A Gospel Truth

Nov

30

2016
DSC_1626

I’m really loving this view from my bedroom window. There are a few windows in the house where you can see the beautiful Draper temple above us on the hill.

A couple weeks ago, while cleaning my kitchen, I was listening to the BYU Devotional ago about agency. [It was on in the background and I never even looked up to see who was speaking, but I’m certain it was a professor, not a member of the 12].

I listened to this professors thoughts on agency as I wiped and swept and scrubbed. At the beginning of the talk he pointed out the obvious – God’s plan is-and has always been -to allow us to choose for ourselves – be it good or evil. But Satan’s plan is – and has always been – to bind us to choices, to take away our ability to choose. He exercises his plan over us by and through habits and addictions.

Later, in the talk the speaker said something to the effect of “each choice we make for good brings the power of Heavenly Father into our lives, and each choice we make for evil brings the power of Satan into our lives.” And when he said that a light went on in my head. Remember this thought from earlier in the fall:

I’m trying to change some of my habits right now (let’s be honest, I have a lot of habits I want to change). One habit in particular I am using a friend as mentor/person to help me be accountable for the change. The other day I text her a small success I had. She text me back and said “It only takes 21 days to make a habit”

And in my head, my snarky side said “Oh bull.”

Maybe it takes 21 days to develop a bad habit. But at age 36 I can say I’ve never developed a good habit yet. I looked through my whole soul to see if I have any good habits, and guess what? I don’t. NOT ONE.

Example: Going to church.

I’ve gone to church pretty much every single week of my entire life. Other than being out of town and out of range of a church, which happens maybe once a year, I’m at church every.single.week. And still, it’s not something I consider a habit. I still have weeks where I’m tired, overwhelmed or just plain have a bad attitude, and I don’t want to go. On those Sundays the only reason I’m there is because I willed myself to be there. But it most definitely isn’t out of thoughtless habit.

There’s lots of other things I’ve done for much longer than 21 days, and those habits have never taken either. So . . . I don’t know what to say about that other than it probably only takes 21 days to set a bad habit, but definitely not a good one.

-I Think I Think Too Much

When the speaker talked about letting the power of God into our lives – it came to me – that power isn’t found in God forcing us into the next choice through habit or addiction. That power is the blessings of the Lord, and the confidence gained in doing what’s right. But the next time that choice comes before us, the Lord steps back, and again let’s us make the choice.

And the inverse is true of Satan. Each time we make a choice that goes against the teachings of our Father, Satan uses his power to bind us and to tie us, to take away our choices the next time. That is why addictions and habits are so powerfully destructive.

I know, sometimes I miss the obvious. I find that gospel truths are always so simple and obvious, and yet I never see it until I do. Funny how that works.

DSC_1591

And let’s have another look at that temple!

Blessings in Challenges
– or –
The Story of How I Wrecked My Van

Nov

25

2016
Untitled

The wheel of the van.


A week after we moved in to Somerdowns a tragedy stuck.

Wyatt’s business partner, Dave’s niece went missing in the Pacific Northwest. Dave went to Oregon to help search for the girl. Wyatt went too.

About 45 minutes after Wyatt pulled out of town, I was driving down the freeway. I saw the car in front of me swerve wildly. What he missed I saw I had to hit. I couldn’t swerve – I had cars flanking me on either side. So, I held the wheel tight, took my foot off the gas and brake, and braced for the impact . . .

A semi truck ahead of me had dropped a big jack off the back of it’s truck. I mean BIG Jack – the type that are used for tractor-trailers when they aren’t attached to trucks.

Well, I hit it with my front driver-side wheel, going 70 miles an hour. The tire exploded (creating smoke off the front of the car) and I held the wheel until I felt it settle down. Then I switched lanes as quickly as I could to the shoulder of the road. Once I reached the shoulder, that was the first time I attempted to brake (I didn’t want to brake before that because I knew with a blown tire it could pull the van to one side causing more problems). When I hit the brakes, there was absolutely no brake pressure – not even a little. So, I reached over, holding the wheel extra tight, and used the emergency brake. I wasn’t sure if the e-brake would pull as well, but it didn’t. It was effective, and I stopped on the side of the road none-the-worse.

So there I was, on the side of the road. Wyatt was out of town. I was pretty sure the car had some serious damage. I didn’t know what to do. Luckily a police officer must have been following up the freeway behind me, because he pulled up to me within a minute or two of stopping.

