Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wrapping Up Christmas!

Before I pack up the tree and put away the decorations, I wanted to write a little about our Christmas this year. And just to make sure I don’t bore everyone to death, I have limited my writing to our top five, okay, make that six, events—with me being the sole judge. (They are listed chronologically.)

1. Gingerbread house making! This is our second year to do this and we love it. Although my team's house didn’t quite turn out to be as cute as we envisioned, we still had a lot of fun. And we are already drawing up plans for next year so we can win the competition! (Sorry about the picture Kat!:-)

2. Games, games, and games! Kristen learned a board game at BYU from a boy who learned it from a friend who had lived in Asia—and that is why we don’t have a name for it. But Kristen made a game board from poster paper and then laminated it. We then used peanut butter M&M’s for the game pieces and had hours and hours of late night fun. (Although it is a game of strategy and requires deep concentration.)

3. Birthdays. This next event is one my two daughters participated in and one I feel is worthy of mentioning. My friend Christy, lost her son in an accident a year and a half ago. December 23 would have been his 17th birthday, and having a desire to celebrate his birthday in a positive way with his friends, Christy purchased 300 DVDs of the church film, “Families Can Be Together Forever”. About fifty youth in the area gathered together and within an hour had all the DVDs distributed throughout the neighborhood. What a wonderful way to celebrate! And what a great way to share the gospel! (Sorry I don't have pictures)

4 Smores! On Wednesday night we built a bonfire in the river bed that runs in front of our home. (There is rarely any water in an Arizona riverbed so it is a safe place to be) We then invited our neighbors, brought out the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers and had a great time eating smores and visiting.

5. Christmas Eve at our house. Each year for the past 25 years we have celebrated Christmas Eve at our house (with the exception of the year we were in Guatemala). My sister- in-law, Judy, and her family came and spent the evening with us as well. One of her daughter’s brought her finance so it was fun to meet him. Our friends, the Farley’s were kind enough to smoke a turkey for us for our dinner and my daughter Camille, made very yummy side dishes while Kristen added the rolls. (I got the evening off!:-) Afterwards we played games, sang songs, read the Christmas story from the scriptures and then were entertained by Uncle George and his daughter, Riki, singing. I love traditions!!
After everyone left we opened our family gifts. Camille had made pj's for all the women (her first sewing project ever!!) They turned out so cute. We also bought matching pj's for the men. (If you look closely you can see how our family has gone to the dogs!)

6. Christmas morning. Always in the past the kids would wake us up at six, eager to open gifts. This year everyone slept in. I finally got up at seven and made muffins while everyone slumbered. By eight I couldn't take the suspence any longer and woke them all up. My daughter, Michelle, was hilarious. She had wanted to purchase gifts for everyone, but lacking money, she just wrapped each person something she found around the house. I got a can of corn and my husband got a razor. At least they were useful gifts! After breakfast we headed to Mesa to spend the afternoon with Grandma. It was a perfect day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some Really Good News!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a mother in our stake who passed away from cancer, just a day before her son's missionary papers were submitted. I heard from several of you asking me to let you know when he received his call and where he would be serving.

Well, tonight he opened his call and will be going to Helsinki, Finland!! That is where his mother is from and where she also served her mission. (It is also one of the hardest languages in the world to learn:-)

I have not talked to Brian personally, however, my daughter was there at the time he opened his call and had the phone up for me to hear. From all the screaming that went on, I am guessing there is a lot of excitement at his house tonight! What a wonderful blessing!

Monday, December 28, 2009

All About Carly

We have had the most fun this past week with my daughter Camille, her husband Dave and their daughter Carly at our house.
Not only did we get to celebrate Christmas with them,
but it was also
Carly's First Birthday!!
And her first time eating chocolate cake!

She wasn't too thrilled with the clothes, but she did like the toys.
Christmas morning with a baby was also a fun experience.
By now she had gotten the hang of opening gifts.
And this picture is my absolutely most favorite.
It was taken by my daughter Kristen one morning just as the light came through the
kitchen window.
What a sweet baby!!
I am going to miss giving her hugs and kisses

Oh, and thanks to Kristin Klein, I have also been introduced to picnik
which you can see I have been having a lot of fun with. :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Earthly Poor, But Heavenly Blessed

I wrote this last year, but felt it could bear being posted again. It is one of my favorite memories and one of my favorite posts as it is one of the few I took a great deal of time to write. I hope you enjoy it.

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.

I am feeling very "rich" right now as well. My house is filled this week with my children, in laws and even a baby. What a great blessing this is!

May you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rolls Part II, or . . . There are Angels Amongst Us

(For this to make sense you will need to scroll down for part one)

When I arrived at the hospital, I found my friend seated by her son’s side holding his hand. He was in pretty bad shape, but after a while he did begin to respond and we all breathed a sigh of relief. I had become very good at watching hospital monitors when my mother was ill, so I took up my vigil watching. After a while several family members started filling the room, so I hugged my friend goodbye and slipped out, ready to head home and take back the roll assignment.

But then I looked at my watch. It was now 3:30 p.m. and I still hadn’t marked a single item off my original Christmas to-do list. Being just a mile from the mall, and knowing the rolls were well cared for, I decided to head south for a quick run into Penney’s.

I hurried up the stairs, found what I wanted and got in the long line of customers waiting to check out. Just before it was my turn, I noticed an older woman ahead of me wearing a “Grandma’s Rules” t-shirt. As the little old lady hobbled off, in my cheeriest voice I commented to her that I liked her shirt. She didn’t even look at me as she walked past. Note to self, “Don’t try to be friendly to old grumbling grandmas during the Christmas rush.”

I put my purchase on the counter and pulled out my wallet, when I noticed a set of unfamiliar keys sitting on the counter, most likely belonging to the old woman. I handed them to the cashier, made my purchase and hurried down the stairs to head home. But as I reached the door my conscience began to bother me and I thought I should at least look around to see if I could spot the owner of the keys. After a cursory search, my conscience was eased and I headed out.

Then into my mind came the thought to go back and leave by a different door. On my way back through the store, I glanced over and there at the cashier stand was Grandma Grumpy. I went and told her that she may have left her keys upstairs. That is when I learned I had been judging her erroneously.

She responded with, “Oh, no!” She caught hold of the table for balance and then looking at me pleadingly she added, “I can’t go up and get them. I just can’t.” She went on to explain she had recently had surgery and had only been home a few days. She was feeling okay earlier and thought she could hurry to the mall to make a few needed purchases but now she was feeling very ill and couldn’t do anything but go home.

