Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ever Feel Lonely?

When I saw this tree I had to jump out of my car and take a picture.
What a poor, little, lonely lemon.
But I realized even though there is only one, the tree still used all of its resources to grow it.
I think there is a lesson in that about the value of an individual.
Yesterday I was a service project.
Yes, A service project--not at a service project
But it wasn't like it sounds.
In December the women in my ward all wrote down a service they were willing to give and then put them in a bowl.
Everyone who offered a service could then also draw a service.
I drew "Take someone to lunch"
So yesterday, the sweet sister made good on her offer and took me to lunch.
And I had a wonderful time.
Thank you so very much Allyson A.!!
I got a call yesterday asking me to speak in church on Sunday.
I haven't given a talk in church for six years.
The topic is teaching.
Kind of broad.
Pray for me. :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sometimes it is just the small things . . .

My daughter told me of a conversation she had with a friend who recently lost her mother to cancer. The friend said, "You just don't realize how many times during the day you want to call your mom."

That broke my heart.

I can understand a little how many times she might want to call her mother. I have three daughters away from home, and they all call regularly--as in daily, or sometimes even several times a day.

They call as they walk between classes. They call after class to let me know what they learned. They call after a test to share their success or failure.

They call to tell me about their job, their stress, and what the baby is doing. They call to tell me about their new crush--because they know I want to hear all the details about that.

They call to see how I am doing. They ask how seminary went and about my plans for the weekend.

We talk a lot.
I love their calls. I love hearing their voices on the phone and learning about their day. And never again will I take their calls for granted.
Sometimes it is just the simple little things that mean the most.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's A Miracle . . .

The very first blog I ever read was Becky Irvine's. I loved reading her blog then and I still love reading it now. But one thing she did that I enjoyed was look for the miracles in her life and write about them. Whether they were large or just small tender mercies, I always enjoyed hearing her experiences.

So this morning, while sitting in church, I began to think of miracles that have recently occurred in my life and decided I needed to do a better job recording them so . . . here is #1.

A few weeks ago I bought some jewelry as a gift. As I was saving it to give later, I put it in a small bag and then placed the bag in a "safe" place. But, when I needed to retrieve it, I could not remember where it was.

This isn't really surprising. I am always playing the game, "Where are my reading glasses?" (usually on my head) "Where are my car keys?" (anywhere from outside on the porch to inside the washing machine), or "Where is my purse?" (you don't even want to know). So the fact that I was once again needing to find something I put down, was not very alarming.

But after I searched everywhere I could think to look, I began to worry. It is true I could replace the jewelry, but it was fairly expensive and I had ordered it over the Internet, which meant if I had to re-order, I would need to wait for it to be delivered and I wanted to give it away the next day.

I offered a quick prayer for help, and continued looking--still without success. Then I talked with one of my daughters who asked me if I had prayed. I told her I had, but not necessarily with "full purpose of heart." So after hanging up the phone, I knelt in prayer.

This time I explained the situation. I told how I had purchased the jewelry as a gift and although I could replace it, I would prefer not to waste the money that was already spent. I expressed my belief that I could receive help, and prayed for direction in finding it.

All through my prayer I kept thinking that it had to be in my closet. That just made the most sense. So when I finished my prayer, my intent was to search the closet again. However, instead I walked into my bathroom and opened my linen closet. I was a bit perplexed as to why I was there, but thought to myself, "Okay, I guess I will look here first, and then search the bedroom closet." Just as I was about to close the cupboard door, I noticed a small black sack in the back, up against the side of the closet. I opened the sack, and there inside was the jewelry.

I was so very grateful for such an immediate and powerful answer to my prayer. I felt as if an unseen power took me by the shoulders and directed me to the bathroom, since I thought rationally I should be walking in a different direction. I have no idea why I would have put the jewelry in there, but I was so grateful Heavenly Father heard my prayer and took the time to answer it.

I have had answers to prayers before, but this is one I am sure I will always remember. To me . . . it was a miracle.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring . . . Is this ever going to stop?

