Oct 15, 2014

60 years!

Today is my parent's 60th anniversary!  60 years of marriage!  In today's disposable, all about me world that seems almost impossible, but they have made it work all these years.  Mom and Dad met at BYU.  Dad and his roommates had a running bet about having a date every night while maintaining a B average.  Dad's roommate was engaged to my Mom's roommate, and one night after Dad's date had fallen through, he asked Mom out so he wouldn't lose the bet.  Although before the date they hadn't been too impressed with each other, after the date something clearly changed, because they were engaged two weeks later.  After a 7 month engagement, they were married in the Idaho Falls Temple.

I know that not every marriage works out the way we hope it will, but I am grateful for their example of working things out, and never giving up on each other. I remember once when my parents had a fight, and I was afraid that they would get divorced.  After they had worked things out they explained to me that, yes, they sometimes disagreed, but that didn't change the way they felt about each other.  They told me that they had made promises to each other and to Heavenly Father and they were going to keep those promises. From them I learned that marriage is hard, but enjoyable, work.  From them I learned that you have to continue to date, and care for one another.  From them I learned that you always hold hands, and they still do by the way.  From them I learned that putting the Lord first in your lives makes your marriage stronger.  From them I learned to work, to value time spent together as a family, and to live the gospel.  They were my prime gospel teachers. They became my best friends when we lived in Brazil for 3 years.  They taught me that when a love of God permeates your home and your heart, peace prevails.

My parents are in their 80's now. With the passage of time, the inevitable aches and pains and other losses are apparent.  They walk with slow and sometimes faltering steps, but I feel no cause to complain.  My heart is full of gratitude, that I have been blessed to have them be a part of my life here for so many years.

Aug 13, 2014

Get Happy!

When you have a child get married, it makes you do a lot of reflecting.  It is kind of fun to think about them through the years, how they have changed and how they have stayed the same.  As I have been going through all of the hundreds of pictures from engagements, bridals and the wedding day, I couldn't help but smile as so many reflected her personality.

From almost birth, Ashley has had a passion and joy for life that was and is contagious.  Sure she would cry and get upset like any child, but it was always short lived.  Sometimes so short lived that in the process of throwing herself to the floor in anger, she'd be laughing before she could kick her feet and pound her fists.  When you sang songs together, she would tell you most enthusiastically, "Good job, Mommy! Good job!"  She could never keep a straight face, and always had a twinkle in her eye.
This is one of my favorite pictures of her. :)

Now she is all grown up and married, and the years have perhaps mellowed her a little, but she still is quick to smile, and more often than not can be found dancing around the house about some new thing that she is excited about. I hope she always keeps that sparkle and spring in her step!

Here are some of my favorites that the photographer captured:

Aug 12, 2014

Les Miserables

I set a goal almost two years ago to read Les Mis, the unabridged version.  I started the book with my usual excitement.  Certainly a book with so much hype, and such a beautiful story, had to be the best book ever written right?  Well promise me you won't hate me, but it was perhaps one of the most difficult books I have ever tried to get through, and I only finished it finally this year because I had set the goal and I was determined, if not slow, to accomplish it.

I am not sorry I read it.  The overall story is beautiful and amazing.  There are so many good take aways, and parts of the book are fascinating and compelling.  I loved the character development, and I loved knowing the "rest of the story"  that is skipped over and changed in the movie and play.  Marius and Cosette is a beautiful and believable story in the book, Javert makes so much more sense, and you understand so much better how low Jean Val Jean was before being changed by the kindness of the Bishop. I felt like the ending in the book is much more satisfactory than how the play ends as well.

That is what I liked, what I didn't like is that Victor Hugo must love to hear himself talk or something.  No one, or at least I didn't,  wants to know or read his harangue about the sewers of France and the positive uses of human fertilization, or the lengthy discussion on dialects, or countless other things.  I appreciate and even like some historical background that makes the story make sense and enables me to understand it's context, but I don't need page after page of philosophical opinion making.

So what is my overall take-I am glad I read it.  Will I read it again? No.

Alexis with the Liahona :)

 In other news...This amazing and beautiful sister missionary will be home in exactly 4 weeks!
4 WEEKS! Can't wait!

Aug 6, 2014

Here we go again!

This happened today! Breanna got her learner's permit.  Teaching kids to drive is not my favorite task, it's almost like potty training.  However, I do love having them be able to drive themselves to all the million things they have to be to, so for the next 9 months I will be spending about 40 hours by her side gripping the door handle and using my imaginary brake. 
This was only her second attempt at parking...pretty impressive!  Breanna is so entertaining, I suspect teaching her to drive will never be dull.  She was Sharpay in her school production of High School Musical 2, and in my humble, and completely prejudiced opinion, she stole the show.  Just picture driving with this girl...

