Friday, October 9, 2015

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

(Image found at

Just a couple weeks ago we had a crazy Monday morning (as usual). I was stressed out, and as we jumped in the car to go to school, I felt immediate guilt that we were praying in the car and reciting a scripture verse on the fly because I hadn't been organized enough to fit it into our time-crunched morning. Fortunately, I had the Sunday School lesson still in my phone to share with the kids on our short, mile-long drive.  

We were studying 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

"9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

I was trying to explain to my children what Paul meant in verse 10 about how things that are hard for us are meant to strengthen us in our faith and bring us closer to God. I told them that when we have a trial to face, it can be a blessing because the Lord makes us stronger through those difficult experiences. Then I recapped what I was saying and asked the kids, "So when we have problems, what do we want them to do for us?" Emmett immediately responded, "We want them to GO AWAY!"

I thought his 5-year old response was so cute, and so typical of what we all feel when we have things happen to us that are difficult. I knew that he was applying how he felt about his own little trials - like a bullying situation he had experienced on the playground - but in my parenting perspective I just thought, "Someday when he's older, he'll get what I mean."

Well, just yesterday, as a 31 year old kid seeking advice from my own dad, I found myself explaining the ins and outs of a legal battle my husband and I are in (coincidentally it's a bullying situation of sorts in a different arena, and on a much larger scale). When my father tried to show me a potential silver lining, I said to him - "The problem is that I don't care about any of that - all I really want is for this to all go away!!!"  

My mind immediately flashed back to Emmett talking to me from the back seat of the car that morning not too long ago.  

We've switched roles now. :)  

It's so ironic, that so often the lessons we're trying to teach our kids are the same lessons they teach us.

I'm grateful the Lord has sent me someone in my little family who will "side" with me. Even if he's in Kindergarten, I feel strengthened knowing that in the Lord's grace and mercy, I've been given a little angel who is on my side in feeling that trials should just "go away"! :) I'm also grateful to know that the Lord is steady, and kind. Jesus Christ knows that life is full of problems that don't immediately go away, and He is there to walk each and every step with us so that we don't have to face it alone. And while I side with Emmett, in my heart, I do also take sides with Paul. My mind reflects on all the most difficult moments I've faced over the years, even at the lowest of moments when I was the most devastated and scared - I have called on the Lord and IMMEDIATELY felt that He was there - it's a quiet strength that the Spirit brings, but it's every bit as strong as the opposing feelings that led me to my knees - in fact, it's a stronger feeling, because it carries me through my trials and helps me overcome them. 

I'm still working on the "taking pleasure in my infirmities" part of all of this, but I can still reiterate this lesson from Paul and join my testimony with his. I can testify of the way the Lord and His Holy Spirit carries us through our trials, and I know that "When I am weak, then I am strong."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

When Your Child Has A.D.D. - THERE ARE PERKS

About a year or two ago, I noticed a change in my oldest son's ability to focus.  

It seemed a little sudden, and it seemed a smidgen odd to me.  Then it got worse.  I was starting to freak out, but then something wonderful happened - 3 of my friends who have boys the SAME AGE said that they're having the same problems!  Because of this group of moms who showed up out of the woodwork, I decided this situation was simply a developmental stage for boys - what we were going through was normal.

Time passed, and unfortunately, improvement wasn't looming on the horizon.  One day I noticed my 5 year old was able to stay on task & follow directions better than my 8 year old. Worry started up again.  Tyson is smart and learns quickly.  He's also polite and in no way rude or defiant when he "forgets" about what he was told to do.  So I convinced myself again that it was nothing.

Well, 3rd grade started and everything was going great until BAM! a behavioral note came home expressing that my child could use some improvement on following teacher instructions and paying attention in class. He wasn't in major trouble, though, and my inner optimist came out to battle.  He was just reading a book instead of paying attention to the lesson after all...but after talking to the teacher, she let me know she has him SITTING AT THE TABLE CLOSET TO HER so that she can keep him on task better.  *SIGH*  For the first time, reality hit me that his focusing skills are comparatively worse than what the other kids are experiencing at this age.  That specific moment of realization was a total bummer.  This may not just be a "developmental phase" anymore!

The next day, a note came home about a field trip.  As I marked the box to say I'd be willing to chaperon, I began to ponder..."Hmmmm....wait a minute....WAIT. A. MINUTE!  For EVERY field trip my son has EVER been on, I have been "chosen" to chaperon....."  What do you know?...That's interesting, isn't it?   ...It's happened EVEN when chaperons were supposedly DRAWN OUT OF A HAT......  As the ink from my pen finalized the x on the spot, I had this strange, enlightening premonition that I would be chosen again.

Sure enough, less than 24 hours later, in rolled a congratulatory email from the teacher saying I had been "chosen" to go on the field trip.  Oh the irony!

