Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Earthly poor, but heavenly blessed

While sitting in my daughter’s house this past week, I noticed her Christmas tree—sparsely decorated with two dishtowels where a tree skirt should be. It quickly took me back in time to my second Christmas with my husband. We were married in early July and had our first child, Camille, in April. In the fall, my husband quit his job to attend graduate school, and we lived off a student loan and what I could make selling Tupperware.

Going back to school necessitated moving into a less expensive apartment. We found a duplex, set back from the road and nestled in a grove of trees. It had a bright, cheery, orange door, but once inside, the apartment lost most of its charm. Green was everywhere. The sea foam green walls were devoid of artwork and emanating from the forest green, shag carpet was a musty, tobacco smell. The kitchen linoleum was so worn it was difficult to determine its original color, but the green walls, olive green appliances and dark brown cupboards gave the room a dreary and depressing appearance.

Beyond the kitchen was the laundry room, where we placed our daughter’s crib, and directly across from it was our bedroom. Next to the bedroom, in stark contrast to the rest of the apartment, was a bright, yellow bathroom from which we could easily hear the neighbor’s conversations drifting through the vents.

We filled the kitchen cupboards with cans of turkey chunks from the church cannery (a gift from my sister) and the freezer with hamburger meat purchased on sale from the butcher. We placed our worn, and I am sorry to say, green sofa along the wall that separated the kitchen from the living room and across from it we put our oak rocking chair, which was on loan from my parents. I walked from the bathroom to the kitchen and around to the living room and sat down on the floor. Looking around the apartment I realized there was no longer any use denying it. We were poor.

Fall turned to winter and the bright colored leaves lay slumbering on the ground under a blanket of snow. It was December, and while the outside world bustled about preparing for Christmas, I was in bed recovering from surgery. Then came a knock at our front door. First entered my neighbor Melinda, followed by her husband Kevin, arms laden with simmering hot casserole dishes and freshly baked rolls. Next came our neighbors Doug and Linda, returning our laundry smelling freshly washed and looking neatly pressed.

As we gathered in the living room to visit, I looked around, silently absorbing the scene before me. Dominating the room was our Christmas tree; a poor, scraggly, little thing propped up rather unceremoniously in an empty ice cream bucket and supported by river rock. Its spindly branches were draped with silver, metallic icicles in an effort to disguise the sparseness of their needles. I sat next to the tree in the rocking chair, rocking my baby, now eight months old. My husband sat cross-legged next to me on the floor and our four guests, who were providently thin, scrunched in next to each other on the couch. I could hear sweet musical laughter as stories were shared. I could smell the aroma of freshly baked bread in the kitchen begging for my attention, and I could see the Christmas tree lights twinkling next to me. I felt the warmth in the room, first on my skin and then deep down in my soul. Suddenly it hit me. We were rich.

Life has changed much since then. We moved to Arizona, added four more children to our family and our worldly possessions increased. And yet many years later, we still count as our greatest blessings---and hence the source of our greatest wealth---family members and good friends who have brought such great joy, and richness. . . to our journey.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Tribute to Three Great Girls

Kathryn 18, Michelle 15, Kristen 21
I wanted to take a minute and pay tribute to my three youngest daughters—Kristen, Kathryn and Michelle, who, despite their age, still let me dress them alike. :-)

But mostly I wanted to express my gratitude to them for their help this past week. Kristen flew home from BYU the night before I left for Colorado. Since then, she and her two younger sisters have had to clean the house from top to bottom, make treats for the neighborhood FHE/Treat Exchange, finish delivering gifts to friends and neighbors, finish the Christmas shopping, wrap the gifts, and put on the annual Christmas Eve party at our house—which included purchasing and preparing all the food, plus providing and arranging for the entertainment.

And they did it all beautifully and without complaint! Oh, how I love them!

We did have to laugh at a comment my husband made though. The night before I returned he told them that since Mom was coming home they needed to prepare themselves for change. No longer would they get to lounge around as free spirits, but instead I would be putting them to work. Kristen pointed out that he was the only one who had been taking it easy, the rest of them had been working harder than they ever had during any “vacation”.

And what a great job they did! I love you all so very much! Thank you for all the joy you have brought to my journey!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My day with a newborn baby and a dog

11:00 p.m. Dave and Camille (the parents) put Carly (the newborn) to bed and climb into bed themselves. Missing my family in Arizona, I (the grandma) get on the internet to catch up on email.

1:00 a.m. I go to bed. Max (the dog) takes up residence on the floor at the foot of my bed.

1:30. Carly’s robust crying awakens everyone. I get up and find Dave in the nursery changing a diaper. Camille mumbles something incoherent from her bed.

2:00. Carly cries again. I turn over and try to sleep.

3:00. I am awakened by Carly’s cries. I try to go back to sleep but Max is chasing something in his dreams and his noises keep me awake. I try covering my head with a blanket to diminish the noise.

