Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hidden Blessings


It is April 15th and we are in the midst of the biggest blizzard in 129 years. We have been blessed with over two feet of snow! That's not the blessing I'm referring to. Six years ago, while driving home for Christmas, Jeff and Sammi's car died west of Fargo. I had to get in my car and drive the 8 hours to go rescue them along with Erin and baby Evelyn. It wasn't too difficult, just a pain. 

Fast forward to yesterday. Andrew is driving home after his semester in Salt Lake City. His cousin, Evan Hoffman, flew out there to drive home with him. Andrew's car is not very trustworthy. It has it's issues. Using oil being the major issue. Pat and I both offered many prayers that the car would function properly and get them back to Wisconsin. Pat and I were in Milwaukee overnight due to a speaking assignment in the north stake. We were supposed to speak in two units in the Appleton stake on our way home. Due to the blizzard, church was cancelled everywhere north of Milwaukee. 

Pat's phone rang just about midnight. It was Andrew. The car had just quit while they were driving. I lay there thinking, "But I begged and pleaded with God that he would bring those men home without incident." We both prayed several times. I felt very let down that God didn't grant me this very simple thing. I felt like just crying but knew that was useless. We made several calls and got no help. They called 911 and a tow truck was sent to rescue them. We told them all the important things to ask the driver. This morning we checked all of our options and determined that they should take a bus to Minneapolis and then rent a car to get the rest of the way home. 

Here is where the blessings come in. Evan got a few days off and decided he would like to visit his siblings in Idaho so he volunteered to drive with Andrew. The car died near Miles City, Montana (900+ miles from here) where there was cell service, hotels, a ward with a bishop and where there's a bus stop. They could have been in a place where the nearest city was an hour or more away. They could have been in a place with limited cell service. They could have been where there was no ward and thus no people to help them out. I felt very sorrowful as I contemplated just how blessed they were. They were together and they were safe! I asked my Father in Heaven to forgive me for my selfishness and thanked Him for all the tender mercies he had given. These blessings are not coincidences. 

Sometimes we don't get what we ask for in prayer. Sometimes we drive a junker car that the Lord knows will only last so long. He blesses us to get to a place where there are members of the church who can help us. That was the experience from six years ago as well. Wonderful people who took in our children. We do not know what God has in store for us. We do know that if we trust in Him, he will guide us and take care of us. My testimony has grown. My heart is softer and more broken than before. I know there are miracles. This miracle wasn't that the car would make it home but rather the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Friday the 13th

Who says Friday the 13th is unlucky?  Not for this family!  Meet Eli Mack Gourley born on Friday, April 13th 2018.  He's such a good baby.  Rarely cries and makes all the appropriate baby grunting noises.
He's got the Gourley boy dimple(s).  He's been here for less than two weeks and I've only gotten to snuggle him a few times but I'm in love with this little nugget.
It seems when Clare has a baby boy in the winter/spring months, he is born during a blizzard.  First Brock, then Butch and then little Eli was born during blizzard Evelyn which dumped 30+ inches of snow on us over the course of a Friday night through Monday morning.  It was the most snow in one storm since 1888 or some long ago time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I'm Still in Love

I've been married to this handsome guy for 35 years.  I'm still in love with him as much as I ever was.  In fact, more than I ever was!
In a Sunday School lesson this past week our teacher said that she's been married for 22 years and people want to know her secret for a long and happy marriage.

I've pondered over this a time or two in my life.  What I've decided first and foremost is that you both have to want it.  It just doesn't happen like some random miracle.  Common goals, values and beliefs are huge.  But then so is communication.  There is no room for keeping secrets from one another.  The only secrets that are allowed are the gift kind.  I love surprising and being surprised by the gifts we've given one another.

Random acts of kindness like bringing home flowers or making a favorite meal earn good points.  Helping around the house is also a great way to keep things alive.  Nothing pleases me more than randomly doing the dishes or cleaning up.  It shows how much he loves our home and me.

Taking a crying baby, especially during the night, long enough for me to get a second wind was so appreciated when we had little ones.  Sitting down and being able to talk to one another and our children is a great way to show me he loves me.

This is the guy I want to hold hands with forever.  I want his arms around me when I've had a bad day or unpleasant news.  It is his face I love to see in the temple.  Praying and serving God together has strengthened our relationship.  We haven't had much opportunity to serve together but now we do and it has enhanced our relationship.

I always wanted a marriage like the one my parents have.  As I as well as others, watched them, you could see how much they loved one another.  I believe we have that.  Sure we tease and spar occasionally but that too keeps us from making the trivial things too important.

When I read, "Men are that they might have joy", I believe I've found that joy in my marriage.  There is no one else ever that I would rather spend eternity with than my sweetheart.  Marriage is work.  It is give and take.  It causes tears and pain at time, but that is such a small part of my experience.  The happiness far outweighs any of the difficulties we've experienced.  Here's to 35 more!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wow!

This is probably a post for Sammi to share but I need to record it too. 

Sammi and Jeff have been dealing with infertility for several years.  I've watched the heartache as she discovers over and over that there is no pregnancy.  I fast and pray for them and add their names to the prayer roll at the temple. 

Late last year they did a procedure called IUI and it didn't work.  They opted to try IVF.  This is quite expensive and there are no guarantees that it will work.  Well, they retrieved some eggs before the end of the year and had them fertilized. 

