Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Dear Grandma Henricksen

This morning my sweet grandma, Mary Helen Allen Henricksen, returned home to live with our Heavenly Father. It is such a bittersweet thing to have her gone but to also know that she is at peace. She lived a most wonderful long life to the age of 96 1/2 and I am so thankful for the amount of time that I have been given to have her be such an important part of mine. Most of the memories of my lifetime include my grandma as a part of them. As a child I was blessed to have her live so close so that I was able to spend so much time with her and my grandpa. I loved having sleepovers at their house and went as often as I could. I absolutely loved being with them. Almost every holiday of my life I have spent with my grandma. It will be so different to not have her as part of them anymore, but I know she will always be remembered at them.

My grandma is so amazing. She suffered a stroke right after Ben and I were married and has been unable to speak well since then. It has been such a challenge for her, because like me, my grandma was blessed with the gift of gab. When I tell my kids how much she used to be the life of the party they have a hard time imagining it because she's been so quiet with them. I have loved our talks throughout the years, even when it was hard for her. She has always had such wonderful advice and genuine concern for the things I was going through. I have always, always wanted to do what is right to make her proud. In the last few years she has suffered from horrible migraines and the aches and pains of growing old. She never would complain unless you asked her how she really felt. She always had a smile even when she was feeling miserable. She's always had spunk and always seemed so young and vibrant to me. She also had a way of just making you know that you were so deeply loved and always was so kind to everyone. She has always lived a Christ-like life of service and love and has shared her testimony with so many. My grandma has always been one of my favorite people, biggest supporter, strongest example, and greatest hero. I will truly miss her.

I am so thankful that in the last week we were given the opportunity to spend some time with her and say goodbye. Last Sunday night we were able to visit her at a rehab center that she has been at for the last month to try and regain her strength. She still had that sparkle in her eyes that I have always loved. She still managed that amazing smile of hers. She was still able to make us feel welcomed and loved even though she was not doing well. I am so thankful that we were able to visit her then and tell her just how much we love her. I am thankful that my children were also given that opportunity. What a blessing it is for them to have had their great-grandma as a part of their lives.
All week long I felt this great desire to spend more time with my grandma but without being able to drive I wasn't able to go as I pleased. On Friday I finally knew I just needed to go and asked Ben to drop me off and then have my parents take me home later. By Friday night my sweet grandma had declined so much. For the first time in my entire life I thought of her as old. The sparkle in her eyes was gone and I knew she was so ready to leave this world. I held her hand, that sweet always soft hand, the entire time I was there and treasured every minute that I got to be with her that night. She kept talking about how she was ready to go home and I am so thankful that she was able to finally pass and return home. I can only imagine the reunion she is having right now with my wonderful grandpa, my great-grandma, my sister, my nephew, my Gabriel, and all the rest of our family that has already returned home.

As we sang the words to our last hymn, Lead Kindly Light, this morning at church I was reminded of that wonderful reunion that I will have with my grandma and so many others someday. It is a hymn that has really become one of my favorites in the last year. I am so thankful for the tender mercy that it was the chosen hymn today that brought such comfort to me, especially in the last verse...

The night is gone and with the morn those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

My grandma's loss is so difficult, especially at this time, as we are approaching the year mark of our little Gabriel's loss (probably sometime this week) as well. I am so thankful for my knowledge of the plan of salvation to know that both of their losses are just for awhile, a little moment, and not forever and that I will see those angel faces smile again. I am so thankful for eternal families and that they are part of mine.

Another tender mercy today was our intermediate hymn, Love One Another. The very first time I heard that hymn was when I was on a trip with my mom and Grandma to visit my cousins in San Diego when I was about 4 years old. Every time I hear that song, I think of that trip and my grandma who truly knew how to follow Christ's example of love. It was just perfect to sing it today.

I love you so very much Grandma!! Thank you for always loving me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Testimony

I was asked to write down my testimony so I figured I might as well share it here. I am much better at expressing my testimony through the written word because I tend to muddle it all up if I actually speak. Every single word is truly how I feel.

One of the blessings that I truly cherish is my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so very thankful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can, without a doubt in my mind, say that I know who I am and that I know God’s plan. I’ve learned what a true gift that is because most of the world does not know those simple truths.

