Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Blessed are your eyes, for they see". Matt 13:16

I have loved my time remembering and contemplating  Brittney these past couple of weeks. I knew instantly what spiritual gift I would write about and I also recalled the sweetest experience that a mother-in-law could ever hope to have with her daughter-in-law.  In honor of this amazing person, I joyfully share those things with you today.

In a General R.S. Broadcast, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke on the divine ability for women to create.   His words were beautiful and inspiring. 

These are not innate gifts for me, but Brittney, on the other hand,  is the epitome of Elder Uchtdorf's message. And I value that so much in her. I believe that she was born into this world with the ability to see  things in their most beautiful, even celestial state, regardless of how they appear to look at the moment. (Matt 13:16)  I believe that she has been given the gift  be an instrument to bring about that transformation, whether it be her thrift store treasures, culinary creations, and even her most important relationships.  

I have seen Brittney utilize this gift in many, many ways.   Creativity is just in her and she can't help to use that gift in everything she does.  When she and Derrick were first married, Brittney hand-made cute, creative birthday cards for each member of the family.  I am not sure who received the first one, but after that, we each anticipated getting our "Brittney Birthday Card" in the mail.  It doesn't surprise me one bit that she found a job decorating cakes.  And her "Junk In The Trunk" adventures are just a testament of  the gift she has been blessed with.

It was a learning experience going  fabric shopping with Brittney.  She helped me to be able to see what I wanted my living room to eventually become.  She pointed things out that I would never have thought about.  I learned on that shopping adventure, that Brittney is a very aware of details and how details work together to create something wonderful.  

Creation is a sacred  gift used to bless that what is of most importance to the Lord.  Brittney has been blessed with spiritual eyes that allow her to see what  things and people can eventually can become.  I love how Brittney utilizes that gift in her home.  Derrick and Molly are the recipients of her gift.  She envisions beauty and develops skills to bring about what she envisions.  I love how she uses that gift to raise Molly, constantly aware of what she can teach her so that she has the opportunity to expand and develop.  I know Brittney has the ability to see Derrick as the Savior sees him and works to create that type of relationship with him. 

This gift is so far-reaching.  Every calling Brittney has, every child she influences, every task she sets out to do, with be done under the power of  "creation".  Pres. Uctdorf said:  "You will make the world a better place".  You have already made my world a better place.

Now I share the most awesome memory I have of Brittney.  Brittney and Derrick had probably been married only a year or less and they had come to visit.  This was when we lived on the hill in Larry's house.  One lazy afternoon, I was in my bedroom laying on my bed watching a movie.  I don't recall the movie.  But I do recall Brittney jumping into bed, pulling the covers up and watching the movie with me!  I must admit, I didn't expect that at all, but I remember thinking:  " I ABSOLUTELY ADORE THIS GIRL!!!"   Of course my room was messy, the bed wasn't made, and I was undoubtedly in my robe......But it didn't matter to Brittney! What mother-in-law wouldn't give her all to have that kind of experience with her daughter-in-law.  O how I love you Brittney and I love that sweet, treasured memory.    I just want to be a more accepting, fun loving person just thinking about it.  

I consider you to be one of my most cherished gifts.  Our family is blessed to have you part of us.  Happy Birthday my sweet Brittney.  I Love you. Lorri

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Past

Dec. 8, 1992 Journal Entry

A few weeks ago, Nile Leatham announced in sacrament meeting that our ward had the opportunity to participate in the New Toy  Drive at Deseret Industries.  It's something our family has enjoyed doing in previous years.

That night after church, we sat down as a family to discuss with the boys the opportunity we had to go and buy a gift for someone else.

To help with this concept of giving to others, Jared opened up the Book of Mormon to Mosiah where King Benjamin is teaching his people.  We read together a few verses where King Benjamin tells the people that they are indebted to Heavenly Father because first, he created them and gave them life, and secondly, that all they have is given to them from Heavenly Father.  King Bemjamin tells the Nephites that they should impart of their substance one to another.

