Saturday, January 2, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016

The Milton Team is closing out another eventful year – here are a few highlights:

Our family road tripped to Nauvoo, IL this summer, a 30-hour drive in the mini-van over a week that was more fun than we expected. Besides stopping in Louisville, KY to visit Fidesco and Luder’s brother Jonathan’s family, we loved seeing the beauty of America and learning of the faith of the early pioneers who lived in and left Nauvoo for Utah. In addition to actual trips we also visited the world of homeschooling and eventually left the well-travelled roads of public education for the pasture of a small private Christian school, Heritage Christian Academy (HCA). All three love the new school and have adjusted nicely.

Luder is still enjoying his work at Capital One and the challenges that come from a constantly evolving legal/regulatory environment for banks (job security!).  He began serving in the bishopric of our ward earlier this year – which means more meetings and administrative duties. Luder’s learning a lot and loving the chance to serve. Aside from church and work, he’s kept busy coaching soccer, avoiding his honey-do list and chasing his boys.

Ginny has once again impressed with her ability to be everywhere and do everything at once. This year she has: potty-trained Silas, homeschooled Cason, continued to lead a church program for 15 girls aged 8-11, administered a weekly addiction recovery program for adult women, transitioned 3 boys to HCA, taught a personal management class for 7th graders at HCA and been on call for half of her family and friends in emergencies. And that’s just what we know about. One of her best moments was the Taylor Swift concert in DC with her Aunt Leslie this summer. Least fun experience was trying out her very own kidney stone. She didn’t like it.

Cason – (12) packed as much college football into this year – watching, reading, dreaming, etc. – as humanly possible. He also played soccer, basketball and flag football. He tried goalie for the first time and did pretty well – despite poor coaching by his dad. Cason still loves reading and has found that he’s pretty good at math and acting too. He’s still best buds with Abram but has built a special friendship with Silas this year that has been fun to watch. Cason was ordained a deacon this year and has begun passing the sacrament on Sundays. We are proud of his decision to accept the priesthood and the responsibilities that go with it.

Abram – (10) also tried goalie for the first time this year and loves it. He’s tearing through the Harry Potter and several other series. He loves reading, MineCraft, Legos and army men. He is still dancing wherever he goes – “can’t stop won’t stop” definitely applies here – the boy can “Bop” and “Whip, Nae Nae” and just about everything else. Abram is a party waiting to happen. The new school has challenged him academically and he’s responded impressively. In addition to the fun, we’ve seen some maturation this year which has been neat to see. He is growing up.

Declan – (6) is on fire and always on the move. If he’s not playing soccer (5 goals in a game!), drawing, doing math problems, reading or writing – he’s almost certainly doing something with Silas. Those two are thick as thieves and practically inseparable. Kindergarten this year has been great – he’s leader of the pack and his teachers love him. Only challenge has been finding a curriculum to keep up with him. He has also discovered Legos and thru them found a new connection with Abram.

 Silas – (3) is a potty-training, soccer/basketball/football playing machine. He loves being on the go and cracking us up with his comments (“Yes way, seriously”). At the same time, the boy loves being at home because that’s where mom is and says the sweetest prayers. Shy, but warms up quickly “the Mighty Wis” is a power in this family. With Silas we finally have a lefty and one of the happiest, smartest little men in the world.

Fidesco – (14) is far away in Louisville but often in our thoughts. He spent a week with us at Christmas last year – another great experience with a quickly maturing young man. Since we weren’t able to have him come to Virginia to visit this summer, we went to Louisville and saw him. It was too short, but was wonderful to see him and his mother and remind them that they have friends in Richmond that love them. Fidesco is scouting and heavily involved with his youth group. He is coming for Christmas. He continues to do well in school and is growing fast.  We miss that kid!
Another fast-moving year has sped by but we want to take moment to testify to you, our family and friends, of the reality of the gospel and the promise that Christmas represents. We hope that you will join us as we try to not just believe in Jesus Christ – but believe Him when He says “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And to trust Him in all things, especially in this time of year.

