Wednesday, December 30, 2009

. . . . . . . . . Days in Paradise

We have now been in Hawaii for 17 days...ahh, the sun and warmth has penetrated my soul and I feel warm all over. It will be hard for me to return to the cold and snow next week.

Tolan and I just spent the last couple of days at the Marriott Ihilani. It is a beautiful hotel and our room had a large lanai overlooking the ocean. We spent hours talking, eating and looking at the ocean and listening to the waves. It doesn't get any more perfect than that. Even when it rained today, we enjoyed the surroundings. Outside our room were ponds, one with sting rays, the other full of hammer head sharks. The grounds were exquisite and the lagoon bays were picture perfect.

I feel stronger and healthier now than I have in over a year. Tolan and I went out each day for "power walks" and we went all over the property and shore walkways. We explored, talked and enjoyed the scenery, stopping to check out the tide pools and bays. Yesterday we laid on the beach and read books...and slept on the beach! So relaxing and wonderful!

This is truly a paradise, and for me, it has been rejuvenating in so many ways. I hope to go home feelings stronger and better than ever! My love to all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

. . . . . . . . Mary and CHRISTMAS

Have you ever taken a moment to think about what it must have been like for Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she first looked into the stable and saw her “room” for the night? Unlike the clean tidy straw and the perfect cradle-shaped mangers we have in our modern-day nativities, the stable Mary saw was likely musty, dirty, filled with flies and a variety of unclean animals. Yet, she knew when she saw that spot for the first time that it would be the place of something holy and miraculous, despite its current imperfections.

As a mother who preferred a clean hospital room to a stable, I believe it would have been disheartening and difficult to have such conditions. Surely Mary would have preferred the warmth and comfort of a room in the inn, but being an obedient, faithful, daughter of God, she humbly accepted the opportunity of motherhood and took her place in the stable. In order for her child, the literal son of God, to descend beneath all of mankind, so, too, did Mary, as she laid down amongst the animals for the sacred birth.

But being receptive to her calling, Mary did not see her condition as a trial, but as a blessing which allowed her to become a mother.

LDS Church scholar Susan Easton Black said that from the scriptures we learn, Mary’s son, Jesus, inherited “the physical, mental, and spiritual traits of his parents—one, the glorified God; the other, a worthy, blessed mortal woman.” Could Mary have had such blessings without experiencing the trials in her life?

Jesus was our perfect example, and he learned much at the hand of his righteous mother, yet even He had to suffer pain, injustice, beating and eventual death before His mortal mission was fulfilled. He knew suffering, though He did no wrong. We, as imperfect mortals, cannot hope to escape life without a bitter swallow here and there.

The amazing truth that Jesus Christ knew is that our trials are not meant to torture us or beat us down but are blessings meant to allow us opportunities for learning, growth and miracles!

This has been a year of many miracles for me and my family. We feel so blessed to KNOW the truth about our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to have been blessed by Him and our Heavenly Father. As we say Merry CHRISTmas this year, know that we mean it in the core sense of the word. May you be blessed with the spirit of CHRIST this season. May you have faith, hope, love and miracles surround you. May you serve others as He did and learn what the pure love of Christ is all about this CHRISTmas.

I love you all, more than you know. Thank you for making my whole year a season of CHRISTmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

. . . . . . . . Top 10 Reasons

Jodi's Top 10 Reasons to Be Grateful for a Brain Tumor

10. The "IV" only diet guarantees you will lose at least 15% of your body weight in just 5 weeks!
9. You can experiment with short and long hair styles on the same day.
8. If you forget someone's name, you can blame it on your missing brain.
7. People can call you metal head, air head and fat head without offense.
6. You can play the "Brain tumor card" to get out of any assignment at work or church.
5. You can be on the cutting edge of eye patch fashion trends.
4. You can sit around and watch movies all day and call it "recovering".
3. You are not only allowed, but encouraged to eat "whatever sounds good" to you.
2. When people call you "crooked" you can take it as a compliment.
1. Miracles are no longer scriptural terminology, but daily events!

There are always reasons to be grateful! My love and gr'attitude to all of you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

. . . . . . . . Gr'attitude

Today I feel truly blessed to be right where I am. I don't mean just physically, (though I am so grateful to be here in Hawaii!), I mean in every way. I am grateful to be where I am, who I am, with the challenges and struggles that are my own. I would not change them for anything. A crooked smile and physical handicaps are a small price to pay for the blessings that have been mine on this amazing journey.

This week as I was preparing to speak at the PCC, the thought occurred to me that perhaps gratitude should have been a contraction, a combination of the words GREAT and ATTITUDE. That is just what it takes to be able to be truly grateful for all that we have in life, both the good and the "bad". We must exercise this gr'attitude in order to turn any situation into a good one. (Be like "Polyanna" and play the Glad Game. :)

On our flight here Sunday, our airplane broke down, which caused a 5-hour delay, before we took off on the 7-hour trip. We had already boarded and were prepared to take off when the announcement was made and we all unloaded the plane. My kids were moaning from the start. I looked at them and told them that there is no point in getting mad at something that is beyond our control, whether brain tumors or broken planes, we can still make the best of it if we try.

And so that is exactly what we did. My parents pulled out the games, I withdrew the snack bags from the bag pack, and we played, all afternoon. :) We received meal vouchers so we went and had a big meal and were able to purchase lots of snacks for the flight. A very kind gentleman took my little ones on a cart and rode them around the airport as they exclaimed "Aloha, we're going to Hawaii." It was actually a very good day and the children did remarkably well considering we left for the airport at 9am and didn't arrive at my parents' home in Hawaii until 2am Utah time.

So, was it a trial or blessing that our flight was delayed? It all depends on your perspective, and of course, your gr'attitude. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

. . . . . . . . . A Near Perfect Day

Thursday was as close as it comes to a perfect day. The sun was shining from early in the morning and at first, the air was still. You could see beauty all around and hear birds chirping, equally happy at the amazing day.

As my Mom and I went to the PCC for the meeting in which I gave my talk, I honestly thought that there can't be a more beautiful place on the Earth. The Polynesian Cultural Center grounds are simply stunning and more like paradise than just about anywhere else. The meeting, a PCC Christmas meeting on gratitude, was absolutely wonderful. All of the speakers and performers were fantastic. I was brought to tears many times throughout the meeting, feeling the CHRISTmas spirit in the words and music. I feel so blessed to have been there.

