Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day of Service

A few years ago, the First Presidency of the Church commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Church Welfare program by asking church-members worldwide to participate in some kind of organized service project during that year.  Throughout the year, we received reports of all the local service wards and stakes were doing in their areas.  It was truly inspiring. Since then, the Church-wide Day of Service has become an annual event.  

This year, our ward participated in a clean up project in Princeton, TX, an outlying area within  our stake boundaries.  (Yep, that's the place I wandered to earlier in the week when I was looking for a photo opportunity and a little adventure.)  Over 40 families drove to the Princeton Cemetery to pick up trash and clean up their little community. 

We had to get up early on a chilly Saturday morning, and there was work involved.  None of those things typically sound very appealing to teenagers.  But we had committed to participate in this activity, and once we got there, we were so happy to have been part of it.  We cleaned the cemetery, the POW memorial park, and a long stretch along their main highway.  It was a great feeling to see all those yellow vests working together.  

A few hours later, the cemetery was beautified, we had solidified a few friendships, and we felt great about our super-productive morning.  This is rapidly becoming one of our family's favorite annual activities.  A few hands doing a little bit of work really can make such a huge difference.  

And this was my absolute favorite picture of the day.  Isn't that the sweetest little boy?  He toddled around after his older siblings all morning and I couldn't resist catching a few pictures of him.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Princeton, TX

It was a gorgeous fall day today, so I decided to turn up the songs and go for a drive.

This road looked interesting so I took it...
I think I might be slightly obsessed with cows.

But this unexpected emu was a fun surprise.

And I loved this cute little cemetery which you will see more of this weekend...

And this barn was my absolute favorite thing of the day!  Oh, how I wish I could have wandered around inside that thing.  (ok, I probably wouldn't have done that even if I could...too scary, but fun to think about!)

Now listen to this music while you pretend you're driving through acres and acres of cows and barns and pastures on a sunny day in October...and you will have the perfect day.  

Isn't the earth such a beautiful and amazing place?  I'm so glad I had some free hours to drive around looking at it today.  Unbelievably uplifting!  

Cub Scouts

I don't know if I mentioned that I'm one of the Den Leaders for McKay's little group of Webelos.  

Well, I am.  And I can't even tell you how far out of my comfort zone this calling has launched me.  First of all, Cub Scouts is a totally different language for me.  Like what in the heck is a WEBELOS anyway?  

There are merit badges, rank advancements, academic pins, pack meetings, den meetings,  crossover ceremonies, uniforms, little beads and patches to put in specific places on those uniforms, arrow points, deniers, a scout oath and motto, and a whole manual full of other stuff that is still pretty foreign to me.  

But I'm getting there.  

Every Wednesday afternoon, another mom and I meet at the church and have organized activities to help our little den of Webelos progress toward becoming Boy Scouts.  This week, we were working on the Handyman Requirement.  I volunteered to teach this one because I figured I could handle talking about the importance of being responsible, doing chores in your family, and maintaining things around your home and school.  Easy, right?  

Well, there are a handful of other things the boys have to do to earn this requirement, including checking the oil in a car, checking the air in the tires, and washing a car.  

Are you laughing yet?  It's ok.  Everyone in my family did when I asked Craig to help me figure out how to open the hood of his Jeep so that I could find the engine.  That is where the oil lives, right?

It was a stretch, I tell you, to make the boys think that I knew all about cars and try to keep a straight face while doing it.  Fortunately, McKay was the only one who knew my secret and he didn't say a word.  In fact, in these pictures it sort of looks like he had a pretty big role in the instruction portion of this lesson.  I promise I did most of the teaching.  

We ended the day with five happy (and wet) boys, two squeaky clean cars, and one new den leader who breathed a sigh of relief that I got through another den meeting without anyone finding out that I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tender Mercies

Sometimes I am really dumb.  

I have a couple of new callings at church and one of them that I am agonizing over is teaching the 16-17 year old Sunday School class.  Why would I agonize over that?  It makes no sense to me either, but I have been agonizing nonetheless.   I HAVE a 17 year old in the class.  I KNOW all of these kids.  They are GREAT kids.  And they already LOVE me and I already LOVE them.  What more could I possibly need to let me know that this is a good fit and I am perfectly capable and qualified to teach this group of kids.  

But...still I agonize.  And worry.  And doubt.  

I spent all of Sunday morning crying my dang head off because I didn't feel like I could articulate very well all the things I've prepared and studied.  It felt like all this jumble of stuff swimming around in my head at 9:00am and I could NOT figure out how to deliver it three hours later.  

Even after the lesson was over I didn't feel very good about it.  It felt disconnected.  I felt like I left out so much that needed to be included.  And there wasn't a lot of substance.  I came home Sunday night with a headache from worrying so much about the crappy, incoherent lesson I had taught and the irreparable spiritual damage I was doing to these kids.  

Since the end of last month when I received this calling, I have prayed and prayed, and wearied the Lord with my pleading to just be good at this, to just be an instrument in His hands, and to have the Spirit translate some small part of what I've said into something that these kids need and can understand.

Well, guess what happened today...

