Friday, May 29, 2015

Graduation

 We have a graduate!
 Last week my baby girl, #6, graduated from Kindergarten.
It was a cute program full of singing, recitations, actions, and a slideshow (of course).
 Then each child got to take their walk of fame across the stage to receive their diploma
 and then down to hug their teacher!
This was a bitter-sweet day for me.  First of all, because my baby is no longer a baby.  This is the last Kindergarten graduation for us, which means my kids are growing up.  Second, because no one from my family was there for the first time in forever, which means my family is growing up and everyone is busy with their own lives.  Change is good, but sometimes it's makes me want to cry.
Here's to moving forward.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

MORP 2015

 

 It's that time of year again. . . .MORP (that's Prom backwards for those of you who may not know).
It's a casual dance where girl asks boy.  For us, Morp happens a few weeks after prom.
This was the invitation (Or the asking)-
A box full of 100 blown-up water balloons.  Inside a dozen or so there was a different letter of her name inside.
 This was the RSVP (or the answer).
A 'YES' was written inside one wrapper out of three packs of gum (only two are pictured here)!
 The day of the dance was rainy and cold - that always makes for great pictures. . . NOT!  These photos were taken in an outside amphitheater which gratefully provided some cover from the rain.
 
 A week or so before the dance, #2's date broke his collar bone in a freak long-boarding accident.
 He was a trooper, and they still had a blast!
 Before the dance was a game of bowling. Afterwards, everyone came over to our house for a waffles and ping-pong!
You can't go wrong with waffles - easy and delicious.
Yay for high school dances and friends!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sing a Song!

Wordless Wednesday (more or less)
  After 5 years of singing in a school choir, this was/is #2's last and final choir concert.
She will not taking choir next year.
(insert happy and sad face here)




Monday, May 25, 2015

Winding Down

The school year is winding down, and so are the sports.  
Tennis ended a couple weeks ago, and soccer, last week.
It's a good thing, because in place of games and matches, we have been having practices for the Payson Temple Cultural Celebration.
I am so excited my children have the privilege to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity!
They have been dancing, singing, and signing (yes I said signing- as in ASL) their hearts out.  My boys even carved a staff.  They are going to be one of Helaman's 2,000 Stripling Warriors. I can't wait to see how it's all going to come together.  It's going to be amazing!

Memorial Day 2015

 I can't believe it's the end of May!  How did that happen?
May Mayhem has officially hit our house.  Life has been crazy.
I'm going to take today to relax, catch up on some blogging, definitely do some laundry, and probably eat a hamburger (or two)!
Happy Memorial Day!
I'm grateful for all our ServiceMen - past and present.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Latter-day Saints Keep On Trying

by Elder Dale G. Renlund
This talk is based off a quote by Nelson Mandela who said, ". . .a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying."  

"God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than about who we once were.  He cares that we keep on trying."
I love that quote! 
"Because of God's mercy and the Atonement of Jesus Christ" we can change.
"No matter how wicked, we can say, 'That's who I was.  But the past wicked self is no longer who I am.'"
"Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a “point of no return”—that it is too late to change our course." (from Pres. Uchtdorf's April 2007 talk) Don't listen!!!

"President Thomas S. Monson has taught, 'One of God's greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.' "

"Even if we've been a conscious, deliberate sinner or have repeatedly faced failure and disappointment, the moment we decide to try again, the Atonement of Christ can help us."

Everyone can have a fresh start!  Everyone can change.  That's the blessing of the Atonement.

"As God encourages us to keep on trying, He expects us to also allow others the space to do the same, at their own pace."

I think often times we (me included) are too quick to judge, too quick to form an opinion, and too quick to hold a grudge.  If God allows second chances, why don't we?  

"We must not only be tolerant while others work on their individual illnesses; we must also be kind, patient, supportive, and understanding."

What if I had made the same mistake?  How would I want others to treat me?  I would want kindness, understanding, love, and a second chance.  

"The Church is like a big hospital, and we are all sick in our own way.  We come to church to be helped."

I love the example Elder Renlund gives of the proud missionary who thinks he's better than his lazy companion.  He then receives a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, "You know. . . , compared to me, the two of you aren't all that different."