In short – we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Much Love,
 Luder, Ginny, Cason, Abram, Declan and Silas

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The First Man I Ever Loved

           The first man I ever loved was my Dad.The first memory I have of my dad was him holding me late at night and rocking me in a chair. I remember the comfort that I felt. I knew I was loved.
         My Dad had a dream that I thank God every day that he dreamed. He dreamed of a life for me that involved providing for me a rock solid foundation of faith and temporal blessings. Dad often shared that dream with me as I grew up.
         My Dad and Mom joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was one. Through the years I have heard my Dad bear his testimony that he wanted to go to a church that believed that family was central to God's plan. He wanted his daughter to grow up knowing that God loved her and that life would be challenging but we could be happy. I am thankful every day for this choice they made.
        Dad grew up without any luxuries. He was determined to have a different life for me. I remember as a child waiting and watching as he patiently crawled under my mom's old car to start it each day. He would start it with his work clothes on, take me where I needed to be, driving that old car cheerfully to work and Chiropractic school. Then he would come home and study all night. I watched him study. I had no idea at that time that later when I struggled through fatigue and motherhood, I would be inspired by the memory of my father sitting at his desk and studying for hours. He and my mom put my Dad through Chiropractic school with a daughter and no financial help. They were determined to give me a good life.
        As I got older, my Dad took me everywhere. He took me on fishing trips, to parties, to visit family, camping, on cruises, he taught me to water ski, he took me to athletic events and practices, he took me to my friends houses and church. My favorite times with my Dad were those times when we would spend long days together. He talked to me for hours about important life lessons. He taught me about relationships, disappointment and success.
      When I entered the teenage years, Dad talked to me very frankly about drugs, boys and friends. He encouraged me and cared. He listened to me. He was my math tutor. I was two grade levels ahead in math and I attribute a lot of that to my Dad.
       Through each stage of life, my Dad was there to help me. One of the greatest lessons I learned from my Dad was perseverance. I am so proud of my Dad. I had the privilege of watching him graduate from Chiropractic college and begin his own business. He had no money to start our new life. He figured out a way to be a business owner and he moved forward. He sacrificed so much and worked so hard, now he is successful. By watching my father, I learned marketing, people skills, hard work, money management, health and wellbeing, goal setting and most of all love.
       As I became an adult, I have learned that I truly had a unique experience to have such a devoted father.  Throughout  my teenage years, when I was a challenge, my Dad was always there and he never raised his voice. I knew that he wanted what was best for me and if I ever needed anything my Dad would take care of me. Unfortunately, most people do not have that blessing. I am so grateful.
     My Dad always treated my mother with respect and put her first. He served her and loved her and made sure she always felt safe and comfortable. He made her the center of his life. They worked together and lived together, traveled together and have done everything together. His great example taught me how a man is supposed to treat a woman.
    I love my Dad and I cherish these memories and lessons. I am enjoying the experience of watching him go through this beautiful cycle again with my children, his Grandson's. I thank Heavenly Father for this man that I first loved, for his strength and kindness and I hope that he knows how much I see in his amazing example.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Family Pictures 2014

Christmas Talk December 21 2014

I spoke in our Christmas Program at church and below is what I said.

Christmas Talk 2014

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters,

Merry Christmas!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak to you this morning. The Bishopric didn’t waste any time getting another Milton up here to speak.
For Christmas fifty years ago one could expect a toy or two, an orange, a pair of socks maybe. What do you think those who lived 100 years ago would say of all the Christmas celebrating we do today?

What would they say of all of the gifts, rushing, spending, impressing, guessing, surprising, traveling, credit card debt, travel time and over time? From their vantage point it would probably seem pretty ridiculous and overdone.

What does Christmas mean to you? How do you choose to celebrate it?

For me, as a child, Christmas was my Mom’s favorite holiday. Growing up we had very limited means. My mom loved Christmas and wanted it to be special so she would plan and prepare and even though we had a very humble home we always had a wonderful Christmas filled with exciting food, lots of family and magical gifts from Santa.

Now, as an adult, I prepare for Christmas for my children so that they are able to enjoy it. I find it challenging at times to keep Christ in the center of our Christmas. While I spend time preparing for their Christmas, I find myself deep in thought reflecting on my blessings as well as those who are suffering.
Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year” as the song says, for most of us. For those who are experiencing job loss, divorce, mental illness, death of a loved one, cancer, family discord and other trials like these, Christmas can be a magnification of their suffering.
The Savior’s birth represents joy and peace that our Father in Heaven would have us experience every year at this time. It’s a time for reflection and recharge of the spirit.