I spoke directly following a DVD presentation - a DVD that was created for me by the good people at the PCC when I was in the hospital over the summer. Watching it was both difficult and good for me, but it made it hard for me to stand with dry eyes. My remarks were also on gratitude, and seeing that I have so much to be grateful for this year, I could have gone on forever, but then the audience wouldn't have been happy, so I kept it to about 15 minutes. :)
I couldn't possibly keep my emotions in check on this one, but it was OK and seemed to help them understand a little more from my perspective. We tried to get some pictures of the event that I will post later. Overall it was a great meeting and I was honored to have been a part of it.

Later in the day I took the boys back to the PCC and we got shaved ice and played some games. I love it there. I could stay all day, just walking around, enjoying the beauty.

After that, the kids wanted to go to the beach, so their uncles, Michael and Brandon took us to Castle Beach, where they helped teach the kids to boogie board. (They offered to give surf lessons, but my guys were a little gun shy when they saw the waves.) After much time sitting on the side watching, I decided I would attempt to get in.

I had to go in without eye protection and I was worried about getting salt water in my eye, but the conditions were just right so Michael and I paddled out on boogie boards and rode the waves for a while. Then we paddled some more and two giant sea turtles were within a few feet of us! It was amazing!

Later in the evening, Michael and I went on a walk with my little Daven. We walked over the LDS Temple grounds and went to the Visitor's Center, which was decorated with more than a dozen CHRISTmas trees. There was a slight breeze and it was refreshing and wonderful.

All in all, it was a near perfect day, with one exception, my dear Tolan is not here. He is still home in the cold and snow of Utah. If he had been here, it would have been a perfect day. Without him, it was close to perfection, but something was missing... :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

. . . . . . . . . .MRI Results!

People have been asking me for over 2 weeks now, "Have you heard the results from your MRI?" It's funny, but I haven't really been thinking about it, because I have just "felt" like everything was going to be OK.

Well, today I got the official word from Dr. Couldwell's office and I was told that everything looks good and I don't have to have another MRI for a year! That is even better than I would have anticipated! I don't have any more details than that because the information was left on my voice mail, so I wasn't able to ask questions and they didn't leave any more insider's information.

I think the feelings I've had have been a peace the Lord has blessed me with to know that I am getting better. I haven't worried about the tumor regrowing or future problems, I have just felt good about things. This peace has helped me to enjoy this beautiful CHRISTmas season without the turmoil and angst of wondering what was happening inside my head. (Thanks to my friend, Jason, whose use of the word CHRISTmas inspired me!)

Now I can put that behind me and move on with my CHRISTmas celebrations..oh yeah, did I mention I am enjoying those celebrations in Hawaii? :)

It's fun and wonderful to find warmth and love here in the Aloha state. I'm thoroughly enjoying my days on the beach and at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). In fact, Thursday morning at 9am, I am speaking at the PCC. My topic: Gratitude. I could talk forever about that one...I have much to be grateful for! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

. . . . . . . . . . .Seeking Warmth

I love it when the sun shines and warms my skin, my body and my soul. I can literally feel the warmth engulf me, as it radiates, first touching my "outsides" then touching my "insides". As it spreads, I can rest, relax, heal and love.

There is a warmth I love more than the strength and power of the sun, and that is the warmth and peace I feel from the love of my Savior. His spirit brings me joy that fills my whole being, and bursts out from me like rays shooting out from the sun. I can feel it when I hear the song, in scripture and in testimony. It warms me and tears well up in my eyes as my soul overflows with the waters of the gospel.

My friend, new to the gospel of Christ, told me that when she goes to church, she wants to cry the whole time she is there. At my home, listening to the scriptures and testimonies of Christ, she said her whole body felt "full" and "warm" and again, she wanted to cry. That feeling, the power of overwhelming love and comfort brings warmth to my life and carries me through my dark storms.

This month, I am seeking warmth. I am leaving the cold and seeking the warmth so that it may touch my skin, my body, my heart, my soul and my spirit. Will you join me? We can leave today and journey together. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

. . . . . . . . Only in Time

Six months ago today...

I was lying in a hospital bed, attempting to eat small bites of actual food, not "IV Nutrition" fed through tubes.

The pain was intense, but lessened from it's peak.

Loving company surrounded me and helped buoy my spirit.

Therapists came and tried to teach me to walk again. Not something you forget, but definitely something you need to practice.

Walking spiked a headache; I "hurried" to my room to rest.

Thoughts of my home kept coming to my mind... When will I go home to my family? Will I be able to be Mom again soon? Will my kids understand my limitations? Will they know that I want to pick them up and hug them, but I simply cannot? Will they get used to my new appearance and accept me as I am now? Will they ever know how much I really love them?

It was so long ago, and yet just yesterday in my mind. Six months ago, I was nearing the end of the first phase of my tumor journey, I was preparing to leave the hospital, all 93 pounds of me that was left. I was weak, but I was strong.

Today I am safe at home surrounded by love and comforts enough to spare. Life can change in an instant. Someday I will be able to get through a day without thinking about "all of this", but that is not today. Only in time will my trials become my past. For now, they are my daily reality and the fuel behind the fire that keeps me going. Six months ago I was healing, today I am healing still.

This post was inspired by Stephanie Clark Nielson's blog, . Her flashback post prompted my own reflections on time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

. . . . . . . . Prayers Please!

PLEASE pray for my dear friend Jason Reynolds. He is the one I visited in the hospital on Tuesday. His doctors don't know what to do to help his dire condition, and without help, the outlook is not good.

See Jason's story at . Please say extra prayers for him and his family. Just 6 months ago, I was in the hospital fighting for my life. Jason has been fighting for his life for 5 years! Please pray for him, his doctors and the medical staff.

Let's all make a miracle for Jason! Thanks. Love you all. Jodi

Thursday, December 10, 2009

. . . . . . . .Christmas Day!

It is almost the weekend again, but I still need to let you know about the wonderful time we had celebrating the Brown Family Christmas last weekend! Due to some travel plans by family members, we had our Christmas early, very early in fact. Saturday (December 5) was our Christmas Eve and Sunday was our Christmas Day.

