Nov 24, 2013

Heavenly Father Has Got Your Back

On Thursday, as I went out to check the mail, there was a green envelope with crazy stickers all over it, and some of the most beautiful handwriting I have ever seen.  It was a letter from Lexie!  (Can I just say that I love Australia!  The letter was postmarked on the 18th, and was in my hands on the 21st!  Bless them for having such a great postal service!)  Since she won't be here for Thanksgiving, she wanted to share with us why she was grateful.  She then proceeded to tell each one of us why she was thankful for us.  Of course I cried!  But I also laughed because she is funny, and faithful and just all around amazing. 

Love this girl!
She said something in the letter though that just stood out to me.  She told one of her siblings that she knew that Heavenly Father had her back.  It is so true.  He has all of our backs.  Just in the past couple of weeks I have seen His hand so often in our lives.  Answers to prayers, blessings, and even miracles.  Many "significant, but subtle" blessings, that have lifted me or members of my family through hard times, or just brought the simple reassurance that He is mindful of us and will help us through anything that comes our way.  Challenges are always around us, but I am so grateful to know who has my back.  I have full confidence in Him.


Nov 14, 2013

Thankful November

I see so many who post pictures or comments of what they are thankful for every day in November.  I think it is such a great idea, but let's get real- there is no way I would remember to do that every single day for a whole month.  That does not mean that I am not grateful though.  In fact quite the opposite is true. Just last night I was in tears at the immense feelings of gratitude that I had.  Truth be told I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  One of my favorite quotes from this past General Conference was from Elder Bednar.  He said, " A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment." I have much to be grateful for, I could not possibly list them all, but here are some of the things that stand out right now.
  • My missionary daughter.  Hello, who is the parent here?  I feel like I learn more from her each week in her letters than I have ever taught her.  She is busy serving the Lord in Australia, but somehow she seems to know exactly what I  or one of her siblings need to hear.  She has been out 8 months already, and I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity she has to serve, and for the immense blessings that service has brought to our family.
  • My 12 year old son.  Last night that moment I experienced was because of him.  The last home football game is Saturday, and he was supposed to go with his Dad.  However we have a big church activity Friday and Saturday.  We told him he could still go to the game if that was what he wanted to do.  He said he would think about it.  Well last night he told us he wanted to go the meeting on Saturday, where he has to wear a white shirt and tie!  I was amazed! Who chooses a meeting over a football game?  Once again the parent was taught by the child.
  • My 16 year old bottomless pit of hunger son.  Last night he gave me a description of the varying degrees of hunger that he experiences.  The list took several minutes to describe.  He makes me laugh!  I love his sense of humor, and his genuine goodness.  Last night we were attempting to have a serious discussion about the 4th Article of Faith ( we decided as a family to memorize and study the doctrine of the Articles of Faith thanks to Elder Perry) and I asked what we needed to do to repent?  He immediately responded, "Sin."  I suppose some people might find that offensive, but I have had a rough few days, and I just laughed.  I am grateful that he always tries to lighten my load, and helps me not take myself too seriously. 
  • Beautiful Breanna.  She is so kind and compassionate.  I love her sense of style, I love her obsession with One Direction.  I love that she is continuing the "hott man wall" that her sister Lexie started.  I love that she too can always make me laugh with her antics. I love that she helps me be more enthusiastic about life.
  • My oldest and wise daughter. Last week she had her recital preview.  Stressful thing-you have to pass or you can't do your recital and then have to wait another semester.  She passed!!! So grateful. The recital is three weeks away. Can't believe I almost have a college graduate.  I love that she fights through really hard things with faith and determination, and is willing to accept the Lord's will for her.
  • My husband.  I have had lots of opportunities recently to analyze our relationship.  And you know what I found out? I am one blessed lady.  I feel so grateful that we have 100% agreement on the things that matter in life and how we want to live the gospel.  We have disagreements, yes we have even fought, but we agree on the things that matter.  I appreciate his love and support, his patience to listen to me even when I am being irrational.  
  •  General Conference.  After having read through all the talks now, I feel so blessed from the lessons I have learned.  It's like one of those gifts that just keeps on giving.
  • Crunchy leaves!  I will go out of my way to walk through leaves right now.  We have several trees in our neighborhood that drop crimson and gold leaves all from the same tree.  They look so beautiful in piles on the sidewalk.  
  • Music.  Isn't it amazing how music can convey a message that you just needed to hear.  I love that it can lift my spirits quicker than just about anything.  I was listening to this song the other day, it was exactly what I needed to hear.  You should listen to it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoXoOq2aej8
  • All my kids know all their grandparents.  3 of my 4 grandparents died before I was 5 years old.  My Grandpa Twitchell actually died before I was born.  I know I will get to know them later, and I look forward to that, but I am so grateful that my children have had the opportunity in this life to have their lives blessed by close association to their grandparents. So grateful!
I could go on and on (ok, so I probably already have...), but I just have to mention my gratitude for the Savior.  Not a day goes by that I don't rely on the Atonement and it's enabling power either for repentance or for strength to do what I could not do alone.  I am grateful that through the Atonement we can change every day to become more like Him. So for this, and so many other things, I am grateful.