President Thomas S Monson said: “Because He came to earth, we have a perfect example to follow. As we strive to become more like Him, we will have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year. It is His example which, if followed, stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others.
“Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence.
“Because He came, we know how to reach out to those in trouble or distress, wherever they may be.
“Because He came, death has lost its sting, the grave its victory. We will live again because He came.

When we make Christ the focus of our Christmas, we feel more peace and the Holy Spirit offers us a respite from our every day cares. I asked my children this week how we could put more Christ in our Christmas. They all said, doing more acts of kindness for others.

In this month’s First Presidency message, President Uchdorf states that:
It doesn’t take expensive gifts to make Christmas meaningful.

He tells a story of Elder Glen L. Rudd, who served as a member of the Seventy.
Elder Rudd says that one day before Christmas a number of years ago, he learned about a needy family that had recently moved to the city. When he went to visit their small apartment, he discovered a young single mother with four children under age 10.
The family’s needs were so great that the mother could not buy treats or presents for her children that Christmas—she couldn’t even afford a tree. Brother Rudd talked with the family and learned that the three little girls would love a doll or a stuffed animal. When he asked the six-year-old son what he wanted, the hungry little boy replied, “I would like a bowl of oatmeal.”
Brother Rudd promised the little boy oatmeal and maybe something else. Then he went to the bishops’ storehouse and gathered food and other supplies to meet the immediate needs of the family.
That very morning a generous Latter-day Saint had given him 50 dollars “for someone in need.” Using that donation, Brother Rudd bundled up three of his own children and went Christmas shopping—his children selecting toys for the needy children.
After loading up the car with food, clothing, gifts, a Christmas tree, and some ornaments, the Rudds drove to the family’s apartment. There they helped the mother and her children set up the tree. Then they placed presents under it and presented the little boy with a large package of oatmeal.
The mother wept, the children rejoiced, and they all sang a Christmas song

Brothers and Sisters, I know that most of you have participated in something like this during your lifetime. As I mentioned before, we had very little means growing up because my dad was in professional school but when he graduated and started having more, he and my mother immediately used what they had to help other families who were suffering especially at Christmastime.

We know that it doesn’t take money to give a gift. We all can give something this Christmas season to help ourselves and others feel closer to the Savior and his infinite love. Our Father in Heaven gave us the greatest gift of all, His son who will save us from our sin and spiritual unnecessary suffering if we will let Him.

I have recently been able to realize like Elder Rudd in this story, the tremendous joy of being used as an instrument in the Lord’s hand at Christmas. A few years ago, right before Christmas my husband and I became aware of a situation where a child had lived their whole life without a Christmas tree or a gift. We discussed what to do. I felt panic because I felt that the child should spend Christmas morning with us and I was unprepared in every way. The one thing I was unwilling to do was to turn him away. I prayed for help and the next day someone rang my doorbell and gave me an envelope with the exact amount of money that I had spent on each one of my children’s Christmas. I cried and thanked them and I knew that the Lord had heard my prayer. That child had a wonderful Christmas and the material things were the least of importance.

For those who are carrying heavy burdens, the atonement of Jesus Christ heals hearts. The atonement is not just for sin, it is a healing balm for our spirits that can be found nowhere else. I have personally felt His healing power time and time again comforting me as I experience grief and heartache.

His message is hope. I challenge you, whatever you are struggling with to lay it at His feet and see if He won’t heal you. Day by day I am becoming more whole through His love for myself and for all of us.

President Thomas S Monson stated: There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ.

It is the perfect time Brothers and Sisters to make the changes we need to focus on what matters most.

