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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh, So Sweet! And Now Sixteen!!

Kathryn, Michelle, Kristen

Today is my daughter Michelle’s sixteenth birthday. You know what that means—driver’s licenses and dating. Personally, I find both rather terrifying. Although I did offer to make her a t-shirt to wear to school that said, “Michelle can now date.” And then write her phone number below, but she nixed that idea . . . for some reason.

Instead of regular gifts, she opted to have us use the money we would have spent on her for a party. I am including pictures of that on the bottom of this post, but first . . .
I want to tell you about Michelle.

She is my tender hearted, nurturer. One day when she was just under two, I received some bad news that made me cry. I remember sitting on the couch crying and Michelle was on the floor playing with her toys. When she saw my grief she immediately got up on the arm of the couch next to me and pulled my head towards her chest and held it there until I quit. She then got back on the floor and continued playing with her toys, never saying a word.

When she was five she was telling me about her three grandmothers. I explained that one of them was actually a great-grandmother and in reality she had four of them. I then added that she also had eight great-grandmothers. Her eyes got wide and she asked incredulously, “Are they really all mine?” When I said yes, she exclaimed, “I am such a lucky girl!” And she is.
A couple years ago my husband and I had to be out of town at the same time my son scheduled knee surgery. I felt so bad being gone when he needed someone to care for him. But Michelle stepped up and took care of the job, even better than I would have done. For two nights straight she stayed up all night taking care of his every need. He was totally immobilized and in a LOT of pain so his needs were great--and constant. But she never complained. She just lovingly took care of him. I was so impressed with that.
Michelle loves reading, dance, basketball and doing hair. She is smart, and cute, and kind and fun and can out eat her 15 year old male cousin in a pizza eating contest—an honor we aren’t exactly proud of.



Just some of the cute girls who came to celebrate with Michelle

We learned you can never have enough games at a party for teenagers, as they blew through everything rather quickly. But here is proof you are never too old for musical chairs!!

For one of the games we had a pedestrian road rally. As part of that, they had to get everyone on their team on a twister map and take a picture.

They also had to shoot ten baskets with a basketball, sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to the neighbors down the street, chew gum and all blow a bubble at the same time, spell out Michelle's name on the front lawn and . . .

Take a "family picture" using the costumes provided.

Here is one of the 'families".

Now wouldn't you want to have them as relatives? :-)

I think everyone had a great time. We had fun doing it.
And we didn't have too many casualties just . . .
1 bent chair
1 torn shirt
1 cut foot
1 broken phone

Special thanks to my helpers, Amy and Wendy. We could never have done it without you!

Also thanks to Amy's husband, Michael, who after driving in a car for two days came straight to our house and stayed until midnight helping clean up.

You are all the best!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Random Thoughts of a More Serious Nature

Okay, so that title probably isn't going to create much interest for the casual blog surfer, but this post is one that has great meaning to me.

I have had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head these past few weeks. I kept waiting for the wind to die down so I could concentrate more clearly on one or two of them. I was sure something profound was there amidst all the commotion, but I think life has kept me too busy to spend much time pondering, which I am sorry to say.

So rather than dedicate an entire post to just one topic, I thought I would write a little about a few.

Here goes.

1. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend Time Out For Women here in Phoenix. I loved the speakers, their thoughts and messages, although it always takes me a little while to get over the feeling that I just paid a lot of money to hear a Deseret Book sales pitch. Still, two things stand out. First is a book by Emily Freeman called “The Promise of Enough”. She took a very simple story, the feeding of the five thousand, and turned it into a sweet book on abundance. I love learning what other people get from the scriptures. It gives me a greater desire to search them more closely to find the lessons the Lord has for me.

The second was Kris Belcher. She is a woman who has lived a life of extreme challenges and yet has found humor in her situation and has turned her trials into an opportunity to serve others. After hearing her speak about going blind and having cancer, I decided I could never justifiably complain about my life ever again.

But do you want to know my favorite part of the day? Lunch. And not because of the food. Knowing we would be competing with 2,000 other women for the few restaurants open on a Saturday downtown, we planned a picnic instead. There were five of us and each brought a portion of the meal. Together it was quite a feast. While sitting there on the ground, surrounded by friends and delicious morsels, I thought how grateful I am I don’t have to go through this life alone. I am sure that anything we do where everyone contributes is vastly better, and more enjoyable, than anything we could ever do on our own.

