Category Archives: Children

When Words Fail

Little James sat at the table they other day drawing a picture while I did the dishes.

Usually he looks happy and chipper, but this day he looked sad and as I tried to engage him in conversation his voice sounded sad.

I frowned.

It wasn’t typical for happy-go-lucky James to be sounding sad.

“Hey, James,” I said, drying my hands on a nearby towel. “Are you okay? You seem sad.”

His blue eyes filled with tears. “Mommy, what if you die? I don’t want you to die.”

My heart plummeted. These moments are so hard. There’s no good answer. He knows that someone can die unexpectedly. A simple, mommy won’t die for a really long time, is not going to be enough.

“Oh, honey,” I said and gathered him in my arms. “Everything will be okay.”

“Why didn’t you die when you were young like Lizy?”

I looked at his earnest little face. This was going to take some explaining. I picked him up and carried him to the big green “snuggle” chair.  “Well,” I explained, “Heavenly Father needed me to stay here on Earth so all I could meet Daddy and all of you kids could be born.”

Tears spilled down his cheeks. “Why did Lizy have to die?”

I sighed. It’s so hard to find explanations to questions I don’t truly have the answer to. I looked at him and his eyes held so much faith, so much hope. “I don’t know,” I said. “I just know that Heavenly Father wouldn’t have took her home if he didn’t have something really important for her to do.”

He nodded and we talked a bit more. Once he was happy and cheery again I sent him off to play, went upstairs, and cried. Not only tears of sorrow, but tears of gratitude for the knowledge of eternal families.

There are some things that are just next to impossible to explain. Some things that break your heart. I wish such things didn’t have to trouble those so young. But, I am so grateful for a knowledge of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. I am so grateful that in these moments even though I can’t explain or promise that I won’t die anytime soon, I can promise that I know families will be together forever. That we will see Lizy again in time. I am so grateful for a testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the knowledge that not only did he suffer for our sins in the garden of Gethsamane, but for our sorrows and heart aches – all pains and things we would suffer. He truly loves us and understands all that we go through and in and through Him I have found peace and comfort time and time again. I rejoice in the knowledge that He lives! and because He lives we will all overcome death and be resurrected and be with our families again for eternity. What joy – what incredible joy – even in these times of deepest and hardest sorrow. I feel the truth of it in my soul and when I feel my faith strained, the hope kicks in, and I feel the comfort of His love as I plead for strength to keep going.

I have a favorite hymn – it’s always been a favorite – but more so now than ever:

I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.

He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, my kind, wise heav’nly Friend.
He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing.
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath.
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare.
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”
He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”

In those impossible moments when words fail and I am trying to console a sobbing child, explain something that has no answer, or feel my own heart weakening with a desire to just quit – at least for a little while, I think on these words and I pick up and keep on keeping on. I lean on Christ for strength and he fills in the gaps when I know I am no where near enough.

So, to my little James, to my Dot, Em, Jacob, & Bobert – I know it’s hard. I know it feels impossible sometimes. And I know we all feel sad. There may be many hard times yet to come. I don’t know the whys and I can’t pretend to know what the future will bring. But I do know that know matter what we comes our way, Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ will be with us every step of the journey to help us through and when our steps falter because it feels like too much or too impossible, they will carry us. And someday, some very glorious day, however far in the future it may be, we will be all together again.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Grief, James, Lizy

Love At Home

I love summer.

I love being with my kids all summer.

But, I always know when it’s time for school to start –

it’s not a yearning for them to be away

or a desire for a mommy break

it might be a little of a desire to have a cleaner house

or a more set schedule

but what it really is

is a realization that the kids are fighting nearly non-stop and need a break from each other!

The last couple weeks have been rough. REALLY rough.

And not just on the fighting kid front – a number of other things have thrown their hats in the ring that have made me rotate between wanting tear my hair out and sob non-stop or laugh insanely at the total wackiness of life.

Let’s say, I’ve laughed a lot – or at least tried.

Anyway, the other day I remember hearing someone somewhere say that in order to raise happy healthy children their parents need to tell them they are loved on a daily basis.