Doctrine and Covenants 14:7
And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

I have a testimony of this Gospel. It is the Good News that we need, that our brothers and sisters need to be happy. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that God lives and He loves each one of us. He is aware of you and I and of that child that spent Christmas with me and the family that was helped by Elder Rudd. Last week when Tallon was being confimed a member, during the prayer, it said “he is very aware of your circumstances.” I felt such truth when that was spoken. He is aware of us. I am so grateful for that knowledge. I am grateful for my family and for each one of you. I hope that you will take special care to keep Christ in your Christmas and in your hearts in this upcoming year.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

miltons 2014

Cason – is a Boy Scout! He pushed hard this fall to earn his Arrow of Light (Equivalent to Eagle in Boy Scouts) just before he turned 11. He continues to do well in school and had another fun season in the Upward Flag Football league and otherwise fed his college football addiction. He enjoyed a great progress with his basketball skills last winter as well. He’s excited to play churchball this season. Cason continues to read a lot and enjoys learning. His biggest achievement this year was mending a broken arm. The attention from family and friends seems to have more than made up for the six weeks of no fun due to the cast.

Abram – continues to tackle increasingly challenging books and is now reading the same Percy Jackson (modern mythology fantasy mashup) series that his big brother is reading. His hard work in school is showing as well – the most recent interim came home all A’s so that’s got to count for something! Abram played basketball again this year and did great. Instead of flag football, Abram opted to play soccer this fall – and beat out about 6 of his teammates to be the team’s goalie. He had a number of shutout performances and impressed us all with his athleticism. More to come from our own little Tim Howard.

Declan – is loving his new pre-school where, according to his teacher, he’s already attained “celebrity” status. Everywhere we go, he’s making friends and leading the fun. He’s constantly demonstrating creativity through drawing or his latest Lego invention. “Dec”, as he’s begun to call himself, took on soccer this year. What he lacked in aggressiveness, he made up for in smack talk. Although we had to threaten to take him off the field if he didn’t stop yakking, he turned it around and eventually won a sportsmanship medal. If you ask, he’ll be happy to show it to you.

Silas – has apparently decided to be our only lefty. He has got to be the most introspective 2 year old I’ve ever been around, carefully taking in everything around him. He’s a loving, sensitive kid, who loves his brothers and hero(ine) worships his mom. He gives great hugs for his age too – great squeeze. He can usually be found at the train table, coupling traincars together and softly singing a primary or Christmas song. When not with his trains, he’s usually launching a Neft baskeball at a hoop and shouting “shoot it, Jimmer.” Like his brothers, he’s a good looking, smart and funny kid.

Fidesco – is still in Louisville KY and we miss him a ton. He did well playing football this year for his school and has been active in Church and Boy Scouts. Since he moved to KY, he has served as President of his Deacon’s Quorum. He was able to visit VA this summer and will be with us again this Christmas. We are so glad he wants to be with us and that we are able to rely on good people in KY to help him while he’s so far away. Despite the distance, we are able to communicate several times each week using phone, Facebook, Instagram and texts. Crazy world we live in, huh?

Ginny – hasn’t stopped this year. She’s been to Costa Rica (fun), South Carolina (visiting family), Utah (for her brother’s BYU graduation) and seemingly everywhere in-between. She ran her first race last month, burning up an 8k down Richmond’s Monument Ave in 20 degree weather. We are so proud of her hard work and dedication. She even got to give Declan an autograph when she got home. She’s already talking about when she runs her next race. Aside from her travels and racing, Ginny continues to be a Super-Friend to many and to expertly herd her litter of little boys to and fro (Luder included).

Luder – achieved a longstanding goal of returning to Costa Rica to visit friends he made on his mission and was thrilled to share it with Ginny. It was a trip filled with great food, beautiful beaches, jungles, exotic animals and some of the best, most loving people on earth. 15 years away didn’t dim Luder’s love for Costa Rica and its people. Seeing the Ramirez and Avalos families was a definite highlight. Capital One is still a great gig and we feel blessed to have a job there. Luder was released from on the Stake High Council earlier this month, a calling he loved. While he’ll miss working with the Spanish Branch, he’s looking forward to what is next.

As a family we were very excited that we finally finished reading the entire Book of Mormon from cover to cover. We also read the Pearl of Great Price and have started on the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS. While our boys are regularly subjected to demonstrations of our (mostly Luder’s) imperfections, we hope they are learning how much we love the scriptures and our Savior. We continued to be honored by your friendship and love and plan to work hard again this year to be worthy of those blessings. Merry Christmas!

With Love,
The Miltons

Friday, October 24, 2014

Three Weeks

It's been three weeks since Sara passed away. Each day that goes by, the pain is the same, I think He just carries a little more of it. Someone said to me, "You will never get over something like that, you just learn how to deal with it."