Oct 1, 2013

Twelve Today!

When Grant get's excited about something, he can't stop talking.  He has been going non stop the last couple of days! Here's a look back at Grant through the years...


When we told the kids that I was pregnant with Grant, Jared was so excited to have a baby brother.  We didn't know at that point if it was a boy or a girl.  I said, "What if it is another sister?"  Jared looked me in the eye and said, "NO!"  They have always gotten along even with the age gap, although Jared is not big on snuggling anymore. :)


Sep 29, 2013

Hooray for Fall

Celebrating Grant's 3rd Birthday in Mueller Park
I say this every fall, but I really do love it.  I love the nip in the air, I love the smell, I love that our power bills finally become bearable again.  I love a good, cloudy day with a few sprinkles, that in Utah are almost always followed by days with skies of piercing blue.  Life is full of challenges, stress and uncertainty, but the wonder of fall with it changing leaves and temperatures help to keep me grounded.  (Just like spring does after a looonnngg winter)  Just like Pres. Uchtdorf said, there are seasons in all of our lives, some are good, some not so much, but always there is the promise of something better even in the darkest and longest of seasons.

I loved the Relief Society broadcast.  I was reminded of things I need to do to be a better covenant keeper.  I loved Pres. Monson's message.  We weren't sent here to walk alone, and God's love is ALWAYS available to us.  In this crazy world of constant change, how wonderful to have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior to be a constant in our lives, to help us through all seasons.

In other news-Grant is turning 12 on Tuesday!  I listened to my very last primary talk today.  He is so excited to go to Priesthood with his Dad on Saturday night.  I suppose he does have some deacon-like behavior showing up, but nothing too serious.  The other night he was in our room before going to bed.  He was walking out of the room and said, "I love you, Mom."  Tony was standing right by me, but he said nothing to him.  Tony responded, "What am I? Chopped liver?"  To which Grant responded, "Good night, Dad," with a huge grin on his face.  Grant and I started to laugh, and as he walked out of the room he added, "Dad, I love you too."

Sunday Funny-a young boy in the primary shook Tony's hand today, and seemed to be very excited about it.  Then Tony heard him tell a classmate in an animated voice, "I just shook the hand of ..wait was that the Bishop or the prophet?"  

Can't wait for General Conference next weekend!  Best two weekends of the year!  (Interesting that they come in Spring and Fall...)

Sep 18, 2013

What's the Big Deal About Sunday?

The kids after attending church in Island Park
First can I just start out by saying I love the new youth curriculum! (I might have mentioned that before, I really have no idea)  It makes me think, it helps me learn, and although it is challenging to get the girl's to participate on the level I would like, I always like a good challenge.  And when they share something personal, and preface it with a comment  like, this wasn't a big deal or dramatic or anything, and proceed to explain how they chose to do the right thing - I love it!  Can I just tell you, that I want to hug them, thank them, and tell them it is ALWAYS a big deal when you choose to follow the Savior!  Anyway I digress...

