Our Family-sized Stroke!

Oh how I wish I could have written more about our life the past 2 years and 4 months.  SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED to our family.  Why didn’t I let myself be more vulnerable and write about what was happening to us?  Why didn’t I have the energy to push through the internet hiccups, the technology fog and photo problems?  Why didn’t I at least write something down, anything, save it on my computer so I could then come back to it now?  I could have even taken notes of which pictures to add to what post.  Why oh why didn’t I write something?!?

Because we were having a STROKE.  A major, family-sized LIFE STROKE.

2 1/2 years ago we literally lost everything that was normal to our family.  Our community, the way we speak/listen/process information, the way my children learn, the way we prioritize, the achievements we have made and how we celebrate them.  People all around us acted like “Yeah, you should have KNOWN that THIS was going to happen to you.”

Well, we didn’t.

And all I can say is that it hurt.  It hurt so much that I can look at my face in the mirror and see the noticeable hardship on my face from the weight of the stress, heartache and disappointment we have been experiencing.

Wendi – February 2015
FHE @ Barbara and Lee Harlin’s Home (Temple Missionaries) – January 2017

I can see it in my husband’s face too.

Ice Skating @ Cottonwood Heights Rec. Center – December 2014
Saying “Good-bye” to Sister Jennifer Holmes – August 17, 2015

But that’s okay.  We’re suppose to look old and aged.  But the most difficult faces to look at are the faces of my children.

Doña Ana, Puntarenas (“Monkey Beach”) – March 17, 2015

Can you see it too?

I think back and wonder about so many things.  At first it was a lot of “why is this happening to us?” questions.  Then it changed to “why not?”. . . the world is full of people going through hard times: cancer, death, loss of a job, natural disasters in their community, betrayal, abuse, addictions, mental or health issues and the list can go on and on.  I don’t believe any of these people WANTED these things to happen to them.  So why shouldn’t difficult times happen to us too?  Boy, isn’t that a loaded question to ask.

So I had to pull myself back and practice a new way of thinking.  No more “Why me?”  “What did we do to deserve this?”  “How long will this last?”  And the worst of them all “I want to quit.  I’ve had enough of this.”  Instead, I had to CHOOSE to believe in something BIGGER than myself or even my family. I HAD to rely on FAITH.  Faith that this plan is EXACTLY what my family needs, every single one of us, and that we WILL one day look back on these experiences and HOPEFULLY say that they were ALL worth it.

One thing I do know for sure . . . we moved to Costa Rica to be a family.  A much STRONGER, healthier family.

Damon Way House, before we moved to Costa Rica – January 2015

Before Costa Rica, we rarely had photos taken with our entire family together.  (Thanks Deborah Berrett for the few that we do have!)

At the airport, on our way to Costa Rica.  Look how excited E was to be moving to Costa Rica  –  January 21, 2015

Since moving to Costa Rica, our family has become a more important part of each of us.  I can see and feel a noticeable difference.

1st Family Field-trip to “Mas x Menos” to get ice cream (we didn’t have a family car, so we HAD to walk) –  January 2015
“Recreation of 1st Field Trip” – February 2016

Now, we don’t always have fun learning together.

L had a VERY wiggly tooth and REFUSED to let us help her with it, until we finally had to do something. Many tears but smiles did come from L learning she could do it!

Nor have we wanted to embrace what was happening in our lives.

“Homeschool Commitment Day” – After a month of tears, struggle, frustration and anger, ALL 4 kids FINALLY agreed to be Homeschooled in the manner that their parents felt was best, rather than what they (and others) assumed it should be like – September 11, 2015

And sometimes serving each other or others becomes a bit too much for us to juggle,

G needed to strengthen his feet muscles, so he could learn to ride a bike, so E built him his own “Stride Bike”. K not as happy to help –   November 11, 2015

But eventually we do learn to work together and to figure out our problems,

Fun with Mirrors, Children’s Museum of Costa Rica (K, L, E, G & friend) – October 27, 2015

 even if tears have been shed and frustrations abound,

Joy Boy ‘trying’ to stay mad, but we call him Joy Boy for a reason! – November 18, 2015

because we are learning about becoming a FOREVER FAMILY.

Now I feel like we have some REAL family pictures!  Here are just a few . . .

Joy Boy’s Baptism – Saturday, July 4, 2015
Sabbath Day Family Time – December 2, 2015
Our AMAZING trip to the San Blas Islands, Panama & the Panama Canal – December 2015
New Year Adventure to see the Windmills of Escazu – January 2, 2016
“Why we CHERISH Easter!” – General Conference Sunday, April 7, 2016
Fireside with Jon Schmidt and Family (including Annie) – May 2016
Christmas Card picture taken @ Heredia Stake Family Karaoke & Dance – December 2016
L’s Baptism (E baptized her & Paul confirmed her) and our 2 year Anniversary living in Costa Rica – Saturday, January 21, 2017
“Family Break” @ Ponderosa Adventure Park, Guanacaste, Costa Rica – April General Conference 2017

Although these pictures show smiling faces, the smiles had to be earned.  Life has been hard on our little family, harder than we ever expected it would be.  Disappointments, heartache and setbacks abound; but we have been learning a lot about forgiveness, undoing any entitled feelings in our lives, learning to prioritize and put first things first, and most importantly to trust in the will of the Lord.

I am so very grateful for the MANY blessings I have seen in the last 2+ years, for we have not been alone in our trials.  I am especially grateful for the gift of technology.  With it I have been given so much, especially right now because I would either have a drawer filled with undeveloped pictures or no pictures at all.  Thankfully I have a Mac, so my memories are not only saved but already dated with locations.

I look forward to making time to take trips down memory lane over the next year, posting about some of the moments we have experienced the last 2 1/2 years, as well as begin to document our current lives.  I especially would like to share our adventures in Homeschooling.  It will not only serve as a great recording tool of our progress plus the methods of learning that we have used, but it could hopefully help other parents who feel that they too are called to Homeschool.

Looking forward to a new chapter in our lives . . . daily recording.

 All my love,