Monday, August 31, 2015

Live after the Manner of Happiness

It's been so great to have Joseph home.  They recreated this photo this week.  This gives my Mama heart much joy!  (Wish we had Aunt Cori in the background on the present time photo, though!)

Mary at work!  She works at a dry-cleaning place and is officially a "detailer".  She's grateful for this job.  She works four days a week, about 6-8 hours a day.
I taught my first Lightfeet Zoning class this week!  I first conceived this idea about a year ago, and it's really great to see it come to fruition.  I feel really good about how it turned out.  I have 5 people taking the class, and it's super rewarding to see their excitement and growth.

Jesse had a birthday this week!  This is her birthday "selfie".
 I had a miracle happen this week when I sent her birthday package.  The postal worker said it would arrive a day late, and I said a prayer that it would arrive a day earlier, and it did!  It was truly a tender mercy!  Here Jesse is with her District.  Jesse said she is wearing a dress that she found for $5 at a thrift store.  (She had to find some new clothes because she put some clothes in a dryer and they shrunk!)
Here is an excerpt from her letter last week.  It was part of a letter she sent to her MTC companion.

 During sacrament meeting the talks were going on and I was on fire learning about God and how he wants for us to have "all that he hath" (DC 84:38) and so many people don't believe that! They think it is blasphemous that we say that we can become like God! What kind of a loving Heavenly Father is he if he doesn't want us to have everything and more that he himself has. An earthy father wants his son to grow up and have more than he ever had. It is ONLY possible through the Atonement and Jesus Christ's boundless mercy and love for us. Rom. 8:16-17 talks about how we are "joint-heirs" with Christ meaning that we will inherit the same glory as he, IF we choose to walk the same path. Of course we can do NOTHING without the Father's power. Even Jesus said, "I can of mind own self do nothing... I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." (John 5:30) We have the power to receive revelation and know what the Father would have us, and our investigators do! Look up Revelation in the Bible Dictionary- ever since reading that I felt like my studies have improved. Something it says is, "The principle of gaining knowledge by revelation is the principle of Salvation." We cannot be saved (or help others be saved) without revelation. Oh how great is our cause! I find more and more joy in it every week. I always like to pray and call upon the powers of heaven to assist us in the work. God is willing to give to us. We cannot put mortal restrictions on a perfect and omnipotent God.

This week we had the Street Dance!  Oh my word, I love this event!  Tanner, Mary's friend, has recently bought lights for his own DJ business, so he brought these over to try them out.  They were great!  We had a good turnout.  Joseph and Mary had friends come from the singles branch.  It's always good to have older kids there because they are not afraid to dance!  :)

Mary calls this picture a "sibling" dance because Nic and Becca are practically part of our family, so Joseph dancing with Becca and Nic dancing with Mary is a sibling dance.  ha ha  I love it that we caught Todd & Kristie in the background dancing with Abby.
Here's Libby and Joseph getting some swing on!
After the dance and all the clean up, this crew ended up on the front porch talking.  For the first time ever, that I can remember, it stayed warm through the whole dance.  Usually we are freezing by the time the dance is over, but it was still perfectly pleasant this time.  I loved this - we were all relaxed, talking about the dance, laughing and just generally glad to be together.  Of all the memories from this dance, this one will be my favorite.
Joseph brought the couch cushion out originally for Becca, but it soon became a joint pillow.  Jesse and Josh are going to laugh at this.  No surprise, huh guys?
I almost left them all there when they were all asleep, but they woke up when I opened the door to go in.  I love Joseph's smile here!

Josh called with some great news last night:  The district in which he was first a Zone Leader in El Salvador has been made into a Stake in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  This is wonderful, because it means the area has grown enough, with enough priesthood leadership in the wards and branches to become a Stake.  Josh was thrilled!

Libby started up soccer practices for the first time this week!  She was sore of course, and took to the backyard with a soccer ball to start juggling.  Go Libby!  So fun to see a girl with a soccer ball around our house again.  I've missed that!

Libby is also milking Lilly on her own every day now.  I'm so proud of her for doing this!  She set a goal to have this happen, and it took two years (or more?) to put it into effect.  She gets about 3/4 of a quart a day.  Bruce has started making our dairy kefir with this goat milk, and it is so good!  It tastes SO much better, almost like a yogurt instead of such a strong kefir taste.  It's actually palatable!

