Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Magical World of Brittney

I have always loved Brittney from the first moment I heard her voice on the phone, but I have come to admire and cherish who Brittney is.  With each wonderful visit to our home, I learn more and more about this truly amazing person.  I do not just love her; I, more importantly, LIKE her!

Brittney brings a  much needed element to our family.  When she is here, she drinks in each moment of family bonding as she possibly can.  I love that even a lazy night of watching movies is an "experience" for her! By simply adding a facial masque, nail polish, and a camera, Brittney has created a lasting memory.  Brittney adds her magical touch to make things just a little more fun, and a little more important.

I love that Brittney loves me and that she shows her acceptance and love of me in the tenderest of ways.  She snuggles up with me on the love seat when I am cold.  She talks to me and listens to me talk.  She accompanies me and Judy on our morning adventures when she is here and understands how therapeutic and priceless they are.  Did I mention that Brittney, Judy and I were actually shot at on one of our  morning walks together? Some hunters mistook  us for dove............serious!  We hit the ground and took cover until we felt it was safe to come out of the brush. We could actually feel the buck shot whizzing past us and I was actually scared! OH  I LOVE THAT MEMORY!!   ( I love having you come with us Brittney.  It is fun having you share in those experiences with me.)

You are a breath of fresh air to  our family.  You bring us all closer together.    You make things special and memorable.  How grateful and HAPPY that you are ours and that we are yours. I love you dear daughter. Happy, happy birthday!   Love Lorri

Friday, December 13, 2013

Noelle........A Faithful Daughter

Last Sunday Kathryn Bolton asked the Primary children to think about their favorite Christmas carol and share why it is their favorite .  Ally Bolton raised her hand and said that her favorite carol is The First Noel because it reminds her of Noelle Rust and Noelle is a good example for her to follow. Noelle has had a significant influence on a lot of people.  Me included!

When we lived by Simplot, I remember Noelle, who was 12 at the time,  talking to me about how strict other moms of her friends were and how thankful she was that I wasn't that way.  I don't know if my parenting was the best, but as a mom, I so appreciated that conversation.  I remember thinking what on earth could Noelle ever do that would require me to lay down the law with her.  She  governed herself in the manner that she saw fit and I  agreed with that manner. She was a valiant little girl who grew up to be a valiant woman.

 During an unsure time in Noelle and Eric's courtship, Noelle called me.  She told me that she was okay because she and Heavenly Father had gotten really close  and she talked with him all the time regarding her and Eric's future. She was totally without fear or frustration/   She had complete peace and knew everything would be alright. As her mom, I was humbled and very grateful for  Noelle's spiritual maturity and reliance on her Heavenly Father. Noelle lives her life in such a way as to always be strengthening her faith, so when that power is needed, it is there.  

I have learned much from this daughter.  Feelings of peace surround her.  She is calm and comforting.  She is even and sure.  Indeed; she is a good example for all of us to follow.  

Happy Birthday dearest daughter.  Twenty-three years ago, our lives were "brightened" with your spirit. You continue to brighten my life today.  I am so proud of what you have accomplished and more importantly, who you are.  I love you.  Mommy


Friday, December 6, 2013

Heart Words

I got on FaceBook this morning and noticed a post on my live feed by someone who seldom writes.  The post was in regards to one of those picture/quote things that everyone shares from time to time.  The picture/quote thing was nice, even inspirational, but it was his response that  has occupied my thoughts for the past few hours.

He expressed gratitude for "heart words" such as 'thank you'; 'I am sorry'; 'Please forgive me'; and 'I love you'. 

Why are these heart words?   They open up a closed heart.  They allow for a broken heart.  They repair a broken heart.  And probably most importantly, they bind a heart to another heart. These heart words have power to change an outlook, a person, a relationship, a family.

I need heart words said to me and I need to express them to others.  Thank you Brad, for your thought-provoking post this morning.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

26 Years of Wonderful Quirkiness!

It is always a treat to see Daniel. This is what I can usually expect upon first seeing him:  1)- He clasps  his hands together. 2)- He cocks his head to one side.  3)- He gently shrugs his shoulders while at the same time he 4)- coyly smiles. If he is accompanied by Emily he will 5)- turn and look at her and nod his head back and forth a few times with his lips pursed together.  (Think about it.............I have pegged it perfectly have I not?!)

Oh how I love my animated Daniel.  His antics have brought me much needed comic relief through the years. What would life be like without the "Daniel language"? - Dad, Holly, Hannah and I tried to recall how he used to speak while growing up.  Not one of us could remember.  Please, for the sake of preserving his childhood language, please respond with words, phrases, etc., that you remember.  I do fondly recall him walking into a room where I was, raising his  index finger and saying:  "food please" .  I also remember (not so fondly) him repeating "Mommy do you love me?" over and over and over and OVER!!!.  Share what you remember!

I think of the many imitations he has done throughout the years; baby Elise, Marvin, Sis. Wimer, Bolton Baby, mommy sneezing, various general authorities, etc. I think of his hand actions; Greta doing various things, Pappy yicking his yong yeg, baby caterpillar, and the creepy one he does now with his middle finger pointed out.  Oh such cherished Daniel-isms that must be remembered for posterity.

Daniel, you are a joy. You brighten a dark day.  Heavenly Father blessed you with a unique personality that has blessed so many others.  I am so grateful for that personality.  You continue to always make me smile. Happy Birthday son.  I love you. Mommy

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shall The Youth Of Zion Falter......An Amazing Day At The Temple.

Today mom and I went to the Las Vegas Temple to participate in an endowment session.  As we were walking down the corridor to the ordinance room, we passed  young men donned in white suits and name tags.  Sure enough, when we entered our room, standing in the front of the room was an 18 year old boy.  He was calm, assured, and thoughtful as he officiated.  It was nice and  I really enjoyed the session.  I asked a temple worker later what was up with the young ordinance workers.  She said that they encourage sisters and elders who have received their calls and are in the process of waiting to report for their missions to  be set apart as official temple workers.  She mentioned that they learn so fast and are filled with such a powerful spirit and are a big asset to the temple.  Amen to that!

Thinking that my temple experience couldn't get any better, I walked into that beautiful Celestial room. Lining the walls and occupying every seat in that massive,amazing room, were missionaries!!  Lots and lots and lots of elders and sisters who had just participated in a special session.  It was breath-taking to say the least.  They were so beautiful and inspiring. is still touching to recall that scene.    Grandma Skousen whispered to me:  "I think this is a lot like what was welcoming Grandpa when he passed away."    I think it probably was too.  Such a glorious sight!!

Truly an amazing day at the temple.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things." 2 Cor. 7:16

Holly is 18 today.  She is officially an adult by the world's standards.  By my standards, she has been an adult in very many ways for quite some time now.  Just a couple of days ago she asked me:  "Why is it that I can relate to adults so easily?"  (Or something along those lines.)   Holly has several adults that she includes as her close friends, and these adults reciprocate that friendship. It is fun to see her interact with them.  She is at ease, and always herself.  It is so apparent that she is respected and valued.  And she should be.  I think it is fair to say that confidence has played a very important part in these friendships.  Holly is very comfortable with herself and she likes who she is and others value that in her.

We recently went to lunch in which a cute, male waiter overheard that we were celebrating Holly's 18th birthday.  He made a comment to her alluding to the fact that they (employees) might have to embarrass her by singing Happy Birthday.  Holly cutely responded with a coy smile:  "Oh, I don't get embarrassed very easily".  She was flirty (appropriately so) and engaging as she held her own in that conversation.   It is so much fun watching her, knowing she  has control of situations and is so darn cute!

