show me, but they got a little hostile after the 86th time.
   I can hardly wait to hear about Bethany and the MTC and will be better about posting their adventures!                          

(These pictures were really hard for me!, I will try more later when I am not muttering under my breath)

Bethany and Friends

Bethany with Garrett and Carson Schoenfeld (piano students)

Adam, Emily and Ruby, Bethany and Ben

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Manti, Meniscus tear, Max and Missionaries

I wanted to blog about several things, so this is a conglomeration of things that have no correlation with each other.  That being said, I am all over the place with my life and mind, so this should make sense even though it doesn't!

   In June we went to the Manti Pageant with Bethany, Emily and the Bubbergirl (Ruby).  It was going to be our "vacation" if only for two days.  Jerry had gone online and had reserved us a charming bed and breakfast house known as the "Ephraim House".  This was owned by a polygamist with three wives, and we thought it would be lovely to stay in an authentic, historical house.  Its amenities included the cellar with a hidden door know as the polygamist pit.    I am going to have my daughter, Emily be the Guest Blogger and she will relate our experience:

Some point earlier this year, the family all had the idea to head down to the Manti pageant.  I myself was quite excited, as I was in elementary school the last time I saw it, just a nerdy little girl with glasses... that I had forgotten to bring.  Thus, that first trip was was a meaningless blur.  But now, now I could truly have a worthy Manti Pageant experience.  So we packed up the car with all things necessary for an overnight excursion and headed down to Ephraim.  If you have never been there, it's a nice little town--my sister-in-law and her family live there and quite enjoy it.  There's a main street, a candy store, all sorts of cute little things.  After driving up and down that Main Street a few times, we finally saw the Ephraim House, pulled over, and checked in.

The Ephraim House is run by a very nice family.  They greeted us with charm and smiles.  I barely saw the husband of the family, but Tiffany and her son were downright friendly.  They were dressed in what I assumed were period-inspired clothing, son Izzy (Isaiah Elijah) with a classic bowl haircut, and barely gave us time to toss our luggage somewhere before we were given a tour of the house.  

The house was beautiful.  I have a thing for old houses, and therefore I liked this one.  I enjoyed hearing the history and I enjoyed looking at all the old odds and ends scattered about. However, this house was updated not just with a big flat-screen tv but all sorts of tributes to Mormonism.  Pictures of temples, church magazines, coloring books, novels, etc.  Tiffany was sure proud of it, and spoke of the spiritual nature of her home.  The Spirit was meant to dwell in this house, and apparently some family members who came to visit were unable to deal with the overwhelming spirit and snuck out early one morning before Tiffany and her family could greet them with a nourishing breakfast burrito.  

All I could think was "This ain't the temple".  

Yes, I know the home is meant to be a temple of sorts, but I couldn't help but find the zealotry a tad overwhelming.

Eventually we headed to the pageant.  We arrived early and were disappointed to find only a few protestors, none particularly interesting save for a certain young preacher Bethany found quite handsome.  The cast was wandering about, so we took the opportunity to toss Ruby at them for a collection of pictures.  I worried she would fuss through the pageant, but she fell asleep soon and, hooray, slept through the entire thing.

I loved the pageant.  The cast did a fantastic job, the volcano effects were awesome, and it was nice to see it clearly for the first time in my life.  

We then returned to the Ephraim House where, thankfully, the family was asleep and we could sneak into our beds.  In my room, aside from my super-comfy bed, was a pioneer cradle.  Tossing out all crib warnings and regulations out the window, that is where I placed my precious daughter for the night.  I figured if pioneer babies didn't die regularly in them, my baby wouldn't after one night.  And she lived and now I have the story of her sleeping in a pioneer cradle.