The topic for our discussion on Sunday was, "Why are we commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy?"  I know I have mentioned before how much I love Sunday's, I may have even gushed about them because I live for Sunday.  Life is hard, and I need Sunday to rest, to be spiritually fed, and to have some family time.  Pretty sure I didn't always feel this way...church in Brazil was a challenge.  Hello-three hours of understanding about 3 words?  But the language came, the spirit was still there, and I worked through that one.  I also remember hating going to other wards, especially if we had to go to primary or other meetings-not a favorite for a shy person like myself.  No matter my dislike however, when we went on vacation we found a ward to attend, because that was how we rolled.  But even with these challenges, I don't ever remember really disliking Sunday.  I remember well my first Sunday in college when my alarm went off thinking, "No one is here to make me go to church."  I laid there for a few minutes, and got up.  I wanted to go to church. 

I believe for a long time I went to church because it was a commandment.  Not just any commandment, it is one of the big 10.  I made covenants to keep the commandments, and this was part of the deal.  Obviously there is more to Sunday than going to church, but that is, in my opinion, the most important thing.  Ok, let me rephrase, going to Sacrament meeting and partaking of the Sacrament is the most important thing. Like all of Heavenly Father's commandments, they are to bless us.  He knew that life would be hard, that we would struggle with worldly realities, and that we would need reminders to stay on track.  He knew we would make mistakes, and that we would need forgiveness.  He knew that even though the Atonement is the most amazing gift ever, we would need help always remembering.  So we go to church, where we have the privilege of participating in the ordinance that the Savior instituted long ago.  I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I have every Sunday to get my life in order, to repent, to think of the Savior, and promise to keep trying through another week.

It has long become something much more than "just" a commandment to me though.  It is what I do because I love the Lord, and I recognize how much I need His help.  Always.  This is why I hunt out places to go to church even when we are on vacation, and funny thing is, it has become one of my favorite things.  I love going to church in strange places, and feeling at home.  Absolutely love it!  Crazy that I hated it as a kid. :)

Of course Sunday is more than 3 hours of church, for Tony it is more like 10 hours of church, so we try to make the day different.  We listen to different music, we TRY to have gospel discussions, we laugh, we rest (the teenagers rest a lot), and we try to keep the spirit with us as we prepare for another week.

Up next week in Young Women's-Fasting.  In D&C 59 it says fasting = rejoicing.  Still working on that one.  This will be a good lesson for me!

Aug 29, 2013

Football and other random thoughts

Today is a good day.  Why?  Football season starts today!  My team doesn't play until Saturday, but I can get caught up in just about any game.  Two of our opponents play each other tonight, so I am looking forward to checking out our competition.  I just love this time of year.  Fall and football, can it get any better?  Cool weather, hard hits, long passes for touchdowns, or a break away run.  Love, LOVE it!

Also I went to the temple today.  Had to wait 45 minutes to get into a session.  Never happened to me during the day before.  I loved it.  I just felt peaceful and content, and how cool to see the temple packed to capacity.  After the session there were a couple of older ladies talking rather loudly.  Lady 1 says to Lady 2, "When did you wash your skirt last?  It looks terrible, like you spilled milk all over it."  Then Lady 1 said to Lady 2, "You shouldn't wear your shirt like that, it makes you look fat."  I couldn't help but smile.  Then I watched this same Lady 1 patiently write down ALL of the names that Lady 2 wanted to put on the prayer roll without a complaint.  I love the temple.

Got what I am guessing is a form letter from Lexie's mission president about her being transferred and being a trainer.  Form letter or not, I believed every word of praise about my daughter that was written in that letter. :)  She is training a sister from the United States and will be serving just outside of Sydney. 