Elder Renlund's "invitation to all of us is to evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying. . .As we change, we will find that God indeed cares more about who we are and about who we are becoming than who we once were."

Elder Uchtodorf's April 2007 talk, Point of Safe Return

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blessing Walk

 I recently read in a book an idea I absolutely love.  The author said her first thoughts on awakening before she even opens her eyes are to be thankful for everything she can think of.
I love the idea of counting your blessings and naming them one by one before your day really starts.
I decided to combine this practice with exercise.  I call it a Blessing Walk.  Each morning I've begun walking up the hill from my house, and as I walk I thank Heavenly Father for everything I can think of.  Trees, the mountains, the rain, my children, the deer, my feet, my health, etc.  I keep going until I my walk is over.
This has been an amazing way to start my day!

"Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God's love,"

President Thomas S. Monson

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tournament

 Last week, #3 competed in a tennis tournament.
 He and his partner competed against 6 other schools.
Of course they played the hardest team last. 
And let me tell you, it was a nail biter.  Back and forth, back and forth.
Sometimes the suspense is too much for me to handle (I know! I'm such a baby!)
Finally by the time all the white was gone of all ten of my fingernails, they won the final point, winning the match!
  He and his partner won all 6 of their matches making them #1.
It was a good day.  Victory never tasted so sweet. . .(and I'm not taking about my fingernails- That's just gross.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Yes, We Can and Will Win!

by Elder Ulisses Soares

"The words can at times be a frightening place in which to live.  The moral fabric of society seems to be unraveling at an alarming speed.  None - whether young or old or in-between - is exempt from exposure to those things which have the potential to drag us down and destroy us. . . 
"But. . .we need not despair.  ...We are waging a war with sin. ...It is a war we can and will win.  Our Father in Heaven has given us the tools we need in order to do so. (quote from President Thomas S. Monson)

"All of us, young and old, are faced daily with the war mentioned by President Monson (see quote above).  The enemy and his angels are trying to distract us.  Their purpose is to encourage us to deviate from the covenants that we have made with the Lord, causing us to lose sight of our eternal inheritance.  They know well our Heavenly Father's plan for His children, for they were present with us in that great Council in Heaven when it was all presented.  They try to take advantage of our weaknesses and frailties. . . "

"Despite the opposition we face. . ., this is a war and we can and will win.  The Lord trusts in our capacity and determination to do so.

Okay.  Two things really stood out to me.  First, Satan and his minions "know well our Heavenly Father's plan for [us] because they were present with us . . .when it was all presented."  They remember everything and are using it to their advantage.  That's why they are so good at what they do, BUT . . . 

Second, Heavenly Father didn't leave us to fight this battle alone.  "Our Heavenly Father had given us. . .TOOLS" to help us win this battle. And my favorite part - The Lord trusts us!  He trusts in our capacity and determination.  Doesn't that make you feel good?  It does me.

What are these Tools?
Some of the tools listed in this talk are:

THE SCRIPTURES
"The scriptures contain countless examples of those who have won their wars even in the midst of very hostile situations."

The pamphlet FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOUTH

AGENCY
"You are responsible for the choices you make.  God is mindful of you and will help you make good choices, even if your family and friends use their agency in ways that are not right.  Have the moral courage to stand firm in obeying God's will, even if you have to stand alone. . ." (from FTSOY pamphlet).

"The war of good against evil will continue throughout your lives since the adversary's purpose is to make all people as miserable as he is.  Satan and his angels will try to shroud our thoughts and assert control by tempting us to sin.  . . Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that they will have power over us ONLY if we allow it."

The world is getting more wicked every day.  Some things are easily discerned as wicked (like murders, and bank robberies, etc), others have slowly leaked their way into society and are seen by many as the norm.  For example, I've recently seen a television commercial for a popular bank that depicts a "women couple" adopting a baby together. May we courageously take a stand for what is right - turning off television shows, not reading popular books, and/or listening to certain Top 40 songs.

Gift of the HOLY GHOST
". . .the Lord, in His infinite mercy, "will manifest the truth unto [us], by the power of the Holy ghost.  And by the power of the Holy ghost [we] may know the truth of all things."

