Saturday, June 30, 2012


Sometimes it was a mental exercise for me. At night as I set my alarm for the early morning hours, I would envision myself stepping outside first thing in the morning, dressed for my run. I pictured my feet hitting the pavement, my easy breathing and the beauty of my surroundings. I could feel the thrill of the "after high" from having just pushed my body in an exercise of physical endurance. When the alarm sounded the next morning, the thoughts of wanting to snuggle under the covers and snag another hour of sleep was replaced with my last mental image from the night before. Mentally, I was half way out the door.

Running for me started as an answer to prayer. Strange, I know. Feeling completely overwhelmed with life, I had stolen away for a couple of uninterrupted hours in the canyons. I had been praying to know how to feel more balance and peace in my life. I had not been praying to know how to feel more healthy or more in shape. But the answer was very clear. The thought would not leave-I knew I needed to start running. Years later, I would wrestle with the temptation to question that answer.

I asked the girls consistently if they wanted to run with me. Maybe it was the time of day or maybe it was me, but they were borderline hostile in their response. Running was nowhere on their agenda. I love that we can always change our agenda.

I didn't start out "running" exactly. It was more like walking briskly mixed with a couple of jogging bursts. Little by little, my body caught up with what my mind wanted to do. Years later, I knew I was ready to attempt a "race." The Salt Lake Marathon was 9 months away and, usually a solitary runner, I joined a nephew in pursuing that goal.

And scleroderma raised her ugly head.
Knees and hips began to throb and ache. Hands stung and ached in the cold regardless of how many layers I heaped upon myself. Running was no longer my friend. In fact, it wasn't even an acquaintance. I have never run since.

Somewhere along the road since then, both girls have picked up where I left off and taken running to the next level. They are consistent and focused and determined. They also seem to love it.

Individually, they both set a goal to run a half-marathon and signed up with friends and roommates to make the dream come true. Gradually, the friends dropped out for various reasons and in the weeks leading up to the race, the sisters were comparing training schedules, routes, and injuries. The goal they had set for themselves personally had suddenly become a "team" event. In my mind, there could be no better team.

Race day was perfect. Jordan and Gabe and I waited at the nine mile mark and then the finish line to cheer on our team. As I saw them come around the corner glowing with sweat and exhilaration I tried to hide my face from my family. The wave of pride in my girls was overwhelming. Of course they would have to know I would cry. And not for a minute out of sadness for what my body would no longer accomplish.  But for the absolute thrill of seeing what grit, determination and effort combined with my daughter's healthy bodies could accomplish.  Sky's the limit, girlies.

Perhaps Danny provided some of Hailee's inspiration. Being roommates with an avid runner and marathoner will do that.
Kate and Steph were also at the finish line. They are entering their third year of cheering each other on in the game of college life.
 The nine mile mark in American Fork canyon.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ticket to ride

(Christian's graduation photos by Michelle Lenardt)

I can't believe it has been over a month since my last post! It would be easier to quit now than continue but I have found such gratification in being able to look back on the happenings of our life and see patterns of Divine guidance and feel gratitude for what has transpired. So much has happened that I hardly know where to begin, what to skim over and just what isn't important enough to include. 

What I do know is that much of this past month has seemed to revolve around this boy:

And I believe he is important enough to mention.

He has been busy with region and state tennis finals, seminary graduation, finishing and graduating from High School and leaving for (and coming home from) a graduation trip to California.

He arrived home late last night and as I locked up and headed to bed, I felt such a sense of contentment in having almost all of my kids gathered again safely under my roof.

He sat close to me on the bench today in church and sensing that I was cold, he placed his arm around me and pulled me in close. I couldn't keep myself from marveling at how BIG he was. He is not just tall and strong, but he has prickly, patchy facial hair (that he probably should have shaved for church), a nicely ironed white shirt, stylish pants, and a good looking tie that he put on all by himself. How is it possible that this boy of mine is so grown up? Where, oh where, did the time go?

Right now, "time" is waiting to be filled again. With a job, lawns, friends, more tennis, friends, high adventure trips, youth conference and more school. There are great opportunities for learning and growth on the horizon and I want to be careful that none of us miss a second. If "time" has taught me nothing else, it is that it carries on with or without your permission.

You either have to get on board or get left behind. I hate getting left behind. I'm buying a ticket to ride.

A graduation celebration for our two seniors: Christian and cousin Michelle.
 (who is strangely absent from this photo)

Christian and Miles-the-winner...Apparently there was a big argument beforehand in Jodi's family to see who got to sit by Christian. Jodi and Pat lost and were relegated to the end of the table. I hardly saw them all night.