That confidence is not just manifest in her relationships, but also in her testimony.  She is confident in what she believes.  She questions, seeks answers, and applies what she learns.  This gift has put her in a position to be a leader among her peers and her adult friends.   She is very fine with stating: "NO"  if something is inappropriate or just doesn't feel right to her.

Confidence is an amazing gift to acquire; it is even a more amazing gift to keep.  The world has a way of chipping away at our confidence.  I don't see that happening with Holly.  This was a gift that accompanied her to earth and she has continued to strengthen it. As a little six year old child, she kindly questioned her friend why she wasn't a Mormon.  As an eleven year old, she once instructed me about modesty in swimsuits.  (I was buying a very modest swimsuit with a zipper in front.  Holly said that I shouldn't buy it because what if the zipper accidentally unzipped!  I didn't buy it.) I have seen her  push aside negative thoughts and feelings and change situations that would have otherwise made her feel less about herself.  She has made conscious choices to not be "squashed".

To my beloved Holly, I  echo the Apostle Paul's comment:   I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things".  I can say that  because of the righteous confidence you have in yourself.   That confidence will allow you to pursue your goals of singing and writing.  It will  strengthen you as a college student, missionary, wife, mother and whatever else you pursue.  It has been a joy watching you grow leaps and bounds these past few years.  I really like the person you are.  You make me laugh.  You calm me down.  You  give me confidence.  Happy Birthday dear daughter and dearest friend.  I love you.  Mommy

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sisters and Friends

Two amazing girls.  Holly & Hannah - 2013 Homecoming/

It is every girls dream to be elected Homecoming Royalty.  Hannah was elected;  Holly was not.  As much as Holly would have loved to be wearing a beautiful dress while riding on a float at the parade, she did not show her disappointment............ever!  She handled herself with grace and dignity and rejoiced in Hannah's good fortune.  Hannah had asked Holly to help her with her hair and make-up for the big reveal which she would be on display for all to ooh and aah at her loveliness.  Hannah was beyond stressed and suffered a tear-filled meltdown during this time.   Holly was patient, kind and so understanding as she lovingly attended to her sister.  I have great admiration and respect for Holly. This day wasn't about what she didn't get to do, but what Hannah got to do.  I love Holly.  I love Hannah.  I love that they love each other.   God bless Holly & Hannah and sisterhood! 

Regarding the formal,.. there was never a question with Hannah about modesty.  She exemplifies a modest, wholesome daughter of God in every way, and her homecoming dress would not be an exception.  And it wasn't.  She loved her dress and proudly wore it, thinking she was beautiful and princess-y.    And she was!  

That is such a blessing to me.  I love making my girls their dresses, but I never want them to be embarrassed because they are homemade.  I have very sweet daughters who have always been beyond pleased with their dresses and that just makes the sewing experience  literally DIVINE!!!

Yesterday a friend told me that her niece had told her she had overheard some comments about Hannah's  homecoming dress and how it looked like she must have gone to a "Mormon Store" to buy it. I don't know if the comments were meant to be positive or negative, but I took them as a positive. I always want my daughters to  look like they have gone shopping at a "Mormon Store".  

I asked Hannah if she felt out of place with her dress.  Her response was an emphatic:  "NO!!!  I love wearing my dress."  Hannah doesn't dress modestly just because she is supposed to.  Modesty is part of who she is because she respects her body and loves Heavenly Father.  I can honestly say that all four of my daughters know that they are precious daughters of God and conduct themselves in that manner. What a blessing to me and to them. Modesty is a manifestation of purity and purity is truly beautiful!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Encouragement in Times of Trials - Talk given in Mesquite RS Meeting

I want you to know that I have studied, pondered and sought counsel and affirmation from the Spirit and feel I do have a message that is to be delivered.  With that said, I share a few of the questions that have been stirred up in my mind as I have prepared.  Would my remarks be applicable to the sister whose trials greatly surpass normal life’s challenges and difficulties?  Would this be helpful for those who suffer trials because of their own doing, as well as for those suffering trials because of the actions and decisions of others?  Does my talk address the trials and hardships that  result from just living in a wicked world?

With lots of re-dos and starting overs, I finally realized that what I needed for this particular talk was an “equalizer”; something that would level the playing field and be applicable to every person here in this room tonight.  An equalizer that would pertain to all of us, regardless of who was responsible, and for all varying degrees of trials, no matter how small or significant they may be.  With that realization and understanding, it was apparent that there was only one “equalizer” who could provide that assurance.  I hope and I pray  tonight that the Holy Ghost will turn our hearts to our Savior Jesus Christ, who is truly the Great Equalizer; He, who can  level the playing field and makes things right and whole with each one of us.

