Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Hero

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This is my angel. Isn't he sweet?
I took this photo of Aaron last month when I was putting him to bed.
He always wants me to lay by him when he goes to bed, but there were some nights last month when he would grab my hand and hold it so tight and hold it really close to him, then he would grab hold of the headboard and hold it so tight as well.
When I asked him why he had been doing that, he said it was so the monsters couldn't take me away.
Thinking about that conversation and looking at this photo makes me cry.
When I asked him why he doesn't hold my hand like that during the day, he said its because during the day he can see me.
It melted my heart.

I asked him what monsters he was talking about, he mentioned an episode of Scooby Doo that made him nervous. Go figure. Poor kid.

What a grip!

He is so precious.
Is it any wonder that he is the light of my life?
If he only knew what a hero he is to me.

I love you, Aaron, my sweet boy.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fresh Courage Take

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I want to share something that happened to me at church a couple of days ago.
I have been really struggling lately. These past couple of weeks have been a really dark time for me and no matter how hard I have tried each day, I have not been able pull myself out of it. I have felt like I have been in despair and I have felt like everything was closing in on me and like there was no hope and no light at the end of this long and dark tunnel. I just have felt like it is all way too hard. The house has suffered, the laundry has gone undone. The only thing I focused any real attention on lately is Aaron Jr. Serving him and finding things to do together has kept me going.

Well, at church on Sunday, I kept hoping to hear some things that would inspire me and help me to be strengthened... our Sacrament Meeting is last and the Stake Patriarch and his wife spoke. They spoke about the talk by Elder Wirthlin "Come What May and Love It" and also about the atonement and the love of our Father in Heaven. They were both very good talks and got my mind going and I was trying to internalize their words so that I knew I could walk out of church feeling stronger and ready to face the world better, but I was still struggling to feel renewed.

Then came the closing song. It was a song that I have heard a thousand times, a song that I have always really loved. The first and last verses have always struck me and have always made me feel something. As I sang the first verse, the words did touch my heart, but it was the second verse that got me really emotional and I felt like I was reading and singing those words today for the first time.

It is a song that I am sure most people have heard loads of times like I have, but the words touched my heart and made me feel something real. These words inspired me to try harder and gave me some much needed strength.
The song is:

Come Come Ye Saints

Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear,
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
’Tis better far for us to strive,
Our useless cares from us to drive,
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell—
All is well! all is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
’Tis not so; all is right!
Why should we think to earn a great reward,
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins, fresh courage take,
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! all is well!

We’ll find the place which God for us prepared
Far away in the West;
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the Saints will be blest.
We’ll make the air with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we’ll tell—
All is well! All is well! 

And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! all is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
With the just we shall dwell.
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain
O how we’ll make this chorus swell—
All is well, all is well!

The second verse pierced my heart. As I sang the words, I got emotional and knew that those words were the answer to the prayer I have been carrying around in my heart. I needed help, I needed something to touch me, to inspire me, to strengthen me... And that is what happened on Sunday through those words.

In the second verse, it says:
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right!
Why should we think to earn a great reward,
if we now shun the fight?

I have been shunning the fight. These past couple of weeks, I have been allowing my pain to take over and it has been paralyzing me, suffocating me. In a sense, I guess I have been giving up. I guess I didn't completely give up, at least I had the desire to pull myself out of it... and at least I was not in bed all day every day. I guess I should give myself a little credit... right? Maybe?
I knew at some point I would snap out of it if I just kept getting out of bed each day, enjoying my time with Aaron Jr, and getting out of the house often. But I have still felt paralyzed and have been feeling panicked about life.

But the phrase "Why should we think to earn a great reward, if we now shun the fight?"
Those words hit me hard. If I just going along surviving and just existing, how can I expect great rewards here or there? Really... how can I expect anything great at all if I shun the fight?

Gird up your loins, fresh courage take,
Our God will never us forsake; 

Fresh Courage Take.
Fresh Courage Take.

I love those words. Fresh Courage Take. Fresh = newly obtained. Since Sunday, I have been feeling a little stronger, a little more courage, a little more hope.

God will never us forsake.
I know that is true. I know He is aware of me and that he is aware of my worries and pains.
He is on my side, which helps to give me courage. It is BECAUSE He is on my side that I try so hard to make sure these discouraging times don't last too long. Why should I fear if God is on my side? Why should any of us fear if God is on our side?

And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! all is well!
Soon. Soon. Soon.
Not necessarily NOW, but SOON. I love how it says that SOON we'll have this take to tell... that all is well.
It doesn't say that I have to act as though all is well right now. I don't have to pretend... I just need to be trying.

But with fresh courage and the strength to move forward in the fight, then SOON I will have the tale to tell that All is well!

