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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Adoption?

This is an awesome article I read this afternoon (from this month's Ensign).

Why Adoption?

When Chuck and Rachael Sharp learned they would not be able to conceive a baby, Rachael thought her heart would break. She had yearned to be a mother, and she knew Chuck would be a wonderful father. For years the couple had dreamed of skiing and camping trips with their children, of noisy conversations around the dinner table, of music lessons and parties with cousins and picnics in the park. What would they do with all of those dreams?

That same year, in another city, Jessica Anderson (name has been changed) was struggling with heartbreak of her own. She had recently learned she was pregnant and the father didn’t want to be involved. Her mind reeled with questions: With so little education, how would she financially support her child? How could she fill the roles of both a mother and a father? What kind of future could she provide?

Over the past several decades, societal attitudes about unwed pregnancy have changed dramatically. For most unwed mothers 30 years ago, the choice was clear: they would either marry and raise the baby, or they would place the baby for adoption. Today, by contrast, most unwed mothers choose to either raise their babies on their own or get an abortion. In the United States, for example, only about 1 percent of unwed mothers place their babies for adoption.1 In many other countries the percentage is almost negligible.

While Church members lag behind much of the rest of the world in the single-parent trend, more and more Latter-day Saint unwed mothers are choosing to become single parents. Yet the official position of the First Presidency remains consistent: when a successful marriage is not likely, unwed parents are encouraged to place their babies for adoption into a loving, two-parent, Latter-day Saint home.
Why does the Church support adoption?

What’s Best for the Baby?
A popular modern catchphrase is “A family can be anything as long as there is love.” Yet the proclamation on the family declares, “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”2 Numerous studies have shown that children are better off when raised by both a mother and a father. These children are less likely to drop out of school, have behavioral problems, participate in delinquent behavior, become single mothers themselves, and live in poverty.3

In her book For the Love of a Child, social worker Monica L. Blume points out, “Almost every birth mother I have ever seen who is choosing to single parent believes she will be one of the very few who beat the odds.”4 Many of these unwed mothers count on the father remaining fully involved or on having their own father help raise the child. And many Latter-day Saint single mothers hope to eventually get married and become sealed to their child in the temple.

Unfortunately, such hopes are not often realized. And many unwed mothers find that single parenthood is much more challenging than they expected. Studies have shown that single mothers have higher rates of illness, have less social involvement, and, if they are teenagers, are less likely to eventually marry than those who place their babies for adoption.5

But as Tammy Squires with LDS Family Services says, none of her clients wants to be labeled a “statistic.” These mothers feel great love toward their babies and may believe that others cannot offer the same love and care a biological parent can provide. “I try to help them see that it’s not about biology; it’s about stability and what is best for the baby,” Sister Squires explains. “Their decision will affect their child not only throughout this life but in eternity. They need to pray about it and feel peaceful about their decision, whatever that final decision may be.”

Chuck had already accepted the possibility that children would come to their family through adoption, but for Rachael, acceptance came less readily. She felt angry at God for denying her what she longed for most. One day, however, a friend spoke about adoption in a way that resonated with her. “Imagine having a baby placed in your arms,” her friend said. “Think about looking down at that little face and knowing that child is yours. You can still be a mother!” Rachael felt the first stirrings of renewed hope in her heart.

Meanwhile, Jessica struggled with her decision. Her parents, especially her father, felt she should place the baby for adoption. Her friends encouraged her to raise the child herself. So many decisions, so many questions! Finally, she decided to get an abortion. That would make everything so much easier—wouldn’t it?

Latter-day Saint Theology and Adoption
A primary reason the Church supports adoption is that children who are adopted by temple-worthy Latter-day Saint couples can be sealed to their adoptive parents. The sealing ordinance is the capstone ordinance in the Church, and its blessings are present in this life as well as in the next. As President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) declared, children who are born in the covenant—and, by extension, those who are sealed to their parents in the temple—“have claims upon the blessings of the gospel beyond what those not so born are entitled to receive. They may receive a greater guidance, a greater protection, a greater inspiration from the Spirit of the Lord; and then there is no power that can take them away from their parents.”6

Fred Riley, commissioner of LDS Family Services, says that although adoption is rarely discussed in Church meetings, it is a profound gospel principle. He points out that when the prophet Elijah restored the sealing keys, these keys encompassed adoption. And one of the ways in which Jesus Christ is our Father is through adoption, for we become His sons and His daughters when we are adopted into the family of Christ.

Additionally, Church members who are not direct descendants of Israel may be adopted into the house of Israel through their faith (see Romans 8:9; 9:4).

“From the time of Adam, adoption has been a priesthood ordinance,” says Brother Riley. “It’s a principle of the gospel that probably all of us will experience at some point as we’re literally adopted into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.”

Rachael and Chuck started participating in the training LDS Family Services offers prospective adoptive parents. They listened to birth mothers tell their stories—birth mothers who were so different from the rebellious girls they had envisioned. Many of these young women, by contrast, seemed wise beyond their years. Rachael and Chuck sensed some of the pain, as well as the peace, these young women had experienced. Maybe they too would one day be on the receiving end of such a sacrifice. Their excitement at the prospect of parenthood grew—as did their awe for these birth mothers.

On a warm day in late August, Jessica sat in silence as her friends drove her to a class at the abortion clinic two hours away. With every mile, her heart grew heavier and her dread increased. When they finally drew near the clinic, she told her friends, “I can’t do this.” She couldn’t take an innocent life. She would have to make a different decision.

Taking Care of Our Own?
One of the most powerful factors that influence an unwed expectant mother’s decision regarding her baby is the opinion of her parents. It can be heart-wrenching for grandparents to consider relinquishing an infant grandchild. Like their daughter, grandparents often bond with the baby even before birth, and they have hopes and dreams for the baby’s future.

Many parents feel a grave sense of responsibility when their child becomes pregnant out of wedlock. They may feel that the most moral decision is to support their child in raising the baby rather than releasing the baby to the care of others. Church teachings about self-reliance and using family resources may seem to reinforce this belief. However, the First Presidency has addressed these concerns.

Not only does the choice to be a single parent leave the child bereft of the sealing ordinance, but its outcome can be confusing when the child is raised by extended family members. Shanna Bake of LDS Family Services explains that these children “often don’t know who to call mom. Who do they listen to? Who do they go to first when they have a problem? What about discipline? It’s undefined.”

Some may view placing a child for adoption as “abandoning” that child. But, as Sister Bake emphasizes, adoption “is not abandoning your responsibility. It’s taking more responsibility. It is truly taking care of your own, because you’re saying, ‘I can’t give this child what he or she needs, but someone else can.’ ”

One writer expressed it this way: adoption is “not the abandonment of a baby but an abandonment of self for a baby’s sake.”7

Jessica grappled with her two remaining choices. She decided she would keep her baby, despite her father’s strong feelings in favor of adoption. But then she realized that the things she valued most from growing up in her own family—a loving mother and a father with a temple marriage, the knowledge that she was sealed to her parents, financial security—were things she would be unable to provide her baby. She could give her baby love, but was love enough to raise a child? She hadn’t prayed much for a while, but now she poured out her heart to Heavenly Father. The answer, when it came, was not the one she wanted, but she knew it was right.

Changes in Adoption Practice
In years past, most birth mothers who placed their children for adoption had little or no involvement in deciding who would be the parents of their children. “It was almost as if the baby went into a big black hole,” says Brother Riley. Often the birth mothers were not even able to see the baby after the birth. They were left with unanswered questions: Is my baby OK? Is she in a good family that loves and cares for her? Does he know how much I love him and why I made my decision? Does my baby know how hard it was for me?

Many adopted children faced questions of their own: What were my birth parents like? Why did my birth mother choose to let me go? Didn’t she want me? What about my birth father?