Ruby woke up early, which was fine with me, as I was hoping to sit with her and perhaps do some yoga and take in the atmosphere of this beautiful house.  This was interrupted by my parents telling me to hurry and get downstairs for breakfast.  It was still quite early, but breakfast was served and that was that.  So, despite having returned very late, the sleeping members of my family were invited at the break of dawn to go downstairs and eat breakfast burritos.  In detail, Mom was lying in what truly was the best bed she had ever slept in having the best sleep of her life when Tiffany threw open the door and called "Breakfast is served!"  So we trudged downstairs for burritos.  I appreciate the sentiment, but mine was filled with cream, I was not eating dairy for Ruby's sake, and we had all kind of hoped for a classic American McDonald's breakfast.  

The rest of the morning was spent with Tiffany and Izzy running about in their friendly manner, chatting us up.  With all due respect to homeschooling families, Izzy was homeschooled and, well, rather odd.  He didn't seem to have any friends his age, including in Primary, and instead wrote letters and sent pictures to the Prophet.  His social skills were also awkward. Please keep in mind, these were very, very nice and wonderful people, BUT... not quite what we were used to.  The visits became odd when I was nursing Ruby.  I've discovered I have very little modesty in that regard, but still, it was odd having some stranger chatting and a little boy popping his head in while I'm feeding my daughter.  During this time, Tiffany also mentioned her fear of lifting heavy things as she felt she was "expecting" despite having confessed to having conception trouble the night before.  Ah, the words of strangers!

Later that morning, we checked out, but not without complimentary taffy and a missionary card and the appreciation of the family with the titles "Sister" and "Brother".

The house was beautiful, the family nice and without guile;  but I think I prefer my hosts to be a little more distant and a little more worldly.

  Thanks, Emily, I think your portrayal of that trip was very accurate.

 Another member has left the Taylor family.  Four years ago a sweet, black and white Tabby came to live with us.  I picked him up from Petco when an employee placed him in my arms and he clung to me like a lost baby.  I thought Ben needed a cat at his townhouse, but was not surprised when he said, "you've got to be kidding, I don't want or need a cat!"  I guess I was banking on his tender heart, but even as I admitted defeat and kept Max, Ben really did grow to like him. Jess,  who is more of a dog person liked him a lot.  Everyone did.  What was not to like?  A more congenial and affectionate cat never lived.  He loved people, and never met a stranger.  He loved to visit with you especially if you had on black pants.  Max had an odd habit of dangling one fore leg about when perched, and it was quite endearing.  Not quite as endearing was his habit of coughing up hairballs.  It was not so much as a hairball, but a slimy piece of wormlike fur that he would deposit at your feet after a short fit of coughing.  We tried some remedies, bought some hairball cat food , and I was really going to take that cat in to the vet.  Last Wednesday he disappeared without a trace.  We checked his favorite hiding places, closets, beds, neighbor's garages....but no Max.  We are sad even though we have too many cats.  Marty, who was born here at the house, and Sam, Emily's cat.  Contrary to some people's opinions, cats are wonderful creatures who are smart and just don't always elect to come when you want them.  We loved him on his terms, and every time the door rings, there is a small burst of hope that someone has found him and is bringing him home.  We have notified the animal shelter, and made trips around the neighborhood, but to no avail.  I hope he is not hurt, and is living it up with a loving family who adores him as much as we did....

     I had surgery for a meniscus tear, (knee scope) and have been gingerly hobbling around.  I am down to one crutch and made it to school last week, and gave a Relief Society lesson today.  I think it will feel better when it stops hurting!  Actually it is coming along, and perhaps I can start exercising again someday.

  The missionaries are great.  Matthew has a baptism scheduled for the end of August, and is happy most days.  He says that he is now reading "Jesus The Christ" which makes me happy!!  Mark has been transferred to a small town in Texas where he will be opening a new district.  He is excited but sad to leave the people he has been with since arriving in Oklahoma.  Rachel is loving her new companion and the work she is doing.  I am excited and grateful for the experiences they are having right now.  I am not sure whether to tell them about our Max.  He was, by far, the nicest cat we have ever had and was considered a beloved family member.  Do I mention it?  I can't decide.