4:00. Carly is crying and I can hear frustrated parental voices in the next bedroom. I knock on the door and ask if I can help. Dave promptly hands me the baby and closes the door.

4:00-4:30. I walk the house with Carly, trying to keep her from awakening her parents. I try to put her in her crib but she immediately protests.

4:30. I decide to try sitting with Carly in my bed as I am feeling rather exhausted. I go to my room and see that Max is now sleeping in my bed so I abandon that thought. I'll clean out the dog hair in the morning.

5:00-6:30. I feel so tired I can barely stand it. I still have Carly and still can’t put her down, so I get on the internet and start reading blogs. Thank you to all you bloggers! You kept me entertained and in good spirits when I was desperate!

6:30-7:15. I sit on the couch with Carly. Max comes and sits next to me and keeps nudging my hand to pet him. I think, “My life has come down to this?”

7:45. I wake up Camille and tell her it is time to feed her hungry baby.

9:00. Camille and I discuss the need to have Carly learn to sleep without someone holding her. Long day.

7:00 p.m. We put Carly in bed and have a strategy meeting on how to deal with her tonight. Dave ends the meeting by saying, “Okay, break!” We all laugh at his reference to a huddle. He comments he feels we are all a team and the baby is our opponent . . . and we are losing.

7:15. Carly is still in bed sleeping. I go to check on her to make sure she is breathing.
7:25. Dave goes to check on her to make sure she is still breathing.
7:40. I go to check on her to make sure she is still breathing.
7:50. Camille goes to check on her . . .

Apparently either way, we don’t sleep. :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why the shepherds?

Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve and at my house they will be acting out the nativity. (I am still in Colorado so will miss out on the fun.) In the past, everyone wanted to be the angel or the wise men. The angel has an actual speaking part and the wise men are well . . . wise. And they wear the nicest costumes and bring the best gifts.

Personally, I would want to be a shepherd.

The shepherds were responsible for verifying which of the lambs were the first born and without blemish. Or in other words, which would be offered to God as a sacrifice. And so it seems only fitting that the shepherds, watching over their flocks by night, were given the glad tidings of Christ birth. They went in haste and found Him lying in a manger and became witnesses to the world that He was truly the "Lamb of God", the first born of Mary, and as such, would offer himself as a the great sacrifice. What a sight to see the angels singing and then being able to worship the Savior in the humble stable.

What an honor to be a shepherd.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Colorado Observations

I have learned a few things since being here in Colorado. Here are a few of them.

1. There is a very good reason I live in Arizona instead of Colorado. It is COLD here! When I went home last night it was 6 degrees. I don't think we have been above 17 since I have been here.

2. If you visit Colorado in the winter, bring gloves!!! Your hands freeze to the steering wheel of the car without them.

3. I also know why I don't have dogs. Hair, hair, everywhere. Camille has two dogs and since Dave has been at the hospital at night, it has fallen to me to put them out in the morning, feed them, put them out again, play with them (somewhat unwillingly on my part) and say, "Down, Cody! Down, Max!" about a hundred times a day--or at least once for each time they jump on me. And I get to clean up dog hair, which is everywhere.

4. It is so sad when hospital food tastes better than what I fix at home. Yesterday I had coconut chicken with mango salsa and the day before it was chicken breast stuffed with brie and apples. Very yummy. It is time to get out the cook books!

5. I am not as directionally challenged as I thought. I just never pay attention. I always get lost when I am somewhere new--including inside the hotels. But since being here I have had to pay attention to where I am going and can make it to the hospital, to Camille's house, church, Walmart and any number of other stores. And I haven't been lost once!

Carly Amelia Tusler

She is here, in all her glory! She didn’t arrive without a lot of drama, however. For the details you can go to Camille’s blog at http://www.tuslerfamily.blogspot.com/. For my version, however, you can stay here.

Flying to Colorado was fun. I was so excited about getting a grandbaby, that I told everyone along the way . . . the security guards, all the people in the waiting area at the airport, the stewardesses, those sitting by me on the plane. . .

The next day we went to the hospital . Camille was induced around 8:30, they broke her water in the early afternoon, and after the contractions became steady and painful, she got an epidural. Unfortunately the epidural only took on one side, and in an effort to correct that, the anesthesiologist repositioned the needle and pumped up the medication. With in minutes Camille’s blood pressure started dropping. The medicine to fix that made her heart race and after repeated attempts to stabilize her, the doctor told us they were going to perform an emergency c-section.

I started crying. Since she couldn’t handle the epidural they had to take that off and put her completely under. I felt so bad Camille was going to miss the birth of her baby, but my tears were also out of relief that it was going to be over. Watching the nurses and doctor scurrying around and watching Camille struggle to maintain consciousness over the past hour and a half, was very difficult. I was so relieved a decision was made and Carly would soon be born.

