Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11/2014

I always think on this day that there isn't possibly anything else I can say about the events from now 13 years ago.  What's interesting is that every year I am taken back to the images and the emotions.  They are so clear.  I gauge how far we've come by where my kids are in life.  They were so young then and now our oldest has left the nest and is on his own adventure.  I remember being so scared that day wondering if I would ever be strong enough to let my boys leave the house again.  Obviously I have.  Now Michael is in Germany serving a mission for our church.  He still wants to join the Military when he gets back which amazes me.

Just last night Neil came home from college night talking about the Military recruiters he had chatted with.  He has always talked about joining the Military but we always thought it was just that.  Not only does he have a desire to serve in the Military but he wants to be a Navy Seal or Army Ranger.  His sense of duty and honor run deep.

Daniel still seems so young to me but he was just an infant that day.  He has known no different life other than that post 9/11.  He has grown up with Patriot Day and a dad who was gone more than he was home.  He learned the reality of war in a close intimate way when we lost a friend and spent many hours, days and months with his widow.  Daniel has such love and respect for our Fallen.

Our three boys know that 9/11 is more than a day to be remembered once a year.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Boys of Fall 2014 - Neil

 I love watching Neil wrestle but there is something awesome about watching him play football.  He didn't play last year and I didn't realize how much I missed watching him until his first game of this season.  I was overwhelmed with excitement!  It is so fun watching him on the field.  He really hoped to be on Varsity as a linebacker but those spots are taken by seniors this year.  He does play on kickoff and while it's not quite enough for him I'm happy to see him on the field every Friday night. 

He is a starter on his JV squad and is a beast.  It's funny to think that when he came home in 7th grade I was so nervous about him playing and now here he is, often a leader.  I am so proud of how far he has come and look forward to seeing him get even better.

Go #90!



 One of the things I love the most about Friday night football is watching the four boys from our church gather together in prayer before each game.  I love these tender moments!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Am Doing Great!

Today my heart is full.  I love Sabbath Days when I come  home from church not only feeling uplifted but charged up to work harder to and do better!  We had so many good talks at church and then I had the opportunity to teach the last hour.  I feel like that lesson was meant for me and not really the girls I was teaching.

I love how each week when I go to church people ask me how Michael is doing and how I am doing.  I feel so proud to say with sincerity that I am doing good.  I really am doing well.  I really had no idea how I would be when Michael left but aside from the first day when our entire family was an emotional mess and another random day where I just missed him, I am doing great.  I realized right from his first email that he is happy to be where he is and that he is exactly where he is supposed to be.  He is serving the Lord and I just can't be sad about it.  I believe these feelings of peace and happiness are a big blessing from my Heavenly Father. 

Don't get me wrong, I miss Michael but I don't ache for him and I feel so lucky.  I know that our entire family has been affected by him leaving because we love him but we are happy for him.  We love to read his emails and imagine him writing them.  I love the pictures he sends and most of all I just love that he felt so strongly that this is what he was supposed to do.

We were a happy family before we made the decision to strengthen our relationship with our Savior but we are so much happier now.  I am eternally grateful for the two young men who sacrificed two years of their life to find us and so many others.  I cannot be selfish and be sad that my son wants to go out and teach others about our Savior's love and bring them unto Him.  This is the greatest act of paying it forward and I must have a willing heart and I do!

There are true blessings when you have a child out serving the Lord.  I have already seen them in just this short amount of time.  One thing I started since he left is a small blessings journal.  I am trying to keep track of little blessings.  Simple things like the fact that someone thought of our family for tickets to a concert or the willingness of more people than were needed to help transport some of the youth in our church.  I want to make sure I recognize ALL the things that my Father in Heaven blesses me with.

I can't express how humbled I feel by this experience so far.  If this first month is any indication of how the next 23 months will be, I know that we will be okay.  I'm not naive enough to believe we won't have hard moments or tribulation but because we know that this is part of Heavenly Father's plan, we know we can get through it!

I am so proud of Michael, my heart is full and our family is blessed.  Next time you ask me how I'm doing, please believe me when I say that I am doing GREAT!

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 1:4

Michael's Missionary Name Tags

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Girls Camp 2014



Another Girls Camp in the books.  It was another amazing time.  I admit that the weeks before camp I wasn't really feeling it.  Michael left just a few days before and that combined with Cub Scout Day Camp I conducted a few weeks earlier, I was just tired.  I love Girls Camp but it's a lot of work and sometimes I don't feel like doing it.  That being said, I am grateful that the Lord knows me better than I know myself and also instilled in me a deep sense of commitment.  I said I would do it and nothing would stop me.  I also felt strongly early on in the year that I was not to call a Girls Camp director and that continued right up until Girls Camp.