I have chosen to use the hymns of the gospel to help convey my messages.  There is a reason for this……..hymns just speak to my heart and I find myself singing them every day, especially at times when I am troubled or frustrated. It really is my default for when I am out of sorts.    The words to some hymns have been very present during this month of study, so we will sing them together tonight.
In fact, if you could grab a hymn book and turn to hymn # 85; we can learn a lot about trials from the familiar hymn #85, How Firm A Foundation.
I want to focus on your verse 5.  The words are descriptive and poetic and can teach us much.    
The first phrase reads:  “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie.”  The pathway spoken of in this context is the course of our lives.  The “fiery trials” spoken of suggest that they are intense and significant challenges. 
The next phrase reads: “My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.   The words of this verse are spoken in the first person as if the Savior is saying them directly to us.   In the Bible Dictionary we read that grace is in part: “an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”  Elder David Bednar gives further clarity and understanding to this “enabling power of the atonement”.    He says: “I suspect that you and I are much more familiar with the nature of the redeeming power of the Atonement than we are with the enabling power of the Atonement.”                                                                                                      “…grace represents that divine assistance or heavenly help each of us …desperately need….”   
Elder Bednar mentions two powers of the atonement.  1. Redemptive power that save us from our sins.  2. Enabling power, or grace, that assists in times of need.
The enabling power of the atonement is manifest time and time again in the Book of Mormon.  One great example is found in the 24th chapter of Mosiah.  We read of Amulon,  who was given the assignment by the Lamanite king to rule over the people of Alma. Vs. 8 “And now it came to pass the Amulon began to exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and began to persecute him, and cause that his children should persecute their children…. And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
Vs. 13.  …I will …ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage…
v. 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
Notice that the Lord did not take away the trial from Alma and his people, rather “the Lord did strengthen them” or in other words, they received the enabling power of the atonement so they could withstand their trial.
Let me read this phrase again.  “His grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply”. The enabling power, along with the redemptive power of the Lord’s atonement is sufficient; it is enough.  It is infinite.  It is what we need to not just endure, but endure cheerfully and with patience as did the people of Alma.
Two weeks ago today my father died from a 6 day bout with bacterial meningitis.  This trial obviously was not removed or taken away from my mother.  My mother is a strong, brave woman.  But shortly after the doctor diagnosed my father, he requested  a copy of my father’s living will.  My mother and I returned to her home to look for it.   If we couldn't find the will, it would not be hard  to get a copy.  I knew my father’s attorney  and I could  call him and request he email one over.  Upon not finding it at the house, my mother turned and looked at me and with searching eyes she began to cry.  Through her tears, she said:  “Oh, Lorri, what am I going to do?”  I knew this wasn't about a will; it was about so much more. The redemptive power of the atonement was not needed, but the enabling power was.   I motioned for her to follow me to the couch and said:  “Mom, we are going to pray for help”.  It was a very sacred, tender experience kneeling with my mother and praying in her behalf.  The Saviors grace was sufficient and in supply at the very moment she needed it.
The thought of attending the viewing  proved to be another particularly rough trial for my mom.  She expressed  that she did not think she was going to be able to stand and talk to others. Her legs were aching and she was so tired and could not bear the thoughts of being there.  This time however, it was  my mother who gathered her three daughters into her bedroom.   We listened as she tearfully implored the Lord for His enabling power.  And  again, those pleas were heard.  Her legs were strong and able to bear her up; her heart open so she could be comforted by others and He gave words to her mouth so that she could freely speak.  His Grace was evident, sufficient and in supply. 
I have sung the third verse of the hymn Did You Think To Pray? over and over during these past few weeks.  There is a beautiful reference to the “enabling power of the atonement in this verse.   The words and even the melody testify so  beautifully of this power.  Please turn to hymn 140 and sing the 3rd verse.
"When sore trials came upon you, did you think to pray?  When your heart was full of sorrow Balm of Gilead did you borrow at the gates of day?  Oh, how praying rest the weary. Prayer will change the night to day.  So when life gets dark and dreary, don't forget to pray."
Returning back to  hymn # 85 we read: “The flame shall not hurt thee."  This is written as  a promise from  the Savior, asking us to trust him  so that He can change us.  D&C 122:7 we read similar words spoken by the Savior to his prophet Joseph Smith while he was imprisoned in Liberty jail.  “…Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good .
I only design thy dross to consume” Dross is impurities that are found in minerals such as gold and other precious metals. The removal of these impurities is done through a heating process, leaving behind the purest form of the mineral.  By Divine design and plan, our trials are a means given to us to turn to the Savior so that he can consume are pains, sorrows and impurities.    In our recent General Conference our prophet taught:  “Such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were, better than what we were, more understanding than what we were – with stronger testimonies that what we had before.”  It is this process that allows for us to find “encouragement” even joy in times of trial.
Sisters, think about the greatest trial you are facing at this time and how you are experiencing it.  Are your impurities being consume by the Savior?  Are you enduring the trial well, even submitting cheerfully as the people of Alma did?  Are you a better person because of what you are going through?  If the answers are no ……..then ask yourself why? It takes “courage” to seek encouragement in our trials
The day that LaNae Griffiths called to ask if I would accept this assignment, I was in despair.  I was feeling frustrated as a result of a trial I was not enduring well.  I had actually had feeling of hopelessness, never thinking I was going to find relief. Because I accepted LaNae’s request to speak, I started to study, read, ponder and pray about the topic she assign me.  I began to examine this very specific trial in respects to what I was learning .   I didn't just want to stand and give a talk on the subject; I wanted to be changed so I could testify.   A few days after LaNae's call, I received my Sept. Ensign in the mail.  I was intrigued by an article titled: The Healing Balm of Hope.  Listed in this article are ten strategies for cultivating hope in times of trial and despair.  These strategies were all very good, but one in particular resonated in my heart. The strategy  was titled: Identify and Challenge Negative Beliefs. In the article it says: “Negative thoughts are the termites of the soul”.  Although painful, I took courage as I admitted to myself that I had riddled my soul with negative thoughts.  I had been quick to dwell on the worst.  Upon further scrutinizing my reactions to my trial, I realized I had found comfort and even a sense of entitlement as I focused on everything that was wrong.   I embarked upon a plan to identify my negative beliefs and challenge them.  It was hard.  I had to retrain my thought process.  I had to work on catching myself and have the courage to remove that negative belief; no matter how justified it made me feel.    I sought the redemptive power of the atonement as I asked for forgiveness of such negative and destructive behavior.  I have sought the enabling power of the atonement as I have prayed over and over again, day by day and sometimes even hour by hour,  to strengthen me and help me focus on what is positive and good.  It has taken courage but I am now finding “encouragement” in this trial.  I am even excited to see and feel the changes that are taking place in my mind and my heart. The Savior is consuming my dross, one negative thought at a time.  No, the trial has not been removed, but I feel a renewed hope as I try to endure it well, even cheerfully. 
The very last phrase of the verse reads:  “And thy gold to refine.”  I share with you this true account of events by President David O. McKay as given in a Conference Address by Pres. James E. Faust.
“Some years ago President David O. McKay told from this pulpit of the experience of some of those in the Martin handcart company. Many of these early converts had emigrated from Europe and were too poor to buy oxen or horses and a wagon. They were forced by their poverty to pull handcarts containing all of their belongings across the plains by their own brute strength. President McKay relates an occurrence which took place some years after the heroic exodus: “A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.
“[According to a class member,] some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.
“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.
“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’” He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’” (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, p. 8.)

The trials of the early Saints were trials that consumed their dross and left souls of the purest of gold.   Let us never make the mistake and think that our trials today will not do the same for us.  They will. That is their purpose.    The verse of this song teaches correct principles. And those principles bring us hope and peace in times of suffering and sorrow. I hope whenever we sing How Firm A Foundation, our eyes will scan down to the 5th verse and we will be reminded of that hope and peace. 

I would like to end by singing the first verse of hymn #100, Nearer My God To Thee.  One night, alone with my dad while he was in the hospital, I sang this verse to him.  The words were significant and calming. "Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee.  Even tho it be a cross that raiseth me,  still all my songs shall be nearer my God to thee. Nearer my God to thee.  Nearer to thee."  

The crosses we bear are the trials we endure and when we allow for it,  they raise us up to be nearer to God. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Talk For the Funeral of My Dad

A few years ago I attended the funeral of a man who was firefighter by profession.  Displayed at the church was the uniform he wore as well as the medals of honor he had earned. Squadrons of uniformed firefighters lined the sides of the church as the family filed into the pews.  As part of the funeral services, the fire chief conducted a symbolic ceremony called “The Ringing of the Final Bell”.  It was apparent that the world highly regarded this man and he was deserving of such honor and recognition. He was a good man and dedicated firefighter.

My father has never worn a uniform, either military or one of civil service.  He has never earned medals of honor. Although successful, the world would not consider him to be a man of great significance, and I think the world would find it hard to celebrate the life he has lived.  But I do not gauge my dad or his life by worldly standards.  

My dad wore a white suit with a white tie and pinned to the coat of that white suit was a badge that read:  Lester Skousen –Sealer.  These words represent a power so great that it surpasses mortality and extends into the eternities.

He loved the temple and the work that is done within its walls.  I remember a time when Jared and I and some of our children went to the temple to participate in sealing work. Upon seeing us, his face lit up and he walked out from behind the little desk in the sealing room to greet and hug each one of us.  I can only describe the look on his face as one of just pure joy.  He showed us off and introduced us to the other workers.   As wonderful as it was for my dad to be with his family in the place he loved most, his understanding of the sacred work that we would engage in was more important and his countenance reflected that.  Whenever he performed sealings his voice was reverent and unhurried, and his eyes were fixed upon the persons kneeling at the altar.  I knew by the way my father conducted himself inside and outside of the temple, that he knew that “in the ordinances,…the power of godliness is manifest.”   

The world would never celebrate that, but the heavens do!  I have contemplated the hundreds and hundreds of people who have undoubtedly greeted my father since his passing, who have surely expressed their joy for finally having the sealing power manifest in their lives because of his service.  He knew the magnitude of the importance of the work he did.

As was mentioned by my sister Kellee, my mom and dad embarked upon three Spanish speaking foreign missions together; missions that were focused on providing my father's beloved brown-skinned people the blessings of the temple.   Just a side note………as a young girl, I loved to hear my dad speak Spanish. And because my dad could speak Spanish and was born in Mexico, I just assumed that he was a Mexican and that is what I told people and I was so proud of that. 