Early this year they went to have the embryo transfer.  Sammi was hilarious as they gave her some medication to relax her and she acted very drunk. I know she would be a happy drunk.  Anyway, statistics show that with one embryo transferred there is a 51% chance of achieving pregnancy.  If two embryos are transferred it jumps to 68%.  They decided to go with the odds and transfer two in hopes of getting pregnant.

They got pregnant!  BOTH embryos took and she is now pregnant with TWINS!!!  We not only get a new daughter-in-law this year but we get three new babies added to the family.  I'm so thrilled for them!

This will surely be a memorable year for our family.  Let's just hope the news we get is the happy kind and no more illnesses or heart attacks or accidents.

Opportunities

My husband and I have been out speaking at various units throughout the state and upper peninsula of Michigan.  It has been a joy sitting at his side and sharing our thoughts. 
But, our calling is about more than going out and speaking.  We should be training stake presidencies, high councilors and stake leads.  So far, we have only one stake with a lead.  We need to do more training.  It is difficult to get all the key people in one place at the same time. 
Recently, we've received a few emails inviting us to speak at stake conference, train a ward council and more speaking opportunities.  I've also sent out some requests for training. 
I feel the work is about to pick up.  We recently sent out the monthly report with some quotes from Pres. Nelson and Elder Renlund from the rootstech conference that was recently held.  I received some great feedback from a couple of stakes as well as the mission president.  The Lord's hand is in this.  I feel it.  I see it. 
The promises made by the brethren of the quorum and the 1st presidency are so powerful.  I want those blessings in my life and that of my posterity.  So far it has been a blessing to share this calling with my sweetheart.  I look forward to more opportunities to work with him.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

When I was a teenager, Ma Hoffman had the missionaries living with her.  They had it good there as she did their cooking, laundry and cleaning.  She wouldn't take any money for rent either.  That was back in the day when each missionary paid whatever rent was in their area. 

I was at her home the day that a specific missionary got word that he was being transferred.  I don't recall his name but I know he was a larger guy.  Tall too.  Ma was maybe 5' tall.  This missionary was upset and crying because he didn't want to leave.  I suppose it was like living with your grandma when you stayed there.  I was standing in her kitchen when I saw her look up at this giant of a man and start singing, "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord, over mountain or plain or sea..."  He was still crying but I believe it was for a different reason now.  It was a powerful thing to witness.

Years ago when there was still a stake mission, I was interviewed by Gary Olsen and extended the call to be a stake missionary.  My husband was serving as a counselor in the stake presidency and I had many young children at home.  I had no idea how I could fulfill this commitment and told him that I would have to go home and pray over it.  I had never done that before.  I always accepted each calling when it was extended.  I spent the next week pondering, praying and wondering how I could possibly accept this calling.  Then I remembered that experience from years earlier.  I could hear Ma singing to me, "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord..."  When Gary called to ask what my decision was I was able to tell him that I would accept the call.  By the way, I loved that calling.

Fast forward to Sunday, February 11, 2018.  Pat and I were driving to Beaver Dam for a speaking assignment with our calling as Area Temple and Family History Consultants. I put a MoTab cd in to listen to music.  As I listened the choir began to sing,
It may not be on a mountain height or over a stormy sea,
It may not be on the battle's front, the Lord has need of me.
But if by a still, small voice he calls, to paths that I do not know,
I'll answer dear Lord, with my hand in thine, I'll go where you want me to go.

As I listened I thought how the Lord doesn't usually ask me to do things that are out of my scope.  Instead he asks me to do things that are out of my comfort zone.  He asks me to do things that will help me grow spiritually.  The KEY is the last line of that verse.  I'll go with my hand in His.  I love the imagery of that.  When I am asked to do hard things, He will take me by the hand and lead me.  With him leading, I can do all things.  I believe Nephi said something very similar in 1 Nephi 3:7.  There is nothing too difficult if I allow the Lord to help me do it.  I can do nothing of myself.  I will fail if I don't let the Lord lead me.

I now have an even greater appreciation for that hymn.  I WILL go where He wants me to go.

You're my Elder Ford

Pat and I spent a lot of time biking over the summer and fall.  I was sad when it got too cold to go out anymore.  I suggested we get some cross country skis for the winter as we have the Mountain Bay trail just across the street.  It is used as a snowmobile trail so it gets groomed.  In December Pat brought home two pairs of skis, poles and boots.  We went out a few times before the trail was groomed.  It made the going a bit tough but we really enjoyed it.  We tried to go out in new snow but that just does NOT work.  It has been so bitter cold that we just haven't gone out as much as we would have liked to. 

Today was a beautiful day in the high 30's or low 40's.  I believe the trails are closed to snowmobile traffic after being open for about a week.  The last two days have melted a lot of snow and ice.  It will be cold again tomorrow just as an FYI.  Anyway, we got out on that wonderfully groomed trail and started off.  I stayed with Pat for quite a while but he just doesn't glide across the snow like I do.  He spends more time "walking" across the snow.  I finally decided to go out and begin really striding and I got ahead of Pat by a bit.  Then I stopped and waited for him to catch up.  Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

Back up to Pat's mission.  He had a greenie named Elder Ford.  They were in a bike area and Elder Ford would always ride ahead, turn around and come back.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  So today Pat told me that I was his Elder Ford.  I consider that a compliment.