Peter had another rough week in soccer because he pulled a muscle in his back during Monday's game.  I was finally able to give him a Raindrop yesterday, so I'm sure that will help.

Joseph bought another car!  He went down to Tom's lot again and bought a Ford Focus.  When he went to open the lock later that afternoon, the key wouldn't open the lock on the door!  Bummer...  So right before the street dance, he and Nic went over to Erica's, where the car was parked, and used a wedge and mallet to get the door open enough to open the lock!
 I told Joseph, "Way to pick your frineds!"  (Nic is a good friend to have - there's no doubt).

We also had a wonderful time attending Gabby's baptism this week.  Gabby is Joseph's age, and we have known her since she was on Joseph and Josh's U-10 soccer team that Bruce coached.  Occasionally her Mom asked if we could give her a ride, and we got to know her a little bit better that way.  I have had a special connection with her ever since then, so I was so happy that she was befriended by members of the Young Single Adult branch here in our town and started going to Church.  Joseph invited her to come over to our house for the last three lessons with the Sister missionaries, so I was privileged to be at the lessons where she accepted the invitation to be baptized.  When I think of how this will change her life, and the blessings that will come not only to her but her future family and children, I just want to get on my knees and thank Heavenly Father from the bottom of my heart for his love for her and all His children.  The gospel brings so much joy and peace into families!  I witness of that, and give thanks unto God for his tender mercies.  The Spirit was present in abundance at her baptism.  Melanie and Denise gave wonderful talks.

I'm so grateful for the presence of the Holy Ghost, what I often refer to as "feeling the Spirit".  I say feeling, but it is more than just an emotion.  I feel it in my heart and also my mind is filled with what Joseph Smith called "pure intelligence".  In Doctrine & Covenants 8:2 it says, "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your heart and in your mind, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart."

Paul teaches in Acts 15:8-9, "And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;  And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith."  This scripture helps me to understand that feeling the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, is a sign that we are on the straight and narrow path, because God is purifying our hearts by faith in the process.  I treasure being able to feel the Spirit.  It fills me with peace and happiness, filling my heart with gratitude and love, sometimes almost to where I cannot bear it.  Julie B. Beck said, "The ability to qualify for, receive and act upon personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life."  As I have honed my skill in this area, my life has improved in every way, such that I truly do feel that I live after the manner of happiness.

What about you?  Would you like to join me?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Because I Have Been Given Much

This beautiful girl turned 20 years old this week!  This picture is a month old, taken the first day she got to her mission, with her mission president and his wife.  I just love this picture of her!  It's hanging on our fridge so I see it every day!
Jesse was born at home at 2:12 pm in Poulsbo, Washington.  We were so happy to have a girl!  She was 8 lbs 2 oz, my smallest baby.  Libby told me the other day that it was only recently that she learned that 8 lbs for a baby wasn't small.  haha  Jesse was a wonderful baby, so happy and content.  When she was sixteen months old she got nicknamed "Spastic bumper car" by Aunt Angie, who was single and visiting at the time, and a little overwhelmed by three little kids running around.  (I was too).  From spastic bumper car to piano performance major and "very, very good missionary", Jesse is an incredibly accomplished individual, and genuinely good to her very core.  I love her so much and miss her deeply!  Although we have very different personalities, we communicate well, and have learned much from each others' strengths.  She helps me be a better mother, and a much better person overall.  Well, just to keep it real, she basically demands it.  Ha ha.  It's true, is it not, familia mia?

Happy Birthday Jesse!!

The first day of school came so quickly this year!  Libby is going to a different school than Peter for the first time in her life.  Thankfully she has a great circle of friends around her so she doesn't feel alone.  She said this of her first day of school, "It was awesome!"
Mary was beside herself that Libby was wearing a t-shirt on the first day of school.  But Libby held her ground.  Her t-shirt says "Dancing in heels should count as a superpower".  Joseph was beside himself that Peter was wearing a Boca Juniors shirt (a soccer club in Buenos Aires) the first day of school, so he went and got him a Racing (pronounced in Spanish) shirt to wear.  I had to laugh over that one! It's funny how it was Mary and Joseph that were fussing over the kids, not me.  This is good - this is how it should be.  :)
Mary has been driving Peter and Libby to school every day.
Sibling Selfie:
She said it was super weird to leave Peter in the parking lot on his first day of high school and drive away.