For the last 3 years, I thought I had an insane amount of luck to go with my son on every field trip known to man.  But in reality, my son's teachers were actually thinking, "Yes, Mrs. Borden, please come, so that YOU can take care of him!"

Well, you know what I was thinking smugly on ALL of these occasions?  It was nothing more or less than, "WHOOO HOOOO!  I LOVE FIELD TRIPS!"

Bella & Tyson are FOURTH COUSINS!

I kept finding him dancing in a silent room to the music only he could hear through his headphones - it was awesome!

That bulbous instrument behind him was made out of a PIG BLADDER!

This DRUM was playing in the 2008 Olympics in China!  SO COOL!  I loved that drum number - I watched it in awe!

Going on the field trip was fabulous - 

1) I spent time with my son.
2) I got to see who my son's school friends are.
3) I got FREE admission to the MIM!  Rock on!!!!  
I love that place!!!

And best of all, it was comforting for me to see that there are other kids his age who are also easily distracted.  I think maybe all kids in 3rd grade have a little ADD.  

In general, though, even though he has trouble staying focused on mundane tasks or lessons that he finds trivial, I believe that my son is GIFTED.  From what I've read about gifted children I do think in some ways that's a nice way of saying he's smart, but also a little difficult to work with.   Truly he has great potential, though. I feel like I'm on a journey with him, trying to help him find his best learning style.  I wish I could capture some better glimpses of where he goes off to in his head - he's always coming up with creative & amazing ideas - I hope that someday he'll be able to funnel all of that creativity into a life destiny that makes him and others around him happy.  Actually...he's already making people around him happy - I could very well be the happiest one of all because of him - it's a beautiful blessing to have Tyson as my son.  

Until I had a child with A.D.D., I thought it sounded like a nightmare.  It is true that there are some tough when we're doing writing homework.   However, 99% of the time, life is just a grand adventure with my little guy - I love his stories, the random and amazing facts he can remember from the books he likes to read, the way he laughs about jokes that none of the other kids understands, the look on his face when he's thinking deeply, and his heart of gold.  

As for those field trip perks I was talking about - I've decided we can "Blame it on {his} A.D.D., Baby". (Thanks, AWOLNATION)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Prepared for Baptism

I'm not even close to the "finish line" of parenting, where you send your kid off and sit back to watch them spread their wings.  That day is still a ways away for all of my children. But there are questions that haunt me in anticipation of that milestone: Did I teach them enough?  Did I give them everything they needed?  Did I do enough?  Do they have all the tools they need to be okay?

I felt some of that harrowing responsibility last week as I watched my son on his baptism day.

He's only 8, so yes, there's plenty of teaching left to do under my watch & the watch of my husband.

But while he is young, our son is already at an impressionable, critical, and forming stage of his life. The choices he makes now really will start to affect the person he's going to turn out to be. As he has chosen to get baptized, I wondered: Did we teach him everything he needs to truly understand this commitment?  Does he know what it means to really follow Jesus Christ?  Sometimes following the commandments and understanding the gospel can feel so complex and overwhelming at times--does he know what it takes?

But then I realized - I have taught him everything he needs to know.  The implications of being baptized and confirmed are actually quite simple.

There is really only ONE rule, and that is to LOVE JESUS.  If you can LOVE the Lord, you can follow Him.  When you love God, you TURN TO HIM, and turning to the Lord is truly the answer to everything my son will need.  

He was ready for this.  He knows that there is only one name whereby man can be saved in Heaven.  He is already putting the gospel in action in his life.  He's trying to follow the commandments and be like Jesus would want him to be - he's not perfect at it, but none of us are.  We all need the Lord's grace.  He's already working on obtaining the word, and he's trying to apply it.

The gospel of Jesus Christ really is simple enough that a child can understand it.  It's the adults in this world who muddy it up and make it more complex than it needs to be.  The only thing we need to do is follow Jesus & turn to Him.  And last Saturday, that is what Tyson chose to do.  He followed the example of Jesus Christ, and he was baptized. 

It was a beautiful day.  I felt the Spirit at Tyson's baptism and it made me feel closer to the Lord, too.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Say "NO" to Drugs

Remember this post about "Paddling Upstream"?  Actually, you probably don't, because I felt too vulnerable to post it in real time, so it got back-dated.

But let me tell you...

Shortly after I had my baby, I came down with mastitis, and I lost my milk supply, and my doctor put me on a temporary medication and 2 herbal supplements to repair the problem.  The regimen DID fix the problem, and I was able to take care of my baby.  But when I tried going off the medicine, it affected my milk again, so I had to continue taking the medicine.  All the while, my life felt so out of control.  I felt overwhelmed, and I was having a majorly hard time adjusting to life with my 4th child. I was exhausted all the time.  Yes, I was waking up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, but even with that, I was getting close to 12 hours of sleep because I fell asleep super early and could hardly pull myself out of bed in the morning, and I still couldn't stop myself from conking out during day time baby feedings.  I hardly had the energy to fix meals or tell my kids to pick up after themselves.  I just felt so defeated, and not cut out for being a mom of 4 kids.