During this past week, I have heard my mom express on four different times these words: “ I am so grateful that your dad and I served those three missions.”  I don’t know exactly why that has been so impressed upon her right now; I am sure they were significant for many reasons very personal and sacred to her.   I do know that these missions were defining times in the life of my dad.  He loved these foreign lands and serving in their temples. The Latino people adored him. He spoke their language and understood their culture and customs.  And most importantly, he gave them his heart.  I want to say to my mom……….thank you.  Thank you for doing hard things! I know it was difficult for you to learn the language and had feelings of isolation and frustration, but I can’t help but think that these missions were some of dad’s greatest times in his life.  Thank you for having the courage and faith to leave your home, children and grandchildren.  Most of all, I say thank you for the supportive role you were for dad so that he could shine and do that which he most loved to do.

I believe that the example my mom and dad have set for us four children, their 18 grandchildren and their great-grandchildren will result in literally hundreds, if not thousands, who will receive the blessings of the gospel.  What a legacy!

This legacy has already impacted a granddaughter who is currently at the Mexico City MTC learning Spanish.  The day after the passing of her grandfather I received an email where she writes specifically of what that legacy means to her:  “I love that [grandpa] always made sure his family knew he loved them, the temple, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You know that those are the things most important to him, and I want to make sure that everyone always knows that family, the temple, and the Gospel are important to me.  I know that Grandpa will be helping me, and I have already felt his love. I know that he is so happy with where I am, in a country he loves, learning to speak the language he loves, so I can teach others the gospel that he loves.”

How grateful I am to be born of goodly parents, to a father who loved his wife and children, who honored his priesthood and raised a family unto the Lord.  I never want his influence of goodness and kindness to leave me.  And I don’t think it has too. I believe that as we honor his legacy- especially as we serve missions and participate in temple work, we will feel his arms around us, guiding us, teaching us and loving us even to the extent as if he were here.
Because of the events that have transpired over the past ten days, I can stand before you and testify that even amidst the pain and sorrow that accompanies death, the Lords Plan is one of joy and of the peace.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Wind Beneath Our Wings

Comments I heard at our family beach reunion a few weeks ago:  "I just love Emily, she is so great."  "I am so happy Emily married Daniel."  "It seems like Emily is loved by every person  in this family".    

The spiritual gift that I focus on for Emily may seem a little  "sub par" in the spiritual gift department to some, but do not be fooled into thinking that this spiritual gift is  less in anyway.  It is not!  It is a gift that only a  humble, meek person can acquire.  The person that bears this gift is self assured, powerful and competent in what they choose to do.  The person who uses this gift, values others  and does whatever is needful to help that person  shine a little brighter.

Daniel's personality is such that he is often in the limelight because of his strengths and great qualities.  Emily  is what I  view as an amazing supporting actor, not ever seeking the staring role, but playing her supporting role in such a way that Daniel shines far more than he could on his own.  It truly is a selfless gift.

She is not showy, loud or demanding.  In a gentle, non-assuming way she glides into our lives and makes us better. This ability was displayed in  our little family tourney of Kuub at the beach where Daniel and Emily were partnered against Brittney and Derrick (?).  It was a classic Daniel / Emily moment.  Daniel was fixed, determined and very demonstrative as he threw his sticks; sometimes successful in knocking over the posts and sometimes not.  Emily stood  up to the line, without fanfare or displays of competitiveness, she threw her sticks to consistently knock over the intended targets.  I can still hear Daniel's  triumphant shouts of  "PB"!!!! as she would save the game over and over for him.     I know this was just a game, but it is very symbolic of Emily's demeanor and capability of simply being her own quiet self so that the person who needs to shine actually can.

I have talked to Emily about this spiritual gift of supporting and how I cherish her for having it.   She too acknowledges it as a gift from God and feels blessed to help others achieve and grow and is happy doing it.   Just as her talent of playing the violin softens that blare of the horns, adds dimension to the monotony of  the  percussion, and enables a musical score to reach greater heights of beauty and majesty than possible with any other instrument, that is what Emily does in our family. Each person in our family (because everyone does love Emily) is positively influenced by her.

Back in the 1980"s Bette Midler made famous a song titled "The Wind Beneath My Wings".    Those words so perfectly portray who Emily is.  Her grace, presence and goodness lift me up and make me a better person.  Her support and  love  for Daniel allow for him to fly higher.  Emily, you are a soft, refreshing breeze, even a wind  that  elevates our family. We are blessed that you are ours forever.  Happy Birthday dear daughter, I love you.   Lorri / Mommy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It Is The Way It Is Supposed To Be

*Written June 2013
Holly and Hannah left for Girl's Camp this morning.  Shortly after dropping them off at the church, I left on my walk with Judy.  I mentioned how lonely it was going to be for the next few days not having those two around to liven things us.  As we continued to walk, my thoughts turned to  the upcoming events of  Noelle's wedding and Natalie's mission.  Judy and I talked about that for a little bit and then the conversation painfully gravitated towards the time when all my girls would be gone, out of the home, away from me.  The realization of that time was more than my mind and body could handle.   I stopped  in the middle of the road, unable to move.   My throat tighten and I was having a difficult time breathing. I don't know how I still managed to sob, but I did.

When the boys left, I still had four girls to raise.  When the girls are gone, that is it; no more children left at home. I don't want my girls to leave me, but I do want them to leave. And just like my wish for my sons, I want my daughters to love deeply and live passionate, productive lives.  And they will.  It  is the way it is supposed to be.

I wrote this back in June but did not post it.  I found it  painful to admit such deep emotions to myself, let alone  to my entire family.  But time  has passed and I thought I was getting used to the idea of  my daughters leaving home......... until I experienced the following little setbacks today.

Noelle has now been married for 6 weeks.  Today I addressed an envelop to Noelle Hillam and chocked back some tears. I know her marriage is good, right and eternal.  I am happy for her, and grateful for the man she married, but I am having a hard time adjusting to this Hillam thing.   I have never had a child change names before and to be honest, it has thrown me for a loop.  I guess it is because I know what accompanies a change of name .... there comes a change of heart.   Eric becomes her family first and foremost and although it tugs at my heart, it is good. It is the way it is supposed to be.

Natalie has been in the MTC for one week and it has been week since we heard from her last.  I know she is safe, but I long to hear from her and share in her experiences.  I have checked my email on the hour all day long. Why can't she just write a short email every other day or so?  Would that be so bad?  Don't worry, I know the answer and although the situation tugs at my heart, I am in total agreement to the guidelines. Natalie is now a missionary first and foremost and it is good.  It is the way it is supposed to be.

I truly am grateful for the paths that Noelle and Natalie have chosen and have every confidence in what they are doing.  But I can't lie.... I am so grateful to still have Holly and Hannah home.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eighteen Months of Service.........A First In Our Family

This time tomorrow Natalie will be on a plane bound for Mexico City.  I will undoubtedly shed at few tears as my dear, wonderful friend, even BFF,  leaves me for eighteen months.

Natalie may be gone, but she will leave behind some amazing lessons.  Yesterday Natalie spoke in two different sacrament meetings, giving two completely different talks.  I learned much.  I learned that Natalie has a humble, gifted way to teach others.  It is not showy or loud, but  meek, personal and very powerful.  Her understanding of gospel doctrines and principles are deep, intact and firmly rooted in who she is and how she conducts herself on a daily basis.  I  learned that her testimony of  The Plan of Salvation, the Atonement, Resurrection, a living prophet, the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ are genuine and sure.  She knows what she believes and trusts in those beliefs.  I learned that she is a child of great faith.

