Thursday, April 27, 2017


I was doing some reflecting on the circumstances of my life the other day. To be honest, I was searching for inspiration on what to write for this blog-entry. That's when I read the following from a previous post. I truly had forgotten how awful those early days with Sarcoidosis had been. Bear with me, there is a point to these reflections.          

"Most of you know that in August of 2014, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease which can attack several different areas of the body. In my case, it is in my lungs and joints, mostly. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure. It is, however, treatable. In more severe cases, oral steroids (usually prednisone) are used. In other cases, the symptoms resolve themselves over time. My case is somewhere in between the two. I am being treated with inhaled steroids which gets the treatment directly into the effected area.

Most days, I feel fine - although I get tired more easily than before. Sometimes it effects my ability to breathe, so I have to use a rescue inhaler. But, mostly I do ok. I'm learning to pace myself. We've discovered that if I over-do things one day, the symptoms flare up and I am down for the next couple of days. 

I can always tell when it's going to be a day to take it easy because I start to run a fever. It's never very high, just enough to make me feel like I'm starting the flu. I've been foolish enough to ignore this warning sign and try to "muscle-through" it. I've learned not to do that! lol The fever gets higher and the joint pain can be excruciating.

Now, lest you think I'm looking for a "pity-party" with this post, let me assure you that I'm not! Please, not at all!!! Last August, before they came to the diagnosis of Sarcoidosis, they thought I had lung cancer!  I am grateful to have what I have and not something worse. lol

It's just that this experience is teaching me things that I want to share. 

I have good days and bad days. I'm happy to say they're both getting better. But I believe Heavenly Father is using this as an opportunity to help me grow and progress - to refine me, if you will.

There are days, the worst ones; when it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed. Everything hurts and I have no energy. The easiest thing in the world would be to give up and crawl back under the covers. And some days I simply have to do just that. But it would be SO easy to do that EVERY time it's a bad day, and I can't live with myself if I give in to that. So when I can, I drag myself up, make the bed (so I won't be so tempted to crawl back in) and try to get some small thing done that day. On those days, I find myself seeing tender mercies from my Father in the smallest things - reading my scriptures, a break in the fever, easing of the joint pain, a deep-full breath of air, someone else making dinner lol, looking outside at the beautiful place I get to live, helping my kids, prayer, etc... On these days, when I am SO aware of the tender mercies from my Father, I look ahead to the good days with such eagerness. It helps knowing the bad days don't last forever.

On good days, I still have to be careful exerting myself or I run out of air REALLY fast, and that's REALLY scary. But, I'm learning to listen to my body and pace myself. On those days, I get to be "me" again and do normal stuff like going to the gym, doing my visiting teaching, tending my home and family, serving my friends and neighbors, and learning new things. I'm still learning to pace myself, but it's getting better

I guess why I'm sharing all this is because I know we all have to endure hard things. But those "hard things" don't need to define or defeat us. Kevin always says, "It doesn't matter in life, what happens to you. How you deal with what happens to you is what's important". What a wise man - no wonder I love him so much! lol

My point is that when difficulties happen, we can use those times to learn and grow and triumph, or we can run around screaming, waving our hands in the air, screaming about how unfair life is, give up, and be miserable. 

I have Sarcoidosis. It's making my life difficult and challenging. It's teaching me to do "hard things". It's teaching me to appreciate all the wonderful aspects of this existence - great and small. I have Sarcoidosis, but that's NOT who I am. I choose to live my life to the fullest. I choose to be good and I choose to be happy.

No matter what happens in our lives, we each have a choice. We can choose to be  good, productive, and happy in whatever circumstances occur in our lives, or we can choose to give in and be miserable. There is SUCH power in that! WE get to choose for ourselves! What a gift!!!"

As I read that post, I was overwhelmed with gratitude! I've learned so much! What a journey this has been. 

Now for the point of these reflections... This week, I saw my pulmonologist for a six month check-up. My labs all looked great! Best of all my exrays showed that the sarcoidial tumors in my lungs have shrunk completely! Essentially, I am in remission!!!!

It's not completely over yet. I've been warned that there may be occasional flare-ups, and I have to go back in a year for a follow up to make sure the tumors don't re-inflame; but the worst is behind me!

