Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I love to see the temple

Rachel is home.   It feels pretty good to have a child home.  (She is 23, but still my baby) The first of the faithful four missionaries to return home with honor is adjusting to non-missionary life.  Jerry and I are adjusting to a home with an adult child.  She is doing well, and is making plans for the future.   She is  still our "Rachel", but wiser, more articulate and so, so strong in her testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored Gospel.  We are so thankful for her dedication in serving and testifying in Michigan for the last year and a half.  Families are so important.  As I wait for the rest of my children to come home from their missions, I am reminded of the eternal nature of families.  I think about the recent dedication of our own Ogden Temple and the reason for temples.  

Temples are sacred places where we go to learn , to ponder our existence and to be united with our families. How blessed we are to have one ten minutes away!

Last May, JoAnn Taylor (Jerry's mom ) was sealed to her husband and children in the Brigham City Temple. Temples are also  places where we go to make promises with God.  Unlike regular church buildings, only those who are prepared and who hold a special recommend of worthiness can enter into this holy place.  However, everyone can feel of its power and beauty.  

We learn about our relationship with God, and our purpose here on earth.  "And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord's House may feel Thy power and feel constrained to acknowledge that Thou has sanctified it and it is Thy house, a place of Thy holiness." D & C 109:13

We believe that families can be sealed together for time and all eternity, that relationships will not be lost through death.  "Families are forever!"

JoAnn was not sealed to her husband at the time of his death  in 1993.  She was active in the LDS faith, but had not received her endowment.  The endowment is a gift that one receives in the temple that empowers you and helps you to prepare for eternal marriage.   She did not show a great deal of interest in doing so until a wonderful Bishop asked her to read the Book of Mormon, to develop a testimony of its truths.  She was very supportive of her children, and as each one of them married in the temple, she sat in the waiting room.  She was very much her own person, but when she finally believed something , she believed it with her whole heart. She developed that testimony. (She later told me that the Book of Mormon was a "real page turner")  She called one evening as I sat in the living room on a chilly  December night.  "Would your family like to join me next Saturday in the Ogden Temple as I receive my endowment?" she asked innocently...   Well, I could have been knocked over with a feather! (as my mom used to say)  We were so happy, and so we met there in the temple a few days later and witnessed her covenanting with her Heavenly Father.  All of her family who had recommends were there to rejoice with her.

And then...this last May for her 85th birthday, her wish was for her family to be sealed to her for all eternity.   Jerry and his sisters joined her in being sealed together around the alter in the temple.  Most of her grandkids were able to attend.  Jamie Kartchner (JoAnn's granddaughter in law ) knelt in proxy for Julie, who died in 1991,  Jerry knelt in proxy for his Dad and they were made an eternal family.  It was a beautiful Spring day, and will remain forever a beautiful memory in my mind. I am in awe of my mother-in-law and her faith and devotion to God and Family.  She is truly an example of courage, of diligence and conviction of one's ideals.  She has become not only my husband's mother and my children's grandmother, but my dear friend.  I look up to her for so many things, and especially for her desire to be charitable, kind and faithful.  She is such an example to those who have the privilege to be acquainted with her. 

JoAnn with some of the great grandkids

Jerry Taylor, Jackie Taylor Kartchner, JoAnn Taylor and Jan Taylor Stauffer 

                                                                          The family!

JoAnn and some of her grandkids

Why we build temples

                                  Ben took this video with his drone camera.  It's beautiful!

The blessings of the temple are many.  When I asked Jerry what powerful statement I could make about the temple, he replied with, "The temple is a good place".   Yup, he has always been a man of few words.  But he is  absolutely right about that statement.  There are many good places in our lives that give us sanctuary from the world, and  teach us things about ourselves and our potential.  The temple is a place where we can be magnified, purified, sanctified, strengthened , sealed, ennobled, and perfected. There are other places that are holy and reverent, but the temple allows us to see beyond this earth life and see what lies beyond in the eternities.  I am so grateful for my belief that at this time of year when families are convening to celebrate Christmas, my mother, father and brothers who have passed away are also celebrating.  I cannot embrace them physically, but I know of their love for us.  I am looking forward to being reunited with them someday, and it is in the temple that I often feel them close.

I am reminded of Christ this Christmas Eve, and his atonement for all mankind that made it possible for us to live after this life is over.  I am humbled to know that He knows each one of us.   He was not just a mortal man;  He is the Son of God.   The apostle Paul prayed in behalf of the early Saints, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and depth, and height; and to know that the love of Christ , which passeth knowledge that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God  (Ephesians 3:17-19)

    Merry Christmas everyone!!  May you all feel His love in the coming new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I remember a Christmas..

Christmas Memory "Emily and the Barbie Crayons"

When my children were young, Christmas was such an exciting time for me!  It meant that I got to experience the magic of Christmas through their eyes, and I loved every minute of it.  I lived vicariously through every first snowfall, the smell of each new Christmas doll, and their shining faces as the Christmas tree was put up.  It was almost better than being a child because the giving of presents was so much better than the receiving of them. 
One year, my friends and I decided to make a special present that would totally overwhelm and delight our little girls.  Barbie houses were all the rage, and we decided that no cheap cardboard constructed houses would be acceptable.  We trudged out to my friend’s workshop after kids were in bed to build these unbelievable doll houses.  Night after frigid night, we drove on icy roads to huddle in the cold to carefully construct beautiful houses.  They were gorgeous, with tiled roofs, and real carpet.  We painted the wood, and pasted in real wallpaper.  They were one of a kind, and we could hardly contain our excitement and anticipation as we visualized our daughter’s joy.  This would be a Christmas to remember!
That morning, I positioned my husband carefully with the camcorder to capture the magic that our daughter would feel as she gazed upon the most amazing dollhouse to ever behold.   She woke, and with her siblings made a beeline into our living room where Santa had left his treasures.  She tripped gaily past the magnificent dollhouse to where she picked up her Christmas stocking.  She could hardly contain herself as she picked up a package of 69 cent Barbie crayons, and shrieked with pure delight, “Barbie Crayons, I have always wanted Barbie Crayons!!”  We tried to get her to notice the huge gift that would be the envy of all her little friends, but she continued to gaze with adoration on the box of crayons, examining each one, and demanding a coloring book so she could try them all out.  She did eventually play with her dollhouse, but that Christmas morning taught us all about gift giving, and the magic of childhood. Our children can be happy with so little, and the true spirit of Christmas was forever enhanced by the recording of our little girl reminding us what giving is all about. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jerry and I are expecting "again?"

