Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Card and Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Time seems to be picking up its speed as we go along and sometimes I look at the faces in our family picture and wonder who in the world those people are. I had a bunch of babies around here not that long ago and now they are nowhere to be found.

As everyone has decided to grow up we find ourselves doing more than ever. More driving (Kaden) more dating (Kaden) more homework (everyone) more volleyball (Branson) more cheer (Brylee) more swimming and racing (Brylee & Kaden) more losing teeth (Cali and Ella) more Eagle projects (Kaden and Branson) more driving people all over town (me) more braces actually coming off (Brylee) more Real Estate (Scott) more Scoutmastering (Scott) more ward prelude organist (Kaden) more coaching (me) more spelling lists (Cali and Ella) more Pioneer Trekking (Kaden, Brylee, Scott and me) more going off to all day school (Cali) more laundry (everyone) more grocery shopping (me) more choir (Ella)  more breaking bones (Branson) and more-more-more. All this more is a little much, I think.

Earlier in the year a friend of mine called me, she wasn’t feeling well and hadn’t been for some time. Her husband was working long hours and then trying to come home and clean the house and do homework with the kids. Through a lump in her throat she timidly asked if Branson could come mow her lawn. I answered with a quick, “absolutely I’ll send him over right after football practice!”

And then I panicked. 

I wondered how in the world I was going to break this little bit of news to Branson. Branson was in the middle of football season. After school, he attended 2 hour practices in 100+ degree weather and I was sure that the very last thing he would want to do when he got home was mow someone’s lawn. But thanks to me he was committed and I held my breath as I sheepishly called my sweaty, over heated, worn out, practice-tired boy.

“Um Branson, my friend is sick, her husband is overloaded with work and the kids and the house, and they really need their lawn mowed. Kaden has swim team and that just leaves you. Do you think you can do that for them?” 

His answer has stayed with me all these months later.

"Just mow and edge? That’s it? I can do more than that."

When Jesus visited Jerusalem during the feast of the tabernacles, the people expressed various opinions of who Jesus was. Some, knowing of His miracles asked, “When Messiah cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?”  But Jesus had already done more. He had healed the sick, fed the 5000, turned water into wine and walked on the water. He was The Messiah that they were waiting for and He would yet still do more. More loving and leading and teaching and serving and lifting and healing and raising. And then He would face the garden and the cross, and He would leave the tomb empty on the third day, doing more for all of us than any man had ever done before or would ever do again.

As all the more of life seems to get bigger and bigger we are trying to remember that we can do more than that. We can love more and serve more, we can forgive more and care more. In all the more of everyday life and of growing up we can be more of what Jesus wants us to be.  

Our more this year came as Kaden spent three days with his friends this summer in downtown Phoenix talking to and helping the homeless. It came as Cali went off to school and quickly developed a talent for giving away her Kindergarten treasures like markers, crayons, recess snacks and Kindercash until she was literally left with an empty supply box. It came as Brylee joined her schools Best Buddy program and has learned to love those at her school who need it most. More came as Branson organized Christmas gifts and donations for families in need, it came as Ella has used her beautiful singing voice to share the gospel and more has come in the ordinary of everyday life as we are trying to be more of what He was.

More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy
More, Savior, like thee.

We are so thankful for all the more that came into the world on that first Christmas night. We are so thankful that He walked the Earth, lived a perfect life and provided a way for us to be more and have more than we can ever imagine.
Mild he lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die. 

With more honor and praise for Him at Christmas and always, Love The Heywood's  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Fire Warms You

These past few days have been entirely overwhelming. Too little sleep and too much to do. The big kids have been studying for finals and we have had so many errands and obligations. Scott has been super busy with his work and his calling and so every other detail of life and Christmas has been left completely to me.

Last night I sat in my bedroom thinking of everything that needed to be done and instead of doing it I put on a dress and grabbed my temple bag. I told the kids I'd be back and I rushed to the temple in time to catch the last session of the evening.

