Friday, March 31, 2017

My Golden Boy

Today, March 31st, is our son Nick's 31st birthday.  I think they call that "the golden birthday."  He has pretty much been a treasure from the day he was born.  Only 30 minutes of labor?  Who does that for his mom her first time around?  He has always been so loving and considerate.

 When he was young, he wanted to produce and direct a little play called "Phantom of the Opera" for the neighborhood, and he called his grandmother to ask her if she had any extra chandeliers laying around.   He has kept us entertained from early on.

I love watching Nick as a husband and father.  I love his adorable wife and children!

I love that he, like his father, loves to learn, and that he is not afraid to try new things, like getting an MBA from Duke.  He has always been teachable and tender.  I hope that continues for the next 31 years and beyond.  Oh, how I love this firstborn of ours!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Angel Amy

This picture reflects just how things were back then; little sister Amy about to get a kiss from older brother Nicholas, showing the special bond they continue to have.  Emily's mortal body is in the background, with Amy looking up toward the heavens, which she often did as a baby.  More so, in fact, than I noticed with any of my other children.  And me trying to smile--flooded with feelings of sadness, but happiness too, all at the same time.

Today's Angel is easy, but difficult to describe in a few short words what this girl means to me.  Amy and her twin sister Emily came into the world 28 years ago.  Emily stayed just one day, but has been Amy's Guardian Angel ever since.  During the intense feelings of pain and happiness that come with losing a twin baby, Amy has brought such joy.  She is amazingly thoughtful, keeps me laughing, and shows unconditional love.  I love her more with every passing season.  We are forever grateful that a loving Father kept our sort-of empty arms and our hearts filled with this wonderful girl.

A few days ago, after I had experienced a particularly rough few weeks, Amy brought me a "Sunshine Basket."  It was filled with all things yellow.  My favorite color!

What a sweetheart.  I immediately felt like I wanted to share some sunshine with somebody else.  So I did.  See what you started, Amy?

Amy continues to be my Sunshine.  She brings light to others, just as if she had a halo around her.  Oh how I love and adore this daughter of ours!


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Conquering Ourselves

Sir Edmund Hillary had a dream.

What he did then was different than what many of us do.  He turned that dream into a goal.  And he conquered, in 1953.  Below is a quote that has always been one of my very favorites, and has encouraged me so many times I can't count.

I like to think about Emily and Eric having the pleasure of listening to his tales in heaven.  I know I look forward to hearing them someday.

You're #17, Sir.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Charlie and Rosie, Super Heroes

Today's Angel is little Charlie Mahon.  He and his twin sister were born just six months ago.  Stories of twins especially tug at my heart, particularly when one of the twins doesn't get to stay on earth for very long.  There is a very special bond between twins, and I don't think death changes that.  My sweet twin daughter, Amy, introduced me to this wonderful family, and they will be dove releasers at the 13th annual Running with Angels 5K this year on May 20th.

Here is the story of the Mahon family, as told by Mama Mandy:

Things I want most in my life always take a lot longer than I imagined they would.  Which makes me appreciate them so much more.  I met the love of my life Richard when I was 30.  We met online and when we met in person, which took a while since he lived in England at the time, we both knew we were meant for each other.   A few months into our marriage we knew that we wanted to have a family.  We did get pregnant but quickly learned that the HCG levels were going down and I miscarried.  This was very difficult for our family but we felt hopeful that I was able to get pregnant.  After trying for a few years we decided to look into fertility treatment.  We soon found out that I have PCOS and don’t ovulate on my own.  We started the fertility treatment of Clomid, HCG Trigger shot and Progesterone and on our fifth attempt we found out that I was PREGNANT!!  We were so excited we could hardly stand it.  

A few months into the pregnancy we found out that we were having Twins!  We felt incredibly blessed since this pregnancy was not easy on me being 37 and overweight I only had to do it once.  Then we found out that we were having a boy and a girl which was even more exciting to have one of each.  Richard decided that their names needed to be Pirate Ranger for the boy and Viking Destroyer for the girl.  I told him that he was welcome to call them that but I wanted their names to be Charlie and Rosie, which he agreed were perfect names. 