It is October 30 and the most magnificent fall I can remember in recent years is coming to a close. The flowers I planted this summer are still in the ground.   They look pretty even while wilting   because our secondary water was turned off the first of the month.  Who could have known we would have such a a warm and gorgeous autumn? My little cherry tree will most surely lose the rest of its leaves this sunday when a cold winter storm is promised.   I wanted everything to remain bright and pretty because our Rachel will be coming home this next Wednesday. I think Winter is inevitable, however, and I will succumb to the season.

I must have been super busy with writing  and receiving letters, sending packages, and being faintly aware of the weeks and months flying by.  I truthfully have not taken much  notice of the passing of time.  Did I really ever have four kids at home?  Jerry and I have settled quite nicely as "empty nesters" , but sadly have come to realize that the kids were not the messy ones in the nest.   I have had to clean up my own things, and really miss Mark on Sundays when I would cook with him picking up right behind me.

I possess a myriad of feelings: anxiety, excitement, trepidation for the future---but mostly a longing to see and hold my girl again.  She has been in my heart and in my prayers these last eighteen months just as she was when I brought her into this world and raised her those 21 years.  She will always be my "Wrenny girl", and that won't stop even as she has grown into womanhood.  She was a fascinating little bird as a child, and I nicknamed her Wren from early on...  I loved her fiercely as I do all my kids, and they will always be my babies.  Their happiness and well-being are everything to me.

I had hoped to change as much as my missionaries have, but alas, I am the same person.  I was going to set some goals for self-improvement in all areas.  I got myself a "vision" board, put some insightful quotes on it,  and looked at it for about a week......  I am a little older, have about five extra pounds I certainly did not need, but I am a little wiser.  I like to think it is because of the prayers I have offered, the books I have read, and the experiences I have had through living vicariously through missionary life.  My own life is much the same and yet just a little different.

Rachel's room was used as by Emily and Ruby last summer, and as a nice place to throw all my stuff these last few months.  I sure will miss that extra closet space.  I feel as if I am expecting a  new baby's arrival!  I feel the nesting instinct settling in, and want to clean and prepare her little room.

 Rachel loves kids and will , no doubt, become a favorite of her little niece.  Ruby has grown to be a big girl of almost twenty months, and Ben and Jess are expecting a little girl in March.


Cute announcement by Ben and Jess

Rachel's letters have been wonderful.  A week ago, she said this in one of her final E-mails:

"I love this gospel and I love being a missionary.. I just can't believe it's coming to an end so soon. I know what I've done these last 18 months is exactly what Heavenly Father needed me to do. My mission hasn't been perfect but it's been soo rewarding. I've grown as a person, I've grown in my relationship with Heavenly Father, I've made life long friends and I've been able to help others."

It is my fervent hope she will return home with some new-found skills for life.  Her courage has amazed me, and I am not at all sure I could have served a mission.  Her heart has been in the right place, and her Heavenly Father knew it. She overcame doubt, fear, and shyness to reach out to other people while putting her own life on hold.  In the end, her service gave her life new meaning. 

So, so proud of this girl!  Welcome Home, Sister Rachel Taylor!  You are much loved and your arrival is eagerly anticipated!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I have a child's brown leather sandal in my house and no, it does not belong to Ruby.  It is probably at least 15 years old and maybe 25 years if it belongs to Ben or Adam.  It looks like about a child's size two or three.  I need to throw it away because it is warped and weathered and obviously belongs in the trash.  Except...when I saw it laying on the freshly mowed grass in the back yard, I teared up.  I can't  throw it away just yet because it is the last clothing article of my kids' childhoods.  Of course I questioned Jerry about this sandal and was not at all surprised to know that it had flown out of the bushes as he mowed the back yard.  So there I stood that end of summer day and held that little sandal turning it over in my hands as a flood of memories filled my mind.  The image was so clear of  of my former little children  sitting on the back step with popsicles in their mouths , and their little feet enclosed in salt water sandals.

Those salt water sandals were a ritual for me and for a few of my friends.  We would head to Fred Meyer in the early spring to buy these great sandals that never broke and never wore out.  They came in all colors and you could pair them on Sundays with a dress or shorts for the boys.  Oh my gosh!!...they looked so cute paired with the little shortalls from Osh Kosh.  Because they never wore out, I could keep them for all the brothers and sisters in our household.  I suppose they were comfortable; no one ever complained.  I did see an older woman with them once and asked her how they felt.  She didn't gush about them as I was prone to do, but told me they felt pretty good.... I looked them up and they are a little more expensive than a few years ago!

I suppose I can confess that our bushes are like a time capsule.  We seriously have found so many things from the past.  Jerry dug up the fitzer bushes (spelling? ) in the front yard about five years ago, and boy, did we find treasures from long ago.  My friend SueAnn used to make fun of us because those bushes always had something sitting on top of them.  Toys, Bikes, lunch dishes....(no, seriously)  The kids would run around and invariably toss toys and garbage on those ugly bushes.

 A lot of people in our neighborhood  had those bushes, and they were all the rage back in the seventies, but they harbored spiders and other creatures.  Nothing lasts forever and those bushes were dry and patchy.  We don't normally like big projects and try to stay away from anything that is time consuming or  too much work, but those bushes had to go.  Many people advised us how to do it.  Most of them recommended tying ropes around the roots and pulling them out with a truck.  Strangers would stop and offer suggestions.  We don't own a truck, and we do have a railroad retaining wall.  We were a little afraid that the wall  would go down and we would have an even bigger mess.  Jerry decided that he would dig out each stump by hand.  People!!....we are not talking about two or three stumps.   He estimates there were about forty.  Just when he thought he was done, he would find another one.  He took a pickax, shovel and  would dig away until he got to the root  and  then  used his bare hands.  I don't know if anyone has seen Jerry's hands, but they are big.  Not a little big, but really, really huge!! We have never found gloves to fit him.  Day by day, he would muck around in the dirt and with sweat pouring down his face dig away at those nasty roots.   We had to cut all the folliage off first, (if you can call that prickly , bug infested stuff folliage) and then he dug down  to the roots.  They were monstrous things with gnarly sharp appendages, and as he released each one from the dirt, he would victoriously hold it aloft it a toss onto the sidewalk below.   Some of the nastier roots took days, and he was, indeed, a man possessed.  It took him the better part of the summer to get them all out.  Where was I you might ask?  Jerry seemed happy enough, and was so into his work , that I puttered around the house, went shopping and out to lunch and left him to it.  I believe I gained weight that summer while he actually lost it from all his efforts.   As the bushes disappeared, many momentos from the past begin to again reappear.  We found Ghostbuster men, the Star Trek Enterprise, and many other once beloved toys.  There was also liquor bottles,  cigarette packages and a man's wallet containing a driver's license that expired twenty five years ago(:
cute kids, ugly bushes  (pretty sure the girls have on the sandals)

