Sunday, September 28, 2014

Building up Zion

Building up Zion happens in very small ways on a daily basis.  Prayers, scripture study, service, church attendance, keeping commandments, striving for excellence, wholesome recreation.

Temple Attendance is the icing on the cake.
Libby and I went together last week.

Peter and Libby and I went this week.  Here they are looking over the top of our Impala.
Being in the Temple brings such great joy!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to feel the Spirit in such abundance.

Peter is playing competitive soccer.  Bruce is the assistant coach for his team.
And Peter is playing football too!  His "B" team had a game last week, so he got more playing time than usual.  Here he is going out on the field as one of the Captains.  (He's #7)
He is the kicker on the "B" team.

Here he is playing the running back position.

Jesse was in a concert at BYU this week, singing with the Concert Choir.  We got to hear part of her concert on a live stream on the Internet.  It was a song that I'm familiar with - Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel, and it sounded so good!  Isn't she beautiful in her new Concert Choir dress?
Jesse informed us tonight over FaceTime that her future children WILL have perfect pitch and be MUSICIANS.  In the mornings, she will play a note, and if they don't name it right, they will go on half-rations.  (Bruce and I in the background laughing our heads off).

Mary answered Chet last week, after he asked her to go to Homecoming.  This is a picture his Mom posted on Facebook of him.
To answer him, Mary left a note at his house, saying that "Sir William", as she calls him, had to go on an adventure.  He had to go find his steed (at the local saddlery shop).  Libby and I met him there and gave him a small toy horse.  Then he had to go find a horseshoe for his sturdy steed at the local blacksmith (the tire shop).  Bruce met him there and gave him a small horseshoe.  Then he had to get a good nights rest at the local inn.  Libby and I met him at a nearby hotel and gave him a camp pillow.  Then he had to go and get a good breakfast (at a local bakery).  Bruce met him there and gave him a bagel.  And then he had to go and find his Princess, which was Mary, at a shop where they got some hot chocolate.  There were a few hiccups along the way when we turned and went the wrong direction a few times, but Chet was a good "adventurer" and it was fun!  Mary said Yes!

Josh has started school at BYU-Idaho!  He made the student-led a Capella group called Apollo.  He has practiced with them twice and loves it!  He can't believe how fun it is to sing with these guys that are great musicians and singers.  I'm so happy that he is in Apollo!  They practice a few hours twice a week and will perform at various occasions on campus.   Josh is full up with work and a very challenging class load.  He is also the Executive Secretary in his ward, so that is demanding of his time as well.  But he is happy and doing well!

Joseph had to say good-bye to two of the missionaries in his District this past week, as they flew home, and it about broke his heart.  He said, "Saying 'See you later' just doesn't cut it."  He asked me to help him with coming home so that he could feel like there was something as remotely important to do at home as there is in the mission field.  Bruce actually called church headquarters after he got home and asked if he could go on another mission, so it must run in the family.  Here is a picture of Joseph and some of his fellow missionaries.

They have worked so hard together for many months in a small mountain town in Argentina.  You get pretty close to people in circumstances like that!

We had a wonderful Stake Conference last week!  I had the privilege of leading the Youth Choir that sang for the evening and morning sessions.  Mary, Peter and Libby all got to sing in the Choir, so that was super fun.  The last number they sang was Carry On!  I told the choir kids about Hermana M. and I singing Carry On! in our apartment in Huanuni with our feet in a bucket of hot water to warm them up, when we were so discouraged.  The choir sang it with some great dynamics, and they are so powerful and beautiful anyway, that it turned out wonderfully!  We had every choir seat filled and had to bring in some extra chairs.

So we build up Zion, every day in small ways, and the Lord provides the miracle!  How grateful and humbled we are by His loving care in our lives!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

They've Got My Back

I did one of those Facebook surveys that are popular these days, and the question was, "What song describes me most?" and the answer I got was the song "Happy" by "Pharrell Williams".  I posted it with this status, "Nailed it!"

My happiness comes because of my relationship with the three most powerful beings in the universe, literally, on every level, on every planet, in every depth and every height.  If you want to know if there are real super heroes, these three are it.  And they've got my back.  More than that, everything they do is so that I can progress and grow and become as they are.  Does that reach you to your very core?  Because it does me.  The three Beings I am talking about are 1) Heavenly Father, or God, 2) the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and 3) the Holy Ghost.  Collectively they are called the Godhead, and they love me perfectly and think that I am worth an infinite sacrifice so that I can be whoever I choose to be, and they honor my agency in that choice.  But they also do everything in their power, which is perfect, while still honoring my agency, to encourage me to become the best that I can be.  And the best that I can be is perfect, like they are.