What a journey this has been. I can honestly say I'm grateful for the lessons learned. President Russell M. Nelson talked about joy in October 2016 General Conference. He said:

"My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

When the focus of our lives is on God's pan of salvaton...and Jesus Christ and His Gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening - or not happening - in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy...For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!" 

There were moments in this journey when I thought I couldn't handle one more thing - one more pain, one more desperate gasp for air that never seemed to be enough, one more test, one more more anything would break me. Those were the times when I reached out for my Savior - after all, He had already been through this suffering for me. He alone, knew exactly what I was expriencing in that exact moment. He alone was pefectly qualified to help me through it...and He did, every time.

We were sent to this mortal life to prove ourselves, to see if we would do "all things" that God would require of us. The Prohet, Lehi said "Men are, that they might have joy." To me, that means learning to endure well the hard things we encounter in our lives and focus on the good, positive, and joyful things around us as we do so. For me, enduring these things became doable when I literally laid my burdens at the feet of my Savior and put my faith in His ability to help me. Doing this didn't take away my illness. It simply increased my ability to deal with it in the best way I could. I learned to look for good and joyful things in each new day, and appreciate them with a heart full of gratitude to Heavenly Father for His tender mercies.

I'm grateful to be on this end of things instead of back at the beginning. I am profoundly grateful for the things this experience has taught me. It has changed me, hopefully for the better. 

"Remission"....what a beautiful, joyful, word!

Friday, April 14, 2017


Each Easter and Christmas, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes out with a message to help us focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ. This Easter, the message is called "Prince of Peace"

Things in our family have been a little chaotic over the last year or so. Heart-breaking would be an apt description for much of it. Still, through it all, Kevin and I have felt the love of our Heavenly Father as He has patiently and compassionately guided us through the lessons He trusts us to learn.

One of the main things we're learning, is just how much we depend on our Savior, Jesus Christ for peace. Everyday, but especially when life gets fraught with turmoil; we can turn to our Savior. He already bore our burdens, felt our pain, sicknesses, and sorrows, and atoned for our sins. Because we KNOW that He did this for us, we can rely on Him to help us through. We can, as the hymn says, "Cast our burdens at His feet..."

Through the heart-breaking, soul-searching times we've endured lately, I've done this. I have wept oceans of tears, drawn out my heart in prayer, and finally found peace in humbly petitioning my beloved Savior to help me through the hard things. 

I testify that He is the source of all peace, comfort, and joy! Through Him, Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness is made possible! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He died for us, so that we can repent and return to live with Heavenly Father again. On the third day after His death, He rose again! He lives! Because He lives, we can too!!!

Happy Easter!!!

Friday, March 31, 2017


"Come, listen to a Prophet's voice, and hear the word of God..." So sings the hymn of the same name... 

Every six months, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather to do just that. We believe that Jesus Christ has restored His Church to the earth and established prophets and apostles in our day to teach us His words and help us return to His presence.

Tomorrow begins one of my  two favorite weekends of the year - General Conference. We tune in via TV, internet or other media to watch and listen to the leaders of our Church. We receive counsel, guidance, comfort, peace, and even correction. This gives us a spiritual path to follow for the next six months. It provides lessons and teaching material for our regular Sunday meetings, and helps us better focus on what Heavenly Father wants us to do.

If you have questions about life and your place in the universe, come join us...listen and learn. You might be surprised at the enlightenment you can find here: 

"Come, listen to a Prophet's voice, and hear the word of God. And in the way of truth rejoice, and sing for joy aloud. We've found the way the prophets went, who lived in days of yore. Another prophet now is sent, this knowledge to restore" *LDS Hymnal #21*

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fitness...Faith...and Father...

Over the years, I've struggled with my weight. Part of it is genetic, part of it is medical, and part of it has been a lack of control over my appetite and food choices. Four years ago, I began a journey to become physically healthy, fit, and strong. It hasn't been an easy road to follow. For one thing, at times it seemed as if my own body was trying to sabotage my efforts.

Every time I would make progress, I got sick (sarcoidosis for one, meningitis to mention another) OR I would get injured (torn/detached rotator-cuff that required surgery, plantar-fasciitis which required weeks of physical therapy, and repeated painful bouts of gout among other things)...see what I mean? It became very discouraging.

Then there was life itself...graduations, weddings, trips, trauma, drama, and upheaval...all seemed determined to keep me at my unwanted weight and physical condition. It was at times overwhelming and I wanted to quit! I can hear my Dad's voice in my head..."I didn't raise a quitter!"  And he would be right, he didn't!