As Fall approached, the bushes and roots lay in piles.  Kind neighbors helped us gather them up and load them into a trailer for the dump.  We then hauled in some top soil and covered everything up.  Our neighbor Gary offered us a bunch of rocks from his yard, and the boys hauled them over.  Emily was dating Layne at the time and his family owned a rock quarry.  He hauled a few down, and placed a few really heavy ones to prove his manliness to Emily. Everything I do is pretty much random, and the word strategy is not in my vernacular.  Everyone placed them wherever they deemed appropriate , and it was okay with me.  I bought plants on sale, perenials and annuals and planted them without too much  thought.  I could only think "tall and short" and lots of color.....  The garden reflected my personality...messy,   but colorful and I loved it!  Each spring I would seek out new plants and some came out the next year while others did not.  I learned which ones liked a certain soil, and where they liked to be placed.  It has been a great joy to me to sift through the soil, to cut and prune and plant. I am completely alone (unless friends drop by) and my thoughts do not plague me as they sometimes do when I am involved in other things.

I have repeatedly told everyone I hated those bushes, and how happy I was with my flowers.  Yet...when that little sandal appeared from the still-ugly bushes in the back, I was transported back to the years when my children were small.  I could shut my eyes and still smell the heady scent of childhood.  Oh, I missed those years, and the little guys who wore those sandals.  I missed holding their warm little bodies as I served and loved them.   I remember well putting those sandals on and picking out matching clothes and preparing for the day.

Now...I am preparing for  four big kids to come home.   I have not seen those kids for almost two years and I miss them as much or more than the little babies they were....and so excited, yet melancholy for the passage of time.
I have not held these four  in my arms for awhile, but they have my heart
 The mirror tells me that I am getting older.  I do not like it one little bit.  I was teaching the vocabulary word "wrinkled" to the kids at school and told them I had wrinkles on my face and around my eyes.  One little boy nodded wisely, and replied, "because you're getting old!" Yup, pretty much, I am....and now I tell everyone not to wish the years away.  Not babyhood, toddlerhood..nor even the teen years!!  I remember just wanting the kids to be able to open doors by themselves and now they are having babies of their own!  Thank goodness I have Ruby to hold in my arms,  smell the sweetness of her hair, and think about ordering her some salt water sandals next summer.  Grandkids are, indeed, the best and I am excited to welcome another one next March!!!
Grandma and Ruby
 I know  that all stages of life have their joy , and I need to embrace the one I am in right now.  Just as my garden continues to replenish itself every year with brilliant colors, the tapestry of my life continues with so many different threads.  So very grateful for my many experiences.....
The walk with your child is for a lifetime
and needing to remember that although my life has a few weeds as does my garden, I am still able to enjoy its beauty.
Much prettier then the bushes!!

Families are forever

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's for dinner? Lysol Chicken!!

So....Rachel will be arriving home from her mission in less than three months!  Hardly possible, right?
She has had amazing experiences in the mission field, and is so glad she made the decision to serve almost two years ago.   Our ward has seven missionaries right now, and the other three are serving in Russia, Portugal and Peru!  Oh, the things those missionaries have had to eat!   Poor Drake has had to swear off hamburger which smelled extremely strange while cooking it, and was full of chunks of bone when he ate it!  Paige proved herself to be a  true peruvian when she ate a chicken foot, and endeared herself to the people with her enthusiastic consumption of something which is completely foreign to our american palates.  Mitchell would eat next to nothing when he left home, and now eats just about anything in Portugal.

  Jerry asked recently,  "What do you think Rachel would like to eat when she comes home?"  I , rather sarcastingly, retorted, "hmmm...she has been eating anything she likes here in the states, I'm sure she craves nothing.!"  However, Rachel is a foodie.  She is the one who went to Europe when she was 16 and took pictures of all her dinners so she could drool over them when she got home.  No four hundred year old castle pictures for Rachel!  Nope...she took a picture of that good soup in Germany!    When she was little and at family gatherings, she'd disappear from sight and  we always found her eating somethingat a lone at the table. It has long been our joke that she would be a chubby , red haired girl when she grew up.  Well, she has beautiful auburn hair, but  she is the slimmest of us all despite her love of food.
   I think I will make Lysol Chicken and baked potatoes.  I peel the potatoes, dip them in butter and onion soup mix and bake them.  Rachel loves them.  The Lysol Chicken is pretty easy too!  You simply marinate it in one cup of soy sauce, one cup of oil, and one cup of sprite. If you want a little bite, add a tsp or two of tabasco.   Then you grill it, and it's a tasty meal.  At this point you are probably thinking... did I not  read  "lysol" in the title of the chicken?  Why yes you did,  and I actually have used lysol (yep, the cleaning agent) in the  preparation of this tasty dish.

  Let me go back a few years to when I was making up the marinade one night for Sunday dinner the next day.  My niece , her husband and kids were coming up from Orem and I had my own seven kids to feed as well.  I was going to use one whole package of premium chicken from Harmons, (because it is trimmed so beautifully and it's the only kind I like although it's pricey)  , and have dinner all ready to go except from the grilling part.  I had my nice big bowl out, my chicken was cut length-wise in half, and I was multi-tasking by talking on the phone while I assembled everything.  I have since always made the marinade first and then added the chicken, but in those days I did it backwards.   Chicken in bowl-check, add soy sauce-check- add oil (from large yellow container in cupboard-check.... As I poured from the large yellow container which should have contained vegetable oil...strange fumes arose, and in horror I noticed that I was pouring from a large container of lysol cleaning agent.  What the heck??  Why was this container in the cupboard above my oven?  Because those boys had put it to the side of my oil instead of under the sink.  I hung up the phone, and removed that chicken immediately.  I had to save it!  Chicken is expensive , especially Harmon's chicken!!  I carefully and tenderly washed each piece under hot water and massaged it vigorously.  I smelled it, and could not detect any lysol, which you know is pretty strong!  I made up a new batch of marinade, and patted myself on the back for an averted sure disaster.  Whew!!  What a close call!

