Friday, February 12, 2016

"Fill The World With Love."

One of the things I miss about living in Utah is listening to the spoken word on a weekly basis by attending the temple. Temple square in the center of spirituality. The Salt Lake Temple had copies of the spoken word from that week, and when I got into the habit of attending the temple on a weekly basis I would always make sure I grabbed one on the way out. I can't even begin to tell you the strength I received every time I would read it. Lloyd Newell's thoughts were so inspiring, and always wanted to make me a better person. And you know something, I believe at times it did.

I remember the type of person I was ten years ago while I attending the temple on a weekly basis...softer, kinder, and super duper patient as opposed to where we live now. There are times now when I feel a little rushed, and let's be honest...hard, and bold. Don't get me wrong, I'm still the nicest person you can ever meet, but luckily I catch myself in the things I say to those I come in contact with whether it's my neighbors, strangers, and people at church. I go through major withdrawal when it comes to not going to the temple as much, and till this day have not become used to not going. Attending at least five times a year is probably better than nothing, but man do I miss attending every week! I never want to come to a point and say, "I'm used to not going as much." If anything, I miss going to the temple once a week. I'm so grateful that the Philly temple will be opening up in september so that I can go every week. I always strive to watch my actions, and even though I'm not perfect I will recognize my shortcomings, and work hard to not let it change me completely! It's been tough not being able to go to the temple as much as we'd like, but the memories of all the good things I did while living in Utah, and all the spiritual experiences I felt at the temple will always be etched in my mind. Especially listening to the spoken word. Luckily we can access it online today with just a click of a button!
As I was organizing one of my folders of old newspaper clippings from the church news, and various handouts I received from church throughout the years I stumbled upon a stack of the spoken word pamphlets. There was one in particular that caught my eye, and goes very well with the purpose of this post, and how i feel about the world today. No matter how hard life gets, or how ugly the world may seem, I know that I can make it beautiful for myself, and my family, and fill my thoughts, and actions with love. 

Lloyd D. Newell said, "Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love blesses both giver and receiver, and resounds in hearts forever." He continues with saying, "It's true that we're all born with differing interests, capacities, strengths, and weaknesses. But one thing we all need is to receive and give is love. We need it in order to grow into the kind of people we're capable of becoming. More loving, more courageous, more loyal. All virtues have their root in love." 

How true that is. 
My children, no matter how much they may drive me crazy keep me grounded when it comes to joy, and rooted in love. They are the solid footing to my everyday life, and because it's Valentines Day weekend want them to know how much I love them, and how I would do anything for them to keep their hearts happy. 

There's a quote I shared in this old post five years ago ( gosh my kids look young!), and it reminds me of what Valentines Day means, and how expressing love to one another is important. It is my hope that no matter how hard some days may get that I will always look at it positively, and always, always express those three words, "I love you" to my family every day. 

Happy Valentines day weekend! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Called To Serve.

Well, the time has now arrived for our daughter to begin the life to serve as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I will never feel the full effect of what it's like to serve a full time mission because of becoming a member so late in age, but I know this...I love the gospel. I know it is true, and that it is the key to everlasting happiness. I know that the Lord has placed missionaries on the path of those who are seeking light, knowledge, joy, and truth. And I'm so grateful to have a child who will be experiencing in sharing this wonderful work of The Lord.

I appreciate the missionaries, and all that they stand for. Leaving their place of comfort surrounded by familiar territory, friends, and family is not easy, but in the end, it will all be worth it. They will be blessed beyond measure for doing so, and will be unimaginably rich in blessings...and so will their families. 

I love how the gospel changes people, and believe me it does change you. I am a testament to that change. I know that Sierra is going to be a loving, guiding, caring, and understanding person in the mission field. I know that she will love the culture of the filipino people, and that in return will gain new families as she teaches the gospel. She radiates a lights so bright that she will be loved by everyone. I know that things will not be perfect for her, and I know that even in the mission field trials will occur, and that she'll have the strength to get through them. I only hope they're not huge! I know that the Lord will guide and watch over, and that He will always be there to help her. The only way He can help her as a missionary is if she reaches out to Him in prayer. To ask, be still, and listen. To keep busy, and work hard. I know that she will plant many seeds, and pray hard to bring those who are lost back to remembering what the light of Christ felt like. And reach out to those who are in search of truth, and everlasting happiness. I know that she'll reach out to those in need of service, and make many friends. And that's the most important part of missionary work. Is to love, and be a friend. It's not about the numbers, but about the quality of love that is given to any one who is placed on her path. And she will be great at that!