They took us to a waiting room outside the nursery door so we could wait for Dave to bring the baby to us following her birth. And we waited what was only about ten minutes, but what seemed like an eternity.
And then we heard what was one of the most memorable and profound sounds of my life. Chimes. At this hospital they play chimes each time a baby is born. We had heard several chimes during the day and listened with envy. But at 8:00 p.m., when the chimes rang, we knew it was for us and we all started to cry—Dave’s mother, sister and myself. Dave’s dad laughed at us and wondered what all the tears were about.

Since that time we have been having fun playing with the baby, watching Dave change lots of diapers (Camille has yet to do that) and helping Camille in and out of bed and making her walk. Carly is so tiny, only 6 lbs, 12 oz and 19 inches. And she has a lot of dark hair and skin. And of course, she is beautiful!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Perils of Procrastination . . .

I had the best of intentions. I was going to send out all my Christmas cards, do the bulk of my shopping, make all the treats for the neighbors and deliver gifts to friends, beginning tomorrow. I was waiting for weddings to be over (first Ryan's and then today my niece's) and seminary to be behind me. THEN I would have time to focus on Christmas.

But today we received the best of news. Our daughter Camille, whose baby is due December 26, is being induced Saturday morning. I had already purchased a ticket to fly to Denver on Christmas day, but the moment I knew exactly when the baby was coming I started to bawl. I did not just tear up, mind you. This was full fledged bawling. And I knew my heart would break if I could not be there with her.

I have never been a grandmother before. And in fact, I have never really liked that word. It sounds so old. But I have to say that today all my thoughts and feelings about grandparenting changed--in an instant.

And so tomorrow I will be flying to Denver and not returning until December 27. That means that all those cards, and gifts and treats, are going to have to wait. Even "Christmas" morning is going to be delayed a couple days so I, my husband and three daughters at home can all celebrate together.

So, do I wish I had not procrastinated? Yes. But I am still thrilled, overwhelmed, excited and ecstatic to be on my way to Colorado where I will get to welcome into the world my very first grandbaby! Something I know will add . . . joy to my journey!

Let Your Light So Shine!

Today was our last morning of seminary until after Christmas break. I teach freshmen, and I am going to miss them terribly. I love freshmen because they are always so excited about everything. And they never say, “But last year we did it this way.”

We are studying the New Testament and when we learned about the parable of the Ten Virgins, we decided to make our own lamps, earn oil to put in them and then go outside in the darkness of the early morning and light our lamps.

Today, after three months of earning oil, we did it!

I had worried about the weather. It has been raining for days. But this morning the clouds parted and a clear sky, sparkling with stars shined down upon us. It was a beautiful sight to see how much light all the lamps put off. And it was fun to walk from the cold and darkness of the pavilion across the parking lot to the warmth and light of the church building, with the lamps lighting our way. (I don’t have pictures of that; I wish I did.)

Inside we were warmed by both testimonies and hot chocolate. It was such a sweet moment to hear the youth bear powerful testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t get paychecks in seminary, at least not the monetary kind. But occasionally you have one of those moments where you know getting up at 4:30 every morning, working on lessons all day, and constantly worrying about your class, is more than worth it. Today was one of those mornings. It was a morning that brought tremendous . . . joy to my journey.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Angels round about us to bear us up . . .

I believe in angels—both those we can’t see and those we can. And I appreciate both.

Several years ago, I was driving home late at night with my daughter in the car. We pulled up to a stop sign, checked for oncoming cars, didn’t see any, so proceeded to make a right hand turn onto the next street. But instead of moving forward, I pulled the car sharply to the right on to the side of the road and stopped. I then looked at my daughter in surprise, wondering why I had done that. It was almost as if the car had a mind of its own and had taken control. Just then a car, with its head lights off, zipped by us on the wrong side of the street in an effort to pass the car next to it. Had I pulled onto the road as intended, I would have hit that car head on.

That was not my first experience where I felt someone was watching over and assisting us, nor has it been my last. I am so grateful for the knowledge that we are not walking this journey alone. But I am so glad that not all angels are on the other side of the veil. Sometimes God sends family members, friends and even strangers to help us.

I had an experience a little over a year ago that I will never forget. I was on day five of recovering from major surgery. Everything hurt, my spirits, which had been high the previous four days, had plummeted, and I felt miserable, body and soul. I also had a doctor’s appointment, and not being allowed to drive, was chauffeured there and back by my husband. While returning to our home he told me he had to return to work, which meant I would be home alone.

Normally I would have been okay with that, but at that very low moment the thought of being alone was overwhelming and I began to cry. I also began to pray that Heavenly Father would send someone to my home to keep me company.