Sunday afternoon came and the table was set, potatoes were baking, and the kitchen was even cleaned up in anticipation for our dinner guests.  All that had to be done was grill all that chicken.  I went out into the sun and stood there musing on the loveliness of the fall day while I stood at the grill.   The delicious smell emanating forth gave me no cause for worry......until I brought it in and cut off a small piece to taste for doneness.  Arghhhhhh!!!  LYSOL!!!  Having never ingested it before; I still knew exactly what it was even if I didn't know what had transpired the night before.  There was no mistaking it, and the fastidious washing of the chicken had not removed the toxic chemical from its tender flesh.  I , of course, went a little crazy and declared that dinner was ruined!!  Jerry said, "well, we have baked potatoes and salad!!"   "NO", I shouted, "We need meat!"  There was only one thing to do....I called Dorma, my next door neighbor and friend of forty years and asked to raid her freezer.   She is the complete opposite of me in every way, (organized, prepared, motivated) and had turkey steaks conveniently downstairs.  I thawed those babies out , and we had a delicious dinner after all.
  Dorma now often prepares Lysol Chicken, and we don't even smile at the name as we mention to each other that we are fixing it.  This is the name of our  chicken if we prepare it, with or without the lysol.
 I actually made some today because it is good to make ahead and use in salads and fajitas.  I freeze it quite often after cooking it, and you've got tasty chicken for any recipe.  I admit it, I am more of a foodie then Rachel!  I have tons of cookbooks just because I like to look at the pictures and read the recipes.  Rachel is my one child who likes to cook as much as I do, and I can't wait to see her very soon now.

  She just sent  pictures of a church with great entrance and exit signs, how fun!

Yes, it's fully cooked, the light is just being funny....

                                                             yes, it's fully cooked...the red is just the light being funny...

Monday, August 4, 2014

The bubbergirl and bumps

Remember the Forest Gump movie where Tom Hanks says, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to find?"  So true, and sometimes the chocolate is a delicous truffle, and sometimes its the mocha one or heaven forbid, the ginger one.  Yeah, I know sometimes different ones for different people!  Still, I have had a bad attitude never quite embracing the good times because I am fearful for the road ahead.  It prevents me from completely enjoying the taste of the mint chocolate I love.  I might have to spit out something nasty! (or give it to Jerry)  It's no way to live, believe  me, and for years I have planned out the worst possible scenario so that I can be prepared when and if it happens.  Then I won't be devastated, I will be resigned because I knew it was coming.  If it doesn't, well then... I am pleasantly and happily surprised!

I like to take Ruby (aka the bubbergirl) for stroller rides when she is at the house.  The summer evenings are so pleasant, and she likes to look around as I explain every tree, house and person that we pass along the way.  She is totally immersed in her surroundings, and I get to experience the beauty of every day life as I explain it to this little sixteen month old girl.  Everything is fascinating to her, and so it becauses fascinating to me once more as I explain the intricacies of a rock on the sidewalk or a tree branch that scrapes the grass.

One night as we journeyed along the sidewalk, I saw the edge of an uneven sidewalk just ahead.  For some reason, I didn't slow down as much as usual, and took it at a nice little clip.  I cheerily sang out "bump" as we jolted over that crack and Ruby jostled a bit.  I was totally surprised  when this little girl burst into tears and with arms raised beg to be picked up! I said , "it's okay, just a bump!"  No, it was not okay, and not cajoling on my part was going to comfort her when a bump had turned  from  a pleasant scenic journey into an unexpected terror.  I was a little taken aback as I picked her up,  patted her, kissed her little chubby cheek and wondered that such a minor shake-up could disturb her so much.  She settled down nicely, and was more than willing to get back in the stroller for the duration of our stroller ride.

It occured to me that although we don't expect or look forward to those bumps that come along in life, we, too, can be comforted and consoled by our family, friends and our Heavenly Father who knows a lot more than we do as to what we can endure. We move ahead even though the road isn't straight or the path isn't clear.  We may not ever know what we are learning from that bump.  Life may seem unfair or so overwhelming at times that we dispair in our inability to understand.  What lessons do we need to learn, what adjustments can we make in order to cope?

Elder Orson F. Whitney said, "No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted.  It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility.  All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makaes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God."

I worry about the bumps, and the mountains, and all the trials yet unforseen.  I am just that way.  A little bit pessimistic and a whole lot fearful.  My missionary kids have learned a lot of lessons these past few months, and a two year or eighteen month length of time can certainly be a little bumpy.

It has not been all they thought it would be, and yet it has been much more than they could have hoped for....  Lots of personal struggles, disappointments, and feelings of inadequancy have come to each one of them.  Lots of insights, personal growth and love for the people they meet have also come to them!

Mark was robbed at knife point last month but was cheerfully optimistic, and actually basked in the notoriety of it all.  Although he lost his wallet, watch and a little faith in his fellow men, he was okay He and his companion talked to a couple of news stations and were celebrities amongst their fellow missionaries when their stories were televised on the evening news.

Bad things happen, and while so much is uplifting and beautiful in this world, we will still experience a lot of sorrow.  I know there are lessons to be learned from lifes'  struggles, and I know that I have been tutored so many times when I've experienced trials.    The past doesn't belong to us anymore and so we go forward and try to love the great things about our journey, and to go on after the not-so-good or even horrible things that happen to us. And....even as I picked up my granddaugher to console her, we in turn can always be comforted by our Heavenly Father.   Our Savior has promised to take our yoke upon Him.  He knows from firsthand experience all about our pains and afflictions.  "He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15)

Well , enough deep thinking for the night!  I just wish I could be a little more faithful and optimistic when my bumps come!!  I know I would be a lot happier not being so afraid of what's ahead!  And you can just forget about the analogy of my eating the chocolates.  I love chocolate and have eaten far too much of it this summer.  In fact, I've been known to bite around the icky ones, and render them inedible to even Jerry!  Now that could be an interesting analogy....

Elders Taylor and SantaMaria  after surviving the robbery 

Ruby Fay Morris ready to take on the bumps

Monday, June 16, 2014


One of my favorite books is "Cheaper by the Dozen" by Frank Gilbreth and his sister, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.  Yes, I know there is a show with Steve Martin out with this name, but the book came before it!   Major industries would hire Frank Gilbreth, Sr. and his wife Lillian to be efficiency experts. They were industrial engineers who were way ahead of their time.  And...that is what they did!  They saved time.  Someone asked Mr. Gilbreth why he wanted to save time, and what was he going to do with it once he saved it.  He replied, "For work, if you love that best, for education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.  He then added, "For mumblety-peg, if that's where your heart lies."  I had read this book at least once a year for forty years before I finally looked up "mumblety-peg".  It is actually a children's game that was played with pocket knives many years and was even mentioned in Mark Twain's , "Tom Sawyer, Detective". I knew it was old when I saw "children and pocket knives".  I always surmised that he meant mumblety-peg as a synonym for "stupid wasting of time".

