Life’s Little Miracles

Each one of us has a number of miracles that touch us every day. Some we recognize and some we just accept as “that’s the way it is.”

Trying to think back and pinpoint some of those is difficult. Starting from my earliest years that I can remember, I think it is a miracle that I was born to parents who welcomed me into this world. I think it is a miracle that I was born into a home where the Gospel was lived and taught. I have heard that we may have had some input into where we were born and who our family would be. I do not know about that. I am not sure if that would have made a difference in my life.

I struggled through many stages of my life. I struggled to learn. I think I must have a little dyslexia. It was a miracle that I was assigned to be in Mr. Bauer’s 4th grade class. He took me under his wing. I went to school early and read to him. He never scolded me. He encouraged me to persist. He assigned me to be in charge of the monthly calendar. I could get anyone to help but I was in charge. He taught me how to play baseball, and square dance. By the time I moved on to 5th grade and Mr. Adam’s class I could read a whole book and I knew my times tables, and I could hit a home run and do a dose doe.

Jr. High brought many new challenges. Academic classes were still very challenging. But then I got to take Home Economics. This I could do. This I could excel in. I loved to cook and sew. My Mother was an excellent seamstress and cook. I had a great model and help at home. Then I got to take Choir, I loved singing.

I think the next real miracle that came along was in the form of a funny little man named Fred Adams, who came to teach at the College of Southern Utah. He introduced real drama to Cedar City. His dream was to establish a Shakespearean Festival. Then the miracle happened, He invited me to try out for the 1963 Summer season. I was cast as a handmaid to Cleopatra in “Antony and Cleopatra”. Not a large role but I did have lines and I got to die on stage.

Then the next summer of 1964 I had just graduated from High School. He cast me as Helena in ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream’. That fall I started school at College of Southern Utah where I joined the Drama Club and once again I played the part of Helena when we performed it for the College and we traveled to University of Utah and presented it at a College Drama Festival.

In the first act I am alone on the stage, sitting on the edge, presenting my cares and woe’s  to the audience. Then I noticed sitting just two rows from the stage almost directly in front of me was Maurice Abravanel, The conductor of the Utah Symphony. I almost froze he was smiling and nodding much like my Father would do when he was in the audience at some school thing or another. The play managed to go on I regained my composure and chalked that up to another little miracle.

I’ve heard it said that if you keep looking back at you High School or College years as the best years you have ever accomplished something then you are living a pretty sad life. I don’t feel that way exactly but I look at the choices I have made and the paths that took me away from the ideals that I was taught and it feels like a wasted life. We chose to come to this world to gain experience. I chose experiences that took me away from the circle and influence of my family. There are some hard things that I went through that to some may seem tragic but to me I felt that it was a little miracle.

I had married a young man whom I felt that I loved. He took the missionary lessons and was baptized. We were married August 1968. He accepted a job in Everett, Washington with Boeing Aircraft. We moved there and in February 1970 our son was born. Eventually we bought a little home in Marysville, Washington.

He took a job working nights and just could not get home and ready to go to church on Sundays. He would miss more often than attend. In the mean time another child was born, a daughter in September 1971. One Sunday on July 30th1972 he went with one of his friends to a four wheel drive rally. I had called my home teacher to pick me up for sacrament meeting. As I waited with my children ready to go, a car pulled up in the driveway. Our Bishop got out with another man. The Bishop introduced him and said that he was the County Coroner and a member of the Church. I was puzzled. Then the Bishop told me that my Husband Frank had been killed in an automobile accident.

I was stunned and of course in shock. Just then my home teacher pulled up. The Bishop talked to him and he left. My neighbor came over because her little girl was going to go to church with us. I managed to stammer out the message and she gathered up my kids and took them home with her. The Bishop left and said he would send his wife to be with me. When she arrived we managed to call Franks parents in Gardner, Montana and my parents in Cedar City, Utah. Everything was in a haze, but as I look back on that time, to me it really was one of my little miracles. I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I knew I had been given a new chance to regain the faith I had once enjoyed. I knew I would move back to Cedar City with my children and we would have the joy and comfort of being surrounded by family.

