Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Trials and Tribulations



The past week has been a real "adventure"-- and definitely not one I would have asked for. Yet, at the same time, I have felt the Lord's protection and love so strongly this past week. I know He is watching over our family.

We've had money problems, MAJOR teen troubles, car issues, toddler craziness, and even bodily injury. Needless to say, I'm EXHAUSTED.

{Just as a warning, some of what has happened might not be something you want to read, and the corresponding pictures might be too much for some people to handle. So, read on at your own discretion!!!}

A Battle for the Soul

First of all, we have a child who is struggling spiritually. I am a very transparent person-- I don't like secrets, and I can't stand ambiguity. However, this child's story is not mine to tell to the general public, so I will refrain from going into details here on my blog.

I can say that it has been the most difficult year of my life, and I am learning some very challenging, though amazing, lessons from it all. I have discovered things about myself that I never wanted to know, but I have also experienced some phenomenal changes in my own heart.

I am in awe of how God can can make the painful and devastating into goodness and light. He truly IS a God of miracles!!!

An Accident

And now, on to the latest drama at our house. It involves this little sweetheart:

Our smiley MacKenna, age 8

My girls like to keep their hair long. And I mean LONG. A trim around here is a big event. With two teenage girls, and five-- yes, FIVE-- little girls at our house, it's all about the hair.

So, right before the sun began setting last evening, we were buried in the usual evening craziness. I was furiously making dinner while talking to my mom on the phone, the big kids were watching an economics video, and the other kids were all playing in the basement-- or so I thought.

As I was talking to my mom, my twelve year old daughter, Dierdre, came running up to me with strong urgency telling me that our MacKenna had her hair caught in the AC unit outside. I ran outside with her, followed by a couple of other kids. Over my shoulder, I asked Dierdre to go grab my sewing scissors, and, while still on the phone with my mom, explaining that something bad was going on (I think I was too shocked to hang up), I made my way to the north side of our house, where our AC units sit on the ground. 

MacKenna was on top of the big unit, screaming and crying. I hung up with my mom, and was greeted by an unfamiliar young lady standing next to my daughter. Apparently, she had heard MacKenna's cries and screams, and had come through our side gate to help her. She had then knocked on our back door and let Dierdre know what was going on.

I tried to assess how to best help MacKenna. She was lying on top of the unit with her head laying flat against the cage surrounding the huge fan. The fan was stopped, but as I examined more closely, I could see that her hair had stopped the fan, as it was wound around it several times.

I poked the sewing scissors that Dierdre had brought to me through the cage around the fan, and slowly turned the fan to unwind her hair. The sweet young lady that was MacKenna's hero held up MacKenna's body to help ease the pressure on her head. Finally, we got her hair unwound, and were able to release her and put her back on the ground. 

Her hair looked burned in some places, and she said that she felt like her head was burned. On closer examination, we found that she had some hairs that were now hanging down below her regular hair length. Some clumps of hair had been pulled out.

OUCH.

MaKenna's savior excused herself, and I thanked her profusely, telling her that she was a true hero! (Luckily, my girls know our hero by name, and so I'm planning to do something special for her in gratitude.) I took my poor girl in the house to examine her better, and see what we could do to help make her more comfortable. 

MacKenna was very upset, sobbing her heart out, and I was trying to calm her, while not panicking, myself.

As I carefully brushed her hair, more clumps came out, and I found where her hair had come out at the roots. She has a little bald spot that-- thankfully-- is easily covered by her other hair. However, her hair was damaged and broken above her shoulders, and so I knew she would need a haircut. 

This is just some of the clumps of hair that came out.
This funny girl smiled for the pictures!


The new bald patch

I also knew that she would need to give her hair a real rest, in order to prompt her bald spot to grow back, and her head to heal. (There was NO damage to her scalp-- a real tender mercy!!!) So, a short haircut it was to be!

You can see how it's now thinner on the right side of her head.


Before the haircut, we wrapped her in a blanket, to keep her from getting shock, and I laid her on the couch to rest and calm down. The other little girls were so cute, bringing her toys, tucking the blanket around her, trying to make her more comfortable.

At one point, she said, "Mom, you know how you told me that the best way to calm down is to take deep breaths? I'm trying to calm down."

So I helped her regulate her breathing, and she was able to relax considerably. 

At this point, my 18 year old son announced that my missionary had written us an email. (WHAT??? I had been told that P-day was supposed to be tomorrow!!! :-( Crud...)

So, while MacKenna rested, I tried to explain to my missionary why he had not received a letter. :-( (Sometimes we can catch each other online, and almost "chat".) I also gave a quick recap of the drama going on at home. (All this while dinner was still on the stove. I think my son had the clarity of mind to turn the burners down.)

Our missionary had to go, so I promised to send him a "DearElder.com" letter with more details of the craziness, and got back to finishing dinner.

Russell finally got home from work, and we had to tell the whole story to him. He immediately gave MacKenna a blessing of comfort, and she calmed down even more. (She had gotten upset again in the telling of the story. I can't blame her!!!) 

I am so VERY grateful for the Priesthood power that my husband worthily uses to bless our family. It makes even the most scary things become less traumatic. We ALL felt more peaceful after Russell's sweet blessing!

I called my mom back to let her know that MacKenna was okay, and we all sat down to eat dinner.