Saturday evening the kids got to open their traditional Christmas Eve gift, a new pair of PJs. These gifts inspired some Kung Fu fighting at our house, since Casen's new jammies reminded everyone of a ninja. :) After the fighting was over, I let all the kids decorate their own cakes for Christmas. I made several colors of frosting and we all made fabulous cake creations. It was a fun night with cute jammies and the kids were excited for their Christmas the next day!

The kids opening their Christmas Eve presents!
A little kung fu fighting anyone??
Lots of wiggles and excitement on Christmas Eve!
Decorating cakes for the big day! Lots of fun colors to choose from!

All the cake creations on display!
Getting ready for Christmas day!

Christmas was a wonderful day for all of us. We went to church, then came home and had our celebration in the evening. Tolan's parents, Larry and Kay, joined us for the festivities and brought presents to add to our stack. I was a little worried that the kids wouldn't think it felt like Christmas, but after a few minutes of tearing into gifts and getting wrapping paper everywhere, it seemed just right. It was truly a wonderful time for our family!

The peace and quiet before the big event.

What is it with packaging these days? Mom and dad had to use scissors and knives to get the gifts out of the boxes for the kids! Geesh!

Trenden showing off his new game.

Casen dancing with Grandpa Brown watching merrily on the couch.

Me and my sweetheart, cuddling on the couch.

Darling Daven playing with his new light saber. How do they just know what to do when you put a sword or toy gun in their hands??
With the Christmas songs playing, treats to eat, family to enjoy and the fireplace keeping everyone warm, we truly felt the spirit of Christmas. We talked about Jesus Christ and His birth, and the presents we could give Him this year. I am so grateful for my darling children and my amazing husband this Christmas season. We are so blessed to know and love our Savior and celebrate His birth!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

. . . . . . . . . Meeting My Heroes!

Today was not a normal day at all, and that was good. We woke up to several inches of snow (though it wasn't supposed to hit us here in the northern part of the state!) and blizzard conditions outside. I had a last-minute appointment with Dr. Kim in Salt Lake for my eye so my father-n-law, Larry, came over at 8:30am to start the trek into town.

My wonderful, selfless, loving neighbor Cami H., took Casen and Daven for me (again!) for what would turn out to be a very long trip to the doctor's office! Larry and I were on the road for just about 2 hours (more than double our normal time). I missed my appointment time, but luckily, so did everyone else!

The news is that I have an abrasion on my cornea, which in combination with the dryness my eye experiences because I cannot blink, has caused my sensitivity to light (photophobia). Dr. Kim put me on an antibiotic ointment to help the abrasion heal, and instructe me to keep my eye covered or closed as much as possible so it can heal. He wants to see me again on Thursday, though I just don't know if that is possible with my schedule this week. He said I am not a candidate for the prosthetic contact lenses because of the paralysis not allowing my eye to blink or produce tears. The contact would literally get stuck to my dry eye and cause damage.

What took me by surprise was the emotion that came over me when I saw Dr. Kim. Each time I see the doctors who helped me through the darkest times in my life, I can't help but feel affection and gratitude. Thank you, Dr. Kim and the Moran Eye Center folks!

My favorite part of the day came just after my appointment. My dear friend Jason is in the hospital and I went to visit him as soon as I was through. The crazy thing is, Jason is one of my best friends, but we had never met, until TODAY! When I saw him and his wife, Steph, I was overcome with emotion! The hug from Steph felt like we had known each other for years. When I hugged Jason for the first time, I could not stop the tears.

Jason and Steph are two of my heroes. They have inspired me in ways that I could never have imagined. I am truly a better person because of them. The few minutes we had together were wonderful, but not enough. I look forward to having a get together again, next time with the two couples together, as friends and survivors, just talking about life! Thank you, Jason, for being you and for continuing to fight! Love you! To read Jason's amazing story, visit his blog: I bet he will change your life, too!

Larry took this picture just as I was leaving. I will cherish it forever. Steph took another picture of us hugging goodbye, but I don't have that one, so I will have to get it from her and post it later. Words cannot express the feelings and emotions I had today, for those who have cared for me and my health, and for those who inspire me to be a better person! Thank you for this extraordinary day!

Friends and Survivors! Jason Reynolds and me at the University of Utah Medical Center, my first time in a hospital room since I checked out on June 15. Wow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

. . . . . . . . . Am I Normal?

We had a very special weekend which I will post about later when I have enough time to do justice to the topic. But yesterday, at church, I had an interesting conversation with an older gentleman that has made me think.

He has followed my "story" at church, though not read details here on my blog. He prayed for me, called me from time to time and congratulates me nearly every time I see him. This time, he asked me a question that was so simple, "How does it feel to be normal again?" I wasn't sure what to say about that, because, well, I don't feel normal.

My face is appearing more normal these days, so I am told all the time. That is wonderful and the answer to many prayers! And, when I am in public, I always try to be happy, positive and upbeat, partly because that is just who I am. But, am I normal? I don't feel like I am at all. I still have many issues that I am dealing with, though they are things that the world probably doesn't "see" from my physical appearance. With the exception on here on the blog, we deal with our challenges privately, with support from wonderful family and friends.

So I began to wonder, am I normal? Am I back to "normal" life? Some would say I have never been normal, and that is OK, too. A simple but strange thought to consider. Am I normal? Are you normal? What the heck is normal anyway?? Think on this and let me know what you think!

Friday, December 4, 2009

, , , , , , , , Photophobia and Photos

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I have been experiencing a sensitivity to light. After doing some research, I found that I have "Photophobia" caused by my facial paralysis.

On the All About Vision website, it says, "Photophobia, or light sensitivity, is an intolerance of light. Sources such as sunlight, fluorescent light and incandescent light all can cause discomfort, along with a need to squint or close your eyes. Headaches also may accompany light sensitivity."

Apparently this is normal, though not necessarily common, for people suffering from facial paralsis, Belle's Palsy, etc. I have had such extreme reactions to the light lately that I have been worried, as it causes problems anytime I am outdoors, especially if I am trying to drive, or even walk. My special moisture chamber sunglasses are helpful, but not strong enough to curb my eye's reaction. I am nearly blinded when I get into the light.

