Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Tidings!

What a wonderful week we had!  The highlight, of course, was talking to this girl!

She looked so good!  She was genuinely happy, so full of the Spirit and happy to see and talk to us, even it was just over Skype.  Thank you to the wonderful family that allowed her to come and use their home.  She made us laugh at the end by telling us that a pug was licking her leg last night and she wanted to do away with it (her words were not that nice).  ha ha  Yes - still Jesse!

On Monday we met for Family Night with what we affectionately call the To Zion! group up at Todd and Kristie's.  This is the same four families that went with us on our week-long campout last summer.  We had a great time eating, talking and lighting Chinese lanterns and sending them off in the air.  We are so thankful to have such good friends!

Bruce and Josh (and Joseph joined in at the last) sang with the Barbershop ensemble that sings every year at Bruce's work.  They are really good!  Becca, Peter, Libby and I went to hear them sing.  (Mary was at work).  We were laughing so hard as we saw these guys come across the courtyard because here's everyone in their white shirts and red botwies, and here comes Dad in his plaid felt shirt.  At least it was festive and red!

Libby has been doing her own Dutch braids!  Not bad!
On Wednesday night David and Elysia, Erica, Nathan, with his girlfriend Jenna, and Darin came over for dinner.  (Sadly I didn't get any pictures!)  It was so fun to sit in the family room after dinner and talk.  At 8 pm, Bruce, Josh, Mary and Joseph went and participated in the Live Nativity that our Stake set up in front of our church building.
It was so beautiful!  Calvin, our friend, built the stable out of old barn wood, and another sister in the stake made all the costumes.  They were gorgeous!
They added a recording of Christmas music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Becca, Peter, Libby and I stood and watched them for their one hour shift.  Kevin, Becky and Bailey, our old neighbors, filled some of the other spots, so it was fun to see them!
Part way through the program, an older gentleman that seemed to be in charge of the proceedings came up to me and said incredulously, "Did you know that their real names are Joseph and Mary?"  I have to say that it was one proud/happy mother moment for me to say, "They are my children!  I gave them those names!"  I love this picture!
As we watched the quiet scene, I pondered how we really had seen it all, that we were watching from premortal life as the original scene unfolded. On this night, it was a very sacred and spiritual experience to be there!
Later that night we had Becca and Lexy over at our house.  So fun to see these three together again!
Christmas Eve found these four playing Mario Kart.  (Thankfully not for long...)
Mary had to work that day, but ended up getting off early at 2 pm instead of 5 pm.  Yeah!  We had a snow day on Christmas Eve!  It snowed beautifully all morning - big flakes just comin' down!  It made it so peaceful and beautiful for Christmas Eve!  I loved it!  It also made for a fun snow day!

In the evening, we went caroling to four of our neighbors, and then we had our traditional Posole!  I did it up good this year.  It was yummy!

After dinner we did our own live nativity.  Nic was with us and took a video, which I haven't gotten from him yet, but here again are Joseph and Mary!  Josh was the Inn Keeper, Peter the Shepherd, and Libby the angel and the Wiseman.
I love these pajama pictures!

Because Jerica is living in the room upstairs, the kids decided to make the fort in this room instead.
 It's an awesome Fort, by all accounts!
Christmas day was wonderful!  WE (Bruce and I) had to actually go wake the kids up!  I'm sure had Jesse been here that wouldn't have happened.  ha ha  The highlight of the day was talking to Jesse, as I mentioned before, and then going to Bruce's sisters for a wonderful dinner.  Michelle went all out - it was basically a Thanksgiving meal all over again.  Delicious!  We had a great time sitting around their table talking with Gerard, Michelle, Nicole, Philippe and Daniel.  Nic and Becca came over that night and we had a good time talking and laughing late into the night.

On the 25th and the 26th, we woke up to this beautiful frosted scene!
Josh, Joseph, Peter and Becca all went snowboarding/skiing on the 26th.  When Joseph got home, he was exhausted!  Josh slept on the couch too, never making it into bed.  But they sure had a good time!
Libby and Mary in their new Charlotte Mynt dresses!

I was asked to teach a lesson in Relief Society today on Elder Oaks talk on the Atonement from October General Conference.  What a treat!  I love this subject - the nuts and bolts of how to bring the Atonement to work in our lives.  I mapped out Stephen Covey's Stimulus and Response, and the space that we have in the middle to choose our response.  Mary sang Where Can I Turn for Peace and I also played Come Ye Disconsolate, from Rob Gardner's Saints and Pioneers.  The most powerful moment for me was when I bore testimony that in that space between stimulus and response, when I have something painful to deal with, I go and walk in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus.  And He walks with me and feels what I am feeling, and the light of that pure being is able to take my pain and allows me to choose gratitude, love, mercy, abundance - He allows me to choose all these as my response instead of remaining in struggle and pain.  I got really passionate about the subject - I  love teaching this.  It is life-changing!  I love my Savior.  And I also testified that we can trust God and trust in His plan.  I love the good tidings of the Gospel!