This is a piece about what I consider the little miracles in my life so I will fast forward many years. Several of those years were sad and I have a hard time talking about them. But I did marry again and three more children were born. This was not a happy marriage and it ended in divorce. About five years after the divorce my husband passed away and I sold our home and moved to Orem, Utah about 1991.

There I was with five children two were adults and three in grade school and Jr. High. We tried to adjust to our new home and ward. I was determined to be active and tried to keep my children active and happy. One of my Visiting Teachers was another single Mother with two girls about the same age as my two girls. We became friends and she would invite me to accompany her to concerts and plays. Another little miracle. She was there when I desperately needed a friend.

Then as happens in the church our ward was divided and she was in a different ward. We lost touch with each other. Then one day in the late fall of 1999, one of the biggest miracle of all. She called me up and said she had been thinking about me and wondered if I would like to meet her ex-husband? I was stunned, I thought he still lived in Minnesota where she had moved from.

“No, he is living in Salt Lake City.”

“Okay I guess that would be okay.”

She said she thought we had a lot in common, he worked with computers and he liked music and plays and movies and TV. I too liked all those things. He called me a few days later and we talked and emailed back and forth and finally it was time to meet face to face.

He picked me up and we went to dinner. He invited me to go to a Charley Daniels Band concert. I invited him to go to the Utah Symphony with the guest artist Ray Charles. His wife was right we were very good together. It didn’t take long before we knew that we were perfectly matched. We often joke with one another that my Dad and his Mother got together up in heaven and sent that message to Jim’s ex-wife. We never would have found each other on our own. We were married February 29th 2000.

Life together has been good. we have grown in faith and trust. We have helped each other regain and grow our testimonies and faith in our Heavenly Father. There have been many challenges. The desire to have our marriage solemnized in the Temple became the next wish of our hearts. I needed to get clearance from my previous marriage. We prayed and we talked to our Bishops and none would give us any hope.

Then we got a new Bishop and we were assigned to be his home teachers. We discovered that he and his wife knew my parents. He had been in the bishopric when my Father suddenly passed away from a heart attack. He told me he gave my Father his last Temple Recommend.

We approached him towards the end of the year 2015 about the possibility of getting my sealing cancelled and he said we can try. He explained what needed to be done and we began to work the steps. After several meetings with the Bishop and Stake President the paper work was done and submitted. Then we waited. We felt calm and at peace with whatever the answer would be. We both felt that our request was honest and sincere, and whatever the answer, we would accept it.

Finally two letters came from the office of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One addressed to me and another to Jim. My hands were shaking.  We opened them together like children opening Christmas presents. Excited with anticipation tempered with hope and disappointment.

Jim read his first. His petition had been approved, relief flooded over us. I read mine and as of this date I was no longer sealed to Theodore Clark Bennion and I was free to go to the Temple with my sweet husband James Lewis Hoag and be sealed for time and all eternity.

So on May 14, 2016, The greatest miracle of all, James Lewis Hoag and Barbara Cox, were sealed together in the Mount Timpanogas Temple for Time and All Eternity.

As I have pondered on the path that brought me here. I see so many wrong turns and dead ends. I think we cannot really see all the little miracles that lead us every day. We stumble and fall and somehow we manage to get up and go on. Then there is someone who comes and takes your hand and says I love you please continue this journey with me. There are few words that can express the deep love and gratitude I feel for this man who accepted me with all my faults and imperfections. Together we have held each other up and moved ahead. Our faith has grown and our love and trust has deepened. We give thanks every day to our Heavenly Father for the Miracles that brought us together.

 

Solitude

A place to be alone

Away from the crowds

Late afternoon

Birds flying deep in and out of the canyon

Shadows of the clouds moving lazily across the rocky walls

Sounds of crickets and the buzzing of flies, an occasional lizard stops by to visit

Sometimes voices floating on a breeze from an unseen trail

A rocky shelf warmed by the sun

Jutting out from the canyon wall

The Canyon is deep and wide

The Colors change as the sun and clouds move across the sky

The canyon called Grand

A place to be alone

 

 

 

 

My Creed 2014

I am a strong, passionate woman.