I simply couldn't take it anymore.  I finally changed my prayers, and I asked God to give me the strength, energy, and ability to be the mother to 4 kids that I was when I only had 3 kids.

During the days where I had changed my prayers, I had the thought that I needed to check my medicine bottle.  So I did....

"May cause drowsiness and dizziness...."

What's crazy is that when I FIRST read the bottle almost 2 MONTHS earlier, I had dismissed the side-effects and thought to myself, "This can't be worse than anything else I went through when I was pregnant." Well, it was.  And the side effects were worse than the medicines I had to take to keep my pregnancies.

I decided it was high time to "Say No to Drugs" - the side effects of the medicine weren't worth the benefits of taking the pills.  If I lost my milk, so be it.  There are worse things than feeding your baby formula.

I am so grateful that the Lord answered my prayer.  What is neat is that during the time I was on this medicine and feeling so overwhelmed and incapable, without even realizing I needed help, and without asking for it, many angels were sent my way.  I cannot even count how many random acts of service were done for me by friends and family during this time.  People just thought of me and called me, or showed up at my door to see if I needed help with anything.  I was so humbled by this.  I am beyond relieved, however, to now have the answer to what was wrong with me - I have been feeling like myself for the last 4 weeks, now, and the Lord has helped me to enjoy having 4 kids in the same way I could enjoy having 3, and to top it all off, I'm still able to nurse my baby.  I have been able to handle more and I feel on top of what I need to do as a mom.  I'm not perfect, and the house isn't always perfectly clean, but I feel like myself again.

I'm not saying all medicine is bad.  I know that if the good Lord hadn't led me to doctors and modern medicine during my pregnancies, I wouldn't have children at all, because without medicine I lose babies.  So I know that sometimes medicine is the right answer for your medical problems.  But in this case, in order for me to be a functional mother, I am so grateful to get this particular medicine OUT of my life.

Say No to Drugs!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Paddling Upstream

Some people may tell you that once you have 3 kids, if you have more, it's all the same....

They're lying.

: )

Let me tell you the truth:  Four is more than three.

It's not rocket science.  Four has always been greater than three, and I'm pretty sure it always will be, so don't even imagine that "it could all be the same" once you've had 3.  It can't.

With four kids, life is different.  Very different.

I'm not sure if it's the number of kids itself, or if it's returning to the newborn stage after 3 years that's the kicker for me, but either way, just simply trying to keep up with the normal, every day tasks is what's been burying me (not to mention the extra financial impact that comes with a new kid - babies are expensive).  Forget about adding in anything extra in my life - it's just the basics that have seemed overwhelming.  It's like I'm in a river and the current is too fast, and I just can't keep up.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm strong enough, or if I was even cut out to do this.

I was unloading all my stresses and crying to my mom about it a few weeks ago.  She did what all good moms do.  She was firm and steady.  She told me when you're going upstream, you've got to pick up the oars and keep paddling.  Maybe you feel like you can't paddle fast enough, but you certainly can't stop; you paddle like crazy, and eventually you're going to make it.

I needed to hear that.  I needed to hear that the ONLY choice I had was to buck-up and keep paddling.  I do believe that eventually there's going to be a lull in the river, and I will have made it upstream, and everything is going to be okay.

Already I'm doing better than 3 weeks ago.

First of all, about every other night, the baby will sleep all night.  That's making a huge difference in my life.

Second of all, I'm no longer nursing for 6 hours a day - that's partly because the baby is sleeping longer at night - Hallelujah!  My baby is also getting faster at eating.  I'm probably nursing for about 3-4 hours a day.  It's still a huge chunk out of my day, but we're making progress here.

Third of all, I can laugh about the anxieties I've been having.  For example...back when the weather was still beautiful, a friend invited me to the park.  I had to turn her down, because I wasn't ready to face the park.  Did you hear me?  The P-A-R-K...we're talking about one of the least stressful kind of play dates.  The you-don't-even-have-to-clean-your-house-for-visitors kind of play date.  You know? It's where the climbing structure is provided, where you don't have to yell at the kids for clamoring upon the couch.    THAT was too much for me that day.  Now, granted, I believe I hadn't even made it to 6 weeks post partum at that point, but STILL, never in my life did I imagine that packing a diaper bag with snacks and going to SIT at the park would feel like a little much.  But it did.  It really, REALLY did.