My husband got me in the house and settled into a chair and then left through the back door. He had no sooner closed the door behind him when my front doorbell rang. I called for the visitor to enter and in walked a friend, Julie, who claimed to just be passing by and thought she would drop in and give me a foot massage. For the next half hour, Julie, a trained massage therapist, massaged my feet, kept me company and boosted my spirits. When she left, I not only felt loved by her, but also by my Heavenly Father who cared enough to send someone to help me that day.
Over several weeks of my recovery, many friends and neighbors came by to watch movies with me, bring dinner, wash my dishes, and just visit. I am thankful for all of them—all angels who came and brought such great . . . joy to my journey.

Growing Pains . . .

Our daughter Camille got married this past year and will be spending her first Christmas as a married woman. She is also expecting a baby any day. The other night she and her husband were shopping at Walmart and Camille mentioned she wanted to buy some Christmas stockings. Dave (her husband) was curious as to what she was going to do with them. She explained she would fill them with candy and treats for Christmas morning. Dave then asked, "Isn't that what our parents do?" Camille answered, "Dave, we are the parents." I hope he knows he is Santa Claus too!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snowed in? . . . Then take the snow test!

We don't get much snow in Phoenix, Arizona, but I hear it has been snowing in Utah and Colorado. So for all of you who are enjoying the snow, and even those here who aren't, here is a new quiz for you. Although I didn't agree totally with the description below, it is true I am a huge worrier. And about being a bit high strung and having a hard time relaxing. . . well, my number one pet peeve is seeing people (particularly family members who live in my house) sitting and doing nothing! All of my results are below. To find out about yourself, click on "The Snow Test."

The Snow Test
Your Snow Test Says You're Independent
You feel like something good will happen to you in the next few days.You love to work, especially when work is creative. You have the makings of a successful artist.You are an independent, individualistic person. You thrive when you're doing your own thing.Your biggest worry in life is your family. You stay up at night thinking about them.When it comes time to relax, you have difficulty relaxing. You are a bit high strung.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


At ten o'clock Thursday morning, December 11, I was in my kitchen putting chicken in the crock pot for dinner when there came a knock at my back door. It was my good friend, Lisa. She said she was kidnapping me for the day. Gathering my purse and my trust in her, and leaving the piles of laundry, dishes and life untouched behind, I got in her car and we drove away. "Where are we going?" I asked. "To lunch" was her reply. What she didn't tell me was that lunch was ninety minutes away in Prescott, Arizona. Who drives for an hour and half just to go to lunch? Well, apparently Lisa. And I love her for it.

She wanted to take me to a cute little cafe called "Sweet Tarts". The menu was filled with tempting salads and sandwiches but what was the most tempting of all was the desserts. European pastries in all their color, texture and tastes lined the display case before us.

After ordering our lunch of a small salad and cup of soup, we chose our pastries. They suggest you choose them upon arrival so they can save them for you, since once they are gone, they are gone. Lisa chose a vanilla custard tart topped with a variety of tropical fruits. I also chose vanilla custard but mine was smothered in fresh raspberries. We had a hard time limiting ourselves to just one, so we also ordered a lemon tart to share.

Following lunch we took a leisurely stroll through the quaint Christmas shops lining the streets. It was so fun to see all the ornaments, country Christmas gifts and decorations. You would think our pastries would have been enough to satisfy our sweet tooth, but as we wandered we came across some wonderfully tempting chocolates and decided to taste them as well--especially after the shop owner (who appeared to be spending a rather lonely day) told us she had tested everything at the food convention before selecting these particular chocolates as the very best, and therefore worthy of her store. And it was true. They were very yummy. But then at $2.50 each, they should have been!

Around 2:30 we reluctantly headed home, where laundry, dishes and the challenges of life awaited me. But I had spent a wonderful, calm, peaceful and much needed day with a very good friend, who knew I needed a day away. Thank you! Thank you! Lisa, for kidnapping me!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A lesson from the scriptures

We were studying the feeding of the five thousand in seminary the other day. I love that story. Five thousand plus people were all fed with only five loaves of barley and two small fishes. Yet somehow it was not only enough but there were twelve baskets of food left over.

I have been thinking about that story and how it might relate to life in general and in particular to the Christmas season. It seems there is so much to do to get ready for Christmas day and especially this year, so many people in need. I feel pulled in many different directions, and so lacking in my abilities to do everything that needs to be done and to assist all those who need assistance. But perhaps the lesson for me in this story is this . . . you give what you can, and somehow the Lord makes it be not only enough, but more joy comes back into your life than you yourself give to others. Just a thought . . . for our journeys.

Monday, December 8, 2008

And the journey begins . . .

Life is marked by certain events. Birth, of course, starts us on our journey, then in our church we have baptism at the age of eight, marriage comes later and eventually death. Of course there are many other exciting milestones in between, but these are some of the more important ones.

