Elder Armstrong, Take 2 – Called to Serve (AWESOME Video)

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve been on social media…and I haven’t posted on my blog since just before Drew got his mission call. Once his church mission call came…honestly, I couldn’t keep up. We had eight weeks before his departure date. Eight short weeks to get him ready. Eight weeks to make final memories with him at home. Eight weeks left with my child, who clearly is a man now. Just try telling my heart.

Quite literally, I was chasing time.

I tried to keep up with all that we were doing, but it got to a point where honestly, I craved not living my life through a seven-inch screen. I just wanted to make it last, and for time to crawl. I wanted to savor each day, really living and breathing in every second. I was constantly taking snap shots in my mind at every precious moment. Cherishing every giggle and group hug we had left as a family. I craved intimacy and quiet, something that I didn’t realize I missed so much until I took it back for this season.

Now, while all these precious memories are fresh in my mind, I’m ready to put them to script. I’ll start with the night it all began. We weren’t expecting his call to come that day, so I had to throw together a party in like an hour and a half. A little stressful, but it was a big day that deserved some fan fare.

As we got closer to the time Drew was to open his call, I could feel my anxiety level rise. As much as I love what this means for him, there is a certain amount of dread I feel knowing what it means for my family. This isn’t my first rodeo. So…I took a quiet moment to center my thoughts to where they should be. I escaped up into my room, got on my knees and I prayed.

I prayed so hard for Drew to go where he was needed, and most importantly, where he’d promised. I prayed that as he read those words, he would feel peace and regain the knowledge of that promise. You see, I believe with all of my heart – that we made promises to one another before we ever came down here. That there would come a time in each of our lives, that we would need someone to nudge us towards God. Towards a life that would reveal our divine gifts and purpose, towards grace, and a love and depth of healing that we had forgotten was possible.

Through his missionary service, Drew isn’t really called to teach. It’s more that he’s called to learn. To learn the Lord’s way. He also isn’t there to save, it’s more to BE SAVED. To be saved by the lessons, the heartbreak, the love he’ll give and receive. It’s his sacred chance to convert himself and his heart… completely towards God and Christ’s teachings.

If it is our desire is to truly become like Christ…we have to spend the majority of our time here coming to the rescue of one other. We can’t save each other in the same way Christ did, but there’s no doubt that God needs us to save one another. He needs the change that happens in our hearts and character when we do. We are his hands for a reason. It will be through loving, serving and sacrificing for others that Drew will find his power and purpose. You give a young person that kind of knowledge, and I’ll give you a miracle that will unleash a lifetime of miracles. Get the hence, Satan. There’s a new game in town. 🙂

Anyway…enough preachin. I closed the prayer asking God to help my heart relish a day and goal 19 years in the making, and finally – to remind Drew to be grateful for the beautiful gift he was about to receive. The gift of opportunity. It’s rare in life when we get the chance to throw the world at our feet and put God first to this degree. It is a privilege as much as a sacrifice.

The thing about this prayer, is that everything I was asking God for..I knew he had already given it to us. But there is something very sacred in the asking. For me, it keeps my heart in a constant state of humility. I am reminded of where all of the good in my life comes from, and I feel peace and comfort keeping him by my side. Isn’t it beautiful, when we invite God into all the spaces of our life, and not reserve our conversations with him only in times of despair.

I headed downstairs to a moment that was about to change everything. Mostly, change a boy I had been in love with for nineteen years.

 

Isn’t he the cutest? Man…I’m so proud of his gentle heart. He’s got such a sweet and sincere way about him. I loved watching him take center stage and cheering from the sidelines as he read the words that would change his life. It was a red letter day for Craig and I. We couldn’t be more proud of him. The second he read those words….I had a flight of calm came over me. It was like I was in a room by myself…and God swept peace right into my heart. I knew instantly, that it will be the perfect experience for him. I have to say…that as a mom who’s lost a child, I’m not a big fan of foreign missions. I don’t like my babies far away from me at all. South Africa about killed me last time with Anthony. I got through it ok (just didn’t sleep for two years), but when Drew said, “DC”… I wanted to scream “YES, YES, YES!!!!” I don’t tell my kids that, cause it’s not about me. This is their journey and I’ll support whatever God needs them to do. Needless to say though, I WAS THRILLED.