I am intelligent and creative.

Kind and spiritual.

I desire to pattern my life with Faith, Hope and Charity.

I desire to promote a kind, compassionate home.

A home where all who enter there will feel welcomed.

And then I will knit them a pair of socks.

 

 

Dusty Old Things

He found an old beat up cardboard box.

He had not seen it for many years.

His heart was beating fast with anticipation.

He opened the lid ready to search the treasures inside.

Scraps from his life from over fifty years ago.

A photograph of cherished Grandparents, old and faded.

A  written note of thanks, for what he could not remember.

A story written in a childish hand.

A program from his High School Graduation along with the Valedictorian speech he delivered.

He turned each photograph and page in wonder.

Scenes of this past life played upon his mind.

He could see the road his life had taken.

He could see that road was not the road he had planned.

He could not really know what road He would have taken.

He sometimes felt that road was wrong.

But he pressed on.

There were no detours no place to turn around.

There were many cross roads, and many places to choose which way to go.

Each choice was progress.

Some roads led to sorrow and pain.

Even those road eventually lead to sunshine.

As he pondered on these thoughts he looked across the room at his wife.

The wife he found only a few years ago.

The wife who accepted him the way he was.

Who as they grew together their love grew also.

He could not imagine his life without her.

He knew they would finish out this life together.

He was grateful for the roads that had brought them together.

 

 

Cox Cousins

Growing up with mainly cousins around. Even when I started school my main playmates were my cousins. Phyllis was two years older, Charlotte was one year older and Nellie was one year younger. We played with our dolls and with our paper dolls. We played hopscotch,  jump rope, and jacks.

Aunt Wanda organized 4H groups. We learned to sew and cook. We went to 4H Camp at Duck Creek up on Cedar Mountain. Aunt Wanda really was an amazing organizer.

We begged our Mothers to let us sell lemonade or homemade root beer. But of course the big entrepreneurial profits did not materialize. Aunt Wanda did not supply the needed ingredients without requiring us to pay for them out of our proceeds. Early lessons in deficit spending.

We would walk to the downtown area to go to the Saturday Matinee or the library. Or if we had a little money we would walk downtown to the 5 & Dime or Woolworth’s.

Since we lived on the edge of town sometimes we would pack a small lunch and go for a hike in the hills west of town.

We would go en mass trick or treating on Halloween. The elementary school we attended was on the same block as the Jr. High and High School so once again we would all walk en mass to school.

As we grew older we would organize summer story times with the younger neighborhood children. We would play games with them and have snacks.

In the evenings we would have neighborhood games, “kick the can” and “war” Our large front porch was usually the safe zone. Since we lived on a dead end street we could play baseball and other street games.

Many summer evenings were spent with “sleeping out” parties. Our street was really on the edge of town, with very little traffic and few street lights, we could see all the stars. It was always surprising to me how it could be so hot during the day and then by morning we would be freezing and anxious to get back into the house and into our warm beds.

One of our neighbors had a movie camera and projector. A few times he would set up a screen outside and we would all gather and watch home movies and sometimes “real” movies and cartoons. That was a real treat.

In the winter if there was a good snow there would be winter games. We lived near a street that had a long hill and sledding was wonderful if the snow was packed enough and not too many rocks. Sometimes we could talk our parents into taking us up the canyon to take advantage of the snow and hills. Sleds and inner tubes were highly prized.

As we grew older and our various interests changed and our circle of friends grew, we became less dependent on each other for companionship. Phyllis and Charlotte graduated from High School and went on to College. By then we were traveling in different circles. A boy I dated few times ended up marrying my cousin Charlotte. They have had a wonderful life together.

