Category Archives: Miracles

Two Boys, a Man, and a Prayer

I was in between running errands. Home just fifteen minutes before running off to do the next thing when my doorbell dinged. Twice. I was annoyed. Partially because double dings always feel so impatient. I reminded myself that this was most likely no fault to the person at the door, but when I looked through the window and saw an older man I didn’t recognize the irritation came back. I yanked the door open fully prepared to tell the man we didn’t want any and go about my business.

He spoke before I could utter a word. “You have two boys, right? Jacob and James.”

“Yes,” I replied.

“I have something for them. Did they tell you about what happened yesterday when I was looking for my cat?”

“They mentioned it.”

He then proceeded to tell me a story. A story of two boys, a man, and a prayer.

He and his wife had lost their cat. They had been searching for four days. He was near our yard looking when the boys got off the bus. He told them he was looking for his cat and asked if they had seen him around. The boys said no and helped look for a while. After a bit they paused to rest, the man’s knees were bothering him. Jacob whispered in James’ ear.

“What are you two plotting?” The man asked with a laugh.

They laughed, whispered a bit more and then asked, “Can you kneel?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I can.”

“We want to say a prayer for your cat,” the boys said.

The three of them knelt on the grass and one of the boys prayed and asked for the cat, Biscuit, to be able to safely return home. After the prayer they stood and one of the boys looked at the man. “We prayed. God will help and your cat will come home now.”

The man looked at me, very emotional. “Our cat came home last night. He had gotten trapped in a neighbor’s basement area.”

He then proceeded to hand me an envelope for each boy. “I really appreciate the prayer they said with me. You have very fine boys.”

When my boys got home, I told them the man had come by and had left something for them and that his cat had been returned. Immediately my two boys knelt down to pray and thank Heavenly Father for the return of Biscuit, the man’s cat.

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Miracles at Christmas

I felt like I stood at the edge of a cliff looking out over the next month or so, seeing Christmas and all the wonderful and hard it would be. It was quite overwhelming, facing another year without Lizy. I told myself it should and would be easier, but I couldn’t deny the ache growing in my heart that something would be missing from our Christmas this year, just as it was last year.  Then I felt as though someone gave me a great shove off that precipice and Christmas was rushing up to meet me head on, much faster than I wanted it to.

But a few things happened this year, that made Christmas miraculous. Honestly, I believe Christmas is miraculous every year because for our family it is a time to Celebrate the miracle of Christ, but this year became special in it’s own way.

I would love to say that our Christmas was miraculous because the kids got along and there was less fighting. Or that I held myself together with grace and accomplishment and didn’t get upset or frustrated at all with kids. But, that was not the case. Our kids still fought, and I was a sobbing mess on a number of occasions.

One of the first miracles came early in December. I was working on making gifts when I discovered I needed some key rings to finish them off. I knew we had a bunch somewhere and started to dig through boxes that had been stowed away and almost forgotten. One such box was marked “Mom-Office/kids gifts.” I had forgotten that when we had moved from Oregon, I had packed away the odds and ends the kids had bestowed upon me in a box with some office stuff (mainly old negatives). Curious as to what I would find I opened the box eagerly.

Tears sprung to my eyes as my gaze landed on a miniature stuffed black cat. To any typical observer, this little cat would have looked worn, and maybe a little rag-tag. Some would call it worn out or ratty, others well-loved. To me, it was a special love note from heaven. It had been a cherished treasure of our precious Lizy. To me it was a note from Heaven, telling me that Heavenly Father was ever aware of my aching heart and my needs. It was a special gift from my Lizy at a special time of year. It’s name is *Oreo, and he kept me company through the rest of the month, sitting on my desk, watching over the gifts I made for my family.

I carried the box upstairs and continued to go through it, I found cards and bookmarks she had made for me, and nick-knacks she and her sisters had given me through their early years. My heart swelled and I burst out laughing with love and delight as my gaze fell upon a piece of paper with a lizard sticker on it with the words, in Elizabeth’s writing, “Your pet Lizard (Me)!” I was overwhelmed, not only had I been blessed with little Oreo, but so many wonderful treasures that I hadn’t set eyes on in years.  It felt like special gifts from Lizy all over again, even more cherished the second time.