I read that there are special contacts you can get. The prosthetic contact lenses can reduce the amount of light that enters the eye and make your eyes more comfortable and tolerant of the light. Hmm, something to consider. I have a call in to my opthamologist, Dr. Kim, at the Moran Eye Center and someone is supposed to get back to me soon.

The beautiful shiny, albeit cold, December days have tested my eye, but warmed my soul, so it is a fair trade. :)

I am including a few pics of our Thanksgiving celebration. It was great to see so many of my siblings and for my kids to have a giant sleepover with the cousins. Always a good time!

Me and Casen opening some Thanksgiving treats!
Tami and some of the kids enjoying the feast!
Brandon, Myana, Grandma Brown, Michael, and Dave happily eating!
Tolan, Scott, Brett and Dave conversing at the table.
Lindi, Trent, Trenden and Taylor enjoying "big kids" table all to themselves!
I love this picture of my niece, Jessie, and Casen. They were having so much fun playing together and eating cookie pie. Too cute!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

. . . . . . . . . .A Cold Wait!

It appears as though I still have several days to wait before I hear anything back about the results from my latest MRIs. I talked to Margee in Dr. Couldwell’s office yesterday and she said they haven’t received my scans yet and once they get them, they will have to put them onto their computer system before a doctor will take a look. In addition, Dr. Couldwell is out of town for 2+ weeks, so he won’t even be the one reading the scans. His partner will take a look and Margee (Dr. Couldwell’s nurse) will call me next week sometime with the results.

There is nothing like waiting to teach a little patience! 

In the meantime, my body feels like it has been hit by a truck. I’ve come down with a terrible cold. Yes, it’s just a cold, but I feel pretty lousy. No fun. I can’t seem to fight anything off this year. I know my body is in a weakened state, but I am still surprised because it was just over a month ago I had strep throat. I was hoping to avoid further illnesses this season. But, alas, tis not so. Today I hope to get some rest, perhaps with my little boys watching a show in my room while I curl up in my bed.

Yesterday, despite being sick, I was all over my 3-mile traveling radius with my 2 little boys. We went to the doctor, to the bank, to multiple stores and to pick up the kids from school. The fun part of the day was taking all the kids to a store to let them Christmas shop for each other. The logistics were tricky at times, but I think everyone managed to get a little something for their assigned sibling and I don’t think any of them saw their own gifts in the process. It was so fun to watch them pick out things for each other!

So, the wait is on. I will wait out the cold and wait for the doctor’s office to call! I have no doubt the waiting time won’t seem too long. With 4 active children keeping me busy, every day seems to fly by, so I can’t imagine the next few will be any different!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

. . . . . . . . . MRIs for Christmas!

Yesterday I had my first MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) since my brain surgeries this summer. I have both looked forward to and dreaded this day. Sunday night I had a case of the "Flashbacks" from my MRIs back in April, when we first found the tumor. The feelings of that day can never be forgotten, the fear, pain, grief and "unknown" was so strong it nearly took us over. Thankfully, by the time I went to the hospital on Monday, I was feeling at peace.

The MRIs proved to be more challenging this time around than any of my other times. Now, of course, I have metal in my head, and gold in my eyelid. These things can be potentially dangerous when the magnets start going. So, after 30 minutes waiting to hear the "go" or "no go" from the radiologist, I climbed into the claustrophobia-causing machine. The technician told me that if I started to feel pain or heat from the gold in my eye, that I should press the emergency panic button and she would stop the procedure. However, I was relieved to find my eye was ok for the first round of scans.

The second MRI was to be conducted with dye in my veins so any mass in my brain could be more easily detected and differentiated from normal brain tissue. This also proved to be a challenge. It turns out that my "IV arm" is full of scar tissue from all my previous pokes and prods. :) She was able to get the IV started so the dye was successfully in my system for the 2nd scan.

I am not normally claustrophobic, nor am I prone to panic attacks or anything of that nature, but being stuck in an MRI machine for 40-50 minutes is enough to make anyone go nearly crazy. The noises are loud and disconcerting. The "shaking" of the machine makes you feel like you are riding up a hill in a rollercoaster and the 3-6 inch space around my body felt like it was caving in on me. All I wanted to do was jump out and MOVE my body. You simply can't hold perfectly still for that long. Ugh. The thought of it now gives me the chills.

By the end of my time, I noticed my eye was indeed heating up. However, not wanting to ruin the last several images, I stayed put and didn't notify the tech until the MRI was through. She said that next time, we will cover my eye in cold compresses in hopes of keeping the "heat factor" down. Weird, huh?

When I emerged from the medical imaging coffin, I was surprised to see "Kim", the technician who performed the MRI on the day I was diagnosed. She was so wonderful to me on that difficult day. So, I told her how grateful I was and gave her an update on my "status". She gave me a hug and we cried tears of joy, together.

Now, it is time to wait for the results. This process takes a while because the radiologist will have to write a report, then have the report and the disc of my images sent to Dr. Couldwell. So, I don't anticipate I will hear anything for at least a few days. I won't see Dr. Couldwell again until January, so at least the first "news" will likely come by phone sometime in the next week.

Throughout the day, despite the little bumps and challenges, I couldn't help but feel peaceful and calm. My Dad asked me if I had any feelings as to the results of the MRI. Well, those feelings of peace were enough for me. Regardless of what they say, I know things will be OK. I felt it. :)

Today is the first day of December and I am officially excited for Christmas. I have to get over this cold I am coming down with, but still I plan to enjoy every moment of this beautiful, amazing time, and focus all my efforts on the TRUE meaning of the season. I continue to be grateful for my Savior, my family and all my blessings. Are you counting your blessings yet? :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

. . . . . . . . . . .Giving Thanks and Getting Scans

This Sunday afternoon I feel so grateful for the blessings we have enjoyed during our Thanksgiving week. My siblings (5 of the 6) were in town and we all spent time together, feeling grateful for each other and the bonds we share. Tolan's parents hosted our Orgill Family gathering and participated with us in celebrating and giving thanks.

It was such a treat for me to spend time with all of my siblings. I love each of them in more ways than they will ever know. They uplift me, inspire me and encourage me. I look forward to seeing the 6th sibling and spending more time with all of them over the coming holidays.

