Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obedience Brings Blessings

Tonight Clayson had Cub Scout Pack Meeting. Each month they discuss the theme for the month and have an activity that applies to the theme. This month's theme is honesty. They had a game where the boys would make paper airplanes and fly them into a grouping of bowls. Each bowl was worth different points. The boys were to keep track of their points on their own as a way to practice being honest.

The leader stood up and explained the game. He instructed the boys to make an airplane and line up to start the game. The boys took their pieces of paper and some preceded to ask a parent to make their planes for them. It was great to hear the parents support their children in making their own planes and not doing it for them. I saw this as a way to  practice being honest as the instructions were for the boys to make the planes. Instructions were given and planes began to take shape. A few of the older boys decided to take a short cut and crumpled their paper into balls claiming that was their airplane. The other boys began to notice and some followed their example crumpling up their airplanes to make a ball.

Clayson and another boy behind him, we'll call him Dalton, saw what was going on and started to desire to crumple their planes into balls too. They recognized that it wouldn't be fair to try and fly a plane into a bowl while the balls would be easier to control and therefore gain more points. At the same time, Dalton's mom and I both explained to our boys that this game was about honesty. It was not honest to use a ball when the instructions were to make an airplane. In our minds, and the boys, those using the balls were cheating. We both tried to help our sons realize that being honest was more important than winning the game and getting first pick of the candy bars. It was hard for both boys at the age of 10 to smile and agree. There was no arguing just sadness.

The first two rounds of throwing the planes and balls our boys got the points and no one else. I was so happy to see that there would be rewards for being honest. The Lord had something else in mind, however. At the end of the game Dalton came in second and Clayson third. Neither boy got the first pick of candy bar.  The best candy bar was taken and even though Dalton and Clayson got to choose next the other candy bars were the same. This was a situation where we don't get the immediate reward but have to have faith that we will be blessed for our obedience.

A quote that we heard recently came to mind.

"Obedience brings blessings. Strict obedience brings miracles."

Miracles will come because of the boys obedience and honesty. They didn't receive the miracle of the candy bar but they will, over time, be transformed from who they are to who they can be. They will be looked on as examples and people that can be trusted if they continue to live as they did tonight. A great opportunity was presented tonight to teach a valuable lesson to two impressionable boys.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Walker Family Ice Bucket Challenge

I know, all of you on Facebook have seen so many people pouring ice water on their heads you'll be relieved when it dies down. Me too!! It's taken over news feeds everywhere. I think I will be pondering on a way to create a phenomenon like this for adoption fund raising. I'll give it a year and make it something fresh and new. Any ideas?

Well, we were nominated as a family for the ALS ice bucket challenge by the Harmon family. I couldn't just let this be the normal bucket of water on all of our heads. The video would have been 15 minutes long. No one would watch it, not even me. If we are going to suffer than it has to be fun.

Hopefully you will get a smile out of this. We did!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Gift of Life