On November 30, our family participated in one of these life markers when my son Ryan married his sweetheart Kali, in the Mesa, Arizona temple for both time and eternity. We love Kali and are thrilled to have her in our family. Besides being a wonderfully sweet and kind young woman, we also joke she adds some much needed genes to our family gene pool. First-- she is short. Short isn’t necessarily better, but my shortest daughter is 5’7” and the other three are 5’9” so short just isn’t a word we relate to. And she is a size 2, proving that life just isn’t fair. The last time I wore a size 2 it had a large T after the number and even then I was probably only 12 months old.

With one week of marriage behind them they are learning what life is really all about—work, school, paying bills and taking care of their dog. Here are a few pictures of the big event.

While taking their engagement pictures at a park these nuns walked by. We joke we had hired them as chaperons.

This picture is a little blurry but I still like it because it shows the joy on their faces.

Here we are with the entire family who attended the wedding (on my side, my husband's family had left already). It was fun to be together for the celebration.

And here were are at the reception waiting for the fun to begin. I thought the room was beautifully decorated and the entire evening enchanting!
Congratulations Kali and Ryan. And may you always find . . . joy in your journey!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What kind of pie are you?

I took this quiz and came out mud pie. I really think I am apple though--and not at all mud pie. I don't even like mud pie. But my girls were described perfectly in theirs, so if you are bored and curious go to the link below. (Sorry I haven't learned how to do it so you just have to "click here")
You Are Mud Pie

You're the perfect combo of flavor and depth.You are overpowering and dominant - and that's what people like about you.You bring energy and a new direction to most interactions.People crave you in a serious way. You're that important to them.Those who like you give into their impulses.You don't represent reason. You represent pure temptation.People get addicted to you rather easily. You offer people a dark side that is very hard to resist.


Best Ever Banana Bread

If you are looking for something besides fudge to give to your neighbors this year, you might want to try this recipe for banana bread. It is the best I have ever had. Enjoy!

Banana Bread

2 1/4 C Flour
1 2/3 C. Sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 C shortening
2/3 C buttermilk (no substitutes)
3 eggs
1 1/4 C mashed bananas
2/3 C nuts (optional)
3 oz package vanilla instant pudding

Mix together and pour batter into two well greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 35-45 minutes or longer until golden brown.You will love it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tis the Season . . .

I love Christmas! I love getting Christmas cards, shopping for just the right gift for someone I love and even holiday baking. I love the family Christmas parties, having my children come home and especially celebrating the birth of our Savior. But I know it can also be a stressful time so here are a few quotes to bring a smile to your face if you are feeling the stress of the season, more than the joy of it.

A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; it makes no noise at all, but softly gives itself away; while quite unselfish, it grows small. Eva K. Logue

A Christmas shoppers complaint is one of long-standing. Unknown

A goose never voted for an early Christmas. Irish saying

A three-year-old gave this reaction to her Christmas dinner. "I don't like the turkey, but I like the bread he ate."

In the old days it was not called the Holiday Season. The Christians called it "Christmas "and went to church. The Jews called it "Hanukka" and went to synagogue. The atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say, "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hanukka!" or to the atheists, "Look out for the wall!" Dave Barry

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to a customer, service; to all, charity; to every child a good example; and to yourself, respect. Oren Arnold

Friday, November 28, 2008

And the "Bite Your Tongue" Award Goes To . . .

If there exists an award for the person who is able to bite their tongue and not say what is really on their mind it should go to my husband. And the person he could easily have been angry with is me. Yes, me. I know, I am usually pretty well behaved, but this time I did have a huge blooper. I am blaming it on the fact that I have company in town, Thanksgiving was yesterday and biggest of all, my son is getting married in the morning. So, I haven't been thinking all that clearly. But the story began this afternoon when my husband took my father and our son-in-law out into the desert to shoot guns. And since he took my car, that meant I had to drive his.

Of course, that shouldn't have mattered. Everyone knows that when you park a car you actually put the gear in park and turn off the car. I know that. But for some reason, I forgot to do it. I had my daughters and mother in the car with me and we were going to see the movie Twilight. I dropped them off at the front of the theater and went to park the car. My husband and father met us there. (Yes, my husband and father were there to see Twilight as well, but that is a different adventure.) After the movie, my husband and I walked out to his car. As we approached it, we heard a warning bell ringing from the car. Perplexed, we opened the car door where we also saw the lights on, and that the car wasn't even in park! It was still in drive. Now don't ask me how a car can stay still in a parking spot for two hours in drive with the motor running, but it did. However, when we went to turn the car back on, it was dead. The battery had died.

Now this is where I fell in love with my husband all over again. He was certainly justified in getting upset with me, or at least saying something. But he didn't. We just hurried and called my dad to come back so we could jump the car and then we left to meet everyone at the restaurant for dinner. When I apologized for the mistake he just said, "It takes time to get used to a new car." What a sweety! I have only been driving cars for . . . .well, we don't need the exact number, I quit aging once I turned 42 anyway, but lets just say it has been for a long time. By now I should know what to do with a car when I leave it for a couple hours in a parking lot. And so that is why, my wonderful husband wins the "Bite Your Tongue" Award. And one more reason why life with him brings so much . . . joy to my journey!