I'm still not the cool mom I was when I only had 3 kids.  That's for sure.  And let's not even begin to talk about the mom I was with only 2 kids - I really rocked at 2 kids.  I used to be able handle all kinds of adventures on the fly.   But I'm a totally different mom with 4 kids. IF have enough advance notice of an event that's going to happen, then I can give myself a jaunty little pep talk to mentally prepare for how I'm going to handle that event with 4 children, and sometimes it turns out okay.  Like yesterday, when my sister talked me into going to the summer movie - I mentally prepared for a day, still almost didn't go, finally went, had anxiety walking in the theater doors, sat down, and I basically had to let my sister do all the work while I nursed.  Fortunately, we didn't forget or lose anybody, and all in all, the event was conquered as a success.  But it was week 6 of the summer movies.  The old me with less kids could handle that adventure EVERY week of the summer.  Now I can do it only 1 out of 6.


At any rate with all this paddling, and swimming, and barely treading water in my new 4 kid life, there have been some noteworthy moments, too.  Amid everything, it's been overly apparent that my husband is an amazing man - he's "beautiful" on the inside and do you even say that for a man?  He's MANLY on the inside and out?  He's handsome through and through?  However I should say it - he's a keeper.   He helps with the kids so much.  And through all of this craziness, our kids make us smile all the time.  They remind me that they're the reason I have to keep going.  

Here are some recent favorites:


  • When he prays over the food he asks Heavenly Father to "bless the food to NUTRITION and strengthen our bodies."  Hehehe!
  • He adds a G into the words Reunion and Onion.  "Do we have any ongions?"  And "When are we going to the REUNGION?"
  • In a very innocent and scientifically correct way, Tyson was holding Ace, and the baby tried to "eat" him, and Tyson said, "Stop staring at MY chest - you need your mom's br----."  (That's just one of many hilarious and slightly awkward moments I've had in the last year as we've had questions that required explaining human anatomy, and the birth of babies, and other similar topics with my boys.... This mothering thing is an adventure!)


  • We went on a road trip for my cousin's funeral.  We traveled through the canyon to Globe, and Emmett had to go to the bathroom SO BADLY.  Every corner we turned, he would see a new ledge and say longingly, "That would be a good place to pee!"  He begged us to let him go INTO the canyon.  We didn't think it was entirely appropriate to do such a a ledge into the canyon as cars drive by, but we couldn't let our 5 year old have an accident in the car, either.  We finally found a pull-out and let him live his dream.  (As a mother of boys, I am learning to accept that the world is their urinal.)

  • On the way to Globe, Emmett was all about the tunnel.  He told us 500 times to let him know when we made it to the tunnel.  He even announced, "I'm testing my breath to see if it works!"  (Because you have to hold your breath for the tunnel.)  "Yep, it works!"


  • He likes to see "leggy-bugs".
  • The other day I was lying on the bed, still trying to wake up, and the baby was next to me.  The older boys were loving on the baby - nearly mauling him to death, and I cautioned, "Give Baby Ace some space!"  Miles immediately answered, "I don't have any space!"
  • He says, "Ace is cute.  Mine awesome." (Miles was definitely trained by his older brother Emmett.)
  • He loves his baby brother and tells us about Ace's feelings, too, "He's love me!"


  • Ace is starting to coo.  It's so awesome. It's amazing to me how much he's starting to make noises (when Miles was this age, he didn't do any of this - it's amazing how early you can detect speech delays, and it's even more obvious when you have a kid making the milestones - cooing by 3 months being one of them).  At any rate, he "talks" the most to his Grandpa Tenney - not to me, or his brothers, or his dad, or anyone else.  Grandpa Tenney and Uncle Taylor are his favorites.  They pay serious attention to him and have a special connection with Baby Ace - they talk to him like he understands, and he responds back to them like they are his best friends.  It's really so cute.  He'll be grinning and talking to them and I'll walk in the room to watch, and the baby will go stone-faced.  Then I'll leave and he gets all happy again talking to Grandpa like his Papa is the only one who understands him.  He's starting to "talk" and coo to other people, too, but we know who his favorites are.  Even when Ace was a week or two old, he would respond differently to my dad's voice than to any one else.  My dad would start talking to him, and he'd immediately freeze with wide eyes, and his arms would hang down by his side as he listened intently.  He smiled for my dad first, before anyone else.  I'm telling you, they're best friends.

Well, blogging was a nice little break - I guess it's time to go pick up the oars & keep on paddling.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Life Lessons from Phoenix COMICON

I attended my first COMICON tonight with my husband, excuse me, let me start again.

I'm Lois.

Clark Kent took me on a date tonight to the Phoenix Comicon.  Clark happens to be pretty super.  He saved my life from Zombies - I didn't get one scratch or bite...or picture of them, either.  (I did happen to scream in the zombie tunnel, but who wouldn't? And proceeds benefited the Wounded Warrior Project, so it was worth it.)

He guided me safely through other kinds of tunnels, too.

He made sure that the Green Goblin was well behaved....

He took care of Greedo for me....

...and let me touch Toothless, but only after determining he was already tame.

Clark and I became personal friends with the Wii Fit.  We clearly are able to count the evening for our daily exercise.