Today, many of these issues have been addressed as adoptions have become more open. Usually the birth mother chooses the adoptive parents for her child, and she meets them before the birth. Together she and the adoptive family determine the type and frequency of future contact that will work best for them, whether such contact is through letters, photos, or face-to-face visits.

Sister Bake says that this type of adoption “really helps the birth mothers move on. Part of their grief comes from wondering, ‘Did I do the right thing?’ Through regular contact it’s reaffirmed: ‘Yes I did the right thing. He’s happy, he’s doing well, they love him.’ It helps them heal faster.”

Jessica couldn’t get enough of her baby. For the past three days she had stroked little Aliza’s soft skin and hair, breathed in her baby scent, cried over her, and loved her. Another couple would be taking her home—a couple who had all the characteristics Jessica had hoped for as she searched for her baby’s new parents. Jessica knew, deep in her soul, that Rachael and Chuck Sharp were supposed to be Aliza’s eternal parents. But for these three days, Aliza had been her baby.

Now it was time to place Aliza with her new parents. Jessica didn’t think she had ever shed more tears. Behind her sorrow, though, was the peaceful assurance that she was giving her daughter the most priceless gift she could ever give: both a mother and a father.

Beauty for Ashes
The Lord gives compensating blessings to those who sacrifice their will to His. Speaking messianically, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “The Lord hath anointed me … to give … beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3). In placing their faith in the Lord as they make a truly selfless choice, many birth mothers have found that from the ashes of their deepest pain, He has made something beautiful.

“Most likely this is the hardest thing these birth mothers will ever do,” says Sister Bake. “But in the end, almost all the girls I’ve worked with have said, ‘I’m a better person now—I’m stronger, wiser, and more mature.’ ”

Audrey Johnson (name has been changed), who placed her baby for adoption six years ago, acknowledges that, like many birth mothers, she used to wonder how she could recover from her grief. But, she says, “I believed Heavenly Father had a plan for my baby, and if I would submit to His will and follow His guidance, He would get me through it. And He did.”

She says that at times she feels a little pensive, usually around her baby’s birthday. “But the overriding feeling is one of peace,” she says. “I know I did absolutely the best thing I could have done for her—and for me. It turned my whole life around. And I learned that not only could I be happy again, but I could be happier than I was before.”

Six years have gone by since Aliza’s adoptive placement. She is now an energetic six-year-old who loves eating popsicles, doing art projects, and playing with her three-year-old sister, Katy, who was also placed through LDS Family Services. Her parents cherish their little family, and they can’t imagine it coming about in any other way. Among the memories they treasure most are the days when Aliza and Katy were sealed to them. They will forever be grateful for the two birth mothers whose sacrifices enabled them to have the family they had hoped, prayed, and prepared for.

Jessica has since married in the temple and is attending school, with plans to become a nurse and to have children of her own someday. She still keeps pictures of Aliza in her living room. She receives letters occasionally; she’s even seen Aliza several times since the placement.

Her experiences have changed her. She’s softer now; her family members tease her about her tender side. She is grateful to the baby girl who inspired her to return to church and put her life back on the right path. She knows she made a difficult but truly selfless choice, and she draws strength from that knowledge. Her future, like Aliza’s, is bright.

First Presidency Statement on Adoption
“We … express our support of unwed parents who place their children for adoption in stable homes with a mother and a father. We also express our support of the married mothers and fathers who adopt these children.

“Children are entitled to the blessing of being reared in a stable family environment where father and mother honor marital vows. Having a secure, nurturing, and consistent relationship with both a father and a mother is essential to a child’s well-being. When choosing adoption, unwed parents grant their children this most important blessing. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the child, birth parents, and adoptive parents in this life and throughout the eternities. We commend all those who strengthen children and families by promoting adoption.”
First Presidency statement, Oct. 4, 2006

Services for Unwed Expectant Parents
LDS Family Services provides free, confidential counseling to unwed expectant parents and their family members at their offices in the United States and Canada. Counselors help unwed parents explore options that include marriage, adoption, and single parenting. Clients do not need a bishop’s referral to receive services.

If expectant parents choose to place their baby for adoption through LDS Family Services, they may select the couple they want to adopt their baby. Birth parents and adoptive couples can have as much privacy and openness as they desire.

For more information, please visit or call 1-800-453-3860 ext. 2-1711.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Puzzles and Movies

One of our favorite traditions at Christmastime is building puzzles. It's the only time of year we do it, so it always feels exciting to get out the puzzles. This year, we decided to buy a few new ones. We've finished one and are still working on the second one, but that should be done very soon.

And, while building the puzzles, we've been watching movies! There is a movie rental store we like to go to where you can rent 5 movies for 5 days for 5 dollars. There's nothing like movies and puzzles to make it feel like vacation!

The other night we were watching Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and it was a little bit on the weird side, to be honest. But, I loved the ending and the message they brought home. Without giving away too much, this is part of a letter the children read after experiencing quite a few "unfortunate events":

At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may, in-fact be the first steps of a journey.

I loved that message of the movie.

Then, yesterday we watched Nicholas Nickleby, which is based on a novel by Charles Dickens. Another great movie, with a great message at the end:

In every life, no matter how full or empty one's purse, there is tragedy. It is the one promise life always fulfills. Thus, happiness is a gift, and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes, and to add to other people's store of it … What did these people do when their families shrank? They cried their tears, but then they did the vital thing. They built a new family, person by person. They came to see that family need not be defined merely as those with whom they share blood, but as those for whom they would give their blood.

Before we got into adoption, Marc and I talked openly and honestly about our ability to love a child that wasn't made up of our genes. We started first by looking at our nieces and nephews. Could we love them as if they were our own? Yes, of course. Then, we looked at the children of our close friends. Could we love those kids with a parent's love? Yes, definitely. Then, we started asking the same question, this time about children that we've never had any contact with.

Over and over again we have felt an overwhelming love overflow in our hearts. There is absolutely no doubt that we will cherish and rejoice in opening our hearts to any child that comes into our home, no matter how they get here. And, that is why I love the ending quote in Nicholas Nickleby. Family is so much more than genes and blood.

For much of the last few weeks, my thoughts have been turned to Joseph. I love this inspiring story of a young father opening his heart to a Son of another Father, and loving him and teaching him as his own child. It's an amazing story of the miracle of a family created by love.

On Christmas day I got to hold a friend's two-week old baby girl. Oh the joy! Such a perfect little soul. Fragile and beautiful, bringing out the most tender and gentle feelings. I have moments when I'm afraid that my desire to be a mother will lessen with time, like maybe I'll find some other area in life that will take priority over motherhood. But after moments like holding little McKenna, I feel the yearning has only multiplied with time. I think at times I may appear aloof around people with babies... only because I'm afraid to reveal the aching in my arms to hold a baby I can call my own. I am hopeful that day will come soon.

I know miracles happen and I know they can happen for me personally.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

O Christmas Tree

So, we like to buy our Christmas tree about a week before Christmas... hoping that the pine needles will stay on the tree until after Christmas is over, rather than having a bare, needleless tree on Christmas morning.

Well, it has always worked fine for us to find a tree the week before... except for this year. We went to the place we've gotten our tree the last two years and they were out. Okay, no big deal, right? We'll just find one somewhere else. Well, in all our searching we couldn't find any place that still had trees to sell.

At one point we had half-jokingly talked about buying a potted tree. And, it turns out that is exactly what we've done! At the last place we'd gone to check for a Christmas tree, we looked at their potted tree section and finally decided on buying an orange tree. (The choice was actually really easy as that was the only tree they had in stock.)

So, we have an Orange Christmas tree... well, it's actually green, but produces oranges instead of pine cones, but I guess you probably figured that out. :)

Here's Einstein checking it out:

And, Watson also gives his approval:

The best thing about having this as our Christmas tree? We'll plant it next to the apple tree in the Spring, and hopefully have some of our own home-grown oranges for Christmas next year. How cool will that be? Yes, we are feeling rather self-sufficient and environmentally friendly with this little adventure!