I ran back up the stairs and across the floor to the cashier. Hoping I looked honest, I explained I had found the owner of the keys and would take them to her. She no longer had them. She had taken them to “Lost and Found” so I now needed to go there. No problem. I ran back across the floor, found “Lost and Found” and asked if I could have the keys. “Sure” the lady said, “You just need to tell me what they look like and I will give them to you.” Are you kidding me??? I didn’t think telling her they weren’t mine would be a good idea at this point, so doing my best to remember, I vaguely described them. She handed me a set, and hoping they were the right ones, I ran back across the floor, down the stairs and over to where I had left the old woman standing. Only she wasn’t there. She had wandered off in search of a chair.

Finally, I found her, gave her the keys and headed once again for the door. But just as I got there I glanced back and noticed the woman attempting to gather her packages. I knew there was no way she could carry all those items, so I went back and offered to help her to her car. She accepted my offer and we very slowly made our way across the parking lot to where her car was parked.

And then my day changed completely.

With tears in her eyes, she reached up and gave me a very big hug and said, “Thank you so much! You are my angel.”

As for the rolls . . . well, other than Lisa’s husband trying to tell me she burned them, all was well. Lisa brought beautiful, fluffy and perfectly golden rolls to the dinner that night. As I enjoyed one with my meal, the words of the grandma at the store kept echoing in my mind. I may have been her angel, but Lisa had been mine.

And then I realized something. When I ran off to help Wendy, Lisa needed to help me because I had been helping Michelle, and I was helping Michelle because she had been helping Jennifer, and Jennifer and Wendy both helped me at my daughter’s wedding.

It was a circle of sisters. It was a circle of angels.

And then I remembered a quote by Joseph Smith in this month’s visiting teaching message that said, “‘If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates."

I was surrounded by angels.

And that is a pretty nice place to be.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Rolls That Almost Weren't or . . . "I Will Get By With A Little Help From My Friends."

Yesterday started out as a calm day. I arose early for my last day of seminary this semester, eager for my Christmas lesson and just as eager to put seminary away for the next few days while I focused on Christmas. I had a Christmas to-do list a mile long and couldn’t wait to start checking off the items on the list.

I hurried home from seminary and listened to phone messages. First message-- “I was just calling to remind you that you are bringing dessert tonight to the Relief Society meeting.” When did I sign up for that? Well, no matter. I added “make dessert” to my list of things to do. I also had a message asking to borrow some table cloths for a funeral on Saturday, so I added, "find table cloths in storage and wash" to the list--that list I was going to tackle right after I ran a gift down to a friend who was leaving town.

On the way to my friend’s house I visited with another friend. The Relief Society dinner was at her house and her assignment was rolls. She was way behind in her house cleaning and decorating as she had spent a few days helping another sister in the ward sew table cloths for her daughter’s wedding and now didn’t know how she would also find the time to make the rolls. So, I told her I could make them for her . . . and added “make rolls” to my list.

I decided to hurry and get the rolls out of the way and then I could start on my list. I got out all the ingredients, mixed up the dough and proudly set it on the counter to rise. Done! And in record time! I glanced over at the vast array of dirty dishes left behind, debating if I should wash them now or save them for later, when I saw, right there in the middle of the mess, the yeast. The very yeast that should have been mixed into the dough. Okay, deep breath. It will be all right. I will just knead the yeast into the dough mixture and pray for it to rise.

But an hour later the dough was still sitting there in its original lump.

With thoughts of “will anyone really notice if I just BUY the rolls?” running through my head, I got out all the ingredients and once again mixed them into dough, this time being careful to add the yeast.

Just then the phone rang. It was a lady in our stake calling to tell me that a son of a friend of mine was being rushed to the hospital. My friend was on her way to be with him and had asked that I come as well.

I looked at the rolls and wondered what I would do with them now. My daughter also needed a ride to basketball practice and I knew I needed to hurry to the hospital.

I quickly shaped the rolls into balls and placed them on cookie sheets (without letting the dough initially rise) I told my daughter she was going to practice early, and then called my friend Lisa. Lisa is someone you can always turn to in an emergency and I had an emergency now. I would take the rolls to her house so she could “roll-sit” them for me, and if they got ready to bake before I returned, she would bake them as well.

My only mistake was setting the pans in the back seat—on a slant, so when we arrived at Lisa’s all the rolls had slid to one side of the pan and were scrunched up next to each other. I left Lisa to care for the rolls and headed to the hospital. . .

Tomorrow—Part II

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Memories

So what Christmas do you remember most? I have a few that stand out in my mind—each for a different reason. Some of my favorite memories are . . .

1. The year I got a bike lock. I was about 14 at the time. My brother, Randy, had recently returned from his mission and was a poor student. But he had my name for Christmas and when I opened the gift it was a bike lock. I appreciated the gift, but my bike wasn’t working so it seemed like a gift I would have to save for a later day. Then he went downstairs and carried up a bike. It wasn’t a new bike, it was my old one, all fixed. Not having any money, but being a very good artist, Randy bartered with the Schwinn company to fix my bike in exchange for painting a Christmas scene on their store windows. I was so touched that he would work that hard to give me a gift that I have always remembered it.

2. The year I got photo albums. Along the same line, one year my husband gave me photo albums for Christmas. That is a gift I will always treasure, because he not only gave the albums, but he spent countless hours filling each page with pictures from our trips. It was truly a gift from the heart.

3. My first year in the mission field. I remember this Christmas mostly because I was so very lonely. I was serving in Esmeraldas, Ecuador at the time, which is a very poor town on the coast. It was very hot, very humid and very dirty. It was everything a Utah Christmas is not. It was also the first time I had been away from home for Christmas and I very much missed my family. The people were so poor that we did not eat with the families, and so for Christmas we were on our own. But my companion and I started singing Christmas carols wherever we went, on the bus, walking down the streets and on the front porch of the little house we used for a church building. We always were singing a Christmas song. That very simple act changed that Christmas for me from one of sheer loneliness to one where I felt the Christmas spirit very deeply. I will always be grateful for that memory.

4. My parents first year in Guatemala. My parents were called to serve in the Guatemalan temple and so moved there for three years. During their first year, I felt bad they would be away from everyone for Christmas so we decided to take Christmas to them. We arrived (myself, my husband, and all five of our children) late Christmas Eve and spent the next several hours wrapping presents for my parents. In the morning we all watched while they un-wrapped the gifts we brought. We also had collected clothes from the people in our stake and took down several suitcases filled with clothes for needy families. So part of our day was spent sorting through those and planning ways to distribute them. It was a Christmas I think we will all remember as it was totally focused on serving others.