We have all taken different roads. Our childhood homes are all gone. Even the street we lived and played on is gone, turned into a parking lot. Now when ever I go back to that place I can still hear the voices and see the images of kids and families, fun and laughter, angry words and tears. All a part of the world of growing up and forming our lives. All the “Adults” in our lives have gone to join their Father in Heaven. Even some of our siblings have moved on. We still see and visit with each other on special occasions but those are few and far between. It is strange how some families remain so close and others kind of drift apart. When we do see each other our talks are mostly about the “Olden Days” the days when we were young and free from the earthly cares that weigh us down today. Maybe that is the way it should be. Enjoy our shared memories, our laughs and the fun times. Times when the future was bright and we loved each day and each other.

Growing Up With Mother

It was a warm August afternoon. Mother was resting in her room at the back of the house. My brother and cousin John were playing in a tree just outside her window. They were trying to build a tree house. John was up in the tree and Doug was on the ground. Suddenly the small ax John was using fell and hit Doug on the head. OOOOW! “John hit me with the ax”! Doug is running and screaming in the back door, blood running down his head. Mother is roused from her sickbed and meets him at the back door. A run to the emergency room is needed. Mother can not drive. Aunt Wanda is pressed into service. Doug comes home with stitches in his head. A badge of honor. No real damage done. Head wounds bleed profusely. Just another summer day on “Cox Avenue”.

I grew up on a street with Aunts and Uncles and cousins. We could go to any home for comfort or help. None of the Mothers worked when I was young. My Mother started to take part time jobs about the time I was in 5th or 6th grade. Eventually she took a job at the hospital being a cook in the kitchen. So that made a change in our family. sometimes she would be gone in the morning and sometimes she would not get home until evening. In spite of that we always had wonderful meals at home and the added benefit of leftovers from the hospital. No jokes about hospital food in Cedar City, My Mother was the cook. She made everything wonderful.

Mother spent most of her growing up years in Pocatello, Idaho.  She came from a large family. Her Father died when she was 17 and she dropped out of High School to work and help support the family. One of her older brothers was killed in an automobile accident also.These events left a mark of sadness in my Mothers life. She had many friends in Pocatello and as we made our regular trips North to visit Grandma and the Idaho Aunts and Uncles, Mothers ‘girlfriends’ would be visited also. We considered them as much a part of the family as anyone else.

Mother would tell me about when she was a young girl and hurrying home from school and going to the neighbors who might have a little baby and begging to take the baby for a walk. I am sure these young Mothers loved having a little break. Mother always loved our little babies.

Mother was beautiful seamstress. There were always new dresses for Easter and Christmas and the start of school. I was a willing learner and anxious to start my own creations. By the time I was in High School I was sewing most of my own dresses. We had to wear dresses to school then. Pants were not allowed.

Mother was a wonderful cook and she could make a wonderful meal out of almost anything. We would wake up to the smell of new baked bread and pancakes for breakfast. Mother would be singing in the kitchen and we were dressed and off to school with warm clean cloths and a full tummy. When I was in grade school we had time to come home for lunch. School lunch was for the bus kids not the city kids. Once in a while I was allowed to stay for school lunch but it was always kind of a disappointment. Nobody could cook as well as my Mother.

What are some of the legacies from my Mother?

Because of my Mother, I too can make a wonderful meal. I can sew. I have learned the sweet peace of a testimony. I had before me the excellent example of how a husband and wife should love and cherish one another. That one took a couple of tries to get right. I am contented that my Mother could know that I had finally achieved that in my own marriage.

There are times I find myself sighing. Each time I heard my Mother and Mothers sisters “sigh”, my sisters and I would joke that we inherited the “Sorensen sigh”.

Mother was several inches shorter than me, my body shape is more like my Fathers, but when I look at my hands sometimes I can see my Mothers hands. Hands that cooked and cleaned, washed and ironed. Comforted and scolded. Played and prayed.

She never had the opportunity to play the piano or any other instrument but she loved music and tried to get us girls to learn the piano or violin. I tried both at different times but both eluded me. At least I can play the piano a little bit and I have a great respect for anyone that can play the violin with proficiency.

I feel Mothers presence when I go to the temple. She and Dad spent many years as temple workers and patrons. I can see in my minds eye as they are participating together, dressed in white, close to the spirit and Heavenly Father.

