Wednesday, April 30, 2014

14 Years


Earlier this week Michael and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.  So much has happened in those 14 years.  Our life has been full of trials and tough times but there have also been blessings too many to count. 

We have moved.  A lot.  Each move was an effort to better the situation we were in.  Some of those moves were very hard.  Some brought excitement.  Some moves were to a bigger house with a little more room for our growing family.  Some were to a smaller house that caused us to work and come together.  Some moves were to get in a better place financially.  Some were to get us in better place spiritually and bring us back together as a family.  All came with hardships.  All came with blessings.  We have made many wonderful friends along the way.  We have had many amazing experiences along the way. 

In 14 years we went from two completely different people with different backgrounds and upbringings to a couple who has learned to work together and support each other.  We know the strengths and weaknesses of each other.  We know when to back off and when to press on.  We pray together, fast together, confide in each other and love each other.  We date each other, flirt with each other and still hold hands while we drive places together.

We have both grown and changed over the years, but we have grown and changed together.  I look forward to many more years of adventure together!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One Day

We all have imperfections.  We all have shortcomings.  We all have trials and struggles, things that hold us back.  Sometimes we are teased and ostracized for these faults and shortcomings.  Sometimes we face prejudice and mocking.  Sometimes discouragement over takes us and fear and loneliness set in.  Sometimes we see those we love suffering and we wish we could take it all away, but most of the time we can't.

I was raised with an amazing example of overcoming.  My dad had polio when he was one.  It left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He never let it slow him down.  He did whatever he wanted to do.  There were times during his life that he was teased.  There were times that he was knocked down by his schoolmates.  There were times when he couldn't get a job because of his handicap.  Yet, he continued on, and he did it with a good attitude.  He never held grudges or blamed others for his circumstances.  There have been times when he has fallen because of his handicap.  Sometimes, most times, he would be hurt by the fall.  Yet, every time he would get back up and keep going.  He didn't complain.  He didn't use his handicap as an excuse.

Easter holds special meaning to me.  Through Christ's resurrection, we will all live again.  Not only that, but the imperfections that we have here in this earth life will be gone.  Our pains and sicknesses, our handicaps and disabilities will be no more.  One thing that I can't wait for is to see my dad in his perfect body!  It is something that I have always held close to my heart as I have watched him throughout my life.  Someday, when this earthly life is over, I will see my dad stand and walk.  I will see his legs receive their strength.  It is something that fills my heart with joy!

This Easter season these things are brought even closer to my heart.  As I watch one of my children begin a struggle that he has no control over, I hold to the knowledge I have of someday being perfected.  I look forward to the day when his body and mind will no longer be affected by earthly illnesses.  I am ever more grateful for a Savior who came to this earth, suffered and died for me and then rose again.  I am grateful for a Savior who loves me and knows me, who loves my son and knows him.  I am so thankful for the knowledge that this is all temporary.  These challenges we face, these frailties that we have, they are all temporary.  Yes, we have to endure them for a time, but then we are freed from them for eternity.

Frailties and sickness
Weaknesses and faults
Misunderstanding, judging, prejudice
Laughing, teasing and pointing fingers
Being different. standing out
Tears of sadness
Broken hearts
Loneliness and fear
But somewhere deep inside
Truth drowns out all the hurt
Someday I'll walk in perfectness
My body healed and whole
Weaknesses will be made strong
My broken heart mended
Tears of sadness turned to joy
For on this path Another trod
He overcame for me
Now through His love
I will be whole
Through all eternity
 
 
This Easter season I hope we all find strength and hope through the Savior.  He truly loves each of us.  He knows each of us personally.  He has felt our pains and sorrows.  He knows our hearts and deepest desires.  He walks with us daily and is waiting with open arms for us to come home.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Zane's Birthday and Other Stuff

Yesterday we got to celebrate Zane's 11th birthday.  It is hard to believe that he is that old!  Time sure does fly!
How do you describe Zane?  Zane is Zane :)  He is laid back and easy going.  He loves to play.  He loves to read.  He loves to build things and shoot his bow and arrow.  He loves to go to work with Michael.  He loves basketball and baseball.  He loves to draw and he loves to make people laugh.  His room is always messy, his nails are always dirty, his homework is the last thing he does during the day but he almost always has a smile on his face!  We are so thankful for Zane and all that he brings to our family.  He is such a blessing!  Happy Birthday Cowboy!


Along with Zane's birthday this week we also had a lot of other things going on.  Maddi had three track meets.  I got to go to all of them.  The weather was beautiful and I loved being there to cheer her and her teammates on!