Our next miracle came in disguise. At first I thought I was providing someone else with  a miracle, but I think it was more for me than for the receiver. I have noticed numerous times when I headed to the fabric store (located in a large shopping center with a Walmart and numerous other stores) a homeless woman standing with a sign in the median in the entrance to the parking lot. A few times I had the thought to give her some food, but I was always stuck in moving traffic and a quick scan of the car never yielded anything of sustenance or warmth. This particular day as I began to pass the woman, I thought, when are you going to quit thinking of helping her, and actually do something about it? Immediately I felt small and I knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to help this woman. No more excuses about not having anything in the car, or being in too much of a hurry to go into the store to get something.

At first I thought I could buy her a hamburger meal or something, but then I felt something more sustaining was needed. I maneuvered our van into the neighboring lane that turned right and pulled back into the parking lot further down. Excitement thrilled inside me as I unloaded the two little boys and started on my shopping trip. I knew it couldn’t be too much, she had to carry it, after all, and I didn’t want it too heavy. Into the cart went some bread, peanut butter and jam, fruits and vegetables, milk, and a special Christmas treat. The boys were excited and happy to make suggestions.

I paid and carted the bags to the car, carrying them by hand across the parking lot to test their heaviness. I condensed the items into as few bags as possible and set them on the passenger seat for easy access.  Knowing that I had been inspired to do this thing, I hopped into the car and pulled into the first left turning lane so I could hand the bags out the window to the woman. My heart thumped and I grinned from ear to ear as I pulled forward.

She wasn’t there.

I frowned, trying to decide what this meant. Perhaps I had been mistaken in my thought this was a prompting. Perhaps I should just take the food home, goodness knows we would make fast use of the groceries. But no, I had the though to try again. Just as I turned left onto the highway, I saw the woman cutting across the parking lot. I drove off, looking for a place to turn around. There wasn’t a place to turn quickly, so it took me a while to get back and into that left turning lane. This time it would work out.

She wasn’t there.

I frowned again, having many of the same thoughts and once more receiving the feeling to try again. So, I made that same left turn, and again saw her crossing the parking lot just as I turned. I drove off to make my turn around. This time though, I was going to drive about the parking lot to see if I could find her, and I wouldn’t get into the left turn only lane.

I got back to the parking lot and began driving around. The longer I drove and looked the more discouraged I became. I wondered if I had imagined the feeling, or if perhaps the food was meant for someone else. I wondered how long I should search, it wasn’t too long before the girls would be coming home from school. I got the distinct impression to look until I found her.

My search turned up nothing. I crossed over the highway and looked in the parking lot of another large store and a fas tfood restaurant, praying all the while. Finally I was sitting back at the light, only on the opposite side of the street. I had a decision to make. To turn and go home or to go straight and look some more. A considerable amount of time had passed and I doubted I would find her. Then, as I waited to pull up to the light, I spotted her on the opposite side of the road. I watched, fascinated as she crossed the first half of the highway. Then I mentally urged her to hurry as the light turned green and cars ahead of me began to go.  I drove as slow as I could and breathed a sigh of relief when the light turned yellow as the car in front of me went through.

I stopped and watched as she crossed the rest of the way to my side of the highway. I rolled down the passenger window and began waving my arms, trying to capture her attention. She glanced my way, and then, as I motioned her towards me, stepped between cars. I pointed to the bags as she looked in my van. “I’ve been looking for you,” I said, “these groceries are for you.”

Her face sprung into an astonished and grateful smile as she uttered thanks. Gathering the bags she hurried out of the street and back to the sidewalk. My heart swelled and my eyes filled as I watched her walk down the sidewalk in my rear-view mirror, bags in hand. And I was immediately grateful for the miracle of being able to bless someone’s life. That experience has blessed me and taught me much, and I am so glad I didn’t give up when I couldn’t find her the first, second, or even the third time.

The next miracle came in the form of generosity from others towards our family. Beautiful, wonderful and special – these people who brought us these wonderful group of miracles will never know how much they blessed our family, in so many more ways than they could ever imagine.

Then came a miracle on Christmas Eve. It was so wonderful and so very hard. We had Christmas dinner and Robert’s elbow wound out being pulled out – a wonderful member of the ward and friend who is a pediatrician took the time to come put it back in so we could avoid the ER on Christmas Eve and we were able to continue with our acting out the Nativity with a happy little boy.