The pregnancy went well, I was considered high risk so we did multiple ultra sounds at the hospital and everything looked good.  Around week 29 they were concerned with Rosie’s head shape and thought she may have Craniosynostosis and kept an eye on it the next few weeks.  On September 15, 2016 (week 31) during an ultrasound Rosie’s head looked great which we were relieved but the doctor discovered that Charlie was showing signs of having Downs Syndrome.  We went and had the blood test to determine this.  A few days later the results came back and Charlie did have Downs syndrome.  I felt at peace about this and thankful to have this blessing in my life.  I knew it would be tough but so rewarding.  

On September 21, 2016 we went in for our next ultrasound and the doctor discovered that Charlie had some fluid buildup in his body.  She seemed concerned about this and wanted to check on it the next day.   The next day the fluid buildup was getting worse so they admitted me to the hospital.  During the next 2 days they monitored the babies’ heartbeat and decided that they needed to take the babies out to save Charlie.  The doctor told me that Rosie would be okay coming out early to save her brother.  They scheduled the C-section for Friday, September 23.  Charlie was born with Rosie following a few minutes later. 

Charlie was immediately rushed to the intensive portion of the NICU with his little sister Rosie next to him.  Upon birth it was discovered that Charlie was a very sick little boy.  Not only did he have Down syndrome but he had High Drops, a hole in his heart, and Jeune syndrome which is a rare genetic disorder that affects the way a child’s cartilage and bones develop.  The nicu doctors at UVRMC worked around the clock to help Charlie.  They were AMAZING!!!!  We were very hopeful and trusting that these doctors performed miracles every day and that our little Charlie would be very sick but still with us.  The next few days that followed we started to realize that our sweet angel baby Charlie was much sicker than we ever could have imagined.  On Friday, September 30 the doctor on duty informed Richard that Charlie was close to passing and wanted to see what we wanted to do.  We decided to let Charlie pass peacefully in our arms.  We were able to hold our sweet boy for the first time and get some beloved family photos with the four of us.  Close family and friends came to say their goodbyes to Charlie and he slipped away peacefully in our arms on Saturday, October 1. 
Charles Spencer Mahon was a fighter from the day he was born.  It is a miracle that he lasted 8 days.  We feel like he wanted to stay on this earth but Heavenly Father had a different plan for him.  Now Rosie has an incredibly protective angel brother watching over her always.  We love our little Charlie angel and feel blessed to have been able to spend a few days with him.  We look forward to the day we can be with him again.    


Monday, March 27, 2017

Anne and Andrea

There was plenty in her young life for Anne Frank to regard as dreary, ugly, and hopeless.  And yet she still wanted to find the beauty left around her, and she wanted to be happy.  Anne Frank is one of my heroes.

I was thinking about my friend Andrea today.  She has faced some tough times in her life.  But she keeps her chin up and keeps moving forward.  I loved her family Christmas photo--the self-timer didn't seem to be working, and then it took the picture just when her husband got to the camera, so you see him, alright, reaching for the camera, with pieces of the rest of the family behind him.  It still makes me smile thinking about it.  Andrea finds the humor in tense situations.  She finds the beauty in the storm.  I admire her.  She works hard for her family and for the health of Utah county citizens.  She makes a difference, and I'm glad she is my #15 angel !

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Go Ahead and Tie the Knot!

Today I have two angels.  Lisa LeFleur gave us a piece of string this morning in Relief Society and encouraged us to tie a knot in it around our wrist as a reminder to do acts of service every day as we usher in the Easter season.  A lovely idea!

I'm afraid I wasn't wholly committed, however, as I tied my string around and around itself as I sat listening to the beautiful lesson.  My sweet friend and visiting teacher, Della, who was sitting next to me, noticed my string.  She reached over and said something like, "Here, let me help you with that!" and tied that string right into a knot!  We both began giggling as I realized she was helping me jump into this challenge with both feet!  Sometimes you just need someone to give you a little bit of a loving push.

Thank you, Lisa and Della, for helping me to get on the straight and narrow!  I vow to do kind acts of service every day!  Love you both!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Three Wonderful Women!

Carolee, Christine, and Jill.  My angels for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  What can I say about three of the most influential people in my life?  They are some of the strongest women I know.  We took a trip to Paris just a few months ago.  We laughed.  We loved.  We lived!

Carolee, my adorable mother, cancer survivor, still going strong, doesn't want to miss a moment of life.   She is happy and hopeful and a shining light in any possible dark or dreary day.  She has always watched out for her family.  She truly knows what it means to possess those important eternal elements that keep our family glued together.  She is an angel mother! 