I count my blessings, and rejoice in them.   Yes,  my knee hurts, and my cat is missing, but I think you can still mourn one of our Heavenly Father's creations----and be grateful at the same time.  If any of you see Max, let me know!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer successes and losses

As the summer simpers to a close, I find myself reconciled to the fact that I did not accomplish great things the last two months.  I had big plans for organization, and weight loss.  Alas, the house is still messy, and I am up ten pounds.  Emily, my married daughter who lived with me this summer, was going to help me.  She did clean out cupboards and urge me towards healthier eating habits.  Thanks, Emily, for remaining your cheerful self during your husband's absence.  He serves in the Army Reserves and has been in Missouri since Ruby was six weeks old.  He returns home next month to whisk wife and baby away!

 In the meantime I have hurt my knee and spend a lot of time moaning and feeling sorry for myself.  I had an MRI and will report to Dr. Watson on Wednesday morning.  However, I have read the MRI report and looked up all the terms on the internet, and I am not encouraged.  I may have to have some surgery or bear the pain.  Maybe both!

 I have had lots of time to reflect on life.  Just the other day I ate some Cracker Jacks at three in the morning while I mused about my life.  This has always been one of my best times for pondering the mysteries of the Universe.  Perhaps I should start leaving out the "Cracker Jacks" part.

  Perhaps I didn't get my house as clean as I or my neighbor and friend, Dorma would have liked, but I sure had fun reconnecting with friends.  I had needy friends this summer.  Poor Dorma fell down her steps in June, hitting her Gluteus Maximus squarely on the step.  She called me almost immediately, and I inspected her rear, which looked as if it had been artificially padded.  She called it her "Kardashian Butt".  I was almost sure that it was a huge hematoma, but we went to the Doctor where he confirmed my suspicions.  Nothing but time would absorb all that blood.  Dorm  could not even sit on a chair, and spend lots of time leaning on furniture.  I found it hysterically funny that she also took pictures of her injured part, but did not text them to anyone!!  She just wanted to follow the progression of her injury....!  Dorma is sixty-six, but acts and looks like she is fifty (or younger).

   We went out to the Munks last weekend where SueAnn continues to be remarkable at remodeling two houses at once.  It was fun to visit with Kylie and Jeff, and to see Kyle's new boat!
    As the summer progressed, so many of my friends had trials.  I commiserated with each one of them while giving thanks for my blessings and knowing full well that my time would come again!  Still, I am thankful for a little reprieve (excepting the knee injury) from some of the problems my friends have experienced.  I have relished each and every day with Ruby (my bubbergirl) and having an adult relationship with my daughters, Emily and Bethany.  Jerry and I celebrated our 30th anniversary on the 30th of July.  We spent some time at Bear Lake and attended the "famous" Pickleville theatre.  I had a picture taken by some Japanese tourists that I really do not want to post, but Debbie insisted it was the picture of a middle aged couple who had raised seven kids, and that the picture was "sweet".  I am not sure I see the "sweet" part, but the middle-aged part is definitely showing through.

                                               This is "us"  (one of us is trying to hold in their stomach) - with little

   The Missionaries are great, and I am thankful every day for their service.  They are great kids and are having wonderful adventures!  Rachel is a trainer as is Matthew and enjoying it very much.  Mark believes that he may be transferred soon.

                                            Elder Mark Taylor signing "Oklahoma" (I had to ask Alex)

Elder Matthew Taylor standing in a random field?

Sister Rachel Taylor, Dearborn, Michigan

  Perhaps accomplishment can come in the little ways in which you go about your daily activities and relationships with family and friends.  I hope so because that underwear drawer is not getting organized this summer!!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

And the last Taylor Missionary is called to..........................