Her faith has served her well in life. In one of her talks, Natalie shared her testimony of paying her tithing because that was what she had been taught to do as a little child.  She spoke of the realization that not only are others blessed by her obedience to that commandment, but she personally is  blessed as well.  She then talked about the wonderful blessing and opportunity of being able to attend  and fund college with help beyond what she was capable of doing on her own and attributed that to always paying an honest tithe.

That example of faith and obedience  is why I share the following experience.  A couple of weeks ago Natalie expressed concern about not having the $200.00 cash that is suggested for a missionary to have on hand as they enter the MTC.  She had been very frugal with her money and had spent it in preparation  for her mission and she had undoubtedly  paid the Lord his tenth.   Last night as we gathered for family council, she held up one $100.00 bill and two $50.00 dollar bills given to her by two different individuals at our family dinner.  I have no doubt whatsoever that the Lord had once again blessed Natalie; this time to the exact penny.  I am grateful for her obedience and faith.  I am grateful for two people who obviously acted on prompting and were the Lord's hands in this blessing for her.

Natalie, your faith will help grow the Lord's kingdom in Ecuador.  Your teachings will be anchored in humble, receptive hearts and not only will they be blessed, but you too will be blessed  because of your service.  I am sure in the next eighteen months  you will  be taxed beyond what you have ever experienced or even thought possible, but you will be refined beyond what you ever could do on your own.  Work hard.  Pray hard.  Heed counsel and obey and always move forward!   I so respect who you are and how you represent the Savior and His church. Until we meet again dear daughter..............I love you.   Mommy

Monday, August 26, 2013

One Beautiful Daughter and Two Important Dresses

A couple days ago  I received a text from Noelle.  It read as follows:  "Hi mom!  I've been looking at my wedding pictures over and over this  past week and I just can't get over how gorgeous my dress is!  It is seriously so beautiful and so perfect! Thank you, thank you for making that for me! I just want to wear it again!"  I know I write a lot about sewing on my blog.  There is a reason for that.  Sewing is a talent that I worked hard to acquire.  It is how I express myself and even find spiritual fulfillment as I seek to create something of worth and value for my daughters. With that understanding, you can see why I will always cherish this text.

It has always been my goal to sew for my four daughters', their  temple dress to be sealed in and another wedding dress for their reception.  The girls and I have talked about this many times while they were growing up and regardless of whatever the situation may be, that has always been the plan.  I had no idea how difficult it would be to execute that plan for Noelle.

Due to school and work schedules, Noelle came home only one time for just two days before being married. She had sent me pictures of wedding dresses  and few hand-drawn sketches and that was basically all we had to go on. Natalie and I picked Noelle up at the airport on a Thursday evening and we hurried over to   Jo Ann Fabric before the store closed in less than an hour.  We grabbed the raw silk and a bolt of lace that Noelle liked, guesstimated the amount of fabric we would need and left the store.  No pattern,  no thoughts to a specific design; just a huge realization that we had two days to create Noelle's dream wedding dress and an elegant but simple temple dress for her sealing.

I will not bore you with the details, but just know there was lots of designing, fitting and  sewing  going on for those two days.  Despite how hard we worked and the long hours, when Noelle left on Sunday morning she did not take her dresses with her.  I continued to design and sew, and pray for direction over the next two weeks.  It is not foreign for me to be divinely guided in my sewing and this was certainly the case with Noelle's dresses.  As my "sewing" prayers are answered,  it always confirms my understanding of a loving, kind Heavenly Father, even a Heavenly Dad.  I know it is important to him simply because it is so important to me.  I guess that is why sewing can be a spiritual experience for me and often is.

Noelle received her dresses about two weeks after she left.  I, still being in Overton, was excited but so nervous to hear if she liked them, if they fit her, if they were what she had envisioned. To make a long story less long, both dresses did fit her like a glove; not one alteration was necessary other than the hem. They were both exactly what she had  hoped for.  When I finally saw them on her for the first time, I felt overwhelmed....not just because of how beautiful she looked, but by how perfect they were for her in every way! I still express gratitude to Heavenly Father for that  wonderful experience and miraculous outcome.

I hope that this post is not misconstrued in anyway as being boastful, or worse yet, taking away from the sanctity and holiness of Noelle and Eric's sealing and all the events that celebrated  their sealing.  I hope it is viewed as another sweet tender mercy given to a mother who simply desired to sew two very important dresses for her daughter. Nothing less. Nothing more.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Thank You. I Love You."

I have done a lot of thinking about the word "friends" as of late.  I have studied scriptural references regarding this word.  I found it interesting that in the parables of the lost coin and lost sheep, upon finding both of those things, these individuals share their good fortune with their  "friends".   I also found it interesting that in one of the most heart-wrenching sections  in the Doctrine & Covenants, where Joseph cries unto the Lord while imprisoned in Liberty Jail  and the Lord responds to be of peace and  to endure adversities well with the promise of  exaltation on high, the Lord then offers these poignant words to Joseph:  "Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."  D&C 121:9

 I, like in the parables of the coin and sheep, have shared my good fortune with good friends.  And though I have not experienced the depth of  the trials that Joseph has, I have certainly experienced "...friends [who]...stand by [me] and ...hail [me]again [and again] with warm hearts and friendly hands."    In fact, I am overwhelmed with the warm hearts and friendly hands that have shared in the good fortune of our family these past few months.

So to all my friends, who so lovingly stand by me, Jared and our children; who offer hearts and hands of charity over and over again, who share in our good fortune of weddings, missions, family get-togethers, and  the many other joys we have, I say with a heart brimming over with gratitude: "Thank you. I love you." 

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Deborah In The Making

I feel like I have gotten to know a different Natalie these past few months and  I have come to the conclusion that she is a very complex person.  I find it interesting that the thing that makes her so unique is the fact that  her personality is so intertwined with the influence of all four of her brothers.   It is really amazing to see them manifest so strongly in who she is.

*  Her thirst for knowledge, books, trivia, and really anything else that will expand her mind is so reminiscent of Derrick. I am truly amazed with Natalie's  mind.  She retains every detail  and can call it up when it is needed.

*  The little dance that Natalie does when she is just about to do something she is happy about, is a dance I have seen Brandon do many times. She and Brandon also  have very similar sensitive natures,and they both enjoy their solitude!

*  Everyday I experience  Daniel's quirkiness  as Natalie does "the Daniel voice and language"  or repeats incessantly the phrase: "mommy do you like me", along with mimicking many of his other mannerisms.  She is hilarious and has a sense of humor much like that of Dan.

*  But the strongest influence that I see in Natalie is Travis.  She is often silent, listening, reflective, quiet.  I know she is deep in thought and trying to make sense of something, and like Travis, she tactfully states her views and stands by them.

I love the fact that Natalie possesses qualities that are the best of her brothers. It makes it fun and interesting to be around her. It also makes for a well-rounded individual who has an innate ability to love, assess, judge, and accept.

Those above mentioned traits lend themselves to the great spiritual gift of discernment and righteous judgement.  I look at Natalie as a modern day Deborah.   Deborah served as a righteous, highly esteemed judge equal only to Samuel and Gideon of old.  During her reign as judge, the Israelites were less than valiant and in constant need of repenting.  Deborah never turned her back on her beloved Isarelite people. She made difficult, but righteous judgments.

During Natalie's teen aged years, she had several very close friends who struggled at various times in their lives.  I loved how she loved these friends.  I loved how she prayed, sought and offered counsel, and when needs be, she distanced herself, all done according to  her ability to discern and make righteous judgments. Never did she abandon, belittle, or condemn her troubled friends.  She did all she could to help and guide them back to where they should be.  And many times, her leadership and loyalty was instrumental in helping a wayward friend back on a positive path.