In the celestial room I read Luke 2. I walked to my car in the dark and I felt so thankful that I was able to go to the temple in the middle of a busy and stressful week.

This morning bright (still dark out) and early we were already dealing with stress and a rushed pace. I felt tired from the second my eyes opened. I felt frustrated with the kids for constantly losing things and leaving a sink worth of dishes on their night stands and forgetting to tell me before hand about the five thousand secret Santa gifts they need.

I was helping Brylee wrap and tie a bow on one last secret Santa gift when the scissors slipped and cut my index finger. It wasn't life threatening but that was IT,  as blood started to drip off my hand I turned and walked out of the house. I barely made it to the corner of my garage before I burst into tears.

Just sobbed.

While I sat there alone, about to demand immediate relief and blessing from Heaven, I thought about this....

"He recalled that when he prayed in his earlier years, he did so with a list of requests and solicitudes. He would approach heaven with what he called “a kind of shopping list.” But now, he said, “I think [I am] trying to grow in just being there. Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter, you are just there in front of the fire, and you don’t have to be smart or anything. The fire warms you.”
I think that is a lovely metaphor—just sit with the Lord and let Him warm you like a fire in winter. You don’t have to be perfect or the greatest person who ever graced the earth or the best of anything to be with Him.I hope you will take time this Christmas season to sit for a few quiet moments and let the Savior’s Spirit warm you and reassure you of the worthiness of your service, of your offering, of your life. Sit quietly with that little baby and come away spiritually strengthened and better prepared for all that is going to come later. Let that moment be one of rest and refreshing and reassurance and renewal."

I had been trying so hard to do this and it wasn't working. But finally as I sat alone and listened to the rain drip and cried into my lap and watched my finger bleed I was able to let go of everything else and just sit by "the fire".

With that Baby in the manger. I thought about Him and His Mama and how overwhelmed she must have been too. I loved letting go of the thoughts of what happened to Him later in His life and all the chaos of my own life and just fill my heart with love for a Baby. The Baby. It felt so good to feel my tears of anger and frustration turn to tears of thanks. To feel all my "not good enough's" go away for a bit.

After a good long cry, I went inside where nothing had changed. The house was still a mess, kids still needed breakfast, a little argument still bubbled up between the girls but I gathered the ones I could and we watched "Mr. Krueger's Christmas". One of my favorites...

I didn't bring a gift, I, but I, I guess that's not important. Thank you for everything you've done for me. As long as I can remember you've been right by my side. I'll never forget when you walked with me right in those first few hours after I lost Martha. I've always been able to count on you, when I felt dark inside and when I... You were right there, every time, right there. Even when I didn't feel good about myself, I knew that you cared for me enough, and that, that made me feel better. Like that time I got mad with Mabel Huntington because she broke her pipes on purpose just so she could have somebody to see while I came up and fixed them for her. Boy, I hollered at her, boy I hollered real loud. But then, then I got to thinking - you loved Mabel just as much as you loved me and I should treat her the way you want me to. I believe I talked to you about that at the time. Well, I started visiting her and we became friends. I saw her almost every day until the day she died. I love you. You're my closest, my finest friend. And that means that I can hold my head high, wherever I go. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I feel like I know how sweet Mr. Krueger felt when he knelt by the manger. I'm so happy to celebrate Baby Jesus in a few days and I'm glad that nothing else really matters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

For the Chance

Scott and I slipped away on Thursday for a two day hideout for his birthday. Scott and I rarely leave but when we do we take lots of naps. For reals, my body lets go of life and I pass out. Its like pulling the plug on the refrigerator. You know? The fridge is always on, everyone needs the fridge to be always on, if the fridge goes off we are in trouble and so the fridge stays on. Well,  if I've planned good enough and called in a few favors with my kids and I am free to drive away with Scott its like someone pulls my subconscious plug and I am comatose. Peace out life!

The highlight of the weekend was the couple hours we spent together in the temple. Oh the tears!  I knelt across from Scott and listen to the promises we made to each other almost two decades ago and cried that we get to help others have those same blessings. Families can be forever and I am so thankful.