The day and evening finally wound to a close. Santa Daddy had come and bestowed his gifts to the family, the stocking were filled, and the presents placed beneath the tree. Everything was done, except for the cinnamon buns that would raise all night for breakfast the next morning. I quickly put them together while Paul washed up some final dishes from the day. It was late and I was tired. I heated the syrup on high and, turning the stove off, poured it over the cinnamon buns. I went to cover them with plastic, but realized they would rise better on the stove, a warmer spot in the kitchen. I glanced at the stove. It was a mess. I grabbed a clorox cleaning wipe and, forgetting that I had moments ago turned the burner from high heat to off, placed my hand right down on the burner.

Oh, how I howled. The pain was excruciating and I dove for the cold water. Tears streamed down my face and my hand just burned in pain. Paul grabbed some burn cream and we slathered it over my hand. I sat, crying, hoping that it wouldn’t be to bad, hoping to avoid the hospital, and wondering what I would do on Christmas if I couldn’t play the piano for the family or play with the kids. I tearfully asked Paul for a priesthood blessing. By morning the pain had diminished to almost nothing. My hand still ached a little and felt slightly swollen, but there was no sign of a burn other than slightly red skin and two tiny little blisters on the pads of my first and second fingers.

By lunchtime my hand felt totally normal and I was playing the piano without any trouble. What a wonderful miracle for our family. What a wonderful moment to share with the children. It was another love note from Heavenly Father telling me that he cared.

Our final miracle came Christmas night. A marvelous miracle brought to us by so many. We had invited people to join us in filling Lizy’s stocking with acts of service. We gathered on Christmas evening around the tree and emptied out the full stocking and began taking turns reading the wonderful acts of service that not only our family had put in her stocking, but that so many had done and told to us so we could put them in her stocking.  I am sure Lizy was with us, grinning from ear to ear over her Christmas gift. And, not only did it help us all feel closer to Lizy, but it helped us feel closer to our Savior Jesus Christ.

So, our Christmas was full of miracles both big and small. We saw the hand of God in our lives time and time again. I know Heavenly Father is aware of us. He is aware of our struggles and trials, our heart aches and sorrows. He knows exactly what we need. I shudder to think that I could have so easily overlooked some of these miracles. Sometimes they can be hard to see and go unnoticed. Sometimes we can be so caught up in our troubles that we forget to look up and see the light. He is there and He loves us. He will never ever leave us. Sometimes He is easily seen, and sometimes we have to look for Him.

I am in awe of our wonderful miraculous Christmas, and so very, very grateful.

*a long time ago I wrote this post about Lizy and her Oreo – complete with a picture of the little stuffed kitten.

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Em’s Guardian Angel

Two weeks ago, on the 7th of September, we had some friends over to roast hotdogs and marshmallows.

I was at the top of the hill near the fire, visiting with the parents while the kids ran about.

Some were clustered, as is the usual habit, around the tire swing. It’s a main attraction at our house.

Paul and I even joke about how we bought the house just for the tire swing.

Last spring the girls figured out how to climb the rope – all the way to the branch above.

Em was the first – cute little monkey.

Em Rope Climb

Dot, never to be outdone by a younger sister, was close behind.

Dot Rope Climb

Lizy never quite figured it out.

So, this evening, Emily wanted to demonstrate her rope climbing prowess to her friends.

She hopped on the tire and started to shimmy up the rope.

She didn’t get to far when a resounding

CRACK!

echoed across the lawn and neighborhood.

I looked down the hill and saw Em slumped on the ground.

Yelling,

“DON’T MOVE!”

I raced to her.

She couldn’t breathe and she looked terrified.

I was terrified.

Terrified it was all happening again.

But, then, Paul showed up,

“It takes a minute to get your breathe back when the wind’s been knocked out of you.”

Oh yeah. I knew that. I relaxed and focussed on helping Em take long deep breathes.

Once she got her breath back we had her slowly move all her limbs.

She was fine.

(Even played in her soccer game the next day)

It suddenly dawned on me that the branch had broken and should really be on top of her (it was a hefty branch too).

I saw it laying at least a foot to the right.

I looked at Emily.

I was so GRATEFUL

Grateful that the branch broke before Emily had gotten too high. Grateful the branch didn’t land on her or anyone else. Grateful that she was unhurt – a little shocked and scared maybe – but unhurt.

“I think your big sister is watching out for you,” I whispered.

“I know she is,” Emily whispered back.

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Our Miracle Van (the Ark) at Work

Early Saturday afternoon I was driving home from the temple with 5 young women in the Ark. We had had an amazing experience combined with a gorgeous (and very pink) sunrise.