Christian's sisters

Michelle and her momma.. (We were trying to get Vicki to do a "teenage girl" pose..)

And after the ceremony..

Christian and Tucker

The fam...
Questions: Why are the tallest of our group at the top of the hill? Why is my hair plastered to my head? And why did someone leave a box of fun dip under Gabe's chair rendering his teeth so blue that he was afraid to smile with his teeth showing all night?

And the Warner fam...

"Big" sis Britt...

Friend Savannah...

Grandma Kris...

other "Big" sis Hailee

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Coming out of the shadows

Jordan travels for work. A lot. Of the last three weeks he has been home 3 days. We miss him but we don't, if you know what I mean.  It's been such a part of the routine for so long now that we more easily step in and out of sync with his absence or his presence. Please don't mistake that for not caring. I would much rather have him here than gone. I am more relaxed with my husband home. It's so nice to have someone to sit with at Gabe's games or to spend a weekend night out together or to have someone to cook for that seems to appreciate the gesture, or someone that helps with dishes (I'm giving you that one, honey). I miss our pillow talk, him driving Gabe to school in the mornings, his sweet, random texts and his physical presence. Occasionally, I will catch a glimpse of a couple driving together in the car. The comfort of each other apparent in their animated conversation or their casual silence. And in those moments I miss him terribly. 

But most days my focus is my role as a mother-single as that might be. And most days, I feel like I have all the bases covered. Lately though...not so much. Current events have humbled me and shaken my confidence. I have been flailing, looking for support. Then here,out of the shadows, has stepped my husband- in a way...a role...a setting... that I could not have duplicated. Humbly I acknowledge this family's need for the presence of a husband and a father. Parenting is a joint venture for a reason. I refuse to be so glib as to think I don't need him. Neither of us are as good alone as we are together. And I'm so grateful that I have a great partner to do "together" with.  It's not ideal, but we're going to have to find a way to make "together" work no matter where he is on the globe. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Looking toward the finish line

We're getting there. Slowly but surely. "These things take time," I'm told. And although I struggle with patience, I can see that the time and effort being but into remodeling our beautiful, old home will eventually pay off. Eventually.....

Aussie loves riding over to the "new old house." 

The old garage came down. And with it, a lovely rat habitat. 

The new, detached garage. 
"The addition." The family room is the area with the fireplace. The small, attached garage is to the right.

Looking forward to....that doggie door. I am certain I will like the dog more with that addition.
The nickel board begins at the entry and wraps all the way around to the butler's pantry. Love it.

Thanks to nephew, Josh, at European Marble and Granite, we have some fabulous new countertops.  Jeff-the-builder had his carpenter, James, cover them and make sure nobody put anything on the counters. James took his responsibility very seriously. 

I love the arched entry from the garage entrance.  James, you rule!

Not loving the dust. And it's not just a little bit. Do you think it will ever be completely clean again?

Apparently, Pat and Jodi came by to have a look when we weren't there and decided to leave a little graffiti.  I can't blame them. It's like a magnet for self-expression.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sharing sushi with my favorites

That title might be a little misleading.  Seeing as how Jodi  someone in our group doesn't like to share. Her sushi as least. But I'm willing to overlook that tiny issue because I really, really like being with these people. Kelli and Brandt drove up from their new residence in California to support Jodi and Pat at their sealing and so we took full advantage of the few days that we had everyone in the same vicinity. Happy Sumo and Bear Country Cookies are a given. Non-stop chatter and laughter is a given. Feeling sick from overeating is a given. Jordan being out of town is almost a given. Pat making us all look like midgets is a given.  A heart full of gratitude that I get to call these people family--is a given.

L to R: Pat, Jodi, Erick, me, Kelli, Brandt

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rain, rain....

I woke up to rain again today. I'm not complaining. But please don't tell Christian that. Any day we have remotely warm weather and/or sunshine and it's his turn to pray he consistently prays; "thank you for this amazing weather we are having and please bless that we will have more of it." It make me smile. He gets cabin fever easily. He loves to be outside. And he is truly grateful when the weather allows him to be there.

Spring is notoriously fickle in Utah. One minute you've got the seat warmers on in the car, the next you are blasting the air-conditioning. Both boys play spring sports. Tennis and soccer. As a player or spectator the weather can be a hazard. Gabe played his game Saturday wet and cold. I opted out of cheering from the sidelines and instead had a pretty good view from the car. In case they couldn't hear me cheer when they scored, I honked instead.

Do you see that grin? Not only did he not complain about the weather, he loved it! Said it was "waaay fun". He even did a mud slide in his white shorts. Of course that makes you look like the more serious player.