Jared explained these things to the boys and told them that they have been greatly blessed with many things and that all they have is from Heavenly Father.  We then suggested that it would be more meaningful to them if they spent some of their own money for a present for someone else.  I wasn't sure how they would react to this advice.  They had really worked hard for the last few months to earn money, and not only earn it but to save it also.  Something practically impossible for Brandon to do!  The few dollars they had earned seemed like hundreds to them.   They were both saving up for a "Game Geanie" for their Ninetendo set.

But after asking the boys how they felt about this,  Derrick's reply was an answer to my own personal struggle with service.  He said in a very happy, understanding way, that he'd be glad to spend his money to buy someone else a present.  After all it really wasn't his money anyway - it was Heavenly Father's.  His childlike acceptance of what King Benjamin had taught the Nephites was such a great lesson to me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Thou Art Sober...and...Quick To Observe"

In keeping with my desire to  help our children recognize the spiritual gifts that they have been blessed with , Jared and I  spent some wonderful, sweet time discussing wonderful, sweet Noelle.

"I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe".  When Jared voiced this gift of Noelle, I immediately and wholeheartedly agreed with him.  I had the very same thoughts and impressions.  When I asked Jared why HE picked this particular gift,  he shared an experience he had with Noelle when she first started college.  I will let him share that story so that it is told correctly.  But I have my own thoughts and feelings regarding this daughter who is sober and quick to observe.

Sober does not mean serious, stuffy and dull.When I think of a child that is sober I think of a child who is aware, conscientious and knows his duty, whatever that may be at that particular time.  As  a child, Noelle was aware and conscientious and knew her duty.  As an adult, Noelle is aware and conscientious and actively seeks to fulfill all her duties.  Not only is she quick to observe (see, understand), she is quick to observe (heed, do).

Because of these gifts and the degree that she utilizes them, she has created amazing opportunities in her short life.  I found a gem of a scripture that perfectly describes her ability to be quick to observe. "A wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgement."  Ecclesiastes 8:5   There has really never been a time in Noelle's life where she has squandered time.  It is a precious resource, even a precious gift to her.  She has a discerning heart that allows for her to make correct and compassionate judgments   These abilities have helped her to be quick to observe.    I was amazed and overwhelmed as I saw her carry out so many responsibilities in high school.  I could never figure out how she could do all that she did and do it all so well.

By the time Noelle entered college life, I just knew that she would always be anxiously engaged in good causes and accomplish much. I was talking with Noelle on the phone one day and she told me about receiving an email put out by BYUI informing the students of various activities, opportunities to serve, groups to join and other such things.  She was quick to observe and acted on many of them.  I believe that it was this email that led to her being the photographer for the intramural sporting events which led to the job opportunity that put her in charge of other photographers.  I honestly don't think it is even possible for Noelle to turn her back on what she perceives to be a good opportunity for her.  Taking note of this, I have often thought: " Today, I will act upon all good things that come my way and not let one opportunity slip away."  I am so grateful when I am quick to observe and I am so grateful for the precious daughter who gives me that example.

Noelle, your heart discerns time and judgment in the most amazing ways.  You are a sober women who is quick to understand and act.  These gifts have brought profound blessings  to your life.  The Lord now expects you to focus those gifts  on the lives of others, particularly the people of New York.  Your duty is to build up his kingdom by serving those people.   Your ability to see a need in another and then to act  will be your greatest accomplishment thus far in your life. Because of the magnitude of this spiritual gift, the Lord expects much from you.

Happy Birthday Noelle.  You have been given a gift which is now yours to give to others.  I am grateful to have had your example and  to learn from you.  Thank you for blessing our family and especially for blessing  me.  I love you.  Mommy

Thoughts and Feelings

Twenty two years ago our first daughter entered the world.  Here are some thoughts of that day and of that daughter that were recorded in my journal.

Jan 8, 1993
I think I should write about someone who has brought two years and almost one month of  nothing but sheer joy and happiness to my life.  Of course it is our princess Noelle.  She was a surprise from the very beginning.  I had no idea she was a she while I was pregnant with her!  I had prepared myself for one more boy - which I really wanted.  We had an ultra sound, but we couldn't determine  the gender.  I remember Frieda Turley telling me that the baby was  a little girl because she was being modest in front of the camera.

