Monday, October 24, 2011

Amy's Birthday - A Good Day to Catch Up

October 24, 2011

The thought went through my mind yesterday..."Oh my, if Amy was with us, she would be turning 30!" Feeling just a little old myself today. 30 years later there is still hardly a day that goes by that I don't think of my little Amy. Seems that as of late there have been so many difficult situations that friends/family/acquaintenances have had to deal with. I recognize that part of this simply arises from the fact that life is marching on (things happen the longer we live) and that my circle of friends has grown (thereby more experiences are shared) and that my children are no longer children and are therefore experiencing real times it is fantastic and at times...not so much. I LOVED Elder Cook's address at the October good...
Here's just a little bit of it...
"Sometimes tragedies are very personal. A son or daughter dies early in life or falls victim to a devastating disease. A loving parent’s life is taken because of a thoughtless act or accident. Whenever tragedy occurs, we mourn and strive to bear one another’s burdens. We lament the things that will not be accomplished and the songs that will not be sung.

Among the most frequently asked questions of Church leaders are, Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people? Why are those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service not immune from such tragedies?

While we do not know all the answers, we do know important principles that allow us to face tragedies with faith and confidence that there is a bright future planned for each of us. Some of the most important principles are:

First, we have a Father in Heaven, who knows and loves us personally and understands our suffering perfectly.

Second, His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer, whose Atonement not only provides for salvation and exaltation but also will compensate for all the unfairness of life.

Third, the Father’s plan of happiness for His children includes not only a premortal and mortal life but also an eternal life as well, including a great and glorious reunion with those we have lost. All wrongs will be righted, and we will see with perfect clarity and faultless perspective and understanding.

From the limited perspective of those who do not have knowledge, understanding, or faith in the Father’s plan—who look at the world only through the lens of mortality with its wars, violence, disease, and evil—this life can seem depressing, chaotic, unfair, and meaningless. Church leaders have compared this perspective with someone walking into the middle of a three-act play.3 Those without knowledge of the Father’s plan do not understand what happened in the first act, or the premortal existence, and the purposes established there; nor do they understand the clarification and resolution that come in the third act, which is the glorious fulfillment of the Father’s plan. "

Love that part about "all wrongs will be made right"...I have faith that this is true. It is what makes burying my firstborn child bearable. I have faith that families are indeed forever.

Moving along to the "catching up" part...

We are settling into our little bungalow/empty nest experience quite nicely. I think on the 2nd or 3rd Sunday here I was extended a calling to teach Seminary. Is it wrong to say that I just had a feeling about this...? Anyways, it's all good and I am having a fantastic time with my 9 regular students. This is a picture from this morning, actually. It was "Nerd" day at school, and a bunch of them came appropriately dressed.
This is all of them. I tell them often how grateful I am that they get me up and going each day. I am so glad to have them come to my home...6:00 a.m. comes early. We are studying the Old Testament together this year. I am learning SO is amazing.

Needless to say, Seminary preparation has overtaken my life! The second they leave in the morning I'm thinking about the next day's lesson, and think about and prepare throughout the whole day. Not sure how full-time teachers do it. But I truly do think the world of them. These are such GOOD kids...willing to learn, participate, and be great examples to their friends. I count this such a privilege to serve in this way.

Shortly after school started here (and thus, Seminary), Rich and I headed back to St. Louis/Edwardsville to meet Marshall upon his return from missionary service in Brazil.

Here we are anxiously awaiting...I think he was the last one off the plane. Everyone who came off the plane and saw us with the sign kept saying, "He's on his way!" At last he arrived...what a relief to have him back in my arms once again. 2 years = long time, but within an hour I felt as though I was asking myself, "Did he really leave?" Marshall is still definitely Marshall...LOVE that boy and am so grateful for the example of service that he has set. It will serve him well throughout the remainder of his life.

First stop...Bobby's!! Yummy, yummy, yummy!!

Next with President Holt, who extended Marshall his release from missionary service. We so enjoyed our time in the O'Fallon Stake and serving with these great men. What amazing examples of goodness and service. Marshall and Sarah drove out to Utah bonding experience. And I understand they had quite the time. How grateful I am for modern technology that led them on their way and kept us in constant contact with them! Marshall's siblings were so excited to have him back in Utah...all is well.

I came back home for a short time and then headed back out to some family time in!

This is Perry Sessions with Marshall. Perry is Marshall's 1st cousin, once removed. Perry just returned from his mission to New cool is that?? Now back at BYU together!

A couple of years ago I had met Colette. Her son, Ben, and Marshall left for the same mission on the same day and we have kept in contact over the past 2 years. Well, we had to meet for breakfast now that the "mish" is over. Colette also has a daughter Sarah's age...too fun. Even though they were in the same mission, they saw very little of each other, but had lots of fun stories to tell and spoke in Portuguese quite a bit!