As we were driving home from the store after having bought the tree, we were laughing at our situation and how crazy it was that we were using an orange tree as our Christmas tree. That was about when Marc said, "Procrastinate now, get oranges later."

So, there you have it. We have gone against tradition and it's actually been kind of fun. Although, I think I'm going through withdrawals of "pine-scentedness" right now. I'll have to find some pine branch somewhere. Or a candle.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Dream Job #1 and #2

Being a mother is BY FAR my number one aspiration, desire, dream, goal, purpose... whatever you want to call it, Motherhood tops my list and always has. Dream Job #1 is being a Mom. Hands down.

While I enjoy doing many things and can find happiness in almost any situation, I don't know that I have ever identified any "job" to be in the second place position. Until now, that is. I think I've finally found my dream job #2. Now, this is a job that really deserves the "dream" part in it's description... it would take a lot of dreaming to make this job a reality. But, one can dream, right?!

This lady's job has an incredible mixure of some of my most favorite things. I can't believe I never came up with it myself. I keep having day dreams about how I would do it my own way, and one thing that's certain is that the last stop would have to be a gelateria. There's nothin' like a large cone of gelato after a long day!

So, who wants to come tour Italy with me by jogging through the cobblestone streets, down the narrow alleyways, hearing the faint sound of a tenor warming his vocal chords, and smelling the aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries, all the while enjoying beautiful vistas of culture and history untouched by modernity. One day, one day...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Adoption Story

Today I just had to announce the exciting news of our adoption friends Bryce and Brenley. They have just arrived back home with their baby boy, who was born just two days ago. We have loved following their adoption story and thought some of you might be interested in reading more about it on their blog, by going here.

We are so thrilled for them and for this new addition to join their family. We know they will make terrific parents and that their little McCoy will fulfill his great potential under their guidance and love. We are so happy for them and their little Christmas miracle.

We love you guys! Congratulations!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

I'm sure everyone has heard of No Child Left Behind... but, have you ever heard the phrase No Child Left Inside? Well, there are organizations out there working together to get children to reconnect with nature. With computers, video games, TV, iPods, busy schedules, fear of predators, etc. there are less children experiencing the outdoors like past generations have.

I came across this other website, whose mission is: To encourage California’s children to participate in outdoor recreational activities and discover their heritage. They even have a Children Outdoor Bill of Rights, which is a list of outdoor activities that each child should have the opportunity to experience by the time they turn 14.

Every child should have the opportunity to:

1. Discover California's Past
2. Splash in the water
3. Play in a safe place
4. Camp under the stars
5. Explore nature
6. Learn to swim
7. Play on a team
8. Follow a trail
9. Catch a fish
10. Celebrate their heritage

As I went down the list, so many fond childhood memories came to mind. I remember long summer days when we'd play outside all day, until the street lights started to come on, and even then we'd have to be coerced back inside. I remember playing baseball games in the middle of the street and playing "capture the flag" late into the night. I remember making mud pies with the petals from the "snowball" flowers in the backyard. I remember helping my Dad plant the garden, and kneeling next to my Mom weeding the flower bed. Kite-flying and making sand candles at the beach are among my favorite memories. There were some things I was "forced" to do for some school project, like rock identification and bird watching... but, now even those things are meaningful.

I know the world is a lot different than it was when I grew up, but I've decided to make a conscious choice to make sure our children have these same experiences in their childhood. I want to be outside with them exploring the world - following the trail of ants to their hive or watching a bee pollinate a flower, or sucking the "honey" out of the honeysuckles, or laying under the stars in mid-August searching for falling stars, or jumping in piles of leaves, or catching snow flakes on our tongues. Such wonder and beauty.

I've been thinking I'd like to add more to the list of Outdoor Bill of Rights. What other things would you add?

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A little scare last night...

So, this is where we spent part of our night last night - walking through a dark cemetery. Only, the moon wasn't full. It was just a little sliver of light. The evening was dark and cold. At one point I lost sight of Marc and called him on his cell phone, and said, "Under any other circumstances I would be totally freaked out right now, walking through a cemetery by myself like this..."

You see, it all started when we were out running a couple of errands. I convinced Marc to come with me, with the promise, "I swear, we'll be back within 15 minutes." Well, as soon as we got in the car there was an announcement on the radio that a boy with autism from our local high school was lost in the mountains adjacent to the school. So, we made our first stop and then had a little debate - should we go see if we could help? Should we just keep going about our errand-running?

In the end we decided we had to at least see if there was some way we could help. We arrived just as it was getting dark and the guy heading up the search effort assigned us to search the cemetery, which is nearby. We noticed that one volunteer was standing around with a box of flashlights, but for some reason he was unwilling to hand any over. We thought we might have one or two somewhere in the car, so we drove over to the cemetery without thinking more about it. When we arrived, we looked around the car, and nope, no flashlights. Not only that... but we didn't have anything we would need in an emergency. Except a first-aid kit. And ketchup packets in the glove box - an emergency essential. I guess you just don't think about the importance of a lot of little things until you find yourself in an emergency. We now have a new list of things to put in our truck to be better prepared for next time.

So, we met up with a couple of other searchers who were already at the cemetery. We were sweeping the entire area (the two of us being the only ones without flashlights), walking about 20 yards apart from each other. By this time it was getting dark fast. I was assigned a side that had a lot of bushes and trees and was looking closely in every dark cove where someone might be found. That was about the point when I lost where Marc was. I panicked a little. Until that point I hadn't even thought about how frightening this situation would have been had we been there for any other reason.

After we finished searching the cemetery we went back to the search headquarters - a parking lot next to the school. They were setting up large tents and getting ready for an all-nighter. There were lots of people there. It was really an amazing sight. We stayed and helped as long as we could. Even after we left, we couldn't think about anything else for the rest of the night.

Fortunately, we got a phone call very early this morning letting us know that they did find the lost boy at about 1 a.m., walking past the cemetery back towards the high school. Thankfully there was a very happy ending to this story. Such relief!

On the way home, Marc insisted that we stop and pick up a couple of these:

(Hand crank LED flashlight that doesn't require batteries)

And, one of these:

"This 6-in-1 PSD (Personal Safety Device?) incorporates six of the most important tools you will need in an emergency or disaster with the functionality of a radio, cell phone charger, flashlight, emergency flashers, siren and compass that can also be used without batteries."

Little by little we'll be more and more prepared.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First Aid

About a year ago when Marc and I first started our adoption paperwork, one of the things we had to do was go through a First Aid certification class. So, one weekend in February we took the class together. It was great - we learned so much! One of the biggest things I learned was that First Aid, is exactly what it says it is... First Aid, not Final Aid or Only Aid or Professional Aid or Medical Aid. It's the first aid that's given before trained professionals can take over and actually doing the life-saving.

The most important thing we learned was how to most effectively respond in the first few minutes during an emergency, since those first minutes are so crucial. I won't get into the details, but there were some basic steps we were taught that can apply in just about any emergency. They are the 3 A's - Assess the scene and the victim(s), Alert Emergency Medical Services, and Attend to the victim(s).

Probably the most important step in there is the "Alert" part. The best thing for a victim is to receive professional help ASAP. Of course, assessing the situation and attending to the victim while waiting for help to arrive is important, but those are just meant to be ways of assisting the professionally trained medical people. Being first aid certified really means that it qualifies us with the knowledge that we may not know what we're doing and we need to get someone who does and FAST.

The last couple of days I've been thinking about what sort of protocols I follow when I need first aid for wounds that aren't physical. For those wounds you can't really call 911. That would be nice though. Please send emergency help to heal a broken heart. But, I've found that a lot of the steps are the same as what we learned in our First Aid class. Assess, Alert, and Attend... with the most important step being to get the best help from the best "doctor" as fast as possible.