We have had an eventful week. Some great things and some challenging but all were good for one reason or another. We reflect on how fragile life is and what a gift we have in it.
A few months ago Scott got an MRI to get a better handle on his Cerebral Palsy.  A week or so later we got a call from the doctor informing us that Scott had been misdiagnosed and did not have CP. We were shocked. The doctor had two guesses, Muscular Dystrophy or Dystonia. Neither one was a good thing but if there was a choice Dystonia was better. Our new neurologist is pretty convinced we are dealing with dystonia. Last Tuesday Scott went in for a lumbar puncture to test the Serotonin level in his brain. From my very limited understanding dystonia is caused from low serotonin in the brain. It is a degenerative disease so over time it gets worse. There are several types of dystonia and the purpose of the lumbar puncture was to help discover the type and decide on a course of action.
To make a long story short. Scott got the lumbar puncture. We have been told by numerous nurses and doctors that the spinal headache that can occur after the lumbar puncture is very rare. As our life has gone recently, Scott was the exception to the rule. He struggled with a bad headache for 4 days. Let me tell you, looking for info on the Internet is not comforting. I talked with several nurses and put in calls to the doctors but ended up in the emergency room Saturday afternoon. I was told there was a procedure that could be done if the doctors couldn't get on top of the headache that would mean they go back into the spine. I was not too pleased with this option so my prayers became more intense. Scott was given a cocktail of medicine with IV fluids and in an hour the pain was gone. They say that 70 percent of headaches react positively to the meds. The angels were on our side this time. Scott didn't need the surgery and we were able to go home.
We did receive a great blessing through it all. Scott was put under anesthesia for the procedure. As he was waking up the nurse brought me back to be with him. I sat down, put my hand on Scott's arm and he grabbed my arm and held on as tight as he could. My son needed me and wasn't afraid to show it. I love those moments when you see their soul and realize that it's all worth it.
The same day that I took Scott to the emergency room we received a great blessing. At 6:45am we were woken up by the phone. Ressa was on the other end and sounded a bit distressed. I was a little bleary eyed so I don't remember exactly how it went but she informed me her back hurt consistently and then it would get worse for a little bit and settle back in. Now, one thing you need to know, Ressa was 40 weeks pregnant with her first baby. She had low back pain for a couple of months so this was not totally out of the blue. About a minute after she started talking she gasped and said "My water just broke". Well that answered that question. She was most definitely in labor.
I rushed down to the hospital and got there just about an hour after she called. What do I find in front of the entrance to the Women's Center? A running car. Yep, it was Jason and Ressa's. I was a bit confused as to why it took them so long to get to the hospital just 10 minutes from their house but I jumped in and moved their car to the parking lot and brought the keys in. I handed Jason the keys and told him what I had found. He looked at me a little confused as I explained what I had done. Come to find out, they had been there for 30-40 minutes! Jason, in all his excitement, helped Ressa into the hospital and promptly forgot his car was running outside. The classic expectant father story. Too cute.
4 hours after the labor pains started little Charlie Gideon was born. A healthy baby boy weighing 8 pounds 14 ounces and 22 inches long. He is a beautiful baby and Ressa did fantastic. She was in great control and kept her wits about her. I am so proud of her. My little one that screamed for 45 minutes after she was born because of fear and struggled with new things and change all her growing up life. She did it!! I can't leave out Jason. He is the most proud papa I have ever seen. So gentle, loving and protective, but not overbearing. We have gotten several pictures of our Charlie through text and we love it. Keep them coming Jason. Hint: We would love texts of the other grand kids too. :)

                                                                                       Charles Gideon

Ressa doesn't look like she had just gone through labor but I was there, trust me, she did!

The proud daddy!

P.S. Excuse any spelling errors. Spell check is not working and I am not a gifted speller. :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Give Thanks

Yesterday was Costco day. I think our shopping alone keeps at least one employee in a job every month. About a year ago I had a goal to keep the Costco bill under $400 each week. That would include the extras that I may buy, like a pair of pants, movie or anything not a consumable. Over this last year I have noticed our needs increase and so has the Costco bill. I am now very happy to see the receipt total less than $500. This is not because I buy more extras but because my kids are eating so much more. I have cut back on foods that cost more and they are now treats. Food like Mango Salsa, cheeses, Chocolate Chips, real maple syrup, etc. I was very happy to see I was able to get done with my shopping and be at a grand total of $435 including two pair of jeans. Pretty good.

When I got home from shopping I was in a hurry to get to Sereen's to take the kids swimming so we quickly put everything away and left. This morning we organized the fruit that sits on the counter. When the job was complete I looked over and what a sight I saw. There on the counter was a stack of great abundance and just above it were the words "Give Thanks". I just had to take a picture.

In the 18 hours since coming home from Costco we have consumed probably 10 bananas, 2 containers of grapes, a watermelon and a Golden Melon. There are vegetables in the refrigerator and we are prepared for a week before we need to go shopping again. The fruit will give out before the week is over but that's ok. The eggs will continue to come at the rate of 12-15 a day, hopefully and the "Give Thanks" sign will sit in it's place on my window sill as a constant reminder that we are blessed abundantly.
There are times when I reflect on my childhood and think of being limited to one piece of fruit a day if we had to buy it. Wishing I could eat my fill and hoping that I would have the opportunity to provide endless fruit to my children. Like my parents before me, we still need to limit the amount of fruit the kids eat but as I look at my counter this morning I am deeply grateful for our abundance.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Perfect Son

I have talked about a little boy that we were trying to get medical care for. Branson is the name he was given by the Non profit organization, Love Without Boundaries, that was taking care of him while in China. Branson was diagnosed with heterotaxy just like Gideon. Both boys came from the same area of China and were cared for in the same home. Heterotaxy is pretty rare so to have two boys from the same area have it is not common. While helping get help for Branson we fell in love with him.