I wish her the best in serving, and learning the language of tagalog. I pray that she will bring all her knowledge with her while training at the MTC, and in all that she accomplishes while on her mission. 

And so I end this post with the lyrics from a hymn that I first heard at church when missionaries would be sent out. Sure it pertains to full time missionaries, but at the same time...I believe it's meant for me too! 

Every member a missionary right? 

"Called to serve Him Heavenly King of Glory. 
Chosen e'er to witness for his name. 
Far and wide we tell the Father's story, 
Far and wide His love proclaim. 

Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name. 
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name. 
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing. 
God our strength will be; press forward ever, 
Called to serve our King. 

Called to know the richness of His blessing
Sons and daughters, children of a King. 
Glad of heart, His holy name confessing. 
Praises unto Him we bring. 


Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name. 
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name. 
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing. 
God our strength will be; press forward ever, 
Called to serve our King. "

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cabin Fever.

There's something so special about the first snowfall that has families venturing out building snow caves, and a snowman, but after weeks of not having it fall consistently I begin to become stagnant, and I'm like, "I'm over this, and I'm so ready for spring." Maybe I've been away from Utah too long that I've become accustomed to having major winter storms every three years. Then again...when I lived in Utah I wasn't like an avid skier or anything, heck I didn't even ski, but what we would do as a family is drive up to the canyons, hike, and just admire the fluffy snow, and have the kids play in it for hours! One thing that keeps me having a love for winter regardless if there's hardly any snow are the kids. They make winter fun, and seeing the joy they have for it, and seeing it through their eyes makes living in this season worthwhile, and I don't get the blues too much. 

Cabin fever always kicks in after being cooped up in the house for a couple of days. Especially when it falls on a Saturday. As much as I love being in the comforts of my own home I need to get out, and once these kids get restless, and start running amuck all around the house I know it's time to get them out. 

Last Saturday was one of those days. 

It had snowed two days before, and we decided to venture out to a park in Pemberton. Sometimes I just like driving out of our comfort zone, and because the kids like that park so much we thought it would be "snow free." We figured since the snow had already melted in our area, and that the grass was visible that perhaps there would be no snow in the parks. 

Wrong. 

There was plenty of snow on the ground once we arrived, but that didn't stop the kids from getting down, and enjoying themselves. We were out for about an hour, and once the kids began feeling the numbness in their toes, and hands we knew it was time to go. We're so crazy! There were two other families out with their kids so I didn't feel as if I was the craziest mom on the planet for taking my kids out in cold temperatures.

I captured a few photos of being at one park without snow which was about a week ago with mild temps. 

// sure felt like spring on this day! //
// this is one of my favorite photos of Noah. // 

And some from this past Saturday with snow, and cold temperatures. 
I've realized that at this age (like I'm so old) that I have a choice to make the winter days blue or joyful. I choose the latter, and I'm so grateful to still have two young human beings running around who keep my heart young!

 It looks like snow all day today (let's see how long that'll last), and that we have at least five more weeks of winter so I am determined to make the best of it! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Getting Our Children Involved In Family History.

Sometimes I wonder had I not become a member of the church I attend would I have ever gotten involved in family history work. I have to admit that in the beginning I was a bit clueless because I had no one to guide me on how to begin or how I was supposed to get information on my ancestors. Once I did it became a bit easier, that is until I hit a plateau. Being a first generation member in the church made it a bit difficult for me in finding more of my ancestors, but I know that with time, and seeking answers to resolve gaps in my work, and by asking questing to any living relatives that I hope to get answers. 

I did begin with doing my only family tree once I got married, and then proceeded to ask my mom questions about her parents, grandparents, where they were born, and what their birthdays were so that I can get this genealogy going. So far I have two generations, and at this moment I'm struggling in getting the third generation done, so if there are any genealogy geeks out there with any information or tricks please feel free to share! 

Jon has become involved in doing his family history, and thanks to one of his uncles doing most of the work he's got about seven generations complete, but I'm sure there is still so much to accomplish! He has to limit his time on the computer especially at night. Just like any other social network you can get lost with time in doing family history work. Luckily he's learned to find a balance, and to only be searching on it for about an hour. He has been a huge help in locating some of my ancestors, bit like I said, I still have a lot of work to do. It's a good feeling to seek my ancestors, and it gets me motivated knowing that I'm doing something good for my family. I feel the love of my family whenever I've done any work for them in the temple, and I know that my two oldest daughters have felt how special it is to do their own family names when they perform baptisms in proxy. Passing down this wonderful habit of doing family history is so important to me, and to them too. It's important to get them involved because once we pass on they are going to be the ones who are going to be finishing our work so it's imperative to teach them all about what a family tree is, and to help in seeking their ancestors. 
Our kids in church last year did a whole theme on family history. It took them months to complete, and once they gathered various photos of their ancestors they put it all on a cardboard and at the end of the year displayed their little family history board. It was so sweet, and I can see the joy in my children's eyes as they displayed their work in front of all the parents. I could tell that they were happy to have done this work. I loved this moment, and the smiles on their faces proves all too well that they certainly enjoyed putting it together, and learning about what  family history is. I am grateful that I have taught my kids at a young age to learn it, and how important it is to work on it. 