Wish me luck!

Jun 26, 2014

The Big Day

I haven't posted anything for quite awhile because life has been more than just a little bit crazy.  So many things have been going on, but the biggest, of course was Ashley's wedding.  Ashley went on her first date with Jim in November, they officially started dating in December, got engaged in March, and got married on the 12th of June. It all seems like a bit of a blur, but a really good blur. :)  Funny thing is the first time I saw Jim, before they were officially dating or anything, I thought to myself that she was going to marry him.  Then I told myself that I was being ridiculous because there was no way to know that and who knew if we would even like him. Turns out that we do like him, and love that he brings out the happy in Ashley.
Breanna explaining how she started calling him Barbara.  Long story...
The wedding dinner was the evening before the big day.  It was great.  We had it at the Farmington Community Center and Jim's Mom made a ton of salads and cakes, and they had smoked pork sandwiches too.  It was really yummy and so nice to have it so close.  There wasn't a huge program or anything.  Jim's Dad said a few things, and everyone introduced themselves.  Then Tony said a few things and read a letter to Ashley from Alexis.  (The hardest part of all of this wedding stuff was not having Lexie here!) The letter definitely made us all cry.  Heavenly Father cares about all of his children though, and he blessed Lexie to feel and be a part of what was going on in truly miraculous ways.
Thursday morning Ashley was all ready by about 9am, and we didn't need to leave until 10am.  She was bouncing all over the house for that last hour-full of nervous energy.  The temple was a busy place when we got there.  The Salt Lake Temple closed for most of the summer starting on the 23rd of June, so I think everyone was trying to get their weddings done before then.  But the temple of course is a house of order, and they have a system that makes it all work out.  Ashley decided to just wear her regular temple dress to be sealed, and she looked radiant.  You would be proud of me though, I did not totally lose it in the temple, or all day for that matter.  I got teary eyed here and there, but I think I held it together pretty well overall. :) I believe it was because I didn't feel sad at all.  I felt happy and at peace.  It was wonderful to be there with family and friends in the temple, I suspect it is kind of how the Celestial Kingdom will feel. It was 90 degrees when they came out of temple, of course it was the hottest day all week, and we had to wait a bit to get on the steps to take pictures.  They looked so happy, glowing actually.  It was a weird, wonderful and amazing thing to be a part of. After a few pictures we left to go help set up the reception.
And that is where the fun began.  For several days the forecast had 0% chance of rain, but then on Wednesday morning they added late afternoon, early evening thunder storms to the forecast, a bit of a problem when planning an outdoor reception.  We were trying to decide if we should still do it outside or if we should move it to the church.  We prayed about it, and Tony had given Ashley a blessing the week before that said the weather would cooperate.  We felt peaceful about it, so we decided to go ahead with the outside plan.  Julie, my sister, had worked like crazy to make her yard look fantastic, and we wanted to use it.  They are even building a house right next door that was supposed to be started the 1st of June, but they had to postpone it so it was still the pretty grassy field.  Anyway...we got there to put our stuff up, the banners, pictures and other little extras.  The wind was pretty bad though, and we were a little worried about how all the pictures and centerpieces were going to hold up with the wind.  It wasn't ideal, but we figured we would have to make it work.  At 4:30 we left to go home and change for the pictures at 5.  Well then there was the severe thunderstorm warning, you know the kind that they interrupt radio broadcasts for with all the beeping, yeah one of those.  By the time we got back there at 5:15 it was raining.  The door I made, had blown over and all the glass in the frames had broken.  The Ash fell off, and broke.  It kind of seemed like a catastrophe.  There was quite a  bit of family there by this point and Ashley's roommates and bridesmaids and some friends were there and everyone just went into immediate action pulling everything in the house.  All the pictures, all the tablecloths anything that would get damaged in the rain.  At this point I was a little frustrated and momentarily fearful I have to admit, but I pulled myself back together.  You could tell with the wind and how quickly it blew in and with the clear skies beyond the storm, that it was going to blow over quickly.  So we decided to have faith and make things work.  All of Julie's neighbors put tablecloths in their dryers.  They shook all the glass out of the frames for the door, and glued the Ash back together, and we glued it back on the door.  After the rain stopped squeegees and towels were brought out to dry off the tables and chairs.  The kids raked up the sticks that had blown on the yard through the crazy wind, and dry tablecloths were coming back from the neighbors.  With every one's help in less than a half hour the whole thing was set back up when guests started coming at 6:30.  Because of the rain we were a little slow getting pictures taken, so Ashley and Jim weren't with us in the line for the first little bit, but everyone understood that of course.  After the storm it was calm and almost no wind.  It was a beautiful evening and a lot of the people that came just stayed and enjoyed the beautiful yard and refreshments.  
So many miracles happened in that little amount of time.  That everything was able to be taken in and then put back out in that short amount of time is amazing.  It was like time stood still so we could get it set back up.  Everyone pitched in and was helping it was the coolest thing to see.  That door is solid wood, and it slammed to the ground on all those frames, but none of the frames broke, just the glass, so we just put it back together.    Normally when a storm like that blows through, Julie's yard is usually covered with sticks and branches and leaves that takes them an hour or so to clean up.  The younger kids were able to clean them all up in just a few minutes, and there were no sticks in areas that they have to clean up by hand.  So many little things that made it so that not only could we pull it off, but it looked beautiful still.  It was an experience that I won't forget.  I felt so much gratitude for everyone just helping out like that.  Overwhelming gratitude.  Ashley was great through it all too.  She was a little upset when the door blew over, but she decided to have faith in the Lord's promise.  She was great.  I guess you receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.  It really was beautiful.  It just looked and felt beautiful.  So many people told us they were praying for us.  The Lord was watching out for us, I have no doubt.  The rest of the reception was perfect.  No problems.  The rain even cooled off the temps a little so it wasn't quite so hot. I guess the moral of the story is that the Lord doesn't stop the storms in our lives, but He always gets us through them. It was a joyful day!  Now I just have to be patient and wait for grandkids. :)
We had to have Lexie there!