Last night in front of 600 boy scouts and staff members at Camp Bartlett in Montpelier, Idaho, Bethany opened her mission call.  Jerry, Emily and I had driven to the camp where she is working for a month as Director of the Rifle Range.  The call had come on Wednesday, and it lay on our dining room table even as Emily and I considered steaming it open!  In the end, integrity won out and we delivered it to her intact. As we pulled into the camp , Bethany was in the main parking lot, and she ran for us (or  perhaps the envelope) and took off running.  I will always have this wonderful memory of watching her run through the grass towards the crowd waving her call above her head where all all 600 boy scouts plus the staff members of Camp Bartlett waited for her.  She ran out to the center, and someone handed her the megaphone.  Someone motioned for Jerry and me to join her, and with trembling hands she opened the call.  Where was she to serve?  I had guessed California because it was stateside (since all her brothers and sister  had stayed in the states, I had no real feeling that Bethany would go elsewhere) it was warm and she loves California.  I was right!  She will serve in the California, San Fernando Valley Mission, leaving the ninth of October.  She will teach in the English language and perhaps pick up a  little bit of "valley girl" as some have pointed out!!
  I miss her already!  I wish she were not staying at Bartlett for three more weeks, but she needs the money and they need her help.  I am grateful to Camp Bartlett and for the leadership skills they have taught my kids.  Every one of my seven children have served there in various positions and have learned life's lessons every summer.
   Emily and I tried to figure out how to get the new California state outline on the blog, but we have not been successful.  Rachel was the artistic one who designed this blog for me before leaving and without her we are a little lost.  We may have to ask her in our weekly e-mail so we can put California in as our new missionary state.
   It's hard to believe that the boys have been out almost five months and Rachel is coming up on three months!  I know the time will pass quickly because it already has, and it won't be long until all four kids come home.  But honestly, how did we go from this:

       to this!

For all you moms who think that childhood lasts forever, and that the days of crying babies will never end......all of a sudden they are all grown up, and childhood is but a fading memory.  I have a hard time remembering who did and said what!
    I have been told by many that the year with an empty nest may be a pleasant thing!  We shall see!
I am still trying to fathom that somehow I have four kids who all decided to serve a mission at the same time.  I did not see that coming, but I am so grateful for their righteous decision to serve the Lord.
I am almost ashamed to post anything about myself because I don't feel as if I am making a lot of headway in projects or personal growth.  But this is also a blog about the "fearful mom" and that would be me.  Somehow I can see this turning out to be the kids' journeys into service and spirituality and me staying stagnant.  I had a lot of projects listed for the summer, but so far I have gone to movies and lunches with friends.  I don't have a lot of money for the projects I want to do, but I have a little money for the movies and you can go to the cheap theaters for only three dollars!  Dorma and I have found you can eat fifty cent tacos and get a free senior drink at Del Taco, so hey, we are all into that! I could, however, organize and clean but you have to be in the mood, and I am still waiting for the right kind of mood, hah!
    Congratulations, Bethany!  I could not be prouder of you, and I wish you were here to celebrate.  Maybe we could get a cheap taco and see the three dollar movie!!

                                  Sister Bethany Taylor - California, San Fernando Valley Mission

                                          Sister  Rachel Taylor - Detroit, Michigan Mission

                                          Elder Mark Taylor - Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission
                                         Elder Matthew Taylor - Ohio, Cleveland Mission

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Driving Miss Rachel

Rachel and her former Mission President and wife. 

I have not posted for awhile, and I do apologize!  I am ashamed to admit that I could not even get into my own blog because I forgot the password!!  I never write anything down, and I have different passwords for everything.  I think I can rely on my aging memory to file it all away, and alas, it has failed me miserably as of late.