The drive home from the temple is 2 hours and we were nearing the end, just starting to get into metro Cincinnati.

I, following the speed of traffic, was going close to 80 miles an hour and in the far left lanes, getting ready for the freeway to divide.

Even though I was going fast there were still cars whizzing by.

All of a sudden I heard this awful grating noise that sounded like metal running or dragging on pavement.

I glanced around and realized it was me and  it was coming from the back right area of my van.

Confused and worried about what was going on, I signaled and managed to weave through four lanes of traffic until I could pull off on the shoulder.

I thought maybe I had a flat because the van didn’t feel right, but it didn’t sound like a flat.

I got out of the van and walked around to where I heard the noise and my jaw dropped.

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Luckily, the bishop was a little ways behind us and managed to get over and pull off barely in front of us. He came back, looked at my tire, and told me what he saw.

From a little ways behind us he saw and impressive explosion of black debris fly at least fifty feet in the air. Pieces of tire flew everywhere. Cars were weaving trying to dodge the stuff, and some of it hit his car. He has a motorcycle, and said that if he had been on it, the flying debris would have taken him out. At first he thought it was a truck and trailer, but his son said he thought it was us. He knew as soon as we started slowing down and changing lanes.

He commended me on my superb control of the van saying he couldn’t believe how steady I kept it and didn’t swerve or anything.

“Bishop,” I said, “I didn’t feel a thing. The van didn’t jerk, or swerve, nothing. All that happened is I suddenly heard an awful sound and I knew something was wrong, so I started changing lanes to pull over.”

It wasn’t me keeping control of that van. Having a tire blow like that, at that speed, on a crowded MAJOR freeway… we’re lucky to be alive, let alone healthy, happy, completely unhurt, and our van untouched and needing nothing other than new tires. I know we had hosts of angels around us keeping us safe.

We dug around trying to locate the jack (we had to move a giant bag of clothes someone had given me, a camp chair, two strollers, and two car seats) and things we’d need to drop the spare tire stored under the van. We were all nervous standing on the side of the freeway with cars speeding past us. Thankfully, after a bit, I remembered I had a AAA membership. I used one of the girls’s phone to call. Because of our location – on the side of a major and very busy freeway, about a mile away from the closest exit – we were bumped to top priority.

We stayed in the van with our seat belts on. The girls were wonderful – a little worried, but not freaking out or anything and one suggested a prayer. We did so and spent our time waiting by chatting with each other.

The other van that had gone up to the temple was a ways behind us and as they got closer they saw tire debris scattered across the freeway. “That was some tire blow out,” one of them mentioned. A short while later they saw the Ark and the Bishop’s car stopped on the shoulder with our hazards flashing. After calling to be sure everything was fine, they decided to drop leaders and young men off at the church and come back for the young women to get them safely home.

About ten or fifteen minutes after we had been rummaging around the back end for the jack and such, a car pulled up behind us. I could see a man and his wife in the car. Feeling like it was safe, I hopped out of the van as he approached.

“We saw the tire blow and you guys digging for a jack, we wanted to make sure everything was ok and that you didn’t need assistance.”

I was awed and impressed by the man’s caring and kindness. He had passed us, gotten off the freeway and doubled all the way back to come seek out if we needed help. I assured him that we were fine and had called AAA. I thanked him for his kindness.

“I’m just doing my biblical duty,” he said with a smile.

I am grateful that there are such good people in the world.

We only had to wait less than 30 minutes for the AAA guy to show up, and the van for the young women showed up just few minutes later. We got them in and off to their homes in their safety.

It took a while to get our tire changed. Apparantly it’s pretty challenging with our kind of van (it was the AAA guy’s least favorite to work with). Once again, I was grateful I remembered I had a AAA membership and that he took his time to do everything right to keep us safe. If he was having a hard time with it, it would have been a nightmare for the rest of us. During the process, the Bishop asked him to take a look at our front tire because he thought the tires had dry rot, and the AAA guy confirmed it. So, I was told not to drive too fast home and that the tires on the van needed changing yesterday. 🙂

For now, we’re back to driving the Purple People Eater for a couple days while we price out new tires.

The bishop followed me home to be sure I arrived safely. A couple of the girls were hanging out at our house for a while, so we took the opportunity to snap a couple pictures.

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I am SO grateful for the Lord’s protection and the blessings of attending the temple. What could have resulted in a deadly accident resulted in nothing more than a minor inconvenience and some new tires.