Also, the truck that dropped the jack had pulled over as well. Because of that I was able to get his insurance information to pay for the damages (phew!). The police officer changed my tire and I was able to drive off the freeway.

I took the van into the Toyota dealership for a damage assessment. Luckily they gave us a rental minivan since Wyatt was gone and I had no other vehicle to drive! Over the next several days they diagnosed the damage and it was determined that fixing the car wasn’t worth the effort (not only was the tire blown but a whole slew of other problems were caused). They totaled the car and cut us a check.

It was really stressful at the time (mostly because Wyatt was gone and I had kids going to three different schools in two different towns, and I didn’t have a washer and dryer working – but that’s a story for another day).

But all week I kept (trying to) remind myself how blessed we were. When I went to get the final assessment from the dealership the mechanic asked me in all seriousness if I caught air when I hit the jack. He said he’d never seen so much damage to a tire, and he imagined it could have launched the vehicle.

And when Wyatt showed his car-friend Ryan the damage, he too was blown away and told Wyatt we were pretty darn lucky there were no injuries. “Do you know how much force it takes to do damage like that?” he told Wyatt.

So I know we were blessed. I didn’t even so much as have a shot of adrenaline in the accident. I was very calm and clear headed, which was surely a blessing. And in light of the tragedy in Oregon, we felt extra blessed that we only lost a car in the ordeal.

Wyatt and the search party didn’t find the girl that week. It was three more weeks before they located her body. But she was found and has been put to rest, which is an answer to so many important prayers. I feel so grateful for that.

Blog Posts

Nov

21

2016

So – we’ve moved.

Because of the chaos that entails I have not been able to blog for a while (I have not been able to upload pictures of events). Soon I hope to find my card reader and be able to pull off my pictures from camera. Until then –

Blog Posts coming soon:

The story of our move
The logistics of our move
Gratitude in Challenges – or, the story of how I wrecked my van
Olivia’s birthday
A spiritual truth

Christmas Book Lists

Oct

30

2016

Every year since they were born, each child has been given a Christmas Book. The idea is that when they are grown and ready to start their own families, these books will be the start of their own Christmas libary. We also get books for our family Christmas Library every so often (not really intentionally, just when I come across a book I want or someone gives us one).

We’ve started to get a respectable collection of books. We keep them put away with the other Christmas things, but when it’s time, they come out and go on a special book shelf for the Christmas season.

Olivia

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2006

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2007

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2007

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2008

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2008

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2009

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2009

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2009

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2010

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2010

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2011

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2011

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2011

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2011

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2012

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2012

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2012

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2012

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2013

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2013

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2013

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2013

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2014

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2014

Everett’s Christmas Book, 2014

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2014

Nate’s Christmas Book, 2014

Olivia’s Christmas Book, 2015

Calvin’s Christmas Book, 2015

Everett’s Christmas Book, 201

Andrew’s Christmas Book, 2015

Nate’s Christmas Book, 2015

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

Family Christmas Book

We Bought a House

Oct

19

2016
DSC_1355

The house is from 1982 – And hasn’t been updated since it was built (except the kitchen maybe 15 years ago).

After years of looking, we’ve finally bought a house.

Why did it take so long? The answer would be as long as the search. But suffice it to say that we feel really good about this purchase, and that it will be fantastic for our family.

But, let’s just be honest, there’s gonna be some hard work to do.

But when have Wyatt and I ever taken the easy way?

DSC_1354

This is the view from the street of the back of the house. There’s about a mile of juniper bushes that need to be pulled out.

DSC_1351

Again, the view of the back of the house from the sidewalk.

DSC_1360

The view from midway back in the yard.

DSC_1358

Wyatt’s favorite thing about the house is the 30×60 foot garage in the back. It’s extra tall, but far enough back that it doesn’t look too industrial. He’s got a lot of big plans for it.

DSC_1357

The view from the back deck.

The Butler 4th Ward

Oct

9

2016

Today was our last Sunday as members of the Butler 4th Ward.

We bought our house in the ward in November of 2004 – 11 years and 11 months ago.

We’ve been in this ward longer than any other ward in either of our lives.

I feel like I grew up in this ward. When we moved in 11 years and 11 months ago, we didn’t have any children. We didn’t have careers or money or experience to speak of. Good grief, we weren’t even done with school.

As I sat in sacrament meeting I thought about all the experiences of the ward – the things that meant so much to me – that carried my heart through these years. Here are some of the memories I will cherish forever:

group 5-31-09

One of our “treat nights” – usually once or twice a summer we’d invite everyone and anyone over and to bring what ever they had on hand as a treat to share for an evening of chit-chatting.