At one point I began to pray that I would be allowed to be Branson's mother. I hurt for him and prayed for his safety and health. I knew his heart was bad and his prognosis was not good but that didn't stop me from loving him. I had an impression that he would not make it home. His heart would give out before that time. Part of me was grateful and part of me was sad to feel this.

Doug and I discussed bringing Branson home. We knew it would be hard on the family. Having just lost Gideon to the same heart issue we were still grieving and so were our children. Because of my feeling that Branson wouldn't make it home we felt a little safer in beginning the adoption process. Branson's file was being prepared in China while we were getting things lined up for an expedited adoption. Through the blessings of Heavenly Father we were given the go ahead to adopt. There were many hurdles that had to be overcome with the greatest being adopting so soon after losing a child to death. Social workers don't like to approve families that have gone through something so traumatic as death before a year. We prayed and knew that the adoption would only happen if God wanted it to. Hurdle after hurdle was removed and we began our homestudy update. Branson file took a long time to get through the system in China and just before we left on vacation I was informed that his file was finally available. We sent in our Letter Of Intent, meaning a letter to the Chinese government stating our desire to adopt this little boy.

Branson had been doing so well and getting excellent care. We had to shift our thoughts to what life would be like bringing home another heart baby and how we would handle his death. I began to doubt my impression that Branson wouldn't make it home. I started making plans and going through scenarios of how I would handle his medical issues. I dreamed of touching his face not just his picture and holding him close. My heart completely fell for this little boy. I wanted to hold him and see him so badly that I had to remind myself I may never get the opportunity. I wanted to guard my heart from pain but I just couldn't stop loving this boy.

Sunday night in Nauvoo there was a performance called "Our Story Goes On". The cast of the pageant sang Broadway songs and put them together in a story of life, love and loss. At one point they sang "Bring Him Home". This song has been a little difficult for me from the time I prayed Gideon would make it home. Now I had Branson in the same position. I was overcome with deep sorrow. I almost walked out because the sobs were so near the surface. I wondered where this sorrow came from but didn't feel it was about Gideon. I couldn't put my finger on it.

On Monday when we were on our way to Carthage we got a call. It was a miracle that the call came through because in Nauvoo there is almost no cell service. We initially planned to go to Carthage on Sunday but because of the crowds we chose the slower day, which was Monday. Because of this decision a miracle happened. Myriam at Agape called and let me know that Branson had passed away the night before. It was Monday morning in China but Sunday night in the states. As we talked I realized that Branson had passed away not too long before the song "Bring Him Home" was sung the night before. I recognized that I knew at that moment he was gone. I would never hold him in this life.

It has been hard. I love my son and I consider him my son in every way. The children are mourning his loss but are also filled with hope that one day they will see him. All of the kids have expressed their desire to have another child. Each person has their own thoughts. Some want a boy, some a girl, some want a black baby and others Chinese. One child wants an older boy his age but they all want another sibling. I take this as a good sign. They will heal quickly. Heavenly Father knows what's best for all of us and He knew that it would be difficult to go through losing another brother that they had attached too.

We now have an empty grave on top of Gideon. When we purchased it we didn't know who would go there but soon we realized Branson belonged with Gideon. That spot will now stay empty. A memorial and a reminder that he was here and will never be forgotten. We are finally going to get a headstone made for Gideon. Branson will share that headstone. Branson will now be known as Joel as this is the name he was to be given. Gideon and Joel may not have been brothers in life but they are brothers in death. As of last night these brothers stand side by side connected for eternity. Our two prefect sons.

Dec 2012 - July 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fun In Nauvoo

This is a long picture post. It should have come in installments
but our days were so full that there was no time to blog. Sorry about that.
We spent a lot of time site seeing and enjoying the spirit of Nauvoo.
This is our fourth time as a family, however, the first time for four of
our children. We have never gone to Nauvoo in  July for two reasons.
First, we have been afraid of the heat and humidity. The weather proved to
be very nice. Second, July is pageant month. We don't like crowds much
and as our family has grown we like them even less.
This year three of our kids tried out to be in the pageant.
Sadly, none of them made it in the core cast so as a consolation
we took the family to Nauvoo for our vacation. It was either that or San Diego.
I'm still itching to go to San Diego!