 
They ran really well, placed in their events and had several new personal bests!  I was very thankful for the sunshine and warmer weather we got to experience.  I hope it stays that way for the future meets!


The five youngest kids had their spring concert this week too.  They did an excellent job!  Makenna had a solo and a lot of speaking parts in the play that they 6th graders did.  She did an excellent job!  I was very proud of her and all the work that she put into it.  The other kids did a great job too!
 Olivia's and Zeke's classes.  Olivia is in the front on the left.  Zeke is further back and hard to see.
 The 3rd - 6th graders.  Makenna is in the front in the middle.  The other two are somewhere in there!
 Makenna before it started.  She was looking a little nervous but she did great!  Very proud of her!
Makenna during one of her speaking parts.
 
 
 
The next night was the school carnival and lock-in.  It was a very fun night for the kids.  I only got one picture before my phone died.  There were inflatables, face painting, a fishing pond, horse races, bingo, door prizes, cotton candy, sno cones and lots of other food and games!  The kids all got prizes of some sort.  When the carnival was done, the 4th - 6th graders got to stay for the lock-in.  I got to help chaperon.  They watched a movie and then got to go back into the gym and play on the inflatables.  There was more food and drinks, fun music and all sorts of laughing going on!  Saturday morning came early and naps were certainly on the schedule for the day!
 
Olivia and her friend after they got their faces painted.  Cute girls!
 
 



Monday, April 7, 2014

Maddi's Busy Weekend

Maddison had a lot going on this weekend.  She decided to be part of the entourage for the high school musical, "Disco Inferno".   She didn't have any speaking parts but she was in basically every scene singing and dancing.  They did a matinee Thursday afternoon and then night performances Thursday and Friday.  A couple of her friends were in it too so she had a good time.  Here are a few pictures from her performances and afterwards:

 (She's the one in the navy blue flowered shirt)

 
 

Saturday she headed to Yankton to an archery competition.  I didn't go because I needed to stay home with the other kids.  She spent the night with a couple of friends that were going and they took her down Saturday morning.  The facility there is one that Olympic athletes use to train.  She said it was really neat and she had a lot of fun.  Thankfully her friends sent me some pictures!

This is them getting ready to shoot.  Maddi is the last one on the right.
 This is my favorite picture.  Maddi is in the back - 2nd on the left.
 
I am grateful that she gets to be a part of so many things here.  I am also grateful that she was able to spend a slow day yesterday to recover from her busy week before another busy week begins!  I am grateful for good friends that help get her to and from places when I can't be there to do it.  She is really enjoying her school year this year.  It has been busy and full of fun opportunities.
 
She and her science fair partner also attended regions earlier this week at SDSU.  That was also a fun day for her.  I did not get to go but she sent me a picture of them with their board.
 

Yes, that is a Burger Kind crown on her head.  They went for ice cream :)
 
I am proud of her and all that she has done and accomplished this year.  I am excited to see all that the future holds for her!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Bunnies

This morning Dillon, Zeke, Olivia and I made cinnamon bunnies with butter cream frosting.  They helped put all the ingredients in...


 
Then after they raised Dillon and Olivia helped shape them into bunnies...
 

 
While they were baking we made the frosting and then when they came out of the oven we spread the frosting on while they were still warm.  That way the frosting would melt down the sides and cover more of the bunnies :)  Here is our finished product!
 
 
We made 20 of these little bunnies and they were all gone within a few hours.  I guess that means they really liked them!  I love it when we have time to cook together.  Sometimes it seems we are always in such a hurry to get to the next thing that I don't have time to let them come in and help.  They love to help me so I love these moments when we are slowed down and able to spend time together having fun!



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Uplifted

Twice a year, our church has something called General Conference.  It takes place the first weekend of April and October.  It is a time where everyone all over the world can listen to the leaders of our church - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They teach of Jesus Christ and instruct us on how to live better lives.  It is broadcast all over the world in many different languages.  We are able listen to it on lds.org.  I love it!  This year I wrote down some of my favorite quotes as I listened to the different speakers.  Here is what I heard and learned from this conference:

"Stand in holy places and be not moved."
 
"I [God} will not leave you comfortless."
 
"Pure Christlike love flowing from righteousness can change the world"
 
"Challenges will come to you, but as you turn to God, they will strengthen you."
 
"Families are the treasure of heaven."
 
"In the gospel of Jesus Christ there is no room for judging, ruling or bigotry."
 
"The happiness of eternal life comes through family bonds."
 
"The bumper sticker question, 'What would Jesus Do?', will not always bring a popular response."
 
"Righteousness must be chosen."
 
"If you let Him [God] be the leader of your family, things will work out."
 
"Faith is the anecdote of fear."
 