Thankgiving Party Favors

Here is a fun thing we did for our Thanksgiving dinner. I had remembered doing these years ago, but haven't had dinner at my house again until this year (about 18 years later) so haven't made them since. But we took sugar cones and steamed them for about a minute in a double broiler until they became soft and then bent them to form a cornucopia. They re-harden very quickly. We then filled them with fall colored candy, covered them with plastic wrap and tied a bow to hold the plastic wrap in place. Attached to the bow we had a scripture on gratitude. Each scripture was different so while eating our meal we went around the table and had everyone read the scripture they had. They can also be used as placecards.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Week's Theme----Gratitude

“Gratitude is deeper than thanks. Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts”
David O. McKay
"A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being."
James E. Faust

I love those quotes. I also love many scriptures that teach of gratitude. Here are a few of my favorites.

Thess 5: 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

D&C 98:1 Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks.

D&C 78: 19 And he who receiving all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious: and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea
, more.
Alma 37:8 Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his priase, yea, let us give thanks go his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.

Psalms 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

In the past 24 hours I have been counting my blessings. Here are a few of them.

1. I am thankful for a husband who taught my seminary class this morning so I could spend all day yesterday getting things ready for my son's wedding Saturday.

2. I am thankful for the friend who said, "let me take care of that".

3. I am thankful for another friend who dropped by this morning and visited while I did my dishes. That boosted my spirits and started my day off just right.

4. I am thankful for the daughter who, seeing I was busy, finished getting dinner ready and set the table without being asked.

5. I am thankful for hugs, kisses, telephone calls and emails.

6. I am thankful to have enough money to buy food for Thanksgiving dinner.

7. I am thankful I will have all my children together under one roof on Thanksgiving day.

8. And mostly I am thankful for my faith, my family, good health and great friends. And that although things are getting tough in the world, there is still a lot to be grateful for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lisa's Wonderful Bread Sticks

Here is my gift to anyone who is reading this blog. This is a recipe for very yummy, quick and easy breadsticks from my very good friend Lisa. They are great when you don't want to take the time to make rolls, can't get to the store to buy some, but would still like to have bread for your meal.

1 T. Yeast
1 1/2 C. water (150 degrees)
2 T. White Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 Cups Flour

Mix all ingredients together. Knead for 3 minutes, cover and let rest for an additional ten minutes. Roll out to about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into strips, dip in butter. Place on cookie sheet and add garlic, cheese or other spices as desired. Let rise for 10 minutes and then bake at 375 degrees until done. (About 10 minutes) Enjoy!

Fifty Is Nifty

On Thursday, November 13, my very handsome husband turned 50. After a great deal of begging and pleading, he agreed to let me throw a party in his honor, but it had to only include his family and a small group of friends. So . . .that little party turned in to a three-day celebration. On the first day we had a small dinner at home with the kids. The next night Wes and I went away to a local resort and the third day we had dinner with a small group of friends and family. It wasn't the large blow out bash I had originally envisioned, but we had a wonderful time and Wes felt very loved. One highlight was a movie we showed titled, "Fifty Things We Love About Wes." All the people who were at the dinner were also in the movie. It was great!

Ever wonder what 50 balloons on your ceiling look like? :-)

A good friend recently told me that a journey isn't very fun if you travel alone. Thankfully our lives have been filled with great "traveling companions." Some of those were at the dinner party we hosted in Wes' honor Saturday night.

In addition to good friends we had family. Here is a picture of Kali (Ryan's fiance) with Kathryn and Michelle. Doesn't she look like she belongs?!

A special treat was having Camille and Kristen home. They flew in to surprise their dad. It doesn't get better than that. Poor Camille is even 8 months pregnant!

This is Wes' very good friend Curt and his wife Denise. Curt and Wes grew up together, were roommates in college and work together now. He is a CPA and does a lot of the accounting for Wes' company. It was so fun to have them join us for the big night.

And here is Wes' mother and our son Ryan. Wes' two sisters, Judy and Jackie and their husbands came as well.

Wes received many thoughtful gifts from friends and family. Here is a picture of a few of the 16 pounds of Peanut M&M's he received.

Our friends the Holmes gave Wes this knife. I still don't understand what it is about guys and weaponry. The next day Wes gave us a lesson on how to use it. Also, while testing how sharp the knife is, he put a gash in my kitchen counter. We now know . . . it is sharp.

Our friends the Purtymun's gave Wes this wheelbarrow. Bryan and Wes have hauled innumerable loads of dirt together over the years, and the wheelbarrow we had was looking pretty aged. We love the new one! Notice all the little details Bryan added to it--tassels, a horn, decals . . . .He even went to Michael's himself to buy them! What a good friend!