This is where Father comes into play...Heavenly Father, that is. Because I didn't embark on this journey alone. From the very beginning, three very important men were there every step of the way. Kevin, who is on his own physical fitness journey and succeeding beautifully; encourages me daily, and celebrates my smallest success.  Jerry Shannon, who is our personal trainer and nutritionist - our loudest cheerleader - and a firm believer in our ability to succeed. Finally, but certainly NOT least of all; is our Heavenly Father. I entered into this journey with prayer. I can honestly say that I've prayed every step of the way.

It may sound odd to make this physical transformation into a spiritual journey as well, but I firmly believe that Heavenly Father wants me to be my very best self - in every way possible. For one thing, how can I go out and serve Him if I'm not physically able to do so?  I believe that Father is willing to help us as much as we need, if we will let Him in enough. I don't believe there is any aspect of our lives that is too small or seemingly insignificant not to warrant His attention and help - again, if WE let Him in. That being said, I'm NOT saying that we give up and expect Him to do everything for us. I mean, He's not going to wave a heavenly-wand and make me look like a super-model. lol  I believe we need to include Him in our efforts. I believe that if we go out and do our best, we can and should be able to turn to Him and allow Him to help with the rest.

Today, would be a good example of this. I woke up with a nasty headache. You know, the kind that makes you want to crawl back into bed and not get out again? Unfortunately, I had people depending on me for transportation today, so staying in bed was out of the question. Still, having a headache of those proportions really made me NOT want to go to the gym. I managed to whine and talk my way out of it until 2:00 pm. Missing ONE day wouldn't hurt, would it????  Except that I've set a personal goal to make it everyday - and have been determined to stick to my exercise and meal-plan - and I get measured and weighed on Friday, and I'd REALLY like to see improvement....other than that, no big deal! lol

All day long, excuses and whining kept me out of the gym. Until I finally realized that my will-power wasn't going to be enough on its own and I sent up a plea to Heaven, for help. After my last transportation duty for the afternoon, I aimed the car up the hill to the gym. I dragged myself - mentally kicking and screaming (gee, wish THAT energy would have leaked into my will-power to get me there earlier...ha ha) onto the treadmill, and got started. About 10 minutes in, my back hurt, my legs hurt, and my lungs were protesting. I prayed that I'd be able to keep going...Time to increase my speed...20 minutes into my cardio, I was sure I was going to drama here! Still praying, I increased the incline and kept moving... Finally, the timer rolled over to 30 minutes and I was done!!!

I can honestly say that I felt Heaven's help getting through this today! It may seem like a trivial thing, but it's vital to me that I achieve my health and fitness goals, so I believe it's important to Him. I have faith that if I do my part, He will help me when I can't do it on my own.

In a talk entitled "Fourth Floor, Last Door", in the last General Women's Conference, President Deiter F. Uchtdorf said:

"Faith means that we trust not only in God's wisdom but that we trust also in His love. It means trusting that God loves us perfectly, that everything He does - every blessing He gives and every blessing He, for a time, withholds - is for our eternal happiness. With this kind of faith though we may not understand why certain things happen or why certain prayers go unanswered, we can know that in the end everything will make sense. 'All things (will) work together for good to them that love God'.

All will be made right. All will be well.

We can be certain that answers will come, and we may be confident that we will not only be content with the answers but we will be overwhelmed by the grace, mercy, generosity, and love of our Heavenly Father for us, His children."

I don't always understand why things happen the way they do, or why some things have to be so hard. However, I do know that I have a loving Father-in-Heaven who wants me to be happy and wants me to succeed. Knowing that - absolutely, without a doubt - gives me the faith to turn to Him and trust Him to help me. When this weight-loss/fitness journey is complete, my faith will be bigger, but the rest of me will be smaller. I call that a win, whichever way you look at it. At that point, climbing to the "Fourth floor, last door" will be easy as pie!!! lol

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Blowing in the wind...

"Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior." ..."Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks." *from, the Alzheimer's Association

Wow, that sounds so bland for what this hateful disease really does to a person.

Kevin's Mom - my dearest mom-in-law, Doris; has had this hateful disease for more than 17 years now. Kevin said, the other day, that Mom is a mere wisp of who she was. That got me thinking...