Tolan's parents were amazing hosts, as they provided wonderful food and an even better place to gather, visit, enjoy and relax. They have a way of making everyone feel like family, and that is so appreciated.

We also visited Tolan's extended family, which was a real treat. So many of them have done so much for us this year and it was my first opportunity to thank many of them in person.

Yesterday I read a talk my Uncle Dennis Orgill wrote and gave at church. He reminded me that ingratitude is one of the greatest sins of omission that we often commit. We have so much to be thankful for and rarely do we really take the time to ponder all of our blessings. Another inspirational talk, given by Jason Hall, provided a great challenge, the thankful challenge. He challenged people to make a list of 100 things (over 100 days) that they are thankful for. It really gets you thinking about the depth of your gratitude. I know there are things on that list today that I wouldn't even have thought about a year ago... I am starting my list today!

SCANS: Tomorrow we are back to "the real world" again. First thing in the morning, I will go to McKay-Dee Hospital for 2 MRI scans of my brain (the first will be normal, the second will be with dye injected into my veins so "masses" in the brain will be more easily detected). These will be my first post-op scans and will tell us the condition of what is "left" of the tumor. Though most of the tumor was removed during surgery, but my doctors believe the parts of the tumor on my brainstem will remain there indefinitely. The HOPE is that they will not be able to regenerate or cause the tumor to grow again. So, this will be our first look inside my head since the completion of my surgeries.

I don't expect to hear the "results" of the scans immediately, since they will have to be seen by the radiologist, a report written, then that report will be sent to my docs in Salt Lake before I hear anything. Still, I would appreciate prayers for my day tomorrow and for the "results" that are yet to be seen. I continue to struggle with headaches, as well as all the issues with my eye, ear, nose and mouth from the paralysis, but I am so grateful to be on the surviving end of my battle thus far.

My love and gratitude to all of you. I hope you'll join me and "Count Your Many Blessings" starting today! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

. . . . . . . . . . Thanksgiving: The Gospel of Jesus Christ

With so many things to be thankful for this season, it is hard to say my final one...yet simple at the same time. My family goes without saying, they are part of #1 -#10. But in the very center of everything is my knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving Day #10: The Gospel of Jesus Christ

In the entirety of the world, my beliefs are shared by very few. Only about 13 million other people believe the way I do, so I consider myself to be very fortunate to have been raised in a situation that allows me to know the Truth. I know that my Savior, Jesus Christ, lives. I know that He is my elder brother, but more importantly, my Savior, who atoned for my sins. I know that through Him, I have a way to repent, come back, and hopefully return to live with Him again someday. I know that He is with us, always, if we allow Him to be. I know that He is there in our darkest moments, when no one else can make it better. Whether you are in a foxhole amidst great battle, or in the hospital dying, He is there and he can bring you peace and joy.

It is this joy that I am so grateful for. He wants us to be happy, this I know. That is why He has provided us with an eternal Plan of Happiness, that teaches us how to live, repent, and find joy. Happiness is the reason that He has allowed us the privilege of being sealed to our families in the temple, so that we can be together FOREVER, not just until death do us part. Joy is the reason we have the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other scriptures so that we might read, learn, and be guided by Him in all that we do. For obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings us joy. What Satan tempts us with is simply temporary pleasure, not joy, there is a big difference. I feel so blessed to know of and feel of that joy so often in my life...daily when I am choosing the right.

My testimony of my Savior is not something I can adequately describe, not here or anywhere. It is more than a "belief" or "faith" or "hope", it is a knowledge that I cannot deny. I love Him and all He gives unto me, challenges and blessings alike. Though I am in no hurry to depart this world, I look forward to the day when I get to meet my Savior, and His father, again, and thank them for the many blessings which are mine.

To learn more about my beliefs, visit . My love, blessings and thanks to you this wonderful Thanksgiving season.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

. . . . . . . . . Thanksgiving: Transformation

Over the last several months, I have become grateful for things that have always been part of my life, but which I recognize in a different way now.

Thanksgiving Day #9: Transformation

There is a reason we love to watch shows like "What Not to Wear", "The Biggest Loser", "Curb Appeal", or "Trading Spaces". It is wonderful to witness something old, ugly or falling apart become something beautiful, updated and new. The process of transformation takes something that seems hopeless or useless and makes is new and wonderful again. I LOVE the process of transformation.

I do transformation projects all the time. I stripped, sanded and stained my mantle and bannister last year and it changed the look of my whole house! Just a few months ago I purchased an old table and chairs from the classifieds. While this project took me considerably longer than it normally would have, I now have a brand "new" dining set that looks like I spent $1500 for a high-end set, when in reality, I spent less than $200, but added a little elbow grease and a lot of stain and polyurethane. :)

Even more amazing than household, yard or furniture transformations are personal transformations. In some ways, I have had a year of transformation myself. Though my "outside" may not be "new" and "updated", my inside, my spirit and soul, has been transformed through the my trials. I have come to know my Savior more and I appreciate life and the "little" things more than ever. The transformation may not be apparent to everyone, but I know that I am a different person and I have my tumor to thank for that!

Monday, November 23, 2009

. . . . . . . . . Thanksgiving: Good Food

With the holidays quickly approaching, I feel so busy all of a sudden! The weather makes it more difficult for me to see and drive, but I am still trying to be as normal as possible and get everything completed in time to ... ahh, relax and enjoy the holidays!

Thanksgiving Day #8: Good Food

So, having been swamped today, I started thinking about my, oh not so favorite phrase, "What's for dinner tonight?" Since I didn't have a good answer, or a good amount of time to prepare, I decided for a different option: Dinners By Diana! The meals are all homemade, prepared ahead of time, and all I have to do is pick them up and cook them for 45 minutes or so. Piece of cake!

This was my first time to Dinners by Diana and I was pleasantly surprised by the offerings. I got a succulent pot roast for dinner tonight, and bbq ribs for tomorrow, plus some yummy sides. My family will love this and now my time can be freed up for what I really enjoy... BAKING!

Desserts are the fun part! For Thanksgiving, I am making 3-4 pies (my specialty) along with my other assisgnments. I so enjoy good much more satisfying than IV fluids. :) Even though my tastebuds don't work yet because of the paralysis, I am going to do my best to enjoy all the great food this week has to offer! (The doctor said the term for the metallic taste in my mouth is dysgeusia, or unpleasant or obnoxious tastes in my mouth -- yep, he got that right!).