She's not going to college until January, so it strange to have everyone else starting school and she's not.  She is working every day at the dry cleaner's, so she stays busy.
Joseph hasn't been working this week, at least not for pay.  He HAS been working around our house.  Wow - what a huge help he has been.  We had a dump truck full of wood chips dumped on our driveway to cover landscaping and he moved most of it last week.  Imagine his dismay when we had another one dumped yesterday!

We also had a family move in with us this week!  A friend of mine that is nine months pregnant and her seven children ran into some very difficult circumstances this week and needed a place to stay.  Like Ephraim K. Hanks, we were able to say, "We are ready now."  Joseph had to move his things out of the back bedroom, but he had no problem with that.  He went through Peter's room and took out about 3 bags of old clothes before he would move into that bedroom.  Ha ha!  I don't think Peter even knows.  So we've had an adventure here this week having this family here.  The older kids in the family are Peter and Libby's age, so they have had fun with them here - playing card and video games.  It's been a blessing for me to be able to reach out and serve.  I repeated to my friend over and over this week, "This is why this house is here."  It is to be a gathering place.  I've known that from the get-go, so it's no surprise.  This is what we've been preparing for, and also what we've done in the past.  This is the fourth family to live with us, which makes me rally happy.

Joseph went to the Temple this week with some of the young adults from the YSA branch.

On Thursday I went over to my friend Lori's house and picked up some peaches.  We traded for the canned peaches (this is a miracle), and she had extra ripe peaches that she wasn't going to be able to can, so she gave us half a box of them.  This was such a blessing, because I hadn't been to the store for awhile, and we were doing fine except for fresh fruit.  What a blessing!  Here is Libby's peaches with a little too much sugar on them!  

Peter had his first soccer game this week!  He played on the JV team as center defender.  He got about 15 minutes of playing time, which is good considering that he played all this week during practice with a pulled muscle in his right quad.  On the way to drop him off, he did an Interface canopy (from the AMSTAR modality by Sharon Plaskett) over his leg.  And I also said this to him:  "Peter, Heavenly Father can heal you from this injury.  If you pray in faith, He can heal you immediately, if it is His will.  But if not, there is still a lesson you need to learn from it, and it will continue to be that way until you have learned the lesson you need to learn."  He got out of the car and went on his way.  During the game, he took a shot on goal with his right leg, and only missed by a foot or two!  I was surprised to see him shoot with that right leg (his dominant one).  After the game, as we were walking across the field, Peter had his arm around me (which he often does) and he reported, upon me asking about his muscle, that it didn't hurt at all.  He played the game and it didn't hurt at all.  Let me be clear that this was a complete change from just the day before at practice. Truly a miracle took place!

Peter got a new school shirt yesterday, just in time for this picture!
Mary and Becca got invited to a "Black Tie Affair" in Boise by Mary's friend Ben, and before they went, Peter decided he needed a kiss on the cheek.  And can you believe these beautiful girls?!  They had a great time at their party.  So thankful for their high standards.
Joseph went to the local Rodeo with his friend Andrew.  Unfortunately they didn't get in because it was sold out.  
Hunter, Beau and Joseph eating cucumbers at Church.

I listened to the devotional give by Elder Neil A. Andersen of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles at Education Week at BYU.  This is a quote from his talk:
"As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous.  As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling.  The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight."
I witness that is true in my own life as I have felt guided and directed in so many ways this week.  I can see the hand of the Lord so clearly in my life.  And I do ask for it.

And this is why I ask, even about the most basic decisions that I need to make.

1) Pray always.  It says this phrase 14 times in the standard works.  Here is one of the verses:  
"But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.   (2 Nephi 32:9)
2)  Jesus said, 
"And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."  (John 8:29)  
How?  How did he know what would please his Father?  The answer must be that he prayed always.

3) "Ask, and ye shall receive..." (Doctrine & Covenants 4:7)  This is repeated no less than 7 times in the scriptures.  Jesus repeated this admonition because he knew it was true.  He asked and He received, and He commanded us to do the same for our benefit.

