Tuesday, May 26, 2009

'Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time'

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It is just after midnight after a long day celebrating Memorial Day. I don't have more photos ready from today's activities, I will post them later... but I wanted to write while my thoughts and feelings were still fresh.
This is our second Memorial Day since Aaron passed away. It still feels surreal like we could wake up at any moment and this would all have been a nightmare.

This coming Friday I will be an 18 month old widow. I almost feel like I am a small child in this journey that started 18 months ago. Don't you think each trial in our lives that has a major impact marks an end to something and a beginning to another? I have always felt that way.

This is not necessarily a 'beginning' that I chose or even wanted, but since it has only been 18 months, I feel like I am still so young in this experience... like an 18 month old child who is learning to walk; learning to experience this life with joy even when they stumble and fall or when an obstacle is in their path that looks gigantic... I feel like I am learning to live again.

You know when you are teaching your child to walk, you walk beside them or behind them holding their hands to guide them and to help them balance? I feel like this past 18 months, I have been the little child with my hand in the Lord's hand as he guides me. I am learning to walk a new path... same destination... but a new path as He holds my hand to help me stay balanced until I find my footing and learn to run again.

This reminds me of a Song that we sing at church. Here are the lyrics and I have it playing in my playlist on the side:

I am a child of God.
And He has sent me here.
Has given me an earthly home,
with parents, kind and dear.

Lead me, guide me.
Walk beside me.
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with Him someday.

I am a child of God.
And so my needs are great.
Help me to understand His words
before it grows too late.

Lead me, guide me.
Walk beside me.
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with Him someday.

I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store.
If I but learn to do His will
I'll live with Him once more.

Lead me, guide me.
Walk beside me.
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that i must do
To live with Him someday.

I am a child of God.
His promises are sure.
Celestial Glory shall be mine,
if I can but endure.

Lead me, guide me.
Walk beside me.
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with Him someday.

I am so grateful for the love of God, our Father in Heaven. We truly are His children and he loves us as a father loves his child. He is concerned for us as a father is concerned for his child. He is there to lead us, to guide us, to walk beside us, and to help us find our way. He wants us to return to live with Him again after this life. He knows each of us individually. He knows our names and He knows our hearts. He knows our weaknesses, our strengths, our joys, our sorrows... He knows the treacherous and seemingly impossible path on which we are traveling and He is there to guide us through. He is there to be our light in the darkness.

This is a clip from Elder Quentin L. Cook, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. I have watched it several times in the past 24 hours and it has brought me to tears each time. Please watch it and let it touch your heart... (pause my music in the sidebar above while you watch this) You can watch the whole talk given by Elder Cook by clicking on this LINK and scrolling down to the 'Sunday Afternoon Session' section on that page.

I am grateful for the people who have been put in my path in these past 18 months to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to help me as I have had a hard time. I have such great families, I have such great friends, even friends I have never met... and I am grateful for each and every one of you.

I hope Memorial Day was a joyful day of remembering for all of us. May we all remember those who have gone before us...
And may we also remember to lend a hand, or speak a kind word, or share a smile or a hug with someone who is having a hard time. They are all around us if we allow ourselves to be aware of them. We are instruments in the hands of God to serve, lift, and help others.

We love you Aaron and Bruce...
we will remember you both always...

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Bear Lake

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Several months ago, a girl named Brooke from Texas made a very kind comment on my blog. I always try to visit blogs of people who comment and when I went to look at hers, I saw that they had a counter on the side counting down until they went to Puerto Rico on vacation. I thanked her for her comment then I told her that I would love to go to Puerto Rico and I hope they have fun on their vacation. Well, I believe it was the same day, I got an email from her telling me that they would love to give me a week of their timeshare in Puerto Rico and practically begged me to accept. At first, I was going to thank her and tell her it was nice to receive the offer, but that I could not accept it. After thinking about it that whole day and reading her email again, I accepted her offer depending on flights and the week it was available. Well, after deciding that it probably would not work out to go all the way to Puerto Rico, she said there were places available closer by and gave me a list. I settled on Bear Lake since it was only a two hour drive and more people would be able to come with me. Throughout these months as it was in the works, I have developed a friendship via emails with Brooke from Texas and I am still blown away by the generosity of someone I have never met.
I have been blown away by lots of people who have been so kind in their thoughts, their deeds, their words, their love, their friendship from afar. There really are such great people all over the world and I want to tell each of you who have ever reached out to us through prayer, kind comments, kind gestures, loving thoughts, loving words... anything. We are forever truly grateful.

Aaron Jr. & Leslie

Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr. was cold and didn't want to walk through the water again. So, he beckoned me to come and get him. I obliged. :)

Aaron Jr & Leslie

These are the friends who came up throughout the first half of the week:

Kerianne & her sons, Brighton & Bode

Carrie & her sons, Easton & Cameron

Sarah & her kids, Corban & Savannah

Rori & her kids, Marley & Carson

Kerianne, Carrie, Leslie, Sarah
Rori had not come with her kids yet... so here are the four of us who came first.

This was an overcast, foggy beautiful evening. This was from the balcony of the condo. If you look close, you can see the line at the top that shows the ridge of the mountain. It all blends together... it was gorgeous.

Sarah, Carrie, Leslie, Kerianne
This was the day that Sarah and Carrie were going home, so we had to take more photos, right? Of course... then it became just plain silly...