We visited Lego tables.  

 Hung out with GI JOE bad guys...

 Had our ears talked off at the medieval table, apparently the groupies meet in locations across the world, so if we were to move, we could find them and they could dent our cars with these crazy weapons...yaddy, yaddy, yadda....

We met only one Elsa (unlike the night of Halloween last year, when I had 3 at the doorstep at once).

Clark wasn't afraid of Darth Maul and his "Joyful Expressions" business.  True story - DARTH MAUL'S BUSINESS CARD has a picture of his amazing face with the words "Joyful Expressions"....  A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

Clarkie knew who this Barf guy was, but I didn't.

All in all, the night was pretty wack.  Like wiggity wack? You may wonder. For some Comicon Nerds perhaps what we faced was "just the regular".  But for me, I realized this event took me to a much deeper place.  

First of all, this date was the only one of it's kind that Clark and I have ever had.  It was an entirely new and interesting experience for me.  It was like Halloween on steroids, but in the Summer, and there were classes to attend on various topics - it was like educational, but not like what you'd expect at school.

1)  By being there, I learned in an entirely new way just exactly 

2) I learned that we are pop-cultured far less than I thought were.  In many ways I am 10 to 20 years behind the times, because I only really resonated with all the classic characters (Superman, Batman, Star Wars, etc.), and I didn't know anything about the modern Anime groupies.  But what's cool is that it's okay, and that leads me to my next point.

3)  At Comicon - at least for me - there is no pressure to fit in, because you just do.  No matter who you are or what you like, there will be someone there who likes what you do, and plenty of people who like their own other things that you might not care for, but that's okay.  It's okay for them to be them and for you to be you.

4)  You have to have a certain type of personality to enjoy yourself at an event like Comicon.  If you are insecure about what others might think of you, then you will not like it.  As my father would say, you must "be secure in your weirdness."  :)  If you are a boring person or a whiner, you will not like it.  If you go to the Mythological Creatures 102 panel, you might think all the classes are like that, but they're not.  I did learn something in that class, though - like the origin of the character Lilith-mon.

5)  All in all, it was actually healthy for our relationship to do something other than go to dinner and a movie.  I suppose it was healthy for us to stare and gawk at people in costumes around us, and to play NBA Arcade games, and to walk a mile for food, and to learn about mythological creatures, and to laugh about it after.  

6) At Comicon, you actually risk your life.  By walking in the doors, you pretty much sign your life away for the evening - wearing the badge is not for the faint of heart:

"Badge holder assumes all risk and danger of personal injury, damage to property, including death, and all other hazards arising from, or related in any way to, the event for which the badge is issued, caused by negligence, gross negligence, or otherwise, and the holder releases Phoenix Comicon, the Phoenix Convention Center, Hyatt Regency, Sheraton, Renaissance and its employees, volunteers, and its agents from any and all liabilities/claims resulting from such risk, danger, damage, injury or death."

7)  I learned that Comicon is pronounced with a short i sound, and I also learned a new word, called "Cosplay" - it's a hybrid of the words "Costume", and "Play".  It's basically dressing up for grown ups.  Maybe I am becoming more and more pop-cultured by the minute. :)

One thing is for sure - next time, we're going to attend Jonathan's PUGS panel.  I wish I knew he was guiding it before we went.  But now we know. :)

Thanks Clarkie (and Uncle Warren for hooking us up with the tickets).

That was a "Super" date!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

From Car Seat to Baptism: Standing on the Side

A couple weeks ago I saw this picture in my news feed, as my friend Donna shared that her grandson, Eric, would be getting baptized:

Could it be?  Eric Starkes would be turning 8.  I don't even know where the time went, as I have been watching this little boy grow up from a distance.  I feel connected to him, and I always will.  I held him once when he was 5 1/2 months old, and he will hold a piece of my heart forever.  The same fateful day that changed his life also changed mine.  At his baptismal service last Sunday, it amazed me that this sweet little boy doesn't even know how much he has affected my life (and the life of my husband and parents and so many others).  

I'll never forget the moment I saw him.  I was across the road at Azure's crash site.  Melody Whipple was on site first, and we arrived right after.  As we pulled up, there was a flipped car, dust in the air, and a person on the ground.  Melody had run up next to that person who ended up being Azure Starkes and called out to us, "I have a pulse!"  My dad and husband got out of our car first and ran over.  The next thing I knew, my husband was crawling through the smashed-out, back window of the upside-down car, and he pulled out a car-seat carrier.  Then he stood up and set it momentarily on the back of the vehicle and rocked the car-seat a back and forth, "Hello, Little Guy," he said.  I had instant heartbreak.  We all did. 