But there were times when her influence wasn't effective.  I can think of three separate times when a sad, distraught Natalie came to me, concerned about a friend, but knowing that it would not be wise to continue their close relationship. The decision was not made lightly and on two instances, Natalie lost a best friend. Her ability to righteously judge these situations required difficult action.  Like Deborah, she did not shrink from her judgments. And like Deborah, she did not shun those who were making wrong choices.

Natalie  has a close friend who has taken a very different path  since graduation;  in fact, they couldn't be more opposite in values, politics, religious beliefs, and social views. Natalie's gift of discernment and judgment has led her to censor their media contact, but she  loves and cares for her friend.  She invites him over when he is in town.  She remembers his birthday and things that they shared. As much as they are different, they still have much in common.   And although this friend knows exactly where Natalie stands, he also knows that she loves him.

There can not be a more needful gift at this time in life, than that of righteous judgement. It isn't easily earned. It is entrusted to someone who is worthy of it's influence and power.  I believe that this gift is bestowed to those who are spiritually mature and wise. This gift is not given to someone who esteems them self to be better or more valiant.  Its recipient is humble, loving and accepting.  Natalie, you are this kind of person and the Lord has entrusted to you this great gift.   Your influence will be profound, not just on the people of Ecuador, but on the world.  I really believe this!  Happy Birthday dear daughter.  I love you!  Mommy

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coincidence or Miracle?

On our way to the temple this morning Judy and I had a discussion on the importance of acknowledging how much the Lord is involved in our day to day lives.  We determined that if we  always chalk  things up to coincidence, we actually deny little miracles extended to us daily by the Lord.

As we were pulling into the temple parking lot, Judy suddenly exclaimed: "Darn it!  I forgot my mints." She went on to say that she had bought some breath mints in hopes that if she got sleepy, she could pop one in her mouth and it would wake her up.  Judy wanted to make sure that she was alert and attentive for the sister that would finally have the opportunity to make covenants and receive her own endowment.

We put on our temple clothes  and met up again inside the bathroom where Judy said to me:  "Guess what I found in my locker?"  I replied:  "Mints?"  To which Judy responded "Yes!  Can you believe it?!"    Well actually I can believe it and I do not chalk it up to coincidence.

I write that my children may know.... Heavenly Father is deeply invested in each one of us.  He extends His miracles and tender mercies to us daily.  I also write in hope that we may humble ourselves to see His hand in our own lives and to be quick to thank Him for His involvement.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chapel Clean-up.....A Pathway To Discipleship

We had chapel clean-up this morning.  It was a life changing experience.

The first person I saw was a young father of three boys and soon to be daughter. As I greeted him and looked into his kind eyes, I was reminded of his circumstances. His  story is truly one of agony and uncertainty.  He is literally fighting for his freedom  and there is a possibility that he may loose that fight.  He has been falsely accused of horrific charges and is emotionally and physically exhausted in the continuing efforts of trying to clear his good name. Certainly the Lord would understand if he were to have stayed home this morning  to rest and spend the day with his wife and children. His overwhelming circumstances surely has earned him a pass in chapel clean-up.

The second person I saw was Dola Davis.    Sister Davis had gotten up early so that she could walk the several blocks to the church.  The 85 degree weather wasn't a deterrent for her.  In fact she undoubtedly had been up earlier than that pulling pesky weeds in her yard (a daily routine for her). I found her scurrying about in the Relief Society room, cleaning chalk boards and straightening chairs.  She was one of the first members to come and one of the last members to leave.  Sister Davis will turn ninety-one in August.  Certainly the Lord would understand if she were to have stayed home.  Ninety years of age surely has earned her a pass in chapel clean-up.

The third person I saw was Ken Herron.   His body is tired and worn out from years of hard work.   He strapped on the portable vacuum and went to labor in the chapel.  I talked with him for a few minutes after he was done.  Here is his story.  His wife is ill.  She suffers from severe seizures and progressive dementia. His eyes welled up as he told me how Sister Herron's sweet, loving personality has become hostile and combative due to the drugs she is taking and her frustration of not remembering  literally from minute to minute.   He told me of his concern for his  son who is dying from alcoholism and how he is caring from him as well. Bro. Herron fought back the tears as he  briefly expressed  the toll that these situations are taking on him. His burden was so heavy this morning.  My heart ached for him.  He then left and hurried back to his home, not daring to be away from his sweetheart and son any longer.  Certainly the Lord would understand if he were to have stayed home this morning.  His plight surely has earned him a pass in chapel clean-up.

So why did they come?   I once heard a thought provoking definition of sacrifice and consecration from Sister Bednar.  Sacrifice is what we "give up" for the Lord.  Consecration is what we "give to" the Lord. They did not make on offering of sacrifice as they chose to come to chapel clean-up this morning.  Their lives were already lives of sacrifice on so many different levels.  These three individuals live a higher law. Theirs was a consecrated offering this morning. They were "giving" what they had to Him, who they love and exercise faith in.

I write that my children may know........keeping our .covenants of sacrifice and consecration qualify us as true disciples of the Savior.   I am so grateful to have witnessed what I witnessed this morning;  humble, pure discipleship.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

From the Perspective of Wife & Mother

A Few of My Favorite "Dad Moments"

1.  Jared instinctively knew how to soothe and care for babies.  I did not.  It was something I had to learn and develop. He became my example and teacher. When Derrick and was just three days old, he cried and cried.  Nothing I did calmed him down and   I was exhausted.  Jared took over and for hours walked with him until he fell asleep.  This wasn't a one time thing. Jared loved the challenge of taking a crying, distraught infant and bringing back a peaceful, happy baby.  He never got upset or frustrated.
     I have cherished memories of seeing him holding a baby, looking straight into their eyes and softly singing to them.  "Faithfully" from Journey was his  go to song for each baby, but he also sang hours of Eagles, Dire Straits, John Denver,  Beetles, and Pink Floyd, to name just a few.  As a wife, there was nothing sweeter to witness and I would fall in love all over again.  As a mother, I loved the affect his singing had on our children.  Jared loved his time with his babies.

2.  Jared taught the gospel like no other to his children!  Scripture study was always an adventure when the boys were small.  He would grab  diapers & toys  to signify the cities and various landmarks in the Book of Mormon.  Bottles and pacifiers became markers for the Lamanites and Nephites.  He taught on a level that we all understood.  As the children progressed in age and knowledge, so did his teaching.  I have often thought how lucky we are to have a dad who knows the gospel so well and has been blessed with the ability to make it come to life and have personal meaning for us as a family.

3.  It is always a treat to see what Jared brings home from his grocery shopping excursions.  As a husband, he saves me over and over in what is generally considered a "wifely" duty.  He loves to grocery shop and does it well!  As a father, he is very mindful of his children's "little life pleasures" and takes every opportunity to bring that "pleasure" home with him.  Just the other day, knowing that Travis would be coming home for a few days, Jared bought some Reese's peanut butter chips so that I could make cookies for him.  I didn't make the cookies, but Travis did take back his package of Reese's chips.  From time to time, Dad will surprise Natalie with a can of oysters, a delicacy that both she and Jared enjoy. He often comes across foods that the boys have mentioned regarding their missions and can recall every detail about it and their experience with it.  Going to the International Market Place with the kids and Jared is always a hilarious  adventure.  I will never forget the challenge of eating the pickled duck eggs (or whatever disgusting thing it was.)

