Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy September

Our neighbor Gracie captured Peter doing a header in his soccer game week before last.  If you click on the pictures you can see them in a larger size.

Starting to jump for the ball...
 Check out how high he is here!
 He and the keeper both go for it at the same time.
 And the poor keeper gets the raw end of the deal.
The ball went the wrong way - not into the goal - but it was an awesome header!

Bruce and I have really had fun in the month of September going to Peter and Libby's soccer games.  Unfortunately, their games are at the same exact time!  They both play the same high school on the same day, one home and one away.  So Bruce and I spend our Tuesdays and Thursday evenings watching whoever is playing the home game.  We usually end up staying for the Varsity game too, which is fun to watch.

Speaking of High School activities, Peter asked Halli to Homecoming on Saturday night!  He took a cantaloupe over to her which had a note with it that said, "Since we cant-elope, will you go to Homecoming with me?"  Hahaha  Good one Peter!

I was privileged this week to attend an Advanced Retreat (yes - another one!) for Healer's Blueprint Practitioner's.  It was wonderful to be with these amazing ladies at Bear Hollow, a beautiful location.
 Sherisse - one of the many friends I felt a special connection with here.
And within the hour from when I got home, Libby and I turned around and went to another fantastic meeting - the General Women's Session of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Wow - it  was wonderful.  I especially loved Sister Carol M. Stephens talk about the Atonement and Sister Bonnie Oscarson's talk about teaching in the right way.

I am astounded to be surrounded by so many incredible women in my life.  My days are filled with the example, love and friendship of wonderful, wonderful human beings.  I hope, even in the smallest of ways, to give back even a modicum of what flows to me every day.

Monday, September 19, 2016

High School Friends Retreat

My high school friends and I got together this weekend at my friend Amy's cabin in Utah.  We had a marvelous time together!  
L to R Standing: Amy, Shauna, Michelle, Teresa, Amy, Suzanne, Karen
L to R Seated: Lorena, Jennifer, Julie

We ate well, talked a lot, and enjoyed beautiful fall colors.  This is a picture of us 12 years ago:
We went on a beautiful hike:
These five made it to the top.  (I wasn't one of them).  But I did make it far enough for my legs to be aching that night!
Lincoln Highway gave a free concert in the park.
We also went to Cascade Springs, a beautiful spot where there are natural springs.

I have been surrounded by good and dear friends all my life.  It is one of the wonderful blessings Heavenly Father has given me.  I hope every day I can give back and find the one person who needs a friend.

The downside of this retreat was that I had to miss Stake Conference.  :(
Bruce, Peter and Libby sang in the choir.  One of their numbers was My Shepherd Will Supply My Need, and they were accompanied by two harps and a flute.  I went to a few of the rehearsals, and the choir was amazing.  By all accounts it was a wonderful conference.

Bruce and I have been praying and fasting about the sale of our house.  We would appreciate any who could pray with us.  We feel excited about this next step in our lives, and look forward to getting things moving (literally)!

Josh and Kevin started their first week of school this week at BYU-I.  Mary is working full time in the Support Center there.  Joseph was lonely all week without Josh!  They really enjoyed their time together the last five months, being roommates at BYU-I, and then working together in Virginia.  Nic and Becca stopped by to say hi for a few minutes on Friday morning.  It was so fun to see them!

Happy September everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mary & Kevin's Wedding - Candid Shots

Here's a few more candid shots at the wedding that are too good not to post!  Photo Credits: Jared Hodges and Aunt Janel.

Here's the mama - feelin' the love!  Does it get any better than this?

I love this picture of my Mom doing what she does best - genuinely caring and loving people one on one.

And so it begins...

And then these shenanigans and goings-on...

This little cutie wants to get in on the picture taking action!
When my high school friends see Libby they exclaim, "I'm looking at a little Lorena!"  It's true, in more ways than one.
And speaking of carbon copies...

 Cousins rock
Brotherly love (with cousin Lane getting in there)!
And, OK, we'll let Mary in for a picture...
 Father-daughter dance.

I think more than one heart (besides mine) went out to these two during all this.  Hang in there - 8 more months!

Monday, September 12, 2016

How to Access the Atonement of Jesus Christ

My daughter Jesse wrote home from her mission in California today with this reflection on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I wept when I read it.  This is how I feel about accessing the Atonement too.  I think she is spot on.  (I added the picture).