But, while waiting for that help, there are ways we can "attend" to those wounds. Different things will work for different people, but things like running 10 miles, eating ice cream, or doing a Tarzan-like yell usually work pretty well for me. Well, at least initially... then, when I have to seriously attend to those non-physical wounds, I turn to things like calming music, writing, reading, prayer, or just simply sitting on my bed and looking out the window.

I would consider these things the "ambulance" that transports us to "The Doctor." As much as we try to bind our own wounds or dry our own tears by doing these simple things, the true healing comes only from He who has felt the depths of our wounds and knows how to take away the sting.

As the psalm goes: "[The Lord] healeth the broken heart, and bindeth up their wounds." And, Isaiah said, "the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces."

With all these thoughts on my mind, I taught a lesson in seminary this morning that goes along so well. We were reading in Numbers about the fiery serpents that were biting and killing the Israelites. To provide a way for the people to be healed from the serpents, Moses was instructed to make a serpent out of brass and put it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten by the serpents would be healed if they just looked up at the brass serpent on the pole. But, we learn that "because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished."

(I find it interesting that The American Medical Association has actually used this serpeant on a pole as their symbol. Kind of cool.)

Anyway, the reason why some of them wouldn't look was because "they did not believe that it would heal them." It was such an easy thing to do, though, that I would think it wouldn't hurt for them to just try it and see. But, at the same time I've had moments when I haven't immediately "looked." My excuses always seemed valid at the time. I need to go through this hard thing on my own, so I can learn what I need to learn. Or, I'll just wait and ask for help when I'm more deserving of it. Or, my pain is much too deep for anyone to reach. Or, I'm strong enough to handle this on my own - I don't need anyone's help.

When a person is physically ill, how ridiculous would it sound if they said, "Well, I don't want to burden the doctor with my sickness, so I'll just wait until I get better and then I'll make an appointment." Waiting to ask God for help until we're "healthy" is missing the whole point. "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick."

I've come to a realization that perhaps the most important thing I'm meant to learn from non-physical wounds is that not only am I unable to completely help myself, I'm not meant to do it all on my own. I am grateful for He who "rises with healing in his wings" and offers to carry my burdens and give rest to my soul. I'm grateful to know that I'm not ever alone, there is always One who knows how to run to me in my time of need.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings of eagles."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Over the weekend Marc and I were wanting to go see a movie, so we were looking at movie reviews at our favorite movie review site. We happened to notice a movie, Juno, on their list that got a 92% (which is a really good score) but didn't recognize the movie title. So, we watched the trailer and it turns out to be a movie about a young teenage girl who gets pregnant and decides to have her baby and give it to an infertile couple. We wanted to go see it over the weekend, but it hasn't come to our theater yet... and I have since learned that it's a "limited-release movie."

Maybe somebody out there has already seen it and can let us know if it's a good flick. The trailer is good, so we're hoping that the rest of the movie is just as good. I wonder what we would have to do to get our theater to bring it here for a week.... I'll have to look into that. In the meantime, check out the trailer:

Amazing Young Talent

This little eight-year old is so talented!

He was on the Today Show this morning, too. He is so cute!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Writer's Block

Okay, so I've had writer's block the last couple of days. It happens every once in a while, but never before have I felt the pressure so intense. And, for our faithful blog readers, who also happen to be very observant, you probably already know why.

I know, I know... it's such a silly thing to take so seriously. It isn't like it's that big of a deal. But, no matter how much my head tells my fingers that, it just doesn't work. My poor fingers just can't handle the pressure of writing...

our 100th blog post!

Yes, my friend, THIS post that you are reading is number ONE HUNDRED! And, I still don't know what to write about!

So, I asked our blog what it would like for its "100th post party"... and it has decided that it would like to receive comments from as many people as possible.
(We never realized we had such a needy blog. I guess we won't ask it that again.)

You can write whatever you'd like to write in the comment box; we encourage creativity and random thoughts. Haikus are good, too.

If you don't know what to write in the comment box, we'll give you a few options:

What is your preference between the following items?
Jif or Skippy?
Breyers or Dreyers?
Hidden Valley or Kraft?

If you don't happen to have a preference for any of the above, maybe you ought to have some serious blind-folded taste-testing this weekend. That's our favorite back-up Friday night date activity. Although, I think Marc's getting tired of being the blind-folded one.
Here are some quick instructions of how to leave comments:
1. Click the "comment" link at the bottom of this post.
2. Write your comment in the comment box.
3. Fill in the "word verification" code.
4. Choose your identity, which can be "anonymous" if you prefer that.
5. Publish your comment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Fix the roof while the sun shines"

So, we've been having non-stop rain and very strong winds for what seems like weeks... but, really it's just been two days. I've been bracing for the rain to come ever since August when Marc had already started to pray for rain. Yeah, I was so surprised by his plea for rain that I'm pretty sure I giggled slightly. My "Seattle-boy" doesn't do well with too many consecutive days of hot weather.

One interesting bit of information - Marc's childhood hometown (near Seattle) gets an annual rainfall average of 38 inches, while my childhood hometown (in California) gets an annual average rainfall of 36 inches. You can file that away in your "Random-who-cares?-facts" file in your brain.

Yesterday it was raining so hard, and I was sitting at my desk working on a paper for one of my classes. I paused for a while, turned off the computer, leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes, pulled my blanket up around my neck, and just listened to the sound of the rain on the skylight. It was so soothing and relaxing.

I was thinking through different common "rain" phrases. You know, like "when it rains, it pours," and "fix the roof while the sun shines," and "rain, rain go away..." Are there any I'm missing?

But, the one that has been on my mind the last few days is the "fix the roof while the sun shines" quote. I was thinking of a specific winter when the rains really came down and there was a weak area on our roof that was affected by the buckets of rain that year, causing a headache of a mess. It was just this one little spot, but it was quickly escalating to a bigger mess. (Just ask my Dad, I'm sure he'll confirm that since he was the one fixing it.)

In the midst of a terrible storm, it's very difficult to fix a roof problem. You can try to manage it by catching the leaky water dripping through, but other than that you will probably have to wait until the rain has stopped and you can climb up on the house and fix the leaky area. I don't really know from personal experience, but I can imagine that it wouldn't be very fun to fix a roof leak while rain is pouring down. Just a guess.

But, I couldn't help but think about how life is like that. You know, when life's storms come, it's harder to fix the problems within yourself when everything else is falling apart all around you. But, if while "the sun is shining" we are building up and preparing ourselves to get through the storms, then when those rains come down we'll make it through without as much difficulty.

Now, that's not to say that there won't be any damage or that storms are fun. Sometimes we may prepare and do everything we can to face life's storms, and they're just plain hard. And, I think that's okay. Storms are just sometimes rotten, but they are an important part of life. Isn't the sun so much more beautiful after a good, long rain? And, what about rainbows? We wouldn't be able to enjoy their beauty if we didn't have a little rain to mix with the sun.

As unenjoyable as they might be, storms do help us see things more clearly... calling our attention to problem areas that we've neglected to notice. We may not even know we have a leaky roof until a good, hard rain has fallen. And, while it's no fun to realize you have one more thing to add to the "to do" list, there is great peace of mind that comes from working towards repairing a problem area in your life and knowing you've done your part to be prepared for whatever comes next.

Whatever storms you may be experiencing or whatever storms may come your way, know this one thing - there is always an end. And, with that end will come a great calm. We will not be abandoned in those most crucial moments of life, when we need peace more than anything. We will be strengthened through those storms we just can't face on our own.

"...a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.... 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."

And just to share my more favorite "rain" quote:

"May the sun bring you new energies by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away any worries you may have. May gentle breezes refresh your soul and all the days of your life, may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty." —Unknown

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mandi's little Audrey

I posted the other day about my little sister being in the hospital to have her baby, and in case there was anyone wondering how that went, everyone is back home - happy and healthy. Mandi and Adam are the proud parents of a baby girl, born at 11:57pm on Thursday, the 29th. She weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces and measured 18 and a half inches long. They have decided to name her: Audrey.

