Friday, February 27, 2015

Sister Missionaries

On those days when I think I don't want to do anything, or interact with anyone, or make any effort to talk to another human being, I always find that if I do it anyway, I am happier.  

Last night, the sister missionaries texted and asked if they could come over to teach a lesson.  I texted them back first thing this morning and said, "Absolutely yes!" not because I was super enthusiastic about having them over, but because I knew that as the day progressed, I would talk myself out of saying yes.  

At first I didn't want to let them come because we had a few things scheduled.  
Then, as the snow continued throughout the day and thing after thing was cancelled due to weather, I didn't want to let them come because snuggling up on my couch in my fuzziest jammies sounded so much more appealing.  

But fortunately, I had already said yes.  

Not two hours before they arrived, I had hit my 5:00 slump where everything feels heavier and even the smallest of challenges become monumental in my head.  I prayed for sustenance to get through dinner and the missionaries, and then I had planned to crawl into bed early and sleep off the weight of the day.  

But those sister missionaries are delightful and excited about their purpose and that is contagious.  We chatted and connected with the newer missionary for a few minutes and then they started their lesson...on family history.  I LOVE family history!  Within the short hour that they were here, they lifted my spirits, reminded me that I am not struggling through mortality on my own, and resecured hope and purpose for me.  

And I was reminded of one of my very favorite quotes...
"In the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that.  When disappointment and discouragement strike - and they will - you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see, riding at reckless speed to come to our protection.  They will always be there, these armies of heaven."  - Jeffrey R Holland
I am grateful that there are numberless concourses of heavenly helpers available even when I have forgotten them.  I'm grateful for a sincere lesson from two 19 year old girls to remind me of the strength that is available beyond my own.  And I'm grateful for tiny truths that lead to great reassurance.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow Days

I am constantly amazed at the beautiful things that seem to jump out of nowhere.  I was driving home from a doctor's appointment the other day, on an unusual route, because I had to stop at the post office, and amid all the dreary, leftover ice and snow, a gorgeous snow-dusted green tractor sat in an empty field.  (It's shocking how beautiful anything can look when you coat it with a little powdered sugar.)  So, of course, I drove home, grabbed my camera and came back to get the shot before the snow melted.  I really should learn to just carry my camera bag with me everywhere I go...even to the doctor's office.  
"The Universe is always speaking to us.  Sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more." - Nancy Thayer

Thursday, February 19, 2015

21 Years

This morning, Craig cancelled his entire work schedule and went to the temple with me.  Hooray!  It rarely happens anymore that our schedules coincide for us to both be at the temple at the same time and in the same city.   And it happened to be a beautiful day, too!  You'd never know that it's February around here.  
After the temple, we went to my very favorite restaurant for lunch...because it's BIRTHDAY coupon week!  Also hooray!  

Our date ended promptly after lunch, and life started right back up again.  Carpooling, conference calls, homework, lessons, the 6th grade Bake Sale, and DMCO took up the rest of the night.  But how nice to be able to sneak in a mid-week celebration of 21 whole years together!  

1994 seems like forever kids, barely any responsibilities, a brand new life waiting to unfold...sometimes I can't even imagine anymore how that actually felt.  But I don't think I would go back.  Too many great things have happened in the last 21 years.  I am grateful every day for the things we've learned and continue to learn, for this amazing family we've made together, and for the life that we have.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

High Five for Friday

It's been a nice, uneventful, uncomplicated week around here.  

1.  Lots of Sunny Days
...and that means capris and cute flats in February!

2.  Dessert
It's always so nice to have unhurried Sunday dinners with Craig home from traveling and no plans after church.  Unscheduled Sundays always equal dessert.  

3.  Homecoming

Another Elder Thunell has completed a successful, honorable mission...this one in California.  How happy we are that he is home and prepared to start the rest of his life.  Savannah is thrilled that he will be joining her at BYU in the spring.  Welcome home, Jed!

4.  Valentine's Day
The decorating this year was more understated than it has been in previous years.  There are only a handful of pink and red heart-shaped things sprinkled around the house, but it's just enough to bring back a little of the color that has been missing since Christmas.  I love February.  

5.  Haircuts
What better way to greet sunny, pre-spring days than with a sassy new haircut?  I love that Emma wanted to make such a big change.  This cut is adorable on her!

I thoroughly enjoyed a week of fewer obligations, no drama or heartbreak, and plenty of time to drive around and look for beautiful things to take pictures of.  Hope it's sunny where you are, and that you have a long weekend to look forward to as well.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mid-Week Wandering

I realized this morning that I had absolutely nothing on my calendar.  Megan was staying late after school so that gave me an additional hour in the middle of a gorgeous February day.  And whenever I'm faced with that sort of serendipitous circumstance, I grab my camera, jump in the car, turn on the playlist, and wander.

I did more wandering than finding on this trip, but there were a couple of great treasures nonetheless.  I've seen this abandoned house before on this road, but it's always been too busy to stop and take a picture of it.  Today, it wasn't busy at all.  