I admire my sister Chris' passion for living, her determination to see the good in others and to seek out the lovely things in life.  She is so thoughtful, too.  Like just yesterday she brought me beautiful pink tulips.  What a day-brightener!  And can she ever make an incredibly tasty salad!  Or any food, for that matter.

My sister Jill has always had the ability to see things from a positive angle.  She is a master at organizing people and things into just the perfect way.  She is one of the most selfless people in the whole world.  She can make anyone laugh and to feel immediately at home.

I love these three women with all my heart.  The reason I have grouped them together is because, quite frankly, I love this picture of the three of them!  This represents a time when shared a beautiful memory together in France, lingering, laughing, and loving.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I Am In It With All My Heart

Vincent Van Gogh painted the stars like nobody's business.  He's my Angel of the Day, because he painted with passion, and because I like his encouraging words:

"In spite of everything I shall rise again:  I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing."

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Angel Luke

I think I could write about my three grandchildren the entire 101 Days of this Angels project and that would suit me just fine.  I was going to wait until this boy's birthday to mention him, but I'm afraid I just can't wait.  His sister won't be far behind.  My grandchildren bring us such joy!  They are angels!  As far as I can tell, they are perfect.

This is Luke.  He loves wearing the Running with Angel 5K shirts.  I have a few extras from years past, and he loves searching for them and putting them on, removing whatever else he is wearing at the time.  For a few months last fall and into the winter, his angel shirt was all he would wear.  To the playground, on walks, on errands, to the store, to sleep in, right up until church time and the minute he'd get out.  It has warmed my heart watching his little cherubic face light up when he is wearing an angel shirt.

Last October, his mother made him the cutest Halloween outfit.  When it came time to go to the ward party, he wouldn't wear the costume she had spent all day making.  He wanted to wear his angel shirt.  He had to wear his angel shirt.  He especially loves it when I wear mine and we match.  Oh this boy certainly knows how to charm his grandma!

He loves to play tennis, basketball, or anything involving a ball, and he loves eating my yogurt.  Even when I buy him yogurt with the animals on the side or in those fluffy flavors, he still prefers mine.  He loves making imaginary "burgers" and taking everyone's orders.  He loves snuggling and hearing me sing "Winken, Blinken, and Nod," and oh, he reminds me of his daddy when he was that age.  Grandparenting is such an incredible blessing.  I love this boy with every pump of my heart.  Non-stop.

Luke is named after one of dad's favorite missionary companions.  When Elder Nick and Elder Luke walked the streets of Zimbabwe, they talked about naming their firstborn sons after the other one.  So Luke has a son named Nicholas, and Nick's got Luke.  I'm glad their wives were so supportive.  I love Luke being a reminder of a wonderful time in Nick's life.  And I just plain love Luke.  My little angel who is growing up way too fast.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Julene Still Soothes the Soul

Today is Day 8 of my 101 Days of Angels project.  Already I have felt a range of emotions that I didn't anticipate.  Most of all, I have experienced an increase of appreciation for the divine.  Today the tears have come easily.  I'm trying to figure out why.  I have been reading stories of those who have experienced loss, who have picked up their lives and are moving on, and I am amazed at their resiliency.  Their stories tug at my heartstrings.  My own little angels, Emily and Eric, have taught me more about life and heaven than I ever could have learned on my own.  And I recognize just who is the Master Teacher.

I miss Hillary.  She has been serving her mission for three months, and I am so happy she is having this experience.  She says there are frogs everywhere in French Guiana.

I miss Emily.  I miss Eric.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't miss them, particularly at this time of year, when we celebrate their lives with angel food cake on their birthdays, and we gear up for the Running with Angels 5K, coming up on May 20th.  I love that event.  I love watching people who have never taken part in a 5K before cross that finish line.  I love seeing people run or walk on behalf of their angels in heaven.

I guess I have just been reflective and a bit emotional today, in continuing to think about the angels in my life.  It's a problem, because I know there are way more than 101.  But it has also encouraged me to focus on one per day.  It's been a wonderful exercise, choosing someone as a focal point each day.

Today I have thought especially about my friend Julene Judd.  I have been listening to her angelic voice singing to me through my iPod.  I wrote about her a few years ago on this blog, and listening to her inspires me to ponder about what really matters in life.  I have been listening to her music today.  So I guess I can blame her for the used tissues which are now overflowing the garbage can and are now all over the floor, and for invoking all of these emotions today.  And I am very grateful.  Grateful to experience these emotions, for the veil is especially thin.    Keep singing, Julene.