Jed Henrie and his testimony. Every fast Sunday Jed would stand and plead with us to love our children, to teach them, and to be happy. I’ll admit, at first his testimonies were something I’d laugh at (a little too pentecostal for my comfort). Then they became something that I’d roll my eyes at. Finally, in those last years, I really cherished them as the kind words of someone who knew.

His wife, Dorothy, who was (is) the steady hand of all things good. She is the Marilla Cuthbert of my life, never stirred, always constant like the stars. Every week for all the years I lived in the ward (and 20 before that) she brought her disabled and frail husband to church. The last years literally carrying him in. Dorothy has been my VT comp these past several years, and I remember she told me Jed wasn’t doing well, and she wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be bringing him to church (it was December). I thought I should take my camera and get a picture of him in the bench one last time. I remember that sacrament when she brought him in, helped him sit down. I’d brought my camera, but left it in the car. I never did go get it out. And he never came into the chapel again. He died that spring, and Wyatt presided at the funeral. I will always remember Jed and Dorothy Henrie.

2015-03-26_1427346562

Jed and Dorothy Henrie from back in the day.

I remember Sue Harrison and Cindy Beverly, my first VT’s in the ward. They were both older ladies in their mid 50’s. Both had grown up in the ward and had been best friends since childhood. Neither had married until just a few years before I moved into the ward, Sue married Glen Harrison, an older gentleman who, after his divorce, had moved back into the neighborhood he had grown up in, and reconnected to Sue. Anyhow, Sue and Cindy were the best. Cindy was jovial and hilarious. Sue was serious and kind all the time. They have both been excellent examples to me of being steadfast and firm in the faith.

IMG_9661

4th of July street fireworks at the Enghs with a plethora of neighbors.

I remember my first calling in the ward was to teach Sunday school to the 16-17 year old’s in the ward. And the teacher of the 14-15 year old’s flaked 3 weeks out of 4 so I ended up teaching both classes-which was perfect because I was able to get to know all the youth in the ward. I remember I had no problem telling the identical twins, Kate and Amanda Lybbert apart, but for the life of me, I could not figure out Brett and Mike Smith – even though they were two years apart in age.

IMG_0871

Mike holding Calvin in the tractor.

Eventually I did figure out the difference between the two. And then Wyatt hired Brett Smith and Quinn Malovich to do some work in our yard, and they ended up helping us with all sorts of projects. I still have such a soft spot for those boys, and hope all the best things for those two.

IMG_2030

Brett at the parade.

I remember when we first moved over to Meadow Downs. I kinda got to know the Smiths, but not well. But at one point during some conversation, I told them to come on down any time for desert, no invite needed (we would often have treat nights with the Engh’s and Sorensen’s in those days). I will always remember the evening they showed up at my door. As they came in they both held up forks. I laughed and laughed and knew we’d be friends forever.

4778165415_5d8267c6d4_o

The Smith family under our tree.

Of course, I remember Kathe Hollingshaus. Moving across the street from her gave me an opportunity to first get to know the elderly in the ward – to see them in a way I never had before. She was my friend, and I feel like she was the first one to teach me that I had a lot to learn from these wonderful older members of the ward.

DSC07850

Kathe Hollingshaus and Olivia

I remember when Olivia was born – Olivia was the first (the next one coming just ten days later, and another a week after that) of ten babies born in the ward that year. For 9 of the 10 it was our first babies. In addition to those 10, two or three more babies of the same age (and their mothers) moved into the ward within the next couple years. It was so wonderful to embark on the journey of motherhood with a brood of other women in my same situation.

Valentine_7

Jamie Kirkham and Nicole Ferguson and a herd of small children from the ward.

I remember the ward parties. I remember being in charge of the ward parties (I’ll admit, that wasn’t fun), and then when Kellie took over (that was fun). I remember winning (well, 3rd place) the ward chili cook off, and sitting at the table with Don Adamson as he bemoaned his stewardship as judge of the cook off. “It’s dangerous eating people’s chili” he complained – “you never know what people have put in them.” And I laughed my wicked laugh inwardly. My secret ingredient for my chili: Beer.

DSC_9991

The annual ward Easter Egg hunt.