It was a miracle.

I know hosts of angels were keeping us safe and I’m sure Lizy and my Dad were among them.

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The Miracle of our Ark

We’ve had a number of amazing experiences since Lizy passed away, each one letting us know how very much our Heavenly Father loves us and is aware of all we go through.

Most recently is the miraculous story of our new van.

Our old van was purple –

Barney Purple

(I’ve never been a fan of Barney)

The poor thing was rather dilapitated.

You had to pound on the dashboard to get it to work – all the gauges would frequently go out.

sometimes you had to pound numerous times!

And it was getting worse.

The AC had been broken for 3-4 years

sometimes the fans would work

and sometimes they wouldn’t

You just prayed they decide to work in the winter…

and it leaked oil.

And we hadn’t had the money to fix it.

It just was not a happy van.

Every time I got in, I prayed that we would get to where we’re going, and we did. There’s proof right there that God answers prayers. 🙂 Anyway, we’d known for quite some time that we desperately needed a new vehicle and we worried and fretted about how we would manage it without going into more debt.

One day, one his way home from work, Paul saw a van for sale by the owner. A nice, full-size conversion van for 7K. He wrote down the info and forgot about it. He didn’t see the van outside again and assumed it had sold.

A few weeks later, as we were sitting down for a family movie, he felt prompted to call about the van. He did and it was still available so we set up an appointment to see it the next day for our date.

We pulled up to the house and an older gentleman came out to greet us. We talked about numerous things including the van and our family – but we didn’t bring up Lizy. Finally we took it for a test drive. It drove so smooth. It really was a beautiful van.

The only problem was, we couldn’t afford it.

We needed something like it, but unless the owner would take payments, we wouldn’t be able to manage.

The owner and his wife came out to speak with us upon our return from the test drive. We talked a bit about how nice the van was and then, before we could ask about payments or anything, he became a little emotional and said,

“I was sitting inside with my wife while you were gone, talking about your family, and I just kept feeling that your family needs the van. I don’t want you to feel any pressure or anything and I don’t know what you can afford. If you can send $100 here and $100 there, that’s fine. All we really need is $1000. I just feel like God is telling me you folks need this van.”

I think our jaws almost fell off.

I was in shock at the generosity of this stranger.

I felt prompted to tell him about Lizy. He and his wife cried as I did so. He told us to take some time, and pray, but that the van was ours if we wanted it, and if we couldn’t swing the $1000 then they would take what we could pay.

We left feeling blessed and loved.

That night Paul and I knelt together and prayed about the van, asking our Heavenly Father if it was the right thing for us to do. We felt impressed that it was a gift for us. Usually we have a mechanic look at vehicles we’re interested in purchasing, but I got the distinct feeling that the van was fine and no mechanic was needed.

A few days later we purchased the van for $1000 after verifying that the owner truly didn’t need more.

It was a miracle.

We avoided more debt.

And I feel we both our families were touched by the experience.

We took our family to meet them, and gave them one of Lizy’s remembrance cards.

I don’t think I could ever express my gratitude completely to them or to my Heavenly Father.

The van is big and tan and promptly dubbed

The Ark.

We decided it fit especially since Paul’s white car was named Moby Dick.

There are miracles all around us.

Some are big, like that of us finding our Ark.

Some are little, like the blossoming of a lily.

I am grateful for them all and our Heavenly Father’s

love.

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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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Whispers

Being

Gnarled silhouette
                              perching precariously upon the craggy cliff.
Defying the odds
     of a world that says
     it should not be there.
Roots digging,
                     grasping,
                          clinging,
Fierce determination
     to thrive.
Winds pummel the delicate branches mercilessly
      trying to tear them
      from their roots;
It remains steadfast.
Delicate, fragile, a beauty
      one regards with reverence.
Inner strength which the eye
      cannot behold.
Wisdom within
      its knotted branches;
God’s whisper upon the Earth.

Often that’s how I feel. Barely clinging on, grasping desperately at memories and trying to keep our lives moving forward. Sometimes I think I hurt more for my kids than for me. But even with all that is hard and feels close to impossible, I have seen and felt many of God’s whispers, especially since Lizy died. And often, they are accompanied by Lizy whispers too. A pink sunrise or sunset, pink flowers winking at me along a trail, a memory, a smile, a likeness.

All tender mercies from God that we are not forgotten.

Pink Sunset

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