I do quite a bit of that myself, and find myself a little frantic about accomplishing great tasks this summer.  Too much to do, and so little time!  How do I clean, garden , organize and have time for family and friends?  Right now, the boy's friends, Alex and Nate are downstairs cleaning out their bedrooms.  I try not to go downstairs.  It has become a huge collect-all area.   When Emily lived with us last summer, she used the rooms as a bit of storage.  Sadly, enough, we even put the cat box in Mark's room.  Who else is going to use that room? We thought Sam might as well have a quiet moment in there.  Well, It's time to rid ourselves of the carpet, (maybe the cat, since he is Emily's cat anyway)  clothes from Ben and Adam when they were in their teens, and really ugly christmas decorations.   I used to save clothes, and pass them down. My babies are twenty, and we have clothing that needs to go to a third world country. I see a big DI run in the near future!!

People who know me know that I am somewhat of a hoarder.  I like to throw out the term ADD , so that I have an excuse as if a medical term will give me allowance.   Lest you think the worst of me, our house could hardly be condemned, but we do not always have a "place of everything and put that everything in its place".  My time is spent playing and teaching piano, reading wonderful books, and spending time with family and friends.  I would like to be the type of person who can keep up on everything , and I often agonize over my inability to do so.  I would like to figure out how to save time, and to do the things I want to do, yet feel comfortable in my space.  I have spent a lifetime enjoying the quiet moments, but feel I could enjoy them a little more if I were a little like my friends Dorma and SueAnn.  They are workaholics, however they know how to have fun.

Kylie, SueAnn's daughter, said that she lay last night in the quietness listening to her husband breathe, and it was wonderful.  She spoke about the little moments in life.  She is a lot like her mom, always accomplishing something , and so she relishes those quiet moments where we can just think and appreciate. I suppose that is what I am trying to do this summer and yet....time...what to do with it?

It has occurred to me that the next twenty years are going to go even faster than the last twenty, and I am a little melancholy thinking of how quickly time passes.  How to spend it?  How to accomplish the things that matter, and yet....truly enjoy the moments?  I think I would like to write more, to read an hour every day and to get that exercise that I really need.

Stephen R. Covey, who while a terrific example of achieving success spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally....makes me feel as if I cannot do it all.  He says that if we spend one hour a day total on the three types of this exercise, we will see fabulous results.  We must never get too busy "sawing to sharpen the saw, too busy driving to get gas." I think I really am going to try to take a balanced, systematic (and this word is not in my vernacular) regular approach to improve the capacity of my body and brain.  He speaks of habit.  He says that in his opinion, "habit is the most single, beneficial discipline in life."  He says that he still struggles, but always tries. If every writer  or speaker postponed doing so until they were perfect, nothing would ever be written or spoken!

My mom gave me a book when I was first married.  She knew I loved Stephen R. Covey, but although I read parts of the book, I soon became crazy busy with kids and life.  I pulled this book out this morning, and got a little teary, when I read , "For Jane, I love you!,  love Mom".  She was my biggest advocate, and my cheerleader when I was overwhelmed with responsibilities.  I believe she still looks in on me from time to time, and wants me to succeed.  What parent would not?

I am going to read this book from cover to cover and recommend it highly to anyone who feels "they cannot do it all".  It is entitled, "The Divine Center".  Stephen Covey says,  "divinely centered people savor life.  Because their securities comes from within instead of from without, they have no need to categorize and stereotype everything and everybody in life to give them a sense of certainty and predictability.  They see old faces freshly, old scenes as for the first time.  They rediscover people each time they meet them.  They are interested in them. They ask questions and get involved.  They are present when they listen.  They learn from them.  They see no one bigger than life.  They are not overawed by General Authorities, top government figures, or celebrities.  They build on their strengths and strive to complement their weaknesses with the strengths of others."

Yes, I think its time to quit wishing I was someone else and learn to be happy in  both the quietness and business of my own life. I know that there are others out there who compare themselves with others.  Isn't it wonderful we are all so different?  Different doesn't have to be superior or inadequate.

And, so, even as I marvel over Dorma's carefully organized kitchen cupboards, I will do what I can to make myself comfortable  with who I am, and find ways to give myself the time to do what I truly what to accomplish.  Perhaps, then the guilt and inferiority complete will pass well as the next twenty years. but joyfully without the comparison I have always carried with me.

Thanks Nate and Alex for getting me thinking!!

service is a process, and hopefully the process will give Mark a beautiful new room!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Last Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a baptism for Kofi and Ama Herrick. I was elated to witness these two children coming to the waters of baptism , to receive the Holy Ghost and to be members of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Amy, their mother,  had asked me a few weeks ago to play the piano,  and I was so happy to do so.  I played my favorite baptism song appropriately named Baptism, and  the words are so special that they never fail in making me cry.
                         "Jesus came to John the Baptist in Judea long ago,
                          and was baptized by immersion in the river Jordan's flow.
                          To fulfill the law said Jesus, when the Baptist questioned why,
                           and to enter with my Father in the Kingdom up on High.
                           Now we know that we must also witness faith in Jesus word,
                           be baptized to show obedience, as was Jesus Christ, our Lord."

I work with Amy at Club Heights Elementary School where we teach ESL (English as a second Language).  She's the one with the  Master's degree , and I am the one who gets to have the neatest friend/boss in the world!  She is a talented and magnificent teacher, and I have learned so much from her.   Still, the most valuable lessons I have witnessed these past few years are in the love, devotion and faith she and her husband had in making it possible for two kids in Ghana, Africa to join their family.
Kofi and Ama Herrick
The parents of one of their friends were in Africa for work,  and had visited an orphanage in Ghana where they discovered a little spitfire of a girl named Ama. They fell in love with her and would bring her back to the home where they were staying.   Amy had always known that adoption was the way she wanted to extend her family, and when she heard of this little girl, she and Chad proceeded to begin the long and arduous journey of adopting Ama.  Through many hurdles, she became theirs and was sealed to them six months later in the Logan Temple. She spoke the language Twi which is prominent in Ghana, but quickly picked up the English language.  It was kind of sad that she would say, "huh?" when speaking on the phone to the Pastor.  She seemed to lose her own language so quickly, but was eager to understand and be understood in English.

 When Amy visited the orphanage early on in the adoption process, she noticed a young boy who took special care to protect Ama.  They were not sister and brother, but treated each other as if they were, and had a special bond.  She was told his name was "Isaac" but the name given to him at birth by a mother who could not keep him, was Kofi.  She simply could not get this child out of her mind and heart, and convinced Chad, (who is likewise a wonderful and spiritual guy) that they needed this boy in their family.  She had asked him in the orphanage if he would "like to come to America" and he replied "yes".  She did not know the circumstances of his being in the orphanage but made inquiries and found that he had been placed there at a very young age by a crippled mother who could not care for him.   The mother would see her son usually once a year, and when approached by Amy about the chance of a new life in the United States, turned the matter over to Kofi.  When he was asked if he would want to be adopted, he replied that yes, he would!  Kofi's mother said simply, "the boy has spoken."

