Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding Joy In The Journey: No matter where the path leads

I know our next guest blogger as my Mom's long-time best friend Sophia.
My mom once "ran away from home" and flew out to vacation with Sophia.  Another time, I remember visiting Sophia at her home out west one summer and being amazed by all of the cross-stitching she had in her house.  I borrowed a pattern and stitched in the car all the way back to Ohio.  That was the beginning of a long love-affair for me with cross-stitching.  So, thanks for that Sophia!
And thanks for sharing with us today!
Here's Sophia...

Life brought our biggest surprise nine years ago when we suddenly “inherited” our three beautiful grandchildren. 

10-29 on the hill

After the end of a struggling, teenage marriage, our oldest daughter, in the depths of her own despair,  went off to “find herself”, leaving my husband, Doug and I, with legal custody of her three children, ages four and under, all in diapers and with very few developed language skills. 

When Doug and I married in the Idaho Falls Temple, (I was the ripe old age of 18), we expected and planned that, after raising the perfect exemplary family, we would be empty nesters in our early forties, still young enough to play and live out our life’s dreams to the fullest.  We looked forward to our dreams of being grandparents, paying off our home early, serving as full-time missionaries in our fifties and many other goals.

We could have never guessed that on the same year that our independent youngest child, then 19, stepped out into the world on her own, we would be welcoming three high-maintenance children into our lives and starting over.  Surprise!  I quit my full-time job to be, once again, a stay-at-home-mom. My life went from lunch dates at Chili’s to playdates at McDonalds. Romantic getaways with my sweetheart and fun weekend scrapbooking retreats with girlfriends were quickly replaced with bedtime stories and Primary hymns, speech therapy, toddler art and piles of laundry.

Our lives changed immensely in every way possible.  Financially, it was like starting over as young married parents…one income, diapers and doctor bills all over again.  Socially, we suddenly felt displaced…not sure where we belonged ~ with parents of young children, who once had been friends of our own grown children or with our empty nested friends, who’d, long ago, traded in picnics at the park for cruises and remodeling their homes.  Physically, though still healthy, being a middle-aged parent was much more exhausting and tedious than doing it in our twenties. Spiritually, we found ourselves on our knees more than ever.  The thoughts of raising children in this world with even more danger than there was our first round as parents, twenty years ago, was humbling.  However, the question never arose, “Can we do this?  Should we do this?”  Never.  Not once!  There was no question! 
We’ve been taught through the scriptures and by the prophets of old and modern prophets today that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.  We believed in that with all of our hearts!

From the Family Proclamation, we read, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.  The proclamation continues, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities…Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

If parents have this sacred duty, shouldn’t it be expected of grandparents, as well?  Especially under these circumstances. If ever there were “other circumstances that necessitate individual adaptation“, it was then, for our family.  We were humbled by the opportunity and have been more than blessed for it! Having had infertility issues in my twenties, we’d never felt that our family was complete.  Our prayers had been for more children and those children had never come.  Yet, in Heavenly Father’s own time and fashion all things fell into place.  Although, not how we’d planned it, our prayers had been answered.

Almost ten years and many miracles later, we were blessed with the privilege of legally adopting the children.  Two days later,  Doug and I were able to kneel at the altar of the Logan Temple, with the children, holding hands and looking into each others tear-filled eyes and realize the blessing that our family was truly complete after so many years.  Words could never do justice to the happiness that we each felt that day.  Our children, who were all old enough to remember the experience, relive the sacred occasion often and are anxious to return to the temple themselves with their chosen mates, when the time is right. On each anniversary, we look forward to walking the temple grounds as family, taking another family photo and revisiting the memory of that sacred experience. 

Has it been all easy, perfect and wonderful?  Hardly!  From potty training to back to school nights, learning math facts to going through the entire scouting program a second time around, every day is a new adventure!  But, it’s worth it.  And when the going gets tough, we have that beautiful day to remember and cling to. Today, photos in every room of our home remind us of  that momentary glimpse into eternity that we experienced that special day and that, regardless, of the ups and downs, we are “stuck together with eternal glue”!

Often, we encounter someone who, without realizing the impropriety, will offer condolences or sympathy, “I feel so sorry for you.” or ask  “Do you ever regret it?”  I do not take offense, but assure them that we’d do it all over again today in a heartbeat!  We accepted this responsibility with open arms and even more, open hearts and our rewards have been immense, thus far.  Hearing their nightly prayers of gratitude for being an eternal family are worth more than any other “toys” in life.  Hearing them bear their testimony of our Savior or taking a stand for something that they’ve learned in Family Home Evening or Primary, those are the real rewards in life, joys that can not be measured.  Children are the greatest blessing life has to offer.