A couple days before Girls Camp, I felt at such peace with the fact that I was supposed to go.  Even when trying to get the two boys ready for a canoe trip that was planned after Kevin and I committed to go to Girls Camp.  I have so much anxiety when it comes to letting my boys go somewhere without Kevin or I.  Yes, I know they are big boys but it's just how I am.  I am especially over protective of Neil who people don't always understand and assume things about him.  It was a challenge.  After a lot of praying and humbling myself, I felt at peace with letting them go and letting others take care of them.

I really felt peace at camp that they were okay and we were okay.

My girls at camp were awesome.  I really do love each and everyone of them.  I appreciate that they were willing to put aside the luxuries of the world and take the opportunity to get closer to our Heavenly Father.  Some aspects of camping just aren't fun, we know that.  The heat, no showers, creepy crawlies.  But the bond you create with others your age, the growth in your testimonies, being able to just be you without pretense,  I love it!
St. Robert 1st Ward Young Women and Leaders

 We have the best Bishop and Bishop's wife.  We had so much fun on Bishop's night.  They brought ice cream (yum!) and played games with the girls.  The Bishop gave a great lesson on self worth but let's be real, the girls were looking forward to playing the games.  Our Bishop is probably one of the youngest in the Stake so it's always fun when he visits Girls Camp.  He's so competitive which makes the girls laugh.  Kevin joined in on the fun too so it was just that much more hilarious.  We have some insanely competitive girls in our ward so we're a loud bunch.  Apparently, all the other wards could hear the craziness from our camp site...oops!




I really enjoyed having Kevin out at Camp with me all week long.  It was a sacrifice for him to take that time off of work.  He has come out and helped set up camp or break it down in the past but never been able to stay the entire week.  He actually went out a day before I did and helped out so much.  I loved hearing the comments from others about how great he was.  Some of the girls made fun of us for being "so cute".  I told them they deserved to have a man just like him or even better.  We aren't perfect but we strive to be like Christ.  I admit I got a bit upset with him at times for hovering over me, he's so danged protective but I love it to.  I feel so blessed that he does watch over me and that he has raised our boys to do the same.

The last night of camp he gave this amazing devotional on the Armor of God.  He put on a bunch of his Army gear and it was just awesome.  I am constantly in awe of his testimony and knowledge of the gospel.
One of the highlights for me was being able to do a sunrise hike with our girls.  It was a huge sacrifice as we got up at 4 a.m.  I think most of us were still asleep as we walked the 1.5 miles to the location we were going to watch the sun rise.  It was gorgeous and such a reminder to me of the beauty the Lord has created for us. 
Kevin & I the morning of the sunrise hike.
If I were to be honest, the actual highlight of camp for me was getting an email from Michael.  I did my best to adhere to the electronics fast that the girls had to.  I actually didn't have my phone on most of the time but would occasionally check it to see if I had messages from Neil or Daniel.  When I checked my phone Thursday morning, there was a beautiful email from Michael.  I felt so lucky that I got to read it with Kevin.  I also read it to some of the girls and it was just amazing being able to share it with them and talk about some of the things he mentioned.  You can read his email on his blog.

One of the repetitive themes throughout camp was to do hard things and I feel I did that.  The Lord asked me to send my son overseas on a mission for two years, I did.  He asked me to have faith that there are others who would watch over and keep my boys safe on a canoe trip, I did that.  He promised me a wonderful experience at Girls Camp where I could connect with my girls, I feel I accomplished that.  He gave me time to spend with my husband and gave me the opportunity to really appreciate all he does for our family and others.  There may have been challenges but there were far more blessings.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Until We Meet Again, Elder Albrecht

Michael headed off to kindergarten in August 2001.  I remember the days leading up to his first day, intermittent crying and my heart feeling like it would break.  It was quite sad now that I think about it considering he was only leaving me for less than four hours.  I remember standing in the school parking lot trying to hold it together as I watched him walk through the doors with such confidence.  Add Neil into the mix who had always had his big brother around crying, not understanding why he couldn't go with his big brother and also why his big brother wasn't get in the car with us.  He was so sad and it broke my heart.
Michael after being set apart.  One of our Sister Missionaries gave him this beautiful seashell lei.
Yesterday I felt a lot of the same emotions except this time he wasn't leaving for just a few hours, he was venturing off for two years...overseas.  I thought I was handling it pretty well.  Sure I had random bouts of misty eyes but I hadn't had a good cry until the night before he left.  As we were driving to the airport, I'd start to get choked up but that was all.  As we were preparing to say goodbye I wanted to cry but I didn't, I held it together until I looked at Neil and saw that he was breaking down.  It was so tender.  My boys are so close to each other and love each other so much it overwhelmed my heart to see such love expressed openly.  I am grateful that Michael left knowing that his family loves him so much.  I pray that love will lift him up when he faces challenges during the next two years.