We live in a desert. We normally only get about six inches of annual rain fall, so about 330 days of the year we can count on sunshine, and we can have outdoor parties in January. So we were pretty excited to hear a rain storm was coming. We haven't seen rain in several months and even the cacti were looking thirsty.

It started as just a few drops on the sidewalks.

And built until we had a drizzle off the rain gutter.

Then we had a down pour.

Soon the once dry ground couldn't hold any more moisture and little rivers started to form.

The wash in front of our house, where a month ago we built a bonfire, was running water for the first time in five years.

And our driveway flooded.

Streets turned to rivers and parks turned to ponds.

Several kids stayed home from school due to the rain. I heard one boy rolled his car when he hydroplaned, lost control and hit a curb, (we don't really know how to drive in bad weather here) and I just got a call from a seminary student telling me he won't be in class tomorrow because their roads are all flooded.
In spite of it all, I loved today. I was mostly home, reading a book, baking whole wheat rolls and making chipotle chicken and corn chowder. All warm comfort food.
But now it is dark outside. The wind is picking up and the rain is pelting my windows. I am ready for it to stop.
Or someone may need to send an ark.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Birthday Greetings and Economy Humor!


Kali joined our family through marriage, and we are so very grateful to have her!!
She is sweet, kind, patient, loving, generous and tenderhearted. She makes the most wonderful shredded beef tacos and puts up with two toy poodles and a very big great dane!!
We love you Kali!
We hope you have a wonderful birthday!!
And on a lot different topic . . .
For those who may be feeling a bit down over the economy . . . here is a little humor I received in an email to make you smile. (It is better than crying)
The economy is so bad that . . .
1. I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
2. I ordered a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asked, "Can you afford fries with that?"
3. CEO's are now playing miniature golf.
4. If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.
5. Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.
6. McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.
7. Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.
8. A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico .
9. The Mafia is laying off judges.
10. Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.
11. Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh, Great!! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!
And, finally...
12. I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Lifeline. I got a call center in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.
(Okay so that last one was a little sick . . .) But hopefully at least one of them brought a little . . . joy to your journey.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend Wind Up and Another Yummy Chicken Recipe!

Last week was a hard one for me. I was not feeling well physically for most of the week, and emotionally I was a bit down about having my daughters back at BYU and Camille and her baby back in Colorado. I was tired, a little depressed and a lot anti-social.

Then late Friday afternoon, I suddenly felt like me again! I don't know what happened to create the change, but I was thankful, since we had a busy weekend planned and I needed to be up for it.


Friday night we went to Michelle's basketball game. Ryan and Kali, along with the Bairds came to cheer with us. It is always more fun to have a crowd. Afterwards we went home and made crepes. I got a crepe griddle for Christmas and was eager to test it out, but Wes, the official pancake maker in the house, insisted on taking over while we all carefully supervised.

While we indulged in very delicious crepes, Michelle had a party of her own. She invited the entire girl's varsity basketball team over to spend the night! And a couple of the team members invited friends. They had quite a party going on in the basement that kept us up until 2:00 a.m. (Some of the girls didn't go to bed until 5, though) Thank goodness for our friends who were willing to stay nearly the entire time with us!! Otherwise I think it would have been a rather long night for the parents.


At 9:00 a.m. we rousted them all out of bed for breakfast. I loved having a full table again!! (They did not love having their picture taken, however.) Wes put his expert pancake making skills to work once again and everyone enjoyed the results.

Michelle is the only member of our church on her team. Many of the girls are very nice and good friends to Michelle. A few others, however, made me very concerned. We definitely did not share the same values. I realized even more the challenges the youth today face at school.

After nearly everyone left (one girl stayed the day with us) we went over to our church building to clean. It was our week, and along with our neighbors we vacuumed, washed windows, mopped floors and emptied trash cans. Megan cleaned right along with us and even took a Book of Mormon home as a gift!

After mourning the loss of the Phoenix Cardinals, we got together with two couples for dinner and to watch the movie "One Good Man". Suzy made some of the yummiest chicken I have ever eaten. (The recipe is at the bottom of this post) We also had Jenny's delicious potatoes and for dessert we had . . . yes, crepes! (We are experts now.) Wes made these as well and they were even better than the night before.