This earth life is, but a moment, on the eternal calendar.  We may be foregoing building the cabin at the lake, the cruises and other things of the world that often come as a reward to empty nesters.  The babes are a blessing in our lives, not a burden.  We love them.  We cherish them.  We appreciate the opportunity to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our sacrifices pale in comparison to that which was made by our elder brother, Jesus Christ, for each and every one of us.  How grateful I am for my testimony of His Plan of Salvation and the blessing of the eternal family!

my blog:

Thanks, Sophia!!

Be sure to hop on over to Chocolate On My Cranium for more on the Family Proclamation today!

Here is another look at this week's prizes:

Our Family Is Something To Crow About Metal on Wood Plaque

Our Family Is Something to Crow About
by For All Seasons

1103  - Vinyl Lettering -  Family Name    Be true to who you are and the family name you bear.  Gordon B. Hinckley

Vinyl Lettering Customized with Your Family name
and "Be true to who you are..." quote.
by Design Divas

CTR Wood Block Letters
 by Craft 28 Junkie

Eternity Dictionary Page Banner

Eternity Banner
by Bazinga Crafts

Theme blocks with Paper Lettering

"Be Strong and of Good Courage" Blocks
by Under My Umbrella

2010 Primary Theme - 5x7 Print

Primary Theme "I Know My Savior Lives"
by Jot & Tittle


  1. Here's a sidenote to this Sophia...the woman I met years ago and would love to be like. When my son left for his mission, Sophia and daughter Liza picked him up in SLC and delivered him to the MTC. He had a couple cousins in Utah at the time who also greeted him outside the temple. For a second Sophia thought to allow his cousins the 'right' to take him into the MTC but then, because she didn't have the chance with her own son, cuz she knew I was counting on her for a full report, she went with him. One...she called me on her drive back to Logan with every single detail. Two...she will sooner than expected, or back then never expected, have her chance to take sweet Son Quayd to the MTC. I have always been grateful to Sophia for doing this for me and years later, grateful she has set the bar so high for so many other grandparents like her. What an amazing woman. Drats! Why in the world did she have to move to Utah....why couldn't she have stayed in Ohio to play with me? Thanx, Sophia.

  2. That was beautiful. I love the picture. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Ohio's loss is UTah's gain. She sounds like a wonderful woman and an exemplar to all of us tired out grandparents. I'm impressed.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes life's unexpected turns bring such joy. I too love the picture, it's heavenly!

  5. Wow! What a wonderful and beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. WOW! You are amazing. Thank you for sharing your story. You are so right, "children are the greatest blessing life has to offer." Families are amazing:)

  7. Sophia, I absolutely LOVE that picture! It truly speaks volumes. Thank you for being such an example to me and my family. (I think the ward split was for me so I could come back to your ward and learn from you!)

  8. Such a beautiful story! The photo speaks wonders as well!

  9. wow, what a great story, thanks for sharing this success.

  10. That puts a whole new twist on parenthood, doesn't it? I remember one day it dawned on me that God is a parent FOREVER -- not until retirement, not until his kids leave "home" - but forever. And He WANTS to be! It's His greatest desire and joy. And I learned that if I am going to be "like God" - I need to have THAT kind of a mother heart. I need to LOVE being a mother because that is what I will be FOREVER!!! Thanks for sharing! What a special blessing for you to be young again! ;-D

  11. words can not describe how much your lives/post have touched me today. Thank you.

  12. You are amazing. What a fantastic example you are!

  13. What an amazing family you have! You are such a great example! I really love that family picture. What a treasure to be stuck together with "eternal glue"!

  14. Great story. Sometimes I'm guilty of thinking too much about the burdens raising the kids are, even though I know it is a blessing. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Sounds like your children (grandchildren) are truly blessed to have you.

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. I watch some parents who can't wait for their kids to grow up and move out and I can't help but feel they are missing the point. You obviously understand the point of families and parenthood.

  17. That was absolutely... AWESOME! You are wonderful... and thanks so much for sharing! :D

  18. Thanks for sharing your story! I have a friend in your same situation, I am gonna send her a link to your story!

  19. What a beautiful story - may your lovely family be blessed always!

  20. What a beautiful story - may your lovely family be blessed always!