For those of you who know my sister, you know that she has always been a big fan of Audrey Hepburn, so it feels very natural for her to have a daughter by that name. With the fantastic parents that this little Audrey has been blessed with, she will no doubt possess great beauty, grace and poise. We're thrilled for them and can't wait to meet the newest addition to our family!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sarah McLachlan and Adoption

I used to have a very strict rule of No Christmas Music Until After Thanksgiving. But, I happened to marry a guy who likes to listen to Christmas music on random days throughout the year. As a result, I've found my rule slowly going out of style. So, this year I started listening to Christmas music on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Which, is a huge deal for me!

I love listening to old classics like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire... they remind me of my Mom's old record player and picking out her records to play during the holidays. Such great memories! I expanded my Christmas music collection last year when I bought Sarah McLachlan's Christmas CD, which is full of great songs! Most CDs only have one or two really good songs... not this one. I love every single song on this CD. So, if you're looking for something new to listen to this time of year, I highly recommend Sarah's Wintersong CD (at this site you can listen to samples of all the songs on the CD).

Here is a video of Sarah performing the title song of the CD:

I first started listening to her music about ten years ago and she has become one of my favorites that has passed the test of time. I love her music, I love the depth of her lyrics, I love her voice... and I've recently learned something new about Sarah that makes me love her even more.

She was adopted.

Sarah McLachlan was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to a woman named Judy James (or Kaines; sources differ) and was adopted soon afterwards by an American couple living in Canada, Jack and Dorice McLachlan, who have two other adopted children.

From the age of four McLachlan was a singer and played the ukulele, and studied music later at the Nova Scotia Royal Conservatory. She joined a band called October Game when she was 17 but did not become a full-time musician until after completing her education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

It was during her time at NSCAD in 1986 that one source claims a friend remarked on her resemblance to another friend of hers, who turned out to be her birth mother. They now have a continuing friendly relationship.
(Information from

I love hearing other peoples' adoption stories. I have grown to love all things related to adoption. So, on this last day of National Adoption Month, I just want to say that I love adoption. I am so grateful for the chance it gives us to grow our family. Not only do we look forward to welcoming a child into our home, but we also look forward to expanding our family to include the birth family, who we will love forever. Words can't express the feelings we feel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trailing clouds of glory...

Today my heart is full. I got a phone call early this morning from my little sister, Mandi. She was calling to let me know that she's at the hospital, awaiting the soon arrival of her first child, a baby girl. I am overwhelmed with feelings of love, joy, and excitement at her news. My thoughts and prayers are with her today as she has this most sacred experience of bringing a sweet little spirit into the world today.

I thought I'd post one of my favorite poems and a couple of my favorite quotes. Babies truly are miracles, such precious gifts from God.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The soul that rises with us, our life's star
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forget fulness,
And not in utter nakedness
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home.

- William Wordsworth

About sixty years ago, F. M. Bareham wrote the following:

"A century ago (in 1809) men were following with bated breath the march of Napoleon and waiting with feverish impatience for news of the wars. And all the while in their homes babies were being born. Who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles. In one year between Trafalgar and Waterloo there stole into the world a host of heroes: Gladstone was born in Liverpool; Tennyson at the Somersby Rectory; and Oliver Wendall Holmes in Massachusetts. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, and music was enriched by the advent of Felix Mendelssohn in Hamburg." (We might add, and Joseph Smith was born in Vermont, four years earlier.)

Quoting Bareham further:
"But nobody thought of babies, everybody was thinking of battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? We fancy God can manage His world only with great battalions, when all the time He is doing it with beautiful babies."

To quote Spencer W. Kimball on this topic:

"When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants discovering, God sends a baby into the world to do it. While most of the thousands of precious infants born every hour will never be known outside their neighborhoods, there are great souls being born who will rise above their mother gives us a Shakespeare, another a Michelangelo, and other an Abraham Lincoln. When theologians are reeling and stumbling, when lips are pretending and hearts are wandering, and people are running to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord and cannot find it - when clouds of error need dissipating and spiritual darkness needs penetrating and heavens need opening, a little infant is born."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Marathon Madness

I came across this video the other day and it made me laugh so hard! It's title is: The Day after the Marathon. Those runners out there will really appreciate this:

My good friend, Camille, first introduced me to the idea of running a marathon while we were out running early one morning down the cobblestone streets in Mestre (just outside of Venice). She had run quite a few marathons before coming to Italy and assured me I could definitely do it, too. So, we decided when we were both back in the States the following year, we'd run the St. George marathon together. And, we did. And, then we did it again the next year. And... then... I got married.

I stopped running marathons for a couple of different reasons, but have always had the urge to pick it up again. The whole experience is so cleansing - physically, emotionally, and mentally. The months leading up to it require discipline in eating healthy and getting out to build up stamina and distance. And, then comes the day to run all 26.2 miles at the same time. The adrenaline is high, the excitement unmatched.

I don't know how it is for others, but I know for me there comes a point when the excitement wears off and the running is no longer about physical strength... it becomes completely mental. That's about the point when I start singing the chorus of this song (please enjoy this flashback to the retro 80s):

And, then before you know it you're coming down the last stretch... that ".2" that some people leave off when they talk about marathons, that ".2" that almost seems like ".2" more than what you can do after completing the 26. When I crossed the finish line in 2001, I was giddy with laughter. I had actually completed my first marathon and had accomplished my goal of running the entire time. Success!

2002 was a different story. I hadn't trained as hard, partly out of thinking I didn't need to since "I had already run a marathon," and partly because I had been too busy planning my wedding to run 10-15 miles a day. So, when I reached mile SEVEN I was in so much pain I told myself, "at the next mile marker, you can give up and be escorted down the rest of the way." Well, I got to mile 8 and thought, "okay, I'll just go to the next one, then I'll quit." Those thoughts literally went through my mind for the entire remaining 19 miles. My physical abilities helped me to only get through the first seven miles, after that it had to come from somewhere else. The moment I crossed the finish line, I burst into tears. Marc was waiting there for me and I collapsed into his arms with jelly-belly size tears gushing down my cheeks. The second marathon was much more emotional for me than the first.

Somehow I had finished. Somewhere deep inside I had found something to keep me moving forward. And, on that marathon course I learned a lot about the strength of the human mind and spirit. While my body was telling me, "you can't do this, you didn't train as hard as you should have, you don't have it in you to finish," my mind was telling me a different story - "don't give in yet, just go a little bit further, just one more mile." Those thoughts literally carried me to the finish line.

Sometimes life throws hard experiences our way, and sometimes in the midst of those hard things we are overwhelmed with negative thoughts that try to convince us to throw in the towel - "just give up now", "it isn't worth it", "you're not good enough", "you're not strong enough", "you'll never make it, so don't bother trying." Those are the moments we need to turn up the volume from deep within, relying on strength that surpasses all physical strength to get us through. Sometimes that is simply breaking down the challenge into more manageable pieces - just tackling it one piece at a time, or one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. And, before long, the challenge has been overcome and we have crossed the finish line.

There might be giant tears and achy muscles, but there will also be deeper joy than we would have ever imagined when we learn how strong we really are. And, the only way to really learn that is by going all the way through those hard things and then coming out on top and seeing how far we've come and how deep we had to dig to get there. And, the thing I'm learning is that the joy waiting at the finish line is always worth it. Always.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We had been planning on spending the holiday with Marc's family in Seattle, but plans changed at the last minute and we weren't able to make it. We were sad to not be able to spend this week with them... didn't get to go on a morning run with Calamity and didn't get to experience Carrot's Thanksgiving party that Martha Stewart would have been jealous of. We missed being with all of Marc's family, especially seeing all of our energetic nieces and nephews. Yeah, while we had a fabulous day yesterday, it really was quite boring compared to our usual huge family get together. We promise to make it up there... soon! :)

The worst part of not being with family this year was that rather than providing my pan of yummy yams, I had to provide everything (with Marc's help, of course). It wasn't the first time I've prepared a meal like this, but it was my first time cooking a turkey! In the past I've done other things like chicken breast stuffed with stuffing. But, I decided it was high time I learn how it's done. I was chatting with my little sister on Wednesday and asked her if she knew how to cook a turkey, fully expecting that since she's younger than me that there's no way she would already have learned to do it before me. Well, not only has she done it, she already has a "tried and true" recipe. So, then I really knew it was about time to learn. Plus, with the recipe came an emergency hotline, available all day, just for me! (Thanks, Mandi, you're the best!)