This video just makes me cry dang it. Watching my children run around the house…it got me. They are growing up on me and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m deciding to take in the joy though…and be grateful for the beautiful gift I have in each one of them. I am in awe of their goodness and light.

I’d like to thank my dear friend RJ Idos, who shared his incredible talents with us making this stunningly perfect video. What a gift he has given me in this memory. I’ll cherish this forever. Thanks, my brotha. <3

Hurrah for Israel! What a gift of a good day.

Love,

Dawn

Some pics of our beautiful day!

 

 

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Dawn Armstrong Family

My Favorite Child

As a mother of eight, you might be shocked when I say that… YES! I DO have a favorite child.
It has always been the one that is sick, or needs me the most at the time. The one that needs a little more love, a little more nurturing and a little more reminding that it not only is it OK, but it is BEAUTIFUL to unapologetically be themselves. They also take turns being my favorite as we celebrate their individual achievements. The thing about being a big family, is you have to be aware. We are always so careful to safeguard their individual times to shine. They deserve their moments…and this week it was so beautiful because each of them had one!

Oh how proud I was of Drew a little more than a week ago when he graduated from elementary school. He is such a great kid. He is such a good person, morally clean and strong. He is a good leader, and of course so bright. He cares about his siblings, and helps me so much. He is definitely my favorite.

Julian was the student of the week and I had the opportunity to come into the classroom and tell everyone about him and show him off through pictures. The night before I drafted a powerpoint presentation to show his class. It had love bugs all over the slides (that is what I have called him since birth, he has always been my love bug). Julian is so shy, so for him this was such a HUGE deal. As he giggled and fought so hard not to be embarrassed that he was the center of attention. He was so shy and so sweet, my heart was so full. He brings such a softness to my heart.  Yep, he is my favorite for sure.

Ethan was my favorite as I watch him act in his 4th grade school play this week. He did such an amazing job. I was so proud of him. My favorite part was watching him giggle and turn red as he had to propose marriage to his other cast mate with a straight face. He is so fun loving and kind. His heart is so tender, and he always wants to make those around him happy. He is SO my favorite kid!

Ava was gifted to me as my first daughter. I felt her presence before she was born. There was a day when I was around three and a half months pregnant that I literally felt her tiny spirit enter my body. (A story for a different day) Right then, I knew she was a girl. Her tiny spirit entered my body and stopped right at my heart, and she will remain there forever. Her sweet and sunny disposition….wow. There is a kindness about her that is so endearing, and it’s been there from the very beginning. Oh, how I look forward to our closeness in a way that has been so different from the boys. Equally special, but just so different. We will be close forever. SHE is my favorite.

Then there is our “tiny tot twins”, Payton and Sophie!! Oh my goodness I couldn’t be more in love with two people. The way they talk, walk, laugh, get into mischief, dote on one another… I love it! They crack me up all day every day. Sophie is so sweet and soft. Payton is rough and tumble. He is all boy, she is all girl. He bugs her like brothers do, she bosses him around like sisters do. My favorites…oh my favorites!!

Today, Anthony was to receive his patriarchal blessing. (evangelist’s blessing) I got up at 6:30am and woke the boys up. We started this morning with a fast to make sure the moment was perfect and we were in tune. Clothes were ready for the most part, because I didn’t want any distractions or typical feelings of wanting to kill my children before 9:00 am church. I carried a song in my heart this morning as I do every Sunday morning, however typically around 8:15 the notes turn sour as my patience wears thin trying to rally the troops. I struggle to get Anthony and Drew out the door to set up the church with their hair combed, teeth brushed, white shirts, ties that actually match their slacks, scriptures, and then off to pick up the brood of teens that go with them.

It is Father’s Day today, and I wanted it to be special for my husband. Knowing that I couldn’t fit in too much more before 9am, I made his Father’s Day breakfast yesterday. I treated him to home made {HUGE} cinnamon rolls. His gifts were all ready. Cards signed by the kids and everything. Man, I am on it. I had the little ones dressed, everyone’s hair combed, shoes and socks, belts…you know the drill.

