Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thoughts at Christmastime 2011....

At this time of year I seem to do a lot of reflecting on what the season really means to me.  So many people try to change Christmas traditions and make bold statements about why the change is warranted.  One of these things is the abolition of gifts.  So many people I know have decided to not give out gifts at Christmastime.

When this trend first started to gain popularity, I was understanding.  'Of course it's hard to buy gifts for all of those people!'   'Of course you should only give gifts to the children- Christmas is all about them anyway.'  And, I let it ride....for a while....slowly realizing that I was becoming selfish.  I was buying into the idea that I shouldn't give gifts to people unless they were really important, closely related, or they were going to give me one.  How wrong I was!

You see, the less I gave, the unhappier I was becoming.  Christmastime was losing it's luster.  In fact, I was losing the spirit of Christmas!

The most joyful part of Christmas is the GIVING.  It has nothing to do with receiving or buying.  A gift is a "gift" because of the love behind it, no matter how simple or small.  The joy I feel when giving a gift to someone I love, cannot be replicated.  I can bake a cookie with so much excitement and put all of the love I feel for that person into it.  That is my gift.  My love.

I have stopped worrying about whether or not my gifts will be "good enough" or appreciated.  It no longer matters to me.  My gift will be given freely without expectations.  I do not seek for gratitude or a gift in return.  I can only hope that the receiver of my gift will feel my love.  For that is the real gift I bring, just wrapped in pretty paper.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Comfort From a Friend....

Today, Eric left this life.  He fought hard for 16 days.  We will all miss him so much.

A dear friend, Tammy Ravsten, sent me some words of comfort and they are so moving, I had to share them with everyone:

This is also a time that reminds us with keen awareness------ who we are missing....
It has been helpful for me to remember the connections I've felt with loved ones,
and to review the reassuring words of the prophets regarding our ongoing bond with loved ones who have passed on.
Perhaps sharing some of these quotes might be beneficial for you as well:

From Joseph Fielding Smith:  “And may I say for the consolation of those who mourn, and for the comfort and guidance of all of us, that no righteous man is ever taken before his time. In the case of the faithful Saints, they are simply transferred to other fields of labor. The Lord’s work goes on in this life, in the world of spirits, and in the kingdoms of glory where men go after their resurrection."      Funeral Sermon for Elder Richard L. Evans  November 4, 1971
See the full Funeral talk at:

In a funeral sermon, Joseph Smith declared that the spirits of righteous people who have died “are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions….” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.326).

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The spirit world is not far away. From the Lord’s point of view, it is all one great program on both sides of the veil. Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. This I know! Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.” (Conference Report, April 1971, p.18; or Ensign, June 1971, p. 33; see also President Ezra Taft Benson’s book Come unto Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983), pp. 117–26)

“God lives and his eyes are over us. And his angels are round about us and they are more interested in us than we are in ourselves. Ten thousand times, but we do not know it.” –President John Taylor (quoted by John Bytheway in his book: When Times Are Tough)

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike--and they will, you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed.”–Elder Jeffrey Holland ("For Times of Trouble,"New Era,Oct.1980,p.15)

As we know, it was through Joseph Smith that God revealed the truth that the family may endure beyond the grave—that the sympathies, affections, and love for each other may exist forever. One of the early Apostles of this dispensation, Elder Parley P. Pratt, wrote:
“It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter."
“It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity. …"
“I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion; a kind MINISTERING ANGEL, given to me as a comfort, and a crown of glory for ever and ever. In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding also.”
“Yet, at that time, …Joseph Smith, had barely touched a single key; had merely lifted a corner of the veil and given me a single glance into eternity.”
(Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968, chapter 36, pp. 297–98, emphasis added)

This discussion with Joseph Smith took place around 1839. In 1837, Parley had lost the wife of his youth,Thankful Halsey, who died shortly after the birth of their son.   Her death, at the age of forty, brought over­whelming grief to Parley, which he found no words to express. Later, at one point, she came to him in a dream with a message and comfort from heaven.
During the hours of sleep there is a serenity in which a person is without interruptions. Parley P. Pratt reasoned that this was a most receptive time for communication from departed loved ones / our 'guardian angels', who could communicate to us through the medium of dreams. He wrote:

“In this situation, we frequently hold communication with our departed father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter; or with the former husband or wife of our bosom, whose affection for us, being rooted and grounded in the eternal elements, or issuing from under the sanctuary of love's eternal fountain, can never be lessened or diminished by death, distance of space, or length of years.
… With what tenderness of love, with what solicitude of affection will they watch over our slumbers, hang about our pillow, and seek to communicate with our spirits, to warn us of dangers or temptation, to comfort and soothe our sorrow, or to ward off the ills which might befall us, or perchance to give us some kind token of remembrance or undying love!
…O what a comfort it is, in this dreary world, to be loved and cared for by all-powerful, warm-hearted, and lovely friends!”
(Parley P. Pratt, Key to Theology, see pages 120-124)