"Even if everyone is doing it, wrong will never be right."
 
"Always seek to strengthen family."
 
"Be careful who you follow."
 
"As disciples of Christ we have the sacred duty to uphold His laws and commandments."
 
"Lean wisdom in thy youth, yea learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God."
 
"Without me [Jesus] ye can do nothing."
 
"Words that can be firm in information can be soft in spirit."

"We can be grateful."
 
"Choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy."

"Gratitude is a way of life independent of our current circumstances."

"Gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony."

"Endings are not our destiny.  We are eternal."

"Our Father in Heaven reaches out to each of us with His infinite love."

"God is watching us.  We are not alone."

"Our Father knows us and hears the pleadings of our heart.  He accomplishes His miracles one prayer at a time, one person at a time."

"You can feel peace in the midst of turmoil."

"The miracle of the atonement can make up for imperfections in our performance."

"You have the Savior of the world on your side."

"The atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to do good and become better."

"Love is the very essence of the gospel and Jesus the perfect exemplar."

"Everyday of our lives we are given opportunities to show love to those around us."

"Love should be the very heart of family life."

"Forgiveness should go hand in hand with love."

"Let's determine to respond in love and kindness to whatever may come our way."
 
"Knowledge and intelligence are obtained through obedience and diligence."
 
"Parenthood is a sacred privilege."
 
"We are led by a prophet of God."
 
"Each of us is a son or daughter of God. Each of us has a unique story."
 
"Today's complexity demands greater simplicity."
 
"Obedience is an emblem of our faith."
 
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." - James 1:5
 
"Revelation has not ceased, the heavens are open."
 
"Family is the pattern of heaven."
 
"We need to put more time and effort into strengthening and preserving the family."
 
"Faith without works is dead."
 
"If we are sincerely seeking the truth, we will do all in our power to find it."
 
"May we resolve to do a little better than we have in the past."
 
 
I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to listen to conference this weekend.  It was just what I needed.  Lately I have been very tired and stressed.  I had many questions and frustrations.  Now my soul has been calmed, my spirit rejuvenated and lifted, my body rested, my mind enlightened.  My prayers and pleadings have been answered.  I know that I am not alone.   I know that my Father in Heaven is mindful of me and my needs and that He hears and answers my prayers.  All will be well.

A Loaf of Bread

A few weeks ago I made a few batches of bread.  Some of the loaves I made smaller so we could share with some of our elderly neighbors.  I had the kids go out and deliver the loaves once they were baked.  A few minutes after the kids got back I got a phone call.  It was from one of the neighbors.  She was in tears.  She had been home soaking a sore foot when the doorbell rang.  When she got to the door, there were a couple of my kids with a loaf of bread for her.  She said it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for her!  She just couldn't believe that they would come to her house and give her that bread!

The next day the kids were out playing and I watched as she pulled up in front of our house.  She got out of her car and gave all the kids hugs and talked to them for a few minutes.  Then a few days after that the kids were back out again with some of their friends.  She drove up again and gave them all hugs again - even the friends (who had no clue who she was or why she was hugging them)!

This morning we got another phone call from her.   It was her birthday yesterday and she wanted to share some of her birthday cake with the kids.  She made up a plate of cake and had them come down and get it from her.  They made her a card and wrapped her a little gift and went down.  Again, she called and thanked me for having such nice kids.  She said she has lots of grandkids and great-grandkids but they are not around here and that she loves seeing my kids because they remind her of her own.  She especially loved the home made card because it reminded her of the cards her own kids used to make for her when they were small.


Small acts of kindness go a long ways.  When I was young, my mom would have us take bread or supper to neighbors.  One of those neighbors was named Esther.  I lived next door to her from 5th grade through 8th grade.  She lived alone and I loved going over to her house and talking to her or helping her do things she needed help with.  My mom would have us take her supper a few times a week and we would check in on her quite regularly.  When we moved I cried because I knew I would never see her again.  It was a friendship that would have never been there had my mom not first sent us over with a plate of food.  It helped Esther out, but it did so much more than that.  It taught me the importance of serving and it was the source of many happy memories for me. 

Simple things can mean so much.  We don't have to do huge acts of service.  Just simple things can make so much of a difference to some one.  For Bev, our new friend down the street, it was just a small loaf of bread.  It made her day, but it has also brought joy to my kids.  They know her now when she drives by and waves, they give her hugs when she stops by, they are excited to see her.  If we could fill our days with simple acts - a hello, holding a door open for someone, a smile, a quick note, a passing wave, a thank you - our days would be so much better!  I am grateful for the example that my parents were to me of small, simple acts of kindness.  It really does make a difference!