I never dread coming home to my kids. I love my demanding and busy day to day life with them. It was fun to come home and be instantly submerged back into Motherhood.

SUBMERGED. Maybe even drowning.

We quickly threw things together and rushed off for the community Christmas Concert and Nativity display. Ella was lucky enough to get to be part of the children's choir this year and so I was excited for the evening. Cali was acting a little sluggish but I just attributed it to sleeping over with cousins. We got all settled into our pew at the concert and I let Cali fall asleep on my lap and then half way through the concert, before I could do much about it,  she threw-up ALL over me and the bench we were sitting on. The concert-the reverent, beautiful, aww inspiring concert-was in full swing and I did not want to disturb anyone.

But! I am a MASTER at these sorts of crises. Is there a degree for this sort of thing? Because if there is, I deserve it. Scott slipped out for paper towels and I gently and discreetly moved Cali to a sitting position. I slipped between the pews and  scooped up the majority of the mess into Cali's jacket. BAM.

When Scott got back he sat down, handed me the towels and  I cleaned up the rest. Rolled everything into the towels and during the congregational song we all filed out the door. I stopped someone in charge and told them that the bench would need to be disinfected and we were off.

MASTER I am telling you.

Luckily Ella had already sang and she did amazing and looked like a little angel on stage.

Her teacher, our friend Josh, came to see her and he was nice enough to stay with Ella for the rest of the concert and bring her home after. What a blessing he has been to our family over the years. We sure appreciate him. You know you've picked great friends when you leave them on your barf bench and tell them to keep your kid and they oblige.

The twins were still at a friends and needed to be picked up, Scott still did a late night trip for groceries and Kaden was still at work. Cali and me needed a shower after the barf-o-rama and my kitchen was strewn with all that is Saturday. Maybe when I was a younger Mom I would have felt that coming home to all that chaos, after a peaceful weekend away,  was a death sentence. But now I can just roll with it and laugh about it. I'm just so thankful for the chance.

Barf and all.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


The first thing Kaden does when he comes home everyday is play the piano. I LOVE to follow him in there and sit on the couch, close my eyes and listen.

My heart certainly wants to remember these moments. Kaden is a steady and calm influence in our home. He is a quiet kid for the most part but he strong in the areas that matter.

He is in the middle of the "dance" phase of his life and it is a hoot! I love helping him cook up ways to ask and answer, I love the pictures, I love the friends. I just really love all the teenagerish stuff that is filling our life right now.

Kaden tuned 17 in November. I COULD NOT get the kid to give me any ideas of what he wanted to do. Finally I just said, "Kaden, I'm making fry bread for lunch, bring any of your friends that want to come."

Turns out that plenty of kiddos want to come when its your birthday and your Ma is making fry bread. Never under estimate the power of food with teenagers. At one point I swear there were 40 kids in my kitchen.

17 is going to be a good year for this boy. I'm sure thankful for that warmer-than-usual November day that he was born.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


We had the BEST Thanksgiving! Even though at first I was super worried! A few weeks before we found out that we were in the unfamiliar and unusual position of not having any family around for Thanksgiving. Everyone had made plans and for the first time we were alone.

What to do??

We looked at going out of town? Camping? Knotts? The Cabin?

Then my old friend Jaime called and asked if her 4 kids could spend Thanksgiving with us while she and her husband were out of town.

Um Heck Yes!

My kids have never known life without the Goeckeritz kids. We have loved them for so long and they are some of our most favorite people in the world.

We had so much fun with them. We ate out, did a little black Friday shopping, played sand volleyball, ate icecream, played games and stayed up late watching a movie. It was the best.

Good friends are what life is all about!

Brylee and Emma so long ago...

Brylee and Emma on Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Joy to Your Days

These past two years have really hit me hard like a good Arizona monsoon. I've had to strip my life down to the basics. What I mean is I don't waste time or energy on extras or things that I feel don't matter. My best energy needs to be saved and used for my family. We are running out of time with some of these kids and I feel (actually I know) that its crucial for me to BE HERE in body, spirit, mind and emotion. The fluff of life has had to go.