4) And finally we have the parable of the unjust judge as a guide.  
"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;  Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.  And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.  And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.  And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.  (Luke 18:1-8)"
Sometimes we put mortal limits on our Heavenly Father, thinking that He has time limits, attention span limits, patience limits, etc.  It's understandable, because it's hard from mortality to fathom something limitless, but God has none of those limits.  He wants us, from our mortal standpoint, to think we are "wearying" him.  He commands it, He admonishes it, He invites it.  

5) Oh, and as I'm thinking about it, how about this?
"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  (Luke 11:11)"

The oft repeated opposing view is to quote this scripture, 
"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward." (Doctrine & Covenants 58:26)
Notice that this scripture does not say, "it is not meet that you should ask in all things", in fact the scriptures say just the opposite, as noted above.  So what I take the scripture to mean is that we should be asking BEFORE the Lord has to command us, which gives us even more impetus to be asking, through prayer, always.  And He says just that in this verse,
"But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrine of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils."  (Doctrine & Covenants 46:7)
There are no accidents, and Heavenly Father has woven an intricate web of experiences that are tailored exactly for my learning and good, and I am so grateful!

Sometimes there is a tendency to become paralyzed by this, the thought that every single decision has a consequence and is important.  Thankfully, as we pray always, and learn the skill to qualify, receive and act upon personal revelation, we can be guided every step of the way.

Photo credit:  Mary Holmstead 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Let Us All Press On

I love Hymns, and they work so well for blog Titles.  :)

Mary is recovering slowly but surely from her car accident.

Joseph and I went down to Utah this past week.  I went down for the Healer's Blueprint Workshop, which was really great.  I'm so glad I went!  I have a whole new set of tools to work with and I am so excited to get to work.  We stayed at Josh and Rachel's and had a great time talking with them.  Harper thought Joseph was snuggle material.
I am now almost as cool as Rachel!

Joseph got to visit his old mission hangouts in Ogden.
And one night he went to a reunion with his MTC District.  Fun!
He so got to hang out with two of his favorite mission buddies, Evan and Beans.

Joseph and I thoroughly enjoyed a session at the Salt Lake Temple!
 Wow - it is amazing to be there.
They had 80 weddings that day, and we got to witness a lot of them sitting together in the Celestial Room, waiting to be called to the Sealing Room.  It was really something!  Joseph handled it pretty well.  Jesse would have lasted 5 minutes and been done, if that long!  Ha ha!  I was filled with joy at the wonder of what we now enjoy in Temples and what lies ahead.  In the ceiling of the Celestial Room, there is a border all around the ceiling of grapes and flowers.  The scriptures are full of the promises of the feast that the Lord has prepared for us.  And he gives us even now, enough and to spare.  When we see his hand in all things, we are more able to leave all things in his hands.

I gave a Gospel Doctrine lesson today on Acts 1-5, and we talked about the early saints and how they were blessed with the Holy Ghost, and having all things in common and worshiping together in fellowship.  I had a wonderful witness of the fact that more than just history, these chapters are prophecy for us - a vision about what is ahead for us.  It was so powerful when I was studying the lesson.  We will go through tribulations, and yet the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out upon us, and we will worship together and be happy!

Bruce did all sorts of productive things while I was gone.  He found a recipe for beef jerkey, and he made some!  It tastes great, and we vacuum sealed it and stored it away for future use.  That will be a true blessing in time of need.  He also built a stanchion for Lilly, our goat, so Libby could milk her.  They milked her once, and got about 1/3 of a cup!  We will work on that and build up production.

Peter made the JV Boys Soccer team!  It was a grueling try out, and he was limping around with sore muscles (even with OrthoSport!), but he pushed through and made it!  He starts practices this week.

And school!  Peter and Libby start school this week too!  Goodness gracious where has the summer gone?  I am quite surprised by that fact.  But it's all good.  They are excited to get going!

On Tuesday night, Joseph came in and said, "Have you seen Mordor over there?"  Earlier in the day, we had seen smoke filling the western sky, and I assumed it was a fire over in the mountains west of us, but I had no idea it was so huge.  We went up on the roof and you could SEE it, miles and miles away, a huge wall of fire and smoke on the ridge of the mountains.  It was really something to see.

Idaho now has 12 fires going.

I posted today on FB to pray for Idaho Firefighters.  When Joseph and I drove home, from the border all the way home, there was haze and smoke in the sky like I've never seen it before.

The fires came within 1/2 mile of Nic's home, and we're so grateful he's safe.

Mary, Nic and Becca.