Julene serves with her husband at the Provo MTC.  She found Hillary one morning, and sent me this picture.  Both beauties, inside and out!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Matthew Moves Us Forward

This sweet mother writes very candidly about her experience in the birth and death of her son, Matthew.  I was instantly drawn to her words, because although it has been years, I felt much of what she felt.  I imagine many mothers who have lost a baby experience these same emotions.  She writes:

 ". . . everyone was so kind, but no one could help me.  I woke up, and found no comfort in being awake.  [Her husband] held me close--against my will--while I cried."

I also loved how she regarded the hospital room where they held little Matthew after "the respirator went quiet."  It became a sacred place.  I am amazed at the tender tutoring that happens from on high at a time like that.  She speaks of "hard" not being "bad."  "Hard" moves us forward.  Just as Matthew does for his family.  Rachel has learned many insights from Matthew.

And she, in turn, has taught me.

Below, she shares some of her journal entries.  She, her husband Bryant, and their three other children will be joining us as Dove Releasers on May 20th at the Running with Angels 5K.

Read more about this adventurous family at


 Do you say in your prayers: 'Thy will be done'? Are you courageous enough to pray that prayer? 
Spencer W Kimball 
8 October 2012 
London, England Today, Bryant and I brought all three children with us to the hospital for an ultrasound of our fourth child. A boy! 
At the appointment, we also discovered that there are some complications with the baby. 
I remember the technician at the hospital, sitting me down after the ultrasound was completed. She began, “There is a muscle that stretches across the baby’s abdomen.” I interrupted her, understanding that a lesson on the anatomy of the diaphragm was probably not normal procedure. 
“The diaphragm. What is wrong with my baby?” 
“The baby’s diaphragm has a hole in it…” 
I interrupted her again, “A Diaphragmatic Hernia.” I had been born with the same condition 32 years ago. 
I Skyped my mom. “We are having a boy!” She was happy. “Mom, there is something else. My baby has a diaphragmatic hernia.” I could only barely get the last part out. And I remember her face when I said it. I will always remember her face. She knew, and I knew, what that meant. And we cried. I will always remember that moment. 
9 October 2012 The baby's diaphragm is herniated on its left side. The intestines have entered the chest cavity, collapsing the left lung and pushing the heart into the right side of his chest. The right lung - the only working lung - is at about 25% capacity. 
On my knees last night and this morning, I wasn't even sure what to pray for. I wrote down so many questions: 
What do I pray for? Do I pray that the baby survives? Do I pray for my own health? What lesson am I supposed to learn from this experience? Who should I turn to for help? How do I keep the other three children's lives "normal" and happy during this time? 
And in that prayer, it was "given unto (me) what (I) should pray..." (3 Nephi 19:24). 
1. I felt to pray for Bryant and myself. For peace and strength, and especially inspiration as we seek answers to the lists of questions and concerns. And even strength as we continue to raise three healthy children. 
2. Pray that this little boy will fight! That, for whatever time he has on earth, he will fight and struggle to fulfill whatever purpose he was sent here to fulfill. 
3. Pray "Come what may, and love it!" 
5 February 2013 Tomorrow I will be induced at Kings College Hospital, London. As soon as our son is born, he will be stabilized and taken to the NICU. Then, when he is deemed strong enough, surgery will happen (1-4 days after birth). 
We are so grateful for so many prayers, so much love over the past few months. I want the children to feel how blessed we are to have this baby coming to our family. It has been a rough go, and I know they have noted the difficulties. I want them to know that we can do difficult things, because of LOVE. 
7 March 2013 Four weeks ago today, I was in the King’s College Hospital. And Matthew was alive. Not just living on a respirator, but very much alive inside my womb. 
I labored for several hours. When the epidural started wearing off, I told the midwife that I didn’t mind feeling. I didn’t mind hurting. I could feel my baby moving inside of me. And I felt a mutual communication with my baby – we were “in this” together. 
I had suffered a severe cough since November. 
I remember thinking, This is ridiculous. This dang cough is what caused two pulled rib muscles in the last month of pregnancy, and the torn stomach muscle. 
I thought to myself, lying there on the delivery table, This is ridiculous! What does this cough have to do with anything? Isn’t pregnancy alone difficult enough? 
It was so ridiculous, in fact, that I found it funny. And I laughed to myself. 
But later, after all was said and done, I thought on my “ridiculous” cough, and found myself thanking the Lord for that cough. For, just before 9:00pm Friday night, the midwife made the call to the pediatric doctors, all things were put in order, and I was asked to begin pushing. After a long stay in the hospital and the medications I had been on, I did not have the energy or control to push anything. The midwife would say “push”, and I would take the position and even make the face, but nothing would happen. 
Every time I coughed, though, the baby was pushed a little closer. The midwife stopped saying, push push, and instead urged, cough cough! And coughing I could do! Ultimately, I coughed that baby right out of me! 