Tonight we have company coming for Family Night. Wes' cousin from Idaho is in town visiting and he and his wife are joining us. We are excited to get caught up with him, and also hear about his brother who lives in Moscow and another brother who lives in Dubai. Should be a fun night!

And now here is Suzy's Recipe For Savory Chicken! You will love it!!

1/2 cup cooking oil
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg

Mix all of the above in blender. Set aside a little of the sauce for basting. Marinate six chicken breasts in the remainder of the sauce for one hour. Grill on a low heat, turning and basting frequently until done.

Enjoy! Oh, and if anyone else wants to come by some night for crepes . . . you are invited!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Early Years

This is a picture of my three older siblings, myself and my younger brother Scot. I am the little girl in the front who is looking totally confused.
And here I am six years later, along with my younger sister Becky. I love this picture!

I had an entirely different blog post planned for today until I read Dawn at Momza’s House and decided to follow her example (sounds better than “copy”) and do a little “getting to know me”—the early years. Some of these things my kids don’t even know.

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am intentionally omitting the year—but Barbie and I do have one thing in common. I was welcomed into the family by loving parents, two sisters and a brother. (Four more kids came later)

As a toddler I was either precocious or dumb. I prefer precocious. When my mother was trying to teach me my name, she would say my name and then ask me to repeat it. But instead I would say “Duff.” “No”, she would say, “that isn’t your name. Now let’s try again,” and again I would say “Duff”. Later I changed it to “Duffy,”. Finally my family gave up and called me Duffy—a name I went by until I was nine and we moved to Costa Rica. However, my dad does still call me Duffy on occasion.

Marbles were big when I was little and my older siblings loved to play them. And I liked to get in their way. One of my first memories is of my sister tying me to the rocking chair in the living room while they played so I couldn’t mess things up. I am pretty sure my mother was not very happy about that one.

That was the same chair my parents would pull up to the kitchen door so I could watch them eat dinner when I was three and too sick with hepatitis to join them. Also over the course of my first few years I had mumps, measles, German measles and chicken pox.

I hated Barbies, but loved baby dolls. My favorite was Thumbelina. I would bathe her, take her for walks in a little stroller and rock her to sleep. I also loved to play “teacher”. I spent many hours in my father’s office, holding my flannel board and teaching my imaginary students.

My first real hero was John Glenn---the astronaut who was the first person to circle the earth. I was fascinated by him—until I grew older and learned he was a Democrat. :-)

My best friends were Mary Ellen McMurray and Ann Marie Rasmussen and we lived on a quiet little cul-de-sac where everyone knew each other, everyone was friends and our summer evenings were spent playing “Kick the Can” and “Hide and Go Seek”, with all the neighborhood kids. Our summer days were spent learning to waltz and putting on plays (under my sister’s direction) or watching magic shows in the McMurray’s garage, with the neighborhood’s teenage boys as the stars.

The first boy I ever liked was named Frank, who also ended up being my second cousin. He always wanted me to walk him home from kindergarten, and if I didn’t want to do it, he would get mad and tell me he wouldn’t be my cousin anymore. The second boy I liked was Mitchell. We used to play kissing tag during recess until the principal told us we had to stop. (The entire class played, not just the two of us.)

It was a very happy, very secure, and very comfortable life which all came to a screeching halt the night my parents told us my father had been called to serve as the mission president of the Central American Mission. This included the countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. I was nine years old at the time and my mother was in her early 30’s. (My father is 8 years older than my mom). So we sold our house, packed up our belongings and moved to a foreign country where Spanish was the only language spoken and there were no other members of the church our age.

But that is a story for another day. . .

May you all have a wonderful weekend and may you always find . . . joy in your journey.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Have You Ever Been This Tired??

This is how I have been feeling today.
Time for a nap.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Healthy Living Challenge!!

Needing a lot of encouragement, enormous support, and a huge dose of will power, I decided to join In This Small House in her Healthy Living Challenge and overcome those nasty holiday eating habits!!