I only hope that I can accomplish more of mine, because I definitely have a lot of work to do1 

In all honesty...I don't think family history will ever end for me! 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Four More Days...

The day we dropped off Sierra at the airport last month when she came for a visit was a bit of a mess. We left later than we should due to the fact that she looked at her departure time incorrectly. Luckily she was able to make it back to Utah on a later flight and that she  made it home safely. Word to the wise...make sure you always double check what time your departure time is! Although I'm grateful that she took the time out of her busy schedule the time she spent here with us was too short. Five days was not enough to spend quality time with her, but we sure made the quality of that short time spent with her worth it. Sometimes it's impossible to be able to see your friends while visiting, but there comes a time where they have to understand that "there's not enough time, but I'll see you when I get back." However, I'm glad she was able to see a couple of good friends while she was here, and that she was able to enjoy herself. Call me selfish but after not seeing her for an entire year except for the four days she spent with us this past December I really wanted us to have her all to ourselves. Seeing her friends does help put her at ease, and  I'm grateful for those who contacted her to make time for her. It truly reminded her of some of the good she left behind in Jersey. 

She has four more days left before she enters the MTC to train as a missionary, and very little time to finish all the preparations. Another word to the wise...do not procrastinate, and as much as you love your friends you got to limit the time spent with them...otherwise, homesickness will severely kick in once you leave for your mission! Hopefully Sierra will not have that issue, and that she will be "homesick free", focused, and ready to be a missionary. 

Since I'm not around to help her get all the last minute preparations done I'm extremely grateful for my mother-in-law to be a part of this special time in her life, and help her out. I wish with all my heart that I can be there full, front, and center to experience, and share this glorious chapter in her life, but it isn't possible. Nor would I be able to leave two young children alone in the house. With a husband working, and a very busy teenager there is no way I could have flown out. Call it bad timing, but I'm grateful for all my friends and family out west who were able to attend her farewell. That really meant a lot to me! There were people who came who hadn't seen her since we moved 10 years ago! She was 11 y'all, and will be turning 21 on her mission this year! I can't believe it's been that many years since we left Utah. I'm happy that she has made new friends since moving back to Utah two years ago. 

Her farewell talk at church was so uplifting and spiritual. Very well prepared, and straight from the heart. It was by far one of the best talks I've heard in a looooonngggg time, and I'm so happy she made made arrangements for someone to record it for me. I only wish she would have recorded her special musical number which included her playing the piano. She was hoping her friend Marshall McDonald would come, but he's a very busy guy and couldn't attend. She played one of his songs, and after she heard he couldn't make it became less nervous! She didn't want to slaughter his song by messing it up in front of him, but from what everyone told me she was phenomenal! I am so grateful that she has been blessed with this talent so that she can use it on her mission, and bless others with music!  

I'm just so proud that she has chosen this path in wanting to serve The Lord. It's something so personal that requires a lot of praying, growth, a true sense of surety, and major strength with no doubt, to decide in the end to serve a mission. Although she says says she's a bit nervous, and doesn't quite know what to expect she'll grow, and prosper, and with the right mindset will be an amazing missionary. 

I have faith in her, and have so much gratitude for everyone who has been there in her life up to this point in order for her to get to her where she's at in making this final decision to serve a church mission. 

According to my mother-in-law preparing to send a missionary out into the world is a lot of work, and requires a lot of time, and preparation. She did it with two of her own, and now her firstborn granddaughter. Especially when you have one going international! Thank goodness I have my in laws to help. Without them I honestly don't know who would be helping her prepare, and in buying her all the necessities that she needs! I'm grateful that I can at least offer Sierra my emotional support, and anything I can "fix" for her from a distance. 

I know in this previous post I mentioned face timing her everyday until the day she leaves, but both realized that it's best if we lessened our time on the phone. Besides, she's been way too busy with finalizing everything before she departs. I am grateful she was able to go to the temple a couple of times again, and to attend the Provo City Center temple open house. What a beautiful temple! She sure is lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful temples! 