The Haircut

Her "Before" pose. (With a smile again!)
And "After"-- she looks so grown up!

Life Lessons

All of these "trials and tribulations" have got me thinking. My daughter was just walking by the AC units, enjoying the breeze produced by them blowing in her hair. One second, she was having a quiet, serene moment alone, and the next she was terrified and in pain.

She had not been doing anything she shouldn't be doing, really. But she was close to danger, and had no idea of what was about to happen in an instant of being too close.

Don't these things happen to us all the same way? And sometimes by our own faulty judgment? One inch too close to danger, and we can be devastated by the results.

But even when we have blindly and unintentionally strayed too close to the danger zone, God sends us heroes, and help, and love, and comfort. Our Heavenly Father NEVER leaves us alone.

If we permit ourselves to learn from these difficult times, and allow our hearts to be humbled and changed, there are smiles and good things just around the corner.

Yes, He truly IS a God of miracles, large and small.

Love, Mama Rachel


Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Week in the Kingdom of Keppner

Peek-a-boo with Fiona

Dear Awesome Missionaries and Beloved Family,

As September ends, and October begins, all is well in the Keppner Castle. The kids are super excited for Halloween, and are planning their costumes as we speak. I'm glad they're starting early this year, just in case I need to sew something. Often, we put it off until the day of, and that is no bueno.

Last week was mostly uneventful, though busy, as usual.

Gavin and Bonny attend seminary every morning from 7:30 to about 8:30. The Seminary is getting better about telling me when the time needs to change, and I sooo appreciate it! It is so sweet of them to remember us oddball homeschoolers. ;-)

Bonny is still teaching ballet and now has rehearsals for the Nutcracker, Lliam is working (YAY!!!) in the afternoons and evenings, and everybody is doing pretty well in our homeschool.

Davy, feeling quite unhappy in his footie pajamas

Davy spends most of his time in footie pajamas, in an attempt to curb his nudist habits. :-p So, now his favorite thing is to try to take a bath in our garden tub, footie pj's and all. He is soggy a LOT. We have to keep our door locked to keep him out. But, oh, man, is he CUTE! :-D

Fiona is a talker and likes to makes lots of noise. Where she gets that from, I have no idea. HA! She gets cuter every day, and we are all so in love with her.

My English lit class went well this week. We discussed "Sir Gawain," had some lessons on chivalry and manners, and then had a little potluck party where everyone dressed up in costume or church clothes, and brought a finger food to share. It was really fun! We've got a good group of kids. There a tall 18 year old I may have to kick out if his attitude doesn't improve, but other than that, it's a great group! ;-)

Daddy and I are working on getting out of debt, and really trying to complete the Dave Ramsey babysteps this time. *sigh* I think every time we try it, we get a little closer, so that's good, even though we usually have to start at step one again and again. We hope we can set a better example for you kids!

We're still not sure what to do about our landlords wanting to sell the house in January. It really IS my dream house, and I don't want to leave! We're just trying to follow the Spirit, and are talking and praying a lot about what we should do. Daddy also works at his dream job, but he really is not getting paid what he is worth, so that's hard. Whatever we do, we will do with prayer and pondering, and time in the temple, so don't worry about us. But extra prayer warriors are always welcome! ;-)


Sir Toby Hopkins, the toad
In other news, we got lots of heavy rain on Saturday, and the kids found a TOAD in one of the window wells! In true Brennan fashion, the kids have adopted him, and he now lives in the aquarium. Dierdre, who caught him and takes care of him, named him "Sir Toby." Ah, I love how Shakespeare sneaks into our lives again and again! :-D

Saturday night's women's broadcast was AWESOME!!! I bawled all throughout Elder Uchtdorf's talk, and was tickled to hear one of the ladies in the YW presidency speak from the pulpit in a Southern accent! Wonderful talks and music-- and it was so special to have MacKenna, Dierdre, and Bonny there with me. I LOVE it!!!


Miss MacKenna and Fiona

There is a wonderful article in the October Ensign that talks about how to have more effective prayers. I tried it this morning, and am feeling much more peace than I have in a while. PRAYER WORKS!!! It seems like it gets harder as I get older, which I guess is part of the test of life. I love Heavenly Father so much, and I know that He wants me to be more diligent in calling on Him, so I'm trying to do better. :-)

Oh! I got a new calling! I got released from Activity Day (after serving as a leader over many years, at 4 times in different wards)-- can you believe it??? And now I have been called as... Ward Choir Director! :-D This will be my 3rd time in that calling. But I really do enjoy it! And I get to get started on CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!! Yahoo!!! Sister B-- is the choir pianist, so we're going to have LOTS of fun! We are meeting today to pick music. :-D ♪ ♫ ♪

Daddy spoke in church yesterday, and did a wonderful job sharing some stories about Grandpa and Grandma Pike and their conversion to the Church. And he bore a beautiful testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. He is such a good man, and I love him so much! You ought to ask him to send you a copy of a letter he read parts of. It was one Grandpa Pike had written to your Grandma Diana when she was a girl. It's really great.

Well, I have babbled on long enough. We love you and miss you!!!

I know that the Church is true, that Jesus loves us, and that we will be happy if we choose the right!!! You all continue to be in our hearts and prayers. :-)

Love, Mama Rachel