Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Tradition of Fall


SOME FUN FALL PICTURES OF FALL TRADITIONS

























I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Fall! I was trying to figure out why. I mean I love winter, too. It's when Christmas comes. It's a time of much giving and hot chocolate and cookies. Valentines Day is in there too with lots of fun sharing love with a little more strength on that given day to our special loved ones. Then there is the spring which is just as cool as the Fall, sometimes even cooler (I'm referring to the temperature of course and this being relative to Texas weather). The spring is also the time to celebrate the Atonement and Resurrection of our Savior. Then we have summer, lots of family togetherness as school is out and we get to go on vacation together and get projects done. Family reunions are usually held during this time, and it's the best time for one of our family favorites...swimming! So why am I very passionate about the Fall? It does have very beautiful warm colors for a warm season. I know you are saying, "now wait a minute you just said that it was cooler". True, the weather starts cooling off, which would definitely contribute to my loving the season. And after the scorching heat of August, those first couple of cold fronts lead to some wonderful bursts of activity. However, by warm season, I mean it's a time for counting blessings, for beginning to be service oriented again within the community as our wandering around trying to create vacation memories comes to an end. It could be that our family comes together for eating a yummy feast full of food saved and savored only once a year. Or that we get to dress up in fun costumes, and my birthday gets celebrated. But no, even though I love all those things there are similar things that occur during other seasons of the year, with the exception of my birthday of course, but as you get older a birthday isn't as big a deal anyways, until your really old and it's a big accomplishment to keep going year after year, lol. But I digress. What it boils down too, I believe, is a combination. It's the harvest. A time to work and prepare for the seemingly long winter months ahead. It's a time to reflect and count blessings (one of my joyful past times ;) ) It's coming together. Like in a science experiment of molecules. The heat causes molecules to scatter and move apart, but as it cools the molecules start to come together. That is Fall. We are coming together after being moved apart by the heat. We know from biblical and current prophetic teachings that the earth and its seasons move in cycles, and it is the same of the Lord's work. The earth actually symbolically teaches us about His work. I believe that we are in the Fall season. He is speedily gathering those to him that will believe in Him and do his work. It is not a time to goof off, or be nonchalant. It is time to be passionate, get moving, choose a way to use your talents to bring others to the truthfulness of His gospel. This is my Fall tradition, working hard! Whether it is to put up decorations to help others enjoy the season, inviting others to activities to help them feel connected, baking cookies or meals for those that need an uplift or a little kindness, reaching out a little more, lengthening and strengthening my stride, all these things are helping me and those around me look forward and be prepared spiritually for our Saviors coming. I am so thankful for the time we do have to prepare.
"If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).

Monday, September 22, 2014

Love letters

 


      My eldest son and I were at logger heads this past week, and knowing him and myself. I didn't want a conversation over his choices to disintegrate to a huge battle of ugly words. So I started praying. Some words of advice from another situation weeks earlier rang in my ears, "write a letter".
     I have in my possession some of the most beautiful love letters ever written (in my ever so humble opinion). Some of them are the simple, "I love you" with hearts from my children and the sweet drawings that accompany them that express what words do not. Some of them are from my husband, thanking me for things that I've done and expressing his love and gratitude for being blessed with me in his life. A recent one is a beautiful tribute penned by my step daughter for Mother's Day. I also have one given to me by a stake president many years ago expressing his admiration for my never give up attitude and the belief he had in me that I would be able to achieve my goals. Another one is from my brother, while on his mission, telling me how he looked up to me and admired me for the changes that I had made in my life, and the strength that I had as a single mother. I have some sweet ones penned from my younger sister and older sister as well. Offering me strength when I needed it. My father left all of us children with a loving letter of farewell and admonishment before he passed from this life. All of these letters have had a profound effect on me over the years, and helped me to believe in myself, strengthened me, and given me the love and courage that I've needed in the past. I occasionally still look back on them and read them gathering that love to me again and again.
     Back to my experience with my son. With those letters in mind I penned what I hope will be one of many love letters that he will cherish over the course of his life. How do I know that I was successful in listening to the spirit as I penned that letter? It is because the letter had the desired effect to draw him back to me in love. There was no accusation or anger in our ensuing conversation, but honesty, understanding, and love.
     I thank God for all of the people in my life that he has prompted to send me such encouraging, personal, and loving correspondence. And I thank God, for helping me express that love to my strong minded teenager in a way that would gather him to me instead of pushing him away. What an amazing effect written words of love can have on our lives. They give lasting power and spiritual strength to us in away that spoken word cannot, as our frail human minds have a tendency to forget. If we have any questions on that subject, we need look no further than the love letters of the scriptures of our Father in Heaven who has written to us of our divine worth and our potential lest we forget.




image found at: http://www.wozax.com/3810-cartoon-valentine-colouring-pages-printable-for-little-kids.php

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Grateful for Chocolate!