I asked someone to say something to make us all laugh. I won't repeat what Sarah said to get us all to laugh, but here are some photos that were so much fun to take because they will hold such great memories for all of us. I don't need to remind you girls what she said... :)
Good Bye Carrie and Sarah. We missed you once you left.

Aaron Jr. & Leslie
After those two left to go home, the rest of us went to the park to let the kids play. It was pretty chilly, but we all lasted a while. And of course, WE ended up playing as well...

Kerianne, Brighton, Bode

Rori, Marley, Carson

Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr. & Leslie

Aaron Jr. & Leslie

Aaron Jr... my darling.

I was having a difficult day one day. Nothing happened, I was just contemplating the fact that Kerianne and Rori, the last of the people coming for the week, were leaving the next day. Each friend and kids who came had the excitement of returned home to their husband and the kids to their Dad. Once they went home, no one else was coming up the rest of the week and once our week was over, we would return, but not to Aaron.
ANYHOW, at one point, Kerianne screamed something like, 'Les, you've gotta see this, quick!'. So I ran to the window and there was an amazing rainbow. I grabbed my camera and ran downstairs to the balcony. It totally brightened my day. My day was fine after that. Thank you Kerianne.

Rori, Leslie, Kerianne
The second group. (I am not fishing, so please no comments, but I REALLY wish I had looked in the mirror at my hair before taking this photo. What on earth? :)

We did make it to the indoor pool a couple of times as well.

We couldn't swim in the lake, it was too cold and spending much time on the beach was difficult as well. It was always chilly, or the wind would be so strong, it would be blowing sand in our faces. It was beautiful though. Can't complain. It truly was gorgeous.

Brighton, Bode, Aaron Jr.
This day it was finally sunny and we were thrilled to go to the beach. But it was one of the days where the wind whipped sand into our faces and made it difficult to be out there for too long. But I still got some great photos. Loved it.

Aaron Jr. & Leslie

Kerianne, Leslie, Rori
Here is our shot as the final three left at Bear Lake.

Kerianne & Leslie
Kerianne was the one who was with me through all of the time when there were friends there. She was going to be there the whole week with me, but something with family came up and the couldn't stay the whole time. It was understandable, but we SO wished they could have stayed the whole time. Aaron Jr. missed all of his friends once they went home.

Good Bye Kerianne & Rori. We missed you when you went home.

Once it was just Aaron Jr. & me left there, I tried to make sure we had some great bonding time together. We went on a drive one day and I couldn't believe how amazing the countryside right next to the lake was. It was gorgeous.

He became obsessed with vacuuming while we were there. It was a lightweight vacuum, so he could push it around. He got so excited when there was anything on the floor that needed to be cleaned. :)

After one of his baths, I was blowdrying my hair and he loves it when I blow the air on his face. See? Great bonding times. :)
We did go to the beach each day... it seemed to be sunny each day... then we would get there, and Aaron Jr. would ask to go back to the condo about 10 minutes after getting there because he was cold. We built part of a sandcastle until he stepped on it on purpose. :) Silly kid.
The last day, the sun was out, but it was windy and chilly. So, we went back home to the condo and put blankets and towels up around the railing of the deck. Then, we sat on the floor of the deck on blankets and we colored together. It got so warm with the wind being blocked. It was so much fun. That was our last full day.

This was Aaron Jr's reaction when we drove past the pool and I told him he couldn't swim because we were going home.

Then these are some of the faces he made when we got to Logan and we went through a car wash. He was in heaven and so was I watching him.

I love this boy.

Here is the Logan Temple. This is where my parents were married. It is so beautiful.

Closer view.

Me & my little man.

Sorry this was so long... but I took hundreds more photos and I narrowed them down to these. It was such a wonderful week. It was a much needed getaway and we had some very fun times. Thank you to my friends who came up there with us.
And thank you to Brooke and her family for giving us this wonderful gift. The place was amazing, the lake was beautiful, the accomodations were perfect, and we had a great time. Words aren't enough to show our gratitude, but I am at a loss for what else to do... we will be forever grateful. Thank you and God bless you.

With love...

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Horse Power

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Sheila (Shayla)

While April was in town, she asked if I could take them over to see Aaron's horse, Sheila while they were here. This is the first visit any of the Harkness's have had to see her since Aaron passed away. It was really fun being there with her and seeing them all so excited to see her.
Top: Sophia and Sadie
Bottom: Susie, Sue, April

Top: Pearl, Grace, and Aaron Jr.
Bottom: Steve, Lennon, Sheila and Grace

Top: Sophia
Bottom: Susie and Sue

Steve, Grace, Pearl, Susie, Aaron Jr.

Steve, Sophia, Aaron Jr, Grace

April, Steve, Sue, Sadie, Ava, Sophia, Pearl, Aaron Jr, Grace, Susie

Leslie (Me) and Aaron Jr. and Sheila

When Aaron passed away, I asked my sister's husband, John, if he wanted to take Sheila as his own. He used to go riding with Aaron and they would talk about when John would have his own horse someday. So, it just made sense that he should have her. I can't even tell you how grateful I am that he was willing to do that. It has been so nice to still have her close and be able to go and see her when we want. I look forward to when John takes Aaron Jr. riding someday. I am grateful for the love and sacrifice it takes to maintain her and to take care of her... thank you John and Lisa. We are grateful and we love you.

Missing you Aaron...

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