I agree with that – and my husby and I make sure we tell them (& we tell each other) numerous times a day how much we love them. But, I wasn’t convinced that it was helping much on the happiness level – especially when listening to the 5-year-old howl because the 8-year-old won’t stop staring at him – as though his eyes were burning a hole into his forehead and sucking out his brains!

But then, last night when one daughter was having a really rough time with one son it hit me.

I might tell them I love them all the time – but are they telling each other?

I hear constant barbs and mean words tossed about among occasional kind phrases, but after listening for a while it hit me in the gut that they don’t tell each other “I love you.”  At least, not very often. Could those three little words really make that much of a difference coming from a sibbling?

I decided to test it out. I snagged my 13-year-old and whispered a few moments with her about my plan and challenged her to be sure each day to tell every one of her siblings “I love you” and I encouraged her to use their names in the phrase too. I asked her to try it out on her brother whom she was struggling with at the time and see what happened.

She looked rather dubious – after all, this was some crazy Mom scheme- but being a good sport she gave it a try – it was even heart felt! Her brother looked a little surprised. I encouraged him with a whispered “what do you say when someone says ‘I love you’?”

A little smile played around his lips, and he said, “I love you too.”

The grin on the 13-year-old was amazing. The 8-year-old was beaming and neither remembered why they were so angry in the first place.

Then she tried it on her sister who had the same surprised reaction. Again, I gave the gentle prompting and the love was recipocated with grins from bother girls.

This was too good to pass up! I challenged all the kids to tell each of their siblings “I Love You” every day.

On the way home from Stake Conference as the 2 older boys were going at it, I reminded them of the three most important words they could ever hear or say. Before I knew it they were giggling and tossing back and forth numerous “I love you”s to each other.

I can feel a difference.

It’s only been a couple days, but the feeling in our home has completely changed.

There has always been love in our home – but now it is being more fully expressed by our children – and that is making all the difference. There are still squabbles and fights – but at least they know they are loved by each other.

The greatest gift a family can give to each other is love.

It’s not enough for just the parents to express their love on a regular basis to each other and their children  – or for the children to express their love for their parents. To truly have love at home, they need to express it to each other too – every day.  I feel so blessed to have that little nugget of wisdom. It seems so simple – yet it is making such a blessed difference in our home.

There is truly beauty all around when there is love *expressed* at home! 😀

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Filed under Children, Parenting

A Bit about James

Each of our children has had a very distinct personality:

Lizy was the quiet one who had a goofy streak and a temper.

Dot is the social, strong willed, nutty one.

Emily is the sweet bubbly, always smiling one.

Jacob is the class clown goofball type.

Robert is still a little young to know for sure, but he tends to be a little more on the serious side  – though he can giggle with the best of them.

But, James is the ultimate

Ham!

Throw him on a slice of bread with swiss cheese and you could just gobble him up.

He loves making you laugh, and he knows just how to do it.

He was the one who started the underwear ninjas at our house among the boys – he came bounding out of his room with his underwear on his head pearing out one hole. He struck his most serious ninja pose and said:

“I am a ninja.”

And I dissolved into laughter

(at least the underwear was clean).

Jacob soon followed suit and soon both boys were running around as underwear ninjas.

Last spring just before he [finally] potty trained, I changed his pull-up one morning and sent him off to the bathroom before putting a clean one on. As he went, he wiggled his wee little naked bum all the way to the bathroom, singing:

“Shake your booty.”

“Shake your booty.”

I giggled.

A lot!

He has this funny thing with clothes. (though he’s finally starting grow out of it now that he’s in underwear). He will wear all the shirts in his drawer – at once – and

NO PANTS! 

One morning I was talking with a neighbor in the driveway and he came running out with nothing on but a cape and his diaper – oh, and socks on his hand. He zoomed around us a few times as I tried not to be mortified before dissapearing inside the house. My neighbor patted me on the shoulder, laughing, and said,

“It’s ok. He’s a boy.”

He rolls, tumbles, dives, climbs and has the goofiest, cheesiest grin and faces. His please face would put all puppy dogs to shame. And his pirate roar would make everyone tremble.

