Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Answered prayers

Prayer, hope, and faith are not futile.  Differences truly can happen as a result. 

Remember my Christmas Wish?

Prayers really are heard.

Notorious LRA leader surrenders
MONUC expands presence
UN extends peacekeeping mission in the Congo

Keep praying.  It makes a difference.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas



Merry Christmas, to each of our friends and loved ones!  This year has been another tremendous gift to us, and we are grateful beyond expression for all that we have been given.  We love and miss each and every one of you, and hope that this joyous season has found you well.

January and February, for many reasons, were times of tremendous growth for our family.  They were difficult months, as we grew and changed, but it is always incredible to look back and realize that the hardest times are indeed some of the most blessed.  The experience, growth, and change that can occur because of those times are some of the greatest blessings of our lives, and I would never change or trade them for anything.  What we have become through each of our trying periods is something we count as our most tremendous blessings of all, and hopefully, we will never be the same again.







Our little one turned ONE in February, and with that sweet birthday came many reminders of truly how merciful the Lord has been to our family.

 

Also in February, Libby joined our family!  We love her dearly and can't imagine a better, sweeter person.  We are blessed to have her!  In March, we met her, and the girls are in LOVE.








 

April and May brought spring showers...er, snows, and with them, much springtime change...not only in the beautiful world around us, but also in our hearts.  The spring was a marvelous time for us as we began changes and outreaches in our lives that have richly blessed us.

 

April meant a joyous wedding and a lovely time watching my beautiful little sister, Chantile, enjoy wedded bliss with Tyson, who I love very much for taking such loving care of my sister. 

 

In May, our third daughter turned a very big THREE, and has loved every minute of her advancing years.  She makes us laugh and brings us joy each and every day. :)

 

May also brought us a SIX-year old, and with it, a renewed gratitude for this sweet girl, who is the best oldest sister in the world!






June meant that Matt and I had been married for seven glorious years!  These have been the most joyful, happy years of our lives, and we cannot wait for an eternity more.  Matt is my best friend, and truly my beloved companion.  One of my choicest and dearest blessings is his Love and companionship. 







 

 







We have enjoyed visiting many times with our Ipson family, now that we are closer!  June also meant a visit from Dad, Mom, and Mark, as they made their way across the country!  We hadn't seen them in so long.  It was so wonderful to see them again.  We also got to meet other wonderful family that we had never met before.  We miss all of our family so much.

 

 

 

 

Summer brought swimming, camping, and a little rest from school.   The girls LOVED swimming lessons, and our oldest took to the water like a little fish (must be related to Grandma R!). 



MommYoga has done very well this year, and summer marked a new stage for us.   We began weekly podcasts in July, and that has been very fun for us.  A new DVD came out this summer as well, and has been very successful.




September was busy!  School started off with a bang and a field trip, and we've had a busy year.  The girls are doing really well, and I am grateful every day for the blessing that it is to homeschool them.  I love my time with them, and we have such a good time together.



September was also a wonderful month for us, as I completed my first Run for Congo Women.  The experience was life-changing, and I will never be the same for it.  It was a difficult thing to do, as I was pregnant and still in the throes of morning sickness, but once again, the difficulty made it all to more a blessing to me, and to us as a family.  We were able to gather the most donations for the Denver run, and nothing could have made me more grateful!  Thank you so much again to all of you who supported us so much.



This year has been one of continuing change, and the coming of autumn meant more changes in our lives and hearts, some of the most wonderful of all.  Through tender mercies, and great miracles, I am able to have another baby.  We are expecting our fifth girl



We are so grateful for another sweet little woman coming to our home.  Her sisters can hardly wait to greet her!  It has been a challenging pregnancy, which has blessed us all the more, because the challenges always seem to highlight just how blessed we truly are!







November brought a FIVE-year-old!  With this marvelous coming-of-age has come a sense of responsibility and sweetness that has been very sweet to watch.  We are so grateful for her and we love her so very much.


(photo by Devin Reams)



(photo by Brad Crooks)





(photo by Alex King)

Through all of the change, however, one thing that has remained constant (gratefully!!) is Matt's job.  He is loving his job as a web developer at Crowd Favorite in downtown Denver.  It's a great company, with great opportunities, and we are so happy he is there! Matt keeps incredibly busy, going to school full-time on the side.  We are so proud of him, and are so grateful for such a kind, loving daddy.

November also brought a big move to a home that we love.  We have found so much peace and gladness here, and are truly grateful to be here.  More than the beauty or the quiet of the home is this...the knowledge that we are where we are supposed to be.  What a peaceful feeling that is.

December has been busy with many great activities and plans for the future. :)  Most of all, it has been a time to reflect on the tremendous blessings that we have been given.  We are abundantly blessed, and are grateful for it each day.

We pray for a peaceful Christmas season and a happy New Year for each of you.  May your days be merry and bright!  Ours certainly have been.




Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Christmas Wish

This Christmas season has been such a merry one for me.  I have been at peace here, and we have been so blessed that I have just felt wrapped in love.  My children are giggling and excited, and they have wonder and reverence for the little One Who came so long ago.

But in contrast, my heart is never far from the tremendous suffering in other parts of the world.  Unlike many, I do believe, with everything I have, that we can change it, and I have begun my own work to try to change it, both by joining the efforts of others, and by trying to formulate my own inspirations into plans. 