2. Our ward primary program was yesterday and it was beautiful. I was so touched by the singing of the children’s choir and their simple teaching of pure doctrine. I have to say my favorite part, however, was when a small group of children stood at the podium and sang. Not only did the words of the song stir my heart, but I was overcome by their sweet, little faces. I thought how wonderfully innocent they are right now, and I wanted to gather them all up and hug them. I think there can’t be anything in the world more precious than a sweet, innocent child.

3. In seminary the other day we were discussing tools to help us avoid deception. When the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob was confronted by the anti-Christ, Sherem, he used the scriptures, the words of the prophets and his own promptings from the Holy Ghost to avoid being deceived. We then talked about the evil doctrines of our day, the disintegration of the family being one of them. I asked the students to combat that evil with a teaching from the prophets and a scripture. One young man found the following scripture in Alma 43:47 in the Book of Mormon. I have heard this scripture many times before, but reading it that day, and in light of the challenges we face in preserving the family, our religious freedoms and our rights, it struck me in a way it never has before. It reads:

“And again the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights and their religion.”

Yes, there are some things worth dying for.

So there you have some of my random thoughts, thoughts that warm my heart, give me a greater appreciation for God, friends and family and bring . . . joy to my journey.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Easy Fall Craft for the Craft Challenged

Still trying to think of something to take the ladies you visit teach? Or looking for an easy table decoration? Here is the craft for you! This comes from my visiting teaching companion and good friend, Michelle H. It doesn't even require paint or a glue gun!!

Just take:

1 piece cute fall material about 20" by 20"

1 fluffy roll of toilet paper

1 cinnamon stick (about five inches long)

2 Material strips


Place the toilet paper on the center of the material, with the pattern facing down.

Tuck the material into the center of the toilet paper roll

Stick the cinnamon stick into the center also. Tie on some of your colored fabric scraps and raffia to decorate the stick. And you are done!!!

The easiest fall craft ever!!
Thanks Michelle for sharing with me!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some days turn out as planned, and some turn out even better!!

I came home from seminary yesterday morning with a plan for the day in mind. I was going to do some laundry, work on Christmas gifts, make a trip to the book store and maybe even get in that coveted nap.

Then the phone rang. And as great as I thought my day would be, that call changed it for the better.

The woman on the other end identified herself as “Nannette” from Colorado Springs. She told me I did not know her, but I was a blog friend with her good friend, Dawn at “Momza’s House” and they were on their way to Phoenix that very day. She was wondering if I would mind having them come by as a surprise to Dawn. Dawn had commented that she wanted to meet some of her Arizona blog friends while in town, but didn't think she would have time during her short stay. However, Nannette knew I lived on the side of town where they would be staying and thought it would be fun to arrange a meeting.

I was thrilled!! And not only agreed to meet, but also invited them to dinner.

I love reading Dawn’s blog and was very excited to meet her. But then I started to wonder . . . how did Nannette know my phone number since I don’t have my name on my blog?

Now this is where the story gets even more fun.

It just so happens, that Nannette was reading my blog one day and saw a picture of me at women’s conference with a group of friends. One of those friends just happens to be a sister to Nannette’s sister-in-law. So yesterday morning she called the sister in law, got my friend’s phone number and called her, asking for the phone number of her friend who has a blog and recently had a party. (Are you following this?:-)

And that is how we came to be talking yesterday morning.

Well the rest of my day was spent cleaning the upstairs (my seminary stuff is like a cancer that starts out small and then spreads until it has taken over everything), running a few necessary errands and planning dinner. They were coming at 4 so I would have to cook it early. I decided on Chicken Tortilla Soup and fruit, which included apples and a very yummy caramel dip (I will include the recipe at the end of this post). I figured that people who have been eating out for two days might like something light and easy.

At 2:45 I got a call they were leaving Camp Verde and would be here in a little over an hour. My stomach started having butterflies. What would she be like? Would I like her as much in person as I did on her blog?

At 3:45 they had just exited the freeway and were heading down New River Road.

At 4:05 they pulled into my driveway.

I was sitting out on my back porch eagerly awaiting their arrival. Nannette still hadn’t told Dawn where they were going. Dawn thought they were making a short visit at a friend of Nannette’s and then would be on their way. So when I walked up to the car and she saw me, she was very surprised. And when she got out of the car, it was like seeing an old, dear friend.