Better sugar understanding is needed for sugar-free chocolate success


I mean who isn't! You take one bite of that velvety rich bitter and sweet goodness and you know you've died and gone to heaven! But seriously, chocolate is responsible for so many blessings in my life. Well maybe not responsible, that's not a good way to put it. More like, it's been a connector. Last Christmas because everyone loves great chocolate desserts I started getting together with a friend occasionally to make yummy desserts and take them home to our families. She's not a super outgoing person, not an introvert mind you, but just not always looking for away to start a party like me, lol. Anyway, because of our mutual love for Nutella and chocolate it's given us a chance to be friends. Then we expanded to invite others and we are turning this love for chocolate into a way to cheer people up and socialize. Just hope we can keep it going with crazy in session school schedules and more people involved.
There are so many jokes about chocolate being the thing for ladies, and I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but it's true we do love chocolate. It helps my husband and I bond when we find a kind of chocolate that we both agree is the balm. I just bought some Belgian truffles from Sams, (yes I have some left Mom. It's in bulk there remember?lol) and we, meaning me, are sharing it with everyone. This is so we don't kill our diets by over dosing. Can you believe that 4 are a serving size!?! Who made that rule? Anyways, I haven't gotten turned down yet. Chocolate helps bond people! I think I want John to do a study about that for his next science project. I think it would be a good study. I know there have been studies as to how it effects the pleasure centers of the brain, but it also is a bonding tool. Maybe because it has the same effect on so many people that it is almost a universal commonality, but whatever it is, I am grateful for God giving me taste buds to enjoy it, the gumption to invite others and bless others with that enjoyment of one of the sweets of life, and the physical fitness to work it off!
Have a sweet week everybody!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Battle You want to Know that You are Part of a Well Oiled Machine



  




We went to see the USS Alabama and the submarine the USS Drum. While it was super hot, being the last week of August, I truly enjoyed climbing up and down those narrow stairs and exploring each nook and cranny
and imagining life aboard a military vessel during a war. There was a mess area and a place for doing laundry. A store for clothes and a store for gum, cigarettes and other things that might be considered treats for the men aboard the vessel. There were storage lockers for the men to keep a very small amount of personal items. I loved that they had a soda shoppe area with ice cream. There was a time out area to help the men cool off if they got into a fight (my kids loved that), and a brig for the really bad apples. I mean they really thought of everything when they put this ship together! They knew they would have to boost morale and help the men stay upbeat especially when it was hot. One thing our family has learned over the course of many summer vacations is that HEAT can cause tempers to flare in a second!  But the areas that really impressed me were the battle room, the contingency area for if they were hit, and the medical area. The battle room was just as impressive as any movie depiction that I'd ever seen. I could imagine the admiral and his commanding officers in there deciding their movements. The contingency area was right across the hall and from here they could quickly communicate with the officers and other crew members if they had taken on damage and who needed to be sent to fix the problem. The medical area was stocked even with an operating room and an area to quarantine. As I thought on how this huge ship had been so well thought out and had been successful in transporting so many men into battles and back home again coping with the everyday needs and special needs of it's mission, a comparison occurred to me.

The Lord has restored His church upon the earth as it was when He, Christ, established it upon the earth during his ministry. I know many people believe that they don't need church, and as long as they keep the commandments they don't need to go. So then why did Christ bother to restore it? Why do we need it? We have families, and that is essential to Heavenly Father's plan. So why do we need church? Here are my thoughts as to why.

God and our Savior knew that families were going to be under fire. Satan knows that they are integral parts of God's plan for us. So of course, in these latter days the heat is being turned up!!! What did I say about heat? That's right, tempers flare and sometimes as individuals we need support. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is set up to help each of us stretch and grow and to develop our teaching and leading and other skills that are essential for helping us get our families back to Heavenly Father. To prove faithful. Now is it possible that some families don't need it? Yeah probably. But someone else's family needs that family's example to help them keep their family on the straight and narrow. The funny thing is that the family that doesn't need it, is the family that will never say they don't. That's because they realize that each of us are spirit children of our Heavenly Father and part of our testing in this life is to see if we will do our part to help those that haven't received the message yet. We also need those awesome bishops just like in the contingency area of the ship. They help get things repaired and people to the right person to help with healing. Even if that might be just with them or to an addiction recovery meeting or a counselor. The church is always having activities for youth and members whether single or married to boost morale and help us  to build relationships, so we can learn from each other and enjoy one another.