"This knowledge acquired by the Holy Ghost is nothing more than our testimony, which propels our faith and determination to follow the teachings of the restored gospel in these latter day, regardless of the popular messages we hear from the world."

OUR TESTIMONY
"Our testimony must be our shield to protect us against the fiery darts of the adversary in his attempts to attack us.  It will guide us safely through the darkness and confusion that exist in the world today."
". . .because of the wave of confusion and doubt spreading throughout the world today, we must hold ever more tightly to our testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Then will our ability to defend truth and justice greatly increase. . . "

PROPHETS
"I invite all to find safety in the teachings of our current prophets."
As the popular children's song goes:  Follow the prophet.  He knows the way. 
He sees what is coming, what new tricks Satan has up his sleeve, and he warns us.  If we obey, we will stay safe.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ
". . .trust in the merits and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Through His atoning sacrifice, we can gain the courage to win all the wars of our time, even in the midst of our difficulties, challenges, and temptations.  Let us trust in His love and power to save us."

If we use the TOOLS Heavenly Father has provided to help us, "We will win the daily battles against evil, and, rather than fall on the battlefields of life, we will rally others to the Master's standards."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Undefeated!


 Last week, #3 played his final tennis match of the regular season.
It looked like this when we left for his game.
Shortly after arriving, it looked like this.  Rain and strong winds- you know, great weather for playing tennis.  
 This match was against their fiercest competitors. The rain and wind only made it that much more challenging.
Near the end of his match, the sun came out -just in time for the win!

I'm proud to say that this season #3 and his partner Gavin were undefeated!
Whoot! Whoot!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Auntie

 Last week we had the privilege of watching my nephew while his parents partied it up in Hawaii.
You forget how easy life is with older kids until you have a two year old staying with you.
I had forgotten how fun and funny they can be, but also how much they still need you.  Sometimes it's nice to be needed.  Sometimes it's exhausting.
We played trains (it was the only boy toy I have left), and telephone, jumped on the trampoline, and rode 'bikes' outside. He even sat in as a 'computer buddy' for his cousins.  We feasted on cookies, and string cheese, and lots of crackers. Oh yes, and we watched what seemed like thousands of episodes of Mickey Mouse Club and Octonauts.
(I think #2 did not like me taking her photo)

I don't think he walked the whole time he was with us- poor guy.  He kept yelling especially at #5, "Put me down!  I can walk!"  But she nobody ever listened.

Aren't two year olds the best?!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Temple is a House of God

Last Wednesday was such a special day.
#3 played his second to last tennis match of the season, and. . . 
This isn't the best photo but it was stormy outside and this happens to be the only photo we took. 

We were able as a family to tour the new Payson Utah temple- my parents, and Gram included (oh yes, and my cute little nephew- more about that later).
I love this temple!  It's safe to say that this temple is one of my favorites! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mommy Weekend

 I had a wonderful Mother's day.  There is nothing better than being Mom to my six.
It been the most rewarding, frustrating, happiest, depressing, successful, unsuccessful. troubling, and peaceful things I've ever done.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.
 
The weekend started out on Friday with a Mommy-and -Me Picnic with #6.
She ate a Lunchable.  I had a green pepper (gotta love whole30).
  Saturday night was a night out on the town with my honey full of shopping, dining, and a little fine arts in the form of a play.
Sunday Clint and the kids spoiled me rotten.  They even baked me a whole30 approved cake, and  I about died laughing when I read these cards from my two youngest:
All about my Mom
My Mom's name is Rachel
She is 36 years old
Mom and I like to watch people
Mom like to say "hello"
My mom really loves me!
She like to eat salid (salad)
She likes to drink water
My Mom's job is to work at home
If she had time, she would like to stop cleaning up after us
Mom is really good at being nice
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we'd go Paris
I love my Mom because she love me!
She likes to eat salid (salad)
She does not like to eat coces (cookies)

Apparently I'm a salad eating stalker who does not like to clean the house.
 Awesome Talk on Mothers HERE

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Being Genuine

by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

(Why is it that I have to look how to spell genuine every time I type the word?  I want to put the u after the g - guenuine - but that is not right.)

I think a good title for this talk would have been
Check Yo' Self!
Why do you do what you do?  Are you being authentic or are you putting on a show?