President Joseph F. Smith said our deceased loved ones are greatly concerned about our well-being and happiness; he suggested that it is possible that our departed loved ones may be sent to help us who yet live on earth. “Our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their friends and relatives upon the earth again, bringing from the divine presence messages of love, of warning, of reproof or instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.” (See Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 436)

"The veil which separates us from the Spirit world sometimes seems very thin to us...however, surely those who have passed beyond, can see more clearly through the veil back here to us...I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly beings....We are close to our kindred...I claim we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous of our welfare, they love us now more than ever."
(Joseph F. Smith - Gospel Doctrine, p. 429)

                                        *                   *                 *
“All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided
you continue faithful.   By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it…..
we have a knowledge that those we bury here God will bring up again,
clothed upon and quickened by the Spirit of the great God; and what
mattereth it whether we lay them down, or we lay down with them when
we can keep them no longer?   Let these truths sink down in our hearts,
that we may even here begin to enjoy that which shall be in full hereafter.”
“But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death
 is swallowed up in Christ.”                                                                  Mosiah 16:8                                   Teachings (P. 295)            President Joseph Smith, Jr.  (1805-1844)

Those bound to us on the other side, are very interested in our well being and probably better able to help and influence us than they could do while with us in mortality. 
Go to the temple. The promises we receive there are so reassuring—particularly highlighted this time was the POWER to come forth in the resurrection…! And until that glorious day, they [as well as other loved ones who have passed on] may be near to us -   especially within the sacred space of the temple. (Since it serves as a portal between the worlds, a place where heaven and earth come together, many people say that they feel closest to their dear ones on the other side of the veil while in the temple.) When there, our souls feel knit together in love; we feel warmed, uplifted, peaceful; everything feels all right!

"Where is heaven?” asked President Thomas S. Monson, then answering said, “it's not very far when you're in the temple... it's right where you are."
May you all feel the heavenly presence and caress!

"Those we love don't go away.
They walk beside us everyday
Unseen, unheard always near.
Still loved, still missed and very dear."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Nephew, Eric....

This is my nephew, Eric.  He has been in the ICU for the past 12 days.  We are extremely worried about him.  He had surgery yesterday to try to clean out some of the infection in his body, but he will need more surgeries before he can get better.  Please, if you are looking for something meaningful to pray about, pray for him.  He needs so much strength right now.  We love him very much and he still has a lot of life yet to live.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Back...

So, I have been MIA for over a year now, and I am finally ready to start posting again.  

This past year has been wonderful, difficult, and quite a learning experience.

I over-extended myself beyond what I was capable of and it came back to bite me.  But, I have learned to prioritize and also endure harsh criticism.  I feel like I have grown.

There are so many lessons I am meant to learn and the funny thing is not even knowing I need to learn them.  I am amazed when a situation arises out of obscurity, completely blindsides me, causes heartbreak, and then miraculously teaches me.  My eyes have been opened to so much.  I feel that I can see more clearly and I am more open to empathy. 

I have lost faith and trust in people that I thought I couldn't live without, and I survived.  Almost unbearable pain, sleepless nights crying alone in the dark, hopelessness, loneliness, and grief, gave way to a new kind of happiness.  I learned to turn inward, trust my husband and kids more.  I finally learned that my little family is enough.  And, they are glorious.  And I am grateful.

Starting this blog again, I feel like a new person.  I don't know how it will turn out, but it will be real.  Take me as I am.  

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Maryn's 6th Birthday!

In July, on Pioneer Day, Maryn turned 6!  

A few days before her birthday, she left a note on the refrigerator for Charles commanding him to wake up everyone on her birthday.  (He's always the first to wake up in our house.)  She then proceeded to tell us that we should have our gifts laid out on the couch and come into her room and surprise her.  So, we did what she wanted.  Charles got her a Barbie Charlotte from "The Princess and the Frog" movie, I got her an Elephant that can do all sorts of sounds and moves, and Glenn was told to get her a gift when we took her to Disneyland.

That day was also my mom's family reunion at a park.  So, we brought a cake and sang "Happy Birthday".  It was a special day with all of our family that we love and a lot of people we are getting to know!

Back in the spring, we had earned free Disneyland tickets from doing their "Give a Day, Get a Day" program.  The kids and I made up hygiene kits for teenage girls and delivered them to a shelter.  We saved the Disney tickets for Maryn's birthday.

Because of the super busy summer with the All Night Dance Party, Girl's Camp, and Pioneer Trek, it took us a while to schedule a day to go.  But, we finally did!  Maryn had told us the year before that she didn't want a party, she only wanted to go together as a family.  It was so much fun!  We started out by letting Glenn get her the Baby Minnie she wanted.  Then, Maryn ran the whole day!  She picked out all of the rides, chimichangas for lunch, bread bowls for dinner- everything!  I wish that I had pictures of this day, but I can't figure out how to load them from my phone!
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Girl's Camp 2010!