I know that I am a child of God, a daughter of God, and that He loves me very much. My Heavenly Father knows what I need and He is there for me to give me guidance if I open my heart to receive it. He knows my joys, my heartaches, and my hopes. I am thankful for the many tender mercies He gives me daily, the trials He gives me to grow, and the joys He has given me to make me want to grow so that I will be worthy to live with Him again. I know my Heavenly Father loves me enough that He wants me to be with Him again and that is why He allowed His son to be sent to atone for my sins. I know just how very heartbreaking it is to give up a son, but our Heavenly Father was willing to do that because He loves us all so much. I know that my brother and Savior, Jesus Christ, also loves me and has willingly suffered and atoned for me because of His great love for me. I know that He lives and that because of Him, I will be able to live again with Him and my loved ones for eternity.

My testimony of the plan of salvation has grown ten-fold over the last year. I know that without that testimony I would be lost and I am so entirely thankful for that knowledge and for the gift that our Heavenly Father and Savior have given us in that plan. I know that the temple is the house of God and through the covenants that we make there our families will receive the amazing gift of being together forever. Our Heavenly Father loves all of His children and has provided a way for us to return to be with Him if we choose to do what is right and follow Him in faith.

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true gospel restored to the earth by a true prophet of God, Joseph Smith. Because of that restoration we were given the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, which I know to be the word of God along with the Bible. I have read the Book of Mormon numerous times and have a strong testimony of its truthfulness. Our lives can truly be blessed by gaining an understanding of the scriptures and searching them for answers to the questions in our lives. I also know that we have a living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. I have met him, shook his hand, and know with all my heart that he is a man of God. I know that the heavens are open and that our Heavenly Father sends both heavenly and earthly angels to help us through our daily lives. I am so very thankful for my testimony of all of these things and hold it as my greatest treasure.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All I Wanted To Do

All I wanted to do was to find a way for my family to remember our little Gabriel. The kids were so excited when we decided to make a memorial garden for him. I was trying to make something good out of all of this. I was working so hard at getting his garden done for his birthday so that we'd have somewhere, anywhere, to go to honor his little life. I've spent months trying to figure it all out. I worked over two weeks, for a few hours each day, to dig out 300 sq. foot of sod so that we could make a large garden that included both of his trees that we planted for him last fall. Everyone thought I was crazy for digging it myself, but I didn't have money to rent a sod cutter, and I wanted it done. With all of my hard work I knew it would be worth it if we could have that space ready for his birthday. We had planned to invite friends and family and have a balloon release in his honor along with cake and ice cream.

Then I went and dumped a bunch of that sod on my foot. I've had plenty of people get a good chuckle at my expense for how stupid it was. I've laughed along with them. I know it was completely stupid. I know that this trial was all brought on by my stupidity so I've been trying not to complain too much, even though I've been in constant pain, my husband is exhausted from working all day and then coming home and trying to maintain some kind of normal, my house is going to shambles, and my kids have gone crazy from sitting in front of the TV constantly. I'm trying to endure without complaining but I'm so, so bummed and disheartened. I've been off my foot now for two weeks and there's no sign of improvement. I went to the Dr. again today and although no broken bones have shown up, I have a deep contusion (bruise) that runs the entire inside of my foot from top to bottom...and his advice is to spend another week or so off of it. Two weeks from tomorrow is Gabriel's birthday. There's no way the garden is getting done. To make matters worse, everywhere I dug up is now being covered with grass growing in all that work...for nothing. Here's an aerial view (as close as I can get) from the boys' room showing just how abandoned looking Gabe's poor garden is:It also means that our planned hike to the G in Pleasant Grove....Gabe's G, according to Kade...on his birthday is not in the cards either. We've had that planned for months now. All I wanted to do was make his birthday special, especially since he won't be here with us to celebrate it. I just wanted to remember my little boy that I ache for every day...that's all I wanted to do.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Well, okay then....

“Should all prayers be immediately answered … there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life ...”

-Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle

More of the sparklies!

Finally, the last Independence Day post (what am I going to do with myself?!)!! The Tongs (minus Spencer, who was working) came over that night to do fireworks with us. Right as we got started the rain also started. It just added to the fun though.

Ghost Dono! Dono is always a ghost in our pictures. He must have a very special spirit. :)
We did a lot of the regular old fun ones. Then we did a couple of the cool new aerial ones. We didn't have much, but we actually didn't need much. We realized that we had the absolutely best view of everyone shooting off tons of aerials all around the neighborhoods north of us. There are some major perks to living where we do, across from a park, with nothing blocking our view. Seriously, it was the best show ever and lasted all night! Next year we'll have to throw a partay for people to share in our awesome view. So we were all pretty bummed that Spencer couldn't join us in the we devised an evil plan where we'd need his nursing skills stat. Actually, poor Adrianne got sawdust from the poppers in her eye and was in total pain. I tried my best to get it out by flushing her eye with saline solution. Do you know how weird it is to stand over your friend and spray saline in their eye?!? I felt so mean!! Well, my saline skills didn't do the job so we drove (I drove Adrianne's fancy car) down to UVRMC so she could get an expert's help. Spencer did a great job cleaning her eye out and although very puffy and red, she could finally see!! Plus, we got to hang out with Spencer for a few minutes!We had a fun night with the Tongs. We sure do love those guyses!