President Uchtdorf refers to this as 'Potemkin Village'.  I must be living under a rock because I had never heard this term before.  It "refers to any attempt to make others believe we are better than we really are."

So, let's stop and ask ourselves- 
Are Our Hearts in the Right Place?

"It is part of our human nature to want to look our best. . .There is nothing wrong with shining our shoes, smiling our best, or even hiding the dirty dishes before the home teachers arrive (PHEW! - because that's totally me.) However, when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful.  

This reminds me of the old movie Deck the Halls- where two neighbors try to make their outside Christmas lights better than the others.  They're not doing it to show Christmas Spirit, they're wanting praise and to be seen as the best, number 1.

". . .Do we sometimes try to appear active, prosperous, and dedicated outwardly when on the inside - as the Revelator said of the Ephesians - we have 'left [our] first love' (Revelation 2:4)."

"This temptation to appear better than we are is found not just in our personal lives but can be found in our Church assignments as well. . .Do [our organizational and personal goals] look impressive from a distance but fail to address the real needs of our beloved fellowmen?"

I need to really "CHECK YO' SELF"!
Am I visiting teaching because I am genuinely (there's that word again) concerned for my sisters or because I want the praise from getting 100%?

"If Jesus Christ were to sit down with us and ask for an accounting of our stewardship, I am not sure He would focus much on programs and statistics.  What the Savior would want to know is the condition of our heart.  He would want to know how we love and minister to those in our care, how we show our love to our spouse and family, and how we lighten their daily load.  And the Savior would want to know how you and I grow closer to Him and to our Heavenly Father."

This made me think of the quote that is attributed to Sister Hinckley:

“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.

WHY ARE WE HERE?
"It may be beneficial to search our own hearts." - Check Yo' Self!

-"Why do [I] serve in the Church of Jesus Christ?

-"Why do I attend Church meetings, or the temple, or General Conference, etc?"

The correct answer would be because "I desire with all my heart to follow my Master, Jesus Christ, . . .to do all that He asks of me in this great cause,"

"Whether your testimony is thriving and healthy or your activity in the Church more closely resembles a Potemkin village, the good news is that you can build on whatever strength you have.  Here in the Church of Jesus Christ you can mature spiritually and draw closer to the Savior by applying gospel principles day by day."

"With patience and persistence, even the smallest act of discipleship or the tiniest ember of belief can become a blazing bonfire of a consecrated life.  In fact, that's how most bonfires begin - as a simple spark." (side-note:  If you have never read THE ARTICLE -Spiritual Bonfires of Testimony in the June 2002 New Era you really should!)
"So if you feel small and weak, please simply come unto Christ, who makes weak things strong.  The weakest among us, through God's grace, can become spiritually strong. . .the God of Creation, who breathed life into the universe, surely has the power to breath life into you.  Surely He can make of you the genuine, spiritual being of light and truth you desire to be."
image found HERE

AUTOMOBILE SHOWROOM
This [change] cannot happen if we hide behind personal, dogmatic (strong and positive expression of opinion as if they were facts), or organizational facades.  Such artificial discipleship not only keeps us from seeing ourselves as who we really are, but it also prevents us from truly changing through the miracle of the Savior's Atonement."

"The Church, is not an automobile showroom- a place to put ourselves on display so that others can admire our spirituality, capacity, or prosperity.  It is more like a service center, where vehicles in need of repair come for maintenance and rehabilitation.  And are we not, all of us, in need of repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation?

"We come to church not to hide our problems but to heal them."

I think all of us yearn for praise and acknowledgement. It is a way we feel love, appreciated, and needed.  We want to be just as special as the person next to us.  Sometimes I think we have a tendency to forget that we are special.  Heavenly Father loves us all equally, but blesses us differently.  We (me included) would be happier if we follow the example of Jesus and strive to please only our Father in Heaven not man. 
 "[Christ's] single purpose was to serve His Father and 'do always the things that please Him."

"I pray. . . that as we serve in our families, [callings], wards,stakes, communities, and nations, we will resist the temptation to draw attention to ourselves and, instead, strive for a far greater honor; to become humble, genuine disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  As we do so, we will find ourselves walking the path that leads to our best, most genuine, and noblest selves."