While making my bloggy rounds, I noticed that this sweet girl (who is in my Sunday School class) had updated hers.  
In case you don't wander over to read the actual post for yourself, here's an excerpt...
"In church today, we were talking about how being Christlike isn't just for you, it's for the people around you, too.  I have been really thinking about this today."
She heard what I said!  And she took it home and thought about how it applied to her life! And then she wrote a blog post about it!  

That little testament might be enough for some people to feel greater confidence in their abilities, but apparently not for me.  As quickly as I read that, and marveled at it, and basked in it, the doubt started to creep right beck in.

Then about an hour ago, I got this text...

Ben showed up at my door five minutes later with this for Savannah...

I asked him what the occasion was, and he shrugged his shoulders and said, '"I have no idea, but you said on Sunday that sometimes we're prompted to do things for people and we don't know why, but we should do them anyway because we have more influence than we realize and even the little things can uplift people."

I am sufficiently humbled and totally shocked.  In case you didn't already know this, He hears us.  He knows what we need.  And He has a way of connecting all of our paths so that they intersect at just the right places and at just the right times.  We just need to stop agonizing, stop worrying, stop being dumb and look for those tender mercies that testify of His presence.  Sometimes they are even in peanut M&Ms and Diet Coke.  
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit.  If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time."  D&C 6:14
 "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."  D&C 6:36

Monday, October 21, 2013


We have an amazing pair of missionaries currently serving in our ward.  They have been with us for several months so we've seen them struggle to find a balance between their very different personalities and learn to work together and appreciate one another.  They have been to our house for dinner a number of times and they now feel comfortable enough to just drop by when they're in the neighborhood.  And we love that.

Tonight they scheduled an appointment to come over and practice teaching a lesson with us for Family Night.  I've always wondered if they really need the practice, or if they're encouraged to do this because it strengthens the members so much.  Either way, it was a lovely lesson and a wonderful way to spend a Family Home Evening.  

The Elders taught a very simple concept of building the Church on a solid foundation of Jesus Christ and his teachings.  They used Dixie cups stacked in various configurations to illustrate this and testified of the Savior's divine plan and organization of His Church as well as the importance of baptism, repentance and faith.  
A few times there were cups that didn't stay upright or one of the missionaries would forget a piece of the lesson.  It wasn't perfect, but I had an overwhelming feeling as they were teaching, that the details and imperfections didn't matter nearly as much as the truthfulness of their message and the Spirit that was helping them deliver it.  And I had an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude for these two boys.

In Conference earlier this month, Elder Rusell M. Ballard spoke about missionaries and said, "The Light of Christ radiates in their faces, and they are eager to move the work forward - to find and teach, to baptize, to activate, and to strengthen and to build the kingdom of God.  Meeting with them, one quickly comes to know, however, that they cannot do this work alone.  There is an urgency for each one of us to be engaged in sharing the gospel."

I love these missionaries as I have loved all of the missionaries who have served in our ward.  That Light of Christ that Elder Ballard talked about is definitely apparent in these two boys.  Their excitement about the gospel is contagious.  And their enthusiasm has helped us to be a little more willing to share what we know and to invite people to listen to their message.  

Transfers are coming up this week, which means that one or both of them will be relocated to a different area within the mission and we won't get to interact with them as much, which makes all of us sad.  Change is hard but necessary.  The next companionship will be great, I'm sure, and we will come to love them as much as we have loved Elder Christensen and Elder Wilbur.  I am amazed at how much they've changed in just the short 6 or 7 months that they've been in Allen.  And I am amazed at the impact they have had on the families in the ward and the people in the area.  

I love the missionary program.  I love the young men and women who leave behind the things they know and the families they love to go to parts of the world they've sometimes never even heard of to teach the gospel in languages they've sometimes never spoken.  And I love the families who support them.  I hope the Christensens and Wilburs know how amazing these two boys are and how grateful we are that we've gotten to know them.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


This game is seriously growing on me!  I still can't watch it on TV to save my life, but in person with a vested interest in one of the players, it's a pretty darn fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Especially if that Saturday afternoon happens to be one that's 58 degrees and beautiful and sunny.  (Oh, I love fall weather SO much!) 

The Sharks had a great game today.  McKay played 2nd base for about a second and a half before they slipped him back into his rightful place as catcher.  I just love all that gear.

 This is my favorite umpire.  He's hysterical and so awesome with the kids.  

They had a little trouble in the middle of the third inning so the coach had a little pow wow on the mound with everyone, but they worked it out and got back into the groove.

Oh, and not only did he do a great job catching today, but he also got two hits and batted in two runs.  Hooray!

Those awesome Sharks won 13-11.  Hooray for 10U baseball and a great Saturday morning at the ball field. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

High Five for Friday

1.  Fall is Finally Here!

2.  Orchestra Concerts
I could seriously listen to this amazing music all day long.  Megan is the third chair bass on the right.  She's been practicing with this group since August and they sound like professionals.  I loved this concert.

3.  Halloween Decorations
Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween??  Well, I do and it's officially sprinkled around my house and I love it!

4.  Pumpkin Swirl Bread
My cute bloggy friend Billie Jo found this in her Northeast grocery store weeks ago and I've been looking for it ever since.  And guess what! It's finally here.  Hooray for pumpkin everything this time of year.  

5.  Song of the Week...Demons by Imagine Dragons.  I love this band and my kids have this song set permanently on repeat on their iPods so it's everywhere this week.  <3