I can't get enough of this kid. I will cheer for him here or there. I will cheer for him anywhere. (As long as I can watch from the car.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


v. to assure, confirm, or bind with or as if with a seal:

Saturday, Jodi and Pat were sealed together forever in the Bountiful Temple. It was their day and so I wont presume to know all that it meant to them. But it was a beautiful reminder to me of the promises and covenants that I've made and the amazing man that I made them with.

I can not begin to explain how happy it makes me to see her happy. I have a sneaking suspicion that this man by her side (forever) has a lot to do with that.
Jodi and Pat's crew...there is even one missing here. As I've said before, Jodi's life is not easier or less complicated but it is happier and more fulfilling. And is that not what life is all about?It is good to know people...Jodi and Pat's friend, Ryan, is the amazing photographer that took these photos. Check him out at

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On Hope and Hurricanes. (Part II)

The tree of life: JK. That was my own interpretation

DISCLAIMER: looong post. Feel free to skip.

This particular post has been a little harder for me to eek out. I'm not really the "sharing" type. (Which is ironic because I do a great deal of sharing in this post). But I do want to use this forum as an opportunity to publicly thank and acknowledge the many people that have offered their love and support from the very beginning of this journey. In fact, I really hoped the treatment I underwent in Mexico would be successful so that all of these amazing people could have a "reward" for their diligent hope and prayers in my behalf. I didn't want to disappoint them.

The doctors in Mexico (one Mexican and one American) were very forthcoming. They never promised me anything (other than their complete attention) but it was obvious that they were very hopeful. Like a hungry beggar with outstretched hands, I felt a thrill when any morsel of hope was tossed my way. It felt like sweet nourishment to both body and spirit.

I was so excited for the prospects ahead that when all of Cancun began to shut down in anticipation of an impending hurricane (Level 3 to start), I was barely phased. That was not the case for the rest of the city, however. Previous experience with extensive hurricane damage had obviously breathed the fear of the "worst case scenario" into all of them. Shops emptied out their stores of all merchandise (to avoid the possibility of looting), taped up the windows to offer support and aid in damage control. Red flags whipped in the wind on all the beaches which were void of any beach chairs or signs of life. Restaurants and grocery stores shut down (hello food storage) and the hotel sent notice that we were to leave all of the balcony furniture inside the rooms, pack our bags and put them in the tub, and then remain in the room away from the windows.

Even as the storm continued to get closer, I would meet my little taxi driver out front of the hotel every morning, drive to the clinic and spend a couple of hours there doing the next "step" in preparation for the stem cell extraction and infusion. Driving to the clinic on the day of the procedure there was an almost palpable air of fear and anxiety. Under normal circumstances, the procedure is performed in the closest hospital. They had just received word that all of the hospitals were cutting off their electricity and would not be accepting any "non-emergency" patients. So the clinic it was. I will spare you the details but to say that there were many failed attempts to start an IV (no surprises there...the U of U hospital had to use an ultrasound machine and even then it took 7 different tries) and sucking the bone marrow from your tibia feels like your toes are being pulled inside out back through your leg.

After, Jordan and I rented a car and drove to Tulum to tour other Mayan ruins. The whole afternoon I was doing a constant internal check- "Do I feel any different?" "Can I move my mouth more?" "Can I whistle?" "Hold Jordan's hand?" "Can I breath easier?" "Sit Indian style?" "Touch my toes?" (Oh wait..I couldn't do that even before scleroderma..)

But no. Nothing. The real kicker was when everybody else started asking. Jordan. Then the doctor. Then the doctor called again. And again. And I all had to show for it was a migrain.

But it was okay. I had always felt like it would be a process. As much as I would have liked, I was pretty certain that results would not be seen overnight.

In the meantime the level 3 hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm. "What a bunch of sissies, I thought." Then the storm hit. And I was the sissy. Holy cow! As the storm gained speed we tried to find food at a make-shift diner in the basement of the hotel. The sideways pelting rain and 90 mph winds made the slick sidewalk impossible to walk on in a straight line. I honestly thought we were going to be blown into a neighboring country. I was scared. But hungry. And hunger always wins out for me. So we persevered into what felt like an upscale refugee camp for the hungry, disappointed land-locked vacationeers. I was glad we had another reason for being there than vacationing. It would have been much more heartbreaking, I think. After all..I still had hope.

I was able to maintain that great hope and composure until my last follow-up visit at the clinic. It was then that it became very obvious to me that both doctors had expected much more. Both were trying hard to hide their surprise and discouragement. I was crushed. The "process" that I expected was not what they expected.