I like to focus on the things that keep our family humming as much as a busy, growing, teenagerish family of 7 can hum.

A clean house.

I have realized that when I get caught up in fluff I don't feel the spirit as easily. Have you ever sat in Sacrament meeting as everyone around you sniffled and reacted to a heartfelt talk or a peaceful musical number and not felt much. Ya that's what happens to me when I let school projects, extras, parties, decorations, shopping, heart aches, stresses and challenges crowd my life so much that those 6, more important things, get squished into the remaining smallest leftover space of my life.

And then I feel yucky.

One of my old Bishops used to always say, "what are you doing that is preventing you from feeling the Spirit?" I love that question! This last week I knew that I was doing something right when I was able to feel the Spirit sprinkling and whispering joy into the smallest details of life...

Cali climbed into bed with me early one morning and my whole soul filled with that deep Mother Love that you can really feel and understand now and then in the trenches of motherhood. And would you believe it, it was just the sweet flawless curve of her profile that launched all those feelings off the ground and took me into Heaven for a few precious moments before the sun came up.

Saturday night as the twins and their friends sat around the fire pit outback Scott and I and our two little girls watched Mary Poppins. I was leaning on Scott's shoulder with Ella's wet bath head in my lap when Bert the chimney sweep sits on the curb to talk to Jane and Michael.

"Your Dad's a mighty fine gentleman and he loves you. You know, begging your pardon, but the one my heart goes out to is your father. There he is, in that cold heartless bank day after day, hemmed in by mounds of cold heartless money. I don't like to see any living thing caged up. Look at it this way. You've got your mother to look after you and Mary Poppins and Constable Jones and me. Who looks after your father? Tell me that. When something terrible happens, what does he do? Fends for himself, he does. Who does he tell about it? No one. Don't blab his troubles at home. He just pushes on at his job, uncomplaining and alone and silent, it's not my place to say but I only observe that a father can always do with a bit of help."

And then I felt warm tears push out from their place and my heart pound with gratitude, I squeezed Scott's arm and buried my face in his shoulder. I love Bert the Chimney Sweep and I love Scott for carrying the weight of our whole family on his back.

I have the best running friend. We try to do at least one long run a week together and I always leave a better person than I came. Karlie is one of the wisest women I know and she inspires me to learn more, study more and BE more. We have the best discussions about the scriptures, FHE ideas, Jesus the Christ, Joseph Smith and I'm telling you the problems of the world seem insignificant by the time we are done. Its possible to feel the Spirit when you are sweaty and breathless and on mile 6 if you are lucky enough to run with someone like Karlie.

Over Thanksgiving break my boys conspired. I call it conspiring because they sit in their room having hushed conversations, scribbling things down and then they take the car out for unsaid supplies. They spent a whole afternoon making blow guns and shooting them into homemade targets. I had to keep standing by the back door to watch them, forcing myself to enjoy the moment instead of worrying about the sand in the hour glass and how its running out on my time with these two little boys and their conspiring.

Is it always shocking to a Mama heart when little girls are all of a sudden BEAUTIFUL instead of cute and womanish instead of girlish? No less than 10 times in the last month Brylee and I have been mistaken for each other--she's growing up. In church Brylee likes to snuggle into me and if I could I would snuggle there all day with her. Melts my heart this girl does.

The sweetest sisters who ever were...I love that they share a chair to eat breakfast in the morning. I love that they have two beds but sleep in one. I love that one does not go anywhere without the other. I love that they put all the pet shops in the bath with them. I love that they can be feisty and ornery and bossy with each other and then figure it all out on their own. I love that they are the sweetest sisters that ever were and it is so good to be their Mamma.

I am convinced that the smallest details of life become beautiful and joyful and easy when we let go of the fluff and focus on what matters.

Spiritual light will enlighten your mind, bring healing to your hear and joy to your days. ~Dieter F. Uchdorf