5. Last year. In many ways, last year was the Christmas that wasn’t—at least in a traditional sense. My son, who had recently married, was in Utah with his bride, and I was in Colorado with my daughter who had just given birth to our first grandchild. My husband was home with our three younger daughters. I missed the Christmas Eve party at my house and being awakened early in the morning by kids eager to open their gifts. However, as I held that dear sweet baby in my arms for the first time and celebrated her birth, I felt very close to a young mother many years ago, who held her first child in her arms on that very first Christmas morning. And my heart rejoiced with her.

While reflecting over my past Christmases, I find it interesting that the most memorable gifts were not those that cost the most, or the abundance, but rather those that came wrapped in love. And the Christmas memories I hold most dear are the ones whre Christmas was the most simple.

Just a thought. . .for your journey

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And The Winner of the Give Away Is . . .

Last night I wrote down all the names of those who had entered my drawing for Rebecca Irvine's latest Family Home Evening Book give away!!

I placed all the names in a bowl.

Then to make if really official, I had my husband draw out the winner. (After all he is a licensed CPA! :-)

And the winner is . . . (imagine a drum roll here)

Congratulations to you!!
And thanks to all of you who entered the drawing! I will be getting the book to "Be Thou Humble" soon.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Touch of Sweetness in Deep Sorrow

I had a very sweet experience last Friday night. My husband was asked to visit a woman dying of cancer and I went with him. Although she has been in my ward in the past, I did not know her well. However I know two of her children as her daughter served on the seminary council one year, and her son is a very good friend of my daughter’s.

When we arrived we found her lying in bed, very thin and frail but bright eyed. Her family’s sorrow was quickly evident as during our stay all shed tears. One daughter climbed into the bed next to her mother and sobbed on her shoulder. Another daughter was eager to tell her mother about her new boyfriend who had plans to come to Arizona after Christmas to meet the family, but her voice choked as she realized that might not be soon enough. And yet another daughter stood with a brand new baby who will never remember meeting her grandmother. And there on the floor sat her son. He will be turning in his mission papers soon. The mother asked me how long it will take before he receives his call. It nearly broke my heart to tell her it would be a couple weeks.

Sitting there in the small room, took me back to a Christmas six years ago. Then it was my friend, Meg, who was dying of cancer. It was heartbreaking to watch her slip away little by little each day. And yet, one of my most fond memories is of climbing onto the bed next to her and addressing her Christmas cards, since she was not able to do it herself. Meanwhile, entertaining us was my friend Lisa, who was also on the bed, near the bottom, reading Christmas stories. As the three of us sat there together, sharing stories and giggles, I felt warmth and love flow into the room and wrap around us like a thick soft blanket. And for a few minutes the veil seemed so thin I was sure I could reach out my hand and part it.

Now here I was again, in a room watching someone slip from this life and I yearned for something I could do, some words of comfort I could offer, or a gift I could give. Just then she shifted her position and her feet hung over the side of the bed. So I asked, “Would you like me to rub your feet?” She responded, “Would you like to do that?” I told her I would. So she directed me to some lotion and I removed one of her slippers and began a massage. Her feet were small and thin and dry and the moisture from the lotion was quickly absorbed. But it was my hope that in the midst of her pain, the massage would be pleasant. I do not know if that was the case, but it was all I had to offer. I had nothing else. And although I know it wasn’t much, while sitting there with her foot in my hands I suddenly had come into my mind a picture of the Savior washing the feet of His disciples and I felt in my heart the love He had for them and for all of us. And my heart swelled with love for this dear sister.

It is hard to put in to words my feelings, but for me it was a very sacred experience and one I hope I always remember. I wish the best to this dear sweet sister and her wonderful family. My heart goes out to them at this challenging time. And I will be forever grateful to them that in the midst of their pain and sorrow they allowed me to come into their home for a few minutes, and learn a little more about the Savior and His love for us.

editor's note: I heard at church this morning that the sister passed away late last night.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Great Book GIVE AWAY!!

Do your Family Home Evenings need a makeover? Are you looking for some new Family Home Evening ideas? Or do you just need a cute Christmas gift for a friend or family member?

I have just the book for you! Rebecca Irvine’s second book of FHE ideas is now available to order from the publisher. (To visit Becky's blog, click here)

Family Home Evening Adventures comes complete with a Family Home Evening planning guide, a theme for each month of the year, and a complete well thought out lesson for each. Each lesson consists of a lesson, activity, story, song, a list of additional resources and refreshment suggestions.

Although the lessons are geared toward younger children, children of all ages can benefit. As a seminary teacher I appreciate that Becky teaches doctrinal principles in a simple, easy to understand way. I am also glad to see that so many of the scriptures she uses in her lessons are scripture mastery scriptures. What a benefit to introduce your children to the same scriptures in their childhood they will use again in seminary and later on their missions!

Those of you in primary presidencies will love the book as well. Some of the lessons can be adapted for use in 2010 sharing times such as the lesson on the atonement or Faith Bingo.

One of my favorite is the lesson on Fathers. Becky helps us understand the different “father” roles of our founding fathers, mortal fathers, Heavenly Father, bishops and the Savior. Another lesson I really enjoyed was how she used feasting at Thanksgiving to teach about “Feasting on the Word” and everyone will enjoy December’s, “Journey to Bethlehem.”

You can order a copy from Amazon, Borders or the publisher at . And for a chance to win a free copy, leave me a comment in the comment section or email me at before Monday night saying you would like to be entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced on Tuesday!

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meet Kristen . . . It's Her Birthday!!

This is Kristen, my third child and today is her birthday!! It is hard to believe it was 22 years ago today I was in the hospital giving birth to her. My how times flies!! (oh, and she really doesn't have one arm in a sleeve and the other bare. The arm on the right is mine)

Kristen has always been a joy, although she did make me realize I was not as good of a mother as I thought. Her older brother was sleeping through the night at two and a half weeks of age, which I was sure was due to my superb mothering skills. Then Kristen came along and blew that theory. She didn't sleep through the night until she was two and a half YEARS!!

However, that one fault aside, she is a great girl--Beautiful, strong, smart, witty, creative and independent. She is also a very gifted teacher and has an amazing ability to entertain children of all ages. She likes to draw and write, play the flute, read, hike and is a great cook.