We did a 2 mile handcart pull early in the morning. It was supposed to be fairly easy.
It actually was until we go to a point in the trail where a tree had fallen in the middle of the trail.
We had to scout a way around it. The only other route wasn't easy but we made it.

Emma is not the most active child. A couple years ago we went on a 4 mile hike.
Emma cried and complained the whole time. We all love the hike. Because of the one
experience we now call it the Emma hike and everyone knows what that is. :)
I was afraid of how Emma would do.
See the big smile. She loved the trek.

Casey, Olivia and Hannah were on the same cart.
Two people pulled while two pushed. We had 4-5 people
assigned to each cart.

My intention was to have Hyrum and Bria walk the whole time
Their Uncle Lenny plopped them right down in his cart.
Those kids had it easy.

Hyrum was supposed to be with another group but who could split these two up?
Hyrum and Bria couldn't even sleep separated.
We had girls in one spot of the house we rented and boys in another.
Hyrum was not going for that. He had to be with Bria.

In Nauvoo there are lots of original and replica homes and buildings.
It is the prefect place to see how the people in the mid 1800's lived.
There is a building called the Family Living Center.
In it they demonstrate different things about daily life.
Bread making, rug weaving, candle making, barrel making and other things.
This is Clayson and Hyrum turning the wheel to make the rope.
The best part of Nauvoo, it's all free!!

Matching cousins. These two boys chose the same color clothes that day
without even knowing it. I love this picture. They are so sweet.

I have needed to go through pictures and find some of the kids recently.
I noticed some of the kids are poorly represented. Olivia being one of them.
So, as we walked around the Women's Garden, I couldn't resist having Pierce take
some pictures of Olivia. If she weren't so obedient we wouldn't even have these pictures.

Erin, my niece, was so good with the kids.
They love her and the rest of their cousins that were there with us.
We went to the pageant every night we were there.
We had planned on attending the pageant only two nights
but the kids loved it so for 5 nights in a row the kids got to bed at 11:00pm or after.
It was so worth it.

Each night before the pageant there were a lot of pioneer activities.
One of them was a rope pull. All of the family got in on the action.
We had a epic battle. Here you see most of one side.
Notice the obvious presence of the male gender and more developed muscles.
Now, notice the amount of young children and lack of muscles
on the other side. We had one man, a teen boy, old lady, one woman and
many children. Not very evenly matched. Or so it seems.

Does that smiling face look like one that is pulling with all their might?
No, I didn't think so either.

Yeah, not too much muscle here but having lots of fun.

Now, see Doug's face. He is turning red he is pulling so hard
and Clayson. He is getting a bit worried.
Our side was the clear underdog's but we pulled
with all our might and they could not get us.
After several minutes of a standoff and them inching us forward
very little by little, a couple of us let go.
We put up a great fight. I can never be accused of being a wimp. :)

Though Creed can't admit that he had any fun on our boring trip to see old houses,
I think this picture tells another story.

One of the activities provided was dancing.
There were people that taught different western dances among other
old time dancing. Here is our niece Chloe and dancing with Scott.

Hannah and Chloe were inseparable!
I think their favorite place in Nauvoo was anywhere the boys were.
For the first time in her life Chloe experienced
consistent attention from the opposite gender.
We have teased her mercilessly.
What else is a family for?

Pierce got in on the action at the dance floor.

A great picture of a great man!!!

Doug had us all line up in front of the statue then took this picture. Pretty funny.
He did take more pictures with the family in it but you can't see the temple.
I thought the temple was better looking than I am.

The family, minus our older kids, Gideon and one other.
The other child is a post for another day.

We took a couple of wagon rides.
This one was with oxen.
Hyrum, Bria, Clayson and Malia got to ride in the front.

This is how the pioneers led the team.
One big difference, all the kids would be walking not riding.

Half the family took the first ride.

The other half went on the second ride.
We had such a great time and love Nauvoo. We have decided that we are going to apply to be in the family cast next year. That means we will be in Nauvoo for two weeks and preform for one week in the pageant. I really hope we get chosen. Nauvoo is in our blood.