   So....updates on those missionaries!   MARK--says that the Oklahoma Mission is the best mission in all of the world and he doesn't know why his mother said that a mission would be hard.....  He is helping translate in the ward primary for one of his nine year old investigators.  Does this mean he is learning to speak and understand Spanish?   He has finished the clean up from the tornadoes and is back to proselyting.  MATTHEW--says that the work is progressing, that he is getting very buff by biking hours every day.  He does not sound as enthusiastic about his mission, but this is Matthew.  We did hear all about his bike accident with a parked car.  Aside from some bruises and scratches , he is okay.   As babies, Mark would smile, and Matthew would frown.  I can tell who is who in all of their baby pictures by Matthew's furrowed brow, and Mark's delighted smile.  RACHEL-- Ahh, now here is a girl who is including all the details.  We get all her feelings, emotions and the desires of her heart--written as if she were here in person.  But, then she is a girl:D  She is now in Dearborn where they have opened up a new district.  She and her companion are traversing the streets and meeting new people every day even though they are both inexperienced missionaries.  She said they are both ditzy, but get along great.  Rachel is meeting all kinds of different people and loving the work.  Now for the part where we all gasped out loud!!  She is the designated driver!!

   For those of you who know Rachel, she did not get a driver's license until the age of 18.  She was afraid, and so were we as we witnessed her capabilities on the streets of Ogden.  We despaired that she would ever be able to drive, and finally paid a lot of money to A-1 driving school to take her driving.  We were too terrified to drive with her, and A-1 at least gets paid for being frightened.  At last she received her license after failing the test not once but twice, and she even bought a car last year.  Still, we cautioned her not to go on any "big roads" like highways?  In Dearborn she has to cross four lanes of highways and make Michigan lefts.  Apparently, these are left turns where you go through the intersection, make a u-turn and go back to the original intersection and make a right turn.  This is too complicated for Rachel, but she says she has been praying about it, and wants us to do the same. I do not know why Sister Orr does not drive, we can only surmise that she is even worse than Rachel.

    Last year, Rachel had a incident where she was pulled over by the Police.  She had been out late to her friend Kylie's apartment to make brownies and watch a movie.  It was raining hard when she left to come home, and she made a right turn instead of left and made for Layton.  She called in a panic, and we directed her to turn around.  We offered to come and get her, but she insisted she was all grown up and could surely make it home.  Somehow she got on the freeway, got off in Riverdale and crept past the Pep Boys going super slow and weaving just a bit.  Being emotional and being Rachel, she appeared to be under the "influence" when she was suddenly pulled over by the police.  She insisted that she had never drank or taken drugs, but took the breathalyzer test and tried to walk a straight line. (She has never been able to walk a straight line)  The officers then looked into the trunk of her car and back seat, finding the brownies she had made with Kylie.  "What are the ingredients in these brownies?" they asked her.....  She answered truthfully, "uh, cocoa, sugar, flour , eggs"....  Jerry and I were called, and they released Rachel into our custody.  We had to drive her car back as they would not permit her to drive.  The one officer said to Jerry "the test does not show she has been drinking, but we still suspect she is under the influence of something"!  Poor Rachel, and although she cried at the time, we have since laughed about the experience.  Rachel has shared this with all her friends, and it has become a funny "Taylor" story, so I am sharing it here.  Perhaps driving on her mission, buoyed up by the desire to do well will be another one of the many blessings Rachel will receive.  We are so proud of our missionaries and their righteous desires.  Bethany will hopefully receive her call this Wednesday, and we could not be more excited!!


Matthew and his companions just hanging.  
Mark and a new friend!

Mark contemplating his blessings while cleaning up in Moore. 

                                                  Sister Taylor and Sister Orr
                                              Preach my Gospel

                                                      Our Rachel

Friday, May 31, 2013


I feel I must preface my remarks here by saying I am not sure I have had any trials or tribulations in life that have threatened to kill me, however , I have had plenty that have brought me discouragement and sorrow.  Certain circumstances have caused me to feel as if I just couldn't wake up another day and face everything.  As I grow older, I see many tragedies in the world around me, and wonder about the strength of the people who must bear them.