As a little girl she was always up for adventure and felt she could take on anything or anyone. At the grocery store when she was three she wanted to carry the gallon milk containers, because she was, as she told me "A super strong woman". And at four, when the boys were in the back yard playing baseball she got her own bat and while running out the door I heard her yell, "Watch out boys!! I'm gonna hit a home run!!"

She graduated second out of 640 students in her high school class. At BYU she works in the business department and is studying to be an elementary school teacher--something she has wanted to be since third grade. On a date once a young man asked her if being "just an elementary ed. major" she had a hard time communicating with the people in the business department. (Yes, he really asked her that!!) I told her she should have said, "No, as a teacher I am practiced at speaking slowly and explaining things so everyone can understand."

Her other goal is to be a mother. On career day in high school she put on an apron and went to school carrying a doll on her hip. All through her classes she bounced the baby on her knee or would rock it back and forth. Many of her teachers were shocked she would want to be a mother when she was so smart and could do anything. Some even suggested motherhood would be a "waste" of her abilities. But I was so proud of her for standing up to them and holding strong to her values.

She is also our family's best missionary as she is willing to share the gospel with anyone who will listen--just ask her friends, her co-workers from high school or the people she sits by on the airplanes.

We are so blessed to have her in our family and wish her a . . .


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Flowers Amidst Adversity

My neighbor has been going through a very tough time. Her days have been filled with surgery, tests, medication challenges, more tests, more medication challenges, radiation therapy etc. Yet, just as the challenges were beginning, she planted purple daisies in her vegetable garden, along with her vegetables.

I love purple. And I love the purple daisies.
As I pass from my bedroom to the family room, about a hundred times a day, I always glance out the window at the end of the hall. From that window I can see the daisies.

And each time I see them, they bring joy to my soul.

I have been thinking about that. At a time when my neighbor was struggling, she was also bringing joy to my life. It wasn't intentional, it wasn't planned, it wasn't due to any extra effort on her part. It just happened.

There once was a story in the Ensign about a woman who was working in her yard and singing hymns. She was facing some adversity and chose to sing the hymns as a way to gain strength during her challenges. Unknown to her, her neighbor was also going through some difficult times. As the neighbor walked into her back yard, she heard the singing on the other side of the fence. The melody calmed her soul and the words brought her comfort.

Without even knowing it, the first woman's way of dealing with her trials blessed the life of another.

I think my neighbor is a lot like the lady who sang. During some very dark days she blessed my life by choosing to plant something of great beauty.

The lesson I have learned from her example is this . . . how we deal with the challenges of our life, may have an effect on the lives of others. And even in our darkest days, we can still bring . . . joy to another's journey.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why I'm Glad I'm Not A Dog

I never really appreciated my life until we got a dog. Now there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think, "I'm so glad I'm not a dog!" After hearing it so often, my husband suggested I make a list of my reasons. So here are my top ten . . .

1. I will never be found sitting under a table during meal time begging for food.

2. I don't have to be put on a leash to go for a walk--and then have someone drag me along when I'm not going fast enough. (Although my walking partner might want to do that:-)

3. When I have to "do my business" no one is standing over me watching and then saying, "Good job!!" afterwards.

4. And speaking of "doing my business" . . . when it is raining outside (like all day today) I can stay inside instead of having to run out in the rain to the grass.

5. I will never be caught smelling people, or other disgusting things.

6. You will never find me drinking out of a toilet.

7. I will never have to be kennelled.

8. No one makes me roll over, sit, beg or jump before I can have a treat.

9. Chewing on shoes/bones will never be my favorite hobby.

10. I can eat chocolate!!

Life is good!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Learning To Be A Good Gift . . . Receiver????

"Christmas means giving. The Father gave His Son, and the Son gave His life. Without giving there is no true Christmas . . . “ (Gordon B. Hinckley)

I love that quote and believe it. I look forward to giving Christmas gifts each year. But, no matter how much time, thought and effort any of us put into giving, it would be of no value if there were no one to receive the gift.

“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (D&C 88:33)

Just as important as being a good gift giver, I believe, is learning to be a good gift receiver.

A short time ago, my husband and I delivered a birthday present to a friend. I had made cinnamon rolls and we placed them in a box along with individual bottles of juice and chocolate milk, as well as all the paper products, party favors, and decorations needed to have an official family “Birthday Party Breakfast”. When we arrived at our friend’s home and gave him the gift he was extremely gracious. He expressed his delight for the cinnamon rolls, commented on how fun it was to get a gift “with a theme” and showed excitement for everything in the box. The next morning he sent a text telling us how delicious the breakfast was and the following day he once again thanked us for thinking of him and expressed his appreciation. This friend is truly a great gift receiver.

I know many other people who are also great gift receivers. Unfortunately I also know people who struggle receiving gifts, and I myself have on occasion fallen into this category. In thinking about what makes a great gift receiver, I have thought of three main qualities.

1. Humility. I know people who are simply uncomfortable being the center of attention and so resist any display of love or affection by others in the form of gifts. Other times it may be a bit humiliating to realize someone has noted our need and provided something for us we were not able to do for ourselves.

An example of this occurred when my husband and I were newlyweds. The ward was hosting a Christmas party and charging $10.00 per couple. (Back then they could do this.) We did not have the money to purchase the tickets and therefore were not planning to attend. However, the bishop, aware of our need, secured tickets for us and left them in an envelope on our front porch. At first we were embarrassed at our poverty and did not want to go. Then we felt perhaps we should find the money to purchase them ourselves. But in the end we humbled ourselves and put away our feelings of embarrassment, attended the party and thanked the bishop for the blessing.

Being a good gift receiver means putting aside our own feelings of pride and discomfort and being humble enough to focus on the feelings of the giver.

2. Charity. Often the value we place on a gift is determined by the love we have for the giver. If we value the giver, we will most likely value the gift. Learning to be a good gift receiver, therefore, includes developing a gift of love for those who give.

3. Gratitude. I learned an important lesson about gratitude when I was nine. My family drew names for Christmas each year and that year my sister had my name. One day I discovered the Christmas gift she had purchased for me—large hair clips. I was a bit disappointed in getting hair clips for Christmas and expressed my feelings to her. Her response was, “Then I won’t give them to you.” And she didn’t. She didn’t get me anything else either. That Christmas morning when everyone else opened their family gifts, I was wishing very much I had just been grateful for the hair clips and I was ashamed of my selfishness.