Lastly, I saw this old commercial today, and immediately thought of my children.  Ashley and Breanna especially.  It made me smile, so I thought I would share it here  (Viewer discretion advised-it is a church commercial after all.)

Aug 26, 2013

Priesthood Power

Today marked the first day of school for four of my five children.  Four kids in four different schools. Clear back when Ashley started Kindergarten in 1996, we have started the school year off with Tony giving her a father's blessing.  Every year since then, it is a family tradition to start the school year  this way.  So much so, that Ashley even got a ride up from Logan on Saturday so she could start off her last year of college right. (She also came up for my Dad's b-day who turned 82 on Saturday!)  I have had lots of opportunities to ponder on and be grateful for the priesthood and it's power in my life.  In June we covered this topic in Young Women's, and we have had several experiences over the summer that have reaffirmed and strengthened my testimony.  I know that miracles, guidance, direction and real power come into my life daily because of the priesthood.  Just this summer, I have seen people be healed from injuries and ailments, and I heard blessings pronounced that were exactly what someone needed to hear even though they had never shared their concerns.  Some may call this crazy or just a coincidence, but I have seen it, and experienced it too many times to doubt it's reality.

I have been greatly blessed by ordinances that come through the priesthood; the greatest one is being able to be sealed to my husband and family for eternity.  Eternity seems hard to comprehend sometimes in the day to day craziness, but I want all these crazies around me forever!  I am blessed every week by it's power as I attend church and partake of the sacrament.  I have watched my son, who is a normal teenager, be changed by the opportunity to represent the Savior.  I have watched young men in high school, lay aside the silly activities that usually accompany the end of high school, and choose to prepare instead to serve missions and be worthy to act in the Lord's name.

I have often been troubled by the debate about women and the priesthood, and in the past I haven't had a lot of compassion.  I realize now however, that we all have different things we struggle with, and just because it isn't a issue for me doesn't mean that it isn't a problem for someone else.  That being said, this is how I see it...The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, knows that we all need each other.  Just like we are all given different gifts so we have the opportunity to share and strengthen each other, men and women have different responsibilities so that we can bless and help each other.  Elder Ballard in April conference said, "In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife. And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father."  The way I see it, it is a beautiful plan that provides order and sharing of responsibilities, a plan that I will be forever grateful for.



Aug 19, 2013

Family Is What It's All About

You know, I love Sundays!  Yes, I love it for the reasons you might think, but I also love it for the family time we have.  It's a day when from 5 or so on everyone is home and mostly unplugged, and I just love it.  Of course not everyone was home yesterday-Ashley is in Logan and for 13 more months Lexie will be gone, but I will take whatever family time I can get.  A typical Sunday scene is Tony falling asleep at the dinner table (poor, tired Bishop) as we TRY to discuss what we learned in church.  Usually this discussion includes some crazy comment from Breanna, a wise crack from Jared, Grant pulling some deacon like prank on his sister, and Tony trying to keep his eyes open.  Every once in a while a truly spiritual moment happens, but most of the time I hope the learning is happening in between the laughter and fights.  And you know what I wouldn't want it any other way.  At about 6:30 we all become glued to the phones frantically checking our emails, as we wait for the blessed Australian emails to arrive.  What a great addition to an already great day.

As we just finished making salsa tonight for Family Home Evening (we had to do something with all of those delicious garden tomatoes), I just felt so grateful for my family. Love them!

A funny moment from yesterday when we were trying to pray-Jared was explaining that when you love someone they are funnier to you than they would otherwise be.  So you would be more likely to laugh at their jokes, etc.  Breanna immediately said, "Well then that is why I always laugh so hard at my jokes."  This then led to a totally useless conversation about what we should sing for our family musical number in September and lots of laughter.  It made me think of my Dad who would get so annoyed as we would talk forever before family  prayer when I was a kid.  We would get laughing, and couldn't stop.  He would say in frustration, "I hope your Heavenly Father has a sense of humor."  I am pretty sure he does. :)
After I wrote this post, I noticed that Ashley wrote about our discussion on a musical number, which she became a part of through text. I guess we were both thinking the same things today. You can check it out here. Ashley's Anecdotes

Aug 15, 2013

Summer Update

Not sure where summer went...only 10 days until school starts! I am so not ready! Ok, I am not ready for school, but I am ready for fall. The heat this summer has been a little over the top, and fall means football! Tickets came in the mail the other day, followed by some happy dancing when I told Jared he could go to the Texas game. So what have we been doing all summer? Here's a quick run down.