I was feeling quite overwhelmed with terminology like "gizzards" and "truss the turkey," and had asked Marc for moral support in the kitchen when I'd have to do those things. His response: "do I have to?" You see, my dear husband has an even more sensitive gag reflex than me. So, luckily I was wearing my Wonder Woman shirt (strategically). I took a deep breath and opened up that turkey, in true wonder woman fashion! Someone must have known that turkey would be coming to me, 'cause it was all cleaned out for me and I didn't even have to truss it! With all the anticipation and stress that went into making my first turkey, I was thrilled when it turned out great! It was juicy and filled the house with the most savory aroma!

Notice the "Wonder Woman" shirt! Honestly, every time I looked at my shirt, I thought about how blessed I am to be related to so many wonder women - my mom, my mother-in-law, my sisters, my sisters-in-law, and the list could go on and on - they all inspire me and bless my life so much! Thanks to them and their tutoring I'm not a complete failure in the kitchen!

Over all, it was a really nice day. I really enjoyed the process of putting together an elaborate feast for just the two of us. (Well, and Einstein and Watson were lucky enough to taste a little turkey, too. They didn't express any gratitude, but the ultra-fast movement of their licking tongues was really thanks enough.)

The thing I like the most about Thanksgiving is the reminder behind the celebration that we have much to be grateful for... because we really do! So, here's a combined "Top 5" blessings that Marc and I are grateful for: 5) a warm home, 4) the scriptures, 3) adoption, 2) family and friends, and 1) each other. And, just for fun, here are some other blessings that get honorable mention: foggy days, talents and hobbies, starry nights, socks, movies, hot cocoa with peppermint ice cream, toothpaste, chocolate, and (or course) Einstein and Watson. We really are so blessed!

You know, though, the overwhelming feeling I get around this time of year is wishing I could remember to be grateful for all of these things every other day of the year. So, as a closing thought, here's a quote from a really great talk about gratitude by Henry B. Eyring:

"[Y]ou could ask yourself, “How did God bless me today?” If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes, you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God’s hand in your life."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What ice cream flavor are you?

*DISCLAIMER: I had to convince Marc to let me post his results, because he doesn't agree with the results at all. He thinks he should have been declared "Peppermint" (I'm not even sure if that is one of their possible results.) But, even when I tried to adjust his results to be something different, it still came up as Vanilla... well, and a couple of times it was "Coffee." I guess it's a good thing we don't depend on these silly quizes to define who we really are. :)

Marc is Vanilla - You're as popular and relaxing as vanilla ice cream. You go with the flow, and get along with all sorts of people. You appreciate peace and simplicity, so you sometimes find crowds and loud noises overwhelming. You are a chilled-out, calming influence on the people in your life, and your friends appreciate how supportive and flexible you are.

Megan is Strawberry - Your personality is as friendly and appealing as strawberry ice cream (especially the kind with chunky bits of real fruit). You've got a slightly sarcastic sense of humor, and you rarely stress out or take things too seriously. You are cute and sweet, but with a mischievous side. You are a bit of a troublemaker, but only because you're determined to avoid a plain vanilla life.

(Does the last line in my description imply that I want to avoid life with Marc? If so, then we really know these results aren't accurate!) So, what are you? I want to see who gets "Chocolate" and then between the three of us we'll be Neopolitan!

Adoption Article

The motto that LDS Family Services uses in regards to Adoption is: It's about love. The more we get involved in adoption, the more we have been able to feel the truth of that statement. We have experienced such deep feelings of love that at times it's overwhelming. We've gotten to know some of the most incredible people through adoption, and have witnessed examples of pure, selfless love. We love birth mothers who have taught us so much about faith, courage, and love. Our life is blessed in so many ways by knowing them.

The following article is a story about a young girl and her experience with adoption. We hope it might be a comfort and a help to someone out there. You are not alone!

“My Decision"

There comes a time in everyone’s life when he or she must turn to our Heavenly Father for help and have faith in His eternal wisdom. During times of trial and repentance, we feel only the pain. But after the pain has gone, we begin to understand.

As a young woman fifteen years old, I found myself in a situation that I thought would never happen to me. I was pregnant. My initial fear of being caught in my sins quickly changed to anticipation of the fairy-tale marriage of which I had always dreamed. However, I soon realized that marriage was not in my near future. The young man involved was not, unfortunately, willing to accept his share of the responsibility.

My life became a raging flood of emotions. I was excited as I listened to my friends talk of how wonderful it would be to have a baby. I was frightened as my mother lectured me about money problems, educational roadblocks, a strained social life, and the hardships of raising children. I felt guilty as I watched my father cry and thought about how much I had hurt him. I was angry and sorrowful as I cried over a lost love. And I felt unworthy of ever receiving forgiveness from my Heavenly Father.

Many people gave me advice. Some said I should have an abortion. Others talked of adoption. Public welfare was an option suggested by some. I considered the possibility of keeping my baby. An aunt even offered to take the baby and raise it so that I could visit at any time.

I considered most of these options but also spent a great deal of time trying not to think about them. Maybe I thought the problem would go away or that someone would make the decision for me.

My family and friends were supportive. They encouraged me, counseled me, loved me, and accepted me. My friends tried to include me in all their activities, but I didn’t feel that I belonged with them anymore. I felt alienated, and the things they were doing no longer seemed fun or important.

Soon my family moved to another town twenty miles away. My mother said she had wanted to move for a long time to get closer to her work. But I knew that she decided to move mainly to help me start a new life. I will always be grateful for the chance I had to start anew.

The day we moved into our new house, the bishopric came over to help. We had a good visit, and the bishop seemed genuinely concerned. Within the week, he had called me in for an interview. We had a good long talk. But when he asked me about my plans for the future, I broke down and cried. I didn’t know! There I was, seven months pregnant, and I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with the baby or myself. After I had calmed down, my bishop made me promise that I would go home and pray.

That night, for the first time in a long time, I knelt down by my bed and poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father. Working through the process of sincere repentance, I begged for God’s forgiveness and asked him to help me know what was best for me and my child. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of peace and love that filled my soul that night. I heard the Spirit speaking to my mind, giving me words of comfort and encouragement. I knew that my Heavenly Father loved me and had heard my prayer.

Each night as I knelt in prayer, I felt the Spirit near me. I felt as Enos must have felt when he prayed all day and night for a remission of his sins. (See Enos 1:2–8.)

As the days went on, I knew in my heart what the Lord wanted me to do. I knew that I must place my child for adoption. But I tried to deny it, desperately seeking other options. For eight months I had carried this baby. I felt his movements. I heard his heartbeat. I felt that special bond of love that any mother feels for her baby. My eyes ached to see him, and my arms ached to hold him. He was part of me! How could I give him away?

However, my denial eventually changed to acceptance. I couldn’t deny the words the Spirit spoke to me each night. This was my trial of faith. I knew that if I was to receive the blessings I sought, I needed to have enough faith to make this sacrifice.

During the following month, the pain seemed unbearable. Each time I knelt in prayer, I begged the Lord to give my baby a good home with parents who would love him and care for him—someone who would teach him the gospel and teach him to love the Lord. I always received a peaceful reassurance that he would have a good home, but the pain was still there.