I have often heard people say, “But that isn’t what I wanted” or “I don’t want anything so don’t give me anything”. I have learned that it isn’t always about what we want, it is also about what the giver wants to give. Our job is to learn to be grateful for what we are given.

I think it is also important to learn to see beyond the gift and appreciate the time and effort that may have gone into preparing the gift itself. I am reminded of a story of a man who walked many miles to the seashore to get a sea shell. In giving the gift he told the receiver that the long walk was part of the gift. Gratitude entails not only being grateful for the gift itself, but also recognizing the time and effort made to prepare the gift.

I hope this Christmas Season we can all not only be good gift givers, but also good gift receivers. Because the greatest gift ever given was the birth, life and atoning sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And His is a gift that only benefits us if we are willing to receive it. May we always receive His gift with humility, love and appreciation, for receiving the gift of His life into our hearts is what will truly bring . . . joy to our journey.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You Know Basketball Reigns Supreme When . .

My first date with my husband was to a basketball game. In fact, when I was asked out, I was given a choice of three different nights he was available, but the activity for all three would be basketball. His brother was a high school basketball coach at the time and playing in a tournament so that was Wes' activity of choice.

It should have been a warning to me of what the future would bring. But I was so smitten after just one date (I don't remember much about the game, but I do remember our fun conversation afterwards) that I didn't pay attention to the warning signs.

After we were married he ditched me on the night we had planned to decorate our first Christmas tree to go to a college basketball game with some family members. And on another occasion, very early in our marriage, he even stood me up on Valentine's for basketball. (He has since repented--numerous times --for that one.)

Over the years I came to understand that it really wasn't his fault. It was genetic. His three brothers are just the same. All four boys in his family love to play the game, they all love to watch it and two have coached professionally, with one currently being a coach of a college team.

So I guess it shouldn't have been surprising when my niece recently announced she was moving up her wedding date to coincide with her uncle's basketball game. Apparently Ken's college team will be in Phoenix early January to play Grand Canyon University. So Riki thought, "What better day to get married?" The wedding will be in the morning. A luncheon will follow and instead of a wedding reception at night, everyone is invited to attend the basketball game!! Of course! It makes perfect sense, right?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Arizona "Rain" Storm . . . and oh so pretty party decorations.

Here is a picture of our rain storm the other night. Lots of wind and dust, even a rainbow, but only a few drops of rain. Ahhh, life in the desert. :-)

And in other news . . .

Last night was the party at my house I have been working on the past several days. I had a vision of everything in gold but was worried it might look boring. I think it turned out beautifully though!! I got the table cloths from and at first didn't like them, as I thought they looked a bit dull. But then I put them on the table and when the light would shine on them they would glisten!! I loved it!!

My friend Susan helped set everything up and made the beautiful center pieces. They were so simple yet so elegant!

The party was so much fun. The food was delicious (everyone brought something--15 couples) and we played the most simple but fun game--Christmas Carol Pictionary.
We first divided into four teams. Each person was given one of four different song titles and at the same time everyone started singing their song until all members of their team were identified. Then each team was given a dry erase board and a marker. One person from each team was selected as the artist. I gave the four artists the name of a Christmas carol (I wrote them out ahead of time on slips of paper and drew them from a basket). Each person then went back to their team and at the same time all four started drawing. The team that named the carol first, won that round. Each round a different person was selected to draw.
It was so much fun and got very crazy!!
Thanks Jenny and Suzy for all your party planning help and all your hard work to make everything turn out so well!!
And in case anyone was wondering . . . only 16 more days until all my kids are home!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It is so good to be home but . . .

I am so glad we went to Utah for Thanksgiving!! The weather was beautiful and I loved being with my two daughters who are attending school there! Michelle was particularly happy to be reunited with some of her sisters, as life at home alone with the parentals (what my kids call us) can be pretty boring at times.

Thanks giving dinner was devoured at my sister Melissa’s house in Cedar Hills, Utah. About half of my family was there, the others were either out of town or having dinner with their kids—the total being too numerous for us all to be together.

We arrived in time to help set up.

My poor nephew Brady thought he would die before getting to taste the turkey.

After everyone arrived we had a chance to go around and tell one thing we were thankful for. My dad started off and immediately got us all crying by saying he was thankful my mother was with us. After coming so close to losing her this past year, all of our feelings are rather tender on that topic.
I thought it was a bit funny that although Kathryn was invited to sit at the "adult" table (something she has wanted to do for many years) she chose to sit with the young kids. I am not sure how to take that. :-)

Dinner was oh, so yummy!! And being together with family was oh so very fun!

On Friday morning Wes took the girls to the Timpanogos Temple to do baptisms for the dead. The only time available was at 6 a.m. and we were happy to take it.
Later we faced the mall crowds, did some cool Christmas shopping and took in New Moon at the theater there. Okay, I know I am going to disappoint you New Moon fans, but I did not like it. It was okay, but I am just not a fan. Perhaps I would like it more if Bella would smile once in awhile.

On Friday night all the adults gathered at my oldest sister’s home in Lehi for more food and games. Who knew we could still eat after Thursday!! We played “What if” and “Mafia”. Both were fun and it was great to be with everyone.

We then hurried back to my parents so we could get in our four hours of sleep before having to get up at 3 a.m. to return to AZ. Michelle had a basketball game in Flagstaff at noon so we needed to get here. Other than our battery dying and needing a jump in Kanab, all went well, they won the game and we are now back at home, safe and sound.

And I am once again missing my girls.

But . . . just 21 days and they will ALL be here for Christmas—including my daughter from Colorado and her little family.

So let the countdown begin!!!

Ahh, just the thought brings so much . . . joy to my journey!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Second Graders Write What They Are Thankful For--a chuckle for your day

My daughter is doing student teaching in the Payson, Utah area and working with second graders. When asked what they are thankful for, here are a few of their responses.

"I'm thankful for food, because when I'm sick I can eat healthy food like apples, bananas, oranges, and pears, and I will not die painfully."

"The thing I'm most thankful for is the earth because it makes us not die in outer space and that would not be fun at all. It gives us gravity so we do not float away. And it lets me breathe and that's cool."

"The thing I am most thankful for is bones because if we didn't have bones in our body we would be a giant body blob. And we would look like a mud puddle."

And I am thankful for little kids who say what they think, and make me laugh when they do. Oh yeah, and hot running water!! I love that!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Munchies . . . Feasting Without the Calories!!

I found these questions on Jodi's blog Beacon of Hope. She does a weekly "Food 4 Thought Friday". Be sure to check it out to join in the fun!