Ashley has been living in Logan and working and preparing for her senior recital. She really is only one recital and two classes away from graduating, but will go the full year to finish up a sign language minor. The other day she called me and told me she had practiced for 4 1/2 hours. Wow! In high school it was a chore to get one hour from her. She did 4 weeks of EFY this summer also, one of those weeks was in Nauvoo. She had such a fabulous experience in Nauvoo, I think she finally understands why I love the place so much.

Nauvoo!
Alexis is on her third transfer in Grafton, the farthest north you can serve in her mission. What an amazing experience she is having! She plays the piano every Sunday (don't you just love it when you tell your kids they will be grateful they can play someday, and then they really are grateful. It makes all the work to get them to practice worthwhile.) The people in Australia are absolutely amazing. They feed her, give her gifts, and she even got three cakes on her birthday. She isn't going to want to come home! She has been out 5 months already!

River in Grafton (I think it is the Clarence River)
Jared is working as a lifeguard this summer, and works as many hours as he can. He is working almost 50 hours this week. We don't see him much, but the mission savings is starting to add up. He is running to get ready for Cross Country. He just got his schedule for school, and is perfectly happy with the way it is set up. They gave him two periods of Seminary and no English. I am making him go in to change it tomorrow.

Breanna is so excited to start 9th grade. She has been working picking zuchini and squash at 6am to earn money for school clothes. Hopefully she is still excited for school after the homework starts. She and Grant have been sharing lawn mowing duties this summer, and she is constantly trying to talk Grant into taking her turn.

Grant is starting his last year in elementary school. How did I get to be so old? He will turn 12 in just a little over a month, and is looking forward to moving on from primary. His sister thinks he fits in perfectly with the deacons already. The other day he made cookies, and I told him they were delicious. He said, "Well they aren't as good as yours, Mom. Your cookies are pretty hard to replicate." Who knew he even knew the word replicate, but that he could use it correctly was pretty impressive.

Youth Conference in Manti
What else has been going on? Tony and Jared went to Priest's Camp, Breanna and I went to girl's camp, and all four of us went to Youth Conference. We had a wonderful Stevenson Family Reunion at the Heber Valley Camp, and made a quick trip to Idaho. Had a wonderful visit from Tony's Dad and Karen as they finished their mission in New Hampshire. What a wonderful experience they had, and it was so fun to have them here for a few days. Then this week we had fun visiting with my sister and some of her family as they were out here from Iowa. Now I am ready for a vacation from summer...
Stevenson Family Reunion

Aug 1, 2013

Wholesome Recreational Activities

This summer has been hectic and packed.  This is the first whole week I have been home all summer.  The days have been packed with youth camps and conferences and a family reunion.  It has been busy, but good.  To finish it all up we took our kids up to Idaho to what I consider a little piece of heaven on earth.  We left on Saturday, as soon as Tony got back from getting Ashley in Provo (she was doing a week of EFY there).  We arrived safely in Island Park around 3 pm, but not without incident. Our trusty Suburban lost power on three different occasions, but each time after shutting it off and then turning it on again we were able to keep going.  Island Park, specifically Bill's Island is the most beautiful place.  It looks and smells so wonderful, and is so peaceful.  I just can't help but feel great up there.  Perhaps part of it is that we get uninterrupted family time while there, which is unusual and often all to rare around here.  This is the first time that we have ever been up there without my parents, some of my sisters or at least some of my nieces and nephews.  I thought maybe it would be a disappointment without them, especially for the kids, but it wasn't.  What I consider as one of my greatest blessings is that my kids all like each other (even Breanna and Grant-though they probably won't admit it), and that we truly seem to enjoy each others company.