Feb 16, 2014

Master, the Tempest Is Raging

On Friday night we went to the concert in the Assembly Hall.  Why? Well, because Latter Day Voices from the Logan Institute was performing.  Our daughter Ashley accompanies for the choir, and she was also doing a piano solo.  The songs they performed were either new songs or arrangements that have been submitted to the church.  There were some absolutely beautiful songs, that brought tears to my eyes, and this choir is amazing.  Beautiful sounding, but they sing with so much spirit and power.  What a wonderful experience it has been for Ashley to participate, but I digress.  The piano solo that Ashley played was an arrangement of Master, the Tempest Is Raging.  The arrangement was beautiful, and of course she did a magnificent job (and I am not too proud or anything), but I didn't think too much about it-until today.

As we talked about families today in church, I thought about the past year we have had.  Times when I have felt like Satan was waging a full scale war on just our little family.  Times when it felt like we might be losing the battle, that there was just too much for me to handle.  That I couldn't be strong enough.  Then I thought about all the blessings that we have received.  I thought about how I was so worried, but through it all Heavenly Father was right there fighting with us and always will be.  Then somehow the words to the song that Ashley played came into my mind...

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat'ning
A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o'er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!

Doesn't that just describe life?  Sure we have momentary calm, but it seems that there are troubled waters all about us, threatening to overcome us.  We might even cry out, I can't do this!  I am sinking in this whirlpool of life!  But then if we are listening we hear the calm reassurance of Peace, Be Still.

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.

We aren't left to navigate these troubled waters alone. And if God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) The Lord is in charge, and because of that, I can have and do have peace.

Feb 10, 2014

Taking a break

 Tony has been working like crazy for the past year, trying to get his business up and running.  He is constantly working from morning until sometimes late at night.  It has been a stressful and challenging year. Add to all this stress the responsibilities of being a Bishop, and sometimes it seems that he just might spontaneously com bust or something.  Not really, but there is a lot of weight that he carries on a daily basis.  We try to do all we can supporting him and carrying what we can, but from time to time you just need a little break from the worrying.  Sometimes you just need to get away.  So...we did.  We have been saving our frequent flyer miles for awhile, hoping maybe to pick up Alexis this fall.  Being real though, there was no way we could go to Australia, for many reasons.  So I suggested we take a little weekend get away to sunny California, since our time was limited and it is close.  We were able to get a flight, hotel and rental car all with our miles, and who doesn't love a free vacation! We left Friday afternoon and returned Sunday evening.  Of course it was too short, but we enjoyed every minute of the sunshine and warmth and a few days of carefree relaxation for Tony. Here is our weekend in pictures:
Griffith Observatory
Beverly Hills
The Getty Villa
The Getty Center
Ronald Reagan Library

Jan 8, 2014

Tony's Birthday

Just a little shout out to my husband.  I met him for the first time a little over 24 years ago, and he just gets better with age! He has changed a lot through the years, his hair is thinner and gray, and he doesn't stand quite as tall as he used to, but honestly I like it that way.  We have earned those gray hairs together.  He loves me, he listens to me, and he makes me laugh.  He knows how to enjoy life, and be a spiritual giant at the same time.  He is strong when I am weak.  He supports me and encourages me.  He lets me drag him around to every "cool" thing I want to see on vacation.  He respects my ability to receive guidance and direction for our family, even if it means dragging the whole family cross country.  He's not perfect, but he is perfect for me. Happy Birthday, Tony!!