Other times I hear a soft reproach in my head, Mother is exasperated with me, I had better straighten up. “Oh Barbara!”, “Sigh!”

What’s in a Name?

My Mother and Father named me Barbara. I do not know why. I asked my Mother once and she really did not tell me. My Husband said I should say I was named after Barbara Stanwyck. I really do not know. I think my Mother just liked the name. I did want to be an actress and I have done some acting on the stage in High School and The Utah Shakespearean Festival and College.

Growing up I was the only girl I knew with the name of Barbara. I was taller than almost any of the other girls and boys in grade school. When we transitioned to Jr. High there was another girl named Barbara. She was also tall. Humm, that was kind of strange. Maybe in order to be a Barbara you had to be tall. For some reason I did not like her.

Nicknames: Barb, Babs and Bobalink. Almost everyone called me Barb. My sister sometimes calls me Babs and the man who lived across the street from us sometimes called me Bobalink. I liked that one the best.

Then there is always the name your Mother calls you when she is exasperated with you, “Oh Barbara”! each letter exaggerated. Funny thing I do the same thing with my kids. They even make a game out of it, trying to get me to use my  best Grandma voice.

As I have reached adulthood I have discovered more women named Barbara, and come to think of it all most of us are on the tall side. Humm, Barbara = Tall.

According to Wikipidia the origin of the name Barbara could be Greek, and the meaning is: stranger, foreigner or traveler from a foreign land.

Now that is interesting, I always felt like a stranger in many situations. I have had people tell me that I am a very strange person. Well I always wanted to travel and “far away places with strange sounding names” sound very exciting. I think I will embrace that idea and go on an explore.

Blessings

He came to me in my time of need

He gently asked if I needed him.

I looked at him in wonder,

How did he know I was feeling afraid?

He laid his hands upon my head

With Power and Authority

He blessed and calmed my spirit and gladdened my heart.

I felt his love,

I felt his spirit and his Priesthood power.

 

 

 

 

The Heroes in My Life

When I was young, Superman was my Hero. I loved reading Superman comics. My favorite Saturday matinee serials were Captain Video, Tarzan and Prince Valiant. Strong tall handsome men. Smart, honest, moral men fighting for truth and justice.

When I was about 10 or 11, Roger Maris and Micky Mantel and the New York Yankees were my heroes.  Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, John Wayne filled the movie screens. I was a dreamer and a romantic. I dreamed of being carried away or being rescued by a tall handsome hero.

Rescued from what? Saved from what? It didn’t matter, I just knew that if I was ever in peril one of these Heroes would be there to save me.

Then I became what some might call an Adult. Meaning I was over 21. I made some questionable decisions and some good one’s. We all do. I got married and had children. But the white picket fence and perfect home were not part of the picture. My “Hero” was still a part of my fantasies.

After two husbands and spending the most of my adult life as a single parent, I once again took the leap and married for the third time. This time the compatibility factor was much stronger. We liked each other right away. We were comfortable together. We both had somewhat broken lives. Our pieces fit together and filled up our empty spaces. As we shared our lives together I began to realize that Heroes can come in all kinds of packages. Sometimes they are large and bold on a movie screen. Or leap off the page of a book into your heart. Or they can sit with you at night and watch TV and laugh and cry at the commercials. Share their own joys and sorrows with you and listen while you pour out your secret longings.

My truest Hero came quietly and entered my life in an unlikely way. But when he kissed me for the first time I knew that Superman had come to life in this man’s body. James Hoag is the one and only true Hero that I will ever need.

To Do Or Not To Do, That Is The Question

I have always been pretty impulsive. I am not one to study and evaluate a situation. I mostly just plunge right in. Full steam ahead, Taking that kind of approach can get you into trouble. But it can also lead to great adventures.

During the summer of 1966 I was working in Zion National Park, in the snack shop. My friend Tauna Lyman was working as a waitress. We spent many of our off hours talking about school and what we wanted. Neither one of us really wanted to continue in College. We felt that we were spinning our wheels. What was college doing for us? I felt that continuing in school would not do anything for me that just getting a good job could not. I thought all I needed was a change of scene and new opportunities. I felt stifled in Cedar City. I wanted new horizons.