This week I learned so much I just want to cry I'm so happy. God is so good! Actually last night I did cry. Well, it would be more accurate to say that I wept. I wept because of the goodness of God and his everlasting, eternal mercy toward us. Let me back up a little bit. 
As the time that I come home starts to get closer and closer I have begun to realize that there are certain things that I've been trying to change my whole mission- my "Goliaths" you could say. I've begun to panic because I feel like I don't have very much time left (really it's a long time, but it seems short) to conquer those and change my very nature so that I don't become the same person when I go home. I don't want to just be affected or changed by my environment. I want my nature to be changed. So for the past couple of weeks I've been putting forth greater effort to change and getting nowhere. Finally, fed up with the cycle of effort, then "I give up! I'll never succeed." Then resolve... ect. I wrote in my study journal, "How do I change? How do I access the Atonement of Jesus Christ?"
In the past whenever I've written a question down and pondered and studied it, the Lord has always revealed it to me through a powerful spiritual experience. Well, he didn't fail me this time. 
We visited a recent covert the other day who expressed the desire to share some things with us. Earlier she said that she didn't feel "worthy" to come to church. We went over and she began to pour out her soul to us! She told us about some very grievous sins that she was committing, expressed her hatred for herself for committing these sins, and then told us of her inability to change. She didn't want to misrepresent the church, so she told us she was giving up for now. She still had a testimony, but realized that she had "fallen short of the glory of God" and she didn't want to mock the Savior's atonement by repenting when she knew she'd probably do it again. So she gave up. 
But, NOT SO! God would not let her go, so he sent us and enabled us to be vessels through which he could speak to her. It was an incredible experience! I can't give you all the details, mostly because I couldn't begin to remember everything that was said. But here's what I learned. 
I learned that God loves his children. Far, far more than we deserve. I learned that sometimes we will come to the table with absolutely NOTHING to offer the Savior. And he lets us stay- because we want to be there. That is why he says, "come my brethren, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters. Come buy and eat, WITHOUT MONEY AND WITHOUT PRICE." There will be sins that we commit in the course of our lives. We will have weaknesses that we can't seem to overcome. And we continue to come to the Savior feeling horrible and asking him to help us change, and we do it again. So we give up and we stop trying, we stop relying on the Savior and turning to him, thinking that we're failures, that until we conquer our sins we can't return to him. WELL STOP THAT. Don't give up the medicine to try to get better until you deserve it! You don't deserve the medicine anyway. But Christ gives it as a free gift. He asks us to trust him. To be patient. And to continue to repent. No matter how many times we fall short. And as we do- over the course of a life-time- he helps us overcome. The change may be minuscule, but he will deliver us from bondage, because HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE. So trust him my friends. The only point at which Satan wins, is the point when you give up and decide not to repent again. So repent. THAT is exactly how you access the power of the Atonement. You don't have to be perfect today, or even tomorrow. You just have to be sorry for what you've done wrong. Have faith- keep going. Love the Lord. And he will lift, inspire, and bless you. 
I testified of the Atonement ALL week to as many people as I could. Last night when my companion needed it, I testified to her. And I wept, because he is so good. Oh that I were an angel... :)
Sister (Jesse)

Mary & Kevin's Wedding Reception

First of all, I want to thank the dozens and dozens of people who so generously donated their time and resources to make this Reception a lovely event for Mary and Kevin.  I asked for a lot of favors from a lot of dear friends and family, and everyone was so wonderful to help!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Here's the latest Family Picture!  We are now officially the Family of 9!

My friend Stephanie made this beautiful cake.  And Kevin's aunt Sherry (sp?) did all the wonderful flowers for the reception.  They were gorgeous!  And she grew most of them herself, as I understand it.

Kaylee painted the sign with Mary & Kevin's names on it.  Last minute life-saver!

For the food, we had cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, cherry tomatoes and strawberries for the fruit.  And then about 18 different kinds of cookies, and ice cream.  Libby enjoyed it!

 It was really fun to be in the line with Kevin's parents!  What a treat to only have one reception.

Joseph, Becca, Lexi and cousin Lindsey

 Aunt Michelle brought these beautiful flower arrangements.

Kevin looks like he's right off of a GQ magazing here.

This beautiful balloon arch was put together by my friend Tonia.  I thought it was unique and fun!

 Cousin Lane - very serious about this cookie!

 One really fun thing about this reception is that all the picnic benches were moved out around the Pavilion, so after people went through the line and ate, they were able to go out and sit on the picnic tables and the kinds ran around and had a ball.  It seemed like people stayed a lot longer than they normally would have at a reception.  The weather was lovely!  On the warm side, but with a nice breeze blowing.

Joseph and Becca - the engaged couple - just a "little" part of them wishing the next 8 months would fly by!

The dancing part of the Reception was fun!  Wish we had more pictures of this, but we were all dancing.  

Lovely nieces: Kate, Camille - who is now on a mission, and Lauren.

We sent Kevin and Mary off in a shower of sparklers.  Whitney bought some treats for inside their car, and somebody decorated it.

Halfway through cleaning up, this was going on!  So fun.

I was so exhausted after all the goings-on that I could not even think of how to pack everything up.  If not for everyone who helped, Whitney in particular, I would have still been sitting there hours later.

Overall it was a beautiful, wonderful day.  I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father, who provided this mortal experience where we can experience joy, as well as sorrow, but on this day, I truly felt an overflowing joy in my heart, "good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over..."