Joseph said the following in his letter last week:

Well, to wrap up, I was reading in Alma 34, and I reached the phrase "an infinite sacrifice". It stunned me, I couldn`t move past it, all I could do was look at it and try to comprehend how deep of a sacrifice, how Eternal could be an infinite sacrifice? It sunk into my soul for a good 5 minutes while I struggled to understand. Is there anything we cannot do because of His infinite Atonement? No. How much has he truly done for us? So much we could not possibly understand. Not even close. We will be discovering new aspects of the Atonement forever, because the Atonement itself​ is forever.
I was so touched by this when I read it.  So when I say here that the Godhead has done everything in their power, this is what I mean - that an infinite Atonement has been made for me by the Son of God, so that I can receive immortality and eternal life.  And their plan for me is perfect - down to the last detail of every day - the plan is perfect, and there are no accidents!
This is where my happiness comes from.  Everything else is a bonus.  My family, immediate and extended, my health, my church, my country, my home, my friends, my knowledge, music, nature, my work, my oils! ... as much as I love of all of these things, they are not the center of why I am happy.  I am happy because I am a Daughter of God, and if all these things were taken away from me, that fact would still remain, and I could still be happy.
With that basis at the center of my life, I can get up in the morning, and every day I can seek guidance, protection, strength and purpose from the three most powerful Beings in the Universe.  And I am safe in their care, because they love me.  They know me.  They care about me and every detail of my life.  I am KNOWN.  I have also come to know that they care more about my growth than my comfort.  Hence, this probationary time away from their immediate presence, a time for me to test my faith and ability to change (repent).  But they have not left me alone.  I can still pray, I can still receive answers.  I am loved, and I am known. And I can return to live with them after this life.
Another truth that is really important here, before I leave off, and that is that all that I've said here about me is the same for you, and every other human being on the planet.  Insert your name under every "I" pronoun here, and you may find the truth about who you are.
Much love and light to you today!

Monday, September 15, 2014


This is the name of our favorite family dance song, sung by Earth, Wind & Fire.  We play it at every Street Dance and the tradition is that the whole family comes to the front and we dance in a circle to this song.  We go through the family and do everyone's "signature" dance move.  It's a great tradition.  I read a study recently that said that the number one predictor of confidence in a child was knowledge of their family history!  Wow!  What a blessing to have histories to share.  This blog is a big part of our family history.

Speaking of family history, Bruce, Joshua and I were able to go to the Temple two weeks ago and do over 40 sealings for ancestors related to Benjamin Covey, Jr., or the Caryl Hill names, as they are affectionately called in my family.  What a blessing!  I truly felt their joy as the door opened for them to progress in the eternities.  I want to thank all those in my family who worked to get these names to this point, from extended family back to my grandmother and her sisters, to Dr. Caryl Hill himself, who gathered the names in the first place.  It is truly a blessing how this came to pass, and it is still an on-going work.  There is a lot more to do!

Labor Day weekend we went up into the mountains for a horseback ride.
Libby and Josh

Peter and Libby

Unfortunately, Mary and I stayed back in the truck because Stormy stepped on Mary's foot while saddling up and she was in a lot of pain.  So Bruce, Josh, Libby and Peter went for a short ride and I stayed with Mary.  When they got back, Josh and Bruce gave Mary a Priesthood Blessing and her pain went down considerably, and by the time we got back, she was able to move her toe, and the only pain was from the layer of skin that had rubbed off.  From all the evidence I had, I am certain that before the blessing her toe was broken, and after the blessing, it was no longer broken.  Some question whether miracles have ceased, but Josh gave Mary a blessing, with Dad helping, and she was healed.  We were truly grateful, as dance is such a big part of her life, and a broken toe would have affected her deeply for a long time.

Josh worked hard at his landscaping job for the 6 weeks he was home on break.
But he also went on a lot of fun dates!  On this one he went with Alyssa horseback riding down to the river, left the horses tied up, floated down the river, walked back to the horses, and then rode home.  They had a blast!

Alyssa told her Mom, "I like Middleton!  I get to go do the funnest things!"

Mary got asked to Homecoming by Chet!  He put a rose on the front door before she got home from school with a note to go up to her bedroom.
In her bedroom was a bouquet of 2 dozens roses, with another dozen roses scattered all over her bedroom and bathroom.

And then there was a note on the bed to go to the backyard. 
Originally, he was supposed to be there on a horse, but Bruce didn't get home in time to get the horses ready, so he was just leaning against the fence.  Haha. 
They did eventually go on a horseback ride and then came back and watched It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.  Fun afternoon for Mary!

And Mary took the ACT last Saturday!  She said it went well.

Here are some pictures of Peter doing a science experiment for one of his classes.
 The experiment was to test gasoline, white gas and lighter fluid to see which one lasted the longest.  It was gasoline, by the way, but it was smoky and dirty.  The white gas burned a lot cleaner.

Libby is reading, reading, reading.  She reminds me of another 12 year old I know that read all the time...

Jesse made Concert Choir at BYU!  This is the second best choir at BYU, after University Singers.  There are 85 students in it, male and female.  Jesse was ecstatic that she made it in.  They already performed at the Inauguration of Kevin J. Worthen as the new President of BYU.

After only 3 days of practice, they sang "He Watching Over Israel" and "Come Ye that Love the Lord". 
It was awesome to see her singing with that choir as Bruce and I watched the Inauguration on BYU TV.  Way to go Jesse!

Bruce and I have also been focused on preparations for future events.  We got an awesome Grizzly double sleeping bag this week!  It's so big we fit Bruce, Peter, Libby and I all in it yesterday afternoon.  Ha ha!  We figure we only need three sleeping bags like this for our family - one for Bruce & I, another for the girls and another for the boys.  Haha.  But seriously, though, we have felt very guided in our preparations.  We are so thankful to be guided by a prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.  His message in the Ensign this month is about Preparedness, and we are doing our best to follow this guidance.