The wonderful thing about blogs is you can know all about someone’s life without ever meeting them. But it is even better when you get a chance to meet in person. I not only liked her, I loved her!! She is sweet, kind, funny, genuine, and totally down to earth. And so is her friend, Nannette.

For the next two hours we had a wonderful time visiting. It was fun to have so much to visit about and to learn more about her and her family. I was so thankful for Nannette's thoughtfulness in making the arrangements. It was such a treat to visit with them both. And it was fun to meet Dawn’s daughter who was also traveling with them. My only regret was that it was her daughter’s birthday. I wished I had known so I could have made her a cake!

And now the story takes one more twist.

While visiting, Dawn asked me if I knew Brent P. Oh, I know him! He is not only my neighbor but also my home teacher!! It ends up Dawn was his secretary for a while when she lived in Phoenix many years ago.

I live on a cul-de-sac with only seven houses—ours and six others. I think it is so interesting that Nannette and Dawn knew two of my six neighbors. What are the chances of that??!!

It truly is a small blog world!! And that is wonderful!!

Thank you Dawn, Nannette and Diana!! You truly brought great . . . joy to my journey!!

And now the recipe for the dip. Take one carton caramel dip, one vanilla yogurt and one crushed Heath Bar. Mix together and serve with apples and/or bananas. Very yummy!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Parents can be so embarrassing!

Three girls from our stake showing off their school spirit. The two on the ends are both in my seminary class.
(A little scary, I know, but they really are good girls:-)

Last night was the homecoming football game at our local high school. The team went into the game undefeated and exited in the same style. In fact they pummeled the poor other team 66-0.

That does not make for a lot of excitement. But there were two kids from our stake up for homecoming royalty, so we went to support them and their parents.

There were about ten of us sitting together which included two seminary teachers, two members of the stake presidency and a bishop. Not exactly the group teenagers want to hangout with. And us being there seemed to be even more uncomfortable for the children of the parents we were sitting with.

A few kids in the stake came by to visit, others would walk by, see us, and then wave briefly as they hurried by. More humorous though, was one friend's daughter who would walk by quickly, glancing at us out of the corner of her eyes, hoping perhaps that if she didn't acknowledge us, we would not see her.

But the funniest person was another friend's daughter who called her mother on her cell phone to tell her she would be coming by and to please not call out her name.

Hmmmm. Way too tempting. She would have been much better off to not have made that call, because once she said that, everyone felt compelled to stand and chant her name as she passed in front of us.

In fact we started cheering for all the youth that walked by. Daughter number 1 quit coming and three girls from my seminary class, looked up, saw who was cheering for them and ran away.

Hopefully they will all quickly recover from the embarrassment of the parental/church leader cheering section, because the reality is that each one of us there truly loves the youth in our stake. And although we don't always stand and cheer for them out loud as they pass in front of us, we are all cheering for them silently, in the lessons prepared, the talks given and the prayers offered in their behalf.
So to the youth of the church . . . Hurrah!! Hurrah!! Hurrah!!

We love you and will ALWAYS be your personal cheering section!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

If it weren't for my pride, I would probably be perfect

Okay so just kidding on the title. I have a lot more faults than just my pride. In fact I can relate all too well to this prayer I recently found in a 1999 conference talk:

"Dear God,

So far today I have done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, nasty, selfish, or overly indulgent. But in a few minutes, Lord, I am going to get out of bed, and from then on, I am probably going to need a lot more help."

I thought that was cute, although probably a bit too real. :-)

This week in seminary we have been learning about pride. I had the students rank themselves between 1-10 on how prideful they thought they were. After our discussion, and watching the seminary video, I think everyone ranked themselves higher.

The discussion was based on President Benson's talk on Pride where he defines pride as "enmity". And "enmity" is defined as "hostility, hatred and opposition". So, anytime we are in opposition to, or feel hatred or hostility towards someone, we are manifesting pride.

So with that as the definition, not only are we proud when we look down at someone, but we are also being prideful when we covet, gossip, argue with, are disobedient to, insist on it being done our way, worry more about what people think than what God thinks, and refuse to forgive--just for starters.