I couldn't believe there was a baby in that car!  But he was a miracle baby.  No scratch.  No cut.  No bruise.  Only dirt in his eyelashes.  Dirt that he didn't want me or my mom to help wash off.  So I just took him out of his car seat.  I held him, and hugged him.  I cried.  And we stood off to the side as we watched my dad and another man take turns performing CPR on Eric's mom Azure.  The mountain wind was blowing the tall yellow grass, and we just prayed and prayed that we could help to save this girl's life so she could raise her darling little boy, who was dressed in bright orange, Tigger, footie pajamas.  This perfect little boy with his large, innocent, wide eyes, and his calm Spirit.  Why was he so calm, when he had just been in a car that had flipped 10 times?  I wondered.  How was he calm while we were all trying to help his mom from dying?  How was he quiet while surrounded by strangers, and held by someone he didn't even know?  Looking back, the only answer to me is that angels were all around - probably even his Mommy Azure was right by his side through every moment at that crash site.  Maybe he could see those angels, and that's what helped him to be okay.

It was ages until the paramedics arrived.  I handed that sweet baby boy off so he could ride in the ambulance.  Apparently I shouldn't have taken him out of the car-seat...but I couldn't help it.  His mom was dying.  I had the frantic urge to hold him like he was my own little boy - and I felt the same love.  After baby and mommy left, it wasn't until later that we found out Azure was pronounced dead.  We have prayed for her family and for her son Eric ever since.

Even though looking back I definitely believe that every single, tiny thing at that crash site was all in a loving Heavenly Father's hands, and even though I know there's a grander purpose than we can understand, and even though we did every possible thing we could do for her, I still feel bad that we couldn't save Azure that day.  I still feel sad that she died.

But through the sadness some beautiful things have happened.

It is a huge blessing that Eric has been able to grow up with another mother in his life.  Brian found Ginger, who is a sweetheart, and I was so excited when she contacted me with the details for Eric's baptism.  It is a blessing that instead of growing up with a single dad and no mom, that Eric has been blessed with his Mommy Ginger to help raise him, and now he has 5 other siblings in the mix - 2 were Ginger's before meeting Brian, and 3 little brothers have come for Eric after.

Brian and Ginger are doing an amazing job raising their kids.  I was so impressed during the baptismal service, as Eric was being asked questions.  During one of the talks about the Holy Ghost, there were a lot of visual aids, and one of them was armor.  Donna asked him what armor would be used for.  "Battle," he replied.  Then she asked him what he might have to battle for.  "Freedom," he said without hesitation.  I was so impressed!  His answer made me want to teach my own kids better.  Freedom is the answer a true American heart would give.  Not to mention, freedom from bondage and sin is what we're fighting every day in this life - it's why we need to put on the armor of the Holy Spirit and turn to the Lord.

Also, later, the Bishop asked Eric to turn around and look at everyone who came.  The bishop asked Eric why he thought all those people were there.  A regular kid would give the surface answer - something like, "For my baptism."  That was the answer I was expecting to hear.  But Eric could feel deeper.  He said, "Because they love me."

It was so sweet.

When we all gathered next to the baptismal font to watch Eric make his covenant to follow the Lord, it was beautiful.  Melody - the same woman who hugged me so tightly when all I could do was cry at Azure's crash site, gave me her awesome faith-filled hug again, and she marveled with me - "From car seat to baptism" she said.  I couldn't say it better - her words summed up so much of what I felt & I know Melody feels the same way about this little boy - we were there together standing with him by his mom's side so many years ago. 

Donna came in and hugged us - it was hard for her.  Bittersweet, I'm sure.  As I have watched my own son grow, I have mourned for Azure that she couldn't be there in person to see similar milestones for Eric.  But as Donna is Azure's mother, I can only imagine the pain that comes from seeing all those milestones, each birthday, and especially this first and huge step in Eric's life to be baptized.  It's something we wish Azure could have been there in person for.  But without a doubt, we believe Azure was there Sunday night, standing at the sideline's right along with us to support Eric at his baptism.


Mitchell and I were both so happy to go to the baptism on Sunday.  It was worth the drive, and as we left, my husband said, "That was really good!"  It was so important for us to be there - it's healing to see Eric thriving, and to be around all of these friends we now have who also feel like family.  I feel like Azure has brought us together with these wonderful people who feel like they were always meant to be in my life.  Azure has brought us so many friends.

Friends like Keith & Donna.  Keith & Donna treat us as family, and exude love like I've never known anyone to instantly extend love.  From the moment I met them, I felt like they knew me well and loved me all my life.  They have strong testimonies of the gospel & I'm glad Azure brought us together.

Friends like Kati. Kati and I have become friends during the last several years, and we talk through social media.  And because we were friends through Azure, when we miscarried together a year and a half ago, we were able to support to each other in that.  I think Kati is strong & faith filled, and and amazing mother to her 5 kids.