We flew home to loving friends and family who all wanted to know how I "felt." What I really heard them say was, "are you healed?" I began to think a lot about that word. What exactly would it mean for me to be "healed?" What about hope? Is there finally a point where you relinquish hope and insert acceptance? Maybe I was to that point? Maybe I needed to just accept and move on?

And then Catherine asked me to share my thoughts on pain and the atonement for her Relief Society lesson that Sunday. It was a tall task. What could I possibly share that would be anything that these women had not already experienced in their own lives and didn't already know? But, of course, as is so often the case when we are asked to serve or share, it wasn't for their learning and growth but for mine alone. In the process, I concluded that hope and acceptance do not have to be separate. I can continue to have hope and yet accept where I am today. After all, every single day, I continue to be healed.

This is what I shared that Sunday in Relief Society:

I recently returned from Cancun, Mexico where I underwent unconventional treatment for scleroderma-a rapidly progressing disease I was diagnosed with close to 7 years ago. During my stay at the clinic I was repeatedly asked to measure everything from my level of frustration performing certain tasks to the degree of pain I was experiencing by using a scale of 1-10. Though I understood why they chose to use that system of measurement, I couldn’t quite get past my distaste for it. It is just too subjective for me. My '6' could very likely be someone else’s '2' or my '4' today could be an '8' tomorrow. So when Catherine asked me to share a little about my experience with pain, I felt some discomfort sharing something that I know is very subjective-something that each of you have, do and will experience in your life.

For these past several years as you can imagine-or have maybe even experienced-I have tried everything form diet to detox, supplements to prescriptions, physical therapy to cranial therapy and medical treatments to medical experiments in search of healing from a disease that has no known cause and no known cure. Though none of my endeavors have been particularly successful, each has been important in providing momentary hope. Most days, however, I have felt like an innocent bystander watching from the sidelines as this disease slowly robs me of many aspects of my health that I only recently took very much for granted. With the continual hardening of my connective tissue and various internal organs, poor circulation and poor digestion, gone are the days of my early morning runs, being invited to join my sisters in running the Ragnar, whipping my hair into a ponytail, being oblivious to what I eat or where the nearest public restroom is, and getting an uninterrupted nights sleep. The pain and discomfort is very real for me, but on a scale of 1-10, the physical pain ranks lower in comparison to the frustration and grief I have felt over the loss of the seemingly “little things.” Holding the hand of a loved one, not being able to accompany my family when they ski or sled, putting on tights with my skirts, having to be just a bystander for most previously enjoyed activities, feeling helpful, cutting my own meat, tying a bow, being recognized or feeling good about how I look and kissing my cute husband.

There have been more days than I would like to admit where my impatience with my limitations or discomfort has translated to impatience with my sweet, unsuspecting family. Or where I have uttered those very ungrateful words, “why me?” Days where I shuffled around feeling sorry for myself and countless moments of jagged crying in the car or the shower pleading with the Lord to just “take it all away.”

But along the way I have known-truly known-that through the Savior’s infinite atonement, I can be healed. I have prayed for, fasted for, and hoped for that healing. And it is through that same gift that I have experienced much healing. I know that the Savior chose to experience all of my pains-of every variety-through His own physical experience and not just spiritual revelation. He has taken my self pity and healed it with gratitude, my disease-provoked insecurities and healed them with confidence in new areas and a profoundly increased confidence in Him, He has taken moments of discouragement and healed them with hope. And the real, physical pain-He has healed that too. I have cast that burden at His feet countless times and have been given the strength and the desire to push through and accomplish and even be fully present for more than I would have even without it. I have become very aquatinted with "grace."

His intimate knowledge and awareness of my feelings of isolation, fear, and loneliness have allowed Him to cover me on both sides of the veil with friends and family that have filled me to overflowing with love and support.

So, on a scale of 1-10, how much do I dislike this disease?

And on a scale of 1-10, how willing would I be to give up the lessons learned and the opportunity to come to know my Savior more fully and feel of his love and healing power more completely? I wouldn't.

And to scleroderma, for that, I am eternally grateful.


I maybe got a little carried away with all my new camera apps on my phone...

We took a boat tour across this bay. By the time we returned it was pouring rain and the boat pitched and rocked in the waves. I have a small problem with sea sickness on a calm ocean. Read: misery.
Not a soul in sight. If Jordan had hair you would see it whipping in the killer wind. (On the phone again)
Preparing for the "hurricane." The day before this place with filled with merchandise and people.
Dr. Abblitt (standing) and Dr. Kadish

My cab driver(bottom right-loved him but can't remember his name), the lab tech (with the lab coat), and the office manager (Rudy).