Hmmmm. Okay. So I guess I have a few prideful items to repent of. Or . . . I could just spend the weekend in bed. :-)

May you all have a humble weekend!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Christy and Her Magic Mirror. A True Story

My friend Christy has a magic mirror. It really is magic. I go to her house feeling old, frumpy, with straight hair and no or little make up. My first glance in the mirror always reveals that person—the one I feel at that moment I am. But after an hour or so, when I look in the mirror again, I see a totally different person. This new person has great hair, sparkling eyes, and looks much younger.

For that reason I love going to Christy’s house. And I love her magic mirror. In fact, I wish I had one at home, or better yet, one to carry around with me.

Christy cuts my hair. But she does more than that. She helps me find something in myself that I don’t always feel is there. And she helps me make more of what I have than I could possibly do on my own. We always joke about the magic mirror, but we both know it is Christy who has the magic.

I have thought about that a lot. I appreciate her for what she helps me see in myself and her ability to make more of me than I can do on my own. I am grateful she is in my life.

There are other people who have a similar influence on me—people who help me to see the best in myself and show me how to make more of my life than I could do on my own.

My husband is one of those people. From the first day we met, he has always believed in me. He believes in my ability to do anything and is always supportive. He supported me through sewing classes, tole painting, calligraphy and stiffy bows. He cheered me on when I was called to be the primary chorister—even though I can’t sing—a young women’s leader and seminary teacher. When I look at myself through his eyes, I see someone who can do anything. And that gives me the courage to try.

My sister Terri is another person with a magic mirror. Since we live in different states our time together is limited, but always cherished. Terri is always so positive and encouraging, so supportive and upbeat that I always leave her feeling good about myself and ready to face whatever the world has to offer.

I also have many friends who help me see the best in me. Some help me find my kind side, when I am not feeling very kind, or help me to be wise, when my first impulse might be to be foolish. How grateful I am for their magic mirrors as well.

And so this blog entry is dedicated to all of you out there with magic mirrors and who hold up those mirrors to friends, sisters, brothers, spouses, children and students. It is for the bishop who lovingly guides the wayward youth, the school teacher who insists on a better performance, coaches who push, spouses who support and friends who listen. It is for parents who know their children’s faults and believe in their children anyway.

It is for all of you who help others to believe in themselves and make more of their lives than they could do on their own.

Thanks for believing. Thanks for the magic. And thanks for adding . . . joy to the journey.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"You Rock" Blog Award!! Passing It On

I am not really sure why life has kept me from blogging much lately, but with today being a holiday, no school or seminary, I sat down to catch up on reading everyone else's blogs, and oh my!! The Wonderful things I have missed!! Thanks to all of you who are better at this than I have been and have continued to share your thoughts, insights, joys and heartaches with the rest of us.

I especially want to thank Linda Joy at Gramee's for the very cute blog award!! She gave me her very own, made up "You Rock" Award!! I love that! Thank you so much!

I love her blog and know you all will too. She always has a variety of interesting posts. You can check it out here.

And now I get the honor of passing the award on to a few of you. I am going to start with three and then add more in time. (I figure once you have the award you can pass it on as often as you like, right?:-)

So . . . here goes!!

To Carolyn at Fruit of the Carolyn
Carolyn is one of the most amazing women I know. She does it all. She is a writer, photographer, mother, nubian goat milker, and baker extraordinar. She is open and honest and you will love reading her blog.

To Kristin at Alpine Klein Bunch
Kristin is another amazing woman I have "met" through blogging. She is a nurse, mother, photographer, writer, and great animal lover. Oh, and you will have to try her banana chocolate chip muffin recipe!! We just had some this morning. They are to die for!!

And lastly Dawn at Momza's House

Dawn was one of my first blogging friends and I have loved getting to know her. She is a wonderful missionary, wise, poetic, does home staging, and is a doula. If you don't know what that is, you will want to read her blog for sure.

So there you have it. Three of the many wonderful women I have come to know and admire through the blogging world.

The rules of the award are:

1. You must post a link to the person who gave it to you.

2. You must pass it on within the next week.

3. You must post a comment on the blogs of the peopel you honor, letting them know you have given them an award.

That is it!! So very easy.

This month makes one year since I started blogging. When I began I wasn't sure how long I would last and to be honest, with the craziness of this past month, I wasn't sure I would continue much longer, but as I have thought about all of you and your friendships, words of wisdom and all that I learn from you, I realize how much I would miss not having you all in my life.

So . . . Here is to another year, and thanks for bringing so much . . . joy to my journey!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Our Version of Battle of the Sexes. Who Won????