Battle Creek Falls on the Fourth

After the parade we were all in the need for a good nap. Then we headed up to hike to Battle Creek Falls. I've always wanted to hike up there. The weather was cloudy and unbelievably cool for the Fourth of July. What a beautiful day for a hike!!

Here's our only family shot. This is the first of the falls.
Just seconds after that picture Kade threw a rock at the river and I skillfully caught it with my leg. Yes, I attract thrown rocks. It's totally a talent of mine. Here's the pic of my leg...luckily I was okay even though I still bear a bruise from it. Oh and yes, I'm wearing my gorilla's the only way to hike!These are the kids enjoying the hike:
Then a few minutes later:
Our kids have a love/hate relationship with our hikes. The trail was pretty steep so I'll give them that. They're troopers though and endured the trail and were good about staying away from the scary river.

Here's the second and biggest falls. The big kids were freaked out & wouldn't pose for a picture. Alexis was super excited though. Here's the last of the least it's as far as we went. So beautiful!!

All day long I had been missing Gabriel. Holidays are like that, but especially this one since it was one of the holidays we got to spend with him last year and I had just been feeling his first little kicks and such then. Another reminder of how different this year was for us. I was pretty weepy throughout the day. We were all so excited when we hit a spot on the trail that was swarmed with dragonflies. You usually only see a dragonfly or two together but they were everywhere...hundreds of them!! This picture doesn't even begin to give it justice because those suckers are hard to shoot. All the black spots on the picture are dragonflies though. What a great reminder that Gabriel is still in our hearts and lives on days like these.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Grand Parade

We thought about sleeping out on the parade route this year. Skylar really wanted to and I was a little indifferent. My friend, Christina, ended up inviting us back to the spot we went last year. We decided that sounded like way more fun than a sleepless night so we ditched the camping out idea and headed down in the morning to watch the parade in style.
My cutie kids eating pancakes on the parade route:
Ben says every year that he's not going to join us at the parade and every year he does. What a good sport!

I'm so glad he did! I love my Ben!!
This picture cracks me up. Apparently this is how these two say "cheese!"There weren't that many floats this year but there were some cool ones. The kids had a fun time!

Our family's favorite float...the Star Wars one. Horray for the 501st!
Later Boba Fett stopped along the route for a photo op.
Just us:Us with the Chases:
After the parade we went over to the little carnival thing going on down the street. We got to see a little reptile show that Nick loved & the other kids got to get their face painted! They were pretty stoked!What a fun morning!!

The Bombs Bursting in Air

The Stadium of Fire was on Saturday this year instead of on the 4th, which was strange, but worked out perfectly. Our friends, the Coxs, invited us down to watch the fireworks at Troy's work right by the stadium. We haven't been that close in fact, I might say it's been 15 years, which was the very first year that Ben & I watched the fireworks together on the hill by the Marriott Center. That night just happened to be when I began to fall in love with that crazy man of mine. Yet another reason I love this holiday.
Alexis, my little model, loves to have her picture taken lately. She was asking the entire time for me to take pictures of her dancing to the fireworks. Good thing that she is so cute because I was happy to oblige.
We were practically underneath the fireworks and even got to see part of the show going on in the stadium. It was super cool!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Colonial Days

After the Balloon Fest & breakfast we decided to head to downtown Provo to check out Colonial Days at the Crandall Printing Museum. Nick was pretty stoked about this statue of Joseph Smith. He said, "Hey Joseph Smith. We're like the same size."
I've heard about the Crandall Printing museum but really didn't think my kids would care so we've never ventured there. I was wrong. They though it was really cool. They were able to see how they set the type and made the prints. I was impressed myself.

The kids got to watch a printing of the Declaration of Independence. They were in awe!

The girls were excited to meet the Provo royalty.
The boys loved watching the cannon shoot off. Kade and Nick tried out the armor that was worn back then. Nick said the chainmail was super heavy to wear. Kade decided to skip it.

Skylar and Nick spent some time in the gallows next to Benjamin Franklin (this guy was totally dedicated to the role!). I'm totally looking into getting one of these at home.

The kids all learned how to make cornhusk dolls. By this point they were all exhausted though so they weren't too excited about it.
Colonial Days was a fun thing to the kids learned a lot, which is always a bonus! I love learning fun!