Watching Mom live with Alzheimer's over the years has been like watching a dandelion that has gone to seed. Bit by bit, memory by memory, pieces of our beloved Mom disappear like dandelion seeds in the wind.

At first, it's just losing the car keys, or forgetting where she left her glasses. Nothing too earth-shattering...

Can't do math or handle a checkbook...not too bad...that's why we're family - we take care of each other...

It's not safe to drive, really can't live on her own - we've got this!!! We'll do it and she'll be safe with us.

Can't tend her own personal needs...we can't provide enough care. Who do we trust with our beloved Mom??? How can we let her go to strangers??? Our hearts are breaking.

She knows we belong to her, when we visit the lovely home to which we entrusted her. She hasn't spoken our names for years. Much of what we say is beyond her ability to understand. She can't sift through the Alzheimer's-mud that's clogging her mind to find the words to communicate with us. 

She's piece of her at a time has blown away until she is lost to us...lost in the confusion and fog of this most hateful disease.

For all that - for all the sorrow we feel at seeing her this way, to us she will always be our beloved Mom and Grandma...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas Eve!!

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care...

The tree is alight and brimming with cheer...

...and while all these things make me smile, this is what fills my heart with peace in this Season of Joy!

The gift of His birth and mission on earth give me such joy and hope. Having all my kids home for Christmas Eve will be the best gift I receive... I know that because of the gift of His life and mission, we can be together forever.

May the wonder and awe of that first Christmas so long ago, bring to you and yours peace, hope, and good will towards all men.

Merry Christmas with love from all of us here at Happy Acres!

Annette, Kevin, Amanda & Chris, and Jackie & Jairen

Thursday, November 10, 2016

We The People....

The United States Constitution begins with a preamble that states:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Further in the document, regarding the election of President of the United States, it reads:

"The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed;"

This past Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the majority of voters made their choice and Donald J. Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States of America. 

Yesterday and today, here are some of the reactions to those results:

Thousands across the USA protest Trump victory - USA Today

Cornell University students held a "cry-in." Loyola University and Byrn Mawr College students demanded the cancelling of classes, citing exhaustion, depression, and safety concerns,

I understand the feelings of helplessness. I get that those who did not support Trump are feeling powerless and possibly afraid. I have felt that way myself.

In 2008 and in 2012, Barrack Obama won the election. He was not my choice. In fact, he was not the choice for thousands of Conservative Americans. However, we did not riot in the streets. College and High School classes continued just as before. We went to our jobs, attended school, and went about our business just as we did every other day. 

For some of us, Barrack Obama's election was a call to action. We didn't like his policies or the things he imposed on our Nation. So we went out and tried to make a difference. For example, I got more involved in my community. I served on a local school board. I learned more about the issues of the day. I attended caucus meetings and gained an education in local politics and government. I tried in every way I could, to be a better informed and more active citizen of this great Nation.

Here are the electoral maps for the last three elections:

Obama won 365 electoral votes - McCain won 173.

In 2012, Obama won 332 - Romney won 206

In 2016, Trump won 279  - Clinton won 228

This is how democracy works. The majority of the people chose Donald Trump. Now is not the time for MORE contention and violence. Now is not the time to promote more hate and divisiveness. Haven't we all had enough of that?

The Constitution was created to "ensure domestic Tranquility" and "secure the Blessings of Liberty"

In life, we encounter many disappointments. Perhaps we don't get the job we worked for. Maybe we study hard and still bomb a test. Sometimes a relationship doesn't work out as planned. ...And sometimes our candidate doesn't win the election. That's life. What you do about it and how you handle it are what build your character. 

If you're disappointed or upset because your candidate didn't win, then go out and be a force for good in your community. Make a difference! Find a way to serve and make your community and neighborhood a better place. If you have causes in which you believe strongly, go out and serve in those causes. If you see social injustices, find positive ways to right them. Be a force for good in this world. Do your part to promote the "more perfect Union" that prompted the formation of this great Nation in which we live. 

Destruction, violence, wringing your hands in despair, and throwing a tantrum are never going to be the answer. Kindness, tolerance, cooperation, and understanding are a better way of getting things done. We don't all have to agree or believe exactly alike in order to get along and be civil.

Let's all put on our grown-up pants, roll up our sleeves, and get back to the work living in harmony together as citizens of these United States of America.