Saturday, August 27, 2016

Temple Attendance for the Youngest of Saints

Yesterday, Casey and I made the time to attend the temple together. Since moving, temple attendance and date night in general, is fairly sparse. So last night was a blessing! 

I excitedly printed some family names to do. Some of my own names! These people want their work done and were longing for it to happen. While I was printing off cards (because I forgot to print them at home), I was pondering how can I involve Devin in this sacred work? He is FOUR years old. Too young to actually attend the temple. Plus, he can't read so doing family history work is something he can only do if I sit there and tell him exactly what to click. But. I really wanted to let him participate because of the promised blessings.

"Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple and stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances.... I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in you life."  --Elder Richard G. Scott General Conference October 2012

This is exactly what I want for my Little Loves. It is a scary world out there. And the adversary is intense! I want them protected and to eliminate the influence.

Well, sitting by Devin and telling him exactly what to click seems like a start. He is participating in family history work, even if he doesn't entirely understand what he is doing. However, I wanted something more. Because he is so young, attending the temple is not an option yet. Only eight years to go. But I did not want to wait eight years for the blessing and protection. I want my Little Loves growing up with it, always.

While we were in the temple yesterday, the thought came to me that I can still take my children to the temple. Anyone can enter the lobby. And if I purposefully leave family name cards that we just completed, then Devin could ask a temple worker to go get them. He could help in the work by retrieving the cards of the completed ordinances. This is exactly what I want for my Little Loves. To instill in them a love for the temple at such a young age. This idea seemed perfect and was exactly what I was searching for.

As Devin was getting ready for bed, he was telling me that he wanted to go to the temple too. It was like he read my mind the entire time we were gone. I asked if he wanted to go on a date with me to the temple so he could get the family name cards. He loved the idea.

This morning, we both got ready in our church clothes. From FHE lessons, Devin understands that you need a temple recommend to go in. He took his "temple recommend" with and off we went.

Upon arriving at the temple, I explain to the sisters in the reception area what we were doing. I asked nicely if someone could go get my cards that we purposefully left here the night before. (Leaving Devin alone in the lobby was not an option.) The cards were intentionally left behind so Devin could have his own temple experience.

Gratefully the sisters were kind and graciously agreed. We sat down on one of the couches in the lobby and read through his Future Temple Recommend Quiet Book. We talked about the blessings that come from attending the temple and how we have to live worthy to enter. I explained how family history and temple work are connected. When the sister finally found my cards, she brought them to Devin and gave them to him. She talked to him for a minute about how he was doing family history work now too (by collecting the cards) and how families are eternal. Her sweet comments meant a lot and helped emphasize what I was teaching him.

It was a wonderful experience for both of us. I am determined to attend the temple monthly with my own family name so my Little Loves can attend as well.

Temple attendance for a four year old!
He took his recommend and we were able to pick up the cards.

So grateful that he already loves the temple so much!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Choosing Forgiveness

Let's be honest. We live in an imperfect world. With imperfect people. Who sometimes speak without thinking. I have so been there. I think we each have. 

I have wished I could vacuum up my words. I didn't mean them. They were said in the moment. Or without thought. But there is no voice vacuum so instead it is apologies.

And it hurts to be on the receiving end of another's blowup. I have been there too. Recently in fact. Very recent. The words filled with hatred and anger. It brought me to tears. When one's words are unkind and untrue, it hurts. Whether written or spoken. It hurts. Inside my heart. And the sting in my eyes. Words cause pain just as much as sticks and stones. But the pain is less visible to the world. So sometimes one might think they can fling bitter words around because you can't see the wounds to the heart. 


I am choosing to forgive.

Not because apologies were offered. And not because the words shared were true.

Forgiveness does not mean I need to change. It means I need to let go. It means letting the Savior heal my wounded heart. It means moving forward with life.

And it means to not be offended. Even if offence was intended. Forgiveness is moving above.

So I choose to forgive today. And tomorrow. And every day. Because people make mistakes. And I can't tarnish my precious time with their wrong doings.

Also... if I have said something that needs vacuuming up, I offer my sincerest apologies. Life is too short to walk around being bitter. And I sincerely hope I am not the cause of another's tarnish. Please choose to forgive if you have found offence when offence was never intended.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It's Time for a Reunion! (...oh wait... we facebook...)

I'm 28 years old. Twenty-eight. TEN years ago I graduated from high school. At the time, high school graduation was the biggest deal ever. Now though... looking back... it doesn't mean so much. It was a milestone. For sure! But it was not the ONLY milestone in the past TEN years.

And life has changed.