I have always loved this song, but the second verse hit me harder than it ever has before. I got emotional and then I left that meeting feeling a little more courageous than when I got to church. These past couple of weeks, I have been 'shunning the fight'. I have just been so tired. Not necessarily physically, but just so tired from the emotional difficulties of life. Tired from spending my energy on worrying about my hopes and dreams that have not yet come to pass. Tired from worrying about things that I have no control over.

It is time to stop shunning the fight so that I can expect a great reward.
I feel like I have 'fresh courage'. I know I don't have complete hope yet and I am not as strong as I could be, but that will come in time if I am having the courage to move forward. And if I do this, then I will someday be able to say "All is well!"... hopefully sooner than later.

It is difficult to share things sometimes that show my weaknesses and troubles, but these words hit me so profoundly, I just needed to share them. Maybe??? that song's words will help someone else??

After this experience on Sunday, I am proud to say that the house is somewhat tidy, and my laundry is now completely done. And yes, after these past couple of weeks, this DID take courage. Baby steps. :)

I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. When I am going through times like this, He is my strength when I have none. He is my courage when I feel helpless. He helps to carry my burdens when I cannot possibly bear them any longer. I love Him.

What a blessing this experience was.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Random June ~ 2012

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New hair cut. Aaron wanted a faux hawk. It looks so cute.

I took Lisa's kids for a haircut, so Aaron got one as well.
They are so cute.

The dog next door.
Aaron has loved getting hugs from her.

This is the remnants of a sticker page.
I guess its fun to put it on his face.

 A couple of Aaron's creations.

A simple outing to the park of course has to turn into a mud fight in the stream.
 Why is mud so much fun to play in? I loved it when I was a kid. In fact,
I have been wanting to make mud pies with Aaron Jr, I think that will be a goal this summer.

Kerianne's kids with Aaron.

We went to a Salt Lake Bees game.
I think the sun is a little bright. :)
Aaron insisted on wearing his T-ball uniform to the game.

Bees game and my knees.
I guess you could call them the Bees Knees. :)

Aaron with Malia and Isaac
and the little critter on Aaron's finger.

I'm working again this summer / fall at the farmers market with Kerianne.

The local paper took our photo without us knowing and this photo was in the paper that next week.
Kinda funny. It is my 15 minutes of "fame", I guess.

I am obsessed with zuccini and squash this summer.
This is how I have been cooking it so far and it is so yummy.
I can't get enough of it and I have convinced Aaron to like it.
Let me tell you something about my son... all I have to do to get him to try something is to tell him that it is healthy and then tell him that we can look up what good things it does for our bodies. Once I tell him the health benefits of a certain food, he is willing to try it and usually ends up liking it.
I love it. He will eat tuna because it is good for his brain, he will eat carrots because they are good for his eyes... and so on.


 When Spencer and Kristi's family was here in town, Aaron wanted to show off his faux hawk one day, then Luke and Benny wanted their hair the same way. It looked so cute.
We sure loved having them in town. We always have fun with them.

Tawnie and John and Aaron and I hosted a party at their house. It was a cousin's water party.
The kids had a water fight and played on the slip n slide. We ate lunch and had a nice visit.
It is not like me to take so few photos, but it was so hot... I wanted to be in the shade.
It was fun. It was the second year we were able to use the slip n slide and now it has been thrown out. I think it served us well. We will need a new one for next year's party.
Aaron has been so excited to host his slip n slide party each summer... and can't wait for the next one.

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Monday, July 9, 2012


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I want to introduce you to Alvin.
He is my cousin's little boy.
Isn't he sweet?

A few weeks ago, on June 16th, my cousin was running an errand that morning and was stopped at a stoplight. My cousin was driving, her oldest son was in the passenger seat, her daughter was in the middle seat of the van, and Alvin was in the back seat of the van. They were all wearing seatbelts and were properly restrained in car seats if they needed them.
As they sat at that stop light waiting for a green light, out of nowhere, they were rear ended by an SUV traveling at least 60 miles per hour. It threw their van 200 feet forward and smashed in the rear of the van all the way to the middle seat.
My cousin and her son in the front seat with her were okay, but her daughter suffered a lacerated liver, and her sweet little 5 year old boy, Alvin, was unconscious. For the next 24 hours, he was in a coma and was finally taken off of life support and passed away in the arms of his mom and dad on Father's Day.
It just breaks my heart.
To read a little more about it, you can go to THIS article.

That next Saturday, we attended the funeral services in Idaho.
The funeral was amazing and we got to hear about my cousin's last morning at home with her little boy. We got to listen to memories of this sweet boy and how much he was and is loved by his family. We got to listen to them speak about their faith in Christ and about their knowledge that families can be together forever through the plan of our Father in Heaven.