We did a whole lot of relaxing, and spending time on the lake with the jet ski.  In fact we had only been there for a mere 20 minutes when the boys were putting it into the water.  The boys spent the rest of the afternoon/evening on the lake while the female portion of the family just enjoyed the pristine surroundings.  Of course we had to watch Remember the Titans, it is a family favorite and a cabin tradition almost.  Sunday dawned bright and beautiful.  I love going to church is Island Park.  I love seeing that little building packed beyond capacity by other vacationers who are willing to take time to worship.  On Sunday we always take it a little easy, going for walks, eating fantastic food (why does it always taste so good up there?), writing to Lexie (oh how we missed her!), and watching Legacy in honor of pioneer day.

Our weather could not have been more perfect.  It was like it was scripted.  On most days we enjoyed a completely cloudless sky with highs in the low 80's, perfect for enjoying the coldish lake.  The nights were cool, getting down into the 40's, so we slept comfortably and gave the cabin a little chill before the heat of the day.

I even talked my kids into going to Yellowstone with me on Tuesday without complaint.  I was a little worried about the car, but we prayed and went anyway.  It died once, but started back up again.  Yellowstone is an amazing place! Someday I am going to go with enough time to really explore the place, but we had a great time seeing the beautiful canyon and waterfalls, seeing Old Faithful and finding 47 of the 50 state's license plates.
We were so sad to leave on Wednesday evening, and a little concerned about the car.  We left with faith that we would be ok.  The car worked perfectly all the way home.  Our own little miracle.  In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, it states, "Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."  I am grateful for the wholesome recreation we enjoyed that strengthened our family as we worked, prayed and played together.

Some favorite moments from the trip-
  • Riding the tube-even if it did make me dizzy for almost a full week after!
  • Ashley calling Jared a sausage head 
  • Monopoly, Mormon Bridge, and Wacky Six
  • All of us watching Penelope late Tuesday night. (The boys were going to go to bed-they didn't want to watch a chick flick, but they all made it to the end)
  • Driving around the parking lots before we left Yellowstone to try to find the rest of the license plates we needed. (yes we are nerds like that)
  • A discussion about snoring husbands and laughing
  • My kids getting 'excited' to see the cows on the drive home just to make me happy
  • Doing a back flip off a tube, just to make Breanna smile. (ok it was an accident because I am super coordinated, but it did make her smile)

Jul 13, 2013

A Little Treat

video
I got an email from Lexie's Mission President's wife yesterday. She said that Lexie had sung in zone conference and she recorded it.  She sent me the recording in the email, and I may have listened to it about 10 times already.  So fun to hear her beautiful voice.  Love her!  I included it here, just in case you would like to listen too.

Jun 18, 2013

Twenty-two!

We just got back from celebrating Ashley's birthday with her in Logan.  I was 22 when she was born, and now she is 22. So this post is for her.  Someone recently asked her what her name meant-I believe it is from the ash tree or something profound like that.  Ok so we didn't choose her name for it's meaning, but if I can be allowed a mother's sappy moment, she could bring meaning to any name.

Ashley came to our home full of life right from the start.  She is and always has been spunky and even sassy.  She has always entertained with her antics, and although maturity has somewhat mellowed her spunkiness you just never know quite what to expect especially when she is with her siblings. She has a joy and enthusiasm for life that is contagious.


Ashley is an ideal oldest sister, even though she has struggled with the fact that no one thinks she is the oldest.  She has always been responsible and concerned about her siblings, and has mothered them even when they didn't always want to be mothered.  She started babysitting for us at a very young age, because she usually ended up taking care of the kids because the babysitter couldn't. They all know that they can tell Ashley anything and that she will listen.  She takes her youngest brother to get snow cones, learns High School Musical dances with Breanna, will talk to Jared for as long as he wants to talk, and has become Alexis' best friend.  She is a great example and they all look up to her, (figuratively not literally of course.)