And since I am a little late for Friday. . . I am going to call it . . .

"Monday Munchies"

A little feast without the calories!!!

~ This week's questions:



What is your favorite menu item you will eat at your Thanksgiving feast?
Definitely the candied yams. My husband doesn't like them so we never eat them any other time than on Thanksgiving. But for me, yams are Thanksgiving!!


What are you most grateful for at THIS moment?
That we are all alive. We almost lost my mother this past year so I am feeling very grateful that she is still with us. Also--something I am equally grateful for --In two days I get to see my two daughters who have been up at BYU. I am so excited about that. Every time I think about it I start to cry.


What will be different about this year's Thanksgiving?We are spending it with my family instead of my husbands, which is what we usually do.

Midnight Snack

Where are you spending Thanksgiving this year and what part of the menu are preparing?

We are having Thanksgiving at my sister's house in Cedar Hills, Utah and my daughter told me she signed me up to bring rolls.

Recipe of the Week (instead of your recipe for life, what is it just for this week?)
Kind words are short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NEVER say NEVER, because you just NEVER know . . .

I had the wonderful pleasure this past week of going to the airport to welcome BT home from his mission. BT is not my son, but I would gladly claim him! He is a young man I worked with in seminary several years ago. And from him I learned a very valuable lesson. NEVER give up on anyone.

When he was fourteen his name showed up on our seminary rolls, but he was not attending. Not knowing anything about him or his family, I did some investigating and was told his family was not active in the church and that he would NEVER come to seminary.

Fortunately, his friend Nick, didn’t know that. And so Nick invited BT to spend the night on a school night and the next morning got him up for seminary. BT came that day and the next, and every day for the rest of the year. Two years later he served as our seminary council vice-president and did an excellent job. After graduation he attended BYU Provo before leaving to serve his mission.

During this same time his mother went through a divorce and moved out of state. A couple years later she moved back and into our stake, and in fact into my ward. She is now not only active in the church, but she is also one of my very good friends.

So . . . NEVER say NEVER because you just NEVER know . . .

After all, here is another NEVER story for you.

Although I grew up with pets, we have NEVER had them in my married home until this past summer when my son dropped off a stray puppy he found in the desert. Personally I thought Lacy was a pain, and I NEVER thought I would miss her. But this past week she spent a few days at my son’s house and surprisingly, I felt so sad!! My house seemed so quiet and lonely during the day without her constantly under my feet. Literally.

And lastly . . .

I have always said I will NEVER put up my Christmas tree in November. I think each holiday deserves its own attention and yet here I am with my tree up and decorated a week before Thanksgiving.

The reason is that my life right now is a bit crazy and pretty much out of control so I am not going to have anytime this coming weekend to put up decorations. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but this year I am hosting a Christmas party at my house on December 1 and thought I should probably have some evidence of the holiday in my house by then. So. . . this is why my tree is up. It is also why it is gold. I have NEVER done that before either, but that is the color I wanted to use to decorate the tables for the party so . . .

NEVER say NEVER, because you just NEVER know . . . :-)

Now a couple side stories . . . After my husband put together the tree, I saw him walking downstairs carrying a tree branch. I said, "Oh, I see you have a left over part." He replied, "I have lots of them!" Hmmm. He assured me the front of the tree looked good, however. I guess he was done with that job!
Second . . . last night I was doing a google image search and ended up on a woman's blog who had posted a picture taken while eating at Carabas following Women's Conference last spring. The funny thing is that my friends and I were in the background of the picture!! It is such a small blog world!!
But the best part is all of this brings so much . . . joy to my journey!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Very, Very Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole--Even if you don't like sweet potatoes

Not the actual picture since I haven't made it yet, but as close as I could find on google.
This one has walnuts and my recipe calls for pecans.

A year ago we had dinner at the mission president's home here in Phoenix and they served a very delicious sweet potato casserole. I wanted to get that recipe all year, and last Friday I once again had dinner at their house and was finally able to get it. And proof of how good it is--there was another woman at the dinner who had been there last year who was asking for it as well!

So --here is the long awaited recipe, just in time for your Thanksgiving feast. Even those who don't like sweet potatoes will like this--as long as they do like coconut and pecans. :-)

Debra Beck's Sweet Potato Casserole

6 cups cooked and diced sweet potatoes
l Cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 cup butter (s0ftened)
1 cup grated coconut
1 TBS. vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter
Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, milk, eggs, butter, coconut and vanilla
mix well and pour into baking dish. Combine topping ingredients &
sprinkle on top of sweet potato mixture.

Bake 350 - 30 minutes
10-12 servings

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why I Love the Book of Mormon . . . or How Long Can You Carry A Grudge?

While reading the Book of Mormon a couple weeks ago, I was struck by the length of time the Lamanites could carry a grudge. Four hundred and thirty years after Lehi brought his family to the Promised Land, they were still angry over perceived injustices that occurred during their travels.

In Mosiah 10 we learn the Lamanites believed they were forced to leave Jerusalem due to the evil doings of Lehi, wronged in the wilderness, and wronged again while crossing the sea --all because of the iniquity of Nephi, who also unjustly stole the record of their people when he fled into the wilderness (to preserve his life). From generation to generation they taught their children to hate the Nephites. And so hate was spread from parent to child year after year, decade after decade, resulting in death and sorrow for many people.

My first thought was, "Wow! I am pretty sure I have no idea who offended any of my ancestors over 400 years ago. " I was amazed a legacy of hate could have been preserved for so many generations. But then of course, I was reminded of the problems in the middle east today as well as in other parts of the world and realized I was being a bit naive.

But what I also realized was the impact our teachings can have on our children for generations. We can teach them to hate and distrust, or we can teach love, faith and compassion. We can teach selfishness or we can teach service and charity.

My parents are great examples of teaching good qualities. My father is the most obedient and hard working person I know, and he has diligently tried to instill those qualities in his children. I remember well one Saturday morning when I was twelve and it was our stake's turn to pick cherries at the stake welfare farm. Sleeping late sounded so much better to me than getting up at 5:30 to work in an orchard. So when my father came to get me, I told him I couldn't find my shoes and therefore could not go. He suggested I wear another pair. So I told him directly, I did not want to go.

I will always remember his very unsympathetic response. He said, "Sometimes in life we have to do things we don't want to do, but we do them anyway because it is the right thing to do." That seems like such a simple and basic comment, but it and his example, have stayed with me and been the impetus behind my completing some very unsavory tasks.