This Christmas, part of my heart is very heavy, as I ponder what last Christmas was like for these people, and what it may very well be like again this year.  The LRA, or "Lord's Resistance Army," is a radical Ugandan sectarian militant group.  "Between 24 December 2008 and 17 January, LRA rebels killed at least 865 people and abducted about 160 children in the northeastern Haut-Uélé localities of Niangara, Dungu, Faradje and Doruma, according to Human Rights Watch.  At least 400 people were killed in a spate of attacks on 25 and 26 December alone, including about 100 killed in Faradje at a music concert"(source: irin news...the quote at the end would be laughable, were it not so appallingly pompous and ignorant).  The murders and rapes were unspeakably brutal, and practically unimaginable to us, as we sit in our warm, safe homes half-way across the world.  The LRA has made threats and circulated pamphlets that they will repeat what they did last year.  


Is there anything that we can do?  


Though there is much we can do for the Congo, no, there is not a lot we can do in this particular circumstance.  And that infuriates and agonizes me.  


So why do I bring it up?  Why am I spoiling your Christmas cheer?



Because I am praying constantly for this to somehow not happen.  I am praying with everything I have that somehow, the hearts of these evil, wicked men will be softened and turned away from this brutality.  

Futile?  Maybe.  But if you read this, maybe you will take two minutes and pray, too.  


Even in its seeming futility, I am reminded of another Christmas massacre that was avoided over 2,000 years ago, largely by prayer.  Read about it here: 3 Nephi 1:4-21.

Maybe, in taking a minute to pause from the rush and stress of your holiday preparations to pray for genuine suffering, your own troubles will seem very light, and your own blessings much greater this Christmas.   



Sunday, December 20, 2009

What Child is This?




This Christmas season has been wonderful for us, for many reasons, all of which I am so grateful for.  Mostly, it has been magical because I think that I have felt the Savior's closeness so keenly.  I have been so grateful for it.

I find myself thinking of Mary, His mother.  My girls heard the "Mary, did you know?" song on the radio a couple of weeks ago and haven't stopped singing it.  It has made me think a great deal.  How much did she know?  How much did she feel of who He truly was?  As a mother, I can imagine that she felt a tremendous amount. 

Lately, my closeness with my own little one is increasing.  I love that feeling.  I have loved it every time.  And it is different every time.  Each time, it is a new little spirit, with a new little heart and a new gift to the world. 

I feel something so special lately about this new little woman, and perhaps that is why I have felt so close to Christ's mother.  She must have felt His sacredness.  And as each of our lives are meant to pattern His, I feel the sacredness of my own new little one. 

It has made me recommit myself to being a better mother to all of my children.  Each of them are born with a light inside of them, with profound potential and an ability to change the world in which they live and the lives within it.  I need to remember that more, in the day to day things that pass.  I need to remember it when they color on the wall, and when they keep changing their clothes.  I need to remember it when they have a hard time sleeping at night, and when they don't want to eat their dinner.  I need to remember it when I'm terribly tired.  And I need to remember it when they cry and when they need their mother to hold them. 

Just as our Father knew precisely who Christ's mother should be, He also knows precisely who each of our mothers should be.  And that includes my own daughters.  I want to live up to that knowledge, and be the mother that they need, so that they can grow up to live as Christ did, and bless the lives of others. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Guidance


I went to the Temple today. I have been anxiously looking forward to it all week...the peace, the loveliness, the guidance.

So many questions, worries, and desires are swimming around in my mind and heart.  So many things I would like to know.  So many futures I would love to see.

As I sat and as I learned, I felt overwhelming peace and love, yet again, but no answers came.  I know that they aren't always going to...that most things are one step at a time, acts of faith and trust.  And that is how it should be.  But that doesn't seem to stop my somewhat selfish desire to know what I so long to know.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, yet eagerly looked forward to the quiet time in the celestial room, a beautiful, sacred, and quiet room where you can sit and quietly ponder.  Once there, I anxiously, fervently prayed.  I waited, and I waited.  Nothing came, other than love and assurance that all would be well, as long as I had faith.  I was grateful for the peace that did come.  I left, changed my clothes, and walked back out into the cold December sunshine.

As I was walking to my car, I stopped for a moment to sit on the bench in front of the temple and look at the newly-redone fountain.  It is lovely, and as I sat, inspiration suddenly burst to my mind with such beauty and startling clarity.  It is too personal to share here, but was miraculous to me.  The inspiration came, actually, as a result of the design and appearance of the fountain.  There I had been, sitting inside, waiting and waiting for the answer I sought.  But I couldn't receive that answer until I came out and sat at the fountain, because the ideas that came to my mind could never have come without me looking at the fountain at that moment.

My point?  Inspiration comes to us when we are in the right place at the right time.  And the only way to be in the right place is to keep moving.  We cannot simply sit and do nothing until we receive the guidance we seek.  (Note...this is not to say that I don't think sitting in meaningful meditation is a wonderful thing...it IS, and very important, as well.)  Guidance, I think, will come more often when we are on the move, trying with all of our hearts to do our best.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town!




Almost made it, but not quite... :)




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sweet Christmas Time




















Tickling.






















The special honor.








Perfect!


Wonder.



Joy!




Magic.