I am so thankful that Heavenly Father gave us such a well oiled tool of machinery to help us be a community in these latter days. I hope that as a member that I can be more than efficient in the areas that I am called to serve.  I have personally benefited from being an active member and so has my family. I know that the organization of it is inspired and that it contains the keys of the priesthood that we need to get back to Heavenly Father.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blended


My step daughter is visiting, and as I watch her play with little Will and take Jamie on scooter rides; it makes me thankful for our blended family. I love that word blend. I don't think of it in the sense of a blender that causes all sorts of chaos and noise and then turns out a lovely fruit frappe. Although I'm certain at times you could see that analogy with our family. However, when I think of blend, I think of one color moving together into another color, creating a smoothness in transition. I feel our family has just about become that. I know we have moments that it's more like the blender, like when one of the little ones invade the cooler older brothers den of sacred space and  the bear comes out bellowing. But there are so many more tender moments that have come about because we have been working at applying the eternal principles of the gospel to our family. I love that Isaac and his best friends have no problem with his 6 year old brother coming out and hanging with them in the pool. I've looked outside to see Isaac tossing the happily screaming boy in the air for a big splash. I've watched my wonderful Alicia doing experiments with the kids, to the delight of Alexis, James, and John. I've seen Amadeus spend a night in the hospital with me to help me take care of a newborn, so he didn't miss any precious time with his new sibling before leaving on his mission. I've had Gregory give piggy back rides and neck rides when the boys became tired from walking. We have all set together in family prayer and scripture study. I have loved hearing the prayers of each from oldest to youngest as they think on each other and the struggles we might be having and to pray for them. John has given me cause to kiss him as he prays for me to be able to get some sleep and the baby to be comfortable, so his teeth don't bother him, (Does that mean that I've been a bear?) . James, 4, has prayed for help to choose the right and to not hit his sister. Lexi has prayed for her brother Amadeus even though he's been out of sight for 4 months. And there have been many other sweet examples of their being prayerful for each other that just warms my heart.
 I love introducing my step daughter in church every time she comes for a visit. There is always that part of me that wants to drop the step, but I know that might cause some raised eyebrows. However, in my mind that step isn't there. When I talk to the kids I never say your step brother or sister, and you can feel that those distinctions aren't there. We accept each other as a whole. I love that Alicia thinks of Amadeus and Isaac on their birthdays. They are her brothers too. Amadeus before he left was loving the opportunity to get to know them and share his thoughts. I could sense how accepted he felt with these two older siblings and I know that it meant a lot. It's amazing to me that just 7 years ago my husband and I had two preteens in our lives to nurture and now we have eight to nurture ranging from 5 months to 31. Takes my breath away! Each one is beautiful and talented and smart and adds their own uniqueness to our emerging eternal portrait. Not that any of us are perfect, but that's where I think we truly blend, as each of us step up with our strengths to buttress up the others weakness. To give when it's needed and make so many beautiful memories painted forever on the canvas of our minds.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Those Sweet Moments




I've been thinking of those sweet moments we all have, and how thankful I am for them. Our time upon this earth is fleeting, and so each happy moment can slip away and leave us sad if we don't catch it and remember to be thankful. Wedding days are particularly chock full of those moments. I have already journaled the whole day in a hard book journal that I own, but some things I will never forget. Like how thankful I was to have my Dad help me remember the pace I was supposed to go up the aisle because as soon as the music started, and I caught sight of the love of my life waiting for me; it felt like my feet had wings. If it hadn't been for my Dad I would have flown down the aisle to be next to him. 


Then how Douglas held out his hand for me, but my Dad just gave him this look and wouldn't relinquish me till the music stopped. And then how Douglas winked at me during the ceremony, and that kiss, whoa that kiss! It was like he'd been saving that romantic moment up for just that moment. It was perfect and I felt it down to my toes. And truly, it was as if everyone faded away, and it was just us. 