Loved getting a chance to visit with my sister, Trish, doing better all the time after all of her cancer treatments were finally completed. Speaking of sisters and backing up a little...about mid-July my oldest sister, Sharon in VA, had gone in for routine knee replacement surgery - something she has put off for too long, but finally gave in. Well, the following morning she had a stroke...probably as a result of a blood clot. Serious? Sharon is very much like a mother to me...she is 73 this year. The stroke seriously affected her ability to speak and remember lots of different things. Of all things to have to deal with, this would probably be right up there with the most difficult for Sharon. Talk about having to learn patience. Sharon just bought her first computer in May of this year! She had labored over that decision for such a long time. She LOVES family history and has realized what a great blessing the computer is - just for that purpose. She is AMAZING and to say that this has been frustrating would be a severe understatement. I was able to go spend a week with her before Marshall returned and we made remarkable progress. Over the last couple of months she has periods of great depression/frustration, but as of late she is doing much better. Each time I talk with her I can understand a little better what she is trying to say. People, time frames, dates, etc. are routinely mixed up still, but she's getting there. And if there is anyone that can get through this and come out better for the experience, it would be my oldest sister. She still has a great work to accomplish and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Lord is blessing her and that the special gift that we have, the Holy Ghost, will indeed "bring all things into remembrance" for her. Again, one of those situations where all you can do is ask, "OK, so what am I supposed to learn from this?" Then move forward with faith.

Of course, getting to go to Utah means getting to spend time with my two favorite people in the world...Caleb and Claire...gosh I miss them!! Here's Mr. Bubba...

...and here's Miss Claire. She's almost 3...can't believe it!!

Also, the trip out yonder had the purpose of getting Sarah situated in school up in Idaho. This pic is out of place, but Sarah came down a couple of weeks ago and the kids all were together to celebrate her 18th birthday...can't believe that either!!

While on the way up to Idaho, we picked up one of our favorite people in the world...Jenny! Jenny is very much like a grandma to Sarah and I adore her. So easy to talk to and such a blessing in my life! What would I have done if I hadn't had her shoulder to cry on as I drove away from Rexburg, leaving my baby behind???

Some things just work out, ya know? I could NOT have hand picked a better roommate for Sarah. Natalie is a music major, too, and from North Carolina, and so has had many of the same types of experiences as Sarah. They were BFFs within minutes! Can I just say...I LOVE BYU-Idaho! There is such an amazing spirit that exists on that campus...such goodness. She is one lucky girl to have this experience and I know that she is having the time of her life. It makes my sadness at her absence just a little easier to handle.

But since Rich and I are missing the kiddos so much, we had been talking about a new puppy. Actually, while at the airport waiting for Marshall to arrive, we saw a couple get off the plane with one of these dogs...and we fell in LOVE! We asked about their dog and learned that it was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel...little bit smaller than a Cocker Spaniel, but a fantastic companion dog and good on the airplane! So we started doing our research. At some point Rich threw out the idea of maybe getting two...which kind of shocked me. But then reality hit and we decided on one...but then we found a breeder, went to visit, and...he had two sisters!! So I could you possibly choose??

Meet Lucy on the left, and Lizzy on the right. They were about 9 weeks old when we brought them home. They have been a BLAST! And we are SO glad we have both of them. They keep each other company! They are pretty crazy when they are at play with each other...they love to grab each other's ear or tail...but then...

...they are like this...

...or this. They are almost always touching each other somehow when they fall asleep. They are doing super at potty training. They have very distinct personalities, though. One is very stubborn, one loves her bath, one is very patient at waiting, and on and on. I told Rich this was probably our only chance at having twins, so here we are!

They are so good at night, too. The kids will remember for sure that it took Oreo several weeks before she wasn't crying at night. These two climb into their crate about 9 p.m. and sleep soundly until I get up at 5:00 a.m. Then they play for awhile and are back in their crate while the kids are here for Seminary. Then we are out and having fun the rest of the day. They are SO sweet and we hope they will continue to be so. They are supposed to be the kind of dog that pretty much just loves to be around people. They certainly are eye-catchers. I took them out one morning and I lost track of how many people took their picture. Passed on the breeders info also. Finished their quilts this last weekend...and they LOVE them! Speaking of quilting...I'm back in the swing of it. A gal that was in our ward in Edwardsville, her parents are in this ward in Katy, and Colleen is a quilter extraordinaire! We get together once a week...I'm actually getting projects done and it is amazing. Looking forward to a quilting retreat down in Galveston in a couple of weeks. Also, Lindsay comes on Wednesday for the Houston Quilt Market - I think it is among the biggest in the country...should be super fun!!

It is incredibly odd to not have children at home. It's like - wow, no marching band, no practices, no school performances, nowhere you "have" to be most of the time. It is odd, but also kinda nice, too! We're getting into this! We are very much involved in ward activities. We had a great service project last weekend at a home for adults with limited abilities...did a bike race and carnival. Was SO much fun. Rich and I are determined to go places and explore this area. Who knows how long we will be here. But anyways, a couple of weekends ago we headed over to the San Antonio area and stayed at a hotel on the "Riverwalk"...was WAY cool! The funnest part was the Segway tour that we did. Need to find those pictures!! What a trip those things are!! The "Riverwalk" is so pretty. The puppies are not-so-good on their leashes yet, so we didn't get to walk around too much with them, but we still had fun!

OK, so that only took a couple of hours. Life is good, life is hard sometimes, but definitely good. We are very blessed. If all y'all find yourself in the Houston area, give us a call!! Would love to get together. We are planning on being in California for Thanksgiving, and Utah for Christmas.
Oh, and the World Series is tied up at 2...go CARDS!! We found that you simply can NOT live in the St. Louis area and not be a baseball fan...wish we were there to be part of the baseball frenzy that I'm sure is going on...kind of interesting living in Texas and not rootin' for the home team...oh well. Hugs to all!!