One of things I love about Ashley is her obsessions.  She gets interested in something and it becomes a passion.  She started reading Harry Potter when she was 9, for example, and has never stopped.  Sometimes I think she might think he is real.  She loves the movies, the trivia and all things Harry Potter.  Lets not forget her obsessions about Boy Meets World, Michael Jackson, and iPhones.  And of course her parents couldn't be prouder that she became passionate about BYU football, even if it took until 2006 to get her there.  There is nothing like having a child cry with you in an intensefootball game with a spectacular come from behind finish.

Ashley is a loyal and loving friend.  She will often put her own desires aside if it makes someone else happy.  She is quick to forgive, and is always looking for the good in others.  Someone told her once that she was too nice,  pretty sure if you have to have a fault that is a pretty good one to have.

No post about Ashley would be complete without mentioning her love of music.  She was born with it in her, and even before she could walk she could bounce to the beat.  She could sing on pitch right from the start, and was constantly singing and picking out songs on the piano.  She hated practicing just like the normal kid, but with some prompting was able to start accompanying for school choirs in 7th grade.  She loved accompanying and set a goal to be the Madrigal accompanist her junior year in high school.  (Never have been sure if it was the piano stuff she liked or all the cute boys in Madrigals).  She loved singing too, and loved the opportunity to do that her senior year.  This love has followed her to college and created a love/hate relationship.  Majoring in music has been a challenge, and frustrated her many times over.  She can't give it up though and has loved singing and accompanying for the institute choir at Utah State.  Lest you think this piano major only likes classical music, her music tastes are varied.  She loves Beyonce, the Biebs, Billy Joel, the Beatles, Beethoven and everything else in between.
 Ashley of course is not perfect, no one is, but I love that she works through challenges, attacks her weaknesses and earnestly strives to accept the Lord's will for her even when it isn't exactly what she wants.  I love her fiery and fun disposition, and I love that red hair! Happy Birthday Ashley!!




Jun 17, 2013

Father's Day

I realize this post is a day late, but that seems to be the way I work these days.  I am blessed to have an amazing father, who showed me by example what a father should be.  I continue to feel blessed with a husband who is a wonderful father to our children. I found some pictures that show some of the things I love about Tony in his role as father-honestly there is really nothing more attractive (I thought about using the word sexy just to make my kids who might read this cringe...) to me than when I see him caring for our children.  I love that he gets more emotional and worked up about our missionary daughter than I do.  I found a few pictures that show some of my favorite things that Tony does with our kids, that also demonstrate what I feel makes a good Dad.
1. Makes time for them.  When we were first married Tony went to school and worked full time.  Free time was almost impossible to find, but he found ways to make it work.  Ashley loved to sit on his lap while he was doing homework, and for those few precious minutes she would hold still.  I am grateful that he recognizes that taking those minutes make all the difference.
2. Teaches them to work.  The best way to teach a child to work is to work with them.  I love this picture of them washing the car, that of course turned into a water fight.  The work got done, and everyone had fun in the process.
3. Plays with them.  Tony is just a big kid.  He loves having fun with the kids.  Whether it is something big like going to Disneyland or going skiing, or something simple like jumping on the tramp with them or wrestling.  The kids always want Tony around because he brings the FUN!
What could be more fun than everyone sitting on Dad?  Dog pile on Dad was always a favorite at our house. 
5. Sharing passions.  Tony loves movies, and has passed that on to his children.  I love this picture with them all bundled up together watching a movie together.  He has even participated in High School Musical marathons with his daughters, even though he complained that he was losing brain cells the whole time.
6.  Loving.  He always noticed when little legs had gone as far as they could.  All the kids have enjoyed rides on Dad's shoulders.  Grant rode on Tony's shoulders for over 13 miles of hiking through Bryce Canyon, and here in Yellowstone too.  All the kids are too big for shoulder rides now, but he still knows when they need him.  Sometimes it is just a hug when their heart is hurting, other times it is giving father's blessings even in the middle of the night when needed.
7. Encourages goal setting and achieving.  Ashley and Jared both decided they wanted to run a half marathon.  So what did he do.  He ran with them (helps that he is crazy, and loves running).  He ran with one of them the whole way, and when he finished and realized that the other one hadn't finished yet, he went back and found them and finished up with them too.  He is always encouraging the kids to go after their goals, and sometimes even pushing when they don't want to be pushed.
8. Supportive.  He goes to every meet and tournament.  He can be found at multiple choir concerts and piano recitals.  He has attended every musical they have been in.  If the kids are doing it he is there for them. 

