Thursday, June 20, 2019

The One Year Challenge

In April 2018, Bishop Parkinson asked Brother LeBlanc and I to do a 5th Sunday lesson on preparedness.   In this meeting, I challenged members of our ward to have a year's supply of food by May 1, 2019.  Did you do it? (Does  anyone remember that I gave this challenge?).  I am a little slow I  the follow-up department,  but I want to encourage you again to be prepared!  The reasons are many.  We have dug into our long term storage these last few months just in the sheer fact that Mom is not doing the grocery shopping, and we simply are not buying quite as much food as we usually do. 

Every month last year, I gave ideas on what to get to incrementally store the basics.  I hope that you did it...and even if you did not, here are the posts I did to help you.  It is never too late to start!

May:  Salt (
June: Fats (
July:  Containers (
August: Grains (
September: Beans (
October: Sugar & Honey (
November:  Milk (

These few items make up the building blocks of a good home storage.  Of  course, it is important  that you learn how to use these items so that when the time comes to rotate or live off the stores you will be able to do it.  Our family constantly eats off of our food storage, so I try to do at least an annual inventory. 

I challenge you to build your home storage.  Get it to a state where you feel prepared to feed your family if you need to.  I promise you will not regret it. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


During the first few weeks after our little Eliana's birth, I thought much about what it takes to be healed.  I was reading the gospels in the New Testament and it was humbling to remember Jesus's miracles and those he healed.  I read of those who asked to be healed, those who were in the right place to be healed, and those who refused to be healed by Jesus Christ.  As I walked the halls of the Rady Children's Hospital CVICU (Cardio Vasular Intensive Care Unit), I thought about these miracles and thought about what it would be like if our Savior could walk those halls and heal all the children with heart defects, how amazing would that be!  I compared the miracles of the New Testament with the coming of the Savior to the Nephites.  Jesus healed all of the Nephites, every single one.  I compared the faith of those in Jerusalem to those at the Nephite Temple.  It is a humbling thing to think that the Nephites had such faith that they were all healed, yet none of them asked Jesus to heal them.  Then I compared their faith to mine.

Before Eliana was born, I prayed fervently that her heart defect would be miraculously healed and that we would not have to deal with surgeries and hospital stays.  I hoped for a "miracle baby" that our baby would just have the problem taken away.  I felt that I had enough faith that it could happen.  There came a point when I felt a little rebuked, I felt that was not something I should be praying for.  It was then that I realized that this trial would not be taken away, but one that we would face head-on.  But, we had studied our baby's condition and knew exactly what to expect, what surgeries would be performed, and when.  We prepared ourselves for an end-of February delivery, a successful first surgery the first week of March, and a 4-5 week hospital stay. 

No matter how well-laid our plans are, sometimes things turn out different.  Eliana was born the middle of January, her heart had many more problems than we knew about including coronary artery fistula and ischemia (both very bad things) in addition to the hypoplastic left heart, She went through two open-heart procedures in 5 days, went on ECMO (life support) twice, and we have just entered month 4 of our hospital stay. 

I have watched kids be emergently admitted to the CVICU, I have watched families process the news that their child had a heart problem.  I have talked with other parents who were anticipating a procedure, and we had conversations after surgery.  I pray for the kids I know about (and those I don't know much about), and have prayed with parents, nurses, and doctors.  I watch kids go home, and I see kids be re-admitted.  And, I have watched our little girl with unimaginable strength endure things in the first 3 months of her life that most people will not be asked to go through in their entire lifetime.  I was talking with one of our Cardiac Intensivist Physicians the other day and she told me that at the end of the day, hope and faith makes the most difference. 

If you were to ask me what I have learned the most during this whole experience (that is not over yet!),  I would tell you that having unshakeable faith is the most important thing.  When we met with the hospital Social Worker to complete the Heart Transplant Evaluation, she asked us what was keeping us going, commenting that our strength and composure was something she does not often see.  Our answer was simple, faith.  So much faith was needed:  Faith to trust doctors, nurses, and therapists who know so much more than I do.  Faith to know that life is in the Lord's hands.  Faith to remember that families are forever.  Faith to face death.  Faith for a miracle to happen.  Faith to keep having hope when everything in your head tells you there is none.  Faith to make it though the hard days.  Faith to pray when it is not entirely clear what to pray for.  Faith to move forward knowing life will never be the same.

We did get our "miracle baby."  Not the way I originally wanted or hoped for, but the way that it was supposed to be.  By all statistics and data, Eliana should not have survived.  She should not have gotten a new heart, and her chances of survival if she did get one were still small.  Heart Transplant is not a cure, but rather trading something we cannot control, for something we can.  Our sweet girl has been amazing, and still has much more to endure in her mortal life.  And it will constantly require faith in our future. 

Has our faith strengthened through this experience?  Absolutely.  Would we still have faith if things had not turned out so well?  I hope that we would.  I admit that there were times when a bit of doubt and discouragement crept in, but I was able to dispel these thoughts because of the faith I have in my Savior.  I know life-experiences like ours have the potential to turn people closer to our Heavenly Father, or to turn them away. 

It is hard to understand why life sometimes turn out the way we think it should, and other times the pain and grief is overwhelming when our prayers are not answered.  I don't know why some kids make it, and some kids don't.  Every day I think about our donor family who gave us such a wonderful gift, knowing the cost that came with it.  My heart aches for them and I pray that they will faithfully come to the Lord to receive the peace that only He can give.