And he’s my Glue.

I nicknamed him that because he just sticks to me – the ultimate snuggler and in these months since Lizy, I am even more grateful for those snuggles. He’ll scootch right up to me and say

“I am your glue.” 

So, that is James in a nutshell:

my Ham & Cheese sandwich.

All of my kids are amazing and I am so blessed to be their mom. 😀

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Filed under Bobert, Children, Em, Humor, Jacob, James, Lizy

To a Special Dot, Love Lizy

Lizy loved to write. She’d often write little poems about all sorts of things.

One day, a couple months after Lizy passed away, we were cleaning up the basement and found a folded up piece of paper. “To a Special Dot” was written on the outside.

Dot had been a having a rough day. Missing Lizy and difficulties with siblings, and she was feeling rather down.

A funny look came over her face and she opened up the note.

“To Dot
Even though the sadness rings
It is all so fun to sing
with a loving sister
even with the blisters
The sun will always cheer
the sadness. Can you hear?
Singing through the rafters
is the trio singing sisters.
Love,
Lizy

Cheer up! I will always love you!

I will always love you
In rain or shine
With old or new
with lemon or lime
with love no one is gone
with love you’re happy
I love you, Dorothy. ”

It was like a little message from Lizy sent from Heaven. Dot doesn’t remember ever seeing it before and we thought it must have gotten lost in the couch before she got to read it.

Receiving it when she did, was a miracle. The words carried more impact than Lizy could have ever imagined when she wrote them. Dorothy cried as she read it and marveled that she found it when she most needed a Lizy hug.

And I was so grateful that Heavenly Father blessed her with finding that note when she needed it most. And that Lizy was thoughtful and loving enough to write it in the first place.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Dot, Lizy, Miracles, Writing

The Faces of My Motivation

I’ve been asked sometimes, how do you do it?

How do you keep going?

Stay positive?

Be strong?

I’m not and I don’t. Not all the time at least. I struggle and I cry.

Sometimes I sob.

But, I can’t let myself do that a lot.

I can’t afford it.

I might have lost one precious and amazing daughter,

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but I have five more children who need me to keep it together.

So, when all else fails. When I’m tempted to give in, hide for a week, or turn into a quivering mess and stick my head in the sand for the rest of the month, week, or even year…

These are the glorious faces that keep me going:

Bobert

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Jamesy

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J-Kabob

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Emmy

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Dot

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They are my joy. I look at these photos and my heart swells and thumps and my eyes tear at the beauty in their face and their joy, even amidst the sorrows (these were taken this summer). It shines through and fills me in the darkest moments.

And of course, nothing would be possible without my amazing Husby.

Paul Wagner

He doesn’t mind if I soak his shirts with tears, or snap in frustration after a bad day. He always makes me smile and laugh. He is my hero.

So, the answer is, I do it for them. I do it for Lizy. We can only be together forever if I keep on keeping on. 🙂
Without them, I think this journey would be impossible.
They are amazing and I love them with ALL my heart.

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Filed under Bobert, Child loss, Children, Dot, Em, Family, Gratitude, Jacob, James, Lizy

I said yes, instead of no, and that has made all the difference

So many times as parents we tell our children no when they want to do things with us.

We’re too tired.

We’re too busy.

We don’t feel like it.

We’d rather get the cleaning done, or maybe we just slipped into that delicious book we started a week ago and have been waiting to find out what happens next.

I know I’ve been guilty of it far too often, but there was one week where I didn’t say no. It was Spring Break.

On Sunday the kids wanted to lay outside while Dad grilled dinner. I said yes and read “Harry Potter” to them on the grass.

On Monday the kids wanted to use our newly created fire pit. It wasn’t really finished, but I asked Dad and he said Yes (even though he wanted to finish it first) and we had our first hotdog roast in the backyard and read scriptures and ghost stories around the fire. It is an AWESOME memory.

On Tuesday I had planned to take the kids hiking, but the morning was slow and things weren’t going the best and I almost changed me mind. It took them hiking, even though I wanted to just stay home and we had an amazing time. I was blessed with a special experience and some wonderful fun memories.