I cried when he entered security.  Oh I hate that we couldn't go with him to the gate.  It was torture sitting in the airport wondering if he was okay.  I don't know why I worried so much, he carried himself with the same confidence he had as a 5 year old boy walking into school for the first time.  He has prepared for this and he is confident that this is exactly where he is supposed to be.  I am constantly amazed at his maturity and desire to follow the path the Lord has set for him.

Michael handled his leaving much better than his family did.  We were a sobbing mess standing outside the security area.  We had no shame expressing our love for a member of the family who was leaving.

I admit that I had a good, hearty cry...you know the ugly cry...when I walked in the house.  The dynamics of our home has changed but it is for the better.  I can already feel the blessings of having a missionary out in the field.  It was hard not knowing where he was or if he made it through customs alright.  I think the hardest part for me was that he was traveling alone.  It's the way I feel when Kevin leaves on deployments, I get to stay with my family and I have support but when  he leaves he is often alone.  I was quickly reminded that Michael is not alone, he is being watched over by Heavenly Father and he has been lifted up by so many prayers from all of our amazing friends and family.

The support our family has received the past few days is overwhelming  I wish I could go and hug each person (and that's saying a lot since I am NOT a hugger) but I have felt the love and comfort and it was humbling.

I know I am going to have days where I struggle with missing my son but I know we'll have more days when we will feel blessed to have an amazing son who has followed his Father's plan.

This morning, I woke up to a short email from Michael and it left me with such comfort.  I can feel his excitement and I just can't be sad about that.

Mom, we just made it to the MTC about 4 hours ago. All is well, and my bags made it here as well. The MTC is just amazing and beautiful. We only have a few short minutes today, but I wanted you to know that I have felt so much support from you guys and I am so grateful for that. I love you so much(:

Elder Albrecht, we love you and we do support you and we pray for you always as you embark on this new chapter.  Until We Meet Again....



Monday, June 16, 2014

I Love To See The Temple...



We feel so grateful that we have been able to go to the temple twice in the past couple weeks.  We first took Michael to the temple the day after he graduated.  It was a beautiful experience and we had great friends who joined us for the day  I feel so blessed to have such great people in our lives.
 
 This past Saturday we got to go do baptisms for the dead with our youth and it was an awesome experience  Michael got to baptize his brothers for family names.  It was so special to be able to witness that  When the boys were little I would often hear them "baptizing" each other in the bathtub.  I was reminded of those sweet moments when I watched Michael lay the other two boys in the font.  Those are memories I will always cherish.

I love the temple and the sweet spirit it fill me with.  I love that we were able to go together as a family before Michael leaves  I am grateful for the Lord's tender mercies.


 



Saturday, June 07, 2014

Cub Scout Day Camp 2014

So today closed out my final Cub Scout Day Camp. It's only fitting that I started my involvement with Day Camp with Michael and since he is leaving to start the next chapter of his life, I shall too.  This was my 11th Day Camp and my third as the director.  It was a bit smaller than last year's but I think overall it went well.  We had to deal with some rain and had to adjust but I am so thankful to great leaders who stepped in to make it as painless as possible.  I was very sad that we had to shut our family day down early because of severe thunderstorms.

One of the main reasons I love Cub Scout Day Camp is because of the enthusiasm of the kids.  They are just excited about things.  They make me happy.  I love their need to show me everything and tell me all their random knowledge.  It brings joy to my heart.

I love that I have been able to do this with my kids.  Even though I volunteered them they had a choice when it came to their attitudes.  Neil was a rock star at the cooking station.  The kids loved telling me how much fun they had there.  Daniel helped Kevin out on the Archery range.  I got great feedback about his patience with the kids and how he took the time to show him how to do it.  Michael helped me in the admin area and honestly I don't know how I could have survived the last couple years without him.  He makes my job so easy.  Kevin and our friend Dave's overall support in setting up and breaking down camp makes me a pretty lucky girl.  I base the success of our camp on their willingness to help me.

Of course I had plenty of other help and I am so grateful for them.  I kind of drug in most of my church friends, thank goodness they understand service.  I love it!

Our theme this year was American Heroes.  I tried to incorporate as much as I could but unfortunately a last minute change in location caused me to change some of my program.  All worked out and our venue ended up being so much better for our camp.

It was bittersweet knowing this would be my last camp but it's time for me to move forward and do something else.  I know someone will step up and take charge and make it even better than I ever did.