It seems so wrong that she is gone. When I have a moment to stop and think, I picture her Mom and Dad, her husband, her sister and her children in the places we have been together, trying to go on. I cannot imagine their pain. Their tremendous pain is matched with an insurmountable amount of strength. I have seen it.

I love these words:

Nobody will protect you from your suffering

You can't cry it away
or eat it away
or starve it away
or punch it away
or even therapy it away

It's just there,
and you have to survive it.
You have to endure it.

You have to live through it
and love it
and move on
and be better for it
and run as far as you can in the direction of your
best and happiest dreams
across the bridge that was built by your own desire
to heal.

-Sue Fitzmaurice

I have learned that death is a part of life. Tomorrow is not promised. Death waits on no one. We do not know the time or place that we may be called home. Sara has taught me many things both with her life and with her passing. I have seen hearts softened, I have seen perspectives changed for the better. Grief is a real emotion that feels like a tremendous weight of emptiness. It can consume us if we aren't careful. Everyone must grieve in their own way, moving through the different stages at their own pace.

I am so grateful for my testimony in Jesus Christ, that I know I will see Sara again and that she is in a peaceful place forever. As I continue on this raw journey that is sometimes so painful, all I can do is let Him heal me, reach out to those who hurt and try to see the miracles that are here in front of us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

This Girl

Sara was born in July and then I was born in September. We were born into a large close knit family. There were four sisters, our grandmothers, who would rather be together than do anything else. It was a blessing for us because when they were together, the cousins were together. Sara and I went to elementary, middle and high school together. She was a year ahead of me.

We spent the better part of those years having fun together. We spent days and nights in her pool. We loved to ride the four wheeler, we rode it in the snow and in the summer. If you knew Sara, you knew that she was always laughing and being silly. We were on the four wheeler and she was looking back at me-laughing and she ran right into the fence. She threw us off, her mom saw the whole thing and almost had a heart attack. We were fine.

We baked and experimented with our hair and makeup, we talked about puberty, boys, ate ice cream and spied on Sasha, her older sister. We rented movies, went boating and camping together and Ted and Becki took us to basketball camps and games. We made up dances to pop songs and spent countless weekends together.

As we grew up, we both moved away (me farther than her) I had a million boys and she had some too. Distance and life got in the way. Our visits were more spread out. When we came together we picked right back up where we left off. I felt tremendous love for her and from her.

Looking back, I can hear her laugh and see her smile and those two things for me are the true representation of her character. Sara was love. She was fun. She was light and laughter and all good things. She was a phenomenal mother, her legacy will live on in those little boys forever.

As we went through these last few very very hard days, I saw the way that she touched people. I experienced her force for good as people came from every where bringing gifts for her family, all this while reliving her memory over and over in my mind.

The comfort I have is that as I continue to try to walk with my Savior and lean on Him, I know that I will feel closer to her. I know I will see her again. I know that she is with Him. I know that God lives and He loves her and He loves me. I know that He will put our family back together one day, person by person when it is His time. For that knowledge I am so grateful.

It will be a mighty reunion.

In the meantime, I will miss her so much it hurts. I will pray for peace for her family. I will think of her when I see a rainbow and when I hear a silly cackle. I will do everything I can to have our boys have some good times together, just like we did. I will hug my boys and slow down and thank God for the wonderful times we had together and for the lessons sweet Sara taught me.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Cason (aka CasDawg) – Cason has been busy this year. In addition to thriving in a challenging new academic program, he has gotten his Bear award in Cub Scouts, won the Pinewood Derby, beat out 9 other candidates to win his school’s Spirit Leader position and helped his basketball, swim and flag football teams be successful. Oh, and the boy has ploughed through more books than you would think humanly possible. Cason has really enjoyed youth fantasy books. In particular, he’s devoured the Percy Jackson series, plus 2 two more series by the same author and is finishing up the Harry Potter series now. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that he has gotten football fever something awful. He LOVES watching college football as well as playing backyard football and football video games. He has become a student of the game and can answer any question about the Clemson or BYU team.