On 8 February 2013, I delivered an 8 pound 9 ounce baby boy. I watched his lifeless body flop onto the delivery table. I remember frantically calling out, “My baby!” while the midwife unwrapped the cord from his neck. As soon as that cord was unwrapped, Matthew’s arms and legs jerked out. And, he opened his eyes. It was just for a second, and just the one time, but Matthew opened his eyes. No sound came out of him, but his eyes opened, and I would like to always remember that moment. 
I do not imagine he could see me. I do not think he had the ability to see me. Me – the one person out of billions who have ever lived or will ever live, who would mother him. 
Tonight I sit and wonder, Did he think of me? Did he know who I was? Did he understand what I had done for him? Was he in pain? Was he scared? Did he know before he was born what would be asked of him? Did he understand what would be required of me? He opened his eyes once, and I wondered. And he was my baby. And he was absolutely beautiful to me. 
Once his umbilical cord was cut and Matthew was moved to the table just feet to the left of my bed. The pediatricians went to insert two tubes down his throat, and Matthew fought them. Then he was held down and he was paralyzed. I have thought on those 60 seconds over and over again over the past four weeks. From birth to the moment he was disarmed, for lack of a better word. I am so grateful to the Lord for those 60 seconds. 
I was thrilled to be a mother! I smiled and laughed with the midwives. I felt stress, yes, but I also felt confident! I had done it! I had managed the pain during labor, I had delivered my baby. I felt so good. I felt so grateful. I felt so relieved. I felt I could conquer the world at that moment! 
I had no idea that, just feet away, my Matthew was slipping from the very world I felt I had conquered. 
Morning couldn’t come soon enough. Once we were settled in the consultation room, Dr L came in. He had been the head pediatrician in the delivery room. Dr L wanted to meet with us before we visited Matthew in the NICU. 
I expected a stay in the NICU. I had thought it would be our "home" for the first few months after Matthew's birth, in fact. It is strange, but expectations tend to form our perspective, and thus our comfort (or discomfort). I expected the NICU. I was comfortable with the NICU. But that morning when Dr L told us that our baby would not survive, that was unexpected. I do not remember the consultation well. I remember phrases like "most sick baby in the NICU", "his chest is solid", "We don’t like to see this", and "I don’t see how he could recover", stick out in my mind. I wanted him to be strait with me. I asked, “What chance does my baby have of living?” Dr. L just shook his head. He didn’t say “no chance” but he said he had no hope that Matthew would live even long enough to have surgery. 
I didn't even cry. All my hopes for my boy, all I expected for our future together - and Dr L was telling me that Matthew wouldn't live even the week. That was unexpected. I was not sure how to process the unexpected. 
Bryant wheeled me into Matthew's NICU room, to see my baby for the first time since his birth, and for the first time since we had learned of his imminent death. And there I wept. I prayed out loud to our Heavenly Father, and I pled with Matthew, "If you have any say in this, please stay with us! I will be a good mom! I promise. Whatever I need to change or do better, I will! I promise. We are in this together. Don't leave me. Don't leave me. If you can help it at all, don't leave me." 
Meanwhile, my mom was back at the flat with the other three children, praying. 
I phoned my mom. She later wrote: Saturday, I received one of those calls that will never be forgotten. Cried Rachel, “We are losing him! We are losing him quickly! He is not strong enough to have surgery, and the doctor said he has done all he could – and he is losing. I am thinking things through. I am crying things through.” 
Bryant arranged for a car to pick them up and bring them to the hospital immediately. 
When the children arrived, in their pajamas, we sat with them on the floor of the hallway in the NICU outside Matthew’s room, while the nurses set up a screen around Matthew’s incubator. 
Matthew was unplugged from some of the tubes that tethered him to his bed, and he was taken off the large ventilator, enabling us to hold him while the smaller ventilator kept him breathing. I held him first, on a pillow the nurse offered me. I passed him carefully to Bryant. Then on to my mom. And finally he was put back into my arms. 
There he died. 
I do not remember all that happened after that. I remember the respirator went quiet. Bryant put Matthew back in the incubator and we returned to our hospital room, without our baby. And there I stayed and wept and prayed. And there the nurse brought Matthew's body back to us, to be dressed in his burial clothes. And there we held that precious body in our arms and on our chests. 
That room became sacred to me. 
13 February 2013 There was a moment when Bryant and I were looking at all the pictures we had compiled of Matthew, that I felt such peace. Such peace. And I turned to Bryant and said, it was such a pleasure. The pregnancy, the labor, the delivery, the time in the NICU, and even the heart-wrenching hours and days after Matthew's death. It was such a pleasure. And I cried, because I felt it with all my heart. For those 33 hours with my boy, I would do it all again. He is a part of our eternal family, and bringing him into our family was such a pleasure. 
20 February 2013 
Utah, USA 