In the days after I made my decision, I spent a great deal of time in prayer. When my mother and I met with the person who would be handling the adoption, I knew I was in the right place. My prayers had been answered.

I later learned that when the couple selected to adopt my baby was contacted, the wife cried. When her husband came to the phone, he explained that he, his wife, and other family members had held a special fast on the previous weekend for the purpose of asking the Lord to send them a baby.

Their prayers had been answered. My prayers had been answered. I knew that my baby would have good parents to love him and teach him the gospel, and that they could give him much more than I could as a teenage mother.

The day came when I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Even though it was a time of sorrow for me and my family, it was still exciting to participate in the miracle of birth.

After a special priesthood blessing given to me by my bishop, I began to realize that this baby didn’t belong to me alone. I had no claim on his life. He was meant to be the son of a special couple whom the Lord had chosen. It gives me great comfort to know that through faith and repentance, and through making a difficult decision, I was able to bring to pass a miracle for someone else.

Even with that knowledge, deciding upon adoption wasn’t easy. I have never had any regrets about my decision, but even after almost eleven years, I grieve for my son at times. I pray that someday, in either this life or the next, I’ll be able to meet him and talk with him.

Over the years, the Lord has blessed me beyond measure. I was able to finish school and get a good job. I have had the opportunity to be married in the temple to a wonderful man who loves me. I will never forget the feeling of pure joy I felt as I knelt across the altar from my eternal companion, knowing that I was clean before God.

I am grateful that I was able to gain such a strong testimony of faith, repentance, fasting, prayer, and our Savior’s love for me and for all his children. I could not have accomplished all that I have without my Heavenly Father by my side, guiding me with his wisdom and mercy. He was truly standing at the door and knocking. All I had to do was open the door and let him in.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Feelin' Groovy

This week has been crazy... and I haven't had time to keep the blog updated. I had a big presentation for one of my classes last night. I was really nervous all week while preparing for it. It went well, though, and I was so relieved to just have it out of the way. I came home last night and the exhaustion hit me bard. Imagine fighting sleep at 7:30pm. Yeah, I was sleepy. In my half-sleep state I was able to enjoy some escapism while watching Survivor and The Office, then stumbled my way to bed.

So, today I took it easy. Organized my desk area, cleaned the house, took a cat nap with Watson, ran some errands with Marc, went to dinner with some friends, and watched a movie afterwards with Marc. It was a nice way to end a busy week, and the perfect way to start the weekend. Hooray for weekends!

I was trying to figure out how to describe my day today and the thing that seems to best represent my day is this fantastic song by Simon and Garfunkel:

This song would have been on my "playlist" in high school. Only, since we didn't have playlists, it was on many of my "Mix" tapes. You know, cassette tapes that you record all your favorite songs to and listen to over and over until the tape dies? Yeah, I think I finally understand how people older than me felt when they talked about 8-tracks. And, it makes me wonder what we'll have in 10 years from now that will make playlists outdated....

I love songs like this that make me want to sit back, take a deep breath and just live in the moment. I feel like I spend way too much time worrying about the past or fearing what the future holds (or doesn't hold)... and today (with some conscious effort) I was able to just enjoy today. Which, reminds me of a book my Mom used to read to us when we were growing up... I'll have to tell you about that tomorrow, though, because Marc is already at the intermittent snoring stage of his sleeping. He told me he was just going to stretch out on the bed for a minute. ;)

So, sit back, slow down, enjoy the moment you're in.

Life, I love you. All is groovy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Get Ready to Laugh!

This is so funny! H I L A R I O U S !!! Marc shared it with me today, and I just had to pass it on! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Waffles for Dinner

So, I was chatting with a good friend the other day when she mentioned how yummy waffles are for dinner. I remember childhood memories of eating waffles for dinner every once in a while... and it was always such a treat! After our conversation, I could not stop thinking about waffles. So, yesterday when I went grocery shopping I made sure we had all the necessary toppings for a good waffle dinner - butter, syrup, strawberries and whip cream. Check this out:

(WARNING: The following videos may contain images that will be very irresistable to the salivary glands, and you will be in complete torture until you satisfy them with a delicious waffle dinner. View at your own discretion.)

They were even more delicious than what we could ever capture on camera. Seriously.

November is Adoption Awareness Month

For the last year or so, my thoughts have been consumed with thoughts of adoption, but especially this month for a number of different reasons, one of those being that November is Adoption Awareness Month. So, I thought I'd share a little song written by Michael McLean about adoption. The message of the song is beautiful.

Adoption really is about love. There is so much love involved in the process. We are amazed at the selfless love we've found in young women who have the faith and eternal perspective to consider adoption for their baby. We are amazed at the deep love they feel for the baby they carry. We have been touched in ways we never thought possible to feel deep compassion towards the baby that will come to our family and the young girl that will give us the gift we cannot give ourselves. We don't know yet how our adoption story is going to turn out, but we do know there is someone out there whom we will welcome into our life with open arms. We will love the child that comes to us with all our hearts, but we will also share a special bond with the girl who makes such a courageous sacrifice for us. We will always share her love with the child she places in our arms. She will not be forgotten in our home.

It's hard to find words to express how we feel. We admire and respect young women who find themselves in very difficult circumstances and are often left to figure things out on their own... and still somehow manage to move forward with great faith. We know God loves them and will bless them. Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved in different aspects of adoption.

We love adoption. We love birth parents, who give us great hope of having a family. We love adoptive couples who inspire us with their amazing stories. We love children who make adoption the most precious miracle.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Trials and Faith

I have a friend who once shared a story with me about one of her friends. So, this is the story of a friend of a friend. We'll call her Ann. Soon after getting married Ann discovered some difficulty getting pregnant, and later was told by her doctor that it would never happen. I don't know the details of why her doctor was led to believe that.

But, Ann had started to pray, telling God that she knew He could work a miracle in her life. She placed her faith in God, that He could make it happen. Well, it did. Her faith and prayers worked. There's no doubt in my mind that she finally got pregnant because her prayers were answered by God. When my friend shared this story with me, I was very touched by it. I would have moments myself in prayer where I would tell God that I knew He could make it happen for me, too, if He wanted it to.

Then, I would have questions like, why would he not want it to happen? Is there some reason I'm not supposed to have this desired blessing? Or do I not have enough faith? Is there something wrong with me? Am I not living worthy of those blessings? How low do I have to go before my faith will be sufficient?

I've since learned that having faith doesn't necessarily mean that everything will work out exactly the way I think it should. I don't want to discount the times when faith produced the miraculous results that were sought, because those really are moments of great faith. But sometimes the greatest faith comes when things continue to go wrong, and the person is able to still find reasons to keep on fighting.

I've felt some deep feelings of empathy for a couple of dear friends in my life who are struggling through some hard things right now. I watch as they continue to fight, to believe, to hope, even when all seems to be lost. Their struggles are different than mine, but I know they feel a lot of the same feelings... wanting to know where the end of their pain is, longing for the day they can find relief from the heavy-heart feeling. They may even be wondering if there ever will be an end to the pain and if it's worth it to keep on going.

I just want them to know that I love them. And that it is worth it to keep on fighting. Whatever price we are asked to pay will always be worth it in the end. The God I know is a God of mercy and great compassion. He knows the struggles of life, He knows the pain and frustration, He hears the quiet pleas in your heart... and He will bless you for the faith you show in those very dark moments.

I'm reminded of a story in the New Testament of a blind man. The disciples asked Jesus, "who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" And, the response was "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (See St. John 9:1-3.)

Sometimes we're given trials and challenges not because we've done something wrong, but so that we can be instruments for God to show His goodness. If there were no blind people, then there would be no way for God to show He can give sight. If there were no struggling people, there would be no way for God to show He can bring peace and comfort.

I am inspired by my friends who are currently at their lowest... and yet they keep getting up. They are fighting. They are digging deep for that little bit of faith that is left in them. I know it is hard. But, I know as they dig down they will find faith and strength they didn't even know they had.