And then there was a small herd of cows in a pretty bleak-looking pasture.  Everything is still so grey-green here, and even though the sky is blue and the sun is out, I think the grass and leaves are cautious about bursting forth.  It is still only February after all.  The pasture shots I took of these cows weren't at all spectacular.  But there was one little cute calf that wandered close enough to the fence that I could see every detail of his little face.  If at any point in my life, I might have wanted to hug a cow, this was definitely it.  And I think the feeling may have been mutual.  There were a couple of heartfelt moos exchanged in the minutes I spent shooting his picture.  

I am always alarmed at the things that are beautiful in an ordinary day.  But, I have hunted enough now to know that there is always, always something spectacular and inspiring to find in every single day.  Sometimes it can't be photographed.  Today I was lucky enough to stumble upon these two awesome moments.  There is not a single day of this life that I am not immensely grateful for the opportunity I have to steal a few hours in the middle of a day and take pictures.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

College Life

Here's an update via iPhone of Savannah's life at BYU.  She's only been there for 6 weeks, but she's so completely immersed in everything that you'd never know she hadn't lived in Provo forever.

This is her dorm...
And this is her dorm room...she shares this space with five other girls, and they share three bedrooms, two bathrooms and one kitchen.  

Here's her actual roommate...

Aren't they so cute.  Yes, they have matching stuff.  No, they didn't buy it.  They just came that way.  They are so alike it's a little scary.  And they absolutely adore each other.

And these are some of her friends...

...the top two pictures are friends from home.  The bottom two are new friends.  Yep, we're noticing a lot of boy pictures.  That one on the bottom is a double date she went on with her roommate this weekend.  They went to a men's volleyball game, then to a place that turns pie into shakes, and ended the night disco roller skating...only in Provo.  

This is her playing around in the BioTech lab with her friend Bethany (who is actually a BioTech major.)  Bethany asked the professor if Savannah could come into the lab, and he said, "Sure, just tell her not to eat anything!"  (ew...)

She's been getting up to Alpine and SLC to see family often, too, which we love.  She has become an expert at riding the train and navigating to various stops in the SLC area.  Tomorrow she's meeting the whole family at the airport to welcome home her missionary cousin after his two years in California.  

Can you tell she's having so much fun?  She has come to love her ward and her dorm friends (who are also in her ward.)  She auditioned for an a capella choir and made it.  Oh, and yes, she's working really hard in school, too.  I hear complaints about her statistics class a lot, but other than that, she's loving all of her classes.  Apparently college life agrees with this girl.  

She's coming home for a week between Winter and Spring sessions, and I can hardly wait.  I text her everyday, and talk to her a couple of times a week, and she FaceTime's us on Sundays, but it's just not the same as having her here.  How comforting to know, though, that she's surrounded by amazing opportunities, in a safe place, with awesome people.  We're so proud of her for working so hard and we are so grateful for the way this has all came together so beautifully.  Life is surprisingly amazing, isn't it?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rural Exploration

In place of my usual solitary barn hunting excursions, I have taken up "rural exploration" these days with my mini-photographer companion, Megan.  She is drawn to all that abandoned, dilapidated stuff, and I don't really mind taking pictures of that either...especially on a beautiful, sunny day.  And the conversations we have in the car are pretty good!

This morning, we followed up on a tip from a friend about an abandoned orphanage in Sherman.  (Because really, who isn't just the tiniest bit intrigued by the thought of an abandoned orphanage?) 

We weren't sure exactly where to find this place, so we stopped first at the Sherman Museum.  This interesting little building is the former Church of Christ that is currently used for museum overflow storage.  Every single window in the front and on both sides is gorgeous stained glass!

We asked the museum curator for directions to the orphanage and were able to find it with no problem.  You really can't miss the thing.  It's so hard to tell from these pictures how spectacular this place is.  It sits on a hill at the intersection of two busy highways with a gated apartment complex directly behind it, and fences all the way around.  It's not the easiest place to photograph, that's for sure.  

The Woodmen Circle Insurance Company broke ground on the building in 1928 and it opened in 1930 to provide housing for widows and orphans during the depression.  During it's functional years, 100 children and 165 elderly women lived here.  There are several red brick buildings on the property, but I couldn't fit them all into one shot!  There is a gazebo to the right of the main building with the columns, and the entire west wing (built is 1948) is two stories of double occupancy rooms with a breezeway connecting it to the main house.  The place was sold to various investment companies after its last residents left the home in the early 70s and has remained unoccupied ever since.  

This building looks like more dormitory style halls and rooms, and sits at the back of the property behind the main buildings, but its entire roof is completely gone.  What a fascinating place.  We learned in the museum that in 2010, the owners (at the request of the museum) agreed to open the property to the public for one day only.  People paid $20 for limited access inside the buildings and guided tours by former employees and residents of the home.  What an amazing thing it would have been to wander through those halls and hear all the stories!  Well worth the $20 in my opinion.  

I continue to be amazed at the wealth of interesting little places here with so much history.  This one was definitely a treasure!  Megan and I are already planning our next RUREX trip.