One week after delivering Matthew, I was on a flight from London to Utah. And one week after Matthew’s death, I was hugging and catching-up with dozens of family members and friends, and friends of family, and family of friends. 
Tuesday, we picked up Matthew from the airport. We didn't get to see the body. The casket was secured tightly. The tiny package was the size of the pillow I sleep with at night. Bryant wrapped his arms around the box, and we had our baby's body with us again. 
Bryant had sat down in quiet last week, and written out what he wanted on the headstone. And I was so grateful he had. It was beautiful. 
5 March 2013 This morning was the first time since the moment Matthew died in my arms, that I despaired. I cry every single day. But this morning, it went beyond mourning. I felt angry - not at any one person, and certainly not at God or my too-quiet Matthew. I just felt angry. I didn't want advice, I didn't want a hug, I didn't want to pray, I didn't want to feel better again...ever. Last night I had such distressing dreams. Stairs that I climbed and climbed and would never come to an end, buildings that turned as if on a turn table that I could never get off of, my J didn't recognize me, and my other two children were gone, to death or something else, I don't know. And everyone was so kind, but no one could help me. I woke up, and found no comfort in being awake. Bryant held me close - against my will - while I cried. 
We drove to the cemetery, so we could spend some time close to Matthew's body before our flight. It is only his body that we are leaving in Utah. But, at this point, it is all I have of him. 
12 March 2013 
London, England 
Facing people without Bryant is difficult. I have not gone through hardly an hour without him by my side. 
14 October 2013 I spend time journaling every day. I journal positive things. I am not being dishonest about the difficult things, but I find journaling negative emotions enlarges those emotions. And journaling positive emotions does likewise. It invites the Spirit of hope into our home, and enables the Savior to succor me. 
I struggle. But, like I keep telling my seminary students, HARD does not mean BAD. HARD moves us forward, like a ship which only moved forward by using what would resist it - the water (Howard W Hunter, 1980). 
We move forward, using experiences that would resist us, near well damn us. Instead, God wills it to jettison us forward and upward. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Karen is always a good idea!

My good friend Karen invited her friends to take a nap today for her birthday.  She is always thinking of others and their well-being!  I have admired her for many years.  I simply want to smile when I am around her.  She continues to have such strength and courage, serving the community in many ways, including those who struggle just to put food on the table.  I have laughed with her as we have lunched and walked and served together on behalf of the women and children of Utah valley.  We have sweat and laughed during many a morning workout.  I have witnessed her heartache at losing her loving husband too early.  She is an optimistic and gentle warrior.  She is a chaplain.  She is an inspiring angel.  She is a champion.  


Friday, March 17, 2017

Today's Angel is Emma.  I have great respect for Emma, and for her example of strength.  I love the Relief Society organization and for how it has blessed my life and the lives of so many over the years.

Happy 175th!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kindness from Kena

Yesterday a woman, whom I consider a friend, hurled uninvited insults my way.  She then wrote, do I think you're "Perfect?  Absolutely not!"  I would be the first to admit I'm not perfect.  I'm not sure why she felt like she needed to remind me.  But I'm choosing not to take offense.