Still, even when it doesn't taste "normal" it smells wonderful and that is always a plus, too! Eat up!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

. . . . . . . . Thanksgiving: The Sabbath Day

There are so many things about Sundays that I am thankful for, now and throughout the year. I truly appreciate the opportunity that I have to worship my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, on the Sababbath Day. I know that there are many people throughout the world who do not enjoy this freedom that we often take for granted. It is not taken for granted today.

While I sit in church, I love to feel the Spirit wrap loving arms around me and engulf me in warmth. I love to hear the beautiful hymns and music of the faithful. I love to watch my children take turns giving talks to the other primary children, for it reminds me, that even at tender, young ages, they too, can know the truth. I love to hear the youth speak; when they say it like it is, and bring us all to tears. I love to study the gospel of Jesus Christ, to read the scriptures and "hear" them testify of truth.

When I return home from my uplifting, yet exhausting time at church with my little ones, I have yet more to be thankful for. I am thankful for Sunday afternoon naps, quiet time, and a few hours of peace. Sunday dinners with Grandma and Grandpa and yummy family night treats also make the gratitude list. I am even grateful for the "Sunday evening sitr crazies" my children get after being inside all afternoon and evening long. Though I rarely find a way to cure this strange disease, it too reminds me that at least I have been with my darling family all day, and that is a wonderful blessing indeed!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

. . .. .. . . . . .Thanksgiving: Hard Work

On Thanksgiving Day #6, I am so grateful for hard work. Today I have been busy all day, cleaning the house and doing home improvement projects (one of my favorite things to do!). This is really nothing unusual at all, except for the fact that just a few months ago, I couldn't do any of these things. I couldn't even walk a few blocks or hold my kids during the summer. And yet, today, I am working hard and perhaps even wearing myself out with my chores for the day.

I am so grateful that my recovery has allowed me the chance to dig in and work. There is something wonderful about putting in a day's work, whether you are at a job, digging in dirt in your yard, doing projects, watching your children or whatever your task may be. Be grateful that you have the strength, energy and abilities to work! It is truly a blessing, one that not all my friends get to enjoy at this stage of their lives.

Trust me, it is better to work hard and collapse into bed at the end of the day, than lie in bed all day, unable to do the things you so desperately want to do. So bring on the blisters, sore muscles, backaches and means I worked hard today, and that is a blessing!

Friday, November 20, 2009

. . . . . . . . . Thanksgiving: Listening Ears and Tears

Thanksgiving Day #5: Listening Ears and Tears

It is probably good for me to "have" to do my thanksgiving list today. The last 24 hours have been somewhat frustrating and disappointing for me. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday at the University of Utah Hospital. It was a 6-month follow-up from my first craniotomy. I had a hearing test done, followed by the appointment with Dr. Shelton.

I had an enjoyable ride there with Larry, which is always a highlight for me. But, the appt itself left me with very mixed emotions. My hearing has improved a little, which I knew and am very grateful for. However, my paralysis isn't improving at the rate "expected". For my condition, 90% of the improvements to my facial nerves will likely come within the first 12 months from the initial paralysis. So, this time, instead of saying "I am totally confident you will regain all your facial movement", the tone changed to "here is what we can do if you don't get better".

The list of alternatives included more surgeries for my eye (either a larger weight in my eyelid, or a spring-loaded spring in my eyelid help it close. The latter would have to be performed in Los Angeles.) and potential surgery for my nose. I still can't breathe well out of my nose, but there is a procedure that can take cartilage from my ear and implant it in my nose to help my breathing.

It is good that their are options, but sometimes I don't want alternatives, I just want to get better.

After my appt, I was disappointed and frustrated. However, today I find myself feeling grateful that I have such wonderful family and friends who allow me to vent, cry and feel frustrated. They listen to me without judging and help me keep perspective. They know who they are, and I appreciate them more than they know.

It was also wonderful to see Dr. Shelton and Dr. Orlandi again. They have done so much for my care, it is hard to see them and not throw my arms around them in a big thank you hug. (I did ask Dr. Shelton for a hug. :) Still so much to be grateful for...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving: Friends, Neighbors and Blog Readers :)

Thanksgiving Day #4: Friends, Neighbors and Blog Readers

I have always been fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people. I love meeting new people, making new friends and enjoying others. At this time in my life, your friendship has been even more important.

Today is the perfect example. I have a 6-month follow-up appointmet with Dr. Shelton today, as well as a series of hearing tests. My neighbor and dear friend, Annette, is watching Daven while I am gone. Casen is going to Michelle's house (who is also his amazing preschool teacher). My father-in-law, Larry, is driving me to Salt Lake for the appointment (though I had so wished to be able to drive myself by now). What would I do without all these angels? Every week it is like this. Cami H. helps out with the kids, Els send me daily uplifting messages and/or food, Jenny does my hair and dozens of friends and neighbors call, email or show up to check on me.

I am so grateful for all of these wonderful "saints"!

If you are reading this, then you, too, are on my list today. I am so thankful for you, the "readers", but known and unknown, for your love and prayers. Nearly every week I receive emails from people I don't know, often who have been following my story for months. Your thoughtful emails, notes, prayers and support are so uplifting to me! You inspire me and help keep me going (and posting). Some days I wonder if I ought to keep up the blog or just "go private" again. But, nearly every time I feel that way, one of you posts a comment or sends me an email. Your support truly does help me push on, one day at a time!

Thank you, one and all, for everything you do. You are my heroes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving: Scars and Side Effects

Thanksgiving Day 3: Scars and Side Effects

Yesterday I had a very productive day, but it was also very long. By the end of the day, my body was literally giving out on me. By the time I drove home from the Church at 7:30pm, I could barely walk, see or sit. Once at home from all the day's activities, I climbed into the tub to relax before bed. While there, I noticed the scars on my stomach and leg, where they removed fat to "relocate" to my brain in an attempt to plug my spinal fluid leak. These scars are not "attractive" in a normal sense, but I found myself feeling oddly grateful for them.