She was born Dec. 13th, early in the morning.  The night before, I was exhausted.  The Young Women had come over to drop off some goodies and Pam  Driscoll was with them.  I remember telling her I had better have that baby tonight!  I  had a tough time with that pregnancy.  It seems like I spent nine months being tired and keeping Daniel and Travis in their room so I could just rest.  I felt a great tax taken on my body and mind.  It was a lot more difficult that any other pregnancies.

Around 2:00 am, I felt that first contraction and all the sudden I got panicky   I knew what pain was ahead.  It's the first time I remember ever anticipating the pain and being terrified.  We called mom and dad and they came over and stayed with the boys.  Jared and I  trotted off to the hospital for the fifth time.  It seems like my doctor, Stuart Steele, who is in our ward, barely made it, or at least he looked like he just climbed out of bed and drove on over.   He delivered Noelle and it was hard; I remember wanting to just give up and go home.

Jared made the phone calls and told everyone it was a girl.  I remember  the nurse and Stuart saying it was a girl -  I was just to tired to react.  But after they cleaned her up and lay her in my arms, I was absolutely overjoyed.  It was almost unbelievable though.  

I  remember  I had barely gotten to my room about 7:00 am and the phone calls started coming.  The ward was thrilled.  The gender of this baby had been discussed even in sacrament meeting.  Everyone was thrilled about our little girl.  Near the middle of the day, I received lots of visitors.  It seems between family , ward members and friends, the room was continually hopping.  It was so fun.  All this fanfare and hoopla for this new little girl.  

Noelle is greatly loved.  She is really respected by her brothers.   They treat her different than they treat each other at the same age.  I attribute that to a couple of reasons.  First, Noelle's personality and mannerisms are so opposite from the boys.  The boys each have very different personalities, but there are so many things that tie them together;  things that identify them as boys and brothers.  But Noelle is definitely a little lady.  She is more calm and more gentle than her brothers.  I know it's something she was born with.  Those traits and characteristics are innate;  they were there from the very start of her life.

Noelle has got Jared wrapped around her finger.  It just thrills me to see him melt when his daughter calls to him.  She adores him.  But really  Noelle adores everyone.  She is so loving to her family.  Daniel and Travis send a shiver up her spine every now and then, but she'll even kiss and hug them with a little coaxing.  Noelle is like Daniel in the fact that she is shy around strangers and even relatives.  She is content to always snuggle on my lap and have me hold her.  But she does love to tackle her brothers.

March 1, 1993
I have such a sweet little family.  Noelle just came in my room and got some Christmas socks out of my drawer and handed them to me.  She said:  "It's Frosty the snowman mom!"  She gives me so much joy.  Her sweet, little girl personality is absolutely charismatic.  She  loves to get dressed for church.  Lately I've been putting her fine, blonde hair back in a ponytail and tying  it up with ribbons; I curl her bangs under and she is just so cute.  Noelle knows it too!  She walks around and catches herself in the mirror whenever she can.  She is such a girl.  

Nov. 29, 1993
Noelle is my sweetheart.  There can't be a sweeter, kinder, or more loving little girl.  I will admit - she does have a stubborn streak to her, but it is seldom seen.  You just can't help but love Noelle!  Natalie lightens up at the sight of Noelle and Noelle loves her so much.  She is so good to get me diapers and wipes and Natalie's clothes.  She is a very big help to me.  I hope my girls will always be close.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Obedience With Exactness

*  I am taking President Eyring's advice from his recent Oct. 2012 Priesthood Session Conference address:  "I can promise you that you will bless  [your children] to help them recognize the spiritual gifts with which they were born.   As you seek revelation to see gifts God sees in those you [love]... you will be blessed to lift their sights to the service they can perform.  With your guidance, those you [love] will be able to see, want, and believe they can achieve their full potential for service in God's kingdom."  

"Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them..." Alma 57:21.  In talking with Jared, we felt that one of Daniel's greatest spiritual gifts that he has been blessed with is Obedience with Exactness.  His personality is such that he is very precise and exact in whatever he does, and obedience to the commandments  is no different for him.  When he was a little boy, our family took a trip to Salt Lake City.  We had gone to  church that Sunday morning  and pulled into a Taco Bell afterwards and instructed the kids to stay in the van and change out of their church clothes.  As the  kids began to change, Jared asked them what they wanted to order for lunch before we started the journey back home.     Daniel immediately questioned what we were doing and voiced that it was wrong to break the Sabbath.  Jared and I looked at each other and felt horrible. This little boy had been taught correctly and he could not justify what we were asking him to do.   Jared went on to  explain to him  that it was wrong, and that he (Daniel) was not responsible in any way for our lack of properly making preparations so that we could keep the Sabbath holy.  Jared told Daniel that all we had in our cooler to eat was cereal, in which Daniel sweetly replied  that he would be fine to eat the cereal rather than break the Sabbath.  Needless to say, Jared and I never made that mistake again.  We had been taught what exactness to the commandments was all about and we never wanted to let Daniel or the Lord down again.  Our commitment to the Lord increased because of Daniel's obedience to the Lord.

This obedient little boy has grown into an obedient man; a man who is exact in his desires and actions to keep the commandments and honor his covenants.  Daniel, the spiritual gift of obedience with exactness will not only continue to bless your life, but Emily and your children will feel safe and protected under your care.  They will know and rely on your choices and actions to be those of a righteous priesthood holder "...and they [will] not doubt"! It is a gift that accompanied you straight from heaven and you have lived worthy to keep it.  I love you.  I respect who you are.  I honor you now as a husband and  eventually a father who will continue to obediently serve the Lord.  Happy Birthday dear Daniel.  Love Mommy.

**Jan. 1993 Journal Entry. (When I read this entry out of an old journal, I was surprised by how much of who Daniel is today was so present and manifest in him as a little boy.)

     Daniel was my little angel baby, for that is exactly what he looked like as an infant.  He was so beautiful and perfect.  The older boys loved him and were so affectionate with him.  But the older Daniel got the rougher they boys would play with him.  Grandma Skousen would always worry that Derrick and Brandon would hurt him, but he always came through those wrestling matches ok! It gave him good training for his wrestling matches with Travis.
     Daniel took his time in everything he did.  He didn't start talking for a long time; probably not even begin until he was about 2 1/2 or older.  In fact everyone started to get a little concerned about his lack of verbal communication, so we decided to test his hearing.  That started a long process of testing and more testing.  But it finally led us to the wonderful preschool that Daniel has been attending since he was barely 3 years old.  I was so nervous to send my baby on a school bus - it took a lot of prayer and practice runs with me actually on the bus to let him go.  
     He has progressed, but still, even  now at the age of 5 he still has a hard time pronouncing some sounds.  At least he talks - boy does he talk.  I think those couple of years not uttering a sound to anyone, (except to Travis and me), not even to his Primary or preschool teachers, was pretty hard on Daniel.  It  forced him to be so shy and reserved and almost withdrawn.  He has definitely changed.  Now his preschool teacher, Lynn Martin, tells me he runs around with two other boys and causes little boy mischief.  Ahhhhh.... music to my ears. That's the best news I could ever receive about Daniel.
      Daniel is really smart.  I didn't know if he would excel like Brandon and Derrick did at such an early age, but he has.  It's different however.  He is extremely artistic and colors beautifully.  He takes pride in his work.  And he has been printing his name for a long time now.  He loves to write.  He copies advertisements.  He likes to print  Frontier Hotel (we've eaten there a few times) and Hook (his favorite movie), and other signs and words that are familiar to him.
      Another thing Daniel can do is he can listen to a musical number that Derrick or Brandon is practicing on the piano and will sit down after them and pick out the melody and play it for me.  He plays "Because I Have Been Given Much" and tunes from "The Phantom of the Opera".  His voice is so clear and sweet and he seems to have the ability to  always sing in tune.  
     Daniel likes to give talks in primary and has already given two.  When he was a Sunbeam he wasn't easily understood so I just asked him questions about the subject of his talk and then I'd repeat his answer for the other children to hear.  I was wondering if this would be alright for his self esteem and it did prove favorable.  He was so proud and pleased with himself.  Now he stands up and speaks into the microphone and talks just like a pro.  Boy has he come a long way!