Unkindness has permeated our society lately.  That's why my lovely friend, Kena Mathews, is such a breath of fresh air.  Here is a post from her FaceBook page today.  She shares kindness; not only through her social media, but in her relationships with the many people--from all walks of life--that she deals with everyday.  Kena is the Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity in Utah County.  She also is a key player in putting on our Running with Angels 5K.  My head spins when I see how many hats she wears, and she wears them well!  I have witnessed her treat the downtrodden with the kind respect they deserve.  She affects so many lives for good.  She builds.  Quite literally, she builds.  Kena oversees many homes that are built by Habitat for Humanity in Utah County.  But she also builds lives.  She improves living conditions for many people, including parents, often those parenting solo, and their children.  And she builds up women.  She understands the great need for women to build one another, instead of tearing down.  To you, Kena, my Angel #4, thank you for your kindness and devotion to the betterment of humanity.  I'm going to be more kind to people, including friends who may be difficult to love.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tristan is Keeping Watch

I loved reading about this sweet little guy.  I smiled at reading how he wanted to be there for his mother's graduation.  I just didn't want to come to the end of his story.  And yet, although his earthly life may be done, he continues to affect many lives.  He and that beautiful head of hair, and the lovely way his mother, Samantha talks about him--have already affected mine.  To you, Tristan, and your mother Sam and father Mike,  my new-found friends, thank you for being one of our Dove-Releasing families this year at the Running with Angels 5K.  Carry on, sweet Thorup family.  Tristan will always be there, keeping watch.

Here is Tristan's story, as told by his mother, Samantha:

They say a woman's intuition is hard to explain but often accurate. On September 19, 2015, I had this feeling to take a pregnancy test. It wasn't necessarily an urgent feeling but the thought kept popping into my mind.

Finally, I convinced my husband, Mike, that I needed to take one. He agreed with a hint of amusement and exasperation. Immediately, the result showed positive.

Mike was in disbelief. He couldn't believe that the result would show up seconds after I'd taken the test! He was so surprised that he made me take two more tests, all coming back positive. There was no denying it: I was pregnant!

I was so ecstatic. Although there were certain things about pregnancy that scared me, the thought of being a mom felt so right to me. I'd been feeling like there was something missing in my life and the minute I found out I was pregnant, things fell into place.

We soon found out we were having a boy, proving that my instincts weren't always 100% accurate! However, once I warmed up to the idea, I couldn't go back. Being parents to a baby boy left me feeling so happy. 

The pregnancy went really well and soon, we found ourselves at my 36 week check up in April. I was already dilated to 3 cm! I told Mike I had a feeling the baby would be coming soon.

On April 22, 2016, I found myself at my college graduation with my water broken along with contractions. People say I was crazy to still graduate but I’d come that far…I was determined to graduate! 

After the ceremony, we went to the hospital and sure enough, I was in labor. 

At 4:35 pm, Tristan entered our lives.

My world changed as soon as I held him. Of course, motherhood has its adjustments. I was sleep deprived, struggling to feeding him, and Mike was in school and working full time. 

But I can honestly say, Tristan was perfect. Every moment with him was sunshine. Everyone was drawn to him and his sweetness. He had a way of making people smile and he was always well behaved. For me, the connection with Tristan felt very real. Even in my womb, I felt like I knew him. Even more so, when I could hold him. 

He was quirky, too. He always made what we called, “The Fishy Face” and sometimes when falling asleep, he’d leave one eye open as if to keep an eye on us. 
I wasn’t the only one who took to Tristan; Mike immediately loved him. He loved being a dad and rushing home to see him. He never complained when I asked him to change Tristan or hold him. Tristan’s face would light up when daddy came home, too. 

Then, on May 28, 2016, our world changed again. 

Tristan passed away from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at 8:30am. 

I’ll never forget that day and how real the pain was and the start of such a different, unexpected chapter in our lives. Our journey since then has been filled with tears, long walks, and grief-ridden nights. But it has also been filled with love, kindness and light. 

Tristan was like a burning light in our lives and therefore, to live without him naturally held some darkness. I won’t ever say that I’m glad it happened because at the end of the day, I’d still rather have our son here. However, I will say that I can see how Mike and I will be better for having him.

We are more empathetic, more understanding, more keen to live our lives in a way that reflects goodness. 

Ultimately, the ache and yearning may never go away—but I’m okay with that. Because Tristan mattered. We remember him, though the world keeps spinning. When all else fails, when memories fade, when other tragedies happen, when adventures call us, we’ll remember that Tristan Thorup lived and he’ll always be our son.