On Wednesday Lizy asked if I could take her shopping. She’d earned some money babysitting and needed some new shoes. I wasn’t really in the mood to go. The house was a wreck after our hike the day before, and there was SO much that needed to be done. But, despite all that, I said yes. We had the BEST time. We laughed and joked and she found some adorable pink flip flops with a big pink flower on each one and a pair of new tennis shoes. She even had enough to get the CD she wanted – Ocean Eyes by Owl City and we had fun listening to the fireflies song.

That night when Em went to a friend’s house, she and Dot wanted to sleep in the basement. I said yes, and I didn’t even complain when they stayed up to 12:20 – I’m so glad I didn’t send them to bed early. I’m so glad they had that time together.

On Thursday morning the kids cut pictures out of old magazines and then the accident happened.

I am so grateful I said yes.

I am so grateful I said yes, when I wanted to say no.

I am so grateful that instead of a week of regrets, I have a week of wonderful memories.

I am SO grateful that I had that last mother/daughter date with my little Lizy.

Life is so precious. Hobbies and cleaning can wait to a degree. I know we need to say no once in a while, but we need to say yes more often. We never know when our yes, might be the last yes we can say.

Enjoy your children. Put down the broom, the computer, the washcloth, the book, the amazing project your doing, and go play with them now. They’ll never forget the time you spend with them, and beleive me…..

neither will you.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Philosophy

Our First Annual Lizy Day

I remember holding you when you were first born. SO delicate, so tiny. I had never held a baby so new from God before. My heart was filled with awe and amazement that you were mine. I held you so close that first night and you snuggled in my arms. Falling asleep to the beating of my heart. You enchanted me and made me yours.

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Over the years you grew into a charming young lady and a friend. Your smile enchanted our hearts and brightened our days. Your desire to live righteously guided those around you. I have felt and continue to feel honored to call you daughter.

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You loved your family and protected them, taught them, showed them a loving example. We will always hold wonderful memories of your laugh, your lizard tongue, our hikes, plays, games, and music together. You enriched our lives and will continue to not only enrich our lives, but the lives of many to come.

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We love you so much, Lizy, and miss you terribly. Today was so hard, not being able to celebrate your 13th birthday with you, though I know you were with us in spirit. We laid flowers on your grave and celebrated all things pink – just for you! Thank you for blessing our lives and the lives of so many others.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Lizy, Memory, Parenting

Planting Lilies for Lizy

lillies for Lizy

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Family, Lizy, Nature, Parenting

Gaining A New Perspective

The first Monday after Elizabeth passed away I woke up between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning. I couldn’t sleep. I lay thinking of my daughter and how much I missed her.  Paul woke up around the same time and we lay in bed talking about her and the recent events.

As the sky lightened, I had a sudden longing.

“Paul, lets go watch the sunrise,” I whispered.

He nodded his head and checked to see when sunrise was supposed to be – we had 3 minutes, so we got dressed and went to stand in the drive way.

We faced east and waited.

And waited.

The sun rose, but it was overcast, and while it was pretty, it was difficult to see much. Honestly it was a little dissapointing. There were a few tinges of pale pink and gold that crept around the heavy clouds, but nothing like what I imagined. I leaned my head on Paul’s shoulder and sighed. I wanted more.

Then, Paul turned and looked behind us – towards the west.

“Look!”  He said, and I turned.

Behind us the clouds were bathed in golden pink light. My heart thrilled and I felt close to my little Lizy.

I thought about that beautiful moment many times in the past week. How often do we become focused on what’s right in front of us or on a single moment and fail to notice the beauty behind or all around? How often do we fail to see the little miracles, or even bigger ones, because we are focused on one major, specific event?  How often do we not notice how blessed we are because they come from unexpected places?

Life can send us many unexpected events. We can miss the blessings in these events if we only focus on where we expect the blessings or joy to be. We need to have a 360 degree perspective to really find all the joy in life. We never know when it might be right behind us.