I also appreciate the example of selfless service set by my mother. She has a very tender and kind heart and often reaches out to the poor and needy. While visiting my parents in Guatemala a few years ago, we were leaving to go on a sight seeing journey when I noticed my mother filling her purse with food and coins. And then as we traveled across town, she would give the food and money to the little beggar children holding out their hands at the stop lights.

So my thought these past few weeks is this, "What kind of legacy am I leaving my children?" Is it one of anger, hostility and selfishness? Or is it love, kindness and service? Am I teaching them to hold a grudge against those who might offend them, or does my example teach forgiveness?

I am sorry to say, I realized I need to do a lot better. But, that is one reason why I love the Book of Mormon . . . it helps me to see where I need to improve and improvement always brings . . . joy to my journey.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guess Who Is Having A Birthday????!!!!

Happy Birthday to My Wonderful, Handsome, Strong, Brave, Adventurous, Smart, and Romantic, Husband!!

I love you!!

When I think of Wes I think . . .

1. Chocolate

2. Peanut M&M's

3. Someone who can visit a place once, not go back for ten years and still remember every road, building, tree etc. Amazing!

4. Die hard exerciser. Every morning at 5:20 you can see him out running his four miles.

5. Can remember where every scripture is.

6. Can't remember any one's phone number or what we are doing on Friday.

7. Amazing teacher

8. Adventurous!! If there is a mountain to climb, a river to raft, a cliff to rappel . . .

9. Romantic. Writes poetry, brings flowers . . .

10. Great foot massager.

11. Is never late, but never likes to go anywhere early either.

12. Rarely leaves an event until every chair and table have been put away and every dish washed.

13. Competitive.

14. Very competitive.

15. Smart.

16. Generous--with both his time and his resources.

17. Someone who always makes time for his kids.

18. Sports enthusiast. Can still out run, out swim, out play all of his kids in any sport. And the world was a much better place for him when the Yankees won the world series.

19. Patient. For proof you can go here and read about a time last year when I borrowed his car. The man is a saint!!

20. A wonderful husband, who is good and kind and perpetually young at heart!!

Happy Birthday

May you have many, many more!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time's A Wasting!! A Challenge.

I got this idea from Shannon . Ever since I read her post I have been thinking about it. What can you do in 15 minutes?

I consider myself a busy person and yet when I thought about it, I realized I waste a lot of time during the day. Often I will have small increments of time I think isn’t enough to do a large project, and so I fill up those few minutes with fairly meaningless activities instead.

Then I read Shannon’s post about all the things she could do in just fifteen minutes and decided I needed to rethink my day. Instead of saying, “Oh, I just have 10/15/20 minutes, I can’t do anything in that time so I will sit at the computer and catch up on Facebook, (or something similar) I decided to put my spare minutes to good use.

And this is what I discovered I could do in 15 minutes:

1. Fold laundry. I detest laundry but doing it in 15 minute increments is much more enjoyable for me—and it is better than ignoring it all week because I don’t want to do it.
2. Iron a few shirts or a couple pair of pants.
3. Pay bills
4. Clean the kitchen/do dishes
5. Touch up cleaning in a bathroom
6. Write a couple thank you notes
7. Take a power nap. (Not a waste of time when you never get more than six hours of sleep a night:-)
8. Prepare dinner menus for the week
9. Vacuum the upstairs. (I love vacuuming; I feel it covers a multitude of sins:-)
10. Walk a mile. (This is usually more helpful in the afternoon than taking the nap)
11. Read a couple Ensign articles
12. Write a few lines in my journal. I find it hard to keep a journal on top of everything else because I always think I need to write long entries, but I have started writing less, which has helped me to write more often.
13. Make a telephone call to check on a ward member. (You know the ones who aren’t at church on Sunday or you haven’t seen in a while.)
14. Catch up on emails. I need more time if I am going to respond to them all, but in 15 minutes I can usually read everything I have been sent and then prioritize my responses.

Thank you Shannon for the advice to use my time more wisely!! Now to the rest of you out there . . . what can you do in 15 minutes??

And just a side note . . . I am in party planning mode again. (Definitely NOT a 15 minute activity!:-) On December 1 we are having a Christmas dinner party at our house for about 36 people. Thankfully for this one I have two of my favorite party planners helping me—Jenny and Suzy!! I love those women!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Want to Hear a Beautiful Patriotic Song?

The music for this song was written by William Joseph, who grew up in my stake. He has an amazing gift for playing the piano and composing music. The instrumental for this piece is on his CD, but in this video Celtic Woman wrote the lyrics to his music and performed it live.

Even if you are becoming disillusioned with the way things are in our country today, I think the song will stir your patriotic heart strings. It is very beautiful.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why I Love the Book of Mormon or . . . What is Wrong With My GPS?

I have decided each weekend to post something about how the Book of Mormon applies to my life. This is not intended to be deep doctrine or even profound (as you will soon see if you continue reading :-) but it is meant to be a way to express my love for the book to my children who hopefully will read this.

So . . . This past week I was studying about wicked King Noah and how his evil doings influenced the people in his kingdom to become wicked as well. (Mosiah 11)The Lord sent the prophet Abinadi to warn the people that if they did not repent, they would end up in bondage. The people refused to change and the prophecies were fulfilled.

I found it interesting that the people were initially righteous under King Zeniff (Noah's father) but then got off the right path and started down a path that led to their captivity. They were sent a warning by a prophet to "turn around" and get back on the right path, but they ignored the warning--and in fact, killed the messenger.

That thought reminded me of a mountain biking trip I once took with my friend Lisa to Moab, Utah. Neither of us had been to Moab before, but armed with a map and a GPS system, we were confident we knew the way.

Some where along the trip, however, we got on the wrong road. Okay, I know you are wondering how that was possible with both a map and a GPS system, but now I will tell you something about myself you may not know. I am totally directionally challenged. And there was a little detour in the road that confused us. So there we were going in the wrong direction, but not knowing it.

Although our GPS system did try to warn us. In fact it kept telling us to "go forward 200 feet and make a legal U-turn." We couldn't figure out why we would have to go forward and then backward so we ignored the warning. Once Lisa did pull out the map and checked it, but the road we were on was very close to the road we wanted to be on , and our road was not marked, so we assumed we were where we wanted to be. . .

Despite, the repeated GPS warnings.

And eventually we turned off the GPS.