Lastly (sorry no picture for this one), he shows them by example the importance of loving the Lord and serving.  He leads out in our home to make sure that scripture study and family prayer always happen.  He honors his priesthood, and shows the kids the joy that can be found by living the gospel. 

Hope all the father's out there had a great day yesterday.  I suspect that no father feels that they have done or do enough, but to me all that matters is that they are trying.
 


Jun 6, 2013

Happy Birthday to my Aussie!


Today is Alexis' 20th birthday!  However in Australia it is now Friday, June 7th so it was her birthday yesterday there.  I am not in Australia, obviously, so it is still June 6th here.  This is the first birthday that we have not spent together, but as strange as that is, I really am glad she is where she is.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about her, and wonder how she is doing.  She has had her struggles in these first three months, with the visa delays and homesickness, but she is working it out.  Already the lessons she has learned will be invaluable to her throughout the rest of her life.  To hear her talk about calling people to repentance (not something she would do naturally), and being so overcome with love for the people she is teaching it warms my heart and makes all the hard stuff worthwhile.

I am grateful that my already amazing daughter, is having the opportunity to learn and to grow while she is sharing the gospel in Australia.   I hope that she has/had an amazing birthday today/yesterday (that whole different day thing is just weird), and that she could feel of our love for her on her special day.

May 28, 2013

Jared's First Prom

My 16 year old son decided he wanted to go to prom this year.  He was a little stressed about the whole thing, but I think he ended up having a good time. So crazy that all these little kids that I once had are now all getting old. (I had my very last primary child sing to me on Mother's Day-he will be 12 in October.  So strange...where does the time go!) Anyway enough waxing nostalgic!  Although I have mixed feelings about dances and the money and everything that goes with them, I think they can be fun and even reasonable.  I try not to make a big fuss out of it though, because I am not a big fan of the possible angst that comes when you don't get asked.  So we try to approach it as a fun part of high school, but not a necessary part of the school experience.  That being said it is fun as a mom to see your teenage son all dressed up, nervous and ready to go.  Hopefully he wasn't too stressed about the whole thing, and that he looks back on it as a good experience.
 
 
 

May 16, 2013

Be Still

Have you ever wanted to know the end from the beginning?  Wanted to know what the outcome would be before you started the race?  Wanted to know how your kids would be before you had them?  In essence wanted to know if the benefits would outweigh the risks and trials that accompany almost everything in this life?  However if we knew everything, we would not need to walk by faith and trust in God.  Life is scary sometimes, and it is so easy to counsel Heavenly Father on what we 'need' and how we need it right now.  In His goodness, he patiently listens to us whine, and ask the same questions repeatedly even gently chastising when necessary to help us learn to trust in Him and realize that His plan provides much more happiness, even joy, than our muddled and often visionless ideas.  Often in the turmoil that is our life, we have to take time to be still.  Be still and remember that God is in charge, and if we will trust in him our outcome really is known.  I find that the easiest times for me to be still are when I am out in nature.  When my mind is blown by the majesty of His creations, I feel that the Lord is in charge and that I can do whatever might be required.  So I am including in this post some of my favorite pictures of places that I have visited often and others that I have only seen once, but all remind me to Be Still.
Sunset Beach in Hawaii

Zion's

Arches
Bryce Canyon

Mueller Park in Bountiful
Yellowstone
Island Park, ID