When we graduated from high school, I just barely got my first cell phone. Facebook did not exist. And gmail required a special invite to be able to create an account. We chatted using MSN messenger or calling the home phone number. As friends when on missions, I sent letters through the mailbox. Life was different ten years ago. And when you stop and think about the technology changes, it truly is amazing! But that is a post for another day.

Saying goodbye to friends on graduation day actually meant goodbye. No one had my brand new cell phone number. MSN messenger was obviously not allowed on missions so although I never went on a mission, I stopped using it too. Just because there was no one to talk to on it. 

I grew up hearing stories from my mom of her wondering what happened to this friend or where so and so was living now. I thought that would always be the case for me. I never could have imagined the boom of facebook.

Truthfully, I had to be convinced into facebook by my college roommates a few years later. I thought it sounded dumb. Reluctantly I made an account. And people that I barely knew were asking to be my friend. Even weirder was when people I knew but they were far from my friend in real life sent a friend request. And slowly but surely the number of "friends" grew.

Well, our time has come for a high school reunion. And somehow the excitement of it is lost. I already know who is living where and how many kids they have. I already know who is still in school and who has been divorced. I already know where they work and what trials they have gone through. I already know their successes, tears, laughs, life.... I already know their life!

There once was a time when high school reunions meant something. It was anticipated and thrilling to finally have a chance to catch up. When I graduated, I thought I would be living in that time. But technology changed. And with that change, I wonder if we lost some of the excitement. We are still undecided if we will even go to our high school reunion. Not because I hated high school and don't want to go back. But because we barely see the point. 

And... just for the record... we did go to our five year reunion.... While we both had facebook, the reunion was before it took over. Haha. 

And before life changed... and life happened.... and new friends happened.... And I'm really wondering why we should even go to our upcoming reunion....

Monday, August 15, 2016

I Was The Stranger

I was the stranger. 
And I felt every sense of that word.
Let's rewind a bit first though.

March 26, 2016.
General Women's Broadcast.

I sat all by myself for the broadcast. I was at our old stake center. It was extremely dark. I stood by the door awkwardly straining to try to find anyone I knew. I don't know if it was because very few people from my ward were at the broadcast or because the room was so dark that I couldn't find them. Likely some of both. I finally decided to sit near the back so someone would see me and come join me. It never happened and I sat by myself for the whole meeting. (And just a note... being by myself is not a terrible thing. I still had no children crawling all over my lap. I was able to concentrate.) However... Knowing that we were moving next Saturday, I already felt lonely. And sitting there made me feel so alone.

At this meeting the topic of "I Was A Stranger" and helping the refugees was introduced. A few things were mentioned about how to help the refugees. One that I remember was that they needed a friend. Now. Lets just be clear. In no way do I consider ourselves refugees. We are blessed beyond measure with a lovely house that is quite honestly pretty close to my dream house. Casey has a wonderful job. And we can afford to keep me home as a full time mommy. No. I'm definitely not in the same boat and can't even imagine. But... in that moment... the only thing I needed with the upcoming change was a friend.

April 1, 2016.
Moving. (And General Conference.)

That morning after sleeping so little the night before in our new house, I woke up crying. I felt so alone. Casey was at our old house trying to clean and finish up. The kids were asleep. And my body ached. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to lift a single box. I was completely drained from loading everything the day before. I was overwhelmed. Exhausted. Alone. And scared. 

What if my new ward was clique-ish and I never fit in? What if my kids don't? What if I never make friends? What if I'm not accepted? What if I never feel at home?

To say I was scared would be such an understatement. I was a stranger.

And then the whole army appeared. More people than I even can remember came to help us unload. We were able to park our cars in the garage that night because these strangers took us in instantly. They moved everything out of the garage and truck and into the correct rooms. Somehow, I'm honestly not sure how, they squished the couch down the stairs. Casey claimed it wouldn't fit. But somehow they wiggled it in and out of the rooms until it magically appeared in the family room. (And just for the record, it is a super great thing that the couch is nearly brand new. Because it is seriously never leaving that room!)

Later that night, blessings poured down from heaven. I was still a stranger.

A dear, dear sister showed up with dinner and salad and these amazing blondies. She thought that we might need a home cooked meal after moving. Words can't even express how much this meant to me. It was so much more than food. It was love and acceptance and comfort. We saved the food for the next day, Sunday, so we could have something to eat when we couldn't go out.

Two other sisters came and wanted to make sure that we had beds to sleep in and basic things unpacked. I was the stranger and they just came. Angels is what they were honestly.

Fast forward a week or two. 
I was a struggling stranger.