There is no dieting involved, no starvation, or deprivation of all things tasty, it is simply a plan to encourage a healthier lifestyle. The challenge started yesterday and runs through February 8th. And there are even prizes involved!! So if you want to join, hurry and start today!

This is how it works. For four weeks you keep track of points you earn for different healthy choices. (Listed below) If you want a chart to help you, email Small House at and she can send you the chart.

Point System

Drinking Water: 1 point per cup

Exercise: 1 point per 10 minutes
Veggies and Fruits: 1 point per 1/2 cup

Smile: 5 pts. for smiling throughout the day. (the power of positive thinking....VERY HEALTHY!)
Water= Fresh water. Reusable container is recommended, not required. Sorry, but juice, milk, coffee, soda, tea, lemonade etc. do not count. (It's a CHALLENGE)

Veggies and Fruit= Fresh, frozen, canned all qualify. Please do not count juice (high in calories and no fiber). What qualifies as a 1/2 cup serving? Any of the following....1/2 cup celery, 1/2 medium tomato, 1 small apple, 1/2 large banana, 6 baby carrots (you get the point). We'll just have to measure a bit. Add veggies and fruit to each meal and for snacks!!

Personally I will be walking for 40 minutes a day (five days a week) and using the food pyramid to determine how much of each serving I should have. I don't plan on eating 12 cups of vegies in one day, or exercising for two hours just to have more points.

So . . . Keep track of your points....and on February 8th, email your points to In This Small House. She will total the points and announce the winner. But seriously, if we do this for four weeks aren't we all winners anyway?!! :-)

Best of luck ladies!! And if you don't want to participate--then please feel free to send me some encouragement!!

Thank you, Thank you!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Gives Way to Spring--A Celebration

It has been an interesting week filled with tender emotions. On Tuesday we said farewell to a life well lived, and today we celebrated with my niece Riki and her husband John, as they began their lives together. ---- A testimony that winter gives way to spring, and that sorrow can be overcome by hope.

But most importantly, this week has strengthened my faith that families can be together forever. This life is not the end, but rather the family unit began today can exist beyond death, and someday we can be reunited with those who have passed on.

How grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ and my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation!!

Riki and John as they exit the Mesa Temple

One more kiss before getting in their carriage

Four of the bridesmaids--and all cousins

The father of the bride visits with one of Riki's uncles, while two other uncles visit in the back.
The wedding celebration was held at the Wright House in Mesa.
The grounds were gorgeous and the weather was perfect!

Everyone had a great time.

Especially the little flower girls who spent much of the time playing in the fountain.

Although it was a long day for Carly. She just couldn't stay awake. Luckily she has a wonderful grandpa who takes good care of her.

The cake was not only beautiful, but also delicious. Each layer was a different flavor.
Our favorite was the lemon cranberry.

Thankfully there was no smashing of the cake in the face!

After all the fun, the bride and groom headed off for their honeymoon. Everyone else in the family went to the BYU-H vs Grand Canyon basketball game.
We invited them, but John very politely turned us down.
We wish them the very best as they begin their journey together.
May it bring them great joy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lessons for Life

My good friend Frances, sent me an email entitled "Life's Handbook". I thought the suggestions were fun to read, good advice--and a good reminder at the beginning of a new year. I am posting some of them here, along with a few of my own. Enjoy!

1. Remember that when you leave this life, all you can take with you is your knowledge/experiences and your relationships. Make learning, serving, growing and loving others a priority.

2. People are more important than projects.

3. Forgive everyone. It is a waste of energy to carry a grudge.

4. Learn a new skill or read a good book. Everyone feels better about themselves when they are learning and growing.

5. Smile. You never know when just a smile to a stranger will brighten their day. Besides, everyone looks prettier with a smile on their face.

6. Take time each day to count your blessings and express gratitude to God for your life. Just learning to be grateful each day will make you a lot happier.

7. Be kind. You will never regret being too nice to someone. And even if someone chooses to be unkind to you, you can still choose to be kind back.

8. Make time for friends and family. When you are in need, your job or your list of “to-dos” will not be there to take care of you, but your friends and family will. Besides, friends and family members are gifts that should be treasured.

