Friday, August 29, 2008

Something in politics worth blogging about here!

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why the ship is built."

- Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, giving her remarks after being named McCain's VP pick

This was said in the context of explaining why she didn't go with the "safe and easy" way of status quo politics. But naturally, I had my cancer glasses on and appreciated the additional application to adversity in our lives and the faith that gets us through it all.

We weren't "built" here on earth to have a safe and easy ride. Not that we are supposed to go out looking for danger, but life is meant to be bumpy so that we can learn and develop our fullest potential. If we press forward with a steadfastness in Christ and a perfect brightness of hope, we can successfully navigate through this life experience.

Sorry for the long pause...I was on my honeymoon!

Actually, I'm still on my honeymoon...and have been for the past twenty years!

Look at those cute kids at the Salt Lake Temple on August 20, 1988!

And there they are again, on August 11, 2008!

And here they are a few days later, celebrating their 20th anniversary in Hawaii!

(Twenty years...ten addresses...two kids...four beagles...and one brain tumor later.)

This hug at Hanauma Bay is courtesy of my mom, who not only gave us the trip, but also came to our house and watched the kids while we were gone.

We spent our first night as classic tourists in Waikiki. Since Texas is five hours ahead of Hawaii, we were able to wake up, walk the beach, and eat breakfast before heading up to Diamond Head to watch the sunrise.

(Photography just doesn't do it justice.)

Then we were off to Laie, to immerse ourselves in the island experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center. (It was like Epcot Center for Polynesia!)

Here we are with our tour guide, "Rock":

And here I am, at a demonstration of Maori New Zealand (Aotearoa):

It's not the most flattering picture, but I like it because I'm imitating their distinctive quivering hands while dancing, which they do to represent that they are full of the life force. It was definitely blog-worthy!

After a fun day and a monster feast of seafood and fruit (no pig, thank you -- gimme Omega 3's and antioxidants) and a spectacular Horizons pageant, we spent the night on the north side of Oahu, at the beautiful Turtle Bay Resort.

We spent the morning walking the beach, and then got some toes-up time with some good books on the balcony of our room:

And then we headed back to Laie to check out the BYU-Hawaii campus and thank the bookstore manager for having my book on their shelves...

...and to spend a couple of hours inside the "Taj Mahal of the Pacific": the Laie Temple, which to us is the most peaceful of all the peaceful places in Hawaii. We headed back to Waikiki and played in the ocean. We also tried to have another toes-up moment with a book on the balcony, but this time I was sixteen floors up so it wasn't quite as relaxing. (Cancer hasn't cured my acrophobia yet!)

So we opted for some other forms of relaxation: 1) shopping and 2) good Japanese food. My husband served his mission in Tokyo, and loved being around so many Japanese people and getting reacquainted with the language.

(I figured eating rice with chopsticks made for another reassuring neuro test.)

We spent our last day checking out more sights, including Pearl Harbor and Queen Emma's Summer Palace (could not resist that one, since our daughter's name is Emma) and having the ultimate schmaltzy tourist's lunch at the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant. (After four days of fish and fruit, I splurged on a burger topped with a huge slab of grilled pineapple and sliced avocado.)

One eight-hour flight later, we were back home being greeted by a hand-made welcome sign from the kids. It was a long enough trip to enjoy some solitude, but short enough to get home just as we started to miss them.

A taste of paradise to celebrate a twenty-year down payment on forever...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008




(Lemme check that right?)

(It is!!!)

Thirty-two months of survival!

Thirty-two months of miracles, one at a time!

One Miracle at a Time

It was amazing.

It didn't come with an asterisk.
It caused some head swelling, which didn't show up on the last MRI.
It was awesome!

It happened in Utah, at the Families Supporting Adoption National Conference. I taught three classes at the conference, and gave a small address during the general session.

I also gave a brief acceptance speech after being presented with FSA's Hall of Fame Award.
As I considered previous recipients of this award, I started hearing the old Sesame Street song about "one of these things is not like the other!"

Also, considering my steroid use following surgery and during cancer treatments, I thought it was cool to be a "hall-of-famer" with no asterisk by my name!

The conference theme was "One Miracle At a Time." It reminded me of my life, and how it has miracle at a time. From the miracle of each new day, to the miracle of a loving marriage and two miraculous adoptions, to the miraculous transformation of adversity into blessings, I have witnessed many miracles.

I look forward to seeing many more.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

How To Endure Anything

My daughter turned three in June, which is usually amazing to people, because she looks much older. She's super-tall for her age, and she's also very articulate for a preschooler. And added upon that, her personality aged about ten more years after a recent trip to "Nana's."

Just to give you some history on the hair journey that led us to Nana's:

When Emma was a few months old we started out doing the "cocoa puffs":

And then earlier this year she graduated to "fro and headband":

Emma always looked adorable, but she was soon ready for something different in her coif. When she wore jeans and a t-shirt, people often mistook her for a very charming little boy. Store clerks were always saying, "Hey, Buddy!" Someone even mistook her for our six-year-old nephew on one occasion.

So my husband took her to see "Nana," a local hair braider/weaver in our town. The idea of sitting in the chair and letting a stranger touch her hair sent our daughter into a screaming rage. Fro and headband remained the style, and we just tried to keep her wearing skirts and pink clothes.

A few weeks ago we decided to try again. I took her into Nana's salon to see about making an appointment. Emma entered cautiously with me, remembering her previous trauma. But this time she let Nana comb out her hair as a test, so we went ahead and made an appointment for the following day.

I prepared Emma all the next day, telling her that she was going to have her hair braided, and that her hair was going to be really pretty. She appeared to be a little nervous, but when the time came she readily complied, got into the chair, and sat like a little angel for THREE HOURS while Nana sectioned off her hair into little pieces, then wove in some longer locks and braided them. It was a painstaking process, but Em did not utter one complaint, no matter how hard Nana had to tug on her hair. She did not squirm. She did not ask for a drink or a snack. She actually napped through part of the process. Nana (who has been braiding since she was a young girl herself) marveled that she had never been able to work on a three-year-old this easily before.

When Nana was finished braiding, she took sections of braids and wrapped them around a curler, then dipped them in boiling water to make little ringlet curls. I was the nervous one this time, but luckily Emma remained still and patient.

Finally the moment came to show her the end result. Beautiful, long braids with curls at the end. (For those who read Ramona the Pest as a kid will appreciate the term, "boing-boing" curls.) Emma stared into the mirror and smiled.

Knowing that Emma has been historically incapable of sitting still for five minutes, much less three hours, I found myself learning a lesson as I watched this miraculous event.

How did Emma endure three hours of sitting still and letting her hair get tugged, piece by piece, with no entertainment? Three hours is like three eternities in Three-Year-Old Land, so why wasn't there a single peep of complaint?

The answer is simple: she knew the purpose of the experience, and she was willing to endure whatever it took to achieve that end.

I know -- vanity isn't the most worthy of pursuits. But this was a (literally) cute way of illustrating the value of staying focused on the prize.

Romans 5:1-5: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope in the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope; And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

James 5:11:"Behold, we count them happy which endure; Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."

Doctrine & Covenants 121:7-8: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over thy foes."