Well, as time went on, I got to see first-hand the many obstacles that stand in the way of international adoptions, and we as a family prayed for both Ama and Kofi to "come home".  Lots of tears, prayers, faith , time, and money were expended  as both Chad and Amy traveled that long way to Ghana several times to bring  Kofi home at last.  It was so tiring and both emotionally and financially draining, but they never looked back on their decision.  I still remember stepping into our classroom and seeing her shining face after she received word that her son was joining their family.  She didn't speak, but there was such a glow emanating from her I will never forget the confirmation I felt before she spoke that this boy was being allowed to join this choice family. What a glorious moment it was!! There were still a couple of determents  ahead, but the story had an incredible ending, and Amy was able to see an entire village turn out to wish Kofi farewell.  Amy and Kofi's mother shared a hug, and cried because as mothers, they both wanted the same thing.  They wanted Kofi to have amazing opportunities and a chance for  good health and education.

I can scarcely comprehend the love and sacrifice for two orphaned children whose future is now so bright with endless possibilities.  Kofi talks to his mother in Ghana regularly and knows he will return some day to see her.  He speaks English well, (the King's English that is, and they all had a good laugh when he told his Mom he needed "knickers" for school!!) He  loves soccer, got a 4.0 last quarter in school and watches "Separated at Birth episodes" on Netflix with his Mom. A very bonding experience! (sorry I told, Amy..I thought since Kofi told on you, I could!! ) He has a fun and quirky sense of humor and makes his family laugh a lot. The school and neighborhood have been so great about accepting and befriending these kids.  He can be a typical moody fourteen year old at times, but is mostly fun-loving and helpful.  In fact, Chad warned Amy that the neighbors might suspect he was brought over to be an indentured servant because Kofi took so long to impeccably clean the family car!  Ama loves her bike, playing with her sister Emma, and electronics.  These kids can operate any video game and computer as if they had grown up with them. Ama is a bit of a drama queen, but has firmly entrenched herself into the hearts of her family.  She is passionate beyond belief and according to Kofi was quite dramatic as well in the orphanage.  When asked by Amy as to why he watched out for her there, he stated, "she is my sistah!!"  He knew then as he knows even more strongly now that blood does not make a family, love does....
Kofi Nyarko Herrick

Ama turned eight in April, and it is in the age of accountability and baptism in our church.  Ama was no different than the other eight year olds; she wanted to be baptized!  Kofi and Ama had been raised as christians in the orphanage, and loved their pastor dearly. To Kofi, there was not a question as to whether he would be baptized in the faith of his new family. Amy and Chad had told him of their beliefs, stipulating that he was  not expected to join until he fully understood.  He boldly declared that if his family were members, then he would also be one!  He received the discussions from the missionaries, read his scriptures,  attended church, and declared that he would be baptized along with Ama.
Ama Mansah Herrick

As I played the piano  in that room and looked over friends and family who had gathered there to witness this sacred ordinance, I was filled with such insight and joy.  It occured to me that my own missionary son, Mark, was baptizing a lady named Linda that very day.  Linda had stopped smoking, read everything the missionaries gave her, and developed a testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. These missionaries give hope to people  that this life is not all there is, and that obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel bring true happiness and joy in the eternities.

 I thought about taking the name of Christ upon us, being his disciples, and what a gift we receive through the laying on of hands.  What a blessing my own baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost has been in my own life as I move through mortality experiencing both sorrow and joy.

As disciples, as Christians, we want that feeling of physical and emotional closeness, of being cherished and protected under the Savior's wings.  I have a picture my kids gave me of Jesus looking over the city of Jerusalem.  He said, "Oh Jerusalem, often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings and ye would not".

We all want safety, peace and shelter. We all have situations that frighten and challenge us.  We live in a fallen world, we are afflicted and oppressed.  We have a need for refuge even as Ama and Kofi did, and we need to feel that there is a safe place of love and shelter.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "When it is dark enough, men see the stars." No one prays for adversity, but it comes, and as Christians, as disciples of the Lord we cannot turn out back on him.  A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal son of God sent by His father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement.  We take upon us the name of Christ through being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those holding His priesthood authority. Being a Christian means talking about what you believe and letting people know you love and respect them.

I have four missionary children, two sons and two daughters who are currently doing just this....being disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is so difficult at times, but they are strengthening themselves and learning to love unconditionally.  If we who also believe, behave with honor, dignity while exhibiting faith, we will rejoice someday even we face trial and affliction in this life.  The Savior lives, and he loves us, and as we minister to others, we minister to Him.  Our Savior's path leads to eternal happiness, joy and everlasting life.  I am so thankful for the example of those ministering to others and know they will be beyond blessed!!  Thank you Herrick family and Taylor missionaries and so many others in my life for your discipleship and for your example to me!

Elder Mark Taylor before performing Linda's baptism

Brother Robertson is baptized that same day

Chad, Madelyn, Kofi, Ethan, Amy, Ama and Emma Herrick

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chocolate or a bruise, It's all the same...

People.....if you see someone with a piece of parsley on their tooth , an inside- out sweater,  a little chocolate smudge on their cheek, or heaven forbid, the mother of them all....a skirt tucked into undergarments exposing what should never be exposed....please be kind and tell them.   Alright...maybe a perfect stranger would not welcome a stranger pointing out the parsley or sweater mistake, but everyone wants to know if they are showing something they ought not to be showing. (except for some of the people at Walmart)

 I have had things in my teeth, various garments on backwards and inside out,  and people who know me well know of the infamous viewing "and this has a multiple meaning" at the funeral home. My own husband who I had gently (okay, not so gently ) only minutes  pointed out the oreo cookie crumbs on his lips...neglected to tell me my broomstick skirt was tucked into my undergarments.  No, I did not even have on pantyhose.  I had availed myself of the facilities moments before getting into the car and had washed my hands carefully.  Not as careful about smoothing out my skirt.  I stood in the funeral home foyer greeting members of my neighborhood and being oh, so gregarious in spite of the fact that I was at a friend's viewing and my unmentionables were showing.  Jerry is usually clueless and even more so on this night.  After  a few long minutes, a stranger was charitable enough to come to me, cushion my head against her cheek, and whisper urgently, "honey, your skirt is tucked inside your underwear."  Oh, the horror I felt, and immediate hatred towards poor Jerry who still didn't get it.  I hurriedly backed against a wall and frantically yanked until the offending piece of skirt was dislodged and once again was .... covering my fleshy behind and thighs.  Yes, I know the description is horrid, but the event was even more so....