Abram (aka Bumbum) – 2013 was a big year for Abram. He turned 8 and was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in November. Although we are used to Abram’s excitable nature, Luder was blown away by Abram’s heartfelt exclamation right after the baptism “That was AWESOME!!” complete with fist pump. How can you not love this kid? Like his brother, Abram has kept the librarians busy this year. After some reluctance at the beginning of the year, his love for superheros combined with some strategically placed comic books led to a literary explosion. Abram’s reading level has gone off the charts. He has been very interested in the Magic Treehouse series, Marvel superheroes, as well as Greek and Egyptian mythology. Abram’s renewed focus on academics and growing maturity has really impressed his parents. He also won several races for his swim team, made strides in basketball/flag football and loves Cub Scouts. Oh, and ask him about his post-tonsillectomy conversation with Abraham Lincoln when you get a chance – it’s worth it.

Declan (aka Destructo) – Declan is the spunkiest kid you’ll meet. He is scary-smart and 1,000% boy. The only things he likes better than running/laughing/shouting/playing are his mom and his baby brother. He tells everyone that Silas is his best friend and he balks at any suggestion that they be separated. Declan’s mispronunciation of Silas came out “Wis” – which is what led to his baby brother’s aka below. Declan started a new year of preschool and really enjoys the social aspects of his classes. He loves to learn. Anyone who was at early Thanksgiving dinner in Fredericksburg heard his enthusiastic rendering of the Thanksgiving songs he learned there. Declan loves his primary teacher at church and looks forward to going each week. He also had a trial soccer practice at an indoor facility in Richmond so will be starting his much anticipated soccer career shortly, which is very exciting. Declan loves playing out back with his brothers, dressing up in super hero costumes and riding his tractor.

Silas (aka The Mighty Wis) – Silas is just a bunch of fun. His chubby cheeks bounce when he runs, his big smile make everyone laugh and we all stop and listen when he is trying new words, which is just about every day now. He has adapted well to nursery at church, and by that I mean he has suckered the nursery leaders into holding him. He’s going through the clingy stage, which is always tough but at least Ginny knows she’s loved. He loves balls – when he says “Tetch!” you’d better be ready – and cars. He doesn’t like being alone. He’ll often get caught up in his playing, realize he’s the only one in the room, and then go searching for his brothers. He’ll do anything Declan asks and – sometimes unfortunately – quickly mimics what he does too.

Fidesco (aka ‘Desco) -is still very much a part of our lives even though he moved to Louisville KY Oct 27. While he was here, he swam on swim team, played basketball and football, went to Boy Scout Camp and earned his Tenderfoot award. He continues to go to church and Scouts in KY. He goes to an all boys school there. He is coming “home” (his words) for the holiday to be with us in RVA. We miss him dearly.

Ginny (aka Boss Lady) – Ginny has been her standard Wonder Woman self this year. She volunteers at church including leading frequent activities for a large group of very active 8-11 year old girls. She is always feeding/cleaning/comforting/encouraging four little boys who adore her, performing random acts of kindness as often as she can and doing all this without sacrificing her famous smile, fashionista style or supermodel appearance. And that’s just the stuff we know about. One of the fun firsts this year is that Ginny made an excellent Thanksgiving feast for our family. Ginny realized a few weeks ago that she had children in soccer, basketball, music lessons, swim team, SCA and scouts, all in the past year. She is really happy about Luder’s switch to Capital One. Really happy.

Luder (aka Big Poppa) – Luder’s big change this year has been embracing life after the law firm. Although he’s still adjusting to the new schedule, it’s fun to watch him take a vacation day and try not to twitch the whole time. Luder has also rededicated himself to learning more. He wants to attack the classics and has read several books that he’s not been able to finish in past years. So far he’s read Oliver Twist, The Art of War, Common Sense and several others. He’s hoping to knock a few more out before the end of the year.

Overall, 2013 had its share of challenges and trials but we feel like we’ve done a better job at keeping a Christ-centered perspective than in years past. We’ll take that as a huge accomplishment. We are very grateful for our faith, friends and family in good and in bad times. We are honored to know you and pray that you will be able to focus on the Reason for the Season throughout this Christmastime and on into the new year.
With Love,
The Miltons

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tough Love

     I once heard the quote, "Friendships are born and friendships die." I tend to agree with part of that idea. I believe that true friendship lives on, it lives through death and it lives over thousands of miles of distance and passing years of inattentiveness. The friendships that die are the ones that taught us for a time and allowed us to move on to something better.