I remember all the service in the ward – the service to my family. I still remember Brenda Sim taking one look at me and saying “You look like you do not want to talk, so I’m just going to take Olivia.” And then she took Olivia to and from preschool all the rest of the year. (I was expecting, and sick, and indeed, did not want to talk.) And I remember the time I made a passing comment of being sick (not expecting) on FB and the next thing I know Tiana Titus and Nicole Ferguson showed up with dinner for my whole family. I remember how overwhelmed I felt to know that others cared that much.

IMG_0145

Ian and Nicole Ferguson

I will always remember Halloween in this neighborhood. No trunk-or-treats here. In our neighborhood the kids run from house to house, showing the old and young their costumes (indeed, the trunk or treat has been vetoed vehemently in our neighborhood by the elderly who love to see the kids out in their costumes). I’ll never forget the treats and traditions in our neighborhood: Home-made scones at the Enghs, the S’more’s Bar at the Reimann’s. The hot chocolate and doughnuts at the Nydeggers, and the home made Rootbeer at Jim and June’s, all filtered with full sized candy bars and traditional candy treats. And the kids run from house to house and the parents congregate in the streets, and all eyes are sharp watching out for each child to keep them safe in a community full of love for them.

2015-11-01_1446339588

Halloween in the Neighborhood

I’ll also remember the Gospel Doctrine lessons of this ward. I’ve taught GD for five of my 12 years here. But it’s not the classes I’ve taught that stand out – there are actually quite a few classes I’ve attended over the years, where the spirit has been strong and testified truths of the gospel to me. And I’ll remember those conversations with my brothers and sisters in the gospel.

IMG_1662

Bishop Wittwer

And I’ll remember the Bishops of the ward – each taught and gave our families so much. Bishop Childs helped us find our current house, giving us and inside tip to a house coming on the market. Bishop Wittwer will always be the kindest, most loving man in my mind – the type of grandpa they have in story books, with eyes that twinkle (I kid you not, they twinkle!), and Bishop Trelease, who has been a steady hand and a voice of assurance as I’ve turned to him more than he probably wishes with my parenting woes, and he’s always been calm and reassuring to my concerns.

IMG_4842

Bishop Trelease with Ryan and Wyatt

And Leslie Trelease has been a special friend for many years. When ever I get a chance I seek her out in any company. Her conversation is the best! She has an insight and thoughtfulness that I crave in my otherwise shallow life. She listens to me and challenges me like my favorite teachers of my school days.

IMG_6814

Preparing for the primary program.

Another calling I had in the ward was teaching primary. I did that for about three years, and in that time I was able to get to know the next batch of kids (they’re the youth of the ward now). I love the chance to get to know the kids of the ward – to see their lives unfold before us.

IMG_7853

The primary

I will always remember Jana Malovich – how she was like the neighborhood mom – the person you called if there was something you needed help with or didn’t know how to do. She would lend me her quilting frame, helping me set up my quilts and projects. She’s helped me put on the scout badges on my boys uniforms, she’s helped me with embroidery projects. She’s always cheerful and happy to help, and I’ve always appreciated her kindness.

IMG_4230

Ward Bridal shower.

And I think about Sister Beverly. When I think of her though I see her bouffant hair from behind. Because that’s how I saw her every week for years as we sat in the pew behind her during sacrament meeting. The kids would throw toys and poke her with crayons, and one time I even gingerly picked a stray paper airplane from her hair, hoping she didn’t notice. But she was always so kind and encouraging after the meeting. She’d tell me my kids were great. And she never broke her smile, and she never gave me a sideways glance to make me second guess her sincerity. I think she really believed it.

IMG_2786

YW Camp

I remember meeting Olivia Childs and Claire Nelsen not long after we moved in. I think they were at the bishops office collecting their after-church-lollipops that are a tradition in our ward. In any case, I was talking to them and asked them their names, and Olivia said “Olivia” and I just lit up and said “Oh! That’s what I’m going to name my baby! I love that name.” And then I turned to Claire Nelson and she said “Claire” and again I lit up and said “Oh, I love that name, that’s going to be my baby’s middle name!” And ever after that I always knew who those two girls were. And now Olivia is married and lives in an apartment in the ward, and she team teaches GD with me! And Claire is recently returned home from her mission.

IMG_4899

Neighbors and friends congregating in the back yard for a treat night.

All these memories and a million more are the kaleidoscope of happiness that will forever flash through my mind when I think of my time living here at Meadow Downs.

And all these things are more than just silly memories and funny moments because living in the Butler 4th ward has been more than just a socially good time, it has been a comforting envelope of the Saviors love. All of these moments, all of these relationships, have brought me closer to my Savior.