Lastly, Bruce and I had our 26th Anniversary today!  All the time I think, can it get any better than this?  The next two days we are going on an Anniversary get-away.  Yeah!  Pictures to come from that next week!

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas to All!

Peter's Choir Concert was this week.  We were slacker parents, though, and didn't get any pictures.  :(  Sad!  He was standing front and center and more than one person commented on how fun he was to watch.  It was a great concert! As always, at the December Christmas Concert, we got to go up and sing the Hallellujah! Chorus.  Peter was laughing at Bruce, saying he looked like a lumberjack up there singing in his red plaid flannel shirt.  He said he thought it was festive!  :)   Oh - we did get one picture.  Mary made us recreate the moment when she first met Chet outside the restrooms at the high school.  Good memories!

Our Ward Christmas Party was on Wednesday.
We got to go in our Pajamas, and we sat on the floor on a blanket.  And then we went around to different rooms in the Church and did different activities.  It was fun!

On Thursday Bruce, Peter, Libby and I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens!  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  They brought so many motifs forward from the first movie.  I went and saw that 38 years ago!  Hard to believe it's been that long.

On Friday and Saturday I went to the viewing and funeral one of the brothers in our ward - Norm - who has had pancreatic cancer for the last year.  His wife Dania is one of my dear friends, and I have been working with her for awhile now to work through the hard times.  She got up and spoke at Norm's funeral, and as she spoke so beautifully, so peacefully, I thought, "These are the fruits of the gospel. This is true discipleship!"  On one appointment that we had together, we mapped out the Lord's pattern of grieving and Satan's pattern.  She took the Lord's pattern to heart, and lived it!  I love her so much, and am so grateful for her example of truly taking the gospel to heart and living it.

This is what we mapped out:
Here's a great picture of Bruce before church yesterday.  Handsome man!!

Last night, it was past 10 pm, and Bruce said prayers with us, and then when we were trying to get him to sing "Sure love ya" with us (this is our newest thing), he said "It's too late for fun."  Oh, man, we laughed and laughed over that.  CLASSIC Bruce line.  He then settled in to this very familiar evening pose.
I made the kids help me to drag him out of that chair and into the bedroom.  They couldn't resist and did a dogpile on him.  He returned the favor this morning at 5:30 am!  Ha ha ha!  Oh, the adventures at this home!

Yesterday the Book of Mormon Challenge began!  We are reading the whole book in the 2 weeks over Christmas break.  I love it!

Joseph got to got skiing at Snowbird on Thursday!
 Joseph's in the brown jacket.

Josh pulled off straight A's at BYU-Idaho this semester - AGAIN!  He works so hard to do this - I'm so happy for him! Here are some great shots of him with Apollo:

Jesse got to go to the Temple this week in Los Angeles.  She took these pictures at the Visitors Center there.  I love them!

In her last letter she wrote,
"Today as we were driving to go email, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was singing The First Noel and the sun was shining and I just let myself enjoy the wonderful moment and be grateful for the incredible blessings in my life. I imagine that's what the Celestial Kingdom will feel like. "
Isn't that beautiful!  This is my hope during this Christmas season, that we will take some quiet moments and reflect upon the Savior and His life.  Desmond Tutu was asked, "Have you found your relationship to God has changed as you've grown older?"  Bishop Tutu paused and then said, "Yes. I am learning to shut up more in the presence of God."  And then he said that instead of a "kind of shopping list, I am trying to grow in just being there.  Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter, you are just there in front of the fire, and you don't have to be smart or anything.  The fire warms you."  (quoted in the Ensign Magazine article entitled Be at Peace, by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Dec 2015).  Yes - I have found the same to be true!  Especially in the Celestial Room in the Temple, this is where I feel that peace and feel "warmed by the fire".

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Enjoying the Christmas Season

Mary took this picture from her iPad to send to Chet.
Last Monday, we finally finished the lights and the beads.
Libby (Elisabeth) sang in the Middle School concert with her friends Elizabeth and Elizabeth (yes - it's true!) with Macey accompanying them on the piano.  They sang What Child Is This and it was well done!
We had a lovely meal over at Gérard and Michelle's last night.  Michelle cooked a ham and then had 4-5 side dishes to go with it.  It was delicious!  What a treat to be able to spend time with them.

In the meantime, Josh and Joseph enjoyed their weekly Sunday dinner at Craig & Jenette's.  They host all of the college nieces and nephews every week, including some tag-along roommates.  Can you believe what a blessing that is for our kids?!  And Craig and Jenette's kids love it too, because it means Play Time!
 You can see my Dad here in the background too.  This week Mom signed up for hospice to come in and give her some aid.  We have no timetable, but he is deteriorating to the point that Mom needs some help.  I'm grateful she can get it!

Josh presented a paper this week at a the Research and Creative Works Conference at BYU-Idaho.  Way to go Josh!

Jesse is loving the mission work with her companion Maren.  They are going on splits with other missionaries as part of their leadership roles, and going to Mission Leadership Conferences as well.  Fun!

We finally finished putting on all the ornaments on the tree last night.  Mary took some fun pictures with her selfie stick.

We are enjoying this Christmas season!  We are so grateful for all of our blessings.