Karen , my friend and Principal , laughs hysterically over the "viewing" story, and so she laughed even harder when we met up at her niece's wedding reception.  I was going to skip the refreshments,  but the chocolate fountain called out to me.  I  got a couple of strawberries, and stuck those babies under that delicious melted chocolate,  and then Jerry and I made out way towards the exit.  I saw Becky, a former Physician's Assistant I had taken Bethany and the boys to and stopped to chat!  We carried on a happy conversation for a few minutes.  I then ran into Alison Tanner, who is about as oblivious as I am most days.  She was as delightful as ever, and we carried on a fine conversation about our missionary children.  Karen came upon the two of us, and without any hesitation said, "What is all over your cheek and chin, chocolate?"  I immediately put up my hand and came away with a fair amount of brown stuff...yeah,  it was chocolate.  I was just a little hostile, and said to Alison, "Why would you not tell me I had this all over my face?"  Alison said ever so innocently, "Well, I thought maybe it was a bruise, remember when you fell down on the sidewalk?" Yes, I fell down on the sidewalk a couple of years ago, and broke my foot, my hand, and had a huge hematoma over my eye causing a really black bruise.  This did not look like that!  I don't know if Alison felt properly chagrinned, but I was mildly irritated.  Then, I just shrugged and laughed because this kind of thing happens to me all the time.  Only..if  I am this clueless now, what will I be in ten or twenty years?   Maybe I will have to stay confined at  home since I can't dress, walk or feed myself properly!  Laurie, the mother of the bride, said the story was appropriate for each one of us.  I am the one who is always flubbing up, Alison is oblivious to the plight of others, and Karen tells it like it is...

Yes, I know this post has nothing to do with missionary work or the faithful four, but I am venting tonight.  I just wanted to write. It has been rather therapeutic, so thank you !  Sometimes I get a little down on myself because I have so many of these stories that seem to bolster the fact that I am kind of a ninny.  Do these things happen to other people?  Sometimes I think my purpose in life is to make other people feel superior, so there you have it, and you are welcome!!
This was my eye right after I fell, it got much worse with each passing day..

I am sorry I do not have a picture of the mishap with the skirt or the chocolate!
At least I am smiling

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

I have never been a fan of Mother's Day, but this one was a lot of fun.  I get a little embarrassed over any accolades, and shy away from any compliments sent my way. Like most mothers I love my kids, and just tried to do my best most of the time.  Fatigue, impatience and frustration often got in the way , but I loved being a mom to little kids.  Now I am a mom to big kids!  They don't sit in your lap, and cuddle much...  I miss the snuggling and the kisses, and so I bestow them all on my little granddaughter, Ruby, (aka bubbergirl) .

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and so it was with an aching mother's heart that I beheld the most beloved faces of my missionaries.  I have not skyped with Mark since he left over a year ago, and, was so good to see his face.  I told him I wanted to kiss his dimples, just the way I did when he was little.  He looked so handsome!

Bethany looked good, calm and happy.  She begged us to ask her questions, but when confronted that way...we couldn't come up with any good ones.   We went and hauled Marty the Cat in to say hello.  He was a little sleepy and didn't give much of a response. There were questions we could have asked, but not while her companion and a family sat behind her!  I am sorry I didn't snap a picture, nor did I get one of Rachel Skyping us.  I suddenly remembered  while talking with the boys that I had a phone and immediately took a couple of pictures.    Rachel looked just the same.  She talked with the same quiet hesitation, but with a little more determination and confidence. So good to see these kids!  I hungrily drank in their faces, and remembered them as my babies, and all the love was still there for their happiness, their welfare and their continued success.  Matthew seemed a little serious, and Ben got "him" on the iPad and took him around the house for a virtual tour.  We had our two boys together, talking, and asking each other questions.  What fun to see their interaction!  They spoke a little spanish to each other, and asked questions about their missions.

Matthew:  "Why the flip do you own a 700 dollar bike when you use a car most of the time?"  I have been biking a year on a used bike they found in the shed behind the Mission Home!"

Mark:  "Well, it looks like the biking isn't helping your physique!  Why are your cheeks puffy?  How much do you weigh?"  What!  215!!  That's outrageous!  What are you eating?"

Matthew: " I drink a kale shake every day my companion prepares for me! My legs have huge muscles!"  We have to fix our own food, no one here will feed us!" They passed around a dinner schedule and no one signed up!"

Mark:  "We get fed all the time! I just had ribs, they were the best!"

(Matthew appears a little glum at this news)

Matthew:  "Well, are you teaching anyone?"

Mark:  Our most promising investigator is a sweet old ninety year old lady named Linda who has no teeth."  (imitates Linda, by pulling his lips under his teeth, and talking incoherently)  We would like to baptize her,  but we are not sure she will live through it!"

Matthew:  "Yes, we are teaching, and...doing lots of service projects".  side note...apparently there are some real hoarders in Matthew's area

What a blessing to have them call a few minutes apart.  We were not sure how to handle it, but thank goodness Ben was here and promptly got out the iPad.  I am completely blown away by today's technology.   Rachel remarked that it was like being in our dining room.  She could see the whole family eating dinner, and I showed her homemade rolls which she said she missed most! Bethany and Mark gave me a list of things they need shipped to them,  and all too soon, the conversations came to an end.  I didn't cry this time after talking to them.  It was so surreal, and yet completely natural at the same time.  It was as if time had stood still, and we were so thankful just to see them and know they are happy and busy.

I am grateful to be a mother.  I often joke that Heavenly Father gave us good kids because we are a little dense and very ADD.   He knew we couldn't handle the big problems.   Yes, we had a little difficulty losing them every now and then when they were little, but as I see them as adults....we have not lost them at all.  They have totally "arrived" and are making their mark in the world.