These scars, along with those on my head, and even my facial paralysis, are daily reminders of the miracles in my life. These are present because I am still here! My life is truly a miracle, as are the blessings I've experienced because of my trials. I may not always "appreciate" the scars and side effects, but I am always grateful that they remind me of my Savior and His love for me!

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving: The Women in My Life

Thanksgiving Day 2: The Women in My Life

What a treat it is to be a mother, adaughter, a sister, an aunt, a granddaughter, a daughter-in-law and a friend. It means I get to be associated with wonderful, amazing women!

My mother and sisters are my dearest girlfriends in the world! I am so grateful that we are family, and friends. My mother is an incredible example of unconditional love, selfless service and unending friendship. She has helped our family more this year than I could have ever imagined possible. My sisters give me strength, let me vent :), listen to me, buoy me up, help me have fun and let me be me! I love them!

This is lovely Kristi, surrounded by some of her great men. :)Beautiful Tami, enjoying birthday flowers. :)
My amazing mom, Sherri Kay Ketchum Orgill, a true example of motherhood!

My daughter, Lindi, is very much a little woman. :) She is the sweetest girl, and is a true example of love. She is always doing kind things for others just because she enjoys it. :) She has a soft, quiet demeanor, but radiates love and warmth. Love this little lady! Love my little Lindi Lady!!

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have been a second family to me, but they have never felt like "second place". From the day I met Kay, she welcomed me into the family with a hug and has been giving me love ever since. It took no time at all to feel like I fit in. My sisters-in-law all live far away, but I am so grateful for them, their love, support and fun ideas! (Imagine our surprise when we opened a 4th of July package and found "fire flies" shipped all the way from Indiana, just so my kids could experience those fun little lightning bugs!!)Wish I had recent pics of all of them!
My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Larry and Kay Brown. Wonderful people whom I love dearly!

My grandmothers are so special to me. Though I have only one living grandma, I love them all so much. I have learned so much from them and continue to pray that I will be able to use their examples to strengthen me and guide me in my life. Grandma Ketchum is a wonderful woman of service and love. :) My Grandma Lisenbee is still my strength and now, perhaps my guardian angel, too. Miss you, Grandma.
My Grandma Ketchum, visiting me in the hospital.
Grandma Lisenbee, at her 90th birthday celebration. She passed away at the start of this difficult year, on January 17.

I am also so thankful for Tolan's sweet grandmothers, all of whom are gone now, but who still play an important role in our lives. We very much miss Grandma Pringle, Grandma Corry and Grandma Kari Pringle, whom we look forward to meeting in heaven some day.

Grandma Maxine Brown Corry, a pillar in her family and community.

Thanks to all the beautiful, amazing women in my life! My dear friends, I love you all, too. Thank you for your love and support. All of these women give me strength, hope and are examples to me! I am thankful for each of you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving: The Men in My Life

I want to do a little something different for a few days. Today marks the 10th day before Thanksgiving, so I am going to start my celebration with the "10 Days of Thanksgiving" project. Please join me by posting each day what you are grateful for on that day!

Day 1: I am thankful for the men in my life!

I feel so blessed to be surrounded by REAL men, who know how to love, care and sacrifice. Most of them don't hunt and they don't even spend hours at a time watching sports, but they are real men who make life wonderful and good.

Yesterday three of my four brothers came to visit my family. What a treat! I love that they want to spend time with me and my family! My children adore the "uncles" and we all had a fun time together. It was especially wonderful for me to watch my husband and sons with my brothers.

I love my brother, Brett! He is one of the jungle gyms at our house! I love my brother, Michael. I caught him snoozing and couldn't resist!
I love my Brother, Brandon. He is an amusement park ride for my kids!
I love my Brother, Scott (though he wasn't here yesterday). He is good to talk to.

I am so grateful for my little boys (my sons) and my big boys (husband and brothers) having good, healthy, clean fun together. What a blessing!

My brothers-in-law are also great additions to my "men" list. I love each of them for the unqiue perspectives they have on life and what I learn from them.

My sons make my life crazy. I had no idea little boys wrestled and fought so much...for fun! They have so much energy and enthusiasm for life! I love it. And I love that their dad plays with them and encourages their (good) play. He is a great father and husband.

Casen and Daven on our Shadow Dancing walk by the river. :)

Tolan is a great dad and husband!!

My eldest son and right hand man, Trenden, climbing trees and having fun.

My father and father-in-law are both amazing examples of faith and service. I learn from them everyday. When I grow up, I want to be more like them. :)
My Grandpa Ketchum and Grandpa Pringle both epitomize love and life-long caring service. They have lived, learned and loved much. They have taught me and I can feel of their love, even when we are far apart.

I am so thankful for these wonderful blessings in my life!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

6 Months of a New Life

Today marks 6 months from the date of my first craniotomy. I've thought about what I could say about that day, when I got a new lease on life. This has been the hardest time in our entire lives. We've had more struggles than ever before. We've hurt, cried and suffered in ways that we could never have imagined. As a family and as an individual, we have experienced pain that was previously unimaginable. Thoughts of the pain still haunt me.

Through it all, the only thing I can really say, is that we have also been enveloped by the arms of God, wrapped in His love unlike ever before. We have truly had miracles, and because of those miracles, I am here today. Our faith is stronger, our love is greater, our relationships are more solid. We know our Savior more. I know my Savior. I know that He understands me and my struggles like No One Else can. For He was with me on the long excruciating nights in the hospital, when the rest of the world was asleep. It is this love that fills my soul and gives me the strength to fight on, one day at a time. I can honestly say that I am grateful for the events that lead me to this time in my life. My faith has been tested, but I know now that it has also been strengthened.

My hope and prayer is that we can all find strength and faith in the Lord so we never have to fight our battles alone. It is much easier to stand with Christ's arms holding you up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plugging Along

This week, like so many others, includes both ups and downs for me, which I guess is my new "normal". My eye continues to give me problems and I find myself wearing my eye patch more and more to keep it protected.

I am still amazed at the things people say and do when someone near them is a little "different". The stares are normal for me now, but the comments still surprise me. I am grateful for the kind comments, like the lady at Costco who told me she liked the artwork on my patch. :) I am glad the little boy at lunch had the courage to come up to me and ask me about my patch, for then I was able to show him my eye and explain that I am not scary, nor should he be afraid of something different. His father (I assume) was kind and let him ask all the questions he wanted. I appreciate that. I would much rather let people ask questions than have them rush by, avert their eyes, pretend they don't see, or discourage their little ones from bothering me. Curiosity is normal and honest questions and answers are better than ignorance and ignoring.