As I have processed thoughts and emotions these last 3 months, I realize that without faithfully preparing, this experience could have broken me.  I feel certain that building my faith through years of scripture study, prayer, church and temple attendance, service, and never giving up is the only way I was to make it.  Daily testimony building and trust in the Lord's plan is the only way to receive the faith I needed to make it through watching my little one go through so much.  Life isn't over, I know I will need to continue building my faith for the days ahead.

I plead with you to think about your faith, consider your relationship with your Heavenly Father and with Jesus Christ.  Pray to increase your faith and ask how to make it grow.  Write down the answers you receive through the gift of the Holy Ghost, then act on them.  More faith is needed for us to remain faithful in these Latter-Days.  You don't know the trials that await you that will require more faith than you ever thought possible.  Prepare now.

Thursday, April 4, 2019


Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I went through a home purge, trying to get rid of anything and everything I didn't need anymore.  Stacked up in my pantry were 72 hour food kits I had assembled in 2005.  They were sealed in mylar bags and had not been opened.  Just to see, I opened one and my first thought was, "what fun snacks!"  Then I realized that everything was useless.  I have seen rocks softer than the fruit snacks in that kit.  I was grateful that I did not have to rely on those nasty old snacks in time of an emergency!

Well my friends, it has been 10 months since many of us put our 72 kits together.  When we assembled them, Sister Clark told me how excited she was to rotate the food.  That time is now!  I like to rotate at a specific time yearly so I can remember.  I am choosing April Conference as my rotation time.  The food in your current kit should still be good, so break out those kits and have a movie night to eat all your snacks.

If you did not make kits with us last year, but would like a jumping off point, this is it!  

My goal is to give you all the resources to buy food for your 72 hour kits.  I am going off of what we put in our kits last year, but feel free to customize to what your family likes and adjust to any health needs that have changed.  I did buy in bulk, the quantities will likely give you more than you will need for just your family's kits.  Get together with another family to buy together, or plan to have a lot of fun snacks left over.  Ready? here we go...

I got everything from Amazon,,, and Costco

Here are my shopping lists :

1 L water bottles (each kit needs 2)
Nature Valley Biscuit
Fruit Leather
Quaker chewy granola bars (each kit needs 2)
Kirkland trail mix individual packets
Nature Valley crunchy granola bar
Kirkland Applesauce squeeze bags
Goldfish crackers individual bags

Annie's Bunnies (3 bags per kit)
Slim Jims (4 per kit)
Fig Newtons (2 per kit)

Yogurt Raisins (5 per kit)
Peanut Butter Cups  ( 2 per kit )
Animal Crackers (4 per kit)

Hi Chew candies (9 per kit)--No longer available, substitute with your favorite candy, 3 pieces for each day.  

Our kits included 3 days worth of food, here are the menus for each day:

Day #1
Breakfast: Nature Valley Biscuit, Annie’s Bunnies, 2 yogurt raisins
Lunch: peanut butter and animal crackers, fruit leather
Dinner: 4 Slim Jims, 2 chewy granola bars, Fig Newtons  3 Hi Chew Candies
Day #2
    Breakfast: soft baked breakfast bar, Annie’s Bunnies, Craisins
    Lunch: trail mix, Annie’s Bunnies, Fig Newtons
    Dinner:  peanut butter & animal crackers, crunchy granola bar,  2 yogurt raisins, 3 Hi-Chew Candies
Day #3
   Breakfast: breakfast cookie, animal crackers, applesauce
    Lunch: tuna & crackers, Goldfish, fruit snacks
    Dinner: bag of peanuts, animal crackers, yogurt raisins, 3 Hi-Chew Candies

As you rotate your food, also check clothing to make sure everything still fits.  Re-assess needs for each family member, i.e., add medications, take out diapers, add an additional kit, etc. 

I hope you keep your 72 hour kits ready to go at all times, emergencies are hard enough, you don't need an out of date kit with inedible food!

I CHALLENGE YOU to update (or assemble) your 72 hour kits.  If you need a list of what else we put in our kits last year, just ask and I can get you one!


When Bishop McDonald announced Leigh Braithwaite's passing, there was an audible gasp.  
I'm sure I was one who involuntarily added to that.  I immediately felt a sense of extreme 
sadness...not for her, but for me!  

The last conversation I had with Leigh, she wanted to know all about our baby and the problems
she will have after birth.  She then asked me what our baby's name was so she could pray for 
her by name.  

Leigh and George Braithwaite have long been amazing examples of unbound courage, selfless 
service and genuine love.  I marvel at all they constantly do to serve and lift others, even though 
they have had huge challenges of their own.  This is even more amazing to me as I am in the 
middle of our own "medical moment" where I feel so self-absorbed.

With Leigh's passing, along with the many days we have faced these last weeks of the very real 
possibility of losing our own sweet baby, my thoughts have turned to the need every one of us 
has to prepare to meet our Savior again.  

I realize this is a topic many of us do not want to think about, but whether this meeting happens 
upon our departure from this world, or at the time of the second coming, I think it is important for 
us to ponder how we can prepare ourselves and our family.  

This preparation is very individual, but worth taking the time to ponder.

Not by coincidence, I came across a few things today in my studies that I want to share with you:

 Sister Jean B. Bingham said, "What better way to prepare to meet Him than to strive to be like 
him by ministering to one another."  

And from D&C 61:36-39, "Be of good cheer, little children, for I am in your midst, and I 
have not forsaken you.  And inasmuch as you have humbled yourselves before me, the 
blessings of the kingdom are yours.  Gird up your loins and be watchful and be sober, looking 
forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he cometh in an hour you think not.  Pray always that 
you enter not into temptation, that you may abide the day of His coming, whether in life or death."

I challenge you to take the time to realize what matters most and act on one thing you feel 
prompted to do to help you prepare to meet our Savior.