Then we saw smoke stacks in the distance. That is when we knew we should have listened. The smoke stacks are in Page, Arizona, which was definitely NOT the direction we should have been traveling.

After a quick lunch we made the hour trip back to the main road, continued forward a bit and then got on the path we needed and finished our journey to Moab, arriving two and a half hours later than planned.

What struck me was how Lisa and I were much like King Noah; so convinced we were doing what was right, we refused to listen to the warnings to turn around. And just like King Noah, we ended up in a place we didn't want to be. Luckily for us, we corrected our mistake and eventually arrived safely--which of course, is much better than the king who ended up being burned to death.

But my lesson for my children is this . . . as you journey through life, listen to those warning signals and make the corrections needed. It is easy to get so busy that we don't realize we have strayed from the path we want to be on. So, heed the promptings of your conscience, the Spirit and the words of the Prophets because the right path is the only safe way to travel.

And that little lesson from the life of King Noah, is one reason why I love the Book of Mormon.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We have Good News and Bad News . . .

It has been a BAD news, GOOD news sort of week.

The BAD news . . . My sweet daughter Kathryn who is up at BYU has swine flu!! And I am here, oh so far away and can’t do anything to help her.

The GOOD news . . . my daughter, Kristen, who is also at BYU and job shares with Kathryn is still healthy. Kristen is in the thick of her major classes right now and can’t afford to miss any days, so we are praying her good health continues.

The GOOD news . . . Michelle (who just turned 16 and is a sophomore) made the VARSITY basketball team!!!

The BAD news . . . my life has now gone to the dogs. Or at least the dog (singular). Michelle is gone ALL day which means Lacy is my sole responsibility and being still in puppy mode, she wants to play . . . all day.

The BAD news . . . it is November and we are back up to 95 degree temperatures.
The GOOD news . . . it may be hot in AZ but we still have some of the most beautiful sunsets on the planet.

The GOOD news . . . I had a couple of my very best days in seminary this past week. On one day a student commented that she thought it was funny when the scriptures would say, “they cried out in one voice.” She did not think that was possible. I suggested that perhaps they were all just united in their desire, or it could mean exactly what it said, and the Spirit moved all the people at the same time. She did not see how that could be. Later in the same day, we came across a principle in the scriptures that was confusing to the students. As we began to discuss its meaning there came a moment when suddenly all the students understood and at the same time they all said, “Ohhhh!!! I get it.” In all my years of teaching I have never had a time when the entire class had an “Ah ha” moment at the exact same time. But then I realized not only that, but they had “all cried out in one voice.” It was so amazing to me how we were given an example the same day she asked how it could happen.

And the BAD news . . . the following day I put half my class to sleep. And this wasn’t just putting their heads on the desk and closing their eyes kind of sleep. It was shake them hard to wake them up sleep!! I promise that is a first for me as well. I wanted to do a reader’s theater but apparently it wasn’t enough to keep their interest. But . . . the good thing about seminary is you get to teach another lesson the very next day so they don’t remember a bad one for very long.:-)
I hope your week was all GOOD!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Husband Thinks I'm Pretty Cool . . . or was that Crazy?

To celebrate my friend Lisa's birthday we went with her, her husband, and another couple to
the red rock country of Sedona, Arizona!
It is about an hour and a half drive north of Phoenix, and cooler.

While there, we went on a jeep tour (guaranteed to provide an adrenalin rush) with our
guide Rocky.
We admired the foliage

And pondered the rock formations.

After the tour--which did have its adrenalin moments--we decided to take our own tour up Oak Creek Canyon to Slide Rock.
This is a natural water slide with about 36 degree water running over it.
In the summer it warms up a bit more and provides great relieve from the heat.
But in the fall it is just pretty darn cold!!
So, why did I get in it??
Especially since I don't even get in our swimming pool until the water temperature is about 85 degrees!
(By the way, that look on my face is PAIN!)

Because one of these men told me that if I got in, he would too!
(And he thought he was pretty safe saying that.)

So take that, Doctor B!!
Next time you might not want to be so quick to offer a challenge! :-)

And it was worth it!!
(Now that was an adrenalin rush!)
And although there were a couple times the cold took my breath away
and my fingers ached for about 20 minutes afterwards,
my husband kept telling me how impressed he was with me.
And that alone was worth the pain! :-)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Warmed By A Casserole

I hesitate to write this post as it is rather personal, and I am not always sure how things will be taken by others reading it, but since I use this blog also as my journal of sorts, I thought it was important to record this.

So . . .This is dedicated to anyone who has ever taken dinner to a neighbor . . .

A few weeks ago I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything happening at the time. I felt pressure from many directions and lacked the time to accomplish everything needed. And so in desperation I decided to ask in my morning prayers for guidance on how best to spend my time that day. That may have been the lazy way out, but I was at a loss on how to prioritize my time and so was seeking help.

Interestingly to me, several days during the next couple weeks I became aware of people who were sick or otherwise in need and felt prompted to take them dinner. Once I had leftovers from a party and was able to feed two families. On another day I miscalculated how much to cook for my family and gave away the surplus. And still on other days, I made emergency trips to the store.

I was a bit puzzled as to why I felt the need to feed so many families. I wondered if there might be something better I could do for them. I recently heard a speaker make fun of the Mormon culture and our belief that a casserole was the cure all to every ailment and trial. I also remembered once reading an article in the Ensign titled, "Caught in a Casserole" which suggested we might want to consider other ways to serve rather than just taking food. I decided my feeling prompted to take dinner to others must have been God's way of making sure my husband got fed--as I haven't been very good about cooking dinner these past few months. (yes, I confess)

And then I had an experience which changed my mind.

I came home Tuesday afternoon after spending a fairly sleepless night, and being gone all day at meetings. I was very tired and achy. I still had my seminary lesson to prepare, dishes to do and a dinner to make before my husband left for his church meetings at 6:00. But what I really wanted was a nap.

Then I received a text from a good friend that read, "I'm bringing you dinner. I will be there at 4:45." I had not talked with her all day. She did not know how I was feeling or even that I had not been home until then. She had just been cooking dinner for her family and said it kept expanding beyond what they could eat so she decided to share--with me.

Initially I felt guilty. I was not sick, and I had time to prepare my own meal so I felt bad someone was cooking for me. But then she and her husband walked in to my house, carrying a hot chicken pot pie and a delicious green salad.

A warmth filled my soul,

And I felt loved.

Not just by a friend who was willing to share her abundance with me, but also by a Heavenly Father who taught me that sometimes a casserole is the perfect way to serve.