9. The best things in life usually require a sacrifice.

10. Some of our most difficult experiences will in the end provide some of our sweetest memories.

11. What we learn from a trial depends on us. We can learn to grow and turn to the Lord, or we can become bitter and angry. It is totally our choice.

12. You don’t have to win every argument. Sometimes it is best just to agree to disagree.

13. Every day will be a better day if at least part of it is spent in prayer and scripture study.

14. Take time each day to ponder.

15. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

16. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

17. Don’t compare your life to others—you really have no idea what their life is about.

18. You will always find time for what is really most important to you.

19. Don’t get so caught up in to-do lists, that you miss out on the best part of life—the sweet quiet moments spent with the people you love.

20. Take time each day to serve. Pray for promptings to help others and then follow the promptings when they come—even if it is inconvenient. If you will help God with His work, He will help you with yours.

21. Having a good sense of humor can get you through a lot of bad situations.

22. Last but not least--live your life with the three E's Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.

So what about you? What lessons have you learned over the course of your lifetime?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday--A Farewell

Thank you so much to everyone for your kind words of support, your cards, and flowers and for those who came to the funeral. We were overwhelmed by your love and will forever be grateful.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Starting the New Year on a Sad Note

Tomorrow is my mother-in-law’s funeral. She passed away New Year’s Eve, following a brief and rapid decline after a fall. Although her health had been deteriorating over the past several years, it was still a shock to see her fail so quickly last week. I am so grateful my children were all in town to spend time with her over Christmas break. Those last few days will always be treasured.

The first time I met Nona was in Quito, Ecuador. She was the wife of my mission president, and she and her husband met us at the airport upon our arrival. She was happy, gracious and having served a mission herself, a staunch supporter of sister missionaries. She was also the best missionary I have ever met.

One day while on my mission, I had the opportunity to go shopping with her. She talked with EVERYONE about the gospel. No sales clerk or store patron was exempt. Over the years she has also shared the gospel with every repairman who visited her home, handing out many Book of Mormons, and helping to bring numerous people into the church. I also came to know her as a great speaker, teacher, and a woman of tremendous faith.

Another trait she possessed which I always admired was her graciousness to all who visited her home. I first noticed this as a newlywed, when we were visiting my in-laws while they were living in northern Mexico. Many people were traveling through town during the time we were there, and all were welcomed into her home. Although there was a steady stream of company, never once was anyone turned away or made to feel they were an inconvenience. And in fact, I am sure every person who stayed at the house left feeling welcomed, cared for, loved and appreciated.

As an observer, I knew the constant company required a lot of work, expense, and frequent changes in plans. I was so impressed, however, that none of that was ever obvious to the guests. It made me want to be sure that no one ever entered my home without feeling welcome.

The last trait I want to mention is one all the in-laws laugh over and joke about—and the family members can’t figure out why we think it is so funny. :-) But . . . Nona truly believed all of her children were perfect. They were the smartest, the best looking, the most athletic, kindest, most talented children ever. (So it came as quite a shock to her when my husband became the one and only person ever asked not to participate in the high school choir:-)

One brother told me he loved having his mother at his football games. Although she didn’t always know what was happening, she was positive he was the star. (You just have to love a mother like that.) So even though those of us who married into the family now have to deal with the egos :-) Nona left her children a wonderful gift. They all grew up confident, believing in themselves, and unafraid of exploring new paths.

She will be greatly missed.

Quote for the day: It is such a blessing to love someone so much that it hurts when they are gone. The real tragedy is when you do not feel the sorrow. (Donise Price)

And as a gift from her to you, I am leaving you with Nona's Ritz Cracker Chicken recipe. She was a great cook, but I think her chicken will always be my favorite. (This has been modified a little to simplify and reduce the fat, but it retains its great flavor)

Easy Ritz Cracker Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts, cut into 2-3 pieces each
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 cups Ritz crackers, crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted. (or more if needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together yogurt, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and poultry seasoning. Take a piece of chicken and dredge in yogurt mixture and then roll in the crushed Ritz crackers. Place in buttered baking dish. Continue until all pieces are coated. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Enjoy!!