I am so humbled by the stories of people who are fighting cancer, enduring the loss of a loved one, or the people in Oklahoma who have suffered the devastating effects of the tornadoes.  Mark is helping in the clean-up effort and I cry while reading the words written by my youngest son, "don't worry about me, I'm fine, but please pray for all the good people who are hurting here."  He says that every morning he gets up, puts on his safety glasses , mask, and gloves and heads out to work in the neighborhoods destroyed by the storms.  He says the city looks terrible and so many houses are completely gone.  He says that all you can see for miles is giant piles of garbage, bricks, and the remains of people's lives.  All the churches have come together to answer the call of duty and love.  Fema, Red Cross, Medical Reserves, and all the different church denominations are working side by side.  The Baptists have the best food, he claims!!

One of my dear friend's daughter-in-law has breast cancer.  She is young and beautiful, and has always eaten the right kinds of food, and has exercised daily.  She has four young children, and now must undergo a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.  It is devastating for their family, but they are trying to have the faith and courage they need to combat this trial in their lives.

My nephew, Nathan, father of eight and husband to the wonderful Christina....has cancer.  I have been reading his blog lately, and am amazed by the faith he has and the desire to endure this lymphoma.  He is having chemo and will undergo a bone marrow transplant with the donor being his youngest brother, Jarom, who is 16 years old.  My brother has 11 children, with Nathan being the oldest and Jarom being the baby.  Nathan was such a good boy when he was little, and was always  such an example for his many siblings. Now he is the awesome father of a beautiful family of his own.  I read his words about faith, "I believe in many ways God gives us enough light to see our next step into the darkness, but not much more than that."  He says that the feelings he has is something that Heavenly Father has given him, and although we must have doubt to have faith, this is something outside of that, and he believes that he will be okay in the end no matter the outcome.  I sometimes think  it would be great to know everything about the next five years, so that we can prepare ourselves for the unpleasant things, and relax and enjoy the pleasant ones.  Seriously, not...

Adam ran 26 miles in the Ogden Marathon.  Well, maybe running is stretching it a bit.  It was his first race ( seriously, why did he not do the half-marathon??)  Being a non runner (I have a car, thanks) I was truly amazed at the people the who ran and completed the race.  It was cold, rainy, and it didn't look that much fun to me.  Yet, I was buoyed up in the excitement of it all, and waited for my son to finish the race.  I had doubts he would do so, as the time crept past five hours.  It was so joyous to see the runners come in and greet their family members.  There was sheer happiness, and triumphant hugs all around.  It was exciting to wait for each runner, and to look into their faces and witness their ability to "finish the race".  There were young and old, and some looked a little prepared than others, but in they came and crossed that race.  We, who stood waiting, were happy for them all.  I loved looking into the expectant face of the people who stood waiting for the people they knew.   There were wheelchairs waiting for those who looked as if they could not make that last stretch, and a first aid station waited nearby.

We worried as the time passed.  I wondered if perhaps Adam was not weeping in a bush in the canyon, but .....finally, in he came.  He was not running, but rather loping clumsily and dragging his leg behind him.  He was exhausted, but his eyes still bore the determination of one who had defied the odds, and the pain.  He looked victorious even as we hugged, and he muttered, "I feel like crap".  His feet were bleeding, and he painfully made his way to the first aid station.  This mother felt her eyes mist over, as she witnessed the end of his race.  He finished, and in the end, that was what mattered most.

Everybody who knows me knows I read everything by and about Helen Keller.  She defied the physical limitations that would have rendered most people incapable of doing most things in life. Instead, she became learned, traveled the world, impacted it in every way possible, and was happy. She said, "I am conscious of a soul sense that lifts me above the narrow, cramping circumstances of my life.  My physical limitations are forgotten-my world lies upward, the length and the breadth and the sweep of the heavens are mine!"

We must gird up our loins, dispel the doubt, and move forward and finish the race.  The only recourse we have, because not to do so would be unbearable.  I am so thankful that I believe in a higher power , an omnipotent God who knows us, who knows our trials, and who weeps when we weep. We are like the poet John Keats wrote,  "straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness".  Heavenly Father knew us before the earth was formed, and He knows us now.  He is waiting for us to finish the race and someday, we will all be home again.