Despite my eye, I am getting out a bit, at least enough to keep me from getting stir crazy at home all the time. Today I went to my favorite local spot, the Bombay Grill, and had lunch with my friend, Ryan. We used to work together and it was wonderful to catch up and visit. Daven kept me busy (as always) as he jumped on and off the chairs, had to "go potty" numerous times, and used the straws to splash water on the table. He is the sweetest little boy in the world, and his smile melts my heart. He is, however, very two years old and his adventures are sometimes more than I have energy to handle! (Remind me never to leave a 2-liter bottle of rootbeer out in the kitchen EVER again!) All in all, lunch was great, the company was even better and life continues to be wonderful.

Tonight I went to Parent Teacher Conferences at my kids' school. My kids are so, kind and hard working. Some may be a little talkative (yes, they get that from me), but they are such blessings in my life! They help me so much, from steadying me when I am off-balance, to doing extra work around the house, to praying for me every day. They are wonderful!

Friday marks the 6 month anniversary of my first craniotomy. Gulp. Wow, how life has changed this year. Hard to comprehend it all. Tears still come, but thankfully, there are as many good tears as sad tears, and more often than not, I feel blessed and grateful for ALL of my life!

Oh, and just wanted to tell our dear friends, the Rhoads, how much we love them!! In this month of Thanksgiving, there are few things to be more grateful for than faith, family and friends, and they are some of the best friends in the world!! Love you guys!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nights and Lights

Saturday Tolan and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. We both admit that this wasn't our easiest year of marriage, perhaps year 13 really was unlucky. Or maybe the opposite is true, and it was our best year ever, with more love, miracles, faith and family than ever before. It all depends upon your perspective... :)

That night we had a fun dinner with our good friends, the Baileys. We went to Gray Cliff Lodge, in Ogden Canyon, and had an enjoyable dinner, complete with all the fixings and yummy dessert. It was great to spend time together and visit with the Baileys. I think we are both amazed at all this last year has brought to our family. Perhaps it will be smoother sailing this next year, but if not, at least we are getting better at navigating through the storms.

Yesterday we enjoyed a great day at church, and I enjoyed another church meeting after ours, at which my aunt Celia's kids played their violins and some family friends spoke. It was a wonderful meeting and I truly felt blessed to have been there and felt the Sprit of the Lord. That evening, Celia, her kids, and friends, the Nguyen family came over for dessert. Ahh, dessert is one of my favorite things, and sharing it with wonderful friends and family makes it even better. Truly, another blessed weekend.

Lights: For several days now, I have been having many issues with my eye. In some ways, my right eye seems to be getting worse, or perhaps I am trying to use it more so it only appears worse. In either case, I am having an extreme sensitivity to light. I am nearly blinded when I get into sunlight or bright lights of any kind. It affects both of my eyes until I can cover up my right eye (or hold it closed). I don't know if this is because the paralysis doesn't allow some of the eye functioning to take place, or if there is another cause. If anyone knows anything about sensitivity to light, please pass along the info.

Normally this would simply be an inconvenience at best, but with my sight and perception already suffering, this sensitivity is causing me real problems. I don't drive much these days, but the other day I was out on a busy road near my house, when I turned a corner and the light got in my eyes. Immediately I was nearly blinded and I was afraid I was not going to make it safely down the road. Scary. It happened again when I came out of a building and into the sunlight in the parking lot. Hmmm, don't know what is going on, but I do know that my eye seems to get "tired" and worn out much earlier in the day than it used to.

Despite my questionable eyesight, life remains very good. My children keep me hopping and my husband keeps me sane. My friends keep me informed and feeling loved and my neighbors rescue me when things don't go right. All in all, you should (no one is perfect though, right??) hear no complaints out of me!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shadow Dancing & Celebrating

I feel so blessed to have had such a good week! My physical body still has struggles, but my spirit is stronger than ever before. I know that the challenges will continue, but I am at the point where I truly appreciate my time here and the moments that make life worth living! If you haven't checked it out yet, go to this blog and see the article about this last crazy year of my life! This is why I am so grateful for each good moment!

Yesterday was a near perfect day! Heavenly Father has indeed blessed us this week as we have had the most glorious weather. It was 70 and sunny and you could smell the crispness in the air, see the colors on the trees and feel the crunching of leaves under your feet. A perfect day for a walk by the river with my boys! We spent over an hour walking along the river bank, skipping stones, throwing sticks, and going exploring! We sang songs, made up adventures and discovered beauty.

We found swamps, birds, pheasants, grasshoppers, snake holes and shadows! Our shadows walked with us everywhere we went, and as Casen said, we went "Shadow Dancing" through the forest! The only thing that could have made it better is if Tolan, Lindi and Trenden had been there with us. :)

I took a ton of pictures, and Casen took a couple of me and Daven :), because it was one of those days worth capturing! I hope my boys will remember that day, but even if they don't, it will live in my memory forever. Picturesque moments on a perfect fall day! Enjoy!

Tomorrow is cause for yet another great day, as Tolan and I will celebrate our 13th Anniversary! When I married Tolan I thought I knew what love was, that fun, wonderful feeling of butterflies in your stomach and hours spent simply holding hands and staring at each other. But in the last 13 years, Tolan has demonstrated such unconditional, selfless, unending love to me and our family that my definition has changed. :) He is my perfect match and a true and wonderful example of love. He has stood by me through thick and thin, through college, jobs, pregnancies (sometimes hard ones!), bedrest, tumors and tragedies.

Tolan doesn't sweat the small stuff and reminds me daily that most of life is small stuff. And when it comes to the big stuff, well, there he shines. He juggles family, work and church and is happy, positive and fun to be around. He is so dedicated to our family; he inspires me to be a better person. One of my favorite moments of us is when he crawled into bed with me at the hospital so we could truly be "together" again for the first time in ages.

Tolan is a man of honor, love, dedication, sacrifice and service. I feel so very blessed to be his partner for eternity. He is absolutely everything I never knew I needed in my life! Lucky for me, Heavenly Father did know... and the rest is history.