The excitement and adrenaline of moving had finally worn off. Casey had gone back to work. Due to General Conference then Stake Conference, we still had not really gone to our ward. I was home with our Little Loves. And once again I was crying. With the timing of conferences, I was not making many friends because we were not attending "normal" church. And I felt alone. I prayed for someone to come to me. I had no idea who I could call for friendship. So I prayed.

And the missionaries came. These missionaries kept coming. We were far from inactive. But they saw the need. And so come they did. So many hours of service. I'm not sure when we became old enough to have the missionaries help us. But service with a smile they did. 

Another day a sister called to invite me to go with her to RS.
I swear someone always sat by me in RS on Sundays.
Kind words.
Text messages.
Personal play dates.

The other memorable experience was while I was sitting at a near by park for a mommy and me ward play date. The park is in walking distance to our home but is not within our ward boundaries. We were considering buying a house that was right by that park. While sitting there and chatting I mentioned that we had thought about a house up there. Without even missing a breath, the sweet sister right next me commented how grateful she was that we didn't buy the house near the park. I still felt vulnerable and outsider-ish. But. That day. That comment. Something changed.

I was accepted. I was loved. My kids were as well. We all were making friends. Friendships to literally last a lifetime because no one plans on moving out.

"...I was a stranger, and ye took me in." (Matt 25:35)

Four and a half months later. 
August 15, 2016
The moving dust has settled. The boxes are far and few between. Our old insurance has finally canceled. (Ugh! Insurance....) Weeds have been pulled and air vents cleaned (granted both could probably use it again). Closets are filled. Furniture arranged. Homemade bread.

And truthfully... truthfully we are home. I can't explain it. I don't know what it is exactly. But somehow it just feels different than anywhere we have lived. We are home. Our ward is home. I was taken in. I was welcomed. I once was the stranger.

I am loved.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Prepare and Prevent

Recently, we received a notice on our door stating that our road would be closed for maintenance/ road work. I was confused because as I looked at the road, it looked lovely. The road was in great condition and I honestly had no idea what needed to be fixed.

You see... allow me to introduce you to the roads at our last house. Potholes. Like big enough to swallow your whole tire. Cracks all over the place. The streets were basically never plowed the entire time we lived there. And road maintenance. Ha. That just didn't happen either. And on the slight occasion when it did, the workers seemed to pick their favorites from the solemn course and leave the rest. Serious. The roads were a joke.

1. We had a neighbor that owned a personal snow plow. He was the reason the roads are as good as they were.
2. It is hard to tell... but stare at the road and all the lines in the shadows. They were seriously terrible!
3. The massive snow bank ate part of my dad's truck and Devin was worried!

Now... compare the next picture. I know there are not shadows from the tree or snow... but look at the road. It is SMOOTH!! And this was taken before we were notified that the road needed repairing.

So... why was our new city "fixing" the road when it was already in great shape. And then Casey told me that they are doing the "prepare and prevent" method rather than the "repair and repent." And I thought about that over and over.

Both methods require work. Both require the city to pay the road workers. Our new city required the road being closed and we never had that happen at our last house. In some ways that one day of closure was much more inconvenient than the potholes. Because at least with the potholes, I could still leave my house and not have my car stuck. 

But truly in the long run, one day of dealing with our road being completely closed will be so worth it. The sealant was placed on top. And our road in great shape will continue to remain smooth!

That's really like life. Every choice we make is either keeping our personal road smooth or slowly deteriorating it. And it does require effort on our part to maintain the road but it is so much easier than trying to play catch up later!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Love is... Dairy-Free Almond Poppy Muffins {Recipe}

This morning I was thinking about to our courtship. When we fell in love and married, I had no food allergies. Then we had two children. I couldn't eat walnuts with the first. And dairy with the second. I thought things would improve after Heidi was born but instead the intolerance continued to get worse. And worse. And worse. To the point that even trace amounts of lactose in something will make me sick now. Lactaid pills are no longer effective. Every single item that I put into my body, I have to read the label first. If it contains any milk/dairy/lactose it is a no go.

The other day I was shopping with my mom at Costco. She bought some Almond Poppy Muffins. I have since wanted some almond poppy muffins. Costco's contains milk. I started looking at other stores. Practically all bakery things have dairy, even if it is just butter. I have continued to want almond poppy muffins.

Well today I realized that love truly does continues to grow. Our love when we were dating does not even compare to what it is today. I had heard others say that love grows but I didn't think they knew what they were talking about. I thought the love on our wedding day was real. But today... today... love was shown in homemade, dairy-free almond poppy muffins. Casey had to "invent" the muffins to make sure they were completely dairy free. When we were married, neither of us had ever even thought about having to make special food. And today he did it so willingly--even if it did take a large chunk of the morning to figure out.