Then being later being swirled around the floor by Douglas to LaVi En Rose for our first dance as husband and wife. Never did he seem so smooth. Never have I felt so pleased to be the center of attention. It was our moment. It was our time to say, "Look at us! We are so in love!". Yes definitely a moment to treasure as he dipped me back and kissed me again. Yes, I definitely married a man fit for a musical romance.



Then almost a year later, after praying that we would have the chance to have children together was that another moment that is etched in my mind. The moment that the doctor held that sweet chubby baby up and said, "You did it! A nice healthy baby boy.". And Douglas was holding my hand and there were tears in his eyes, and I felt this tangible spiritual connection between us. I knew what this meant to him, and he knew what it meant to me, and our cup was over flowing. 

 Sometimes the moments haven't been so sappy and happy. There have been moments that are just as unforgettable. Moments that I might wish to drop into a deep abyss, if they didn't remind me of something so precious and comforting that I need to be reminded of again and again. So I'm thankful, for that moment when John slipped at that Splashtown in San Antonio, and split his head opened and I was alone with him. I looked down and saw that huge gash and that blood flowing out and so many thoughts flooded my mind. But the first was to start praying. And I did. Immediately, upon praying my family found me and were able to give John a blessing and help me get him to an emergency room. 
Then there was that call that my Dad died. I remember hearing my brother's voice on the line, when my husband handed me the phone. I'd been looking for the past hour for my phone which John must have thrown away because we never did find it. Knowing what he was calling to tell me, and then that long drive to my Mom's pouring my heart out to God in my grief. Not understanding why we couldn't keep him with us longer. That seems to be the longest moment of my life so far. But somewhere in that long moment the comfort that I needed came.
Then the moment that this sweet boy had spent the night sick, but had not told me till the morning.  I was pregnant with James and Douglas had already left for work. Recognizing that it was most likely his appendix, I immediately called my visiting teacher to come watch John, and rushed Isaac to the hospital. I remembered praying for him and trying to comfort him as I calmly got him to the emergency room. I was thankful for my personal experience and being able to recognize the symptoms, so that his trial was less difficult than mine. But at the same time I longed to take it away from him. 
 So Some would wonder why would you be thankful for THOSE moments? Because those moments bring me closer to my Father in Heaven. And it helps me keep things in an eternal perspective. Making my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and our Savior's teachings stronger. so that ......

THESE MOMENTS are sweeter.






And these moments of looking into the eyes of each of these sweet children and my other ones....



Are NEVER taken for granted.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Grandma's House

I'm off to visit my Grandma today. The nursing home she lives in just moved her to a different area because she keeps falling and isn't being able to get around much anymore. I'm afraid since she's not conveniently 'close', I have let the days that I've been out to see her be far and few in between. It was my daughters response to her when we hosted a birthday party for her and her twin, my great aunt, at our house this past May that made me realize how remiss I've been. I taught my kids to sing a song for her and they haven't stopped singing it. As a matter of fact, they request it for bedtime sometimes and sometimes I just come across them singing it for fun. My daughter, who is only 2 and a half, is always reminding me that she loves her MeMe Maw. It amazes me that they feel such a strong love for her. I haven't fostered this love like I should have. Not that we haven't been out to visit, just the visits have been few. And I think on all those visits and because my kids are a little stir crazy, the visits have not been that long. So I have to wonder at those ties that they feel to her.
Is it possible that they recognize her spirit? I have to wonder. She has always been a fun a person. I've written before that she is the reason that I love crafts. That I believe that it's never to late to learn or develop a talent. My grandmother was also responsible for a lot of the positive self esteem that I had. I had lot's of negative from school friends and teachers. So I am thankful for Grandma that always had something nice to say about me. It started with her always telling me what an angel I was. Even if I did act like a stinker at times. She also always told me what a good organizer I was. Which has helped me be a house keeper. She always took pictures of me and told me how beautiful I was. Eventually I believed it, but it was through her continued praise and love that I could eventually see it. In short my Grandma believed in me. She new I could go far. And while I may not be champion figure skater (we always loved watching that together), or president of the country ;)   I know she knows that I've done well as her granddaughter and a daughter of God. I can see it in the way she looks at my kids and the way she talks to me now. I hate what her illness did to her quick mind, but I'm grateful to know that after we are resurrected that she will be that vivacious eager to have new experiences person that I knew growing up.
And I'm thankful that I still have time to make the most of her time left on earth and that my children do feel a connection to her. However, that has come about. So like little Red, the children and I are off to visit Grandma today. Glad to know that there are no forests to cross on the way ;)
 Her most recent visit to our house on her birthday with her sister.