Happy Mother's Day to those blessed woman who influence the children in their lives!!!  It really does take a village to raise a child.  I can scarcely take credit for my children's accomplishments when they have had such wonderful examples throughout their formative years.  Thanks to all those who have loved and cared about my kids.  I needed lots of help, and I always received it!!
Ben, Matthew and Mark

together for the first time in thirteen months:D

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music and Martycat

I grew up loving music.  My parents taught me to love Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Mozart, etc, etc.  My brother, David, taught me to love Bach.  The two and three part inventions soothed me, and I loved learning to play the intricate part of the fugues.  Yeah, I love all genres, (except jazz) but I love the classics.  The Brandenburg Concerto can make me positively euphoric!
It has been my privilege to teach piano for about twenty four years, and I have truly loved it.  Yes, it gets tiring at times, but the satisfaction of teaching someone to play something truly magnificent is so rewarding.  And.... teaching "Mr. Frog is full of Hops" year after year  is also very rewarding in its own right.  It's all good. We are getting ready for our summer recital, and although it's taxing, it is one of my favorite parts of teaching piano.  I love that the kids work and work at one piece until it is perfected.  Jerry can now hum quite a few selections that he hears each night!  I am sure their parents get tired of hearing the songs, but it never gets old for me.
  It was my wish that my children would learn to play, and so I taught each one of them.  All seven can play, but Adam, Bethany and Mark are the ones who enjoy it the most.  I adore the violin, and so it became my fevered hope that I would have my darling twin sons learn this instrument and play together.  How cute would that be?  Alas, Mark rebelled after a very upsetting recital and declared he would no longer take lessons.  Matthew kept trying gamely and was able to get past the squeaky, scratchy sound of the novice violin player.  He and a good friend, Drake Larsen, took from Steve Shupe, (old man Shupe as they affectionally call him) and actually started to sound pretty good!!
Drake's mother and my good friend, Alisa, and I ran with this, and started to prepare the boys to go on the road with their talents (neighborhood and ward) .  Mark was still taking piano and seemed to really be liking it.  The boys were eleven when we decided they would play, "As I have Loved You" as a trio with Drake and Matthew at the violin, and Mark accompanying them on the piano.

It took a lot of work, bribery, and threats to get them to be able to perform this one number.  I would not have called any one of them gifted by any means,  but we were determined that our three cute boys would perform it well.  Many nights were spent trying to get them in sync with each other.  Mark would play away in his own little world while Drake scratched his nose, and Matthew stared away into the distance (he is his mother's son).  The practice sessions were further hindered by the presence of our large cat, Marty. As soon as the trio would commence, he would creep, usually unnoticed , into the living room where his apparent  hatred of the combination of strings and piano would drive him to attack the innocent musician.  Usually it was the violinist, but occasionally he would even claw the unsuspecting pianist.  Alisa and I were concentrating on each note being played correctly,  and the sudden yelp of the victim would startle us into seeing the cat sink its' sharp claws whatever body part he could reach.  We never knew where he was, and we would banish him when the first altercation occurred, but when the next practice session began, the cat was lying in wait.  One would think it would affect the practicing, but either the boys secretly got a kick out of making Marty crazy, or we just got caught up in the music....either way, I think it heightened the dynamics.  The boys played their number beautifully and we couldn't have been prouder.

The boys have been out on their mission over a year now, and Mark and Matthew have played the piano.  Matthew's mission president  asked us to send his violin out to Ohio, and he has enjoyed playing at conferences and meetings.  Drake, of course, is in Russia and doesn't get the opportunity as much.  We miss the boys and their music.  They got to the point where they could "jam" together and create neat arrangements.  Gone was the day when Alisa and I begged for "just one more time through".  They would practice on their own!

In December, Drake's younger brother, Ted was asked to play at a Relief Society program.  He came over with his mom and pulled out his violin.  Alisa and I got a little emotional over the fact that the boys were gone, and here was little Ted taking up the reins.   Umm....and then, in came the cat.  We had quite forgotten how much Marty despised the violin. We got pretty excited and begged Ted to let us take pictures to send to the missionaries.  Ted was very courageous, and played away , full knowing that he was about to be attacked by a cat who hadn't had his claws nipped in some time.  I played the piano.......
Ted is anticipating "the Attack"

The "Look"

"You know I despise violin music!"

Ted is not too wounded and keeps playing
Marty has abandoned the cause

 ...... while Ted took up his bow, and Alisa snapped pictures of the perpetrator.  Mingled with our laughter was the awareness that time passes all too quickly, and the little boys who groaned and fought us with each practice session were far away.  We never thought we'd get the musical numbers completed , let alone see three small boys grow into manhood.  It was very bittersweet, and I know that both Alisa and I felt our heartstrings ping just a little, even as Ted made his violin strings sing with the strains of a Christmas melody.   Music soothes the soul, and I am so glad the boys are able to uplift others with their talents.  Alisa...I think we will have to demand a violin/piano trio next February when they come home...including Martycat!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cherry Blossoms

I have always wished for wisdom, inspiration and courage.  I find myself often worrying about the future, and neglecting to enjoy the moments.  At this stage of my life with four kids in the mission field and three others married and on their own, I am bewildered at how quickly my life has passed.  I feel like Jacob in the Book of Mormon where he says "our lives passed away as if it were unto a dream".  Every day passes more quickly than the day before, and I , being the incessant worrier that I am, wonder that I have not done all that I should have....and am running out of time!
And then, a sweet knowledge of the Gospel dulls that other worry and reminds me that we have time. That this life will continue unto the next and become eternity because of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.  He has a future for us, and we shall know the fulness of it in the hereafter.  If we are faithful, if we persevere, if we embrace all that life has to offer....we will be brought into His presence and crowned with glory, immortality and eternal life.  

I find myself having to cultivate new hope every day!   There are so many pitfalls in mortality.  I do not pretend to know and understand some of the deep sorrows that come to many in this life.  I find myself often unable to watch the news because I anguish over the trials that some must face. 

My faith tells me that all will be rectified, and that we will come to understand the winds of adversity. Even so, sometimes it is the small things in life that cause me worry and self-doubt. 
 I admit that I fall short in my daily commitments to be better, to be stronger , to accomplish more!  Elizabeth Edwards (love her writing) said that she hoped her children remembered that when" she stood in the storm, and the  wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.  

I talked to my friend Laurie who is very blunt in her perspective on life and its' joys and sorrows.  She asks me all the time "why do you worry? concentrate on what is good!"  "live in the moment!"  I told her about my little cherry tree and how I worried that the wind would come and blow away the blossoms before I had a chance to enjoy them.  (don't know why that came up)  She said, "Go outside and look at it now...enjoy it tonight in case they do blow away tomorrow!" I thought about that.  I thought about that fact that every Spring the blossoms appear.  I don't have to do anything; they just show up one random day every April.  They might blow away before their time to fall, and inevitably they do just that...because that is what they are supposed to do!  The tree grows leaves, and then in the fall they change to brilliant colors, shrivel and fall to the ground.   But there is always a Spring!! I will see blossoms again!

How grateful I am for the Springs in my life.  Even though I may have allowed weaknesses to develop in my character and made poor choices, there is always a redemptive power.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can always be grateful for the season of Spring and the rebirth of the world around us.  We can also be grateful for the winters of our lives and be honed and refined when adversity comes to us.  

What a wonderful Easter spent with family and contemplating the blessings of my life.  I am so proud of four kids who are testifying of Christ in the mission field. I cannot even comprehend the magnitude of the Atonement, but I know that because of His perfect love for me, I shall be able to surmount the storms in my life.