4.  Jared is like a little boy when it comes to the ocean.  Some of my fondest memories are sitting on the beach watching he and his kids dissect seaweed for ocean life, build sand castles and forts, dig for sand crabs, and catch the waves.  He loves the beach and has passed that passion down to his children.  I have always thought that he is most content and happy when he is there.  It was fun to see him come to life as he brought these things to life for his children and now for Molly.

4.  I will never forget the "hair do's" that Jared so lovingly did for his daughters.  He was particularly proud of his side and double pony tail styles.  It is hilarious to hear the girls recall that memory, but at the time, Jared was performing a sweet act of service for me and for them.  I am not sure what the specific reason why he needed to do their hair, but I do remember his willingness to do it, and his desire to express his creativity while doing it.  Jared was so sweet and darling with his cherished, little girls.

5. It is a treat for me to listen to Jared and his adult sons talk.  It usually encompasses only two subjects:  1) Recipes and Cooking questions, and  2) SPORTS!  Sometimes when a son has called, an hour passes by  and  they are still discussing a particular dish or a particular team.   He loves to talk with his boys!

These are only five "father" experiences, but they have sparked many more memories and thoughts.  I realize that I have been  greatly blessed to have a husband who anticipated and accepted the role of being a father.  I have been blessed beyond measure for the kind of father he has been and continues to be.  He takes his stewardship seriously, understanding it's sacred and eternal implications.  He loves his children deeply. I know this.

I write that my children may know..............I love your dad. I love him because he loves you.  I love him because he loves his Savior.  I love him because of his goodness and how he honors fatherhood.  I hope that each of you children will reflect upon a few of your favorite "Dad Moments" today.  Your heart will be turned to your dad in love and gratitude as you do so.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

1981 - Eternity

A a couple of weeks ago Noelle requested a Skype session with Dad and I regarding a project for a class.  She asked us a series of questions regarding our marriage.  I have spent considerable time pondering her questions, one in particular. "What traits and characteristics did dad possess that made you want to marry him?"  (Or something along those lines.)

So today, as we celebrate our wedding anniversary, I share two of those wonderful qualities that drew me in.

I am sure this isn't a news flash to any family member, but dad is all about details.  I was intrigued early on in our courtship by how he could recall not only things I said and did, but the exact place where I said it, the clothes I was wearing when I said it, and the old Jewish woman wearing diamond earrings who happened to walk by when we had that particular conversation.  Of course this is a dramatization, but it is not an exaggeration!  His ability to recall details has really been a sweet part of my life.

The other characteristic that I share will not be a surprise to many either.   Dad  is and always has been a hopeless romantic.  When you combine those two traits you end up with  a sentimental sweetheart.  I fear I have taken those qualities for granted in my life, but I have always considered myself to be one lucky girl on the receiving end of such characteristics.

While young and infatuated with each other, I must have mentioned once that I loved train rides.  Honestly, I have no recall about such a statement. It is no surprise to anyone that I am neither detail oriented or a romantic. That is  probably why I love those things in Dad so much.
Back to the train.........  
We were both living in Provo, and remembering my comment about trains, dad booked a train ride from Provo to SLC.  The ride was fun, but it was the fact that he planned a date according to something I had said and he had remembered and actually put stock in it,  that touched me most.  Our courtship was made up with lots of fun dates and experiences all revolving around things that dad had paid attention to regarding me and his desire to bring it to life in a fun, romantic way. Now I ask you........WHAT GIRL COULD EVER RESIST THAT?!

At one time during our dating years,  I was attending  BYU and dad was working in Vegas.  It was also a time when there were fifty-two Americans being held hostage in Iran for a total of 444 days.  Every day, on  the national news broadcasts, they would run  a graphic saying:  Day # 25 of AMERICANS IN HOSTAGE. (Or whatever #  it currently was for that day.)  Everyday that dad and I were apart he wrote me a letter and on the outside of that letter, starting with the first one, he wrote "Day # 1 Of MY HEART IN HOSTAGE".  The next day, letter #2 came with "Day #2 of MY HEART IN HOSTAGE."   These romantic, numbered letters kept coming until we were reunited.  My roommates lived for the mail and so did I!

Happy Anniversary to My Sentimental Sweetheart!  I cherish your romantic nature.  I am in awe of your detailed mind. These are just two of many amazing traits that have made my life better .  Thanks for your service, your care and love.    I LOVE YOU TOO!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Prompting...Primary...Prophet = A Touch of Heaven

At the end of last year, I carefully studied and pondered the 2013 Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation outline and the songs I would be teaching the children for the coming year.  There are several months where I am given the opportunity to choose the song I would like to teach to reinforce the preassigned  gospel topic.   May was such a month.  The topic for May is:  "Prophets Teach Us to Live the Restored Gospel". Although I was free to choose a song, I noticed that the outline had instructions on how to teach "We Thank Thee O God, For A Prophet".  I felt that that was as good of a song  to sing about prophets as any other, and added it to my list of songs to teach.

When May rolled around I began to prepare how I was going to teach that hymn. I studies the words.  It basically is a beautiful  prayer of gratitude to the Lord for his bounteous blessings.  Although it is commonly sung to show our love and respect for our prophet, I was somewhat disappointed when I realized that only the first line made reference to a prophet.  With that realization, I had a very clear and distinct thought come into my mind: "Help your Primary children  have a relationship with their prophet, Pres. Monson."  With that thought, I made the decision to change songs and teach the hymn "We Ever Pray For Thee".

I spent two hours scouring through Ensigns, Friends and New Eras  finding different pictures of  Pres. Monson.   I matched these pictures to corresponding phrases in the hymn. For the phrase "As the advancing years" I showed the children a picture of Pres. Monson smiling as he was holding on to a wheel chair with Sis. Monson seated in it. For the words "furrow thy brow", I found a fitting picture of the prophet with the pronounced wrinkles on his forehead.

The children quickly learned the song and sweetly sang it as a sacred plea to Heavenly Father for their prophet  I challenged them to really think about Pres. Monson through the coming week and to make a special effort to pray for him.  I accepted my challenge as well.  It was nice to reflect on our prophet  every day and night  in preparation for my prayers and I felt a greater love and appreciation for him.

I was shocked and so saddened to learn just three days after I issued that challenge, Pres. Monson lost his beloved Francis.   I know it wasn't by coincidence that I changed hymns at the last minute.   I know I acted on a sweet, tender prompting and that prompting was as much, if not more, for me as it was for my Primary children.

I write that my children may know...when we listen and act upon our promptings, heaven is so close.  Please know also that I am grateful for revelation, our Prophet dear, and my calling in Primary.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sliding Eyelids

I have come to the age where I do not trust my vision to determine if my make-up looks like that of an old lady. (You know the kind of old lady I am talking about.)   So this Sunday as I shared the bathroom with Holly and Hannah in getting ready for church, I asked them to check my eye shadow.  I shut my eyes and I felt their fingertips gently slide across my eyelids to blend the color a bit.  Suddenly Hannah exclaimed:  Mom, What is wrong with your eye!?"  Sensing Hannah's horror, Holly quickly answered:  "Hannah those are wrinkles, Mom is old!"  Apparently Hannah didn't like the fact that half of the skin on my face moved with her finger.  I wasn't offended.  In fact, I was pleased that Hannah hadn't really "noticed" the wrinkles and saggy skin prior to this incident.  Keeping my feelings in mind, Holly sweetly added: "Hannah, mom looks good for a fifty-three year old."   Having my daughters check my make-up, seeing my imperfections, and acknowledging my advancing years made me  love them a little bit more for some reason.