Today I came, I saw, and I sang the happy notes. Then quickly realized that we couldn’t find our keys to the suburban. GRRR. After an hour of searching every nook and cranny, I remained calm. Well played Satan, well played. Instead of freaking out like I normally would, we took the BMW without missing a beat. Even though we were seven in car that seats five, it was 8:56 and we were going to church even if we had to walk. We got out of our “clown car”, and heading inside.

Church was wonderful. We had three great speakers and the primary sang to the dads. I loved every second. My heart was so full knowing that it was Father’s Day, and for the first time in my life, I would hear what it was like to get a patriarchal blessing. (a blessing from God that details the purpose for your time here, and the blessings you can expect from living worthily, in a nut shell.) I have never gotten mine. I guess I just felt like it was something I wanted to make sure Anthony did before I even considered it for myself. It’s all the mattered to me honestly, was getting him here.

So, homeward bound to finish the preparations for the big turkey dinner to come. Anthony and Craig went to visit some families in the neighborhood after church. Shortly after returning home, it seemed like in a blink it was quarter after two and time to go to the patriarch’s home.

We walked outside to a beautiful, bright sunny day. The weather is perfect. We headed to the car. I decided to sit in the back seat. This was Anthony’s moment and I just wanted to be the spectator. Craig started the car and turned on the radio. “The Voice of the Children” by Kurt Bestor played in the background. As I listen to the words, my eyes filled with tears. We were about to go hear my child’s special blessing from his Father in Heaven. I was filled with so many emotions. Pride, joy, and some sadness that is all happening so fast. How did I get here so quickly? It was just yesterday I was going to Anthony’s promotion ceremony from elementary. Now he is entering his senior year, with a mission shortly after. There is never enough time. I’m not ready for how quickly things are coming. God, please let this next year go slow. I’m not ready to let him go. I wipe away the tears and I look forward. The view from here is perfect. I see my two white shoulders. One is my husband, one is my son. Both are men I love, both are my best friends. Both wear a white shirt and are worthy to do so. Both love and serve a mighty God, by their own convictions. Both have my heart forever. I thought about my husband, and what a great man he is.  He’s the prize for doing all the hard stuff.  I thought about what a great Father’s Day present this must be for him, to see his son make good choices. His example of being a good man has been fruitful. Anthony has watched his father respect his mother, and that it is ok to be tender. He is a great provider and loves his children. Craig is loyal, in every way.  Ironically, Craig’s patriarchal blessing says that his children will mimic him. Anthony has had the opportunity to watch his father and mirror these qualities.That has proved true on so many occasions. My husband is the best, no doubt about it.

We arrive at the beautiful and modest home of the patriarch. His home is so warm and inviting. He is warm and inviting. His home feels just like the temple, clean and appropriately adorned with items that invite the spirit. He tells us of his wife and children with pride. He starts to explain the importance and the sacredness of the blessing that Anthony is about to receive. He asks Anthony why he chose this moment in time to have his patriarchal blessing. Anthony states that he has thought about it for some time and at the last general conference, they encouraged the youth to get theirs and he also felt it was time. Anthony said that he felt as if this blessing would help him with his goals in sports, school and his mission. The patriarch responded positively. He asked a series of questions both personal and spiritual. Before he began the blessing, he asked Anthony again what he wanted from this blessing. Anthony without a second thought said, “I want to know what the Lord has in store for me in my life.” Then the patriarch did something I wasn’t expecting. He paused and asked us individually what we loved about each other. Wow…I was floored. As each one of us took turns answering, the spirit was so strong. What a gift to leave no words unspoken about how we felt each other. With tearful eyes, we each took turns expressing our love and gratitude, and acknowledged the role we play in each others lives. The pride and admiration we had in Anthony as he spoke so openly about his feelings..it was so incredible! I just sat quietly, watching him in awe of his good heart. The patriarch shared so much with us, it was so amazing. There is no question he is called of God.