We had worked the previous year with two brothers from California. Tauna really liked one of them. He was now on a mission and would be home the next year. She had been writing to him and she wanted to go to California so she could be there when he came home.

The decision to go to California was made. She contacted his Mother, Mrs. DeGraw and she agreed to let us stay at her home until we could find jobs and an apartment. I was along for the ride. Tauna came to my house to live after school started for a couple of months and then she left to go live with her sister. We had made plans to leave after Christmas 1966. Tauna was gone and I continued on with our plans.

I am sure my parents thought I would abandon this crazy plan. But they did not really try to change my mind. I think they were of the opinion that I needed to make my own choices and suffer the consequences. We thought it would be romantic to take the train and then we could take more luggage. We would need things to help set up an apartment. I purchased two tickets for three days before New Years Eve. I was starting to get a little antsy because I had not heard from Tauna for several weeks. But she did show up just before time to go.

In order to get the train we had to go to Minersville which is northwest of Cedar about 40 miles. The train was scheduled for 11pm. My Dad drove us to Minersville. Remember this was the  middle of winter. When we got there we discovered that the train would be late, hours late. Too late to go back home and then come back. Dad unloaded our luggage and left. There we were in a very small train station which was not very warm in a very small town, where there was nothing open, and it started to snow, hard.

Somehow we managed to wait and the train finally came and we were on our way. It was still very dark but I was mesmerized by the silent night. At some point I saw a Christmas tree all lite up out in the middle of a field. The train stopped in Las Vegas. Then we continued on toward California.

Mrs. DeGraw and her son Danny met us at the train station and we were in sunny California. She was so kind to us. In looking back we were really asking a lot of her. She was a widow supporting her son on a mission and here come two silly girls from Utah. I don’t know if she was really aware that Tauna was hoping to marry her son. She drove us around and Danny seemed to like spending time with us. Since it was New Years Eve we went to a Singles party at the Stake house. I was beginning to realize it was not going to be as easy as we thought to get around. Neither one of us had a car and public transportation was not very good.

We finally found a furnished apartment, but it was not as easy to find a job as we thought. It was not as easy to go to Church on Sunday ether. We had to depend on Mrs. DeGraw to take us everywhere.

I finally found a job with a pharmaceutical shipping warehouse. I stood at a long tub pulling IBM punch cards that represented drug orders for hospitals and pharmacy’s. One of the girls lived close to me and offered to be my transportation to work and back. Another one of the girls offered to introduce me to her boyfriends brother. He had a masters degree in accounting from UCLA and had a real job. I thought all my dreams had come true.

His name was Wes Harder, He was tall, dark and handsome. I thought I had hit the jackpot. He liked me right away. Work was going well, I had a very attentive boyfriend and I was in California.

But all fairy tails have to come to an end. The rest of the story is not always happy. Life gets in the way. I found myself drifting away from the Church. Wes was not interested in being a Mormon, and since I didn’t have my own transportation it was hard to get to meetings on my own. He asked me to marry him and then it seemed that he started pulling away. He started talking about how HE wanted to move to upstate California and HE wanted to do this and HE wanted to do that. But somehow it seemed to me that I was not included in his plans. I got my feelings hurt.

Tauna and I had a big fight and I moved out and got my own place. We lost touch. I finally heard that she married Danny DeGraw. I broke it off with Wes and called my parents and moved back to Utah.

As I look back on those years I realize that going to California and the decisions I made there have colored my life forever. I had drifted away from the gospel. I tried to hold on but I was really not fully engaged. It was not until I met and married Jim that together we have been able to work on our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Together we have strengthened our testimonies and understanding of our purpose here. Unfortunately our families have suffered. But isn’t that the part of why we are here? To make mistakes and learn and repent and make more mistakes and repent and strive to do better? I learned a lot from my wild child years. I am grateful for the opportunity.