My face shows wear and tear, but I still feel like a silly, gullible girl much of the time.  I often wonder how old will I have to be to acquire wisdom, or am I destined to always be a silly, gullible girl.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Love Languages & Mother's Day

I haven't been a fan of  "Love Languages".  It seems like church members hopped on the band wagon when this book came out and "love language" became a lesson staple.  I have since changed my mind and feelings about love languages.  With that said, I still don't want it taught in lessons and talks!

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I prayed extra hard that I would not be ridden with guilt and sadness;  I tend to choose this day to focus on  all the wrong I did and all the right I didn't do as a mother. (Lame...I know.  I am working on this!) Certainly not by any fault of dad or you children, but I usually end up going to bed glad that the day is over.

Maybe it was my faithful effort with the prayers, but this Mother's Day  was different.

The day started off with sweet kindnesses of Holly, Hannah and Natalie getting up early and making breakfast for me and it ended with Jared  and the girls creating a perfect dinner.  I loved seeing and hearing them all work together and the end results were yummy and fun to participate in.

Service is one of the five Love Languages.  I greatly appreciated their  labors in my behalf and recognized them as displays of love given to me.  It was  a treat to be spoiled with these thoughtful acts of service and I was genuinely touched by how they offered me their love.

Now I speak of another love language. Words, whether spoken or written, have a powerful affect on me  and how I feel love.

The day before Mother's Day, I received a card in the mail from Daniel and Emily.  On the front was a drawing of  stick figures resembling Dan, Em and Pappy (and two fish?)  with the words: Happy Mommy Day! It  undoubtedly was Daniel's handiwork.  On the back was a much more detailed drawing of Daniel and Emily in their wedding hearts wishing me a Happy Mother's Day; obviously Emily's handiwork. Inside this homemade card  both Daniel and Emily wrote sweet words of love and appreciation. Upon opening and examining this card, I could not keep from smiling.  Better yet, I felt loved!

Sunday morning, I received my first highly anticipated Mother's Day phone call and joyfully looked forward to hearing from each child throughout the day.    These cherished phone calls  all consist of  basically the same kids telling me  Happy Mother's Day, me asking about your lives and you sharing tidbits of your life with me.  They all end in basically the same way, with the  most wonderful words I live to hear: "I love you too mom."   I know you all love me and  am not sure why hearing the words "I love you" means so much to me, but it does.

Sunday night after dinner, dishes and Skipbo were done, Hannah handed me a 2 page hand written letter titled the ABC's of Mommy!  In that letter she recalled specific experiences, characteristics, talents, and even silly funny things that she loved about me. Natalie also handed me a hand written note of how she loved me and what I meant to her.  I went to bed with the sweetest feeling of being loved and cherished.

I share all this with you because words speak to my heart!  They uplift and comfort me.  They bring peace and assurance that I am accepted and loved.  Words bring me hope.  I reread  letters, emails, cards and notes because of how they make me feel each time I read them.  I play words spoken to me over and over in my mind so I can feel that love again and again.    It is safe to say that words are my love language.

Thank you dear family for your words!  I realize it is a need in me and I am grateful that you respond to that need.  Happy Mother's Day to me. It really was!   I love you all.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Ask and Ye Shall Receive"

It really is that simple.  All we need to do is  sincerely ask and we will receive.  What we receive and in what duration of time it will come is dependent on the Lord, but I consider the Lord's wisdom a huge plus when it comes to my needs.

Yesterday morning, Holly gave our family prayer.  In that prayer she asked  Heavenly Father to help me with the sewing of her prom dress.  Odd request to some, but I got it. Here's why.   After getting the dress sewn together, it was evident that their was a design flaw.  I wasn't sure just how to go about fixing it without having to go get more fabric and start over.  That morning of  Holly's prayer I had tried several "quick fixes" that did not have  favorable results.  Just as I was contemplating a trip to JoAnn Fabric in Vegas, I remembered the pictures of some dresses that Noelle had sent me earlier that morning.  I brought them up on the computer and there it was.............the answer to my design woes and Holly's prayer.  I immediately realized that one of the dresses was very similar to her prom dress and if I made the skirt to resemble the one on the computer, it would solve my dilemma.   And it did!

Over the past few months in our family prayers, I have noticed that when dad prays he has asked Heavenly Father for opportunities to serve. I didn't give it much thought until a couple of weeks ago.  Dad has been inundated with requests and opportunities to help others.  He was at DI in St. George and a snowbird sister in our ward needed him to bring down a big piece of furniture which she had just bought.  Of course dad was happy to help her with that.  Another ailing couple in our ward has need for a ramp to be built onto their home, dad was called to head up that project.  Dad is also installing a wide door in the home of a paraplegic man in the ward.  Sister Novelli has requested dad's skills with some things she is concerned about in her home.  I heard dad tell Sis. Martinsen, that he had gone over to her house and taken care of what she was worried about.  I know there are many more that I don't even hear about.  My first response to all this demand on dad was:  "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  WHEN DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO EARN A LIVING!"

I have since repented and have spent time on my knees thanking Heavenly Father for:  1.  A husband that desires to help others and prays for those opportunities.  2.  A husband who has been blessed with the skill and knowledge that is so in demand.  3.  A husband who has recently been blessed with good health and can do what is required of him.

Dad's little band of needy are really the "least of these".  Heavenly Father has entrusted them to a good man. Our family has been blessed by dad's humble prayer to be of service and by his example of doing just that

I write that my children may know..........I BELIEVE IN PRAYER!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Note to Beebz....

*  This post is not promoting any specific relationships whatsoever. 

 I am so grateful that my sons are attracted to good, virtuous girls. I have always know that they will marry amazing women.  Brittney and Emily are testaments of that.  But this post is regarding my daughters.  Jared is fierce when it comes to the men who will claim his girls; I understand that and am thankful  he is.   Noelle, Natalie and Holly  have been blessed to know and date righteous young men.   Their standard has been set for them .   I do not see them settling for less when it comes to who they will choose to marry.   Beebz, here is that standard.  Learn it, understand it, and when the time comes to date, you do not settle for less.

Enter Eric, Bowen and Dirk.   Again, I am not pushing relationships; but I truly love these three young men.   Some day I might  tell them, but for now I tell you.  I love how they  treat my girls.  I love how they have treated me. Chivalry is not dead or obsolete.  Simple, little acts tell great things about who you are.

1.  They always open every door for you.  * Not only did Eric do this for Noelle, he did it for me.
2.  They look out  for you  first and foremost in all things.  *  Love how Dirk will always make sure that Holly gets the comfortable chair instead of the hard one when they are at the table.
3.  Their words are kind, appropriate and uplifting.  *  Natalie couldn't have helped but think that she was the most beautiful, important person in the world when Bowen asked her to prom. ( must share  that with us.)
4.   Helping others just comes natural to them.  * Holly told me about how Dirk and one other boy were the only two out of eight, that helped clean up dinner when they had it on the mesa for a girl's reverse date.  It was cold & windy and  everyone else hopped into the cars to keep warm.  Holly said that it made her feel so good that Dirk was that kind of person.  * When Noelle was down last week and we started to clean the house, Eric came up to me and asked for chores to do.  After he would finish them, he came and got more. He was  humble and kind and so HAPPY to help out.   *  When I asked Bowen to help Natalie throw a surprise party for Holly's 16th birthday, he was excited to do it and went the extra mile to make it fun for her and Natalie.
5.  They are just all-around good  people.  *  All three of these young men are happy and pleasing to be around.  They smile.  They laugh.  They are positive. They are respectful.

There you have it Beebz.  I have just given you snippets of examples of their character, but you get the idea.