Friends like Brian & Ginger, and Eric.  We love to see these guys, and also in a way our families are also kind of like pen-pals.  Brian and Ginger & all their kids are so quick to smile - they are all so nice.  They're the kind of people who make you feel like you belong.  And as I said before, I think they are doing a great job raising all their kids, and I look up to them and their example.

Friends like Melody. Melody is calming, and strong, and kind.  She has great insights, and she always makes me feel good when I see her, and we stay in touch through facebook.  I hope I can achieve the same kind of constant Spirit that Melody always has with her.

Friends like Brandi.  Brandi called me after Azure died and talked to me, and we've run into each other in random places, and we also keep in touch.  I think she's beautiful & amazing.  She was the first one that found me last Sunday and talked to me to see how I'm doing - she's always like that & makes others feel important.

And Azure...she's our friend, too.  She's a girl I never really knew, but now I feel like I know her well.  I watched her from a distance when she was alive - I saw her in patriotic plays, but ever since I was at her crash site, I have felt close to her, like she was a forever friend.  I have grieved over her death as if I had been close to her even in life.  And every once in a while something will happen where I feel like she was involved in my own life, and also in helping bring people together and I will think, "Thanks, Azure."  We all love Azure.  We went to Eric's baptism for Eric, for Keith and Donna, for Brian & Ginger, and of course for Azure, too.

Eric's baptism was a happy event to witness, and I'm so honored we got to witness it standing on the side.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

If You Host It, The Building Will Come

About 9 or 10 years ago, when we were still considered newlyweds, we lived on the ASU East Campus.  The Bishop of the Gateway Ward asked us to be Institute Liaisons.  We were told that if we could get the attendance up high enough, that the church would purchase land, and construct us an institute building that our ward would be able to meet in.  This calling surprised us, but it also seemed to fit us perfectly.  As Seminary & Institute graduates, Mitchell and I both already had a love for it.  Not to mention, THE INSTITUTE of RELIGION changed our lives forever.  I'll never forget the night I met my husband in February of 2004.  We were in Bro. Kivett's Tuesday night Book of Mormon class at the Chandler-Gilbert Institute.  Mitch was fresh off of his mission.  He had been home for only 5 days, when fate...okay, DIVINE PROVIDENCE, led us together at the Institute building.  I was the Student Body President of Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and on February 17th, we had an important district meeting down town.  When it was over, I decided to catch the last half of my Institute class.  What would you know?  Seconds after I slipped into the back of class, this newbie raised his hand and made some sort of comment about how we shouldn't be late.  THE AUDACITY - he had no idea what I had been through to get there that night!  After class, he introduced himself to me by saying, "How did you get that scar on your nose?"  STRIKE TWO!  What the heck?  Way to point out the one flaw I've been self-conscious about for my entire life!  STRIKE THREE happened when he asked me my name.  Except, that's where the Divine Providence stepped in again, because I didn't know until years later that he was actually making fun of me.  When I told him my name was Debra Jo Tenney, he responded with, "Well then, I'm Mitchell Jay Borden."  Apparently, he didn't immediately catch that I go by Debra-Jo.  He thought it was odd that I would give him my full name, so that's why he threw his full name back at me.  But I was too enamored with his handsome smirk, and the glorious ring of his name to even realize he was trying to be funny.

But I digress.

So when we were asked to be Institute Liaisons - that was the last thing we were expecting - for one thing, we didn't even know that was a calling in the church.  But that was okay - we were ready.  We made posters to chart our ward Institute goals & made incentives for attendance.  We advertised, and we worked to make it happen.  I'm not going to lie - sometimes it was like pulling teeth to get people there.  Some nights it didn't feel like we were making any progress.  We were also in a unique situation.  Across the LDS church, Institute is widely known as something for YOUNG SINGLE ADULTS, but we were living in a married or family ward.  Our demographic included people of all ages with families who were enrolled in school.  Even though it's not necessarily a rule, the culture in the area is that once you're married, you don't go to Institute anymore.  So that presented some challenges.  Looking back, I believe that for our ward in those days, the call to build up the institute program at the ASU East campus was more about obedience than anything else.

Here's a snapshot of what Institute at ASU East was like back then:

  • We met in a classic campus house - they came in reddish orange, faded salmon, or yucky yellow, and the interior contained grocery-store tile flooring.  It's the kind of place you complain about living in, but then cry when you have to leave it.
  • We cleaned dead cockroaches out of the tub & swept them up from corners in the house.
  • When we tried to decorate, we couldn't use any of the external walls, because they were made of brick, so we could only hang pictures of Jesus on the interior walls...that is...until Mitchell Jay purchased some anchors, and used his awesome tools.
  • All the windows were dark & tinted.
  • We had florescent lighting throughout.
  • The kitchen was where we ate refreshments.
  • The Living Room is where we set up desks and a white board.
  • One of the bed rooms was turned into a nursery in case parents needed to bring their kids & we took donated toys for the closet in that room.  The problem, however, is that the whole house had grocery tile flooring, so when kids would play or scream in the other room, it still echoed throughout the entire house.  I remember Deanna Rasmussen patting her pregnant belly during class one night as some one's little kiddo was screaming in the nursery room..."We're doing just fine," she said...happy that her next child was still contained in utero.
  • One of the bedrooms was turned into an office for the Institute teacher.
  • Another bedroom had rows of skinny tables that the relief society sometimes hosted activities in - I still have a little bag that I sewed from one of those activities.
  • There were weeds in the front & back of the house & not many choices for parking.  Mitchell said he was told that the back "yard" of this house was the designated location for where the Institute building would go if we were ever able to meet the goal.
  • We cleaned it up, but it still seemed a little run down - the rooms were a little too stark white, the noise traveled through the house a little too easily, it was simply the classic ASU East Campus Housing.
  • Despite the location, however, there was joy, there was happiness, there was excitement, and the Spirit was present in our classes.  Friendships were made, and even though we met in a cold/white room, the feeling was warm. 
  • Vernon Dickson would teach us lessons, Deana Rasmussen would sit and rub her pregnant belly gratefully while people who had crying babies were in the Nursery.  The Udall's, the Tryon's, the Shumway's, and many others would answer questions.  There were always great friends there, and we always left uplifted.  It was a beautiful place to be.  
I remember one night explaining to the Bishop & his wife why some people told me they would not be attending.  Some of them had just had babies in the last year, and so they couldn't make it.  That's when I learned from Deana, as I looked at her...a mom pregnant with her 6th child, her husband was called to be the BISHOP while he was still in a Master's Program of school.  They had every reason to not be attending the Institute classes, but they were there with us each week. Deanna said to me - "Life doesn't stop when you have a baby."   I've never forgotten that.  I'm grateful I had that experience with them at Institute, because I've been able to remember that at times in my life when I was tempted to sit back and sit out.  I've been able to remember the Rasmussen family and what they taught me through their selfless service and their commitment to be obedient even when it's not easy.  They always followed the Spirit, and they always chose to rely on the Lord for their support and their guidance.  They always chose to give of their time and talents whenever they could make it work - they were and are still CAN DO people, and I am sure their lives have been all the better, all the more beautiful, and yes, all the more crazy because of it.  But those are the kind of people I want to be like.

6 years ago, we left campus, and it seemed we were no where closer to having an Institute building - it seemed a little like we failed.  

But we didn't. 

My mom gave us a phone call this morning.  And I got a little lump in my throat.  Today is the day that the ASU East Polytechnic Campus Institute building was being dedicated.  We didn't fail. We remember the days when the vision was started.  We were invited to be a part of it.  The ball has continued to roll over the years, and now there's even a Young Single Adult STAKE with 9,000 individuals for this institute building to serve.  The Gateway Ward is even able to meet in this building as well - as was promised all those years ago, but this time the Nusery is carpeted to soak up the sound, and there's a mother's room (I felt as I walked through it, as if those rooms were made just for me).

Tonight we were able to take our kids to this special place - a place so important that the church sent an APOSTLE to dedicate it.  So many years ago, we didn't know how important our calling was - we just did our best.  All those years ago when we were told what COULD happen if we succeeded, but I didn't imagine how beautiful the building would be, or even that I would be able to attend the dedication and have my boys get to shake the hand of Neal L. Anderson.  He asked them their names.  Emmett & Tyson talked to him with shy faces and quiet voices, but Miles grinned and almost shouted to him, "Mine Miles!"

During the dedication I was amazed to see just HOW BIG this experience really is.  I thought of the wide influence this one place will be able to have in the world as lives are changed.  Hundreds and thousands of people will be able to come to the Institute building to learn about the Lord.  Perhaps even our own 4 boys will walk those halls in 20 years, and become all the better for it as they build upon their spiritual education.  I hope and pray all my children will attend and graduate from Institute and that they will make spiritual matters a priority in their lives.

Sometimes people think that "If you build it, they will come."  That might be true sometimes, but not always. In this instance, the opposite angle is true - If you host it (and keep trying despite the obstacles you might face) the building will come. Having a building first is not an indicator that a program will succeed.  In this instance, having a building is an indicator that over the last decade there has finally been success.  It goes to prove that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6).  I am so happy that in our small way, Mitchell and I (and the others from the Gateway Ward), were able to do the part we were asked to do in order to contribute to this building and to this special day for the church in this area.

I'm so grateful for this day. I know that this ASU Institute building will be the means for our Institute program to continue to bring light and inspiration to those trying to come closer to Christ.  It's a place where friendships will be formed, and where testimonies will be strengthened.  It's a place where lives will be changed for the better, where people will learn obedience, and as this building will host many more functions for the young SINGLE adults, I believe that perhaps in this new building, maybe...just maybe, some more happily-ever-after stories will be started - just like what happened for me and my Mitchell Jay.