Last Friday we had a birthday party at our house and played our own version of "Battle of the Sexes." There were seven couples in attendance, so each team had seven players.

Following a very yummy dinner, we competed in the following events:

1. Food Presentation
2. Fashion Design
3. Marksmanship (Nerf guns)
4. General Knowledge (10 questions taken from Cranium)
5. Communication Skills (played four rounds of Pictionary and one of "telephone".)
6. Home Building/Shelter
7. Romance

And who won??? Well, let me show you some of the pictures and let you judge for yourselves! :-)

First was food presentation. Both teams were given five cans of play dough and 15 minutes to make an attractive looking meal. The women very cleverly and artistically made a steak, asparagus, carrots, mashed potatoes with a slice of butter, corn on the cob, a garnish, and a biscuit. And the men . . . . ?

A banana split!!

Not very nutritious, but definitely eye pleasing. (In case you are wondering, they did not make the strawberries or grapes. They stole those from the refrigerator.)

Next came fashion design. Each team was given a roll of paper towels, a roll of toilet paper, a bandanna, scissors, and some orange curling ribbon and challenged to use the items in making an "outfit" for a member of their team. These all came in a Target sack. The women busily went to work "sewing" a dress, and even used the orange ribbon to make gathers in the skirt. I think it turned out pretty cute.

But I have to admit the men were pretty clever in their design. They said theirs was Pharaoh and even used the Target sack for his breastplate!

When it came to shelter, the women were better at turning our dwelling into a home than we were at making a good livable structure. We used blankets over chairs but then taped up pictures we drew of the temple, a portrait of my daughter who was the judge, (a little flattery) and drew fake windows.
And the men?????
They "built" the Parthenon!! And they themselves were the pillars. Inside stood one of their team members, wrapped in a "Toga" and carrying a book about Greece. Pretty hilarious actually, although I think their creativity was sparked a bit by laziness. :-) (None of them read my blog so I can say that.)

Our last event was romance. Each team was given a copy of a primary song and had to turn it into a song about romance. The men were very cute as they sang to us on bended knee (my husband even brought me the bouquet of silk flowers from the entry table). Their song was very sweet and we all appreciated their kind words.

Our song, however, was not only very flattering to our husbands, but also ended with a kiss and so they willingly gave us the win. :-) That put us one point over the top---in a very biased judging system---and we were declared the winners. Here we are wearing our medals (gold sparkly wooden stars) and humbly and graciously singing, "We Are the Champions."

The men took it well and we all had a great time. The only thing I would do differently were I to do it again, is to eliminate one or two of the activities--such as the shooting and general knowledge. It took much longer than I anticipated and started to get a bit long in the end.
Still it was a lot of fun and spending the evening with friends definitely brought . . . joy to my journey.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Anyone want LDS Conference Jeopardy for FHE??

I have a copy of LDS Conference Jeopardy put together by seminary teachers. This is a great way to review conference with your kids at FHE. If you would like me to send a copy to you, email me at . I will check email around noon on Monday (AZ time) and again a couple hours later.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So what has your week been like?

It has been another bad week for blogging, but a good week for life!! I am not sure where all the time went, but it seemed like I rarely had time to sit and write. I spent a lot of time preparing seminary lessons, (the story of my life!) attended the freshman football game, made dinner for a friend, got my hair cut and colored, have been walking in the morning with my friend Susan and then again later with the dog, cleaned my house, and spent 45 minutes sitting out in the sun with the dog, after I accidentally locked myself out of my house! Lucky for me, my husband was willing to be my knight in shining armor and hurry home on his white horse (or black car) and rescue a damsel in distress.

But our biggest news is that our temperatures have finally fallen under a hundred for the day and 70 at night!! It almost felt cold at 5:30 this morning!! We may even have gotten down to around 68. My daughter told me many of her friends wore long sleeves or sweaters and one friend stopped at the gas station on the way to school to buy hot chocolate. No matter that it still was around 95 later in the day!

Tomorrow night (Friday) we are hosting a birthday party for a friend. We are having a barbecue and our own version of "Battle of the Sexes." I have spent a lot of time working on that, and am excited for how it will turn out. Hopefully it will be a lot of fun. I plan on taking pictures so unless I am threatened not to, I will post those over the weekend.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great day, and a wonderful conference weekend!