Apparently there are different levels of intelligence here. "Wise at 50+" is the lowest level mark."Young and Dumb" is the highest.

We are so grateful for everyone who sent birthday email greetings, called and brought by gifts. Wes had a wonderful time and appreciated the love and support from so many.Thanks to you all for making the day so memorable. We are thankful that along life's path, we have found so many great people who have added so much . . . joy to our journey.

Friday, November 14, 2008

So, does anyone else have that one person in your life who just loves to push your buttons? You know, the one who has to play games, get you riled up or is just outright rude and unkind at times? And you can't avoid them because they are part of your life and here to stay. Well, the other day I woke up with just such a person on my mind and was contemplating what revenge I would exact were I brave enough to do so, (just kidding!)when I saw this quote on charity I had posted near my computer (perhaps for such a time as this).

"Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don't judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt, or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone's differences and weaknesses and shortcomings, having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn't handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other."
Marvin J. Ashton

But if that weren't enough, I then clicked on that day's edition of "Latter-day Light" and found the following:

"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you"
Matthew 5:44-45
Hmmmm. A message perhaps? And in the mouth of two witnesses even. Although I wouldn't call the person in my life an ememy, they do cause me on occasion some grief. But after reading the above scripture and quote, I felt sufficiently chastised. So, just in case there is someone else out there struggling with these same emotions . . .here is a thought for your journey. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunrise, Sunset

When we moved to Arizona 24 years ago, we were driving down the street in front of the Paradise Valley Mall, when I commented to my husband how depressingly brown everything was. About five years later, we were driving down the same sreet when I mentioned what a pretty area of town we were in. It was then we both remembered my previous comment and started to laugh. After living in the dessert for a while you begin to appreciate its unique beauty. But it wasn't until we moved to our current location (which was once on the outskirts of town) that I really learned to appreciate the Grand Canyon State. From my back porch I am treated to dazzling sunrises and from my front porch spectacular sunsets. Even after eleven years, they never fail to thrill me. I love both sunrises and sunsets. I have come to view a sunrise as God's first gift of the morning. Here is one of those gifts for you to enjoy as well.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why I Voted Yes On Prop 102

I have thought long and hard this past week about what I should write. I really want this blog to be a happy place, and not one that incites contention. I want it to be a place that brings joy and peace to those who visit, not anger and hostility. But I also hope my children will read it, and perhaps someday my grandchildren also, and therefore I have concluded, it is imperative that I take a moment and be perfectly clear as to why I voted yes on Proposition 102.

Neal A. Maxwell, (A Time to Choose [1972], said,
“There is a special sense of urgency infusing itself into many Church members everywhere that says, quietly, but insistently—this is the time for us to choose! It is not just that God will insist that we choose for our own sake, but that those who depend upon us, or use us as a reference point, need and deserve to know which way we are going. . . .The disciple must not only stand in ‘holy places’ but on holy issues and ‘not be moved.’"

Therefore, here is my stand on the issue.

Prop 102 allows Arizona to amend the state constitution to define marriage as being only between one man and one woman. This passed in Arizona, as it did in Florida and California. It has not come without controversy however. We, along with my husband’s company contributed to help finance the fight for Prop 102 and in so doing became targets for angry letters and telephone calls. Those opposed to the traditional definition of marriage call those who are in support of it hatemongers and have called for the burning of homes and churches of all those who contributed. I probably don’t need to point out the irony in this.

I have no negative feelings towards those who oppose my view, but just as they feel they have the right to fight for their rights, so do I feel I have the right, and the obligation, to fight for mine. We believe the family to be the basic and most fundamental unit of society and that a family exists to bring children into the world, and to raise them to be responsible and contributing members of society. I believe marriage between a man and a woman to be ordained of God, and that sexual intimacy should be limited to a man and woman who are married and that anything other than this is immoral and weakens the moral fiber of our existence. Although I feel everyone has the right to choose their own behavior, I do not want my children to be taught as normal or exposed to behavior I feel is not only detrimental to their emotional well being, but also threatens their spiritual safety.

My beliefs stem from what I believe to be true regarding where we came from before this earth, why we are here and where we go after we die. We believe that before coming to earth we lived as spirit children of our Heavenly Father (God) in Heaven. It was decided there that an earth would be created where we could come and receive bodies so we could progress and become like our Heavenly Father. Therefore, one of the main purposes of our existence here is to get married and provide physical bodies for our spirit brothers and sisters. Therefore, I believe we not only have the obligation to marry and bear children but that every child has the right to both a father and a mother.