How wise the Savior is to create a church where we can look after one another, and come, hand in hand, unto Him. And how wonderful it has been to live in a ward where those ideals of gospel function are working like a well oiled cog. Our family has never been able to get far away from the Lord because our ties to him have been constantly reinforced by the ties of our ward. Their love, service and kindness has testified of the Love of the Lord, and have strengthened my testimony. How very grateful I am for that.

Everett’s 7th Birthday

Oct

8

2016
DSC_1389

Opening gifts at his birthday party

Today is Everett’s 7th Birthday! I can’t believe he’s only seven. I really don’t remember life without that sweet boy.

Observations about Ev: I really feel like he has the most gigantic soul of anyone I know. He is so in tune to the people and things around him. He feels things before anyone else even knows there’s something to be felt. He has so much goodness in him. He is a friend and a gift giver and truely loves people. I went to parent-teacher-conference for him last week, and his teacher handed me a $1 bill, saying Everett had brought it to school, saying it was his tooth fairy money. He insisted on giving it to her as a special gift for her. She said it melted her heart. Even though she tried to refuse the gift, he was so insistent. I just thought – yeah, that sounds like him.

DSC_1098

Everett chose this shirt for the first day of school after I told him what the shirt said. He thought that was a fair description of himself. I could not agree more.

If I give him responsibility, he takes it very seriously. Because he really seems to thrive off being trusted and responsible, I try to make him in charge as much as I can . . . usually just of himself, but he still takes that very seriously. He enjoys giving reports on his good behavior.

Everett is really just the sweetest thing. When I think of him I think of a soft squishy sponge – squeeze even just a little and the juices from the inside will spill out (like tears). I love this boy.

DSC_9077

This photo captures the essence of Everett – tears of heart felt life at any given moment. KISSSSSSS

For his birthday we celebrated all week. I let him choose dinners through out the week, I let him help me with special chores and run extra errands with me. Wyatt took him on a boys night out, and we had a birthday party for him over at the church.

DSC_1403

Everett’s Birthday Party, left to right: Calvin, Drake Randall, Everett, Jace Reimann, Kiera Herscher, Eric Pierson, Andrew, Chloe McGlincey, Brynn Sjoblom, Malia Jackson, Kiera Engh

We also had cinnamon rolls for breakfast on his birthday, and we had ice cream and cake as a family. LOVE THAT BOY!

IMG_9045

We always open presents first thing in the morning on birthdays.

IMG_9048

Since Ev’s birthday was a Saturday this year, the kids had all day to lounge around and play with his loot.


DSC_1369

We played a wild game of pin the smile on the pumpkin.

DSC_1373

We colored velvet posters from the dollar store (this entertained the kids, no joke, for about a half hour. They were into it!

DSC_1381

Of course, cup cakes and ice cream.

DSC_1392

And gifts.

DSC_1394

And candy from a piniata. So much fun.

everettsbirthday

Everett is starting to read so we got him a whole slew of books: Pete the Cat Collection; Captain Underpants Collection, The Boy’s Book: How to be the Best at Everything; Pokemon Sticker book; a large lot of Pokemon cards; Bulbasaur (Pokemon) action figures; a train pencil sharpener (the kids LOVE mine, and are always stealing it away, so I knew Ev’s little artist heart would love having one of his own); a box of pencils (to sharpen of course); some paint, brushes and colored pencils. Happy Birthday Everett!


 

And a Side Note about the Birthday Party:

We had the birthday party over at the church, just like countless others we’ve had through the years. As we were setting up Wyatt and I discussed how eerie it felt to be throwing what we knew would be the last birthday party in the Greenfield chapel. It was such a strange feeling as I thought of all my babies birthday’s I’ve celebrated over there.

Thank goodness the Lord let’s us have our parties at His house so I don’t have to clean mine ;)

And now, a look back at the birthday parties held over at the church through the years . . .

DSC_1403

Everett’s 7th Birthday, October, 2016

DSC_1025

Andrew’s 5th Birthday, August 2016

IMG_9977

Calvin’s 8th Birthday, July 2015

DSC_3357

Everett’s 5th Birthday Party, 2014

IMG_5046

Calvin’s 7th Birthday, 2014

DSC_4287-2

Calvin’s 6th Birthday, 2013

IMG_2276

Olivia’s 5th Birthday, 2010

IMG_6865 copy

Olivia’s 3rd Birthday, 2008