And they were delicious. Almond Poppy Muffins at their finest!!

And here is Casey's recipe... written by him. The wording is just adorable!

[ ] 1 1/2 cups of flour
[ ] 2 egg yolks 
[ ] 2 egg whites
[ ] 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
[ ] 3/4 tsp baking soda
[ ] ~1/2 cup almond milk
[ ] 1/2 cup coconut oil
[ ] 1/4 cup oil
[ ] 3/4 cup sugar
[ ] 1/2 tsp salt
[ ] 2 tsp almond extract
[ ] 1 1/2 tblsp poppy
[ ] 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Makes 12- 16 muffins.
Preheat to 350°.
Mix well coconut oil, egg yolks, and sugar in one bowl.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in another bowl.
Add milk, oil, to sugar, egg, and coconut oil mixture.
Spray muffin pan.
Fluff egg whites.
Combine wet mix to dry mix and add extracts.
Fold in egg whites.
Divide into muffin tin.
Bake for at least 12 minutes.  May need more until they turn golden.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Goodbye Decade of Decisions

10 years ago I entered the decade of decisions. TEN YEARS!! So much has happened and changed. And I have grown. It is interesting to look back to all the "milestones" in my decade of decisions. There are a few things... well one thing really that I would change every day if I could. But I can't. So forward I will go.

2006 -- High School Graduation
I was so sad to say goodbye to Casey!
He was my absolute best friend and I had no idea what would happen after graduation.
We went on a breakfast date before Graduation.
This meant more to me than words could even say.
And I cherished this during the hard times that would come in the next years.
Why did it mean so much?
Because I wanted more than anything to walk with Casey.
But it was totally random.
The guys were in a line in one tunnel and the girls another.
There was no way to coordinate this.

2007 -- The Year I Wish to Forget

Yes there are plenty of pictures I could post for this year. But I don't want to. It was a horrible year and some of the most painful moments I ever experienced. I learned a ton and was blessed so much a long the way. But if I could go back and change it, I absolutely would.

2008 -- SLCC Graduation

Because of the massive trials I went through the previous year,
this was nothing short of miraculous!
A.S. Degree of General Studies with Honors

2009 -- Best Day Ever

If it looks like I'm glowing, I probably am!
Remember how I was sad/ nervous/ scared to say goodbye to this
handsome boy at high school graduation?
Now we are best friends forever. Literally. All eternity.
Seriously. The Best Day Ever!

2010 -- BYU Graduation

I did it! Four years later...
My degree was really a 5 year degree.
And somehow I still finished in four.
16 credits a semester and summer classes is how.
I just love this picture...
I love BYU!
I LOVE Casey!!

2011 -- To Be A Teacher

Teaching is not for the faint of heart...
But I truly enjoyed it.
I loved watching when kids finally "got it!"

2012 -- He Named Me Mommy

We named him Devin.
And he named me Mommy.
Life was once again perfect.
My dreams were coming true.
I quit my job to stay home full time.
Full time mommy is not easy but so worth it!

2013 -- First Home

We bought our first home!
At the time, we thought it was our last home purchase.
We planned on staying here forever.

2014 -- He Named Her Best Friend

Best friends of these two would be an understatement!
This is still one of my FAVORITE pictures!
Devin's smile to see Heidi for the first time was as real as could be.
And he has never stopped loving her!
Heidi had a scary beginning!
But she is a fighter and she wanted to be here in our family so badly!
I'm so grateful she made the choice to stay!!! 

2015 -- First Brand New Car

You would think we have a picture of this. It was a big deal. We bought our first brand new car! It was so nice not having to share the car anymore as we also kept our older one. But... I sure can't find any picture. Haha. Signing the paperwork took forever!!!! And by the time we finally left the dealership, I think we were all just done.

2016 -- Second Home (and last...)

This has truly become home.
In every sense of the word!
I never would have dreamed that it would be "home" so quickly.
Two and a half months later...
This truly is HOME!
(And always will be!)
I just love these two!
And I'm grateful for the sudden change that happened earlier this year.
I never would have dreamed we would be here today.
But I love it.
And I would move all over again (even though it was a nightmare)
just so we could live here... live at home!

While I'm sure we will buy other cars and hopefully someday have another Little Love... truly my decade of decisions has come to a close.


Now I'm striving to follow Elder Hale's advice from Oct. 2007

After your decade of decision, go onward and upward.... Be faithful.... Be true. Rise up and be worthy.