Lizy’s death was tragic and unexpected, and we miss her SO very much, but just like our surprise sunrise in the west, we have witnessed so many unforseen blessings and miracles through this.

We have felt sorrow, yes, but also peace and immense, powerful, joy.

The sun will always rise on our sorrows….. if we let it.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Lizy, Miracles, Nature, Parenting

Lizy’s Eulogy

Ray of sunshine come to play
Scatters rainbows dancing merrily
Chasing storm clouds from my face

Teasing me as I try to catch it in my hand
It breaks into a million pieces
As giggles bounce off the walls
Infusing everything with sheer delight of life

A splash of gaiety to even the darkest of days
I never thought I could hold a piece of sun
Until I held you.

Elizabeth Ane  was born April 22, 1999, to Paul and Julia in American Fork,Utah. She was born two weeks early and proved to be unexpected throughout the remainder of her life.  From her earliest days she enjoyed sticking her tongue out and thus earned the nickname Lizard. Her favorite toy was always her sister, Dorothy, and as they entered the family, Emily, Jacob, James, and Robert became subject to her fun-loving nature and imagination, and her love of Pink.

Lizy always had a genuine  smile  that warmed the heart and made everyone around her feel better about themselves.  She loved people. It didn’t matter who they were, what age, or where they were from. When she was eight she decided to host her first lemonade stand. She insisted that all the funds raised went to the Children’s Heart Foundation to help kids like her brother.  Whether it was a secret smile and wave from the primary choir or raking a neighbor’s leaves she lived to bring joy into others’ lives, and the color pink.

She always had this way of looking on the bright side of things. No matter how bad a situation was she always found a good way of looking at it. She loved looking at the world through rose colored glasses because everything looked pink.

She loved nature and being outside. She was a huge advocate for our family camping trips and hikes. She would race ahead on the trail to hide behind a tree, hoping for the chance to scare her daddy, and how she grinned when he pretended to jump in surprise.  She loved the ocean, building sand castles, playing with cousins, splashing in the waves, and she loved the sunsets, especially when they turned pink.

Lizy loved being goofy. Sometimes it was on purpose, and sometimes on accident. One time when she was in third grade her sister asked at dinner how we could taste things.  She proudly proclaimed that, “It’s the taste bugs on your tongue that do the tasting!”  There was also one night when we were having spaghetti and she asked “Could you please pass the noods?” We all started laughing and she turned beat red, while giggling herself.  She learned all the jokes she could and shared them with anyone who would listen, especially if they included the color pink.

She loved music. As a one year old she would sing her baby sister to sleep. She didn’t typically bang at the piano but try to make up sweet little melodies to sing to until she was old enough to learn to play. When she entered sixth grade she fulfilled a dream of hers and began playing the flute. Whenever she was angry or upset, she turned to music to comfort and we’d often hear the sweet (and sometimes sour) tones of her flute drifting from her bedroom and down the stairs.  She was tickled pink with the thought of participating in her first solo ensemble contest.

She loved being in Young Women’s, going to girl’s camp, and attending the temple with the youth.  She earned her Faith in God and loved working on her Personal Progress.  She helped keep her mother on track as they worked together setting goals. She did her best to exemplify each of the eight young women values. Many today come with their toenails painted in honor of Lizy. One color for each of the values she incorporated in her life. White stands for faith, blue for Divine Nature, red for Individual Worth, Green for Knowledge, Orange for Choice and accountability, yellow for Good Works, Purple for integrity, and gold for virtue.

Lizy loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we forgot to hold family prayer or scriptures she would remind us immediately. She knew Jesus Christ was her Savior and that He loved her. She dreamed of going on a mission and being married in the temple. She strove each day to improve the person she was.  We know she had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and loved to share it with others by simply being who she was and standing for her values.

We will miss her terribly, but we know she is happy. We know families can truly be together forever, and until we see her again, we will find her in people’s joy, in the flowering blossoms of a cherry tree, in the heartbeat of a child, the little twinkle in two people’s eyes, in the skip of a stranger’s step and in the pink of every sunrise.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Lizy, Parenting