After 40 minutes of visiting, which felt like a gift in itself, the patriarch then laid his hands on my son’s head. In an instant, he became a mouth piece for our Heavenly Father. Tears didn’t stop flowing through the entire blessing. It was incredible. I felt my Heavenly Father’s love for my earthly son. It was a perfect moment. When the blessing was over, I felt a great peace. I also felt a beckoning in my heart. To rise even higher to the occasion. To take this job seriously. God needs us to do his work in teaching his children. Sometimes we forget that our children are on loan. That they were His before they were ours. There in lies the great responsibility, that they remain HIS. Everything we do to teach our children should lead them back to their Heavenly Parents. There is no higher calling than this. They are with us for such a short time before we send them off for the world to do it’s worst. This world is eventually going to preach against everything we have taught this kid, and it’s our job to make him spiritually bulletproof. To help him become deeply rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a beautiful moment that I will always cherish, but I was amazed how much it seemed to also wake me up to this responsibility. In a year and a half, he is going to walk away from me and all I can think about is are we doing ENOUGH? Note to self: DO MORE.

Today was a beautiful reminder that my children are a gift. My goal as a mother is to return these gifts back to God better than what I received them. I know the next year and a half is going to go by so quickly. I hope God can slow time down just a little so I can cherish all of these last moments with him at home. I am excited for Anthony, and I know he has wonderful things in store for the future. He is a valiant servant of God. His commitment to his faith and his family are strong, and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better older brother or example for the rest of my children.

Anthony…definitely my favorite ;).  *** Journal Entry from June 20th, 2010

Love,

Dawn

If you enjoyed this post…I’d be thrilled if you would share it!

favorite child

Teach our children

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Ethan Armstrong

Ethan and Kiri Homecoming 2016

The last two days have been crazy town! Lots of busy running around.  It was so fun watching Ethan do this Homecoming thing though!

Kiri and Ethan aren’t just homecoming dates, but awesome friends too! She is the sweetest. She even let me do her hair and makeup, which was a blast for me, and she got to feel pampered. When Ethan showed up to pick her up, I snagged these pics from her porch with my iphone. I missed the other pics, so I was grateful for what I had. They had the best time, which melted my heart to see the kids making a beautiful memory.

Kiri was the perfect date for homecoming. Yay for sweet, strong girls and gentleman escorts! Always makes for a wonderful time. 🙂

ethan-homecoming1 ethan-1 ethan-2 ethan-4 ethan-11 ethan-5 ethan-9 ethan-7 ethan-6

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Ethan Armstrong Dance Ask

Where’s Waldo?

Today Ethan and I had so much fun together while he asked Kiri to Homecoming! He is finally enjoying some of the benefits of being sixteen…woot woot! I am looking forward to watching him enjoy the dating life, and boy is he off to an incredible start. I had such a proud parent moment when we went to Kiri’s house and talked with her mom LiLing. She was surprised at the amount of effort he was going to for her daughter. She asked, “Do you go to this much work every time?” Ethan was so quick to say, ” Yeah. It’s important to make girls feel special, and that takes some effort on the guy’s part.” In my mind I was like….”YES!”

And so the student becomes the teacher, lol!

Dear Ethan –

My sweet boy, real men make effort, baby! Don’t ever forget or lose that! ALWAYS make being thoughtful a part of your growth strategy. It will pay dividends for the rest of your life. Anyway, today was awesome. It was a great date with mom (while getting you a date to homecoming, lol!) It was fun taking pics and running around like crazy with you while we planned and plotted. Always keep that incredible heart.

Love,
Mom

Heck YES! #worthy
Heck YES! #worthy
The hidden answer on back of the "worthy" sign
The hidden answer on back of the “worthy” sign
Ethan admiring his work
Ethan admiring his work
Ethan finds himself #deep
Ethan finds himself #deep
Here I am, send me!
Here I am, send me!
Cutest ask ever
Cutest ask ever
My Masterpiece (Ethan's mom has skillzzz)
My Masterpiece (Ethan’s mom has skillzzz….) I have had so many people ask me to do this for their kids dance ask. I can make a custom one, just click the “contact” tab above and send me a message with “Where’s Waldo” in the subject line. Happy Dancing friends!

fsframemovie

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