After the service, there was a police escort to the cemetery. I have never been involved in one of those before, but it was an amazing thing to be a part of. It was an honor. And sweet little Alvin deserved that honor.

I took some photos at the graveside, and here are just a few that I thought I would share.
This is my cousin, Linda, her husband, Danny, and their oldest, Kal, and their daughter, Lorna.

Alvin's brother, Kal.

Alvin's sister, Lorna.

Linda and Danny saying good bye.

My cousin, Linda, walking away from the casket for the last time.
I don't know how she did it.
When Aaron passed away, I was the last one with his casket and I took forever to walk away... I just wanted to know for sure that he was okay and I had a hard time leaving when he was just still laying there by himself.
I just know that it would be even more difficult walking away from the casket of one of your children... knowing you are their protector... it would just be too much to bear.
She turned a couple of feet away from the casket and blew one last kiss to Alvin.
It broke my heart.

Danny and Linda
It makes me cry when I look at this one.
The emotion in this one is just so tender.

This is their sweet family.
Their forever family.

I sure do love them.
What a blessing we have in the knowledge of God's plan for us.

I pray that God will be with them... until they get to meet again.

We love you, Linda and Danny.

Here is his obituary:

Alvin Daniel Strauss of Star, ID passed away in the arms of his parents in Boise, on Father's Day, June 17, 2012 at the young age of 5. Alvin was on his way to receive a late birthday present from a favorite cousin. On route, Alvin's family was in a serious automobile accident. He and his sister were immediately cared for by first responders from the Eagle Fire Station, Paramedics and Ada County Sheriff deputies. For the next several hours Alvin's Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins arrived from Utah and surrounding areas. They and countless others were continually praying for healing and support for Alvin and his family. Despite best efforts of the Pediatric ICU, Alvin was taken home to his Father in Heaven. Alvin was born on a perfect spring morning, April 12th 2007 in the St Luke's downtown Hospital to Daniel Ray Strauss and Linda Marie (Higginson) Strauss. He is the youngest brother of Kalel Edmond Strauss age 8, and Lorna Marie Strauss age 7. He will be greatly missed by his whole family. He has a special relationship with each one of them. He was his mother's little shadow from the day he was born. He was nurtured solely by his mother. He loved what she loved. They ran, danced, sewed, cooked, tumbled and sang together. He even loved the classic musicals like "Hello Dolly" and "Oliver". The night before the accident he watched "Summer Magic" cuddled close to his father and brother. He was his dad's perfect little boy in every way. He always volunteered to work along side his father as if he had a paying job and would say "Look! I'm doing work!" He was the family comedian and went along with his sister's whims, happily willing to be made into a human mud pie. She also applied her hair-cutting skills. Alvin loved Lorna so much that he would come to her rescue if anyone dared hurt her. Alvin was best friends with his brother Kal. They were inseparable. They share the same love of Star Wars "Cwones" and Indiana Jones. They remain inseparable, still. His unforgettable deep brown eyes and loving smile help us retain his angelic spirit. He always volunteered to give prayer at mealtimes and at night with the family before they went to bed. He would not let us forget what matters most. His example of pure love has touched thousands of lives and will continue to influence our choices as we look forward to being reunited with him for eternity.
Go to Alvindanielstrauss.com for a more detailed account of Alvin's life.
Contributions can be made for expenses accrued at any Zion's Bank branch in the name of Alvin Strauss Donations.

Read more here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/idahostatesman/obituary.aspx?n=alvin-strauss&pid=158129460#storylink=cpy
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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Family Reunion ~ 2012

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This is all of the family who was there at the reunion this year.
The posterity of my parents. What a group.
Dad and Mom are still gone on their mission.
We sure missed Dad and Mom...
along with the 4 other family members who were missing.

I hung these photos of Dad and Mom on the bulletin board in the pavilion so that they were with us.
We sure missed them and felt their absence... it wasn't the same without them there.

We got to go canoeing or ride paddle boats at the lake on the first night.
It was fun. I had Aaron and Luke with me and we raced around the lake trying to get a photo of every boat and its occupants. We did pretty good. We did get a photo of everyone except one boat full...
so we took a photo of them when everyone was off the lake. oops.
Anyway, enjoy the photos of everyone who made it to the lake that day.

Aaron on the hike back up to the camp area.

Cute Father / Son shots.

More cute Father / Son shots.

We were laughing about how tiny the scooper looked as they mixed up this 10 gallon jug of lemonade.

Dinner chefs.

Crepe chefs. 

And here is what the moon looked like that night.
It was absolutely beautiful.

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