  At the beginning of this month I lost a dear friend. Our friendship will live on and when I see him again, I have a few things to tell him. I will share with him that his life and passing has changed me. I hadn't thought of how much he meant to me, until he passed.  I now focus more on being in the moment with my children. I think of everyone that I am around as truly a brother or a sister. I have wondered a hundred times why it takes the death of someone we love to soften us to the core and be who we truly should be?

  As the month progressed, I learned that this sweet child pictured above, who is like a son to me will be moving far away. Tonight I saw the bus ticket, yesterday I saw the sofa being loaded onto the truck.

  Fidesco was a six year old tag along nephew to a young woman that I served six years ago. She moved away and he has been with us the majority of the time since. We have grown so close that my children call him their brother. I know what he likes to eat, wear, what embarrasses him. I know when he is having a bad day before he speaks. I know how he sleeps, what scares him and what makes him smile.

  I have worried about him physically, spiritually and academically for the better part of six years. I was blessed to know when he was in trouble or afraid without anyone telling me when he wasn't with us. I have prayed for him and hoped for his future and none of that will stop now, even though he will be far from me for a time.

   I have learned so much from serving him and inviting him to be so intimately involved in our family. Most of the lessons are too personal to share here but let's just say that I could write a book.
The biggest lesson I have learned is that we love who we serve and by doing so we are blessed. I am blessed to have been loved by this child. My children were blessed to have an education in culture and love that reaches over socioeconomic and racial boundaries. They were blessed to learn acceptance and unconditional love and in return they were loved and truly experienced joy.

  We will keep in contact with him and I will not give up on the dreams I have for him. We will see what happens but I trust the Lord and I know He has a plan for Fidesco and for our family and for now that's what is giving me peace.

Christmas Card 2012


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our New Family

Meet Silas.

March 14, 2012
These were all taken in the hospital.

Four reasons why, when I die, I can say that I have left this world a better place.

Silas' Birthday Story

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Silas Keane Milton
 born at 6:31pm,
8lbs 2 oz, 21 inches long.

Meeting the big brothers around 8pm

Silas on his way home.