When I was going through a low moment, my Dad shared this quote with me:

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

Keep on going. Keep on trying. You have people pulling for you. Your life and response to your trials strengthens my faith and inspires me to want to keep on fighting.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Happy First Year, Einstein

So, yesterday marked a year since we picked up Einstein at the animal shelter. The little guy has brought a lot of fun and happiness into our lives. When we first picked him up, he had a cold, slightly dirty ears, and a darling way of sleeping on the nearest shoulder available.

Einstein has since grown into a marvel of the animal kingdom - he enjoys playing fetch and teaching his adopted brother, Watson, how to wake up his owners in the morning. Here he is a year later, in a candid moment at the keyboard, helping Megan with a blog post:

Such a good kitty. *pat pat*

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Divinely Guided - Part Three

Monday I woke up exhausted. I hadn't slept well. I wasn't in the mood to go to school. Or do anything, for that matter. But, I had to because Marc was still getting rides from me. So, I picked him up. I don't remember much about the first half of the day. But, I do remember that as we were walking back to my car after school that I didn't want to go home. I wanted to be with Marc. I was too shy to tell him that... so, I was super excited when he suggested we go to a park or something.

We drove up to Rock Canyon Park, just northeast of campus, where they have the big fish-bowl-like grassy area. We walked around the walkway until we found a nice little bench to sit on, underneath a tree. I pulled an apple out of my backpack, along with my trusty pocket knife. We shared the apple slices and talked about so many things. He opened up about his Dad's death, and I was so fascinated by stories of his Dad and the relationship that he shared with his Dad.

Marc also mentioned a Japanese film, Afterlife, which has a very intriguing plot line. You should check it out. The main thing I remember about that day was that we were able to have such a deep, intimate conversation with each other about sensitive feelings... and that it was so comfortable. It felt completely natural. We started seeing more of each other little by little. For our own reasons, though, we were careful to take things slow.

It was Thanksgiving that week. Our first official date was the day after Thanksgiving. Marc called me Thanksgiving night and asked if I wanted to go shopping with him the next morning. I was surprised that a guy would want to be out shopping on the most obnoxious shopping day of the year. I didn't want to go shopping, but I did want to be with Marc.

We went to a couple of random stores and then found a quaint little cafe, where we stopped to have breakfast. We were inseperable that whole weekend... and by Sunday I was starting to freak out. I was worried that things were moving too fast. So, we went on a walk Sunday night and I told him that we needed to just focus on being friends. I expected him to be annoyed and avoid me from then on. But he was totally fine with it. He kept calling and we kept hanging out. For some reason that made me like him even more... which made it hard to hold firm to my "just friends" policy. Ugh, I hate it when that happens. :)

So, you won't be surprised that the following Tuesday night - yes, two days after I told him I wasn't ready for a relationship - we found ourselves standing on my front porch having our last first kiss - with each other. Three weeks later, sitting on the stairs in my apartment, just before he left for Christmas break, Marc told me he wanted to marry me. The moment he said those works, I knew he would be my husband. But, it totally freaked me out.

That next semester we took a Marriage Prep class together... and, it was a good thing! We had a lot of good, healthy discussions that needed to happen before getting married. Plus, it was important to both of us that Marc had the time he needed to go through the grieving process of his Dad's death.

Which brings us back to how I got started telling this story. There were things that brought us together that I just can't accept as coincidence. I just feel bad that Marc had to suffer so much in the process. I'm happy to spend the rest of my life making up for it, though.

We got engaged at Cannon Beach (where Goonies was filmed) on July 12, 2002... and decided on an August wedding. August 23rd. The happiest day... or so we thought. I never would have imagined the happy days we share now. I'm so glad I found Marc... he's the best thing that ever happened to me!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Divinely Guided - Part Two

Okay, sorry to leave you hanging. Well, actually it's kind of fun to know that I have people in suspense. I feel... so... powerful. :)

So, I found out on Halloween that Marc's dad had passed away. Then on Saturday, November 11th, Marc was in a serious car accident - he totaled his car. When I heard that his Dad died, I remember thinking that I wished we were friends already, because then I could express my sadness to him without it being totally awkward. Then, after the car accident I was determined to let him know I was thinking of him, even though I knew there wasn't any UN-awkward way about doing it. So, I figured I'd talk to him at church the next day.

Let me just add in here that at the time all of this was happening I was dating another guy. Dave* and I had been dating for a couple of months at this point. But, it's an important part of the story, because I don't want anyone out there thinking that I took advantage of Marc's fragile situation with the intention of woo-ing him into loving me. As crazy as it might sound, I just genuinely wanted to be his friend.

(*the names of some characters in this story may be changed to protect their identity)

So, anyway, Sunday came. As I was leaving the chapel, I noticed him up ahead. As I got closer, I reached out my hand to shake his hand (such a dorky RM thing to do, huh?) and said something like, "sorry about all you're going through." I knew whatever came out of my mouth had the potential of sounding insincere, so I tried to make sure he knew I meant it.

I wished I could have said or done more, but you have to remember that we're complete strangers at this point. We had never talked before. I'm pretty sure he didn't have the slightest idea who I was... and I only knew who he was because my roommate was friends with him.

So, that night my sister, Mandi (who was also one of my roommates at the time), informed me that she had signed me up to bring pizza dough to the Family Home Evening activity the following night. I agreed with one condition - that she bring me home some pizza from the activity. I worked Monday nights until 9:30pm so I never went to the FHE activities, so I had no idea that Marc and I were in the same FHE group.

The minute I got home from work Monday night, I had to have my pizza... but, Mandi had forgotten to bring me home some. It turned out that the leftover pizza was at Marc's apartment, so off we went to get me some pizza.

Marc and his roommates were sitting around the kitchen hanging out. Marc had mentioned that he was still really sore from the accident... and I was thinking that since I was interested in massage therapy that that was the same as being able to give a good massage. So, I offered to help loosen up his shoulders. After a few seconds, I noticed Mandi was wincing simply by reflecting the strained look on Marc's face. So, um, yeah, I was apparently too rough on him... and successfully embarrassed myself.

We didn't stay for much longer after that. On the way out the door, though, I asked Marc if he needed rides to school, since his car had been totaled. He said that his roommate was taking him. So, I told him that if it turned out that he needed a ride for some reason, that I went up to campus at 7:30am and came back around 3:30pm. Then, he said, "okay, tomorrow morning sounds good." I was surprised that he accepted so suddenly, but happy that I was going to be able to get to know him better.

The next morning came and I picked him up. It's true that I was still dating Dave at this point... but, when Marc came out of the his apartment wearing a blue, long-sleeved, buttoned shirt with navy cords, I thought, "wow, he dresses nice." Okay, lame, I know, but it was just an observation. Another thing I observed was that he wore some really nice-smelling cologne.

So, we drove to campus and then had about a 15 minute walk still. So, we talked. Well, the way I remember it was that I talked. He asked me so many questions that by the end he knew tons about me, and I still knew very little about him. He was so thoughtful and interested in finding out about me... but, it made me even more intrigued. I wanted to know him... I wanted to get into his mind and find out what he was thinking. There was so much bottled in, I could just tell.

By the end of that first 15 minute walk from the parking lot to campus, I had pieced together small bits of information to figure out that he was probably about my same age. So, I asked him directly, "when's your birthday?"

"May 12," he said. "1978."

I couldn't believe it. "That's my birthday, too!"

We looked at each other with total shock. Born on exactly the same day. Marc told me later that he couldn't stop thinking about me that day and how cool it was to find out we shared the same birthday.

It was five days later that Dave broke up with me. I was devastated. Until I had an awakening... and recognized that the connection I had with Marc after one week was more than I had had with Dave after two months. That was Monday. The "real" beginning of our relationship.

(oooh, how do you like that cliff-hanger?)