I will be talking to her before she leaves, and then that's it! She'll be off serving for 18 months! Luckily I have three kids at home who will keep me on my toes, and less "sierra sick." Then again, she's been away from me long enough to get used to not having her here. I hope that doesn't sound unfeeling, but I feel as if I've pretty much let go of her reigns. I know at times I'll miss face timing her, but I know that receiving her weekly emails will strengthen me in knowing that she is doing a marvelous work, and that she is exactly where she needs to be.

I'm already beginning to feel all the feelings, and have faith thatall will  be well with her when she departs! 
She only has four more days y'all! So if there are any of you who would like to send her any last minute wishes via text, email, or Facebook I suggest you do it soon! 

Happy weekend! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Birthday Wishes For My Mom...

If there are things that I wish for my mom this year on her special day, is to be in good health, and to always make each waking moment worth living...no matter the challenges that come. I wish for her to live more. To live each day as if it was her last. To relish every piece of happiness that comes her way, and to always be happy. To always make each minute count when time is spent with her friends, and family. To never take anything for granted. To always remember the good, and the bad. To learn from the past, and live in the present. To love, and forgive. And when she wakes up each day, it is my hope that she will take a long, good look in the mirror, and say to herself, "Today is going to be great, because I am awesome, and I love this life. I love my life." 

The love I have for you mom is inexplicable, and know that you will always hold a special place in my heart. You are a survivor, and have taught me so much in how to live this life. Through the good times, and the worst of times. Your example has given me such deep appreciation for all that you were given in order to raise me the best you can. You've taught me to be the best mom I can be, and for that I will always be grateful. You've shown me how it is to survive, to be tough, and kind at the same time. I know you probably won't read this until Lynn shows it to you, but I wish you the happiest of birthdays! You deserve every good thing that comes to you on this day, and all the days of your life. Stay strong, and know that you are loved from afar! We may not ring each other every day, but please know that we are always thinking of you. And the times that we talk to you are always flowery, and enjoyable. Chelsea's face lights up when y'all are in a conversation. She's such a little adult when she talks to you, and I love the relationship y'all have with each other. It's super special! 

Have a wonderful day, month, and year, and hope to see you soon! 

Happy Birthday momma...Love you always, and forever! 

**Photo is an oldie from 1996. Sierra was about 15 months old. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Noah-isms.

// The time for this kid is just flying by and I'm in denial because before we know it he'll be turning lucky seven! Wait...he just turned six three months ago! Why am I even thinking that? It's hard not to when they speak in clearer sentences, and count over 100, and basically act like a tiny adult! I love how he keeps me entertained, and laughing every day. He's just like his dad. They both make me laugh, and that's a wonderful trait to have! I love my boy, and with a new month beginning am going to make his young years worth living for! //

Here are a few of the funniest, and just "off the wall" things he's said lately that I've remembered to remember!  

Mommy, my body is saying, "I want to play on the computer."

While gathering to say family prayer one night we were waiting for Noah to come into the room. I called out to him, and said, "Noah, are you asleep?" There's a long pause, and then he says "yes." I said, "get in here so we can have prayer please!" And then he walked into the room.

We were holding hands inside the house walking from my bedroom to his room, and he says, "you don't have to hold my hand, we're not crossing the street we're inside the house."

As I was putting out the valentines day decorations he asks, "mom, is it love day? Is today hearts day?" He's catching on the concept of Valentines day that's for sure! 

So Noah got a lot of jigsaw puzzles for Christmas last year, and when we opened one up he saw the box, and said, "This puzzle cost 100 dollars!!?!!" I said, "no papa, it has 100 pieces." LOL! 

So I lost my temper the other day with Noah because of the bickering he still does with his sister, and although he's not the instigator I yelled out loud, and said, "please, enough! Stop it, both of you, now!" He then said, "mom! you scared the crap of me!" 

To his sister Chelsea, "Chelsea, I don't want to be a mean guy anymore to you, I want to be a nice guy. I want to be a better brother...okay?"

While cleaning up, and tidying up the house for me he'll be uttering the letters,  "N-O-A-H. N-O-A-H. N-O-A-H is my name. N-O-A-H that's my name!" 

"Mommy guess what?" Me: "What?" "I have five superheroes." Me: "yeah, who are they?" I'm expecting him to say batman, spiderman, green lantern, captain avenger, or iron man. He says, "they are you, daddy, Lexie, Sierra, and Chelsea." My heart melted. 

// You seriously have to be around him to hear these musings of his in person. He's so cute, and I honestly can't get enough of him. Time with him is never wasted. Staying home with him until he's off to school is the best part of my morning. I love that he's growing up. I love his curious mind that allows him to ask questions, and progresses him to learn all about life! //