On Tuesday, March 13th, I woke up after having painful contractions during the night for two nights in a row. Labor had not developed from the pain so I decided that it may still be a while. I dropped Declan off at preschool and headed over to the OB for a regular appointment. My official due date was Thursday the 15th. I had also decided that I would probably be late because I was with Cason and he was the only other child whose birth was not induced.
So, at the appointment, my doctor said I was 3.5 cm dialated and 80% effaced. I was relieved because I was progressing. I was 2.5 and 60% the Tuesday before. We talked about induction plans if I went over and I shared with him that I would really like to have the baby come on his own but that I would not last for weeks feeling the way I was feeling.
He told me that I was tolerating the pregnancy so well, with such a positive attitude. I left the doctor, called Mom and Luder. I thought of all the things I could be doing but I felt like I was pretty much ready for the baby. My bag was packed, laundry done, dishes clean, groceries bought. I decided to go get a pedicure. It was a gift from Carol to celebrate the baby's birth.
I got the pedicure, picked up Panera, picked up Declan, dropped off a gift to a friend who had just had her baby and I went home. It was a gorgeous day and after lunch I decided to take Declan to the park. At the park I talked to Dad and we decided in a couple of days I should have the baby.
Declan and I headed home and I put him down for a nap. I began to get ready for the boys to get home from school. Carol called and wanted me to come outside to receive some things so I headed out and as I was talking to her I felt a little pain and it felt like he was dropping into my pelvis.
I told her that I had better go sit down before I went to the bus stop. She told me she would get the boys and for me to just go rest, which I appreciated. I went inside and decided that I would start tracking my contractions just for the fun of it with a new app I had downloaded the night before. The boys came home, I helped them get their homework done and the contractions kept coming. After several contractions and a few I couldn't talk through, I texted Luder that he should be on alert. He asked me if he should come home and if I thought today was the day and I said, I could still go for another week and I just needed him to work from home if the pain was too bad to take care of the children. I certainly did not think I was in labor because I had experienced the same pain already in the night and I didn't go into labor. I got the boys situated and laid down. I was sweating and nauseated and having painful contractions that were about 10 mins apart and somewhat irregular. I called Luder and told him to go ahead and come home. He was home about 15 minutes later and by that time it was around 4 pm and I had had about 15 contractions since 230p. While he was on his way, my Mom texted me and I texted her back that I was having some irregular contractions. She got excited and I got worried that everyone was going to be all worked up over nothing. Luder came in and I could tell he was concerned and trying to be patient with me because I wanted to just rest in my bed and he wanted me to call the doctor, get a shower possibly and get ready to go. I agreed to take a shower just in case. He called our friend Pat and his Mom and in the meantime Mom called and said she was coming and she didn't care if it was false labor. Patti said she would come too. 
I took a shower, contracting the whole time. I called the doctor and told him the contractions were about 7 minutes apart but pretty painful. He said to call back when they were 5 minutes and painful, which I did about 15 minutes later when the contractions went to 3-4 minutes apart.
He said to come in, so we waited for Pat and at that point I was thinking that maybe this was it. I was also afraid to think that this was labor because I didn't want to be disappointed if it stopped. Pat came, I gave her a hug and we left. On the way I called Cindy to ask her where I needed to enter the hospital. We went into the ER. NO ONE was there to help us. Not one single person. Luder yelled into the back for someone to come and finally someone came and even though I was pre-registered they still needed me to register. Why is that, by the way? So, I was breathing through some pretty hefty contractions but still smiling and they eventually brought me a wheelchair and ran me to the L&D floor after I told them this was my fourth child. Luder stayed behind and finished registering me and I think he parked the car? They took me to a labor room and I didn't see a soul. I sat on the bed alone in my street clothes contracting and thinking. Eventually one nurse came in and handed me a gown, told me to put it on and give her a urine sample. Was she serious? She left. What if I had this baby in the bathroom? The pain was mounting. I held the sink and I yelled to her as she left that I wanted my doctor. Things were moving fast and I could feel it. The most glorious sound I heard was a few moments later, Dr. Rinehardt's voice outside the bathroom in my room. I told him that I was so glad to see him. He checked me and about that time Luder came in. He said I was at 6 cm. I said, So, I am in labor and he laughed and said, "Yes, you aren't going home without a baby!" 
A new nurse came in and started prepping the room. Luder, the doctor and I began to talk about an epidural. I was starting to really feel the pain and I thought I had a lot of time. As we spoke about it, I had some more painful contractions and I decided to order it and I could turn him away. It was around 545pm that all of this was happening. He came in shortly after and gave me the epidural. It kicked in right around when it was time to push. The doctor checked me around 615 or so and said I was complete. About 3 pushes later, Silas was out and in my arms and it was the most peaceful, painless, quick delivery that I have experienced or could imagine. I love my doctor, he came in when I got there and didn't leave until I was stable and holding my baby. As in, he didn't leave my room the entire time. Who does that? My nurse was so awesome, she promoted all the alternative things I wanted to do during delivery and was happy to help me breastfeed right away.
So a little part of the story I left out was that right around the time I was at a nine my Mom comes running in, she looked like she had been through quite a lot. She had gotten lost, I think she even ran and if you know my Mom you know that she doesn't run. She made it though, she got into the room with about 7 minutes to spare. She was happy and excited and stressed and a little emotional. It was cute.
After he was out, my mom and Luder started texting pics and taking pics and I looked at the clock and blinked a few times after admiring my sweet baby. I was in shock. Pure shock. I could not believe what had just happened. I was in the hospital about 1 hour. I was just outside talking to Carol, I thought. This was insane and wonderful all at the same time.
We laughed about how I could have had a home birth if I would have "stayed and rested a little while longer" like I wanted.
Before I knew it, the boys were on their way with Patti and Carol to meet their baby brother. They came in around 730 or 8. They were so excited and happy. All they did was smile. Declan said, "Why is mommy dressed like that?" He saw the IV's and blood pressure cuff. He didn't like it when the nurse took my blood. He was concerned about that but still happy to have "his baby." Cason said that he felt like crying as he held Silas. Abram just smiled and jumped around a little. It was a beautiful night and I think we were all shocked and so happy.