This year I was blessed to be able to go to Girl's Camp again! I have to say that this is one of my favorite things to do with my Young Women. They are the sweetest, purest, and prettiest girls that I know. Just being close to them strengthens my testimony. I wish that I had their level-headed approach to life and strong resolve when I was young.The theme for this year was Super Heroes. We chose Dorcas because our color was yellow which represents Good Works. I made the girls yellow tote bags, and yellow capes. The girls loved them both! We were blessed to even have fabric donated to make them fleece blankets.

We just had a great time together! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pioneer Trek 2010...

Last week our Stake Youth Conference was a Pioneer Trek through the mountains.

About 4 months ago, Glenn and I were interviewed by the Stake Presidency and asked to be a "Ma and Pa" couple. Right after that, Glenn injured his knee and had surgery. We were praying that he would be well enough to go, and our prayers were answered!
The night before the trek, we gathered at the Stake center and met our 9 kids! We had 5 boys and 4 girls. They were amazing and so much fun! We made our family banner and created a family yell.

The next morning we set out for the hills! When we got there, we set up our handcarts and had a re-enactment of Joseph being tarred and feathered. Then Brother Brigham announced our journey and we took off!
We hike about 4 miles and then stopped for lunch. After we ate, we hiked another 3 to 4 miles and stopped for the day. We camped at a farm on the ground. This night was my favorite! We had our family devotional. It was so beautiful. We all sang beautiful hymns together and many of us teared up during the songs. We all kept singing, hymn after hymn. Then Porter Rockwell came and talked to us for a while and told us all of his wonderful stories.

The next day we took off with the handcarts and went uphill for a long time. It was hard on one of our strongest boys because he had blisters all over his toes. But, like a true Pioneer, he carried on. This day was a challenge for me because the stake leaders wanted the kids to do what they wanted. Our boys were big and strong and wanted to prove themselves, so they literally ran the handcart up the hills. Their pace was too fast for me and some of the girls. I was constantly trying to catch up.

We were stopped by the wagon master and told that we had to cross a creek. We had to unpack the cart and carry it across the gorge. We all had to help each other. It was a great learning experience for all of our youth. They all worked together and helped each other even though it wasn't their cart.
Then we had a play about the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies.

We travelled on and stopped in a valley for lunch and pioneer activities. The kids learned so many things! They shot guns, arrows, made axes, chopped wood, and sawed logs. Glenn and I got to be in charge of the two beautiful Belgium horses, Marty and Mason. We taught the kids how to drive them. I got lots of exercise walking them up and down the hill dozens of times!

After that, we hiked on until we came to the top of this hill that overlooked the gorgeous valley. The girls got to sleep in rope bunks and the boys slept in wagons, pig pens, or out under the stars.
We ate a good dinner of BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn cake. Then we played pioneer games. Then the kids had a square dance! They all loved it! It was so much fun to watch them!

The next morning we packed our handcart for the last time and had a meeting. I was dreading this time. The men were called to war. I started to cry. I wasn't crying because of the emotional moment, I was crying because of how scared I was to do the Women's Pull. You see, I had 4 girls with me. Two of the girl's were prone to exhaustion, and two of the girls had asthma. The day before I could not keep pace with the boys and I had never pulled the cart yet. I didn't know how I was going to do this, but I also knew that I couldn't abandon my girls. Rebecca Chase (a Mia Maid from my ward) saw me crying under my bonnet and came and put her arm around me. She told me that we'd all help each other pull. Her beautiful offering struck my heart.

While the men left, we women had a couple of activities to do. We made dolls, embroidered, wrote letters, and made butter. I was still on the verge of tears at this point. As I was walking to the activities, a thought came to my mind: "Fear is the opposite of Faith." I stopped right there and prayed to my Heavenly Father for the strength I needed for the women's pull. I felt a calmness come over me. When the time came, I put on my gloves, climbed into the yoke of the handcart and pulled with my girls! It was amazing! We did the whole thing and all of us did it together! When we came to the huge hill that we had to do without the men, I was right there and did it. The Lord gave me the strength to do more than I could do on my own. It was such a testimony to me of faith.

Right after we did that hill, the men came down the mountainside to help us. The next leg of our journey was called Testimony Hill. It used to be called The Widowmaker! All of the families were mixed at this point because it was so difficult to maneuver. It was insanely steep. I could barely walk up it. I was useless to pull. But, the men and boys were awesome! Some of the boys were up and down that hill over and over. But, some of the kids overdid it and we had 5 kids end up in the hospital after that hill. I am surprised there were only 5.

After we all made it to the top, we enjoyed some watermelon. Pres. Young came and welcomed us to the valley. We hiked down the hill and enjoyed a bbq. The kids got letters from their parents and we unpacked our carts.

The experience was so amazing. I am so grateful I got to go! I loved my family and my only complaint is that I wished we could stay longer!!