I believe the traditional family unit (husband, wife, children) existed before we came to earth, that it exists today and that families can also be sealed together for eternity and continue after this life. Therefore, not only does immorality weaken the family, which is the foundation upon which our society is built, but homosexuality defeats one of the main purposes of our existence as a homosexual couple cannot on their own bear children, and children raised in a homosexual environment are deprived of their basic human right to have both a mother and a father.

And so I will continue to raise my voice in defense of morality and the traditional family so that my children and grandchildren can have a world where they too can . . . . find joy in the journey.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A thought for your journey . . .

"If you are not willing to step outside your comfort zone, you won't learn.
If you don't learn, you won't grow.
If you don't grow, you won't experience joy."
Bruce C. Hafen

Friday, October 31, 2008

From Embarrassing to Humiliating

This past week has had its fill of embarrassing moments. It all began Monday with my trip to the chiropractor. After the adjustment, he casually asked if I were going straight home or running errands. That seemed like a strange question to me so I jokingly responded, “Why? Do you want me to cover for you while you step out?” He said, “No, your shirt is on wrong side out.”

That was my first one.

My second experience was much more humiliating. When I found out about my shirt I was embarrassed but only for a few minutes. After that it just seemed funny. After I told my friend Jenny about my next experience, however, she said, “Wow. That is one I think I would feel dumb about for a few days.”

It happened Wednesday morning. I finished teaching my seminary class and was putting away my things when the people over the program, two women and a man, came in and sat down. I asked what brought them to the building and was told they needed to meet and decided to do so at our building so they could see how things were going. I assumed they held their meeting during seminary and now wanted to visit with the teachers.

So, I have been known to be loquacious, and these were all very fun people I have had lengthy conversations with in the past, so I was thrilled they were all there together in one room to talk with. And in my defense I must say that they all contributed to the conversation. But after about an hour, the man asked me if I knew what time it was. I told him, and continued talking. About ten minutes later, he mentioned that he really needed to get to work. I thought, “So, go” and kept on talking. About ten minutes after that, however, I decided I needed to get home so began to say my goodbyes and finish cleaning up. I thought they would all get up to leave as well, but they didn’t. I thought, “Wow. They are not in a hurry to leave at all.” So I stayed and visited with them for a few minutes more until I knew I could not stay any longer and said my final goodbye. It was then they all pulled out their notebooks and got ready for their meeting.

Talk about being clueless! The entire time—over an hour and a half—they were waiting for me to leave so they could meet. When I realized what had happened I apologized and hurried home where I wanted to hide until everyone’s memory was dimmed by time.

In thinking about it, however, I decided embarrassing, and even humiliating moments, are part of life and in some ways season it. They remind us of our humanness and give us something to laugh about later. We have a friend whose embarrassing moment has brought us a great deal of laughter over time. He was snorkeling in murky water at Hanauma Bay, Hawaii, when he came upon a rather unusual hairy sea creature. He was feeling up and down it in an effort to examine it more closely, and thinking, “This is so strange!” when he realized he had a hold of a man’s leg. That story always gets a good laugh at parties.

And so although my week has been both embarrassing and humiliating, I know my experiences in time will become part of . . . the joy of the journey.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Facing Reality

I once attended a Sunday School class for young marrieds where some of the members of the class had children in their early twenties. My husband and I, who had only been married a few months, laughed at their delusion. After ten years, are you really still newlyweds? After twenty, isn’t it time to face the fact that you are getting old?
Yet twenty years later, I understood. For some reason, everyone else seemed to get older, while for me time stood still. Everyone else aged, while I remained in my youth. And then it happened. I looked into the mirror one morning and reality stared back. I cried. I have since realized aging isn’t all bad, though. Sure there are new aches and pains, wrinkles and graying hair, but there are also new joys and opportunities.
This past year has been a big one for us. In March, after six years of dating, my oldest daughter Camille, married Dave, the love of her life. About a month later, she called home and excitedly asked to be put on speaker phone as she had an announcement. She was having a baby! And that of course meant that I was going to be a grandma. I asked her how long she had known and she said, “About a minute.” I loved that. I am glad she didn’t wait to share her joy. And despite the fact that I am not terribly excited about being called “Grandma”, I am eagerly looking forward to having another little one in our family. And that little baby Carly is expected to arrive right around Christmas, means that Santa will be bringing us the perfect Christmas gift this year.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. A month ago, my only son announced that after a four week courtship, he too was joining the ranks of the married. The big day will be the Saturday after Thanksgiving. His fiancĂ© is a very sweet and beautiful girl named Kali, who thankfully, is also from Arizona. And together their love is deeper, wider, and more profound than any other love shared by any other couple since time began—or at least that is what Ryan tells me.
So this year, 2008, I will have become a mother-in-law twice over, and a grandma. My husband of 26 years will turn 50 and I am ready to admit to myself, and the world, that I am unashamedly, unapologetically, and decidedly, middle aged. But with that proclamation, I am also determined to . . . find joy in the journey!